In 2012, Democrats won a two-thirds super-majority in both chambers of the California legislature for the first time since 1883. Two years later, the state’s blue-collar workers are quarreling with the state’s environmentalists. A group of 16 Assembly Democrats, led by Henry Perea of Fresno County, sent a letter to the California Air Resources Board to reconsider the state’s cap-and-trade program because of its impact on the middle-class and the poor.
Perea has proposed Assembly Bill 69, which would establish a three-year suspension on the cap-and-trade program’s requirement to buy permits for transportation fuels. This rule will be enforced for the first time on January 1, 2015.
It turns out that the state’s emission trading program has already taken a toll on the state’s economy after only one year of the program’s existence. Currently, California has the second highest underemployment rate in the nation at 16.7%, slightly behind Nevada’s 17.4%. California also has the highest gasoline prices in the continental United States with an average $3.90 per gallon (as of August 9, 2014).
California legalized cap-and-trade in 2006, when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (A.B. 32). It requires the California Air Resources Board to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year of 2020.
The “limousine liberals” of Hollywood in the south and Silicon Valley in the north support the green agenda. Their leader is Tom Steyer, a San Francisco-based billionaire, who has recently become the left’s number one political donor in this election cycle (2013-2014), giving $20 million to liberal candidates and causes throughout the nation.
Demographer Joel Kotkin of New Geography explained:
“In some senses, this budding blue-collar rebellion exposes the essential contradiction between the party’s now-dominant gentry Left and its much larger and less well-off voting base. For the people who fund the party – public employee unions, Silicon Valley and Hollywood – higher energy prices are more than worth the advantages. Public unions get to administer the program and gain in power and employment while venture capitalists and firms, like Google, get to profit on mandated “green energy” schemes.
What’s in it for Hollywood? Well, entertainment companies are shifting production elsewhere in response to subsidies offered by other states, localities and companies, so high energy costs and growing impoverishment across Southern California doesn’t figure to really hurt their businesses. Furthermore, by embracing “green” policies, the famously narcissistic Hollywood crowd also gets to feel good about themselves, a motivation not to be underestimated.”
Meanwhile, the blue-collar workers are turning against the emissions trading program. Believe or not, a lot of them are Hispanics who work in the industries of agriculture, utilities, oil, and natural gas.
Kotkin further argues:
“Democratic strategists hope that, by focusing on social issues – immigration, abortion and gay rights – they can keep the peasants in line. And to be sure, Republicans pushing nativism and social conservatism seem determined to distract Latinos, Asians, women and gays from focusing on the realities of an increasingly neofeudalist California. Political analyst Michael Lind contends this Democratic strategy may not succeed over time. For one thing, he notes, differences on many social issues are narrowing, in part, as more minorities, singles and gays move into suburban or exurban locales.
As social issues become less heated, political divides figure to develop more along economic lines. This conflict may prove no easier to resolve than the GOP’s internal struggle between the Tea Party and corporatists. The Democratic divide will pit much of the party’s financial and media base, in Hollywood and Silicon Valley, against the interests and aspirations of middle- and working-class people who make up the vast majority of Democratic voters.”
Kotkin makes a fascinating class conflict argument. However, it is important to note that I am not encouraging Hispanic Americans, or anyone in general, to envy the wealthy. This article is simply pointing out that liberal economic policies are hurting the middle-class and the poor. California is the nation’s leader in cap-and-trade and its economic impact should be carefully observed.