California Dreamin’ or California Leavin’?

California is in trouble. For the first time since a prospector struck gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1849, California has recorded an annual net loss in population.

The state’s population, which has for years been inching toward the 40-million mark, actually dipped by 182,083 people last year as Californians packed up and headed for more business and taxpayer-friendly places like Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada–and even Florida on the other side the continent.

And the exodus is not finished. More are expected to flee the tarnished “Golden State” in 2022.

I’m not surprised. California’s ultra-leftwing government, led by an inept, out-of-touch Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsome, is driving businesses and a frustrated electorate out of the state with a barrage of higher taxes, onerous regulations, and skyhigh prices for everything from gasoline and housing, to food and clothing.

The Golden State was always a beacon that attracted people from across America and the globe. The state was synonymous with opportunity and prosperity–where the sky was the limit if you were hardworking and creative. Of course, that was before the state became a political monopoly controlled almost exclusively in Sacramento by leftist Democrats.

  The Joads Arrive in the Golden State in “The Grapes of Wrath”

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, California had the highest poverty rates in the nation based on the Census Bureau’s cost-of-living-adjusted standard.

And here’s more 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. The 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.

Gov Newsome: “Feckless & Out of Touch”

Little wonder. California is a mismanaged behemoth controlled by a mob of far-left zealots led by Gov. Newsome, the state’s supreme leftist potentate.

Democrat lawmakers are quick to remind us that California remains the world’s fifth-largest economy and that California’s tech industry is booming – as evidenced by an astounding $75.7 billion budget surplus in the midst of the pandemic.

They fail to point out, however, that the state still has 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.

What they also won’t tell you is that median home prices are approaching $750,000 statewide and are actually above $1 million in some metro areas. They won’t tell you about the exploding homeless crisis; crumbling infrastructure; water shortages; lousy public schools; growing crime rates; and various governmental scandals. Then there are the annual wildfires caused by poorly managed, drought-stricken forests.

Jennifer Leach & family are heading for Colorado

The state has long been a lodestone for illegal immigrants, but since the governor 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 Washington sell California back to Mexico for $10 trillion. 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. Ten trillion dollars would certainly offset a large portion of the U.S. national debt.

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?

  Number California’s Homeless approaching 200,000

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. Census figures show that almost one-third of all of the nation’s homeless live in California.

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 same 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.

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 homeownership 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.

A recent editorial by the Southern California News Group may have said it best when it wrote:

“Every one of these problems is the result of long-standing state policy. You’ll rarely hear a state leader talk about opportunity – or admit that California has been actively chasing people away. It remains a great place to live, but only for those who already have achieved their dreams. The weather’s nice, but the political climate is chilling – even if the governor remains in denial.

“Population statistics are now finally catching up with reality. So, sure, the state’s first population drop in a century doesn’t change anything of substance – but it should change the way Californians view themselves. We’ve gone from “California dreaming” to “California leaving” and all the budget surpluses in the world won’t fix it.”

What’s next for the Golden State?

It could fall into the Pacific Ocean, I guess.

About Ronald E. Yates

Ronald E. Yates is an award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. Read More About Ron Here

2 thoughts on “California Dreamin’ or California Leavin’?”

  1. Another outstanding article. One minor quibble in the first line—James Marshall was not a prospector. He was a carpenter—specifically, a millwright—whom Sutter had hired to oversee the construction of his lumber mill on the American River. But this added trivia should not distract in the least from the seriousness of the remainder of your message.


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