The Golden State Business Exodus

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States: California's in trouble. Businesses are leaving along with intellectual and investment capital and skilled workers. But rather than face up to serious problems, legislators pass silly laws.

One would think that given the serious nature of the state's problems, the legislature would focus on solutions at the exclusion of all else.

Instead, lawmakers - what would we ever do without them? - found the time in 2011 to trespass even deeper into Californians' personal lives.

Topping off Sacramento's monument to foolishness is a law requiring children younger than 8, except for those taller than 4 feet 9 inches, to sit in booster seats in cars. Previous law let kids leave their boosters at 6.

Now children who had moved out of cars seats are being forced back into them.

Actually, the law is more authoritarian - and offensive and infuriating - than it is silly. It assumes that wise lawmakers have a greater interest in children's safety than their parents do. It also expands the state's supervisory role over adults while decreasing their status as free citizens.

Next up is the law - one of 761 bills passed in 2011 that became California law - that bans the sale of over-the-counter cough medicine containing dextromethorphan to minors. That means popular brands such as Nyquil, Robitussin and Delsym that contain that ingredient are essentially controlled substances.

It is now also illegal in California for those under 18 to use ultraviolet tanning devices, and against the law for anyone, no matter what age, to buy alcoholic beverages at self-checkout lines. Nor can they import shark fins.

Beginning this year, the state requires schools to intervene if personnel see gay bullying. Meanwhile, it makes schools teach the historical achievements of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals.

And, no, we did not make up that last part. That's just how mad governance has become in California.

While the California legislature spent 2011 fiddling with nonsense legislation, the state's business environment continued to burn. Joe Vranich, a business consultant who monitors the Golden State's exodus, said in November that "large corporations, family-run companies and even startup enterprises in all industries continue to leave" due to high business taxes and excessive regulation "imposed on commercial enterprises of all types."

Vranich calls California the worst state in the nation to locate a business, Los Angeles the worst city. He estimates a business can save 40% in costs just by leaving.

And it's not just struggling businesses that quit. As the Orange County Register recently noted, even profitable ones are departing. Why? Though they make money in California, they know they can make more elsewhere.

Is Sacramento listening? Unfortunately, the legislature is concerning itself with lesser things.


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