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San Francisco’s “Progressive” Drug Policies Kill Hundreds Annually

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Last year, 621 people died of drug overdoses in San Francisco. To put this in perspective, 173 people died from COVID-19, which is identified as the primary public health crisis in the Bay Area.


A Happier New Year In California?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, January 7, 2021

This being my first California-related column of the new year, let’s see if much has changed since 2020 mercifully came to an end.

Economic Policy

Failed Governance Caused California’s $8 Billion Unemployment Fraud

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, January 5, 2021

California’s employment department uses computers more than 30 years old with 60-year-old software. This is one reason why taxpayers may be on the hook for $8 billion in fraudulent unemployment benefits.


California Winners And Losers Amidst The Pandemic

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Wednesday, December 9, 2020

We have another three weeks to go until we close the books on 2020, so why not a review of California’s “winners” and losers” in a year that we’d like to put in the rear-view mirror?


As Amber Heard Goes, So Goes Governor Newsom?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, December 3, 2020

Back in June 2019, in this same space, I devoted an entire column to the prospect of a recall election to decide the fate of California governor Gavin Newsom.

Economic Policy

California’s COVID Economic Recovery Task Force Provides Political Cover But Little Else

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

After seven months, California’s one-hundred-plus-member economic recovery task force has finished its recovery recommendation report.  What could have been a game-changing opportunity to reduce the state’s high cost of living, increase efficiency in bureaucracies, and reform tax and regulatory policies never got off the ground.

The State

In Pod We Trust: A California Holiday Like No Other

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, November 24, 2020

If Thanksgiving in present-day California were a remake of the 1987 film classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles (considered by some to be “the ultimate Thanksgiving movie”) it would have the running time of a three-minute egg as far as travel is concerned.


The Democratic Party’s San Francisco Problem

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, November 19, 2020

Progressive Democrats have dominated San Francisco’s city government for the last 20 years, a time during which homelessness, drug abuse, the cost of living, and the city budget have skyrocketed. San Francisco is becoming an increasingly obvious problem for the national Democratic party, with vice president-elect Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Dianne Feinstein all from the Bay Area.


In California, It’s Not Who You Know, But When Will It Snow?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Here’s a pro tip for California governor Gavin Newsom, now that’s he’s transitioned from life in tony Marin County to a residence closer to his workplace (after promising to live in the historic Governor’s Mansion in downtown Sacramento, California’s First Family instead bought a six-bedroom, $3.7 million spread in Fair Oaks, about 15 miles from the state capitol, replete with a pool, hot tub, tennis court, and wine cellar).


Before We Declare California The “New Wyoming” . . .

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Wednesday, November 11, 2020

It didn’t take long, after the polls closed last week in California, for conservatives to cast a happy spin on the results (which will keep changing over the next month as the Golden State takes it sweet time—five-plus weeks after Election Day—to certify the statewide vote).


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California on Your Mind is a twice weekly journal about California politics and economic policies, and how they affect California’s economy. At one time, California policies helped create the “California Dream” by fostering affordable housing, creating high quality schools, and facilitating substantial infrastructure investments. These policies helped make California the 20th century destination for thousands of businesses, and for tens of millions of Americans who moved to California from other parts of the country. Today, a very different set of state and local policies is contributing to rapidly increasing housing prices, growing homelessness, lower quality schools, and insufficient public investments.

This journal discusses California political and policy developments in real time, describes how they will affect the California economy, and analyzes how reasonable policy reforms can reduce California’s cost of living, improve California schools, increase public investment, and help restore the “California Dream”.


About the Authors

Lee Ohanian

Lee E. Ohanian is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Professor of Economics at UCLA. He is an adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and previously has advised other Federal Reserve Banks, Foreign Central Banks, and the National Science Foundation. He has been an economic adviser to state and national political campaigns and has testified to the U.S. Senate and the California State Legislative Assembly on economic policy issues. His research, which recently has been discussed in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and other media sources, focuses on economic policies and economic growth, and as been published widely in a number of peer-reviewed journals. He is a frequent columnist for the Wall Street Journal. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Rochester.


Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution research fellow since 1999, writes and comments on California and America’s political landscapes. Whalen is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee and and also writes frequently for Real Clear Politics, The Hill and the Washington Times. He is also the host of Hoover’s Area 45 podcast that explores policymaking and politics as they pertain to the Trump presidency. Prior to joining the Hoover Institution, Whalen served as chief speechwriter and director of public affairs for former California governor Pete Wilson. He’s also served as a strategist for numerous California political hopefuls, including former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. A native of Washington, D.C., Whalen received a B.A. in journalism from Washington & Lee University. ​