No one in their right mind should think of California as a policy road map for the rest of the nation. Nevertheless, that’s what President Biden seems to believe. The Biden administration is apparently using California for inspiration as it pursues its liberal agenda.

Golden State initiatives such as decarbonizing electricity grids, high-speed rail, and regulating the gig economy are all policy goals that the White House intends to emulate. These may sound fine, but as a California native and one of the 500,000-plus people who have fled the state, I can say with certainty that the new administration is making a serious mistake.

Biden has made the environment a dominant theme of his administration, setting an ambitious goal of decarbonizing the U.S. economy by 2035. Similarly, California has made bold promises to convert its energy grid to 50% renewables by 2030 and is on track to meet this goal — with the state currently getting about a third of its energy from renewables.

California’s regular blackouts last summer should give Biden a glimpse of what awaits if he follows the Golden State’s playbook: millions of powerless households baking under record-breaking heat waves. Because solar and wind produce power intermittently and battery storage has proven insufficient,, they’re inherently unreliable. Any energy grid that leans heavily on these zero-emission energy sources must be supplemented by baseload energy such as natural gas or nuclear. Shunning zero-emission energy sources such as nuclear and attempting to rely heavily on solar and wind is a recipe for disaster.

On the transportation front, Biden has ambitious plans to revolutionize the country’s rail system. Prior to the election, the U.S. rail industry speculated that a Biden administration would bring about a “second great railroad revolution.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently championed the idea of America leading the world in high-speed rail. “I just don't know why people in other countries ought to have better train service and more investment in high-speed train service than Americans,” he said.

For enlightenment, Buttigieg should look again to California, whose high-speed rail system serves as a warning. The “bullet train,” as it is known, has proven to be a $100 billion boondoggle and a waste of taxpayer money. Originally billed at $35 billion and dreamed up by former California Gov. Jerry Brown, the hope was to create a more environmentally friendly form of transportation connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles — a 382-mile trip. It’s estimated that the bullet train could complete the trip in two hours and 38 minutes. Never mind that you could make the journey in one hour and 20 minutes by plane.

Now, it’s likely that the state will only complete the section from Merced to Bakersfield, a 163-mile trip. Naturally, California has had to pass several bond measures to keep the project’s funds flowing. While the scheme did benefit select contractors who won the state’s business, other stakeholders, including California’s taxpayers, have largely been burned.

When the government gets in the business of creating a good or service that there is no real demand for outside of ideological posturing, the project inevitably results in waste, fraud, and abuse. Biden should take note.

Next, we can look to the “The Biden Plan for Strengthening Worker Organizing, Collective Bargaining, and Unions.” The plan claims to empower workers but also endorses the controversial CA AB5 law. And the plan isn’t just a campaign promise. Prominent Democrats in both the House and Senate just reintroduced the PRO Act, modeled after California’s AB5. Like AB5, Biden’s federal plan would make it extremely difficult to qualify as a “freelance contractor.”

The goal of AB5 was to force companies to treat freelance workers as full-time employees, thus giving the freelancer access to benefits such as healthcare. It aimed to accomplish this by creating new hiring protocols, which limit a company’s ability to hire contract workers. What the law actually accomplished was a one-size-fits-all approach that restricted worker choices and flexibility and led companies to stop hiring freelance workers altogether.

Ultimately, CA AB5 hurts freelance workers by making labor more expensive. Biden’s plan would do the same, hurting the very people it’s meant to protect. Like most top-down policy, this regulatory approach is divorced from economic reality. Politicians tend to ignore one of the fundamental facts of life: that people respond to incentives. And when regulations create disincentives, such as making labor more expensive, people respond accordingly.

As the Biden administration begins rolling out the specifics of its agenda for the next four years, instead of trying to emulate California’s liberal policies, Biden’s team should look to the Golden State as an example of what not to do. Let’s hope Biden learns from California’s mistakes and doesn’t merely repeat them.

Kat Dwyer is a Young Voices contributor working in the conservation policy space and is the co-host of the Whiskey Bench podcast. Her writing has appeared in the National Interest, the Hill, and other outlets. Follow her on Twitter at @KatJDwyer.