From the NYT:
California -- already in danger of running out of money -- reported that its December unemployment rate hit 9.3 percent, up from 8.4 percent in November and waaay up from 5.9 percent in December 2007.
The state shed 78,200 jobs in December, excluding farm workers as the economy is getting hammered by the recession. If California were an independent nation, its Gross Domestic Product would place it among the world's top 10 countries.
California has one of the nation's highest foreclosure rates. It is now tied with Louisiana for the nation's lowest credit-rating. Moody's has warned it may cut the state's debt rating, making much-needed loans harder to get and more expensive.
At the same time, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has been chiding his legislature to plug the state's massive budget shortfalls, projected to be $15 billion this year and $25 billion next year.
By the way, keep in mind that it's been 15 years since a very destructive earthquake in California. (By my count, the big destructive ones were in 1906, 1932, 1971, 1989, and 1994.) So, it's not as if California is overdue ... yet. But there will be another Big One. And there are a lot more buildings in California to fall down than in the past, although they are more sturdily built now than in the past. (My house is, I hope, at the other extreme -- so flimsily built that the main danger in an earthquake is getting conked by a falling 2"x4".)
The point is that eventually there will be a trillion dollar earthquake in California that the whole country will have to pay for. Maybe if Obama's lucky, it will happen soon so he can double his stimulus plan!
And, by another way, that's one more reason construction in California is slower and more expensive than in Texas: more earthquake safety regulations and costs.