For the Next Generation | A New Republican Party in California

 

By Richard Colman

Like failing business, the Republican Party in California can reinvent itself with a renewed interest in issues..

The party’s focus should be on the next generation.

Here is how the reinvention should be done:

EMBRACE THE FUTURE:  The future of California lies in doing what California does best:  agriculture; science; mathematics; technology; engineering; and education. The next generation will be dominated by artificial intelligence, big data (firms like Google and Facebook), and enhanced productivity in industry and agriculture.

Israel, once a semi-socialist backwater, has a built itself a new, modern economy based on science and technology. Visit the Tel Aviv area of Israel, and one will find a miniature Silicon Valley. It’s time for California to be more like Israel:  pro-business, pro-entrepreneur, and pro-economic growth.

Fifty or more years ago, America was dominated by such firms a General Motors, General Electric, DuPont, IBM, Bank of America, Proctor and Gamble, and other large firms. Today, the biggest firms in America are Apple, Inc., Amazon, Alphabet (parent company of Google), Facebook, Intel, Microsoft, and other such firms. These firms have something in common: They are all American firms. In August, 2018, Apple, Inc. became the first company to have a market value over $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000).  Amazon and Google are not far behind.

A new Republican Party should embrace these futuristic firms as well as the small start-ups that someday may be the Apples and Facebooks of the future.

In agriculture, California feeds much of the rest of the world.  Farming is a risky business. So don’t let government rules and regulation impair agricultural activity.  Remember, farms produce food, something every human being needs. California, where water is perpetually short, must invest in new technologies that improve crop productivity and also use less water. Current estimates shows that California’s agriculture uses 40 percent to 80 percent of the state’s water.

EDUCATION:  California has the world’s greatest system of public higher education, especially the 10-campus University of California.  The problem with higher education is that it costs too much.  Tuition, now at about $13,000 per students per year at the University of California, should be brought down to about $2,000 a year. Fifty years ago, tuition was $200 per student per year. Students completing degrees — undergraduate and graduate — in science, mathematics, and technology should, upon graduation, qualify for some sort of rebate if the student has grades of B or higher. Between kindergarten and twelfth grade, schools should compete for students. If a given school is not operating effectively, let it go out of business. If the school is doing well, it will thrive.

TAXATION:  Republicans like to complain about taxes and budget deficits, but nothing happens.  The time has come to call for a limit on taxes and government spending. Dollars are precious. Let’s not waste them on government activities that generally do little to enhance the quality of life. The time has come to privatize, partially or fully, such services as public transportation, police services, fire fighting, and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Physically able people on welfare should get public money only if they work.

Taxes on businesses need to be reconfigured. Currently, the statutory corporate tax rate in California is 8.84 percent, the seventh highest corporate tax rate in the nation. Why not offer a new plan that given a firm a tax savings if the firm invests in new products, new employees, and new technology (like robots)?  For example, if a firm invests $1 million in innovation, then the corporation’s tax bill would decline by $1 million.

PUBLIC PENSIONS:  No one knows how much money California will owe to public employees once they retire. Estimates range from $300 billion to $1 trillion. The time has come to do what private industry has done:  eliminate defined-benefit pension plans that are based on wage levels and years of service. Why should a fireman retire at age 50 and receive a pension of $300,000 a year plus health benefits.

Many private firms have defined-contribution plans, in which the individual invests his own money where he wants (such as stocks, bonds, real estate, or gold). Sometime the employer will match a certain percentage of the employee’s contribution. 

Public-employee pensions, if not restrained, will ultimately bankrupt California. If a given group of public employees resists changing their pension system, these employees can be dismissed. (To be kind, the employees can he hired back, but at lower wages, at a lower level of benefits, and at lower pension costs.)

DEVOLUTION:  Government is too big and too repressive. The time has come to give more power to local communities.  California has a Department of Housing and Community Development. Do Californians really need this department, which tells local communities how much new housing to build even if the community has no room?  The department engages in social engineering, telling local communities how much “affordable” housing must be built. There is nothing wrong with Chinatowns, Koreatowns, and Japantowns as long as a local community does not bar a buyer on the basis of race, color, or creed.

CIVIL RIGHTS:  In the 1960’s, the federal government enacted the Civil Rights Act (1964), the Voting Rights ?Act), and the Fair Housing Act (1968). These laws banned discrimination in public accommodations, hiring, and voting. The Fair Housing Act banned discrimination in the rental, sale and financing of housing. What these laws, all of which were needed, did not do was tell a community how many people, on the basis of ethnic criteria, who should live where.

In Nazi Germany, the Nuremberg laws discriminated against Jews in the areas of work, housing, and education. Nazism was one of the greatest evils ever to occur. In America, Jews and other groups do not need government to tell them how and where to live.

SOCIAL ISSUES: Decisions on matters like same-sex marriage, publicly-mandated prayer, and abortion should be left to individuals, not government. California Republicans, like Republicans elsewhere, should not interfere with how consenting adults want to behave on matters that do not involve theft, murder, vandalism, or other criminal activity.

Thomas Jefferson said that government should stay out of religion. He believed that if Catholics want to believe in transubstantiation or if Jews want to believe in monotheism, such beliefs are none of the government’s business.

CONCLUSION: It’s time that California had a real two-party system, not the Democratic Party monopoly that exists today.

If California Republicans have to become more centrist to appeal to independent voters, moderate Democrats, and even some moderate Republicans, there is a precedent. In 1952, the soul of the Republican Party wanted Sen. Robert Taft (R-Ohio) to be the presidential nominee.  However, after losing five consecutive presidential elections (1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, and 1948), many Republicans decided to nominate the middle-of-the road candidate and war hero, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower for president. Mr. Eisenhower was enormously popular with the American people.  In 1952 and 1956, Mr. Eisenhower won the presidency. In both campaigns, he generated enormous landslides. In 1953, Mr. Eisenhower ended , after a three-year stalemate, the Korean War.  Peace prevailed for the rest of his time in office. Many Americans who lived through the Eisenhower years have fond memories of peace and prosperity.

The ideas mentioned in this commentary provide a basis for California Republicans to re-define themselves and make the state what it once was: a place of opportunity, freedom, and progress.


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