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California Economic Summit Pushes Socialism, Green Energy

California Economic Summit Pushes Socialism, Green Energy

A solar panel range is seen in what was once a field used for agriculture in California's Central Valley near Huron, Calif., on July 23, 2021. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

John Seiler

John Seiler

10/19/2023

Updated: 10/21/2023

Commentary
California’s economic situation can be summed up simply: Taxes and regulations are too high. And everything, especially housing, costs too much. Alleviate those problems and the state will get better. People will stop leaving and start coming back.
But that short summary wouldn’t fill more than 10 minutes of the 2023 California Economic Summit held in Indian Wells Oct. 11–13. It was sponsored by California Forward, the influential reform group that always seems to want to increase taxes and regulations. I covered last year’s confab in The Epoch Times in “Recession Barely Registers at CA FWD’s Economic Summit.”
According the blurb, for this year “the Summit influences CA FWD’s ongoing movement to make the government and economy work for everyone. The three-day Summit is designed to create a shared economic agenda known as the Roadmap to Shared Prosperity and strengthen the Summit network, setting the stage for collective action in the coming year.”
Note all the socialist terms: “work for everyone ... shared economic agenda ... Shared Prosperity ... collective action.” That’s what it’s really about: controlling our lives and shoveling our taxes to the union, corporate, and other elites that run the state.
On the first day, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, who is running for governor in 2026, spoke in platitudes about the great opportunities the state faces. Which is true—if you’re wealthy like her. She comes from a prominent Sacramento construction family.
“A great deal of my time is in the international space and that allows me to work on economic development issues,” she said. “My belief is that the challenges that we have in this state, difficult though they are, are not bigger than our capacity to address them.”
Lt. Gov. of California Eleni Kounalakis speaks onstage during EMILYs List's 2023 Pre-Oscars Breakfast at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., on March 7, 2023. (Araya Doheny/Getty Images for EMILYs List)

Lt. Gov. of California Eleni Kounalakis speaks onstage during EMILYs List's 2023 Pre-Oscars Breakfast at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., on March 7, 2023. (Araya Doheny/Getty Images for EMILYs List)

As lieutenant governor, she also sits on the boards of regents of the University of California, the trustees of the California State University system, and the governors of the California Community Colleges system. “To me, this is our conveyor belt of talent into our societies and into our economy—the largest and most powerful generator of economic success comes through the system of higher ed in our state,” she said.
Of course, she didn’t address the recent dumbing down of education standards in the state, which I covered last month in The Epoch Times in, “California’s Dumbed-Down Schooling Torpedoing US Defense vs. China, Russia.” Like all Democrats in the state, and many Republicans, she needs strong union endorsements to win, especially from the most powerful force in the state, the California Teachers Association.

Energy ‘Transition’

Naturally, there was a panel on the planned transition to “carbon neutrality” by 2045. It was hosted by Tim Kelley, president and CEO of the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation. That has been the fastest growing area of the state, both because it’s cheaper than the hyper-expensive coastal areas, and because it’s a center for the warehouses for Amazon and other online giants shipping goods to the wealthier areas of Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego.
“In some ways, we’re not going fast enough, we’re committed to the transition,” said California Resources Corporation CEO Francisco Leon. “There’s permitting challenges, there’s regulatory challenges.” That is, the state’s existing labyrinthine regulatory structure is making it difficult to build the new green energy infrastructure. It’s a typical modern California story of the state getting its feet twisted and tripping over itself.
Giant wind turbines are seen near Palm Springs, Calif., on May 13, 2008. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Giant wind turbines are seen near Palm Springs, Calif., on May 13, 2008. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Said Erik Bartsch, President and CEO of Aera Energy, “We need to deliver affordable energy to people. We can’t leave anyone behind in this equation. We’ve got to work together to reach the state’s 2045 net-zero goals, and that means bringing out all the technology and creativity to get there.”
Except the Wall Street Journal reported in August, “Wind and solar power grew rapidly in part because the price fell for years. Now that trend has halted, and companies and utilities are paying more for green electricity. It reported of the San Juan solar-and-battery farm in the desert of northwest New Mexico, planned to power 36,000 homes, “But over the past three years since the project’s contract was signed, solar components got harder to procure and costs for everything from panels to financing have soared.”
Then, as I reported in June in The Epoch Times, “California Climate Policies Only Empower China.” I quoted Graham Allison of Harvard University, who wrote, “China manufactures 80 percent of all the solar panels produced globally. And, as the IEA notes, China’s dominance is even more pronounced when one examines the entire supply chain. It produces 85 percent of the global supply of solar cells, 88 percent of solar-grade polysilicon, and 97 percent of the silicon ingots and wafers that form the core of solar cells.”

DEI in Action

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is the buzz acronym popular nowadays. It was on display at the summit in the panel “Working Session—Entrepreneurship and Small Business Ownership by Women and People of Color.” The panel summary noted, “Minority-owned small businesses are crucial to California’s economy as they represent 45% small businesses in the state, support 2.6 million jobs annually and generate $192.8 billion in economic output.”
So what’s the problem? More data needed for bureaucratic meddling. Beacon Economics’ Samuel Maury-Holmes prepared a report for the summit, “The State of Diverse Businesses in California,” commissioned by the California Hispanic, African American, and Asian American Chambers of Commerce. But at the link, the report itself says funding was through the California Office of Small Business Advocate, on whose site the report is hosted. So we taxpayers paid for it.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a bill signing ceremony at Nido’s Backyard Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco on Feb. 9, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a bill signing ceremony at Nido’s Backyard Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco on Feb. 9, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mr. Maury-Holmes explained more data is needed, “So policymakers and stakeholders have the tools that they need to see if their policies they’re bringing forward and the solutions they’re bringing forward are actually having an impact on the local communities.”
Actually, federal, state, and local civil rights laws already prevent discrimination. What’s needed is for government to back off and just let people compete. Read Mr. Maury-Holmes’s statement again: “tools ... policies ... solutions ... impact” is just more socialist control of our communities.
California needs not more pointless data and interference in the economy, but a return to the Wild West of individualism and competition that built the state.
Finally, note how The Epoch Times’s California coverage, not this summit of mirrors, provides a true picture of what’s going on in this state.
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John Seiler

John Seiler

Author

John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. Mr. Seiler has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at JohnSeiler.Substack.com and his email is writejohnseiler@gmail.com

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