Christopher Lucero | In Defense of the Golden State

Letters to the Editor
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Re: Betty Arenson commentary, “Pay Attention,” Dec. 28. 

Hello Betty. Let me be a vicious Polyanna to your polemical Chicken Little. I could take on your misuse of statistics or your erroneous choices of point data as representative, or your misplaced mention of the plight of the homeless, but I will make an argument from the ethical and moral plane instead, ONLY because it is shorter, though still quite lengthy. You will see it as a head in the sand. Rather, it is head in the clouds. I will avoid ad hominem, so please Betty consider that this is against your argument, not you personally.

Any state that needs to punch at the level of entire nations is bound to be a rough-and-tumble locale when restrained within a republic. On the other hand, when the republic recognizes the contributions that the Golden State makes to the republic, and the advantages of having the Golden State within the republic, it is likely to suffer less. This is not the case. It is sport for the remaining “also rans” of the USA to stick pins in every Californian balloon. Jealous much?

Historically, an American motto was “go west.” To your point, Betty, California does have challenges it needs to address. Most of these are related to the edgy nature of the Golden State, especially the tendency to release the spirit of human endeavor and conservation and — yes — greed, apparently at the altar of business preferences. This tendency adds to the world. Why not judge by results? California has risen from No. 10 to No. 5 in international rankings of economies, even after the great recession.

Had California not stood alone in the 1970s and leveraged the Clean Air Act provisions to become iconoclast, there would have been no development of fuel-efficient, low-polluting vehicles. Any examination of or visit to locales (Beijing, Houston) where these standards are not implemented and you immediately sense woe to your pulmonary function. Transistors were developed at Bell Labs, New Jersey, but it was Californian institutions like the UC system and the attraction of the environment here that still brings California the best and brightest to refine and develop technology. These people establish business here rather than in Iowa, or Idaho, or Texas or Utah, or any of the other members of the republic that are typical locales where emigres from California look back and shake their heads.

I have a neighbor who came here in the 1990s from Idaho because of business opportunity, but he holds newly found distaste for the Golden State. Having become wealthy, he is returning to Idaho. He did not sell his home here in the Santa Clarita Valley and retains half of the SoCal business he built because he is a smart man, after all. I also have neighbors who are ex-public employees who chose to leave the Golden State after they completed their service. The clear process is that California is exporting its wealth to these other somewhat ungrateful states in the republic. All those teachers’ pension checks going to Arizona addresses, or fire personnel pension checks headed to Colorado with the Great Seal on them. THAT is the Californian story. Exporting wealth and prosperity and edgy good things to the rest of the world. Many, and I assume you, Betty, perceive their/your personal condition or their/your choices as a negative, as if having the cake and then also eating it were achievable reality, expecting that the prosperity would continue in perpetuity. It does not. For some, continued prosperity MAY be in the cards, but to expect it for everyone is foolish.

I suggest that those who are negative on the state keep in mind that it is wiser to look forward: Don’t look back. Improve your chosen state and locale rather than denigrate the chosen locale of another man. If immigration is a problem for you then please feel free to irrationally hate innate human nature, but be aware of your own duplicity when you propose emigration and ignore the benefits that immigrants bring. It is a unique experience for ex-Californians in Texas to mention their prior residential status. Enough said.

Emigration for those poor of spirit and those whose personal resources are poorly endowed, planned or executed will happen. Those who leave California or express their woe fit this description, as do those from elsewhere who find California attractive. Emigration and immigration are logical and natural. It is unnatural to resist these facts of life. If 53% of Californians are reported to be thinking of leaving (that is – emigrating), then the Golden State and its leadership will need to examine what it can do with the remains. Imagine if the laissez faire Californian attitude toward this situation were to — OMG! — continue. Is it not a possibility that California would attract more of the world’s wealthy and motivated and spiritually rich? Dreamers and doers.

Betty, California is clearly — as you intone — becoming more elitist. That is an artifact of wealth. It would thus predictably climb even further up the ladder of economic might, and attract even more talent and people whose resources (including willful participation) are aplenty. The process does also drive out the lowly spirited or the stingy. The smart ones will keep skin in the game. Like my neighbor who sort-of moved back to Idaho.

Admitted: California could — as you would intone — become devoid of such wealth. Perhaps California could subsidize and assist those who want to move out, paying directly for that $3,770 U-Haul to Texas, as long as those people would sign a nondisclosure that they would agree to never look back and retain their opinions about the Golden State to themselves. Our president seems to have been successful at maintaining people at their word using this method, for a while anyway. After all, the emigres from California would be in a better place than they left. Presumably.

BTW, would love to hear your conservative solution to homelessness.

Christopher Lucero

Saugus

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