That’s where you’ll find people too smart for their own — and the common — good.
“If you’re so smart,” goes a retort dating back, probably, to the Pharaohs, “why aint’cha rich?
Because you live in ‘Frisco? Gotham? Let’s take a look.
Arlington, Va., blogger Rob Pitingolo frowns at the idea of brain mass, as measured by the number of college degree holders living mashed together in big cities. Pitingolo wants to cast a wider net — out to the suburbs and outlying counties — and thus measure the number of degrees per square mile to determine better where the brains are. Good idea: brings in places like Indianapolis, Louisville, Cleveland, and, yeah, all you East Coast high domes, Oklahoma City (next door to the mighty University of Oklahoma). It still leaves San Francisco (7,031 degrees per square miles) and New York City (6,357) way out in front of everybody else.
How about a competing measure of “smart”? Forget the B.A.’s, M.A.’s, Ph.D.’s, and so on and so on. What about a dimly remembered concept called prosperity? In other words, what about smart is as smart does? A city, a community, that creates for itself conditions under which freedom and prosperity flourish has something going for it that may outweigh, in intrinsic worth, tables laden with sheepskins.
Yes, yes, all right, we know how “smart” the people of San Francisco consider themselves to be, what with their UCLA, San Jose State, and Stanford degrees. We need to remember, as well, the achievements of the state as a whole, whose mid-coast tier San Francisco ornaments — a state that lurches from budget crisis to budget crisis; where, as Steven Malanga writes in City Journal, “State workers routinely retire at 55 with pensions higher than their pay base for most of their working lives.” Where state and local government spending is exceeded only by Alaska’s and New York’s. Where 5 percent of industrial jobs disappeared between February 2009 and February 2010. From which more than 1 million residents slipped off to other states between 2000 and 2008. Is there something they knew that the rest of us ignoramuses didn’t?
“Our main problems,” says a small business spokesman, “are costs that are just out of control.” Property taxes. Minimum wages. Paid sick leave. Ah, and in San Francisco, a local requirement that businesses offer health insurance to employees. The cost of regulation in California is estimated (says Guy Sorman in City) at $134,122 per small business.
Very brainy, California. There’s nothing like a state too costly to do business in, to make people not want to do business in it.
Is New York any better? From 2000 to 2008, says the Empire Center for New York State Policy, “New York experienced the nation’s largest loss of residents to other states” — 8 percent. Nearly 60 percent headed southward, 30 percent to close-at-hand-but-perceived-anyway-as-more-business-friendly New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. The fugitives’ income is estimated at 13 percent higher than that of their replacements in New York.
The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council puts the Empire State at 35th place in terms of competitiveness. But lest one lean too hard on such a “biased” source, consider that the Beacon Hill Institute of Boston likewise takes a dim view of New York’s competitiveness. Ditto the Milken Trust of California, which notes that New York imposes on its residents the second heaviest cost in the country of doing business in a particular state.
Torts? — the civil “wrongs” suits that lawyers bring against business in hope of exacting multi-million-dollar judgments? New York is adjudged to have the second most legal violent climate when it comes to torts (after New Jersey). Then there’s California, lurking back there in 10th place.
Must be some brilliant thinking going on in New York and California alike. “Now today, class, our problem is how to destroy 1,000 jobs in xxx industry. Ms. Smith, any ideas?”
Common sense — not the species of intelligence retailed at the university, and certainly not the graduate school, level but still with much to commend it — normally underwrites the ancient wisdom that if you want more of something, you subsidize it (tax cuts, minimal regulations). If, by contrast, you want less of something you penalize it. Tax increases help in this direction; so also thick, heavy regulatory overlays, with smart, college-degreed people looking over shoulders, examining and re-examining business plans to assure their public acceptability.
If you’re so smart, one reason you ain’t rich might be invertebracy in the face of demands from public employee unions, trial lawyers, and other guardians of the public weal. How much easier just to put brains on hold — all that stuff about invisible hands and the efficiency of markets — and pay court to organized interest groups that seemingly never receive a large enough bounty from government. The brains trusts of California and New York (not to mention, due to space requirements) an army of other interests) must have heard of common sense; they just seem to have mislaid the recollection. Too bad —- mostly for themselves.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?