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How about using sense to get this economy going?
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Those of us with jobs can live pretty sheltered lives, I suppose. I have a job, and as a newspaper editor I "know" how bad things are for many. But this last week and weekend showed me some things I wasn't expecting.

A Hughson gas station owner filled my ear the other day about how tough it is to keep her business afloat. She is one of the lucky ones; at least hers is still open.

On Thursday I drove to see my grandmother in Livingston. My gas tank was low and I thought I could refill at a gas station I knew was operating in Ballico. I pulled up to the pumps, readied my ATM card for a swipe. The pumps were dead. The business was closed.

Running on fumes, I spotted a sign giving the direction of Delhi five miles away. Okay, I can get there I tell myself. I make it to Delhi and drive downtown. The first station is closed for the day with no card reader at the pumps. I'm thinking I can hit the newer station at the south end of town only see blight and tumbleweeds. Another calamity of this poor economy.

I finally make it to a sure bet - the Livingston truck stop - where I finally gassed up. I walked into my grandmother's house, shaking my head at my newfound appreciation for how bad things are in places.

The next day, Friday - my first day off in quite a while - my wife and I drove over to Carson City for a short weekender. We stopped at some small shops along the way. I heard about economic woes from the owners of two shops in Walker and browsed antique shops that were empty of customers. We arrived in Carson City and had a pick of lodging. The only motel signs that were glowing neon with "No vacancy" were super small ones. Down the main drag one motel sign caught my eye. It said, "Rooms $449." I thought perhaps a letter fell off with the owner meaning "Rooms, $44.99." No, that was $449 per month. It seems many of the motel operators are leasing rooms to the homeless on a monthly basis.

Going like gangbusters was the eatery Red's Old 395, a favorite of the locals.

Virginia City was busy with tourists on Saturday, but business people said the economy was a tough one. There's a difference between crowds and buying crowds.

However, I was not prepared to see what I saw in Tahoe on Saturday evening. We saw closed motel after closed motel. Tahoe thrives on tourism and when the economy is bad, people stop going to Tahoe. The ones who do show up aren't spending as much, for sure. The owner of the motel we chose for the night offered the room for $65, reminding us it was an $85 room. He then shared that many motel operators were dropping like flies. "How long can you stay open when you're losing $15,000 a month?" he asked me.

A minimum-wage clerk at the 7-Eleven in South Lake Tahoe shared his thoughts. Yes, the economy has shaken Tahoe, but he said optimistically, "It'll come back." I know I wasn't dealing with an economist, but it was good to hear someone state positively that someday it'll have to get better. It has to.

Okay, I do believe that it will get better but just when is anybody's guess. Let me add the caveat that it will get better if we put somebody in charge of our states and the country who have an understanding that things must change. We can't keep spending like there's no tomorrow. We must forget about increasing taxes. The state must simply quit destroying the small businessman with taxes and regulations. If they do, they'll pack up and take their jobs to Utah, Idaho or Texas.

As far as I am concerned, Nov. 2 just may be the most crucial day of my lifetime. That's the day when California goes to the polls to elect a new governor. That could be the turning point for this insane style of governing we've all suffered under in California. California's unemployment rate is now 13 percent. Over 900,000 Californians have lost their jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Meanwhile, businesses are flocking to Texas where it's easier to do business than in California. Of all new businesses formed in 2009, Texas was home to 52 percent.

We will have two choices for our next governor. We can chose to elect a former governor in weird Jerry Brown who had a laughable two terms of "lowered expectations" - his words, not mine - and one who will continue with tax and spend policies. Or we can elect Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay who realizes this state will never recover economically until we cut taxes, cut regulation and bring back the jobs.

Noting that California has lost 600,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000, Whitman is calling for a series of tax cuts, such as a sales tax charged on manufacturing equipment. She also said if she becomes governor she will seek a moratorium on all regulations and seek to streamline existing regulations. It's very much needed. California, now the toughest state to operate in, must be made business friendly. Other states are competing for our companies and our jobs.

Brown will, of course, portray himself as a fiscal conservative and talk the same way Meg Whitman does. But don't be fooled. Brown likes taxes and regulation and the unions will prevent him from talking about reforming the broken state pension system. I see that as a recipe for more disaster, as if facing a $24 billion state deficit isn't enough.

I personally don't care if Meg Whitman is spending her millions to become next governor. At least they are her millions and she's not beholden to the unions for a warchest. The fact that she has millions to spend on this race tells me that she's one sharp business leader and knows how to run a business. Let's get past the class envy and think what she can accomplish.

Let's run this state like a business and hopefully those service stations and motels will soon be opening and providing jobs.

For God's sake, let's use some common sense people.

How do you feel? Let Jeff by e-mailing him at