Steven Pearlstein - California's Wipeout Economy.
It is hard to overstate how reliant the Southern California economy has always been on population growth to drive its economic growth -- in oversimplified terms, building houses for the next wave of home builders. In the beginning, the early developers could be pretty confident that if they built it, they would come -- from the Northeast and Midwest, and then from all corners of the globe. But in recent years, this perpetual growth machine has pretty much run out of steam as residents old and new confronted the realities of two-hour commutes, bad air, a shortage of water and a backlash against illegal immigration.
Moreover, without the steady growth in tax revenue that came with population growth, the Ponzi scheme that passes for public finance in California was suddenly and painfully revealed. Much of the blame lies with public employee unions and a handful of other special-interest groups that have essentially hijacked political control of state and local governments. Now, despite decades of high taxes and rapid growth, state and local governments find that they not only don't have the revenue to provide even basic services, but are saddled with hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities and infrastructure needs.