Opinion: California to buy Exxon Mobil


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Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Sacramento just might be bailed out of their budget standoff by a new initiative that would slap a one-time wealth tax of 55% on Californians rude enough to have $20 million or more in property. The ballot measure wouldn’t come to voters until June 2010 at the earliest, but that might not be a problem, seeing as how the current year’s budget will probably still be stalled.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced today that the initiative is entering circulation. See the announcement here (pdf), and the initiative language here (pdf). The approach is, on the surface, the same as the Democrats’ plan for closing California’s gaping budget hole -- get it from the rich with new tax brackets. But the numbers differ and, when you get to the details you realize that this measure is creative. And by creative, I mean weird.


Most of the revenue would be used to , umm, no, try again.

Most of the revenue would be used to buy Exxon-Mobil. And Chevron. And GM, Ford, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Citigroup. Why? To assure California of an adequate supply of energy, at stable prices, without offshore drilling. And to repatriate off-shore manufacturers.

Oh, and to restore the Hetch-Hetchy Valley, which currently is a reservoir supplying water to the Bay Area, to the way it was at the beginning of the last century.

So, rich folk, you say you’d just take your money and Chevron stock and move to Telluride? Or the Bahamas? These guys are way ahead of you. The wealthy would have to pay to leave the state, whether their mode of exodus is a limousine or a pine box.

Gotta read the fine print.

Bowen approved another initiative for circulation -- this one to make election Tuesdays into state holidays. Might as well. Since so few Californians bother to vote, they may as well not vote during a long weekend as not vote during a workday.