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This Tale of Two States Features the Fight for America’s Soul
By Lawrence Kudlow, Special to the Sun | July 11, 2021
Call it the Tale of Two States — the best of times and the worst of times. Apologies to Charles Dickens, but there’s no better way to glimpse the fight for the soul of our great country than to compare the ultra-blue state of California with the ultra-red state of Florida. They are completely different cultures and policies.
You could also think of it as Donald Trump versus Kamala Harris — or maybe we should think of it as Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi versus Donald Trump. I don’t mean to shortchange, or disrespect, President Biden by choosing his veep, but I see his political future as late afternoon or well into the evening.
Or you could think of it as a presidential race between Florida’s governor, Ron Desantis, and California’s governor, Gavin Newsom. The current California governor and former San Francisco mayor first has to survive a gubernatorial recall.
Kudos to New York Post columnist Kyle Smith who laid out the battle between California and Florida in a compelling way.
“Those differences,” Kyle writes, “are growing into a chasm of philosophical and practical contrasts between two basic models for the American future. Call them the California way and the Florida way.”
Kyle highlights the extraordinary differences and contrasts between the two states: California public schools teach critical race theory, Florida does not; California hates fossil fuels and worships at the shrine of global warming, with sky-high gas prices. Florida does not; California had some of the harshest Covid lockdown measures, while Florida was among one of the first states to reopen, way back in May of 2020.
California’s economy has an unemployment rate of 7.9%, Florida is below 5%. California has a 13.3% top income tax rate, while Florida does not have an income tax. California has only 12% of America’s population and a quarter of America’s homeless.
That includes sanctioned encampments that are tax-payer funded. Los Angeles spends $2,700 a tent — a month. California pays homeless people to put up the tents and provide other services. So it’s kind of a cottage industry there. California has the second highest income tax rate in the country, bowing only to New York.
California had a major movement to defund the police in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and elsewhere. Now it faces a huge shoplifting problem because stealing is just a misdemeanor.
Big retailers like Walgreens and Target have to close their doors because of state-mandated minimum wage hikes. San Francisco has become the nation’s leader in property crime. Murder in the state was up 31% last year compared to 15% in Florida.
To quote Kyle Smith a little more:
“Florida municipalities use a variety of measures to discourage loitering on the streets, including arresting for trespassing, and it largely works: When was the last time you read about an epidemic of homelessness in Fort Lauderdale? . . . Florida is America’s freest state, according to a Cato Institute survey: No. 1 in fiscal freedom, No. 1 in educational freedom. Cato dubs California one of the least free states and flat-out dubs it ‘the most cronyist state in the union.’”
Kyle Smith closes with this thought: “No one from Florida has ever become president, nor has any Italian American. The success of DeSantis as governor of America’s model state suggests he could be the man to shatter both of those molds.”
For myself, of course I’m going to throw in my lot with Florida in political, cultural, and supply side zero income tax terms.
The state is booming. Mr. Desantis is making every right move on reopening, on vaccines, on fighting big tech censorship, and on standing behind Trumpian border control policies. Remember Florida has assimilated all the legal migrants from Cuba and Venezuela and other oppressed authoritarian parts of Latin America. California welcomes illegal immigrants, and its sanctuary cities foster recidivist crime.
Florida is an example of how legal immigration can be successfully assimilated into community and business life. California is an example of the failure of woke ideology implemented by massively big government and state central planning. Florida is an example of traditional values supported by frugal government and free enterprise.
Miami is the cultural business and financial center of Latin America and South America. It’s not far-fetched to imagine that Miami and South Florida will replace New York as the financial center of the country. Not only does Florida love traditional values, but Florida loves business — and the people businesses employ.
In everything it does, California now opposes traditional values. With massive over-regulation and tax burdens on businesses, it is likely to lose its tech supremacy. Joe Biden wants to take California nationwide. But Florida works. California does not.
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