LONG BEACH, CA - OCTOBER 26: Howard Schultz, Chairman, President and CEO, Starbucks Coffee Company attend the Maria Shriver Women's Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center on October 26, 2010 in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Howard Schultz
Starbucks CEO Howard Schutlz has earned a lot of attention for calling on political donors to refrain from making contributions to politicians.
Perhaps California needs a similar campaign.
Put simply, California funds America's leading politicians, but doesn't get much in return.
President Obama is headed back to the state next week to raise money. The leading Republican candidates for president -- especially former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and current Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- are already raising millions in the state, as California Watch details here.
But do you ever hear them talk about concrete plans to address California's particular -- and deep -- unemployment problems?
There's an opportunity for California donors to use their leverage here to force candidates to consider the state's job problems with specific plans. They just have to hold back their cash until they get a plan.
This would be a real service -- not only to California but also to the country.
One big reason why the national unemployment rate is stuck at 9 percent is that unemployment in California, home to one in every eight Americans, is stuck at 12 percent.
We're holding the rest of the country back. Until California's job market comes back, federal unemployment figures can't improve much.
What should donors be asking for?
On my wish list: immediate action to boost exports -- which are crucial to the state's economy. Incentives and greater public relief -- including infrastructure projects -- targeted to economically depressed inland California.
A bit of help for the state budget, so that more cuts to schools and other programs aren't triggered in December.
And most of all, decisive, major legislation to address the problems in the housing market -- which is the biggest drag on the state economy.
Until California sees such action, the California political ATM should be closed.