Collaborating for the greater good of California

do-iconCalifornia Must Embrace the Challenge of Reclaiming a Leadership Role

“We now must move forward to grow again, to see our way clear to provide the proper educational framework for our future, to deal with our aging and neglected infrastructures, to restore our economic engine and reclaim our place in the world economy.”

By James Boyd

California of late has managed to stem the bleeding in its economy. The Executive and Legislative Branches of our government, in concert with the people, have acted and voted on matters that dress the wounds in the California government fiscal picture.

Now we must all commit to finishing the job of burnishing our golden heritage and reclaiming our rightful place as the Nation State of California, one of the great economies of the world.

Our strong economy grew businesses and millions of jobs that provided the financing and willpower to create what once were the finest educational system, transportation network, and water infrastructures in the world. We facilitated a quality of life that sounded a call for the best public health and environmental protection programs available.

This in turn stimulated Californians to create the most advanced technological development businesses and industrial base in the nation. A seemingly perpetual cycle of more advanced, cleaner technologies and products to serve the needs of the ever-growing nation flowed from California. We generated so many cutting-edge advancements here that our state became the acknowledged cradle of advanced technology – the point of the spear leading the forward march of the California economy. Economic hardships were hardly known and rarely felt here for a long time. While the country dealt with economic peaks and valleys, we moved steadily forward, powered by the monster wave of advanced technology development.

When California confronted its first significant economic challenge – the drastic reduction in aerospace and defense industry expenditures – we responded not by sinking into a morass of self-pity. We applied the talents of our people to identify creative, innovative new opportunities that would help confront and solve the new problems and even those yet to come, providing ever-expanding opportunities to aid and advance our society. New industries and new technologies created jobs for displaced workers and fueled ongoing growth of the state’s economy.

The results were the grist of stories and near legend. The Silicon Valley model bloomed all over our state – the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and elsewhere – all in the sphere of the State’s renowned universities. New and advanced technologies again fueled the Golden State as all forms of computer technology expanded us into renewable electricity far ahead of accepted norms; the first production model electric car really created in California for a national firm; stunning new technology for medicine, for industry, for protecting our environment and for everyday living. Advanced clean technology, became the key to our sustainable economic growth.

Then our nation fell on hard times. The financial crisis spared no one this time. Years have been spent to right our ship and we are coming out of the crisis. The nation has acted; the State of California has acted. We now must move forward to grow again, to see our way clear to provide the proper educational framework for our future, to deal with our aging and neglected infrastructures, to restore our economic engine and reclaim our place in the world economy. In short, we must lead again by establishing and re-establishing courageous and groundbreaking public policies that accomplish these lofty goals.

And what of the lessons of the past? Are there tools and policies we have had before that will aid us again? What about the tip of our tattered economic spear, advanced technology and its surrogates of clean and green technologies? Should we not do all we can do to embrace this time-tested formula and stimulate its adoption through our policies? Our leaders in government at all levels of this state would do well to make this happen. The people of the Golden State deserve no less.

James “Jim” Boyd is a principal of Clean Tech Advocates in Sacramento. He is past Executive Director of the California Air Resources Board, former Vice-Chairman of the California Energy Commission and former Deputy Secretary of the California Resources Agency. He created and chaired the state’s first Joint Agency Climate Change Team.