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The Great California Exodus

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"Basically, if you don't own a piece of Facebook or Google and you haven't robbed a bank and don't have rich parents, then your chances of being able to buy a house or raise a family in the Bay Area or in most of coastal California is pretty weak," says Mr. Kotkin.

California used to be more like Texas—a jobs magnet. What happened? For one, says the demographer, Californians are now voting more based on social issues and less on fiscal ones than they did when Ronald Reagan was governor 40 years ago. Environmentalists are also more powerful than they used to be. And Mr. Brown facilitated the public-union takeover of the statehouse by allowing state workers to collectively bargain during his first stint as governor in 1977.

Mr. Kotkin also notes that demographic changes are playing a role. As progressive policies drive out moderate and conservative members of the middle class, California's politics become even more left-wing. It's a classic case of natural selection, and increasingly the only ones fit to survive in California are the very rich and those who rely on government spending. In a nutshell, "the state is run for the very rich, the very poor, and the public employees."

It's crazy. We're going absolutely bankrupt and no one is stopping it.

Eventually I won't be able to afford to live here. And that makes me sad.

So I've been thinking a lot about this article lately, and I keep going around and around the same few questions:

* It's good that he's a pro-business Democrat, because we need more of those. I don't know what a Truman Democrat is exactly, but I suspect it's something along those lines.

* So why does it give me a funny feeling when I read this paragraph:

"Obama’s America is today’s California – complete with $100 billion taxpayer funded bullet trains to nowhere; out of control environmental extremists who have destroyed family farms and left some of the most fertile farm land in America fallow in order to protect a three inch fish; permanent high unemployment; government policies hostile to small business job creators; crippling high taxes; an abysmal real estate market; bloated government that wastes taxpayer money; endless budget shortfalls due to massive unfunded liabilities; city after city declaring bankruptcy; and a state government run by, in the words of one Wall Street Journal writer, “a brothel of environmentalists, lawyers, public-sector unions and legislative bums.”

Well, because it was written by Sarah Palin... and yet there's an eerie POINT BY POINT similarity to Kotkin's piece. Does Sarah read back issues of the Wall Street Journal?

* I don't know that THE MAN is trying to keep the California proletariat down by forcing them to live in small apartments and houses. I think it might be more like THE SAN ANDREAS FAULT that makes a lot of land unsuitable for development, particularly of larger and more impressive dwellings. In my town, Sunnyvale -- the Heart of Silicon Valley! -- it sure seems like development is not gated by environmentalists but just... there's no more undeveloped land and people want to be close to services. Even cities with lots of room, like Chicago, have found that younger people with good jobs are increasingly choosing to live in smaller urban dwellings close to transit and services -- kind of like Kotkin's grandmother in Brownsville in the 1920s.

* Fundamentally, isn't the thing about California that we are the leading edge of social change? If ALL OF AMERICA is sorting itself into four buckets -- liberal techno-dweebs who care more about the environment than the comfort of the working classes... plus a permanent underclass... plus some toadying apparatchiks desperate to hang onto the public teat... plus conservative small-business owners who are fed up with all of the above -- well, I think we'd see this in California first because we're the biggest.

Sure those middle-class families who want big houses and lower taxes can run to Nevada or Atlanta or New Orleans... but can they hide from the same issues that afflict us here? Those places have environmental issues -- like no water! -- and permanent underclasses and political corruption and and crumbling infrastructure and shitty schools too. I don't know anywhere in America that is safe from the problems looming over us all.

Alaska seems pretty safe while they're running a surplus. Am I wrong?

Funny you mention that... I was just talking to an Alaskan this weekend who said they have no idea what the state will be like when the oil and gas runs out.

But that won't happen for many decades, right?

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