California Dreaming? Or California Nightmare?

Here’s a bit of news I never expected to hear about California. It ranks 50th; dead last; at the bottom of the heap, of all American states when it comes to quality of life, according to a recent ranking by U.S. News & World Report.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this revelation. After all, I live in California and I have witnessed what has happened to a state that once was the envy of the other 49.

California today is a terminus for the homeless, illegal aliens, MS-13 gang members, welfare cheaters, and clueless socialist politicians determined to transform the state into an abortive political and societal hodgepodge somewhere between communist Cuba and the impecunious wilds of Northern Mexico.

But let’s get back to the U.S. News analysis. The magazine’s quality of life rankings considered two sets of metrics for every state:

  1. Natural environment, comprising drinking-water quality, air quality, and pollution and industrial toxins.
  2. Social environment, comprising community engagement, social support, population density, and voter participation.

And guess what? California ranked near or at the bottom in each of those categories.

Little wonder. California, which calls itself the “Golden State,” is a mismanaged behemoth controlled by a mob of far-left zealots led by Gov. Jerry Brown, the state’s supreme leftist potentate.

This gang of political malefactors has sacked the state’s treasury, leaving it $427 billion in debt with a debt to GDP ratio of 15.6 percent. That means the debt for every one of California’s 39 million people is $10,818 and growing.

The state has long been a lodestone for illegal immigrants, but since Gov. Brown declared California a “sanctuary state,” a tidal wave of illegals, many with criminal backgrounds, is sweeping over the state’s splintered social landscape.

It is interesting to note that California’s high cost of living and its rising illegal immigration rates were two metrics that did not factor into the quality-of-life rankings.

Yet both are among the most obvious and disturbing issues facing the state.

Sanctuary cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland have opened their doors and coffers to illegal immigrants while American citizens are afforded the privilege of paying ever higher taxes to pay for this foolish munificence.

Recently, I received a tongue-in-cheek story suggesting that President Trump sell California back to Mexico. A map depicted the new U.S.-Mexican border running from Texas all the way to Oregon. There are some who feel jettisoning California might be a good thing. After all, Mexico ceded California to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican-American War. Maybe it’s time to send it back.

In any case, to watch California crumble before one’s eyes is disconcerting. But wait, you might ask, what about all of the millionaires living in places like Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, San Diego and the Orange County coast? How can California be disintegrating when you still have all that wealth?

The fact is, more than one-third of the state is now populated by immigrants, half of them illegal. Then, the state’s homeless population is growing at an alarming rate with some 30,000 in Los Angeles alone. In Orange County, thousands of homeless tents and hovels occupy miles and miles of land along the Santa Ana River. As a result, human feces, discarded hypodermic needles, and mounds of trash litter the bicycle path that runs between the fleapits and the river while expensive homes sit just a few hundred yards away.

To make matters worse, housing prices have gone through the roof, leaving only a minority of Californians able to buy a house. What about renting? In the Los Angeles area, including San Diego and Riverside Counties, rents for a one bedroom apartment are running about $1,900 a month and for two and three bedroom apartments and homes, rents are between $2,500 and $3,500 per month.

This is NOT the California that I first moved to in 1976 or that former Governor Ronald Reagan oversaw between 1967 and 1975.

Yes, California is a state of incomparable wealth. The movie and music industries reside here as do enormously productive agricultural and high tech industries. In fact, California recently leapfrogged France and the United Kingdom to become the fifth-largest economy in the world with a gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion. Only Germany, China, Japan, and the European Union have higher GDPs.

So what’s the problem?

Let’s begin with the state’s water supply. It is unreliable and can barely sustain the current population and the needs of the state’s thirsty, drought-ridden agricultural sector. Then there is the crumbling infrastructure of freeways, roads, and bridges. To make matters worse, there is a wall of debt acerbated by an onerous and punitive tax structure, as well as a volatile budget system. Another recent study found that California ranked 49th in the cost of doing business and 50th in “business friendliness,” which translates into such things as onerous regulations, tax breaks, and quality of the workforce.

Homeless camps stretch for miles along Orange County bike path

There are also missed payments and mounting debt for excessive public retirement benefits, rising healthcare costs and diminishing access to health care, unstable funding for K-12 education, and poor student performance compared to other states. In addition, there are new and harsh restrictions on gun ownership that many see as a direct assault on the Second Amendment. Add to that the state’s skyrocketing cost of living and declining home ownership and the welcome mat looks a bit soiled.

Finally, there is rising crime and an overcrowded and costly prison system as well as a lack of transparency and eroding public trust in government that is compounded by apathetic voters and consistently low voter turnout.

All of that adds up to California’s 50th ranking when it comes to quality of life for its citizens.

Is it any wonder that hundreds of thousands of over-taxed Californians and hundreds of companies are bolting the state every year for places like Texas, Arizona, and Washington?

Meanwhile, California continues to be the nation’s leading nanny state for illegals, the homeless, criminals, and those who swill at the public trough.

What’s next for the Golden State?

It could fall into the Pacific Ocean, I guess.