Crime is back up in California. Los Angeles reported a 20.6 percent increase in violent crimes over the first half of 2015 and nearly an 11 percent increase in property crimes.
Last year, cash-strapped California taxpayers voted for Proposition 47, which so far has let thousands of convicted criminals go free from prison and back onto the streets. Now the state may have to relearn what lawbreakers often do when let out of jail early.
The state may be entering the fifth year of a catastrophic drought, but California has not started building any of the new reservoirs that were planned but long ago canceled under the unfinished California Water Project. Water may remain scarce, but legislators — many of whom have their daily water needs met by the ancient reservoirs and canals that their grandparents built — don’t seem overly bothered. They prefer to designate transgender restrooms, ban plastic bags at grocery stores, and prohibit pet dogs from chasing bears and bobcats.
Never has a region been so naturally rich but so poorly run by its latest generation of custodians.
California endures some of the highest gasoline taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes in the nation. Yet its roads and public schools rate near the very bottom of U.S. rankings.
Traffic accidents in California increased by 13 percent over a three-year period — the result of terrible roads and worse drivers. Almost half of all accidents in Los Angeles are hit-and-runs where the drivers leave the scene.
California has lots of petroleum and natural gas. It used to be a pacesetter in building nuclear and hydroelectric plants. Yet because of inept governance, the state’s electricity and gasoline prices are among the highest in the nation.
Why is California choosing the path of Detroit — growing government that it cannot pay for, shorting the middle classes, hiking taxes but providing shoddy services and infrastructure in return, and obsessing over minor bumper-sticker issues while ignoring existential crises?
The cause is political. California is a one-party state, without any serious audit of authorities in power.
The California State Assembly currently includes 52 Democrats and 28 Republicans. The California State Senate has 26 Democrats and 14 Republicans.
All of the state’s executive officers are Democrats. Both of its U.S. senators are Bay-area progressives. California’s House delegation is overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic. The party in power can do as it pleases without being held accountable at the polls.
But what turned a once bipartisan and purple state bright blue?
A perfect storm of events.
Higher taxes and increased regulations have driven out lots of small-business owners. In the last few years, hundreds of thousands of disgruntled middle-of-the-road voters voted with their feet and left for no-tax Nevada, Texas, or Florida.
The state devolved into a pyramid of the coastal wealthy and interior poor — the dual constituencies of the new progressive movement.
A third of America’s welfare recipients reside in California. Nearly a quarter of Californians live below the poverty line.
Yet nowhere in America are there more billionaires. California’s long, thin coastal corridor has become a tony La-La land unto itself. Some of the highest housing prices in the nation and richest communities are clustered along the Pacific coastline, from the wine country and Silicon Valley to Malibu and Hollywood, dotted by marquee coastal universities and zillionaire tech corporations.
Meanwhile, poorer people in the interior, in places such as Madera and Delano — far from Stanford, Google, Pacific Heights, and Santa Monica — require ever more public services. The very rich don’t mind paying the necessary higher taxes, while the strapped, shrinking middle class suffers or flees.
Demography also explains the new true-blue California. It is one of the youngest states, with a median age of 35. Voters tend to be more liberal before they reach 40 — and must take on increasing responsibilities, often for people other than just themselves.
California hosts more undocumented immigrants than any other state. Its percentages of minority and foreign-born residents are among the highest in the country. (One of four California residents was not born in the United States.) As with the young, immigrant groups are likewise traditional liberal constituencies, at least in the early generations.
Good money in California along the affluent coast, for the most part, is not made the old-fashion way — in mining, timber, ranching, farming, and construction. Instead, California specializes in high-tech, social media, the Internet, government employment, academia, lawyering, and acting.
Profits usually involve programming, investing, financing, hedging, talking, dealing, suing, instructing, and regulating. The money is better, the physical work less grubby, and utopia seems attainable in a way impossible when growing lettuce, mining granite, drilling gas wells, producing two-by-fours, building dams, or shipping steel.
Could California change?
Only when voters of all persuasions decide to return to the old give-and-take politics that keeps politicians honest.
Or when water taps in the suburbs go dry.
Or perhaps when the state’s growing poor populations connect their exorbitant gas, power, and housing costs with an elite agenda of rich coastal liberals, who do not seem to care about the people working hard to glimpse what the elites take for granted.
© 2015 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
17 thoughts on “Can California Be Saved?”
