“We’ve lived off the investments our parents made in the ’50s and ’60s for a long time,” says Tim Hodson, director of the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento. “We’re somewhat in the position of a Rust Belt state in the 1970s.”
California has followed the grim path of the Great Lakes states.
As I wrote before, those states where once the industrial dynamo for the entire Earth, yet they destroyed that enormous economic dominance by political policies hostile to economic creativity. Likewise, California had a golden era as an economic and cultural dynamo. Well up until the late 1980s California was the place to go to make it big. People moved from other states to California. Now, internal migration has reversed. California looks less like a dreamland and more like basket case waiting to happen.
It seems that in post-New Deal America, economic and civil success sow their own seeds of destruction. When things are going good, socialist experimentation seems harmless. A booming economy can pay for increased government spending and an ever-increasing scope of government power. Eventually, however, socialism strangles the economic engine and destroys civil society.
I think Texas may be the next boom state and I hope we escape this trap. One would think that socialism would not gain a foothold in independent minded Texas, but California was once a land of rugged individualists too.
[update 2008-1-23 4:03pm): Check out this letter from Gordon Clark explaining why he can no longer afford to manufacture surfboards California. Surfbords. In California. Nuff Said.]