Gary Horton | California Is Wonderfully Lovable

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A lot is said about the “mess” of California. Taxes, traffic, sprawl, housing costs – on and on. There’s no shortage of moaners moaning on and on about California’s faults. As though the state can do no right. As though California is a loser state…

This offends me. All states, all countries have their faults. As does California. But unlike any other state, and unlike almost any other country, we stand unique and exceptional in our achievements, productivity and opportunity. 

Let me point out a few facts for the skeptics:

California is the utter and complete economic backbone of the United States (the U.S. would be chumps without us) and is the liberal torch bearer for our nation… 

California is the world’s fifth largest economy, and this with just 40 million people. Our productivity per person is twice that of Germany and 70% more than Japan. And, an incredible nine times greater than China. We are unmatched in GDP per capita anywhere on the planet. Go find this in Kentucky, Louisiana, West Virginia, or any of the other “conservative states.” (Maybe they’re “conserving” their energy…) 

California productivity simply blows the rest of the country away. For all the flack we get about being touchy-feely liberals, we somehow outsmart and outwork just about anyone, anywhere on the planet.

California doesn’t dictate your reproductive rights. We are hands-off on your choices about marijuana. Your life is your life. We call this, “freedom.” Try to find these personal freedoms in those “conservative states.” They’re not conserving your freedoms, they’re restricting them.

California works hard to keep its air and water clean. It’s a top priority for us. Some people feel it’s onerous to run clean fuel or comply with CARB requirements. This is the cost of the freedom of clean air and water. You have a problem with that? Go to some conservative strip-mining state or go live by a conservative fracking site. They’re not conserving your quality of life…

California is home to the absolutely uncontested finest advanced education in the U.S., and likely the entire world. The University of California System, the California State University System, our community college system, and some of the finest private universities and colleges make us the pinnacle of education. Berkeley, Stanford, Cal Tech, UCLA, and all the rest are absolute world-beaters. Go anywhere in the world and they know and admire these places. Those flyover states, unfortunately less-educationally determining our national elections? Not so much. Quick, can you name five world-class universities outside of California, New York, and Massachusetts? We’ve got more than you’ve got fingers and toes.

California has an overall one-third greater GDP than Texas. For Texas to catch up, it has to grow 50% over its current productivity. Never gonna happen in our lifetimes – or in our kids’. The productivity levels between them isn’t in the same league. You hear about the appeal of low taxes in Texas, but they’ve also got low education, low literacy and a sadly real problem with flood control and infrastructure. 

California has the finest and most diverse natural sites and resources — from the mountains to the sea, to the lakes to the deserts and all places in between. It’s simply the finest, most beautiful and most diverse state in the country. What other state can rightfully say, “We’ve got it all”? Most are landlocked, flat, boring, and alternate between too hot and muggy and too dog-gone cold. 

We Californians are a diverse people. We have an incredible array of peoples, food and culture. Want something new? Just go down the street or hop downtown and you can find nearly anything and everything, instantly.

And our powerhouse economy is similarly super-diverse. Our farming is the vegetable basket of the entire U.S. We’re a major energy producer. We’re the guys sending rockets up with three of them landing back, end on end, all at the same time. We build cars, planes, aerospace and just about anything high-tech you can imagine. And boy, do we imagine – from Disneyland to the creative content capital of the country – we’re the nation’s imagination. And then there’s our economic monsters: Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach, and soon… Silicon Suburb! We’ve got thriving construction, specialty manufacturing and the nation’s busiest ports.

And on and on goes California’s economy….

So — don’t mess with California. Everyplace else is a backwater to compared us. It’s an incredible spot, envied by the world – and known to be a wonderful land of opportunity, almost regardless of your background or history.

I personally know of dozens of people in my rather small friend group who, having started from poverty, achieved middle, upper-middle, and upper-class lives through their hard work and also from taking advantage of our public education. 

An easy example is actually our own housekeeper in Valencia. Having moved here as refugees from the war in El Salvador, they got to work cleaning homes. A couple. Man and wife. They worked their butts off. Today, they own a large home in Castaic. Their daughter is in her fourth year of pre-med studies at UCLA. 

There’s the kid who grew up as a migrant fruit picker with his first-generation immigrant parents. Graduated Cal Poly, he now owns a beautiful home in Valencia, raising his family.

Or the boy who, impoverished in Mexico, snuck in when that was what you did, and later became a full-on citizen and earned a GED. Worked his way up through a construction firm and now oversees a force of several hundred workers with his own daughter in college.

Or the successful nurse who attended our own COC nursing program and launched her career without going broke on student loans. Or the regular guy down the street to made it to UCLA, got into film, and has personally produced some of the biggest Hollywood hits you’ve seen. Or the man from Watts who grew up in a very tough area, made his way to CSUN and now runs a large banking office right here in the SCV.

I know of so many stories like this. California’s opportunity, education and acceptance creates miracle stories by the… millions.

California innovates success everywhere. California doesn’t hold you back. We take you how you are as long as you play by the rules and get the job done.

I love California for so many reasons.

Did I mention, “I love California?”

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006.

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