61.9 F
San Diego
Monday, Jun 5, 2023

Bureaucracy’s Benefactors Are Mean to Business

I read where state energy regulators want retailers to start peddling only the most energy-efficient flat-screen TVs in two years.

Some smaller retailers respond that the proposed regulation, designed to reduce the state’s overall energy consumption, could put them out of business.

Tighter regulations on electricity use, they argue, could send more of their customers to out-of-state retailers, who’ll continue to sell the self-acknowledged energy hogs online to in-state residents.

Me? I have a ton of questions about this story.

- Advertisement -

For one, I wonder if energy commissioners are aware that we’ve fallen into the worst retailing climate since the Great Depression, and if they are aware, do they care?

Electricity supply and demand isn’t the issue it was nine years ago, so what’s the problem here? Why are we pushing this issue now at a time of low electrical use?

And with retailers large and small dropping like flies, why are we thinking of taking steps that could put even more out of business?

Finally, with the state facing a $42 billion-and-counting deficit during the next two years, why are we about to further reduce the number of taxpaying businesses and taxpaying jobs in the private sector of the economy?

A similar issue erupted in early December when the Air Resources Board decided to clamp down on diesel emissions in the trucking industry. The board voted to impose new restrictions that will cost truckers and operators $5.5 billion in new equipment starting in 2010.

Trucking has also been seriously damaged in the wake of the near economic collapse, so this is an additional strain on operations.

It’s obvious to anyone who follows machinations in the state capital these days that government has become hostile, if not indifferent, to business, especially smaller businesses not represented by highly compensated lobbyists and lawyers.

The Legislature has become a veritable assembly line of rules and regulations slowly squeezing the life out of the private sector , even as conditions have worsened.

The irony is that this attitude of hostility, if not indifference, comes at a time when the bureaucracy, especially the public sector, is unwilling to undergo the painful downsizing now under way in the private sector.

Keep in mind that the budget in Sacramento grew more than 40 percent in the past five years , far faster than the economy grew in the same period.


But, the politicos are blinded to the new reality. We’re in a bust, not a boom.

Obviously, lawmakers (and regulators) have lost all sense of reality, and all sense of economic and political proportion.

Adding new taxes at a time when business is mired in a steep downturn signals a shift in the thinking of our public officials.

Politics, in this case the progressive politics of the party in power (and we all know who they are), apparently takes precedence over all other economic, political and social factors, especially economic.

This party seems contemptuous (ignorant, perhaps?) of the conditions required for a sound economy.

From where I sit, the anti-business climate in the Assembly and Senate, not to mention the governor’s office, isn’t changing soon, even as huge swatches of the private sector struggle as conditions deteriorate.

There is no state budget crisis, and never has been. There is a state political crisis, with a few legislators on one side of the two aisles, locked in a death struggle against an almost overwhelming number of counterparts on the other side of the chambers.

The issue all along has been spending, way too much of it.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should have been cutting, trimming and squeezing the state work force and programs months ago, as soon as he knew his cash flow situation was dire.

But he’s an actor, playing the role of governor, one in which he is not performing well this time around.

We’re up against a strange kind of surrealism that would make even Salvador Dali smile.

Unfortunately, I don’t see a resolution, at least in the near term.

The bureaucracy is self-sustaining and self-protective, and its benefactors (sympathetic lawmakers in the party in power) will do everything they can to preserve the status quo, even at great cost to our hard-hit businesses.

Tom York is editor of the Business Journal.


Featured Articles


Related Articles