Seventeen years ago, the distinguished historian, Victor Davis Hanson, a fifth-generation California farm owner, wrote in his book "Mexifornia: A State of Becoming":
"California . . . is the most liberal and affluent area of the southwest, as well as America's largest and most forward-looking state. Our upscale lifestyle is famous for being easy, laid-back and nonjudgmental. In contrast, our newcomers are not the elite or even the middle class from a poorer country, but the most uneducated and destitute of the entire North American subcontinent. ...
"What a potentially explosive mix this experiment has become. . . . Standing athwart Californians' path to their envisioned utopia of pristine redwoods, dot.coms and air-conditioned malls are millions of the world's poorest. And the state simply cannot quite figure out whether it has become a promised land based on cheap immigrant labor or a looming nightmare of unassimilated Third-Worldism."
Well, California is no longer a "state of becoming," it has "become" a fiscal, economic and cultural debacle.
While California leftists boast that Silicon Valley is "the harbinger of a better, greener, more egalitarian future," the reality is, as social scientist Joel Kotkin has argued, very different.
On the one hand, there is a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people, while on the other hand, the disparity between rich and poor has become the widest in the nation.
For example, San Francisco, the capital of Silicon Valley, has the highest economic inequality in the state.
"California," Kotkin has written, "now has the highest overall poverty rate in the U.S. . . . Fully one-third of welfare recipients in the nation live in California . . . [and] 45.8% of California's children live close to the poverty level, often in substandard housing."
To get an update on the mess in California, I recommend readers crack open Michael Anton's new book "The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return."
Anton, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, devotes his first chapter to a case study of California. He examines the consequences of the policies and attitudes of a "left liberal one-party state" run by super wealthy Big Tech and Big Hollywood oligarchs.
His findings are frightening. Here's an overview:
Costly: In Los Angeles, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, housing is the most unaffordable in the nation. The median home price is twice the national average and 10 times the average yearly wage.
There is a shortage of affordable homes and rentals due to punitive building regulations imposed by the ruling class.
Traffic Congestion: Not only do Californians spend more time in bumper-to-bumper traffic than other Americans, their commutes are longer and they spend more on gasoline — which is almost two times more costly per gallon than the national average — due to backbreaking taxes and regulations.
Declining infrastructure: Freeways and highways are deteriorating because the flow of traffic is much greater than the roads can handle. And because the environmentalists believe that road building is "evil or retrograde," infrastructure expansion is forbidden.
The electrical power framework is also a mess. Anton reports that green fanatics "prevent maintenance and modernization of the electrical grid-power stations, transformers [and] transmission lines. . . . "
Urban Decay: Los Angeles and San Francisco — California’s most expensive cities to live in —"contend with public urination and defecation at levels exceeding the worst slums in Calcutta."
A recent newspaper headline read "Fecal bacteria in California's Waterways Increase with Homeless Crisis."
San Francisco also has the highest homeless rate in the nation, 900 for every 100,000 citizens.
Homeless drug addicts and mentally disturbed people have set up tent camps on city sidewalks and in parks. This phenomenon has caused rat infestations that has given rise to cases of cholera, hepatitis and typhus.
Despite the growing health crisis, San Francisco County's District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, refuses to prosecute any "quality of life crimes" including public defecation.
Crime: Elected officials at both the state and local levels, have gone soft on crime. And voters have repealed at the ballot box a number of "tough laws and decriminalized theft under $950."
Untold numbers of residential burglaries go unreported because homeowners know the police won't investigate such crimes or pursue the thieves.
California cops, Anton reports, "have all but given up" on property crime.
As a result, "San Francisco has the highest crime rate in the nation" because "property crime in California is now effectively legal."
Taxes: Californians pay the highest state income tax, sales tax rate, and gas taxes in the United States to fund welfare benefits that go to 55% of the state's immigrants and 30% of its natives.
When federal taxes are factored in, many middle-class workers are forking over 50% of their earned income to tax collectors.
The result: Californians are leaving in droves seeking jobs in low tax- and business-friendly states in the Southwest.
And if the Democratic Party’s leftists take over the White House in January, Anton fears there will be a radical transformation of America. The nation will become "California on a national scale."
To understand what is at stake this November, read Anton’s book.
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." He is chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA. Mr. Marlin also writes for TheCatholicThing.org and the Long Island Business News. Read George J. Marlin's Reports — More Here.
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