The 'California Dream' Isn't Dead. Yet.

California’s problems are indeed daunting, but even troubled San Francisco is still a lovely city.


Chatter about the "California Dream" has always been hyperbolic, but there's little question that our culture here is less tied to fussy traditions than any other place in the country. Writers have waxed poetic about that dream for 170 years—and one can find endless essays that alternately promote or debunk the Golden State as a mythical land of opportunity.

The notion, of course, started in the Gold Rush. "The promise of wealth forever altered the life expectations of the hundreds of thousands of people who flooded California in 1849 and the decade that followed," PBS explained. The idea that one could achieve instant wealth morphed into a less-exciting reality, it noted, where it became tough to find gold and miners ended up working hard-labor jobs for mining corporations.

The California Dream mythology received new life in the 1950s, where "fawning coverage in national magazines and TV ads featured sun-kissed couples playing tennis and cruising in their spectacularly finned sports cars on freeways that paralleled the shimmering Pacific waves," Boom's Rebecca Robinson wrote in a review of Kevin Starr's history books. Plenty of writers have detailed the not-so-shocking alternative world of traffic jams and poverty.

Even Starr shifted between gauzy prose and pessimistic reflection, but best-captured reality in his one-volume history of the state: "There has always been something slightly bipolar about California. It was either utopia or dystopia, a dream or a nightmare, a hope or a broken promise—and too infrequently anything in between." When it comes to California, it's not always easy to find balanced observations.

Here we are again, as the battle over California rages in the context of our divided national politics. Obviously, California is a progressive state where Democratic officials use it as a laboratory for their environmental and social-welfare nostrums. Many of their ideas hope to prod the rest of the country in our direction. They've gotten new life in a Biden administration that's filled with Californians—and plenty of pushback.

"Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last few years, you've probably noticed that conservatives hate California," wrote Max Taves in The Sacramento Bee. "(A)s they portray it, the Golden State is a Banana Republic. It's a violent, poverty-stricken homeless infernal dystopia overrun by MS-13 and misled by incompetent criminal-coddling politicians whose radical, immigrant-loving, left-wing agenda is horrible for businesses, which are leaving the state in droves."

Certainly, conservatives and libertarians—including this writer—have spent a lot of time dissing California's public policies. I take issue with some of the conservative attacks on the state because they often fail to make necessary distinctions and paint with too broad of a brush. California's problems are indeed daunting, but even troubled San Francisco is still a lovely city. It seems as if many of these critics haven't spent much time here.

Nevertheless, Taves echoes the clichés of lefty writers who insist that California is a model for the nation: "But the fact that we attract more capital, create more wealth, take home higher incomes, have safer streets, die less on the job and live longer contradicts everything GOP orthodoxy predicts," he insists in his own cherry picking of the data.

Some people are oblivious to the word "despite." Sorry, but many of us who criticize California's political approach are not California haters. We love the place and it breaks our heart to see its decline. We live here and have raised families here, but are dismayed at the direction that our policymakers have been taking. There are plenty of statistics to bolster our concerns.

California has the highest poverty rates in the nation. The population has been slowing for years and now is falling. Taves needn't take our word for it, but can check the U.S. Census Bureau's cost-of-living-adjusted poverty statistics and the state Department of Finance's latest population numbers. Businesses really are leaving amid crushing tax burdens and regulations—including the tech firms that skew our higher-than-average personal incomes.

I'm not a Republican and certainly don't subscribe to its orthodoxies, but it's hard to see how our median-home prices—more than $758,000 statewide and $1.3-million in the Bay Area—advance the public's well-being. By almost any measure, California's public schools are performing poorly and our transportation system remains overburdened.

Crime rates aren't as bad as some other states, but are climbing. Our homelessness crisis is severe. Our elected officials have no solutions beyond spending more money. It doesn't please me to point out these verifiable facts because, contra Taves, I'm not a California hater. I'd love to see Americans drawn to Los Angeles rather than Dallas.

