Economy on a roll in the golden state

WHILE European leaders pontificated to jetsetting US President George W Bush last week about Kyoto and other global panics, something else surfaced in California.

The New York Times (NYT) carried a story, headlined “California Passes France on Economic Ladder” with a table showing gross domestic products of the world’s top 10 economies.

The US leads with $9963 trillion, followed by Japan ($4614), then Germany ($1867) and Britain in fourth ($1415).

Next came France ($1281).

But, between France and Britain, California ($1330) has now slipped in.

Initially I was stunned but recalled that, in 1991, I was in California visiting an archive (can you believe it, if you need documents on Europe in World War II it’s virtually obligatory to visit Hoover Institution on San Francisco’s Stanford Univer-sity campus).

That alone shows the breadth of California’s dominance in so many areas beyond filmmaking, computer technology, engineering, and aerospace.

After completing my research, which involved assessing several hundred documents – I’m talking about originals not copies – of the Exile Polish wartime London Government’s Foreign Office (they don’t have them in ex-Communist Warsaw), I and my family went motoring around this truly amazing Anglo-Hispanic “nation”.

While doing so it occurred to me that spectacular California – home of Yosemite National Park – was really a huge, wealthy and dynamic country, which just happened to be part of the US.

No wonder so many from around the world flock to study, work, invest and attempt entering illegally, especially nearby Mexicans.

California is a huge magnet that’s well known in the back blocks of China, Africa and Latin America; like London was to people such as Dick Wittington, who became a wealthy London merchant and thrice its mayor.

Even ex-Aussie multi-millionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch (Perth’s Sunday Times owner) has a huge slice of his family’s, and his News Corporation’s, wealth enscon-ced there. The fact that his son, Lachlan, foolishly lost $500 million last month on One.Tel to sharp Sydneysiders will only confirm to dad that California’s a better place to invest in that Australia.

As that iconoclastic Crikey Dot Com column wrote: “Australia really has been a disaster for News Corp. They’ve blown about $500 million on One.Tel, $500 million on Super League, and $150 million on Fox Studios.”

But back to the NYT report.

“A shaky Euro, a strong dollar and California’s booming $1330 trillion economy combined last year to push the nation’s most populous state past France’s $1281 trillion economy and within striking distance of Britain, which is the world’s fourth-largest economic power, at $1415 trillion, according to a new analysis by the Los Angeles Economic Develop-ment Corporation (EDC), a business group,” it says.

The study was based on California’s employment and personal income data from last year, and on data from the Paris-based OECD, using current exchange rates.

“We got a phone call from the French media, a little bit huffy,” EDC chief economist Jack Kyser said.

“California added 527,000 jobs last year. We probably won’t see anything like that over the next couple of years. Obviously Cali-fornia was on a roll, and this move up sure shows it.”

That means last year California created over half the number of jobs currently held by all West Aussies.

“In the past, when the Southern California region bumped past the economy of South Korea, we got a couple of hurt phone calls, too,” Kyser said.

But back to that NYT’s table.

After France – which slipped into sixth spot after California – came China, Italy, Canada, and Brazil, in ninth.

Tenth would normally be Mexico, but, like France, it’s been shoved aside, but not by another country. Tenth spot has been taken by California’s Los Angeles five county area.

So California has pushed France aside while one of its cities did likewise to Mexico.

Half of LA is now Hispanic, meaning people essentially of Mexican heritage. Spanish is as common there as English, meaning TV programs, radio stations, news-papers, the lot.

It’s also worth noting that California is currently undergoing what can only be described as a Ukrainian-style energy crisis – blackouts – and that the ECD’s measures are for 2000, before the regulation-inspired blackouts struck.

California’s greenies (far stronger than WA’s leftist greens) and regula-tion obsessive politicians have basically “screwed up” energy pricing, with blackouts the result.

People get stuck in lifts and security systems don’t work.

Last month, California asked George W for help, but he wisely told the State to fix it themselves. Now, Democrat Governor Gray Davis appears to have finally started taking action.

Californian economist Joel Kotkin even saw a comical side to it all.

“It’s hilarious because no country has tried harder to make itself important than France, and no place has worked harder than California to screw itself up,” Kotkin said.

California has so much to teach WA politicians – and I mean not only on what to do, but also on what not to do.

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