Day By Day

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Faded Dream

California was once the embodiment of the American dream -- the golden State where anything was possible. Well, it sure ain't that any more. Californians are leaving in droves seeking refuge in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, even to the socialist states of Oregon and Washington.

Victor Davis Hanson, a native-born Californian who remembers the old days, writes:
California is now a valuable touchstone to the country, a warning of what not to do. Rarely has a single generation inherited so much natural wealth and bounty from the investment and hard work of those more noble now resting in our cemeteries—and squandered that gift within a generation. Compare the vast gulf from old Governor Pat Brown to Gray Davis or Arnold Schwarzenegger. We did not invest in many dams, canals, rails, and airports (though we use them all to excess); we sued each other rather than planned; wrote impact statements rather than left behind infrastructure; we redistributed, indulged, blamed, and so managed all at once to create a state with about the highest income and sales taxes and the worst schools, roads, hospitals, and airports. A walk through downtown San Francisco, a stroll up the Fresno downtown mall, a drive along highway 101 (yes, in many places it is still a four-lane, pot-holed highway), an afternoon at LAX, a glance at the catalogue of Cal State Monterey, a visit to the park in Parlier—all that would make our forefathers weep. We can’t build a new nuclear plant; can’t drill a new offshore oil well; can’t build an all-weather road across the Sierra; can’t build a few tracts of new affordable houses in the Bay Area; can’t build a dam for a water-short state; and can’t create even a mediocre passenger rail system. Everything else—well, we do that well.

Read it here.

It used to be said that trends began in California and spread from there to the whole country. Let us hope that such is no longer the case. The California dream has become a cautionary tale.