I can Relate - Victor Davis Hanson: Two Californias

by the Left Coast Rebel

I am a California native, born and raised here. Being young(er), even I can think back to a time when my state (that I will leave) was a completely different place.

10, 15, 20 years ago California was a bountiful land of opportunity that beckoned all - out-of-staters to foreigners - to come here and make an exciting new start, to take a shot at the middle class and beyond that the Golden State offered.

Neighborhoods, cities and communities statewide, for the most part were clean, urban yet welcoming, not unlike sleepy suburban areas across America.

Sure, there were problems - the creeping issue of illegal immigration that, despite the will of California residents, continued to bleed state resources and slowly morph inland neighborhoods into venerable third world mini-nations. The state's body-politic was a structural mess but unnoticed and under the radar due to the wealth creation of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, world class ports and dozens of industries, businesses and large corporations that found a welcome home here. Taxes, in most cases, were half of what they are today.

And of course, there were areas in Los Angeles and the Bay Area that featured the craziest socialistic laws, mandates, sprawl, crime, decay....in the country but again, such was mostly off the public radar at the time.

Today the seeds planted years past have come to fruition. Atlas has shrugged and California has changed - government has ruined this place and I will never forget it. The perpetual bankrupt government and business situation has laid bear the vein of systemic issues that were merely percolating, decades past.

I will never forget the incredible decline and the way things used to be here. One of the main reasons that I truly loathe government so, so, much is because of this. I have witnessed the evils of socialism, the lack of rule of law, creeping/crippling regulations and taxes, Bolshevik state lawmakers beholden to special interests, a neutered opposition party, the destruction that the entitlement mentality & entitlements create and the inevitable result of cultural, moral, philosophical postmodern-relativism and bankruptcy - both morally and economically.

And this is the garbage that progressivists have attempted to sell to the nation from Barney Frank to Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama to (fill in the blank).

Our illustrious leader promised to transform the nation. Guess what, America? California is what the transformation looks like. In a sensible America, the decline of California should be the clarion canary in a coal mine call. How can we let the progressive nightmare happen to the nation when a state of almost 40 million (nearly a nation unto itself) has already experienced it?

I have told my wife that I may one day write a book on California. I wonder if anyone would read it?

Either way my ramblings will never hold a candle to those of Victor Davis Hanson. Yesterday he published a stunning piece in National Review that tells the story that I have lived as well, albeit from a Central Valley perspective.

Here's the opening:

The last three weeks I have traveled about, taking the pulse of the more forgotten areas of central California. I wanted to witness, even if superficially, what is happening to a state that has the highest sales and income taxes, the most lavish entitlements, the near-worst public schools (based on federal test scores), and the largest number of illegal aliens in the nation, along with an overregulated private sector, a stagnant and shrinking manufacturing base, and an elite environmental ethos that restricts commerce and productivity without curbing consumption.

The rest is simply a must-read. Discussion at Memeorandum.


  1. If you write your book, I will read it. I am also a California native (born in Los Angeles), albeit much older than you are I would suspect. I left at 18 to attend college in the midwest and returned 15 years later with a husband and family to find a state (even then) that I no longer recognized. We raised our children there and managed to stick it for 25 years. We fled the state nine years ago to find a happy home in the mountain west. It breaks my heart to see my beloved state ruined by the ideology of a few. My father and mother went there during the Texas dust bowl and found a good life in a good land. Nine years ago I left a broken place - ravaged not by nature but by greed, materialism and out-of-control politicians. Sad and sickening.

  2. Thank you, MJ. I have so many ideas, stories and experiences on CA bouncing around in my head, I'm sure that I actually could put a book together.

    My grandparents came here from the Texas dust bowl and Missouri as well. It's amazing to think that they have passed (except for one grandmother) and that many of their offspring have fled the state that we once all called home.

  3. Very well said. The same thing is happening up here in the Washington State/ Seattle area, but not nearly on the scale of California. Our "leaders" here keep offering the same failed socialist answers over and over again with no positive results. They believe that they can continue to tax large business and that they will continue to do business here because they have so much invested here. They are being proven wrong as Boeing, and many other companies, have moved their headquarters and are opening new production facilities in other states that are more business friendly.

  4. I will read it too. I fled Calif. 30 years ago. I miss the California that I grew up in and it makes me sad that it is gone.

  5. The article by VDH is awesome. He has something of a follow at Works & Days today. Having watched the decline of California I am amazed to see the same tactics being used today on the national level. We have to have this, if you don't pass this the government will be broke. As Californians we have watched that scenario play out almost every year as the Sacramento thieves try to figure out how to dress up the deficit budget. We know the government does not fail, checks are delayed, people scream and....it just goes farther in debt. Say "No" and wait till January 5th for a breath of fresh air.

  6. I remember the movie "Escape from New York" and the maltopia that was created when it was turned into a federal prison for the whole country (the rules were simple, once you go in, you don't come out). I don't see it much different on how it is today, only Politicians are actually in the prison with special privileges. I've been trying to get out of here for 27 years now and may just pack up and leave and be a poor beggar else where as it's better than being the beaten wife of this place. What's worse is we haven't seen the bottom of the barrel of it yet. The governor that started this disgrace, Jerry Brown, has been elected to a 3rd term (and to think we have term limits, but he's exempt for 2 more) and his mootbat policies are sure to make things, if it's even possible as we're about to find out, far far worse. One economist expects the income tax rate to max at 20% (I think he's being optimistic here) and sales taxes to go to 12%. God knows what he'll do with the other taxes and fees especially if prop 13 gets repealed and it's not impossible with this group of clowns (in this case, I mean the California voters).

  7. People underestimate the importance of California. It's more than a state with a lot of people. It is or was a largest agricultural producer. It is the home of our largest export, American media. I think California's slide in Marxism has had a huge impact on how the world views America, in fact, it is one of the factors that has lead to the war on terror.

  8. Last Asylum - Yes, Washington and Oregon have the same disease, it wasn't always so.

    Supi - thanks!

    Rumbear - I'm a big Victor Davis Hanson fan, if I can write 1/2 as good as him one day....

    Madmath - "Escape from New York" is a great analogy, I'm going to use that in the future!

    Trestin - I totally agree, it's only going to get worse though as conservatives and income producers flee the state in droves


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