War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
– George Orwell, 1984
With his eyes firmly set on the Democratic nomination for president, Gavin Newsom on January 6 was sworn into the California governor’s office for another four-year term. In his second inaugural speech, Newsom highlighted the theme he evidently believes will carry him into the White House, “freedom.” But his perverse definition of freedom is as extreme as the right-wing caricatures he claims he’s protecting us from—and far more likely to be realized.
One of the centerpieces of Newsom’s “freedom” agenda is the right to an abortion. But Newsom isn’t merely defending the principles of Roe v. Wade, which tied the legality of abortion to the viability of the fetus. Nor is Newsom advocating the abortion policies enforced in almost every European nation, where abortion is illegal after 12 weeks.
When it comes to abortion rights, Newsom is pandering to extremists—some would call them murderers—who won’t rest until abortion is legal right up until the moment of birth. As it is, California’s “pregnant people” have the freedom to abort up to 24 weeks. “Viable” or not, here’s a photo of a 24-week-old fetus. Killing this beautiful, obviously sentient human being is “freedom,” according to Gavin Newsom.
Also central to Newsom’s freedom agenda is making California a sanctuary for “transgender youth seeking medical care.” Newsom, again pandering to extremists, is willing to allow confused teens and preteens the “freedom” to permanently alter their bodies. Never mind that we’re talking about minors. Never mind if much of this horrific fad, these surging rates of “rapid onset gender dysphoria,” can be shown to be the result of social contagion and nurturing pressures from biased psychotherapists. Bring out the surgeon’s scalpel. Sign up children for a lifetime of unhealthy and expensive “maintenance” pharmaceuticals. And if someone who has surgically “confirmed” their gender has crushing regrets once they’re grown up, too bad, and shut up.
Newsom’s “freedoms” also extend to state-sanctioned, public use of addictive drugs. Never mind that pretty much every person with experience working with addicts and the homeless acknowledges treatment must be imposed on addicts if they are ever to recover, that approach would not permit what writer Michael Shellenberger has dubbed the “addiction maintenance industry” to continue to prosper. And make no mistake, that’s what’s going on here. The only winners in this deadly charade are drug cartels and aid workers employed by nonprofits or by the government. This is how, as our cities turn into shitholes, and depraved addicts die by the thousands, Gavin Newsom claims to be standing up for “freedom.”
The story of Newsom’s “freedom” agenda, which he’s aggressively selling in every blue state in America, doesn’t end with late-term abortions, “gender affirming” surgery for minors, or the right to mainline heroin on a city sidewalk. These are just some of the ways in which Newsom pacifies extremists and rewards opportunists, despite being hideously offensive to anyone possessing a shred of common sense and decency.
Newsom’s Freedom Agenda Is a Distraction
More to the point, these “freedoms” Newsom peddles are distractions. In some respects, Newsom and others like him on the Left are merely trolling Red America with these endorsements of depravity. This is what they do to allow their economic agenda to advance quietly. As Newsom crows about protecting the “freedom of speech” for educators—translation: the right to teach five-year-old children that they can choose their “gender” and 10-year-old children how to have anal sex—critics of this filth can be forgiven for missing how Newsom and his ilk are presiding over the slow creep of economic enslavement.
This is where the inverted logic of Newsom’s rhetorical agenda of freedom is fully exposed. Californians are being herded into regimented lives, controlled by very large corporations, public-employee unions, and environmentalists, whose alliance and shared agenda is only inexplicable at first glance. A deeper examination shows how their interests align and blows away traditional stereotypes of Right and Left.
A troubling article published in December at National Review titled “California Destroys Its Independent Truckers,” describes what Newsom is enabling, and by extension, what Democrats have in store for the entire country.
The article begins by describing how Assembly Bill 5, a state law signed by Newsom in 2019, “compels independent drivers to surrender the companies they’ve built and seek employment in large firms that can hire them.” Having recently lost court appeals, 2023 will see the loss of California’s more than 70,000 owner-operators. They are either retiring or moving to other states. Very few will be willing to join major trucking companies, and even fewer will be able to comply with the conditions set forth by AB 5 that might allow them to continue to operate independently.
But if AB 5 doesn’t wipe out every independent trucker, California’s all-powerful regional air-quality boards have declared the state’s ports off-limits to trucks with engines over three years old. As Swaim notes, “It will likely further concentrate market share in large corporations that can afford newer trucks—a remarkable but predictable outcome in a state that protests corporate control of the economy.”
