Is California Over?

Why the Golden State is losing people, business, and a congressional seat


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For well over a century, California was synonymous with the American dream. By the early 1960s, it had become the most populous state in the country. Now its population is declining for the first time in recorded history.

The reasons behind California's decline aren't hard to fathom.

California ranks 8th in combined state and local tax burdens, forcing residents to kick in an effective rate of 11.5 percent of their income just for being alive. What do they get in return? Public schools that rank 37th in the country, insanely expensive housing, rolling blackouts, and power shortages. An above-average violent crime rate and the nation's highest poverty rate.

Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a recall election in the fall partly due to his hypocrisy regarding his own stringent lockdown rules. Rather than grapple with his state's sinking status, he has chosen instead to deny reality.

As California loses a congressional seat, Texas is picking up two; demographers predict it may become the most populous state by 2045. Texas may not have the beaches, the forests, the celebrities, or the glamour. It'll just have the jobs, the companies, the forward momentum, and the people.

Produced by Regan Taylor; written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. 

Music Credit: "You Wanted so Much More Than That—Instrumental," by Assaf Ayalon

Photo Credits: Daniel Lee on Unsplash; Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/Polaris/Newscom; Matthew Lejune on Unsplash; Paul Kitagaki Jr./TNS/Newscom; Casey Horner on Unsplash; Alessandro Porri on Unsplash; Josh Duke on Unsplash; Brian Lundquist on Unsplash; David R. Frazier Danita/ /"Danita Delimont Photography"/Newscom; Daniel Angele on Unsplash; Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash; Gerson Repreza on Unsplash; Vlad Busuioc on Ubsplash; Joel Mott on Unsplash; Randa Bishop/ / Danita Delimont Photography/Newscom; Reginald Mathalone/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Todd Kent on Unsplash; Robert Holmes/ /"Danita Delimont Photography"/Newscom; Joel Mott on Unsplash; Lance Anderson on Unsplash; Jon Tyson on Unsplash; Florian Wehde on Unsplash; Oz Seyrek on Unsplash; Chris Henry on Unsplash; Brian Jannsen on Unsplash; Kevin Ku on Unsplash; APEX/MEGA/Newscom; Image of Sport/Newscom; Jim Ruymen/UPI/Newscom; K.C. Alfred/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Brittany Murray/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Reńee C. Byer/ ZUMA Press/Newscom; Rishi Deka/Sipa USA/Newscom; Kvnga on Unsplash

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  1. Texas is full. Try Seattle.

    1. Seattle is literally being run by socialists. Literally.

      Years ago I pondered getting out of California. I wanted somewhere that also had a big tech sector, for the jerbs. So for a while I was considering Portland. I am soooooo glad I didn’t move there. As fucked as California is, it doesn’t come close to Portland.

      And Seattle’s worse.

      1. Speaking of Seattle, how’s Bremerton holding up?

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      2. That’s his point

        1. There is a joke from the dawn of the internet that reiterates this line.

          I cannot find it to save my life.

      3. No state income tax though. And no drought, plenty of rain.

      4. You can try Silicon Slopes in Utah.

      5. If Portland even exists after another year or two. If it hasn’t been burned to the ground and converted into a no man’s land.
        Escape from New York will be remade into Escape From Portland.

    2. Seattle is a shithole anymore. It WAS a beautiful city but no more.

      1. It’s a shithole surrounded by a beautiful state. Such a shame. All that wall money should have been spent building a wall around Seattle.

        “I am the Duke of Seattle!”

      2. It’s not just the city. Jay Inslee is a terrible governor. And the democrats currently control the legislature. The entire state government should be overthrown. Seattle’s municipal government as well.

        1. Did You Know….

          Once upon a time there was a Senate Bill in Washing-hole State to allow people to vote twice?


        2. You know that Boeing’s 787 plant is shutting and leaving Everett for the Carolinas and once Boeing is gone, others too, will leave especially those who have contracts with Boeing.
          The hand writing is on the wall.
          Is anyone reading?

          1. Theres an end all life quake coming to Ptown. theyd better leave…

  2. “As California loses a congressional seat, Texas is picking up two; demographers predict it may become the most populous state by 2045. Texas may not have the beaches, the forests, the celebrities, or the glamour. It’ll just have the jobs, the companies, the forward momentum, and the people.”

    Ideally the Koch / Reason immigration agenda will do to Texas what it has already done to California — import enough Democratic voters to transform it into effectively a 1-party state.


