California - for the time being - is still a place where the working class can survive.
The Democrat-dominated California Legislature recently balked at Gov. Jerry Brown's more aggressive greenhouse reduction initiatives. It was due to the growing realization that such initiatives can no longer be considered in a vacuum given the accumulative crushing impact the cost of implementation is having on the working class, the poor and even the middle class.
Yes, everyone pays the economic price through higher prices at the pump for state-imposed phantom gas taxes the oil companies pass on that are slapped on refineries, the higher cost of consumer products and services due to greenhouse mandates on businesses, and tax credits given green energy.
Proportionately though, it is the working class and the poor that gets slammed the hardest. The middle class and the rich feel it but it doesn't empty the proverbial wallet days ahead of the next paycheck.
Economic pain means no economic gain for a growing number of Californians when it comes to state initiatives under the umbrella of climate change legislation.
Of course, much green legislation is oversold. It'll create tens of thousands of jobs. It will reduce energy costs. Funny, but many areas of California away from the hyper prosperous coastal regions still wallow in double-digit employment and struggle with staggering power bills along with the reality to get to work they spend considerably more on gas than urban areas that have access to public transit.
Farm workers can't take the bus. Neither can construction workers and many others who need to reach job sites. Yet when they buy gasoline a good share of the phantom tax will be going to pay for a high-speed train system that will not work for them nor could they afford to ride.
Meanwhile bureaucrats, environmentalists, and politicians all conspire to slap the equivalent of sin taxes on fossil fuels that play a heavier role in the working class being able to eke out a living whether it is to get to work and back or for the ability for their employer to stay in business. Oil, of course, is the big, bad evil monster so taxing it to smithereens is essentially a birthright for anyone proclaiming themselves environmentally friendly.
Sorry but the argument that we all need to sacrifice for a better tomorrow for our children just isn't cutting it anymore.
Perhaps it has to do with the realization that many aspects of air quality in the Valley are significantly better than 25 years ago despite going from 2.7 million people in 1990 to almost 4 million today.
The rich also aren't paying their way. How many farm workers drive a Tesla? On top of the tax credits California gives Tesla directly, Tesla buyers get a $2,500 state tax credit and a $7,500 federal tax credit that President Obama wants to sweeten to $10,000. If you can afford a $71,000 vehicle then why do you need to be subsidized by Walmart clerks and McDonald's burger flippers?
How do you think a debt-pressed working class stiff bringing home $40,000 a year to support his family of four feels about the fact data gleaned by Strategic Visions - an auto industry research firm - that puts the average household income of a Tesla buyer at $320,000?
Do you think they get warm and fuzzy feelings also knowing the Tesla owners don't buy gas which means they are not paying a cent toward maintaing the roads they drive?
And the pundits wonder why Donald Trump is gaining traction with voters.
Little thought is ever given to those at the bottom of the economic chain when politicians, environmentalists, and bureaucrats team up to save the world.
No one is arguing to return to the days of dirty cars that got two gas stations to the mile, the burning of trash at will or the golden days of smoke stacks. The pendulum, though, has swung so far in the other direction that it is beating the working class into perennial poverty.
California has done a remarkable job of cleaning its air, beaches, lakes, rivers, and water supplies. There is still work to be done. But we can ill afford to mandate large segments of the state into Third World status as the environmental perfection movement is threatening to do with the San Joaquin Valley.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.