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October 22, 2015

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: CAN CALIFORNIA BE SAVED? “Why is California choosing the path of Detroit — growing government that it cannot pay for, shorting the middle classes, hiking taxes but providing shoddy services and infrastructure in return, and obsessing over minor bumper-sticker issues while ignoring existential crises?”, VDH asks:

But what turned a once bipartisan and purple state bright blue?

A perfect storm of events.

Higher taxes and increased regulations have driven out lots of small-business owners. In the last few years, hundreds of thousands of disgruntled middle-of-the-road voters voted with their feet and left for no-tax Nevada, Texas, or Florida.

The state devolved into a pyramid of the coastal wealthy and interior poor — the dual constituencies of the new progressive movement.

A third of America’s welfare recipients reside in California. Nearly a quarter of Californians live below the poverty line.

Yet nowhere in America are there more billionaires. California’s long, thin coastal corridor has become a tony La-La land unto itself. Some of the highest housing prices in the nation and richest communities are clustered along the Pacific coastline, from the wine country and Silicon Valley to Malibu and Hollywood, dotted by marquee coastal universities and zillionaire tech corporations.

Meanwhile, poorer people in the interior, in places such as Madera and Delano — far from Stanford, Google, Pacific Heights, and Santa Monica — require ever more public services. The very rich don’t mind paying the necessary higher taxes, while the strapped, shrinking middle class suffers or flees.

The Detroit analogy is apt — Zev Chafets of the New York Times wrote his harrowing book Devil’s Night: And Other True Tales of Detroit in 1990, nearly a quarter century before Detroit declared bankruptcy, and his descriptions match the Obama-era reports describing Detroit’s collapse.  Conservatives including Ann Coulter, George Will, and Heather Mac Donald have been sounding the alarm on California’s decline for at least the last 15 years. Comparing their earlier warnings with California’s dire current state as described by VDH illustrates how thoroughly the state has declined in the years since.

But hey, we have gender-neutral bathrooms, so that’s nice.