At the state level, California’s Air Resources Board has declared a ban on the sale of all trucks running on gasoline or diesel fuel after 2040. Imagine how this will impact not just any independent truckers that may be left standing but any company operating a small fleet of trucks. These regulations, designed by unions and environmentalists, will force the consolidation of California shipping into a handful of very large corporations.
Anyone who thinks what happens in California stays in California is making a dangerous assumption. The wealth and influence of California’s high-tech and entertainment industry, combined with its oversized weight in the U.S. Congress, means that if Democrats win nationally, the political and economic model being imposed on Californians is going to be imposed across America.
Newsom’s “Freedom” Is Economic Slavery
The economic destruction of California’s middle class is a product of legislation and court rulings that have made it practically impossible for private developers to build affordable homes while still making a profit. They have been driven out of a hostile state, thanks to a protracted approval process, inevitable and endless environmentalist litigation, exorbitant municipal permit fees, ridiculously overwritten building codes, zoning restrictions that drive up the price of whatever raw land remains available for building, the lack of available water, overpriced and scarce building materials, a labor shortage, and the unwillingness of cities and counties—unlike throughout previous decades—to share the burden of enabling streets and utility infrastructure.
As a result, the average home in California, even in this downturn, stands north of $760,000. To make up for the shortage of private developers who can turn a profit and are therefore willing to develop housing without subsidies, an entire new class of developers and renters have emerged. The developer constructs low-income housing, taking advantage of tax incentives and government matching funds, which is then occupied by residents who have some or all of the rent paid for by the government.
This concept—creating scarcity by driving small private firms out of business through overregulation, and thereby enabling unionized and heavily subsidized large corporations to take control of a market where prices have been deliberately driven higher—is not restricted to housing. Does anyone think large energy companies don’t welcome regulations and restrictions that drive smaller competitors out of business at the same time it increases the prices they can charge and the profits they can earn? Is it far fetched to recognize that hedge funds buying up farmland for the water rights will prefer a state of perpetually worsening water scarcity, or that big agribusiness concerns with the financial resilience to withstand shortages don’t take every opportunity to buy up smaller farm operations that are driven out of business when every input, from water to fertilizer to tractor fuel, has been priced out of reach?
This is the economic slavery for which Newsom, and the state of California, is merely an instructive example. It’s happening all over the world.
These are the Lords of Scarcity, systematically imposing escalating economic hardship on every ordinary working household in America and beyond. They are imposing water shortages and calling for rationing; suppressing conventional energy and rationing during “peak” demand. At the same time they are decommissioning cheap sources of electricity and transportation fuel—from natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear power, and hydroelectric power—and similarly decommissioning the infrastructure to distribute them. This comes along with the imposition of all-electric cars (even though advanced hybrids are far more practical and sustainable) along with mileage taxes and “congestion” pricing that limits access by independently owned vehicles into urban cores. Add to these the suppression of new housing and the destruction of agriculture.
The collusion of big business, big government, and big labor to orchestrate this conquest throws every conventional ideological stereotype into the trash. The closest political economy that would define what is happening in California today—and by extension throughout the world – is fascism. It is economic fascism by virtue of governments and corporations working together while co-opting the labor movement. It is political and psychological fascism by virtue of the way it identifies convenient scapegoats, reminiscent of the scenes in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, where citizens would perform a daily “two minutes of hatred for enemies of the party.” But the 2023 version of such a ritual is to scapegoat the racists, the sexists, the transphobes and homophobes, the climate deniers, the election deniers; all those bigots who would take away our “freedom” to murder the unborn, mutilate children, mainline heroin, or, to just preserve the freedom to earn a modest middle-class lifestyle in exchange for honest hard work.
This is how the social radicalism of the Left has been co-opted to become a useful distraction for our oppressors. It gives everyone something to hate, with the full endorsement of every corporation and government agency in the nation.
Such is the freedom Gavin Newsom is selling. Don’t be surprised, two years from now, if it carries him all the way to the Oval Office. On the other hand, every American who values genuine freedom should be encouraged by how precarious Newsom’s strategy is when exposed to the light of day.
Newsom, and the entire corporatist establishment for which he is merely a rising figurehead, are presuming that hundreds of millions of Americans being driven into poverty will never realize that divisive rhetoric on social issues is nothing but a diversion. Don’t bet on that. Be hopeful. Times will change.
This article originally appeared in American Greatness.
Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.
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