Interview: Heather Mac Donald on California in Decline

MR. DRISCOLL:  Heather, last question: With all of California's bankrupt cities, with its look-the-other-way attitude towards graffiti, with its race and grievance obsessed education system, it seems like the state is hosed, as the kids like to say. Where does California go from here?

MS. MAC DONALD:  Well, I am somewhat of a fatalist with the demographic changes.  I think it's going to be a increasingly divided society.  As long as Silicon Valley does not give in to gender extortion -- which is starting to happen; I mean, you are going to see now every tech IPO -- there's going to be the gender bean-counting and people will complain that there's not enough females in the business or on its board.  If tech -- if Silicon Valley can hold out against that, and retain its meritocratic culture, that is going to still be an extraordinary hub of innovation that will attract talent.  But the costs of this low -- low social capital population that we're bringing in is going to require more and more redistribution of wealth, so I don't know.

I applaud the Republicans in California who are willing to still talk about merit.  Of course, they're all caving on immigration, so that issue is off the table.  But the state is so darned beautiful, I mean, there -- just you go up and down the coast, it's just one knock-out city after another and -- and Redwood forests after -- after Live Oaks and Sycamores -- that's going to continue attracting people.

I don't know.  One can only hope that maybe with the hot breath of China, you know, coming up on our heels and China, as I say, is unapologetically dedicated to promoting its best and is not worried about hurting the feelings of those who can't compete and believes that the best thing it can do for all students is hold them all to equally high standards, I just hope that California and America generally can return to a meritocratic culture before it's -- it's too late.

MR. DRISCOLL:  This is Ed Driscoll, and we've been speaking with Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, one of the contributors to the new book by City Journal magazine titled The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How to Recapture It.  It's available from and your local bookstore. To visit City Journal magazine, drop by And Heather, thank you for stopping by PJ today.

MS. MAC DONALD:  Thank you so much, Ed.  It's been a real pleasure.

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Transcribed by, with minor revisions (including hyperlinks) by Ed Driscoll. Artwork created using elements from