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NUGENT: California nightmare

Bankrupt state serves as a warning to the rest of America

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Will the last American left in California please turn out the lights? And don't let the door slam you in the behind. California isn't going broke. It's already broke and is $16 billion in the hole. With businesses leaving the state in record numbers because of punitive taxes and bizarre overregulation, the only way forward is to either raise taxes or severely cut benefits. Raising taxes is the mantra of liberals, and California is awash with liberal politicians.

In addition to business-killing taxes and regulations, California has the third-highest state income tax in the nation, the nation's highest sales tax and the highest gas taxes in America.

Get this: Roughly half of California's income taxes are paid by just 1 percent of California's residents. It's no wonder the most productive people are leaving the state each year as more bloodsuckers move in.

If that isn't bad enough, California has one of the nation's highest unemployment rates; its health care system is on the verge of collapse, with dozens of hospitals closing over the past decade; crime is rampant in California's cities; its public employees are paid staggering amounts of money compared to ordinary Californians; and massive numbers of illegal aliens continue to invade the state.

This isn't California dreamin' but rather an American nightmare.

It's a blinding statement of the obvious, but California's financial nightmare (and the nation's) is a terminal addiction to bloated and expensive government completely out of control, with zero accountability.

You don't need to be an economist to understand that less government equals more prosperity. The fundamental problem we face is that too many Americans do not understand this most basic economic truism, or worse, simply refuse to accept it.

It doesn't work that way (or can't work that way for long) and that's why California and our federal government are financial train wrecks.

The way out of this mess would be painful. Massive cuts would be required, services slashed, and agencies gutted and eliminated.

There is no dispute there will be pain. The question is: When will we deal with it, now or later?

For many Americans, the answer is painfully obvious: Let someone else deal with it further down the road. Put it on the shoulders of future generations.

That is the wrong answer. The longer we postpone the pain, the more painful and ugly it will be. Just look at Greece, Spain and France.

The responsible answer is to deal with it now.

We can't tax our way out of this mess. We can't continue to borrow our way out. We can't regulate our way out. We are not going to grow our way out. The only way out is to dramatically reduce government spending and to quit strangling the free market with burdensome regulations.

Liberalism has failed around the world, and it has failed here, too. Big government has been a big bust. Yet, for liberals, the solution is even bigger government.

Economist Milton Friedman had it right: "So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system."

More government hasn't been, isn't and won't ever be the answer. That's California dreamin'.

Ted Nugent is an American rock 'n' roll, sporting and political activist icon. He is the author of "Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto" and "God, Guns & Rock 'N' Roll" (Regnery Publishing).

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