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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Golden State Tarnished

For John, BLUFI was a California Resident from 1956 until 1994.  In the beginning, under Governors Goodie Knight (Republican) and Pat Brown (Democrat), things went well.  Then we stopped investing in infrastructure.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

The Golden State is on a path to high-tech feudalism, but there’s still time to change course.

From City Journal, by Mr Joel Kotkin, 20 December 2019.

Here is the lede plus one:

“We are the modern equivalent of the ancient city-states of Athens and Sparta.  California has the ideas of Athens and the power of Sparta,” declared then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007.  “Not only can we lead California into the future . . . we can show the nation and the world how to get there.”  When a movie star who once played Hercules says so who’s to disagree?  The idea of California as a model, of course, precedes the former governor’s tenure.  Now the state’s anti-Trump resistance—in its zeal on matters concerning climate, technology, gender, or race—believes that it knows how to create a just, affluent, and enlightened society.  “The future depends on us,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at his inauguration.  “And we will seize this moment.”

In truth, the Golden State is becoming a semi-feudal kingdom, with the nation’s widest gap between middle and upper incomes—72 percent, compared with the U.S. average of 57 percent—and its highest poverty rate.  Roughly half of America’s homeless live in Los Angeles or San Francisco, which now has the highest property crime rate among major cities.  California hasn’t yet become a full-scale dystopia, of course, but it’s heading in a troubling direction.

This didn’t have to happen.  No place on earth has more going for it than the Golden State.  Unlike the East Coast and Midwest, California benefited from comparatively late industrialization, with an economy based less on auto manufacturing and steel than on science-based fields like aerospace, software, and semiconductors.  In the mid-twentieth century, the state also gained from the best aspects of progressive rule, culminating in an elite public university system, a massive water system reminiscent of the Roman Empire, and a vast infrastructure network of highways, ports, and bridges.  The state was fortunate, too, in drawing people from around the U.S. and the world.  The eighteenth-century French traveler J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur described the American as “this new man,” and California—innovative, independent, and less bound by tradition or old prejudice—reflected that insight.  Though remnants of this California still exist, its population is aging, less mobile, and more pessimistic, and its roads, schools, and universities are in decline.

And here is the concluding paragraph:
Californians need less bombast and progressive pretense from their leaders and more attention to policies that could counteract the economic and demographic tides threatening the state.  On its current course, California increasingly resembles a model of what the late Taichi Sakaiya called “high-tech feudalism,” with a small population of wealthy residents and a growing mass of modern-day serfs.  Delusion and preening ultimately have limits, as more Californians are beginning to recognize.  As the 2020s beckon, the time for the state to change course is now.
This is a long story of not providing opportunities to all citizens and the consequences thereof.  There is no guarantee of continued economic progress.  This should be a warning to all, but we shouldn't count on it.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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