Douglas Andrews / December 20, 2021

Can California Be Saved?

The Golden State has been ruined by unchecked Democrat governance, and its people are leaving in droves.

“If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark,” said philosopher Lawrence Peter Berra, “nobody’s gonna stop ‘em.”

It’s hard to argue with Yogi’s logic. Similarly, if people don’t want to come to California these days, nobody’s gonna stop 'em. And the proof is in the numbers. As The Wall Street Journal reports, “California is losing more than twice as many people to domestic migration as it was before the pandemic, a new report from University of California researchers shows.”

Indeed, California has for years been losing more people to other states than it gains, and last year its population actually decreased for the first time in history — enough to have cost the state a congressional seat due to the 2020 census redistricting process. Texas, meanwhile, will gain two congressional seats and one visionary car company. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in October that he is moving the company’s headquarters from Palo Alto to Austin. Musk, though, isn’t the first to high-tail it out of Cali, nor is his rationale unique. “It’s tough for people to afford houses, and people have to come in from far away.” he said. “There’s a limit to how big you can scale in the Bay Area.”

There’s also a limit to how many people can afford to live in California. As public policy analyst Henry Olsen notes: “The median price of a home in the state is expected to exceed $800,000 in 2022, and the median price in [Silicon Valley] is $1.3 million. Median-priced houses in nicer areas with high-quality schools such as Cupertino or Palo Alto run between $2 million and $3.2 million, all for old homes with roughly 2,000 square feet of living space.”

To those who’ve been watching the Golden State’s self-destruction for the past two decades or so, none of this is a surprise. Nor will it be a surprise which area of California has been hit hardest by this out-migration. As The Journal continues, “The research released Wednesday shows the change is largely being driven by a drop in the number of people moving to California from other parts of the U.S. and is most acute in the high-cost San Francisco Bay Area.”

Imagine that: The city whose district attorney is the son of two Weather Underground radicals; the city that pays people nearly $200,000 a year in salary and benefits to hose human feces off its sidewalks; the city that invites shoplifters to steal from its stores so long as they have the decency to limit their theft to less than $950 — that’s the city folks are most inclined to flee. How much so? As the report from the California Policy Lab reveals, during the pandemic period from March 2020 through September 2021, new arrivals to the Bay Area fell a whopping 45%, while departures rose 21%. Statewide, those moving in have declined 38%, while those moving out have increased 12%.

As our Thomas Gallatin pointed out last week, San Francisco Mayor London Breed is sounding a lot like Dirty Harry lately. “It’s time the reign of criminals who are destroying our city, it is time for it to come to an end,” she said. But talk is cheap, especially where soft-on-crime Democrats are concerned. San Francisco hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1964, and the city’s “progressive” chickens have finally come home to roost.

Of course, there are many other reasons to steer clear of California aside from the rampant crime. Among them are high taxes, unaffordable housing, homelessness, drug abuse, unchecked illegal immigration, the worst schools in the nation, crumbling infrastructure, runaway gas prices, rolling blackouts, climate-change hysteria, and perhaps a dozen others we’re forgetting.

But above it all is this: California has become a one-party state — a state dominated by hard-left Democrats, dominated by “the long thin line from San Diego to Berkeley,” as California farmer, historian, and classicist Victor Davis Hanson puts it.

Hanson notes that the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, who in September survived a recall election by a depressingly comfortable margin, “embodies the woke, old-boy privilege of the Bay Area [and epitomizes] the virtue-signaling elite who patronize the poor and drive out the despised middle class.”

“A careening California,” Hanson says, “is heading for a colossal train wreck.”

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