Sure, it's foolhardy to promote a California Dream that's more myth than reality and critics are wrong to paint the state as a dystopia. But the state needs to do a lot better. No amount of California boosterism will hide that fact.

This column was first published by The Orange County Register.

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  1. “California has the highest poverty rates in the nation.”

    So the state has plenty of poor people, and we already know it has plenty of rich people — multimillionaire movie stars and other entertainers, tech billionaires, and so on.

    From a Koch / Reason libertarian perspective, severe economic inequality is actually a good thing. Indeed, our celebration of fabulous wealth (especially when it’s contrasted with crushing poverty) is the only thing that separates us from progressive Democrats. This is obvious given our promotion of open borders and a $0.00 / hour minimum wage, which are intended to make the richest people on the planet (like our benefactor Charles Koch) even richer.


    1. Speaking some sense here! But you could mention that California’s policies are designed to drive human beings out of California because there’s just too damn many people and they’re dirtying up paradise. So far the strategy seems to be working, if they could just tear down a few more dams and power plants to create more droughts and electrical shortages and clamp down a little harder on people trying to clear underbrush and deadwood so they can get more forest fires going, it’ll help drive the horrible, horrible human beings away.

      1. I live in California. One thing I know…Para Espanyol, marke ocho.

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  2. It’d help if Californians didn’t sound like abuse victims. Sure she flips out every time I don’t tell her where I’m going, steals my money, fucks my best friends, then tells everyone I’m the abusive one, but I know if I just work harder she’ll be the caring woman I fell in love with again.

    Ya’ll tend to sound like you have stockholme syndrome, and the things you describe being great about California don’t really factor as a major benefit considering modern luxuries (weather) or are inextricably linked to why the place has gotten so bad in the first place (culture).

    You do you man. I don’t know you personally, so I have no horse in convincing you to move to greener happier pastures. I just never ever want to live there myself.

    1. ^This. And it goes for most of the population of the developed world.

    2. As long as they leave their bullshit leftist policies behind when they find greener pastures. Nothing like seeing a Bernie sticker on a Prius, with CA plates, in the parking lot of the local WalMart.

    3. California was just fine till , in the late sixties, the scum from Philly, NYC and north NJ dragged their pustule covered socialist asses out here because they ruined their home rats nest and turned it into Kaliforniastan or Kalifornexico.

  3. there’s little question that our culture here is less tied to fussy traditions than any other place in the country.

    A delusion belied by the reality that there is nothing that is as undiscussable as the tax feudalism that CA put in place in 1976 and that will pass on through the generations forever.

    It has always been the risk of frontier cultures that eventually have to grow up. Where the people who moved to the place first gain self-entrenching privileges over later arrivals. So much so that, over time, they can no longer even share self-governance because they become two different societies where governance requires completely different burdens. Where the only option for the later arrivals (eg next generation) is to leave.

    But hey – that’s not a fussy tradition is it.

    California is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.

    1. “…It has always been the risk of frontier cultures that eventually have to grow up. Where the people who moved to the place first gain self-entrenching privileges over later arrivals. So much so that, over time, they can no longer even share self-governance because they become two different societies where governance requires completely different burdens. Where the only option for the later arrivals (eg next generation) is to leave…”

      Wave them arms! Hope someone mistakes bullshit for insight!

  4. I’m not a Republican and certainly don’t subscribe to its orthodoxies, but it’s hard to see how our median-home prices—more than $758,000 statewide and $1.3-million in the Bay Area—advance the public’s well-being.

    Don’t worry. As California slips deeper into the crapper, those housing prices will fall.

    1. And if they don’t fall, we’ll make ’em fall! Price controls FTW!

    2. Actually, go east of I-5 and the housing prices aren’t too bad. Well, excepting those few towns that are still within commuting distance of Silicon Valley. More pricey than elsewhere, but one can still buy a decent house (not condo) with yard for 150k. Just don’t expect to be commuting in to Palo Alto every day.

