Libertarian Commentary on the News #12-45D – California Stupid

Somehow, some way (we all have our suspicions), the state that was once the perfect example of the American dream: resources, scenery, wealth, energetic and productive people, new ideas, and so much more, has turned into a sick and bizarre mixture of Italy and the Ukraine and Cambodia.  The few outposts of sanity left in the state look like a VERY mild case of measles on the map.  With such a large population, there are, of course, all kinds of people (including a fair number of Libertarians, but the state’s Libertarians are considered by many to be best represented by Starchild than by Judge Jim Grey, sadly), but too many – too high a percentage (perhaps 90?) are STUPID.  As this story shows:

California, People’s Republic of – Stupid, stupid, stupid
California Gasoline Consumers Hurt by Few Suppliers, Outages
(Los Angeles Times) Virtually all 14.6 billion gallons of gasoline sold in California last year were made by nine companies that own the state’s refineries… Conventional economic wisdom dictates that lack of competition can handicap the local market it functions in. California is riddled with these market fractures. This is particularly evident in the state’s energy economy. Since 1980s, the number of refiners operating in California has decreased by half; as a result, gasoline prices are prone to price spikes, which can impair the local economy, says the Los Angeles Times. When it comes to the gasoline market, the Golden State is largely protected from external competitions — paralleling the oligopolies present in the oil producing economies of the Middle East.

  • The state’s strict clean-air rules mandate a specially formulated blend used nowhere else in the country.
  • Producers in places such as Louisiana or Texas could make it, but there are no pipelines to get it to the West Coast quickly and cheaply.
  • As a result, virtually all 14.6 billion gallons of gasoline sold in California last year were made by nine companies that own the state’s refineries.
  • Three of them control 54 percent of the market.

The lack of competition is manifested at the retail sector.

  • Around 85 percent of gas stations offer brands such as Chevron, Arco, Valero or Mobil.
  • Additionally, the pump prices are directly or indirectly controlled by refiners.

In contrast, in other states, such as Texas, independent, non-branded fueling posts make up around 50 percent of the market, thus more competition, which buffers against price volatility that harms local economies. Given that gas is an integral input for numerous economic activities, by extension, it means that the higher prices will translate to a higher cost of doing business in California. Further complicating the picture, the current push on limiting greenhouse gas emission and promoting alternative fuel opportunities may coerce nearly eight of California’s refineries to shut down in the coming years. This thrusts California’s energy supply edifice into a more fragile state, characterizing the energy marketplace with monopolistic features. In the short run, it makes the market vulnerable to price hikes, and in the long run, this can have major detrimental ramifications.

Nathan:  Okay, Californians have created and supported a state government which (together with the feds and county and local governments) made it into a state which is its own worst enemy.  They have CREATED the very monopolies which they now suffer from, and can’t seem to come up with anything to “solve” the problem but MORE GOVERNMENT.  Then we have the next three stories from Reason Magazine (courtesy Mama Liberty).

58 Percent of Californians Oppose Eliminating the State Income Tax, 36 Percent Favor

Californians Think Half of Every Dollar the State Government Spends Is Wasted

65 Percent of Californians Say Legislature Drives Jobs From the State

Mama’s note: Ok now… if 65% of them know the state drives out jobs, and most think half or more of their money is being wasted by the state… yet the majority don’t see any reason to eliminate the income tax… What are they smoking?

Nathan:  Whatever it is, it is REALLY GOOD at causing mental upset and damaging brain cells.  There are what, 40 million Californians, but many of the smart ones have been fleeing from the state for decades, at a rate of at LEAST a quarter-million a year.  Which means that the overall intelligence of the California electorate is dropping at measurable rates.  As is, no doubt, the percentage of people with a higher score than 25-25 on the Nolan Chart.  As these stories prove.  As for the refineries, never mind that the feds and state have crippled the industry and made it impossible to build new ones – which probably makes the existing owners pleased that they don’t have to compete with anyone else.

Mama’s note: There is that… I was talking with a friend there in California the other day and she mentioned that the cost of water in the city has gone up sharply even while use of it is ever more restricted. She was outraged when I said that was probably a good thing. Anyway, I tried to reassure her that there would likely be more water for everyone soon, when all of the rest of the unwilling taxpayers finally moved to another state. Oh, and she thinks life will be so much better if she moves to New Mexico… [Boy will SHE have a shock! (Nathan)] Better for her, maybe, but not for New Mexico as she will no doubt continue to vote “Californian.” [As so many who move to Colorado do - they are smarter than the average Californian and even more conservative than the average Californian, but incredibly stupid and liberal even by lax Colorado standards - to say nothing of Wyoming or West River standards. (Nathan)] She’s leaving because it costs too much to live there retired… yet she still can’t see that the “state” is the reason for it. sigh  Just have to elect the “right people” and that will be all fixed.

Nathan: Of course!  Click your heels three times and say, “I want to go home…”  Or is it sprinkling fairy dust on your head?

About TPOL-Nathan

Nathan Barton is a christian, self-governor (free-market anarchist), husband, father, professional engineer, Engineer army officer, private businessman, and writer, teacher, and preacher. He works and lives mostly in four western states, and is Southern by heritage and Westerner by birth, upbringing, and choice.
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