Quality of Life Diminishes for Californians –

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By Maria Fotopoulos

Maria is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow who focuses on the impacts of growth on biodiversity. Find her on Twitter | in | FB.

The writer’s views are her own.


 

March 5, 2018
Oscar Night 2018

A California that is aspirational, magical and trend-setting still lives in the imagination of many. The carefree West Coast known for something new called “surfing” inspired and lured the landlocked through films such as “Big Wednesday,” “The Endless Summer” and “Point Break” – before those, with surfing Gidget and Moondoggie. California was the land of vast orange groves – frankly, the 31st state to join the United States back in 1850 was, with nearly perfect weather, a place where anything could be grown and anything was possible.
 
California was Hollywood – the Dream Factory – the place to be “discovered” and generally seen as a land of vast opportunity post WWII. California, 770 miles long, and 250 miles wide, was the ultimate expression of the famous line, “Go West, young man” – in a good, non-Manifest Destiny way.
 
But that California exists only in imagination today.
 
Maybe it’s still an okay place to visit (I’ve lived here for too long to be a good judge), but most people wouldn’t want to live here for a list of reasons, including poor air quality. Thirty-two California counties received an “F” for high ozone days, according to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report 2017. Six of the 10 most polluted cities in the United States are in California. Dirty beaches, a poor education system, unaffordable housing (both to rent and to buy), massive homelessness, continuing gang problems, a now nearly year-round fire season and the infamous insane commutes round out the state’s woes.
 
Oh, and California is now also a “sanctuary state,” which essentially means it’s not complying with federal law on immigration. Put another way, it’s gone full-on rogue.
 
California ranks at the bottom of the list of U.S. states for quality of life in a “Best States” ranking in U.S. News & World Report. In the same report, powered by McKinsey & Company, California scored low (No. 49) in affordability (cost of living and housing affordability), Pre-K to 12 education (No. 44) and fiscal stability (No. 43).
 
Not surprisingly in light of some of these findings, Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S., makes the Top 10 list for cities in the country with the least balanced lifestyles, according to Magnify Money. And San Francisco recently made the news for having streets littered with drug users’ discarded needles, trash and feces. An alternate version of reality comes from Zocalo Public Square, which refers to these cities as “two of the world’s leading examples of urban settlement.”
 
Packing people into California like the sardines canned in Monterey’s former waterfront facilities has helped transform it from livable to not. In 1950, 10 million people called California home. Today nearly 40 million do, and that number is expected to grow to 51 million by 2060. It’s the most populated state in the country. Add that stat to all the rest of the negatives that have piled up in the state in recent decades, and it should serve as a cautionary tale for the rest of the country, if the maxim, “As goes California, so goes the rest of the country,” still holds.
 
Much of that growth is driven by immigration, both legal and illegal, and the latter includes non-English speaking, uneducated and culturally unassimilated. While stating those facts is now considered by some to be “racist” – the catchall word to shut down informed discussion and communication – it is reality, and one that impacts all the statistics mentioned above.
 
There are limits to growth, even if the majority of California officeholders continue to deny it, along with other state powerbrokers, including Hollywood glitterati, who managed to dial it back at least a notch in Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, likely tempered by the entertainment industry’s sexual and power abuse scandal, as well as recognition of the number of viewers (paying customers) Hollywood has managed to alienate in the past year (trust will be hard to regain though; the number of Oscar viewers was down again). Nonetheless, some who made it onto the Dolby Theatre stage still voiced their “solidarity” with DREAMers.
 
Not unlike other large collectives, members of the Hollywood elite have succumbed to group think on the immigration issue that’s nowhere in the scope of reality. Perhaps when someone wears a $100,000 dress, has a chauffeur for ferrying to and fro, and lives in a $20 million well-secured home, it’s probably a bit easier to live in denial and feel virtuous by supporting DREAMers – isn’t the name alone enough to justify support? Hey, isn’t Hollywood all about making dreams come true?
 
Never mind the details of negative repercussions, for example, crime. A recent study found that a resurgence of the brutal MS-13 gang is “directly connected to the illegal arrival and resettlement of more than 300,000 Central American youths and families that has continued unabated for six years, and to a de-prioritization of immigration enforcement in the interior of the country that occurred at the same time.”
 
Facts. So annoying.
 
Whether or not Californians will return to reality, and start electing officials who subscribe to dealing with issues using common sense, is a huge question mark. As political commentator Tucker Carlson pointed out, California, in “open rebellion against the federal government” with its welcome mat for illegal immigrants, has gone from “Eden”  to the worst state in just 50 years.
 
As was also discussed on another of Tucker’s broadcasts, there seems little concern that nearly 250,000 people have moved out of California in recent years, taking $8 billion with them. Or, looked at on a longer timeframe (2007 to 2016), a million more people have exited California than moved here from other states. But many poor illegal aliens have moved in, and today one in five people in California lives below poverty.
 
Among the many ugly results of unbridled importation of population is environmental degradation, which is ignored by the state that claims to be so environmentally aware. As stated in a study by the London School of Economics, “If each of us living in a highly developed country reduced our carbon footprint by 40 percent over 40 years, all of that would be cancelled by our present population growth rates alone.”


 
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