      1. First – from what I can see, median house prices in Merced/Modesto/Stockton are 350k or so. Up 300% from 2012. And yeah they can’t commute to Bay Area every day from there which is why median household income is maybe 55k.

        I can’t see why anyone would move there rather than say Cincinnati or Salina Kansas. Can’t commute to the Bay Area every day from there either. But hmm – MUCH lower house prices and/or better opportunity or both.

      2. Don’t agree. My stepdaughter and her husband bought a house in San Bernadino last year for $300K.

        Santa-fucking-Bernadino for Christ’s sake!

      3. Commuting to Palo Alto from SUNNYVALE (two towns over) has turned into a subhuman nightmare!

    3. what about all the democrat run cities trying to do away with single family homes and put multi unit apartments and condos in single family zoned areas?? Now the rents are rediculouser? $3000 for a studio apartment in frisc? $6000 for a small 900 sqft apartment with 2 bedrooms? and the socialist criminals governing the late great state can’t figure out why there are 1000s of homeless!!. Keep electing the “progressive” democrats and soon the only people left in Commiefornia will be ILLEGAL ALIENS and “the unhoused”!!.

  5. If you don’t like the policies of Republicans (which ones; or do you mean all?), And you don’t like the results of the Democrats, exactly what do you recommend?

    I bailed from L.A. in 1983, because it had become unlivable, and it was clear then what was coming. (for the record, I was a ‘highly paid data processing professional’)
    Once the fascists take over, they don’t leave unless defeated by force of arms.

    1. that is the exact reason the dem/socialists keep trying to take firearms away from law abiding citizens since sooner or later they KNOW armed rebellion is going to remove them. and the sooner it happens the better off real citizens will be.

  6. The California Dream may not be dead yet, but, I’m pretty sure that I just heard somebody yell “Clear!” and a “thunk!”

  7. ‘California’s problems are indeed daunting, but even troubled San Francisco is still a lovely city.”

    Yes, a lovely city if you don’t mind stepping over homeless and avoiding piles of shit on the sidewalks.

    1. “Everything is beautiful, in its own way.”

    2. The locals call it, “San Francisco Hopscotch”. It is a new green technology. If you are forced play fecal matter “Hopscotch” and “Leap Frog” over the homeless, it puts you in touch with your inner child and promotes agility, calf strength, and cardio.

    3. Used needles, General. Don’t forget used needles.

    4. By all accounts Havana, Cuba is a lovely city. That does not mean it is the place to go if you want to thrive or that it is run by good or competent people.

      1. Same for Washington DC!!

      2. Where did you come up with the fantasy that Havana, Cuba was a lovely city. It is falling apart with many unsafe buildings that have stairwells and upper level floors falling apart. Don’t even talk about blackouts when the electric power fails since lots of places don’t even have electricity and it is often only on for a couple of hours a day. There are long lines to buy what little food is for sale and often times the prices are too high for normal peeps to pay. Now it is way worse than during the Special Period.

        1. Bourdain’s “No Reservations” episode on Havana, for instance.

  8. “It seems as if many of these critics haven’t spent much time here.”

    Really? You’re telling me the yokel who probably hasn’t left his city let alone his state hasn’t spent time in the place he’s criticizing so heavily?

    It’s not like these people to hate things they’ve never seen- like California, immigrants, etc. It just can’t be.

    Next you’re going to tell me they don’t have any original ideas and they just simply run on hate of “the other”.

    1. Tell me more about these ‘yokels’ you have never met and the places they come from you have never been.

  9. It isn’t just the right wing.

    Here’s Exene Cervenka (of the LA punk band X) on why she’s moving to Austin from LA, as quoted by Reason–back in 2014.

    “The other reason I’m moving, if the creek don’t rise, is that when I moved to California in 1976, Jerry Brown was governor. It was barefoot hippie girls, Hell’s Angels on the Sunset Strip, East L.A. lowriders, the ocean and nature. It was this fabulous incredible place about freedom. Now when I think about California, I think of a liberal oppressive police state and regulations and taxes and fees. I’d rather go someplace and have my own little place out on the edge of town. I’m a country girl at heart. It makes me happy when I see people in Texas open-carrying. It makes me feel safe. I’m not even a gun owner, but I’d like to see a gun rack in every pickup truck, like my boyfriend had when I was fifteen years old in Florida. An armed society is a polite society.”

