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California: It’s a zoo!

I was talking with a colleague yesterday who said he was really quite embarassed by this recall of California Governor Gray Davis. He went on to say how some of his friends had felt that way about the electricity crisis a couple of years ago — but that, at the time, that crisis really didn’t bother him.

I think the reality is that both of these events highlight the insanity of doing business in California these days.

Nobody in their right mind would start anything other than a service-based business in California these days — because of the Workers’ Compensation costs. After all, if you’re actually making anything, you make it in China — right? Korea, Malaysia, Japan — they’re old news (and simply not competitive).

There are other places much more competitive (e.g., lower cost) for service-based businesses (e.g., India, Ireland, even Canada!). Hey, how about North Dakota, Nebraska, and similar Midwestern locales?

In Sunday’s interview in the San Francisco Chronicle with Wells Fargo’s CEO Dick Kovacevich, he commented about the state of doing business in California:

We are committed to California and the San Francisco area. But I worry about California because it has a reputation as an antibusiness state. And I think we’re losing huge amounts of job growth. There are companies moving out of California simply because the environment for doing business in California is so negative compared with our neighboring states.

It’s a shame for this state, which has so much going for it and is a gateway to Asia, has a diverse group of people who are hard workers, a wonderful quality of life, wonderful weather and so on. If it wanted to, it could be the most attractive place to do business. But because of its reputation and regulatory environment, it’s driving businesses away. It’s sad, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

Does anybody in government in California truly care about making this state viable for business? If so, please speak up — your voice isn’t being heard among the rest of this state’s budgetary battles, recall efforts, etc. Seems like it’s time for a new initiative campaign — one that restores a pro-business (and jobs and prosperity) to the current wacko environment.

I love living in Silicon Valley — but, like my colleague, I really hate what’s happening to the climate for business in California and its inevitable impact on the technology and innovation that has been so important to this state — and this country!

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