Big Government Has Failed California: Is This the End of the Golden State?

Most of us feel it at this point: the depressing pall that has settled like stagnant gray smog over the once-vibrant Golden State. By almost any measure, the quality of life in California has dramatically deteriorated in recent years.

We Californians have suffered through increasing rates of violent crime and a general breakdown of peaceful civil society, coinciding with 2020’s civil unrest and the George-Soros-funded installation of progressive big-city district attorneys like George Gascon and Chesa Boudin. There was a 27% increase in homicides statewide in 2020. In Alameda County, it was a horrifying 57% increase. Widespread violations of property rights have also fueled the anarcho-tyranny in large as well as mid-sized cities in the state. These are not minor victimless crimes. This crime wave continues to threaten the life, liberty, and property of citizens throughout the state.

Gas prices are through the roof, accelerated by the state’s regressive gas excise taxes that are the highest in the nation (at over 50 cents per gallon). Homelessness has reached a crisis level; tents and “blue tarp” encampments litter parks and the sides of major freeways and overpasses in almost every city in the state. This is a sad example of the “tragedy of the commons” and an illustration of one of the key practical problems with public property.

Mentally ill and drug-addicted individuals are inhumanely allowed to sleep on roads and sidewalks, and they often endanger themselves and others by wandering into traffic or assaulting passers-by. Public defecation and drug use is rampant in San Francisco, Oakland, and Hollywood. Downtown LA has deteriorated into a third-world hellscape. There are even numerous social media accounts that document this mostly avoidable human tragedy.

Californians recognize that there is something seriously wrong; “progressive” Sacramento politicians are playing their proverbial fiddles while the state burns. Liberty is endangered by these libertines and their “drunken sailor” spending.

Despite a projected $45.7 billion budget surplus, some in the legislature called for astronomically high new taxes—at least $150 billion worth—to fund a socialist “CalCare” single-payer healthcare system via AB 1400, which would have outlawed private medical insurance. Luckily, this bill died on the Assembly floor on January 31. Ominously, this legislation is expected to resurface in the next legislative year.

The statist progressives are not stopping there, however; they are coming for our children, too. The horrific new Senate Bill 866 assaults parental rights by allowing kids (aged twelve and up) to receive a COVID shot without parental notification. COVID authoritarians in Sacramento are also crafting legislation that would mandate vaccinations for public/private employees and force the COVID vaccines on all schoolchildren. In Senate Bill 871, Senators Pan, Wiener, and Newman go even further in tightening the screws on California families by removing the personal belief exemption (from vaccinations), in their quest for full control of our bodies and our medical treatments.

While the statewide mandates pile up, inland regions of California such as the Central Valley suffer under the wrath of left-liberal politicians whose policies disregard any unfortunate souls who are not a member of the wealthy progressive caste along the coast. Newsom has declared war on the state’s oil industry, which is centered in Kern County, and he has threatened to wipe out thousands of petroleum jobs in the next few years. Keep in mind that California—a voracious oil-and-gas-consuming state—imports well over half of its oil from foreign sources such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

The farming and agricultural communities have also been burdened by crushing state regulations and byzantine water policies.

Big Government has clearly failed California, as this formerly prosperous state collapses. Unsurprisingly, Californians who have the sufficient means and financial wherewithal are choosing to flee the state in record numbers—to such an extent that California has lost hundreds of thousands of residents to “brighter future” states such as Texas and Idaho. California has also lost a seat in Congress for the first time ever, which is emblematic of the state’s diminishing status nationally.

For the Central Valley and Inland California residents who cannot move away—or the ones who choose to stay and struggle for their freedom—the options are dwindling at this late hour. From Northern California’s Jefferson region, to the San Joaquin Valley, and extending to the beautiful Sierra Nevada and desert regions, the sense of abandonment—and even being targeted by Sacramento/coastal politicians—is pervasive.

However, there is some good news: a growing movement for liberty has been raucously thriving in the San Diego suburbs, Orange County, some neighborhoods of Los Angeles, the Central Valley, and far-flung areas throughout the state. This movement incorporates peaceful civil disobedience, rallies, concerts, nullification/interposition efforts, and protests. It seeks to empower parents and families. People are showing up at school board meetings and are running for local offices, in order to take charge of their own destinies.

Yes, California is currently in bad shape, but the future is not yet written. Very soon, we will find out whether California’s liberty movement is able to change the state’s trajectory. We must resist the “black pill,” as much as possible. There is still time to save our state.

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Gregory Gordon

Gregory Gordon is a geoscientist and fledgling political activist living in California. His articles have appeared at Mises.org, Zero Hedge, Libertarian Republic, and American Thinker. He is working on a new podcast, the California Liberty Project; you can follow him on Substack as well as Instagram @californialibertyproject and Twitter @gregorysgordon.

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