Though I grew up in Cocoa Beach, I was born in southern California. It could be primal memories or something more plausible, but I have always felt a connection to the state and I still think the Coronado/San Diego area is one of the most gorgeous places in the country. Mild climate throughout the year, mountains to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west, low humidity, great surf and no mosquitoes. Plus, there is a Good Vibrations feel that permeates the landscape.
The second half of the last century was defined by Californian culture, as much as New York defined the previous 50 years. From the Hollywood film industry, to music, education and technology, right up to the emergence of Silicon Valley, California was the place to be and the place to beat. Shoot, they even developed the “West Coast Offense,” which revolutionized college and professional football.
Part of the California Dream included, as in other places, well intentioned policies and political directions, designed to right every wrong. But like the hit song, popularized by California native Debby Boone, that said, “It can’t be wrong, when it feels so right,” what felt right, is in fact resulting in meltdown of Chernobyl proportions.
Another great song, that came from the genius of California’s Mamas & the Papas, went “California dreaming is becoming a reality.” Over the last 40 years the idealistic goals of those with political control have hit realities fan and have pushed the state towards insolvency, causing an unprecedented exodus.
What I always saw as “dingy Reno, Nevada,” just over the border from California, is now a booming tech center as Apple, Google and the like, seek relief from over regulation and skyrocketing taxes. Other states like Montana and Texas are also benefiting from the migration.
Here is my concern: people and companies are leaving the Golden State by the droves, but in many cases, they are taking their bankrupt and bankrupting political ideologies with them.
In Multi-Housing PRO, a journal catering to that industry, they published an interesting piece on 5 Reasons California is Unsustainable.
- Infrastructure Deficit: California supports nearly 40 million people and anticipates 50 million-plus, on a state water system designed for a population of 25 million. Water, as well as the rest of California’s infrastructure, has generally been ignored since the 1960s. The Society of Civil Engineers delivered a 2018 report on CA’s bridges, roads and transit system, with a grade of C-.
- Government Debt: In 2015 the California Policy Center reported that CA state and local governments owe $1.3 trillion. Others say it is as much as $2.3 trillion. The Hoover Institute puts the pension liability alone at $1 trillion or $78,884 per household.
- Rent Control & Homelessness: Several rent control bills failed to make it through the California Senate. AB 1482 (anti-rent gouging bill) did clear the Senate judiciary committee. If passed, California would join Oregon with statewide rent control. Unfortunately, rent control has historically decreased rental inventory and increased rents on the non-regulated apartments, often creating more homelessness instead of less. Today, nearly half of all of Americans sleeping on the street are in California.
- Taxes and Regulations: With California’s many regulations, the influx of over 2.6 million illegal immigrants (2014), a shrinking middle class and the highest income-to-debt-ratio among U.S. states — it is little wonder it is the state with the highest taxes and highest cost of living. Their skilled work force is exiting, being replaced with those seeking to take advantage of the state government’s costly policies.
- Government Culture: In June California passed its largest state budget to date – $215 billion (almost three times Florida’s), including a record number of rather dubious, what some call “pork-barrel projects.” The California Globe sighted perks of $496,350,000 in the final budget.
Like I said at the beginning, I love California. The geography is varied and unrivaled, and the people are generally open and free-spirited. However, I hope when they leave, seeking greener pastures, they leave their political predilections behind. Otherwise, their children and ours will be fleeing their new places of residence, as the same mistakes are repeated.