    She cracks a smile. “Now Jerry Brown’s governor again. He’s done some great things, like balancing the budget and libraries are open on Sundays. But things are getting to the point in this country where people are going to have to fight to survive and fight for their rights.”

    1. That was seven years ago. The things she was complaining about back then are even worse now.

      And no, she’s not a conservative, and no one moves to Austin because it’s conservative either. She’s just bemoaning the loss of personal freedom, which is what moving to California from the east coast or elsewhere in the country was all about in the 1970s and 1980s. People would move here and reinvent themselves, and no one cared what you wanted to do. And if you failed in Los Angeles–despite all the personal freedom–that was a really sad and bitter thing. They even wrote a song about how bitter, ugly, and sad losing in LA turned people into haters.

      She found it hard to say goodbye to her own best friend
      She bought a clock on Hollywood Boulevard the day she left
      It felt sad

      She had to get out

      —-Los Angeles

      Lyrics NSFW

      She didn’t leave California behind out of failure. She left because California failed.

    2. I agree with a lot of her evaluation of California, but the irony is, after saying all that, she moved out of California then moved back. She still lives there.

    3. Always loved X. IIRC, Ray Manzarek produced them for a while.

  10. Somebody’s still on stage one of the five stages of grief.

  11. My take aways from this article; it’s rather like a David Letterman “10 most” list:

    1. Obviously, California is a progressive state where Democratic officials use it as a laboratory for their environmental and social-welfare nostrums.

    2. California has the highest poverty rates in the nation and

    3. the highest housing costs in the nation

    4. The population has been slowing for years and now is falling.

    5. Businesses really are leaving amid crushing tax burdens and regulations

    6. By almost any measure, California’s public schools are performing poorly and

    7. our transportation system remains overburdened.

    8. Crime rates aren’t as bad as some other states, but are climbing.

    9. Our homelessness crisis is severe.

    10. Our elected officials have no solutions beyond spending more money.

    “…but even troubled San Francisco is still a lovely city.” If you can tolerate the most aggressive panhandlers I’ve encountered outside the third world.

    1. San Francisco without the people is a great city. Part of it are still quite beautiful (after the rain washes the human excrement away). But the people are problem. A huge problem. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

      I used to go into the city on a somewhat frequent basis. Now I do my best to avoid it. It’s like your lovely but eccentric girlfriend got a brain parasite and turned into a drooling bag lady that smells of shit.

  12. Who cares I’m just enjoying watching a one party blue state with hard leftists crash and burn.

    1. How much has Biden infused into their lifeline? Die it will, but with a lot of prolonged suffering.

    2. But there’s a danger of the fire spreading.

  13. …and critics are wrong to paint the state as a dystopia.

    By all means! I’d suggest to Californians, particularly progressive Californians, that all the naysaying about their fair state is just terrible and unfair! Your state is doing brilliantly and is just on the verge of achieving its progressive utopia. So, whatever you do, don’t leave California. Stay there! The rest of the country is just a nightmarish hellscape of COVID-infected, religious fundamentalist, KKK members shooting off their AR-15s willy-nilly. It’s absolutely terrible. And, if you left California, bringing your enlightened politics with you, you just might miss out on the dawning of the bright, progressive, utopia that we all know is just around the corner. You wouldn’t want that, would you? No! It’s just much better for your own health and sanity to stay put.

    The same message goes for New Yorkers.

