An October 8 CNN story about gasoline prices carried this headline: “California gas prices soar above $4, reaching the highest price in five years.” One can only wonder if most Californians understand that that is all part of their state government’s plan.
For the week of October 4, the average California price for a gallon of regular reached $4.18. That compares to a national average of $2.65, and average Texas price of $2.305, according to data kept by AAA.
The CNN story focuses on “A number of refinery outages” having caused the recent spike, but that’s just blaming a temporary event for what is simply a long-term, probably permanent reality for residents of California. With its policies of high gasoline taxes, special gasoline requirements that increase the cost of refining and transportation, and other programs supposedly designed to reduce smog and haze, higher gasoline prices are an inevitable outcome.
Today In: Business
While the CNN story focuses on this recent spike, the reality is that the lowest price Californians have experienced during 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), came during the week of January 28, when the price for a gallon of regular averaged $3.206. Texans paid $1.962 during that same week.
So, this is a long-term reality for Californians, not some short-term event. That’s not to necessarily say that policies in Texas are inherently superior to those in California, but they definitely are cheaper for consumers. And to be fair, these policies have been implemented by elected officials, and thus presumably endorsed by the voters who elected them.
Higher gasoline prices are just one part of the California government’s plan to make automobile travel much more expensive as time goes on. The state has also adopted policies, like requiring cars sold in their state to have higher mileage requirements per gallon than the national requirements, that already make buying a car in California more costly than doing so in other states, and will only increase that disparity into the future.
California’s state and city governments are also going about implementing policies that will reduce the number of automobile-traffic lanes and one-way downtown streets in order to force drivers to spend more time sitting at traffic lights and in traffic jams. These policies are designed to encourage car-pooling and the use of modes of public transportation, whose buses and incredibly costly commuter rail cars today travel mostly empty. To draw an analogy, California car drivers are the proverbial frog who is being boiled.
One outcome of these policies intentionally designed to increase the cost of living in California has been a large number of residents fleeing that state for less expensive environs. In recent years, states like Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Texas have seen thousands of ex-Californians move into their cities. A 2018 study sanctioned by the Sacramento Bee found that, since 2001, “about 410,000 more people (about the population of Oakland) have left California for the Lone Star State than arrived from there.”
Interestingly, the influx of Californians is contributing to a shift in the political balance in Texas and those other states, as the Golden State refugees continue to vote for the same kinds of policies that caused them to flee their former home state in the first place. One outcome of that is that the mayors and city councils of several of Texas’s major cities – San Antonio, Austin, and Houston – either already have or are now on the verge of adopting cookie-cutter “Climate Action Plans” that would implement many of the same cost-increasing California policies.
So, do Californians really understand that they actually voted for the policies that are causing many of them to flee their home state? Their voting patterns in their new, adopted states indicate that they really don’t.