The Bad Economy Trap

Economic strength is a product of confidence. And you can't get much less confident than Californians.

A new Field Poll found 91 percent of Californians surveyed believing the state's economy is in bad shape. Half say their personal economic situation has declined -- the fourth straight year that's happened in Field.

The numbers aren't surprising. But they are historic.

Californians have not been this gloomy about the economy, and their own economic circumstances, since modern polling began.

This gloom also represents a sizable obstacle to change -- and points to a phenomenon that might be called the governance trap.

Californians badly want their political leaders to take decisive steps to improve the state's economic climate and create jobs.

But there are two problems. The state has somewhat limited power to affect the economy. And decisive moves on jobs issues -- or just about any issue -- are impossible under the broken governing system.

Some wise Californians know this and want to tackle changes in the governing system. But they're getting nowhere -- in part because voters don't want their leaders talking about changes in governing system. They want them focused on delivering for them economically.

That's the trap.

The state's elected leadership, including Gov. Jerry Brown, aren't helping matters by talking about jobs while failing to pursue the major governance changes necessary for the state to take decisive legislative action on the economy and other areas. This is sure to breed cynicism -- and to make the trap that much harder to escape.

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