      1. Mostly Chicago, which I propose to be the Berlin between NY and CA.

        1. Good. Let’s wall it in.

      2. ‘Illannoyans’

    1. “out there in the middle where the centers on the right
      and the ghost of william jennings bryan preaches every night”
      thank you James McMurtry

    2. All the naysaying is terrible and unfair. As is everything. Sigh.

  14. The big divide (red vs blue, liberal vs conservative, whatever you call it) is a divide between urban and rural. And it has been since the days of Ancient Rome. Exactly what the liberal vs conservative sides meant differed. What we think of as liberalism and conservatism simply did not exist before a few hundred years ago, but the relative cultural and political differences between the urban and the rural has always been there. The crazy nuttery in France always starts in Paris, regardless of the century.

    And so, California. As the most populous state, with two of the largest metroplexes in the country, is bound to be on the side of the Urban, despite also being a very rural state. Just as New York is more than just New York City, so too is California more than just Los Angeles and San Francisco and their suburbs. (San Diego and San Jose lean ever so slightly purple). But east of Interstate 5 and it becomes a deeply red state. With a purpleish Fresno (again, urban vs rural).

    With the exceptions of the neo-hippies in Marin County, the rural and small town areas of California, most of the land area in other words, is fairly red. Does NOT mean they are libertarians (hah!) but they do tend to heavily towards Team Red politics. You have the timbered north, the ruggest east, desert south, agricultural center, etc. The best surfing AND skiing in the country.

    The correlation is not exact, and individuals are still individuals. But the more urban someone is the less likely they are to see themselves as an individualist making their own way through the world. And welfare through a monkey wrench into everything. Really hard to vote against the politicians who are giving you the dole. And I’m NOT just talking about the farmers!

    Split California into North and South and you end up with two Democrat states. But split it up East and West, and you get one Democrat and one Republican state.

    So what happened to California? It got big. Same thing is happening to Texas, and will soon happen to Florida. But it does NOT have to be crazy socialist Democrats. And the more moderate Democrats ARE pushing back against the silly wokeness that comes from San Francisco and Berkeley.

    What happened to California Republicans? This is the state of Nixon and Reagan, after all. Well the anti-immigration stance is that did it locally. It’s silly because California is deeply Latino. Huge anti-immigrant stance in a state with the largest population of Latinos and Asians in the country. The party tried to turn around in the early naughts, but by then it was too late. They had turned off the conservative leaning Latinos, the family values friendly Latinos. Latinos who didn’t like illegal immigration either, but were told that grandma wasn’t a Real American because she didn’t speak English.

    And then you would get a decent Republican in office and the wacko wing of the party who go off on some RINO campaign against them. The culture changed and the Republicans did not change with it. Then the Bible Belt Republicans took over for a while, in a state that had no Bible Belt.

    You walk into a Republican county central committee meeting today, and it’s all deeply old people. And like all deeply old people, all they know how to do is complain. There are a few young people in the part activists, but not enough. The party is still trying to figure out how to recruit young people. “We need a social media director!” I heard once at a state party seminar. Sigh.

    The party is not coming back in California for quite some time. Nature abhors a vacuum and one party rule, so it won’t go away. But any hope the state has in the short term is the hope that the moderate Democrats (yes, they exist) will grow a spine and stand up to the excesses and budget craziness.

    But the state is still a great state. Though I have thought of leaving, I see the same core problems infecting all the other states I might consider moving too. Montana might be nice, but I have no interest in moving to Montana.

    1. If you look at an electoral map of just about any State, the cities and suburbs are blue and the vast territory is red. Same here in MI, but as long as the population centers control the vote the outcome is going to be more Californias, no matter how disastrous their policies become. Urban and suburban ites desperately need to believe and vote the correct thing, even if it kills you.

    2. recently the mayors and governors of Idaho and Montana have been asking Californians to NOT come to their states since the Californians are ruining the housing markets for the citizens of those states. And the Californians moving there are the same ones who voted the democrat/socialists into power so it’s no wonder no one wants them.

      1. Maybe they can get Kamala to tell the not to come.

  15. Has San Francisco been cleaned up since I had to go there out of necessity about eight years ago? If not, then calling it a “lovely city” must be someone’s idea of a sick joke to troll people.

