Back in the 1970’s, during his first term as governor Jerry Brown said “small is beautiful,” one of a number of observations about California politics and lifestyle that earned him the nickname “Moonbeam.”
Four decades have passed since Brown made his prescient comment. During those 40 years, in the most improbable of scenarios, Brown is again California’s governor-elect.
The one word Brown won’t be using to describe California’s myriad challenges is “small.”
California’s huge $20 billion budget deficit grows daily. The unemployment rate is over 12 percent. Translated that means one of every eight Californians in the labor force is jobless. In the Inland Empire and the San Joaquin Valley, unemployment approaches 20 percent.
Since the state’s unemployment insurance fund is broke, California borrows $40 million every day from the federal government to make payments to the out-of-work. Crippling interest accrues daily.
Overpopulation, which adds to the challenges that have forced California to the brink, is Brown’s biggest problem.
When Brown paid tribute to “small,” California’s population was 20 million. Today, it’s more than 39 million. Using the U.S. Census Bureau’s projection of 2 percent annual growth, by the time Brown’s second term expires in 2018, California’s population will be more than 45 million.
All of California’s woes would be minimized by fewer people. Overcrowding in schools and hospitals, highway congestion as well as the demands on limited water supplies, welfare, and dwindling jobs could all be reduced if California had fewer residents.
According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and the California Department of Finance, over 97 percent of California’s growth in the last 10 years is due to immigration and births to foreign-born women. As the trend of more migration into California continues into the 21st century, so will its higher levels of population.
Since limiting immigration through government policy is easier than enforcing prudent family planning, the other variable in population control, Brown’s immediate task is to raise Californians’ awareness about overpopulation’s consequences and to work to reduce it. That means taking tough but proven measures to fight illegal immigration.
This may be hard for Brown to do since he campaigned on more rights for illegal immigrants.
On the other hand, lower population may have been one of Brown’s objectives when he talked “small” years ago. Back then, he lived “small” by eschewing the governor’s limousine and got around by walking or driving his 1974 Plymouth sedan. Brown also declined a celebratory post-election Inaugural Ball and instead took a close group of friends to Man Fook Low, a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles.
Today, Brown still lives “small.” He buys his suits on sale and eats at home with his new wife.
Now Brown needs to apply his same “small” habits to population growth.
A common assumption about immigration is that aliens would self deport and thus lower population if there were no jobs magnet. An easy, effective and successful measure to eliminate employment opportunities for illegal immigrants is already in place: E-verify.
Unless Brown wants to oversee a bankrupt California, he should immediately issue an executive order that mandates the use of E-verify by all employers.
Sure, Brown will take heat from the ethnic identity lobby. But so what? At 72, this is likely Brown’s last political hurrah.
This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.
Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns—mostly about immigration and related social issues – since 1990. He is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns have frequently been syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. He can be reached at JoeGuzzardi@CAPSweb.org