WSJ Playing Fast and Loose with the Facts

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, John Steele Gordon decides that California has gone down the tubes.  The article title, probably by the WSJ editors, is really the most provocative part:

The Rise and Needless Decline of the Golden State

John Steele Gordon writes in The Wall Street Journal that more Americans left California than arrived in the last decade. What caused this great migration? Politics

The bulk of the story goes through the history of California and how/why people came here.  No real arguments there, but the last 20% goes on to attack, based primarily on anecdote and strained conclusions, that California has gone off the rails because the environmental movement is strangling the economy.

Let’s start with that subtitle, it is pretty misleading, even from the title.  California hasn’t lost population, people are streaming here.  It is just that we are diversifying through immigration.  As noted in the story, our population has actually gone up by 10% over the past decade.

And as for the thrust of the story, that business just hate the climate that they are streaming out of the state.  As we’ve said here many, many times, that just isn’t happening.  Anecdotes are cute, but they aren’t data.  And anecdotes don’t tell you anything resembling the whole story.

And neither does this story tell you anything resembling the whole story.  He finds somebody, somewhere who told him it was hard to get permission to do something once.  It’s oh-so-helpful and informative.

But he has a small tell at what he really wants to see here: gut environmental protection and drill, baby, drill:

The environmental movement was largely born in California, with John Muir and the Sierra Club, but it now threatens to strangle the state’s economy in a laocoön of regulations. The state’s vast oil and natural gas potential on the continental shelf has been off limits for years. Environmental groups and others have become masters at tying up economic development in court.

Let’s be honest, California still leads the nation in innovation.  California made the 90s go boom in technology, and made the last decade go boom with real estate.  Neither booms were substantially slowed by over-regulation.  And while both booms saw their inevitable crashes, neither of these busts had anything to do with regulation.  Well, except maybe under regulation.

The Wall Street Journal likes to pretend at a fact-based reportage and hard hitting editorials.  This one eschews facts entirely in a quest to make a political point in an anti-environmentalist extravaganza.  Par for the course these days.

6 thoughts on “WSJ Playing Fast and Loose with the Facts”

  1. Let’s start with that subtitle, it is pretty misleading, even from the title.  California hasn’t lost population, people are streaming here.  It is just that we are diversifying through immigration.  As noted in the story, our population has actually gone up by 10% over the past decade.

    You are not disputing that intra United States California is losing population to other states net net. But we are supposed to elated that we’re making up for it in raw numbers because of immigration and illegal immigration from poor Latin American countries. NET NET, that means California is losing people of a higher socioeconomic status and replacing it with people of a lower socioeconomic status with all that entails in regards to higher education costs, higher prison costs, and more pressure on the safety net. Is that supposed to be celebrated?

  2. I’m not a fan of how how the right ignores that the environment and california’s Perfect Climate is just as much of an asset as oil or any other resource.

    But on the weakening of the california economy we have to admit its not doing great. On the other hand I’d think it would be funny if the left asked for a guarantee – i.e. “ok, we’ll suspend this and that environmental legislation if you guarrantee that unemployment drops to 5% in three years and we get X billions of dollars in investment. Oh you can’t do that? then tell me how much our environmental laws are really costing and how fast it will recoup it. What cant do that either?  I see, you just want discount admission into paradise.”

  3. Many of our regulations have been in place for decades, yet CA inexplicably managed to attain the 6th GDP in the world.  

    In the conservative mind, environmentalism and Mexicans are interchangeable bogeymen.  There is NOTHING a conservative cannot blame on Mexicans and/or the damned environmentalists.  It usually can be done in less than three degrees of causation:

    Enron: too many environmental regulations prevented local grid improvements and necessary generating facilities.  The “gaming” was merely a market correction caused by Mexicans overburdening the grid.  

    Tech bubble: so many Mexicans swamped the local services and schools such that employers had a hard time retaining talent in the Bay Area.  It was so bad, the employers moved all the way to Malaysia instead of Texas.

    Housing bubble: too many Mexicans bought houses they could not afford because of well intentioned but naive Federal lending policy.   Although the statute in question concerned only banks and their wholly owned subsidiaries, and inapplicable to the vast majority of the jumbo loans actually issued, people in Orange County just don’t like Mexicans, so just shut your pie hole.  And the toxic assets secreted from exotic derivatives and dumped on the public and generated by Caucasian thieves bearing algorithms were in fact caused by the market’s rejection of the regulatory overreach of Glass-Steagall. These Masters of the Universe would have been otherwise handsomely employed as roughnecks off Newport Beach but/for the offshore oil drilling ban. And If the Mexicans weren’t there to steal their jobs.


  4. is that the RW argument focuses ONLY on businesses and ignores the fact that agriculture is the number one product in the state. Heck were driving the 8th largest economy in the WORLD.

  5. so many people want to live in California that housing (and real estate) prices are very, very high. The free market says that you have to really want to be here.

    Yes, there are mean regulations that changed LA from a place where you could barely breathe to a place where you can see the mountains… and real estate and business and the economy soared.

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