    Yes, there are some nice scenic vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge and some nice landmarks to see like the Painted Ladies. But overall, what I saw when I went there was by far the dirtiest, most disgusting shithole in America I’ve seen with my own eyes since pre-Giuliani New York City.

  16. California is a 3rd world shithole. I unfortunately spent my teenage years in the late 90s and early 20s until coming to my senses and moving to Texas in 2005. The ONLY people who are doing well there have been around for at least 15-20 years. Even the overworked, pathetic “my job is my whole identity” tech employees making $200k+, after paying taxes and the absurd cost of living live pretty meager existences. The people who are doing well were lucky enough to buy a house there for under $500k decades ago that is now worth $2 million while being shielded from the crushing tax burden via the protectionist, unequal treatment under law prop 13 and leverage this housing inflation fueled, unearned wealth with home equity loans.
    Economics aside, the poverty, homelessness, crime, filth, traffic, PC/hipster culture and everything being illegal/regulated makes it an awful place to live. Temperate weather (which “lovely” San Francisco doesn’t have), vicinity to both mountains and oceans and a good tech job market are simply not worth it. The sticks well outside of LA/San Diego/Bay Area are much better but still under the rule of the same state totalitarian government and even there the jackasses from the major cities are starting to devour the local culture and the remaining pockets of sanity.

    1. “…The people who are doing well were lucky enough to buy a house there for under $500k decades ago that is now worth $2 million while being shielded from the crushing tax burden via the protectionist, unequal treatment under law prop 13 and leverage this housing inflation fueled, unearned wealth with home equity loans…”

      Hint: Prop 13 is NOT the cause of high taxes.

      1. It is absolutely the cause of high taxes on everything else. And possibly a cause of higher spending growth.

        Prop 13 broke the connection between what you want govt to do and how you want govt action to benefit you personally and how the bills for the previous two will be paid. The result is a bunch of folks looking for a free lunch. Entitled welfare queens like you.

        You CA twits wail about it being ‘progressives’. I’m sure that stuff exists in the pressure for spending. But the pressure of how to pay for that stuff is exerted squarely by the homeowning free lunch folks – on the other elements of a tax base (income, sales, etc). And in particular, if they can avoid any of those other elements then it becomes free lunch at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

        1. It’s not the only part of course, but prop 13 is a fairly large insulator. My moron, hypocritical communist parents who still live there are largely isolated from the worst of California’s absurd cost of living and hence think it’s paradise and a model for the rest of the country. They bought their house in 1988 and it has appreciated to over 1000% of the original purchase price. They aren’t paying anywhere near how much they would be without prop 13 in property taxes. Of course they pay a “California markup” for groceries and gasoline but that is a drop in the bucket both in actual dollars and “California markup” percentage compared to the cost of housing there today and they are literally dodging 10s of thousands of dollars a year in property taxes. Ironically for a state that is obsessed with wealth inequality, California does everything it can to screw the young newcomers at the expense of the old established residents.

          1. behest, not expense of the old established residents. I really gotta proof read my posts 🙂

          2. It’s due to Prop 13 that your parents and others still have their homes. Prior to that property taxes were rising so rapidly that they were doubling every 2 years. Prop 13 stopped that and limited it to 1 or 2% unless sold. Now , with the turnover of housing in the state over 90% of the homes are taxed at the current rates. Very few of the original homes still exist under the original Prop 13 structure. It still keeps Californians in their homes since it prohibits the democrat/socialist criminals from increasing property taxes that would force owners to relinquish their homes to the state.

