The NORTH COUNTY TIMES ran my op-ed on the effect of defense spending in San Diego County. My thesis is that, absent our massive federal defense spending, the San Diego economy is simply "awful."
This fact is amazing, considering that that San Diego has the best climate in the nation. But our terrible government-imposed anti-business economic climate trumps our inherent advantages of nature.
NORTH COUNTY TIMES
RIDER: Without defense, our economy awful
June 26, 2012 • By RICHARD RIDER
The North County Times recently reported on the latest study detailing the remarkable dependency of the San Diego County economy on national defense spending. The study, prepared with the assistance of the Point Loma Nazarene University Fermanian Business a Economic Institute, found that 1 in 4 jobs in the county is dependent on military spending (including federal retirees and the iffy "ripple effect").
Clearly, San Diego benefits from a huge, ongoing federal "stimulus package" that dwarfs federal subsidies to most other areas of the nation. Moreover, our area has disproportionately gained from the last decade's defense "realignments," in contrast to most other military-related local economies around our country.
Let me be clear. I'm not here writing about the merits or demerits of our national level of defense spending, nor our country's de facto goal of remaining the world's policeman. I'm here discussing the economic effect of defense spending in San Diego, and the strength of San Diego's overall economy ---- taking into consideration our region's stridently anti-business economic climate.
San Diego boosters love to cite our area's relatively low unemployment rate compared to the state of California. But taking defense spending into consideration, our local private sector economy is anything but vibrant.
Currently California has the nation's third highest unemployment rate ---- 10.8 percent in May. While the national unemployment rate is 8.2 percent, not including California it is only 7.8 percent ---- making the California unemployment rate 37.7 percent higher than the average of the other 49 states.
San Diego County's April unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, much better than our state's dismal figure. Moreover, if the job/bean counters included the 100,000-plus San Diego jobs of the folks in the armed forces, our rate would be another half-percent lower ---- though still higher than the average of the other 49 states.
San Diego is uniquely blessed. Most who live in San Diego (including myself) would strongly argue that this is the best place to physically live in the nation. Weather is the key.
What is often missed is that our great weather bestows benefits on residents far beyond just the touted temperate temperatures. We have low humidity. We have few depressing rainy days (technically we are a desert). We get little wind ---- ask people from the Plains states about constant wind.
And perhaps most important of all, bugs are outlawed in San Diego. As one raised in North Carolina, let me tell you that no bugs (especially mosquitoes) is a blessing beyond belief.
With this incredible weather "natural resource," we are a year-round tourist attraction ---- another major economic benefit to the region. Hence you'd think San Diego should be a mecca for the permanent relocation of both people and businesses. And it would be ---- absent the abysmal economic climate.
To me, it is both astounding and depressing that with the massive federal spending in the area and the uniquely desirable weather, we are still a moribund economic center. Only oppressive, high-tax, fee-grabbing, regulation-mad, litigation-encouraging, anti-business state and local governments can offset these remarkable regional pluses.
Under the law of unintended consequences ---- "Mission Accomplished."
RICHARD RIDER is chairman of San Diego Tax Fighters. Contact him at www.open.salon.com/blog/richard_rider.