In just a few weeks time, California hits the wall. And Americans should take a good, long look at the fiscal and social wreck of the Golden Land, because California is at a place to which all of America is heading.
In May, when five fund-raising proposals were put on the ballot, Gov. Schwarzenegger pleaded with the overtaxed Californians not to make their state "the poster child for dysfunction." As The Economist writes, "On May 18th, they did exactly that."
Arnold went to the White House for U.S. loan guarantees for new state bonds. But with the president's approval rating wilting because of a belief he is spending too much, the Obama-ites slammed the door. In Sacramento, a Republican blocking force is resisting any new tax revenue. And with the state under a constitutional mandate to balance its budget, yet facing a $24 billion deficit this July, a chainsaw is about to be taken to state government.
Some 38,000 of 168,000 state prisoners may be released. As Barack Obama is pushing universal health insurance, California will cut Medi-Cal for the poor. Education will be slashed, resulting in a shortened school year, thousands of laid-off teachers, school closings and an end to summer programs in a system that has plummeted from the nation's best to one of its worst, as measured by dropout rates and academic achievement.
The 10 campuses of the University of California face cuts that may result in 50,000 fewer students and 5,000 fewer teachers. What makes her fiscal crisis relevant to us all is not only that California is our most populous state, with one in eight Americans living there, but California has a gross domestic product larger than Canada's.
Moreover, the demography of California today is the demography of America tomorrow, just as the social and fiscal policies of California in the last decade mirror those of the U.S. government today. One-third of all U.S. wage-earners today have been amnestied from paying U.S. income taxes, as the top 1 percent haul fully 40 percent of that huge load. So, too, in California, the well-to-do and the wealthy are hammered, which is why many have quietly closed their businesses, packed and gone back over the mountains whence their fathers came.
Under George W. Bush and Obama, the U.S. government has undertaken huge new responsibilities: No Child Left Behind, Medicare prescription drug benefits, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the takeovers of banks and auto companies, bailouts without end and national health insurance. California, too, spent lavishly in the fat years and issued bonds when state revenues did not cover the costs, bringing its once-sterling credit rating down to the nation's lowest. So, too, U.S. Treasury bonds, T-bills and the American dollar are now increasingly suspect.
Demographically, California is where America will be in 2040. White folks, who are leaving California as they did in the millions in the 1990s, are below half the population. Hispanics, their numbers surging due to legal and illegal immigration, are well over a third of the population. The African-American share of California's population is also falling, as the Asian share is rising, again from immigration.
Los Angeles, which is what most large American cities will look like, is the most diverse city on earth. Has diversity been a strength? In the prisons and jails, and among the scores of thousands in street gangs and the underclass, a black-brown civil war is underway.
In October 2006, the Financial Times reported the findings of the famed author of "Bowling Alone" on what diversity has wrought: "A bleak picture of the corrosive effects of ethnic diversity has been revealed in research by Harvard University's Robert Putnam, one of the world's most influential political scientists. His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone — from their next-door neighbor to the mayor."
"In the presence of diversity, we hunker down," said Putnam. "We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it's not just that we don't trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don't trust people who do look like us."
"Professor Putnam," said the Financial Times, "found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, 'the most diverse human habitation in human history.'" Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan carried California nine times. But the state is now a fiefdom of liberalism. John McCain's share of the vote was smaller than Barry Goldwater's. California today believes in Big Government, open borders, diversity, multiculturalism and the politics of compassion. But what liberalism has wrought in California, its native-born are fleeing. Still, where California is at, America is headed.
Californians who are running away from the communities and towns in which they were raised have Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Utah and Nevada to head to. But when all of America arrives at where California is at today, where do the Americans run to?
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