            1. Having lived in East SF Bay Area for 66 years and being a home owner for 40 of the years you are correct that Prop 13 was a citizen’s rebellion against large annual increases in residential property tax bills. The increases were due to nimby’s & politicians. CA in the hippy 60’s was where land use laws were born. CA’s housing shortages started in the early 70’s. CA’s tech boom started simultaneously with the adoption of land use regulations. Until the residential mortgage industry limited lowest rate mortgages to owner occupiers the late 70’s saw as high as 20% single family home price appreciation. The appreciation was caused by investors buying houses, renting them for less than the monthly mortgage payment then flipping it in a year. The housing market crashed when the federal mortgage GSE’s restricted loans to owner occupied properties & the commercial lenders followed suit. East Bay prices didn’t recover until 1984. Prop 13 passed in 1978 because property assessed valuations went up as fast as housing market values. Rather than being prudent and lower property tax rates county boards of stupidvisors & city councils didn’t adjust rates to soften the hit on the disabled & seniors. They used the funds to increase the no. of employees as well as increase wages plus they built expensive new buildings and replaced their equipment fleets. Their imprudence lead to the formation of the non-profit Howard Jarvis Taxpayer org. The org filed a proposition with the Sec State then gathered way more signatures than required to be placed on the next statewide ballot. Gov. Moonbeam & inmates under the golden dome in Sacramento new Prop 13 would pass with necessary super majority required for it to become part of the CA constitution so they did what politicians do when faced with certain passage of citizen legislation they hate, they passed Prop 13 light legislation. The voters were having nothing of the ploy. The following legislative session the legislature dealt with the revenue effects by setting the percentage that each entity received. Property taxes funded cities, counties, K-12 schools & community colleges. The lion share goes to schools. Cities & counties made up some of the tax losses by huge increases in building permit fees. An example of exorbitant building permit fees is my family wanted to add a 100 sq. foot deck to the entrance of or family cabin in South Lake Tahoe. Permits are required from the city & TRPA. TRPA is a multi state entity created by Congress to preserve or improve the lake’s water quality. The total cost amounted to $40 per sq. ft.

              Note: I moved to rural northern NV when I retired. NV was Californicated in 2019 when all except the Sec State statewide office holders are Dems and both chambers of the legislature are majority Dem. Their budget growth is restrained by tax revenues and the only broad based tax is sales tax. No revenue comes from personal income taxes. NV has a complicated gross receipts tax. Except for residents in Clark (Las Vegas) & Washoe (Reno/Sparks) counties the sate is bright red; so no county tax increase will pass. Local tax increases that have passed have been for infrastructure to accommodate rapid population growth. Also, the legislators & governor have to careful to not gore the mining & gaming industry. Many of the legislators, congressmen as well as the two senators are owned by the gaming industry. An example of how tax & fee adverse NV voters are to raising taxes and fees is in 2016 a universal background check proposition reached the November ballot. Nanny Bloomberg provided the funds to gather the signatures & spent over $15 million promoting it. This in a year that DJT campaign forces spent little here. For months all your saw and herd were adds for the Hildabeast & Cortez Masto. The winning margin was a <10K. To improve its' chance of passing, the measure had no fiscal impact on the state. Unlike firearms transfers by FFL's that the background check is done by NV DOJ the check was to be done by the FBI, therefore no fiscal impact on the state. After passage the NV AG sent a letter to the FBI requesting that Feds do the check. The response from the FBI was Hell NO; because, Congress hasn't allocated funds to do the checks for NV transfers. The 2019 legislative session amended the law's language so the NV DOJ performed the check the law was moot.

  17. I guess Reason felt compelled to back out of its anti-California narrative after these articles came out:

    “Also of note: people who move to California have higher incomes than those who move away. Some have argued that the opposite is taking place—that California’s relatively progressive and high personal income tax rates drive out higher-income residents. But the fact is that California has been losing lower- and middle-income residents to other states for some time while continuing to gain higher-income adults. In the past five years the flow of middle-income residents out of the state has accelerated.”

    1. You’d have to be college educated to be stupid enough to think moving to California with it’s absurd cost of living and ridiculous levels of taxation still makes economic sense even after accounting for the higher wages.

      1. Or you would find the cultural offerings, locally-sourced produce, legal and high-quality cannabis, wine, beaches, Mediterranean climate, social tolerance, excellent restaurants, and the company of people who appreciate those things worth the freight. Or perhaps you’d find the religious zeal, lack of tolerance, and authoritarianism of Trumpista counties not worth the tax savings.

