I was born in Bell, California. I grew up in Bell, lived in Southgate, Lynwood, Watts, later the MacArthur Park and Alvarado district, and then Hollywood.
My earliest memories, besides getting mugged when I wasn’t playing pinball at a nearby Century Boulevard bowling alley, were walking the length of Wilshire Boulevard as a teen, getting to know every nook-and cranny of LA to Santa Monica and West LA.
Still later, my career took me to San Diego, Monterey, Palm Springs and finally Santa Barbara. As a young truck driver I also traveled the I-5 corridor more times than I can count. To say I have gotten to know the Golden State would be an understatement. California will always be my home state, which is why I lament her passing.
California is such a beautiful State; no other state offers the diversity you will find in this place, and while it is true there is a whole lot of nothing in California, its because the State is so grand in size, extending as it does half the entirety of the U.S. west coast. It takes two days to drive through her, and I have, multiple times. You get the point.
The leadership of California has, for generations, exploited the State. It has become a magnet for people seeking social services, from newly arriving immigrants to residents who find it continually harder to make ends meet. Rent in California has always been notoriously high. An adult almost anywhere in California today would be hard-pressed to find a decent apartment for less than $1500 a month, and in places like Santa Barbara or the Bay Area, you are looking at a minimum of 3-grand, and you are lucky if you get a bedroom.
Because of regulations, taxes, environmental protection fees and license fees paid by you as well as the construction and management companies, you will not find a new home for under $400,000, and that is the starting price. Property taxes, strict energy regulations, legislation that calls for drastic fossil fuel usage reductions, thus driving up current energy costs for all businesses and residents while at the same time restricting any new development of dams (a great source of renewable electricity), Nuclear energy power plants or offshore oil development – all mean a future of energy rationing, increasing taxes, more unemployment and more people draining the state for much-needed social services like mental health treatment, homelessness services, single-parent financial and medical assistance, and depending how long the pandemic continues, high crime related to the above societal challenges.
In other words California is slowly turning into Venezuela.
It is strange that the Bay Area and places like La Jolla, Santa Barbara and Carmel house some of the wealthiest people on the planet. One of the perks of having rich people live nearby is the property taxes they pay which cover many of the liberal social services that abound. A homeless person who eventally gets Section-8 housing is set for life, especially if they also get their monthly SSI check (usually around $1,100) and mostly free medical – for life. Hundreds of thousands of people in California live this way draining the gold from the Golden State.
Many of the homeless get paid every month to be homeless; Many of the mentally ill have learned how to “game the system” for free medication that keeps them numb until they can get paid and either drink or score some cheap drugs. This is a growing phenomena in California and it drains the system, creating higher taxes. This, plus the gigantic State employee rolls that mean a continual pension being paid to tens of millions of former State workers mean higher taxes. The State of California’s annual budget for 20-21 is $54-billion dollars less than the State generates in revenue. That is quite a credit card bill.
How, you might ask, does California continue to pay its bills when it costs more to run the State than it can ever bring in? The answer is higher taxes in an already highly-taxed State.
Eventually the people who have money will leave, putting more strain on those who stay. This is already happening. The bubble is bursting. Places like Utah, Idaho, Arizona are growing exponentially. What remains are the lower income service workers and an extremely small number if upper class footing the bill on exorbitant property taxes.
Meanwhile, crime, high-unemployment, homelessness and inner-city poverty will continue to grow. California, run by people like Adam Schiff, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom and Eric Garcetti are the elite ruling party who are strangling the State, choking it to death with over regulation and liberal social policies that drive tax dollars. Homelessness and mental illness treatment have become billion dollar industries for California, which draws millions from around the country to seek services in cities like San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. It’s an industry funded by tax dollars.
Two years ago someone asked newly elected governor Gavin Newsome why exactly Californians pay $5 dollars a gallon for gas while the rest of the country pays $3. He never answered the question except to say “we’ll look into that.”
Gas, which is endemic to anyone who travels, and the high price of it in California is a perfect illustration of why the State is broken. It doesn’t even know why it is charging more for energy, and yet without the surplus, the State would go into even greater debt, and so it keeps charging and the people keep paying, until they can no longer, and they, like me, leave.
My last view of LA was driving up the backside of downtown coming up on I-5 sneaking through the skyscrapers as the setting sun and whispering clouds passed over the skyline. It was ominous. I could sense even then a danger on the horizon, as if LA – and the beautiful State of California was no longer the glorious place it once was. On that day, it looked like the end was near, and then three months later coronavirus hit.
I pray she recovers, but I fear the tsunami is already on the way. The coronavirus is really good at attacking the vulnerable, and the State can’t take much more before it crumbles.