Reasons not to move back to California

| June 10, 2007

I’m not a native Californian, but my mom is, all four of my sisters are, two of my own children are, and frankly most of my extended family (on the Webster side) is. San Diego is pretty much the Webster home town, and I’ve lived in California a grand total of roughly 25 years, or a little less than half of my entire life. Most of that has been in San Diego, and my time there has been as recent as 1988-1995 (20 months up near Santa Cruz and the rest in San Diego).

But beyond the high cost of living (one of the reasons Sandra and I didn’t move to back California when we decided to leave DC two years ago), the Golden State itself keeps giving us reasons never to head back there. Here are a few recent ones.

Reason #1: Forcing spaying/neutering of all non-purebred cats and dogs.

I’m a firm believer in spaying and neutering. We have four dogs; all four are ‘fixed’. But this legislation would, in effect, wipe all all mixed-breed dogs and cats in the State of California.

Under the bill, owners of dogs and cats would have to spay or neuter pets older than 4 months starting April 1, 2008. A $500 fine for failing to do so would be treated like a traffic fix-it ticket, allowing owners a chance to sterilize their pet and avoid paying.

Licensed breeders of purebreds and those who provide service animals, such as police K-9 corps and guide dogs, could buy exemption permits from local agencies. Older pets and those in ill health also could be excused with a veterinarian’s note.

That makes no sense economically (purebreds are far more expensive) or genetically (purebreds are more susceptible to various defects and ailments), and it would eliminate the pool of mixed-breed animals for various tasks:

Critics called the measure unnecessary state intrusion and a tax on families. Passage would accomplish little except to limit the number of everyday animals that are cheaper to adopt from the pound, they contended.

“Not a lot of families can afford to buy purebreds,” said Assemblyman George Plescia, R-La Jolla. He said his mixed-breed dog cost $60 compared with his other two, a $500 Labrador and $1,200 German shepherd.

Plescia offered a line many critics were no doubt thinking when he said: “We need to quit pulling bills out of the crazy bill factory or someone out there will put something on the ballot requiring mandatory spaying and neutering of legislators . . . and it probably will pass.”

Assemblyman Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia, said his family’s mixed-breed pet competes in dog agility competitions. Those trained animals, he said, should not be sterilized.

“This would criminalize otherwise good people,” Adams said.

I think spaying and neutering of legislators makes a lot of sense; think of it as evolution in action.

Reason #2: Banning of “big-box retail stores” (read: Wal-Mart) within the San Diego city limits.

I actually heard a sound clip with one of the San Diego City Council members who voted in favor of this ban. He said as near as I can remember, “It would be irresponsible to let the free market work in this case.” [Note to self: besides posts on ‘why military history matters’, write posts on ‘why economic history matters’. Or maybe just on ‘why economic literacy matters’.] Chicago already rejected this kind of idiocy; in their case, it wasn’t even a outright ban (as per San Diego) but rather a $10/hr minimum wage requirement that Mayor Daley — no union-busting conservative — vetoed and then persuaded three Chicago City Council aldermen to uphold his veto (I imagine Daley is very good at persuasion). Furthermore, the San Diego city limits encompasses 374 square miles — so it’s not as though those living within San Diego can just travel a few blocks (or even just a few miles) to find a Wal-Mart outside the city limits.

Here in Colorado, most of such lunacy is confined to the city limits of Boulder. The rest of Colorado has a pleasantly green tint (metaphorically and literally), but nothing terribly annoying or intrusive. California, by contrast, appears to be headed straight off a cliff. I suspect that within 5 to 10 years that California may take a sharp turn to the right, due mostly to profound economic and social dislocation due to the idiocies of the State Assembly and various of the city governments. But I think things may get pretty ugly between now and then. ..bruce..

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Category: Economics, Main, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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