        1. weed: Great, so you’re a pothead, you must be so proud. Feel free to fuck up your own life, I’m no drug warrior but don’t pretend like it’s a virtue.
          wine: I personally don’t drink. Unless I had a winery in Napa Valley, I don’t think that would be a major reason to live anywhere especially considering you can have just about anything shipped anywhere, wine bottles included. And I’m pretty sure there are wineries elsewhere in the country too.
          beaches: With boardwalks lined with tents, needles, human shit and bums? You can get that at 1/4 the price without all that crap in Florida, South Carolina or even Corpus Christi.
          climate: Fair enough, it’s nice there, not anywhere near worth all the negatives in my opinion.
          social tolerance: Are you kidding me? Californians are the most intolerant pricks out there. They think anybody who isn’t an antifa happy, communist, trans rights activist is a fascist. Have some introspection, you literally just called Trump supporters authoritarians.
          excellent restaurants: in any remotely major city you can find any kind of cuisine you want, there is nothing exceptional here.
          company of people who appreciate those things: Sorry, but I think being around judgemental snobby pricks is a huge negative.

          on the opposite side

          religious zeal: I’m Jewish by birth but effectively atheist. Almost all of the most decent and honest people who have touched my life have been religious Christians (and they were all well aware I wasn’t one of them). From that point of view, although I’m not one, being in a bible belt area with emphasis on Judeo-Christian morality and old fashioned values is a positive in my opinion.
          Sorry, mildly cutting taxes and regulations, actually enforcing border law, imposing tariffs on goods from a country that clearly is trying to economically destroy the USA and speaking or tweeting bluntly is hardly authoritarianism. Give specific examples or STFU with such baseless claims.

          FYI, I have lived in both California (1987-2005) and supposedly hard right Texas (2005-2016). As well as Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona. I attended college, but dropped out 2 years in once I found a good job without a degree and realized I was learning no actual job skills in school. And I voted Libertarian (and not Trump) in 2016 and 2020. So I think I have a pretty good perspective on California contrasted to red states, the uselessness of college and am hardly a “Trumpista”. I appreciate your judgement though, ummm sorry, I mean social tolerance.

    2. The Public Policy Institute of California is hardly an impartial source.

      And their own numbers only go to 2019, AND show significant drops in net gain of people with degrees (nearly 6,000 fewer) and people with money (nearly 13,000 fewer) coming in 2015 – 2019 than in 2010 – 2014.

      And the numbers completely ignore the people with degrees and money who are LEAVING the state — they act as if there aren’t any.

      1. Good point about the years in the study. I don’t think it detracts from the point about the rate of progressive taxation.

        COVID made things worse and California had hits and misses in how it was handled. I would still have preferred to have been here than in a State that fired COVID whistleblowers to claim questionable successes.

        I have seen figures showing that 186,000 people left California during COVID. I think that is de minimis, even though earlier Reason articles eagerly predicted the fall of California.

    3. As a well paid techie in Seattle (no state income tax), I am seriously considering a move to beautiful CA. where I can finally be free to pay my fair share.

      Haha. This made sense to you JD?

  18. “…but even troubled San Francisco is still a lovely city. It seems as if many of these critics haven’t spent much time here.”

    You don’t need to spend a lot of time swimming in a cesspool to know that once you’re out, you don’t want to go back.

  19. Not sure what Greenhut’s point is — “sure, California is a cesspool, but the dream is alive as long as there’s a sarcastic Randy Newman song about it”? Or does he think “L.A. Story” is a documentary? I’m a native Californian, but it’s dead, and ironically enough, it died about the time Newman recorded ” I Love L.A.” Put a red shirt on it, Jim, it’s dead.

    1. When did you leave and where are you now? How is it better?

      1. Maybe his new home isn’t covered in shit.

  20. I guess…if you enjoy numerous and ubiquitous defecating bums.

  21. I don’t even want to visit California, let alone live there.

    1. I wouldn’t go that far. It is beautiful.

      But living there? Yeah, no.

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