Monday, March 21st, 2011 will be my last day as a resident of the state of California. The Golden State--home to Tinseltown, surfing, Disneyland, & the birthplace of the Internet (having nothing to do with Al Gore)--has been my home my entire life. I was born at St. Joseph's Hospital in the city of Orange.
I lived in "Surf City" Huntington Beach from age 5 until age 29. I was never a big beach-goer, but HB was a great town to grow up in. It was as clean, safe, and nice a place as a middle class kid could ask for. Several malls close by, the beach, decent schools, and all the sunshine you could want.
My life in California has been a pretty good one. All good things must end, however, and sadly, my time in California has come to its end. There is no measure for my sadness at this fact. California, to me, was once a golden land of opportunity where anything was possible. Aerospace, technology, Hollywood... both the fantasy and the reality that shaped the world were made here. I am reminded of the Danny DeVito-narrated opening to "L.A. Confidential."
Now, however, both the fantasy and the reality are relics of the not-so-very-distant past. The people who govern this state seem to be on a mission to drive it into the ocean financially before the big earthquake does it literally. Our governors (starting with Gray ("gray-out") Davis) & our legislature have been so prostituted by the employee unions and other special interests that the corruption is astonishing. They went on a years-long spending spree on everything under the sun during the years of the real estate bubble, under some delusional assumption that things would just keep roaring along. Now the bills for their recklessness have come due. As re-tread governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown takes office, California faces a $28 billion budgetary shortfall. The public employee unions--given an enormous sweetheart deal by Gray Davis--have created a pension liability exceeding $500 billion. That's with a "b." Half a trillion dollars.
The governor's answer? Why, more taxes, of course! Despite having some of the highest (if not THE highest, in some cases) taxes--from income tax, to sales taxes, to 1,001 "fees,"--apparently, we just aren't giving enough. All of this while the state and national economy remain depressed, and the tax base itself shrinks as businesses and individuals are driven out of state by punitive tax rates and oppressive over-regulation.
It will get much worse before it gets better (if it does). While our highway infrastructure rots, our legislators are patting themselves on the back for securing partial federal funding for a high-speed rail to nowhere (funding that Wisconsin and Ohio had the good sense to turn down, refusing to deepen their budget problems with a public transportation boondoggle). Brown and his cronies are also big time environmentalists, and working through state agencies with zero accountability like the California Air Resources Board (CARB), seek to impose a radical, draconian environmental agenda on the citizens of this state, regardless of the devastating effect it will have on the state's economy. (Not the least of which will be the implementation of AB 32, the "Global Warming Solutions Act," signed into law by faux-Republican governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, which will have an enormously negative impact on the state's economy, costing some 1.1 million jobs and likely resulting in $9/gallon gas.)
California, once the horizon of growth, is now the edge of a precipice of financial ruin (and I haven't even touched on the massive fiscal problems resulting from our illegal immigration crisis). Our elected officials seem to believe that they can spend endlessly and then tax the state into prosperity, empowered by an electorate too ignorant, greedy or complacent to stop them. Corrupt politicians, thuggish unions and entitlement-seekers are at the helm, and under their reckless stewardship, California is looking to become just like Detroit. I can't bear to watch that. I want an opportunity to thrive--go to school, have a decent job, buy my own home, raise a family--and I no longer feel that California is the place to do that. So, off I go.
Before I tear out for yonder frontier, I'd like to reflect on some of the things I'm going to miss about the once-beautiful state where I was born and raised, like:
- Universal Studios
- In-N-Out Burger
- Beaches/the ocean (even if I didn't go often)
- Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ in Fountain Valley
- Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum
- Fantastic weather
- Pacific Coast Highway
- Palm trees
- Rocky Mountains
- California girls
and most importantly, the friends I will leave behind.
I am excited and eager to begin this next phase of my life, but I will miss this place. I will forever treasure the memories that I have made here, long for the people and things I leave behind, and feel nostalgia for times gone by. I tell myself that I will come back from time to time to visit the people and the places that I love here, and I really hope that's true. It will never be quite the same, though. Times pass, seasons change, and the time comes to move on.
Farewell, California. I will miss you.