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Jerry Brown has a disconnect that is hard to understand
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Jerry Brown is an intelligent man.

He knows California is in trouble and I am sure he wants to fix it. I'm sure he's thinking time is running out for him at age 72 to correct the Moonbeam image he forged in the 1970s and 1980s.

Why then does he fail to see what hundreds of thousands of California business owners do in a failed economic policy? Can a career politician be so removed from grasping the reality that the Golden State cannot be golden again unless bureaucrats unwind the damage they have caused?

Brown acknowledged in last week's State of the State address that California has enormous financial and infrastructure problems. He also knows that California has lost an incredible amount of business and industry to other states which are business friendlier.

But my heart sunk when he uttered in his address: "Last year, I appointed a top adviser with an impressive background in the private sector and charged him with finding out what doesn't work for business in this state and how to fix it. What he heard consistently was that business needed an effective champion to navigate the state's plethora of complex laws and regulations which can discourage investment and job creation."

Navigate through the plethora of complex laws and regulations?

Earth to Brown: They don't want to navigate through your plethora - they want the obstacles removed!


Brown cited successes of California as the birthplace of Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Qualcomm, Twitter and Facebook. Intel powered the technology revolution as one of the first commercially available microprocessors in the world. But what Brown failed to mention in his speech is that as Intel expands operations, they aren't doing it in California. The company is setting up shop in Hillsboro, Ore., and Chandler, Ariz. Intel decided that it would cost too much to "navigate" California's regulations - a price tag for doing business here that is just too high for the California company. Instead, Intel will infuse billions of dollars into neighboring states' economies and will renew their commitments there for the next decade.

The same is true of Carl Karcher Enterprises which moved its corporate headquarters from So Cal to Texas, Adobe, eBay and Electronic Arts all off to Utah, Awesome Products of Buena Park off to Arkansas, biomedical company Beckman Coulter taking $18.2 million to Indianapolis, and Enfinity for Phoenix where it will add 350 jobs over the next three years. Let's not forget Vetrazzo, a Richmond company that turns recycled glass into countertops, moved to Georgia. And SMA America LLC, a Rocklin maker of components for solar power systems, built a $200 million plant in Denver and hired 200 people.

What a sad loss for the millions of Californians who want to work but find companies leaving the state.

Brown, ever clueless, thinks higher taxes are the answer. He should heed the advise of economist Arthur Laffer who said, "California's regulatory and tax costs, coupled with budgetary and policy instability, render it an impotent competitor when standing next to low-tax, business-friendly Texas, which levies no capital gains or income taxes to support its affordable government."

Laffer believes that lowering taxes can increase revenues to government by spurring economic growth. He states this obvious conclusion about California: "It's just striking how the states with no income tax (including Texas) outperform the states with high income taxes (California's highest personal income tax rate, 10.55 percent, is third highest in the nation)."

Like Obama, Brown is all for government borrowing for projects that don't make a lot of sense. Brown wants to damn the torpedos and push full steam ahead on the $98.5 billion high-speed bullet train project in the Valley. Brown - who signed legislation in his first terms to study such a project - wants the Legislature to get busy with passing bonds to start laying the track. He mocked critics as those on par with critics of the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, BART and the Central Valley Water Project. He cites of projects where need was demonstrated but I am not convinced there is need for someone to get on a bullet train to travel from Stockton to Bakersfield when you can take a flight for less time than a train can offer.

According to David Levinson of the University of Minnesota, the proposed California High Speed Rail line would cost about $2,000 to $3,000 per California household before a single trip is made. This money could support approximately 20,000 teachers or police perpetually. And for every $1 spent by the passenger, $4 in public subsidy would be required, twice the annual expenditure of the State Transportation Improvement Program.

And since Brown touts BART as a success, consider that a 1976 study showed that more energy was used to build the system than will ever be saved by it.

Brown ought to employ his own axiom: "In this time of uncertainty, prudence and paying down debt is the best policy." Borrowing billions to build a train system that won't be profitable is just plain wasteful and idiotic.

As ex-governor, Brown told CNN's Frank Sesno in April 1995 that he didn't have to lie since he was no longer in office. When pressed to explain, Brown told Sesno: "It's all a lie. I didn't have a plan for California. You run for office and the assumption is 'Oh I know what to do.' You don't. I didn't have a plan for say you're going to lower taxes, you're gonna put people to work, you're gonna improve the schools, you're gonna stop crime. Crime is up, schools are worse, taxes are higher. I mean, be real."

I can't help but ask, is he faking it now?

How do you feel? Let Jeff know at