WSJ: California Should Join European Union

Yes, the Wall Street Journal is suggesting that California formally join the European Union.

That's the lead of an editorial that accuses the state of behaving like its own continent "by becoming the first jurisdiction in the nation to adopt a full-scale cap-and-trade tax to combat global warming."

You don't remember the legislature passing this new tax? Or any other tax for that matter?

That's because they didn't. The Journal is using tax to refer to landmark 2006 legislation, championed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, to require a reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.

All this alarmist language obscures a more-than-fair point: California's climate change regulations have costs. The Journal throws out a variety of numbers, but the truth is that no one knows the costs.

Of course, no one knows the benefits to the state of being the place that sets the standard for climate change regulaton. Yes, there can be benefits too -- particularly if other states and the federal government follow suit. in that case, California businesses should be able to do well by being first to adapt to these regulations. A big question is how California can get the most in benefits from climate-change regulation -- while minimizing costs.

But that question is too big for the Journal, which is committed to portraying California as some sort of European place. It's not. But it is, unfortunately, limited by a dysfunctional federal government that has failed to adopt the energy, immigration, and other policies California needs to maximize its potential.

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