I love California. I lived there only for a little over a year, and I reminisce over the great times I had in my relatively short stay. I lived in the San Francisco bay area, and life was great. Born and raised in often-bleak and cold New York City, and back again now, I was amazed at the friendliness and neighborliness that I was embraced with. First moving there, I had my defenses up socially against many retrospectively amiable encounters. I made friends in every location I went, from the coffee house to the bar. Actually, one of my best friends I met at a local bar, and we have been like brothers ever since. That’ll be another blog in itself.
Back to California. Unfortunately, the Golden State is in a sharp decline, as you probably well know. Cali is the world’s 8th largest economy, but that number may drop in mere months to come. Currently, California has a 12.2% unemployment rate, far above the national rate of 9.8%. Analysts predict that next year California’s jobless rate will continue to rise, even as the rest of the nation starts improving. Job growth, or lack of it, seems to be the most significant factor in this analysis. Employers are trying to get by their own economic struggles by utilizing as few workers as possible. The often romanticized dream of heading west to sunny, beautiful California to escape life’s woes seem to be reversed.
Poverty rates in Los Angeles have reached 20%, and even the seemingly secure government jobs have been cut by 60,000 employees. Schools in California have become so ill-budgeted that they are ranked 47th out of the 50 states. They have cut their “Healthy Families” program, which aided over a million of the poorest residents. Guardian.co.uk stated, ‘Neighbouring Nevada has launched a mocking campaign to entice businesses away, portraying Californian politicians as monkeys, and with a tag-line jingle that runs: “Kiss your assets goodbye!” You know you have a problem when Nevada – famed for nothing more than Las Vegas, casinos and desert – is laughing at you.’ and ‘The crisis is so deep that Professor Kevin Starr, who has written an acclaimed history of the state, recently declared: “California is on the verge of becoming the first failed state in America.”‘
However, even when all hope seems to have been lost for this state, optimists can see some evidence of the light at the end of the tunnel. California is always at the forefront of ecological issues, as well as health matters, despite its current state. Politics may be improving as the state that boasts Hollywood will get some “star treatment” when great minds from the world over take on Cali’s issues head-first. Californians set standards of living for the rest of us with their wholesome diet and global environmental concerns. When Cali finally comes out of this mess, it might be a better place than before this recession. California will not fail, I believe, because Californians will not allow it and failing is not a part of the California and American Dream.