    1. Don’t you mean 52 Californias? We all now you want to add DC and PR.

    2. Texas has plenty of beaches.

      1. In Texas sometimes beaches go to you.

    3. That’s the plan

  3. Texas may not have the beaches, the forests, the celebrities, or the glamour.

    What celebrities? The Kardashians? Everyone still running The Pirates Of The Carribbean franchise aground?

    1. Wait til they are in the governor’s mansion.

  4. We haven’t been calling it the left coast for nothing. But I am happy to watch them fuck it up time and again. And given hispanics voting trends I suspect far leftie democrats are going to get unelected before too long.

    1. 5th biggest economy in the world. Fuck up? Ok then..

      1. And China is 2nd. So move there, shitlunches.

      2. Try 11th, not 5th . . . assuming you’re not a deceptive shithead pretending nominal GDP means anything.

        And even that is overvaluing California’s economy because the PPP stats use average US price level dollars instead of adjusting for California prices.

      3. “5th biggest economy in the world. Fuck up? Ok then..”

        And 19% of the population lives below the poverty line, and it has the most billionaires.
        98.9% of California’s privately held wealth is held by 820 people and two dozen companies. That’s out of 40 million people.
        The biggest wealth disparity on the planet and it happened in one of the most lefty places in America.

        That’s a fuck-up by any standard.

        1. Us local ca conservatives are keeping our home and pushing greedy libs your way, seems like its working. Soon Galveston will be the gay bay.

          1. So YOURE the one sending the Aholes here!

            Geez THANKS!

    2. Doesnt a Train to Nowhere count for anything?

  5. Grew up in So Cal during the 50’s and 60′ when it truly was a paradise. Imagine going from L.A. to San Diego in 90 minutes on a brand new freeway!
    Left it in 2018 and moved to a small town in Idaho. Ahhhh…….!

    1. Change your CA plates as quickly as you can.

    2. For those who like life among half-educated, bigoted, superstitious, anti-social, right-wing slack-jaws on the wrong side of the culture war and losing end of bright flight, Idaho must be paradise.

      1. To dumb to comprehend he moved there FROM California, Hicklib?

      2. Last time I checked ID law it was a $5 fine for pointing a gun at someone.

        Kinda has a nice ring to it…Everyones got a Fiver!

      3. Says a lot about the liberal Californians who have moved to Boise, right, you slack-jawed, slope-foreheaded hicklib?

      4. I take them over u any day d-bag & I’m an atheist sane liberal. Heck I was worried about my state FLA turning blue but not anymore. Thanks kung flu.

  6. Unfortunately it’s not over. It’s worse, it’s spreading outside it’s borders. Most of the people who leave California unfortunately are almost as brain dead as the morons who stay. They are too stupid to understand causation as to why California became so unlivable, unaffordable, filled with crime, poverty, homelessness, human shit, needles, traffic jams, etc… They bring the same communist political leanings to destroy the state they just moved to. In my experience, the percentage of Californians leaving who are looking to escape Californian politics instead of just the result of California politics is pretty small. Here in Tucson, it takes every bit of self control I have to not slash the tires of and key the paint job of every car I see parked with a California license plate.

    1. Don’t think that is so. Take the example of Gregdn above:

      People who move out of California to red states tend to be looking for more conservativism, and fleeing liberalism.

      1. Well one guy in the Reason comments settles it!

      2. Not really. They only think they are. Then they just regress to their typical progressive, “government is the cure to everything” mindset and there goes the neighborhood.

      3. Not really. The people moving here (CO) fall into three broad groups:

        1. People right out of school. Their politics just aren’t that different from other young people. Their reason for moving here is the same as its always been here – casual outdoors lifestyle. There are parts of CO that just can’t accept population growth but that’s not where anyone is moving either. This has nothing to do with anything uniquely CA.

        2. The tech crowd. Pure evil from top-to-bottom. Their politics, specifically, isn’t the problem. Their anti-social VC-fueled arrogance is. They have no interest in the place they moved to – and their hobby/vocation is obliterating real place/community. Most are manipulative sociopaths and their ‘models’ for functional community are Silicon Valley, Seattle, Austin, Facebookistan, Amazonia, etc.

        3. The over-50 cash-out crowd. These are the folks who bring their politics with them and impose it here. But it isn’t left-right. More like the vacation-home Aspen stuff – but with more locusts. Middle-age tourist crowd arrogance (rather than tech crowd) seeking to impose a retirement on everyone else and replicate what they think they left/lost in CA.

        1. I consider Sillycon Valley to be the devil’s playground.
          You are correct in that they’re manipulative sociopaths but include grandiose narcissists as well.
          The fact that the Valley has produced nothing of substance or value for a while now indicates they are approaching their sell-by-date.
          California is now running on fumes.