I think the only hope for those Californians that live inland from the coast is for the Big One to strike, dumping the entire coastline into the Pacific Ocean. Fancy houses and all. Just my opinion of course.
I fear many Californians are fleeing to my formerly pleasant state of Colorado. In the last year housing has gone up $100k and traffic is starting to be a drudge. Finding a house to either buy or rent (unfortunately I’ve landed in that game) is nearly impossible, with 30-50 people clamoring for every domicile. I fear the same entitlement and ‘environment at any cost’ foolishness in our new politic.
Over the years I have taken impious pleasure in fielding the occasional call from lofty California tech recruiters (who generally have a certain smugness about their companies; google, apple, etc…) and then telling them I would never consider moving back to California because of the real estate prices.
Guess now the joke may be on me 🙁
I lived in CO from 89 to 13. I saw the state go from moderately conservative to fairly well left of center. It has been Californicated and that is truly sorry. The state of Denver and the Peoples Republic of Boulder ruined it for the rest of us. I’m back in the south and so happy.
Yes, it can be saved.
1. Get rid of the democrates
2. Get rid of the environmental nuts.
3. Deport all illegal immigrants.
4. Round up and incarserate all gang members.
5. Jail all ACLU lawyers for hindering an investigation when they object to number 4.
There might be other things to do but these are the first ones that come to mind.
“Can California Be Saved?” In a word, no.
Too far gone.
Signed, a Sorry lifelong Californian
I was born and raised in CA 47 years ago, but I departed this year for Texas. You can infer my answer to the headline. Sorry to say, because it is a geographically beautiful place, but it has been ruined by the idiots. The list of crazy laws is too long to cite, so I’ll end by saying I wish I’d made the time to go on one of those Sierra hikes with you, Dr. Hanson.
In War Resolution
All the states that attract large numbers of illegal immigrants will go the same way. When California eventually becomes a burden to the rest of the US, taking in more than it produces, then we can give it back to Mexico.
Maybe that was the plan all along?
California will most likely come to resemble something like Brazil in coming years. Continuing on its present trajectory, the California of the near future will be characterized by a small wealthy white and Asian elite, concentrated in fabulously wealthy enclaves in cities along the coast, ruling over a much larger impoverished predominantly Latino underclass living in parts of cities and suburbs which will come to resemble favelas. A thoroughly corrupt and inept socialist government, which alternates between left and ultra-left ideology, will have an absolute lock on political power at all levels. Huge swaths of urban areas will be controlled by criminal street gangs and effectively beyond the control of the state and its security forces. The wealthy coastal and urban elite will live comfortably and securely in enclaves protected by walls, razor wire, surveillance video, and private armed security. Los Angeles will come to look like São Paulo, which will be great for the rich, but hell for everyone else
“”” Jeb Bush’s campaign blueprint.”” from U.S. news & world report. Leaked doc on Mr. excitement. Inside, more dirt on Rubio. ” We need a wall, not a Rubio.”
The Democrats running California don’t want to “save” it. They seem to be happy to see probable Republican voters leave the state and probable Democrat voters enter the state (illegal aliens and others wanting to utilize the welfare programs of California).
I suppose this will end eventually only if the lower economic classes decide they would rather be independent rather than supplicants.
“” Obama’s call at UN to fight ISIS with ideas is largely seen as futile.”” Old article from the NY Times. A Trump-wall or it’s democrat presidents with retard intelligence—- dragging America into the pit of hell.
Unfortunately, many of those “disgruntled middle-of-the-road voters” are often more left-of-the-road voters that flee the high cost of living in democrat dominated areas and seek to establish liberal policies in the new places they settle.
“”” Obama, FBI director spar over the Ferguson Effect on police.”” from the Hill. Seven years ago, Jessie Jackson weeping at Barry’s coronation— weeping for a mirage in a liberal wasteland. So many are unprepared for their retirement—-so many will discover the Chris Christie truth, they have stolen their retirement money.
When the transformation of America is complete, from the American-dream to a RINO-Liberal wasteland—– just how much value will there be in the “paid in full” retirement check. The liberal dream in horrid actuality—-old, retired people with government cheese and a hankering for relatively cheap cans of cat food.
“The state devolved into a pyramid of the coastal wealthy and interior poor — the dual constituencies of the new progressive movement.”
Remember the raucous after pro golfer Phil Mickelson complained about his high taxes, resulting in his abject apology?