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Texas, Utah, Iowa, et al: California here they come

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POSTED March 17, 2013 7:00 p.m.

Here are three news tidbits from the past week:

•Utah is finalizing stringent smog reduction rules, some of which resemble the famously stringent air-quality regulations in California.

•Texas is allocating water supplies to meet the need of whooping cranes prior to taking care of cities, manufacturers, and farmers, much like similar court orders in California.

•Iowa is being forced by the federal Environmental Agency to stop run-off and spills from livestock and poultry operations that are polluting water. just as they have in California.

 

California here you come.

Laugh all you want about California losing its mojo and no longer being cutting edge, but many of the other 49 states in  the union are just beginning to find out California never retreated the from the frontier of  innovation, whether it is in ideas or regulations.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry may slam California all he wants for being anti-business but the Lone Star State will soon be in the same pickle of regulations regarding water as well as air quality. Those two issues are the biggest of California’s perceived draconian environmental regulations.

Granted, Texas and other states have somewhat more lenient labor-business rules and taxes, but give it time. Environmental rules have long been one of the primary reasons the price of everything from housing and driving to the cost of doing business is higher in California.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry may view his state as being business-friendly now but just wait. The more people you have the greater stress there is on water and air. If you doubt that look to places like Denver, Atlanta and even Charlotte.

The one thing about running away from your problems through the act of physically moving elsewhere is that ultimately you take your problems with you.

Businesses concentrated on the short term and not the long haul are the economic equivalent of flashes in  the pan. It is much like Indy Electronics back in its heyday in Manteca, when they employed 700 people.

They assembled electronics components that required a lot of labor. Labor costs were high. So the the firms that owned the Manteca Industrial Park complex ultimately moved those jobs to Southeast Asia and then to Mexico. Now, thanks to technology reducing costs and quality concerns, some of those jobs are moving back to our shores. Had the firms invested more heavily into innovations to reduce labor costs, they wouldn’t have faded into the sunset. They would have had to rethink how they did business here and shed jobs, but they were forced to do that anyway.

Meanwhile, the electronics firms that didn’t flee California are still standing: Apple, Google, Oracle, and a dozen alphabets of high tech firms.

The new new frontier isn’t loading up the wagons and heading elsewhere. It’s staying put and changing the status quo.

Clean air and ample water are universal concerns. People may be willing to sacrifice them in the short term but not in the long term. China is probably the best example currently of a government coming face-to-face with being a tad too business-friendly.

We may still have air quality issues in California, but we’re improving with each passing year. Very few places in the country can say the same thing. If anything, they are getting worse.

Our perennial fight over water isn’t going away, but we’re rethinking how we farm, live, and manufacture and as a result are surviving droughts fairly well. Compare that to the Midwest.

Californians should never dismiss the business climate or charms of living in other states. That said, the wholesale assault on California for being anti-business and over-regulated is going to come back to haunt a lot of states.

As for California, we are getting precariously close to environmental perfection instead of environmental protection. Assembly Bill 32 - the Global Warming initiative - has the potential of overshooting the runway as do some water and air quality rulings.

The Golden State has its problems. There’s no doubt about that. But before the opportunist politicians of this world such as Rick Perry get too smug, they might want to take a close look in the mirror. They just might see all of that inexpensive growth they are encouraging is slowly catching up with them and morphing into a California-style problem.

 

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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