California, there I go; enough of your dog-and-pony show

california traffic

Here’s a head-scratcher: California, beset by ridiculously high real estate prices, onerous taxation, draconian regulation and, in the metro areas, extreme congestion, is losing tens of thousands of residents to other states.

During the 12 months ending June 30, 2015, 61,000 more people left California than moved to the state from elsewhere in the US, according to information generated by California officials.

The so-called “net outward migration” was the largest since 2011, when 63,300 more people fled California than entered it. Over the past quarter century, the state has experienced negative outward migration in 22 of the past 25 years, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

It’s been 20 years since I bid adieu to the Golden State, where I was born and where my parents still reside. I’d lived in many different parts of the US and had seen a great deal of the country, so leaving for the last time in 1996 wasn’t difficult.

At that time, it was all but impossible to find a decent home for under $350,000, even two hours or more from the state’s large metro areas.

The final straw came when, tired of commuting 2-1/2 hours each way to San Francisco from near where my folks lived along the Monterey Bay, I looked for a home closer to the Bay Area. The best deal available was one half of a small, rundown duplex in the concrete jungle of a San Jose suburb that looked to have had its fair share of gang problems. The price was $267,500.

A couple of months later I changed jobs and moved to the Florida Panhandle, where housing costs were one-quarter of California’s.

When you add in the bureaucracy the state appears to revel in, the restrictions on everyday life – don’t dare ask for a plastic bag when checking out at a supermarket, for example – the rampant hyper-environmentalism, the steady drumbeat of property crime such as cars being broken into, burglaries and vandalism, and the swarms of people who seemingly inhabit every square inch of the state from the coast 25 miles inland from Marin County north of San Francisco all the way down to the border with Mexico, it’s no wonder that many are choosing to leave.

Yes, the job market in the tech sector is currently booming, but when it costs so much to buy or rent a place to live, and taxes eat up so much of what remains, it’s tough to get ahead. I could never understand how one could have peace of mind with a $3,000 mortgage payment looming each month. That’s a sword of Damocles I didn’t need hanging over my head.

The impact of California’s outward flow is felt throughout the west, as well.

Twenty years ago, people not only in neighboring states of Arizona, Nevada and Oregon complained that California “refugees” were driving up real estate prices, but also in Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Idaho.

During a housing boom, a California resident can make a profit of $100,000 or more on their home in a relatively short time. The windfall can be applied to a princely palace in other areas. But that means real estate prices rise for everyone in those other areas.

Of course, during the housing bust that occurred last decade tens of thousands of Californians walked away from their homes, abandoning abodes rather than making payments on properties that had suddenly declined in value precipitously.

For now, California officials don’t seem all that concerned.

The state has never been shy about taxing its residents to make up for revenue shortfalls, and while there is a sizeable percentage of individuals who classify themselves as political conservatives, they are outnumbered by political liberals who, while perhaps well intentioned, have run the state aground through decades of social, fiscal and political experimentation based on theory but with little foundation in practicality.

But, as with any polity, the absence of legitimate two-party or multiple-party systems has enabled those who run California to treat it as their own private political Petri dish, passing laws, ordinances and regulations to fit their needs, rather than what works best for those they’re supposed to be serving. It’s no different from, say, a Southern state completely dominated by conservatives. Once the checks and balances are removed, it’s the citizens who pay the price.

California’s future is impossible to predict, of course. But until those that run the state decide to do something dramatically different, it’s almost a certainty that the ongoing mini-exodus will continue.

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3 thoughts on “California, there I go; enough of your dog-and-pony show

  1. I don’t believe in paying people to boss me around, and apparently those California escapees agree. Do I care what happens to California? No. Hollywood illusion has created a false sense of self-importance that Silicon Valley has intensified. These skew the dynamics to the point where the government works for the rich by bleeding the poor and the soon-to-be-poor if they stay.

    Some people claim cities are growing, but I believe those people are using yesterday to predict tomorrow, as your blog indicates. People are fleeing the cities, for the same reason you did, and governments are going to have to downsize or go bankrupt.

    It won’t be a matter of one, two, or multiple parties. All the politicos believe government deserves the taxes they extort, and all have overspent to the point where they are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. As the public wakes up to the extent of the deception, we are seeing more people giving up, dropping out, walking away from or renouncing debt, and otherwise taking advantage of the system that has shafted them for so long.

    • “All the politicos believe government deserves the taxes the extort, …” That is one of the most accurate statements I have read in a long time.

      I understand that taxes are the price we pay for services that are needed for society to function, but rare is the politician who willingly shuts off the public spigot, or even turns it down.

      There’s always something else that needs funding, no matter whether it’s essential, whether the people who earned it could use it more or whether it’s wise to drain ever-increasing amounts from the populace.

      Governments won’t downsize; they’d rather go bankrupt first. There’s always a chance with the latter that they will be bailed out.

      Neither party is immune, as both fight each other to see which can get the most from the public teat.

      The public, unfortunately, is more interested, on the whole, in bread and circuses, or, in modern parlance, in football and Kardashians.

      • Yep. We’ve been trained to look to government to solve all our problems. Government helpfulness has eviscerated individual and local initiative. I don’t blame people for dropping out and starving the government of its base revenues. It’s a method of voting with (withheld) dollars. Ultimately, I believe it will be more effective.

        Once people realize taxpayers are shareholders in the USA corporation, with an an equal say in how their money is spent, things may begin looking up.

        Also, I don’t believe governments should be allowed to go into debt. After all, representatives are only elected for two years, but the decisions and debt they take on last much longer. We could use sunset clauses on legislation, too.

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