A superb chronicle of the rise and fall of the state of California in the late 20th century, and what its condition says about America overall.
“All the conditions that nurtured a powerful left in California have virtually disappeared. Today, the educational plans of the Sixties administrators read like fables, while California’s legendary liberal consensus has unraveled to the extent that no Orange County conservative would identify with the Ronald Reagan who, as governor, signed into law the largest tax increase in California’s history. (Ronald Reagan? Noooo…A shocker…) The collapse of California’s education system is the sign of California’s collapse more generally. At the time of this writing, the state has an official unemployment rate of 12.3 percent (as high as 18-19 percent in some rural counties), and a budget deficit — even after two years of savage cuts — of $19.1 billion, with no solution to either problem in sight.
“Fiscal crises, due to a careless article of the state’s 1879 constitution that requires a two-thirds majority for the passage of any budget, are familiar to Californians, but the current situation transcends all that. A crisis at least suggests a possible transformation; California’s problems seem terminal. Confidence — the attitude my shallow, beaming state supposedly lacks least — has all but disappeared. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (a trio of words it still pains me to write) enjoys approval ratings of 22 percent; approval of the Democrat-controlled legislature has reached a historic low of 9 percent. People have finally begun to believe in “bad luck.” California remains a harbinger for the country; only now it has come to represent not progress and creativity but social immobility, ecological catastrophe, and legislative hopelessness.”