    2. I have some good friends in Texas who feel the same way.

    3. Whether it’s emigration from CA as California or Central America, people move because they don’t like the *results* of the policies implemented, not because they don’t like the policies themselves.
      When they emigrate, they pack their political culture and bring it with them.
      Import Not Americans, Become Not America.
      Reason writers should not have been allowed to leave CA. They worked hard to turn it into a dump. They should be forced to live in it.

  7. Call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye

    1. Don Henley reference. Excellent

  8. Do we think Texas can keep the lights on with its current population, let alone more?

    1. If they can’t, they’ll be just as good as California.

    2. no. definitely don’t come here.

    3. piss off, Sock Puppet.

  9. Call me crazy, but shilling endlessly for public charge open borders with all the organized crime cartels and despots that come with that, no cash bail, ending public security and replacing it with private security, billionaire funded DAs, might collapse a state or a country. Seems to me it’s anarchy as long as anyone who’d call themselves a libertarian is getting a piece of the action.

  10. “Texas may not have the beaches, the forests, the celebrities, or the glamour.”

    Don’t know much about Texas do ya?

  11. Yes; The Nazi’s have conquered and consumed CA and are now moving-on to conquer and consume ‘greener pastures’… Because that’s what Nazi’s Dooooooo…

    Fans of Communism and Socialism don’t give one speckle of thought to *EARNING* or *PRODUCING* anything — it’s all about using [WE] gangs control of gov-guns and *TAKING* things.

    The word ‘justice’ to a lefty is being able to steal the cake and eat it too without so much as taking the effort to actually steal it themselves. They ‘hire’ government crooks to go steal the cake for them.

  12. CA just get their Assault Weapons Ban overturned by a Judge and theyll lose on appeal too. Hi capacity mag ban also was overturned.

    Some lying bleeding heart BS about how many people killed by AR 15s – a bald faced lie.

    They want the ban to prevent shootings but the ban DIDNT prevent them.

    Bald faced liars like that dare lie to a Court should be locked up 3 days for Contempt along with their lawyers.

    Mthinks they have real troubles with human trafficing and drugs.

    1. Mthinks they have real troubles with human trafficing and drugs.

      Texas isn’t much better in that regard. Houston is one of the worst human trafficking hubs in the US.

      1. bigger border…

    2. They don’t want the AR15 ban in order to stop shootings.
      They don’t care about shootings, crime or terrorism.
      They want to oppress the citizens.
      So the citizens must be disarmed.

  13. “Now its population is declining for the first time in recorded history.”

    Migration is humanity’s oldest and most effective solution to poverty and oppression. California’s poor and oppressed are only repeating a pattern that goes back to the days when we started walking up right.

    1. Sometimes emigration from the cancer only spreads the cancer.

      1. What do you suggest as a solution to poverty and oppression? Hunkering down in one place and not moving? I guarantee you that’s not the decision your ancestors made.

  14. Fifteen years ago, I considered moving to California, leaving Michigan.
    To a certain degree, I’m glad I remained, however we, in Michigan have our own little dictator by name of Grendel Whitler. Or is it Gremlin Whitler?
    You don’t cross her without ending up in jail. Just ask Marlena Pavlos-Hackney.
    She’s evil, I tell you, evil, besides being a hypocrite and a liar and a power crazed little tyrant, along with her little lesbo neo-nazi attorney general, whom I suspect, dresses up in a leather and vinyl nazi officer’s costume, has wreaked havoc on Michigan’s economy and like The little tyrant of New York, caused the needless deaths of who knows how many elderly in nursing homes. Besides violating her own dictats, she has no empathy with the people of this state who are suffering from lack of employment and those whose businesses have been permanently shuttered.
    Tough luck I guess.
    That the people of California have it a thousand times worse is little comfort to those here in Michigan who now face the loss of unemployment benefits and quite possibly may become homeless.
    At least, here in Michigan there are very few homeless people living in camps. Any that I can see.

  15. Substitute Hollywood celebrities with lobbyists and other beltway grifters and you have Virginia, which seems to be following in Cali’s footsteps about 20 years behind it. I always thought the one benefit to living in California would be that I would never have to bother voting again-looks like I won’t have to move…

    1. What about Georgia? I was surprised the state voted strongly for Democrats last year. Surprised until I learned about black migration and Atlanta being the ‘Black Mecca.’

  16. Ron Desantis has kept Florida open
    As Governor he has an excellent track record
    Ron Desantis for President in 2024!

  17. And we’re not really sure how many seats california should actually have lost

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