California Is Self-Destructing

Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave a 28-minute pre-recorded State of the State address and ominously opined that the state’s values and status as “a beacon of hope” are “under assault.”

A beacon of hope?

The pathetic load of BS strewn by Newsom during his talk could easily fertilize a farm for an entire year. He spent part of his time defaming his political foes, explaining that “conservatives and delusional California bashers” want to “roll back social progress, social justice, racial justice, economic justice, clean air, clean water, and basic fundamental fairness.”

Newsom’s portrayal of the state is remarkably misleading. He insists, “When it comes to the southern border with Mexico, California has proven time and time again that it’s willing to tackle the hardest problems.” He also asserts, “We’ve got more business starts in California than any other state in America and among the highest average wages in America for working people.” He adds that “four of the seven most valuable companies in the world” are based here.

And then there is reality. As noted by Victor Davis Hanson, Newsom enjoyed a recent $98 billion budget surplus—gifted from multibillion-dollar federal COVID-19 subsidies—yet, practically overnight, he turned it into a growing $45 billion budget deficit. California has the highest income tax in the nation and among the country’s steepest sales and property taxes. The average price for gas in the U.S. is $3.49 per gallon as of June 30, but in California, due to excessive taxes, it is $4.80 per gallon, the highest in the country. California also has the second-highest home prices and cost of living in the U.S.

Nearly half the nation’s homeless sleep on the streets of its major cities. The state’s downtowns are dirty, dangerous, and increasingly abandoned by businesses that cannot rely on a shackled police force. Additionally, Newsom’s California has spent billions on homeless relief and has subsidized millions of new illegal migrant arrivals across the state’s porous southern border.

There are ongoing mass smash-and-grab attacks on California retail stores. Carjackers and thieves are thriving. They are rarely caught, and even more rarely arrested.

His “seven most valuable companies” comment is laughable. Silicon Valley has been a global tech hub since the 1960s, but companies are now packing up and leaving for friendlier states. Texas alone has drawn Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, and Tesla.

The Republicans in the state legislature took great umbrage at Newsom’s many fairytales.

“While this pre-recorded speech fulfills the governor’s legal mandate, it does not in any real way fulfill his responsibility to Californians who deserve a safe, affordable, and opportunity-filled future,” said state Senator Kelly Seyarto.

“California remains the country’s homeless capital, businesses are closing their doors, and crime continues to rise. The state of this state is simply not good under Newsom’s leadership, and any claims to the contrary he makes in his speech will be patently false. The good news is, it can be fixed, and Legislative Republicans continue to work to that end.”

It’s important to note that with left-wing Democrats controlling the state legislature, not all the blame for the state’s woes belongs to Newsom. Most recently, legislators passed a minimum wage law that guarantees fast food workers at least $20 per hour. This move will drive some companies out of business and force those that remain to raise their prices considerably, making their food unaffordable for many. UCLA economist Lee Ohanian estimates the law has cost the state 10,000 fast-food jobs.

Additionally, a set of ambitious reparations proposals, including legislation that would create an agency to help Black families research their family lineage and confirm their eligibility for any future restitution passed by the state, is in the works. State Sen. Steven Bradford, a Los Angeles-area Democrat, said California “bears great responsibility” to atone for injustices against Black Californians.

I had only one ancestor in the country at the time of slavery in the U.S. My paternal great-great grandfather was an immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1849 and fought for the Union in the Civil War. Why should I have to fork over any money to the state for reparations?

The legislature is also sex-obsessed and regularly passes laws that are anti-parent and downright perverse. Passed in 2023, AB 223, the “Transgender Youth Privacy Act,” requires courts to seal any petition by minors to legally change their gender or sex identification to protect their privacy. Parental authorization is not needed to change a minor’s vital records.

Similarly, AB 1955, introduced by Assemblymember Chris Ward, D-San Diego, would ban parental notification policies and explicitly disallow teachers from telling parents if their child identifies as transgender. The bill awaits Newsom’s signature.

AB 1184 “prohibits insurance companies from revealing to the policyholder the ‘sensitive services’ of anyone on their policy, including minor children (starting at age 12), even though the policy owner is financially responsible for the services.” The term “sensitive services” refers to all health care services related to mental or behavioral health, sexual and reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections, substance use disorder, gender-affirming care, etc.

SB 107, which became law in 2023, erodes parents’ rights by allowing minor children to travel to California for trans procedures. According to the Protect Child Health Coalition, the law authorizes parental kidnapping (when a non-custodial parent illegally takes a child from the parent who has legal custody) if the purpose of the kidnapping is to subject the child to radical gender transition procedures.

Just for comic relief, AB 1810 seeks to erase what a woman is by requiring menstrual products and birth control in jails and prisons for both males and females. The bill replaces all mentions of females and women in the current statute with the word “person,” ultimately rejecting reality.

The state does excel in one way, however: indoctrinating students. Californians for Equal Rights (CFER) looked at 350 school districts across the state and found that almost 90% of them promote DEI and its cousins, Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Ethnic Studies (CES) to varying degrees, with 23% “engaging in omnipresent indoctrination in curriculum, policy, expenditure, and personnel.”

CFER ranked schools from zero to five. A score of zero means all-encompassing promotion of DEI, CRT, and CES, while five signals the district’s non-participation in indoctrination and intentional distance from them. The results show that 83 scored zero, 69 got one, 91 had a rating of two, 67 got three, and 38 had a score of four. Only two school districts in the state, Paso Robles Joint Unified and Ramona City Unified, scored five.

At the same time, the most recent Smarter Balanced test scores released in October 2023 indicate that just 46.7% of California students are meeting literacy standards, and a meager 34.6% are proficient in math. This standardized test is given to all students in grades 3–8 and grade 11. Also, the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows that 30% of the state’s 8th-graders are proficient in reading and 23% are proficient in math.

What is the state doing to improve these dismal numbers?

Not much. California Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo has introduced a nonsensical bill banning excessive homework, however.

Considering all the above, it’s hardly surprising that enrollment in California’s public schools has fallen by 6% since 2013, and the state projects another 12% decline over the next decade, according to the Public Policy Institute.

Overall, about 200,000 Californians flee the state every year. Many people are fed up with the governance of the formerly Golden State and are moving to healthier places. Who can blame them?

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Larry Sand, a retired 28-year classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

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About Larry Sand

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network—a nonpartisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

Photo: A man walks past tents housing the homeless on the streets in the Skid Row community of Los Angeles, California on April 26, 2021. - A federal judge overseeing a lawsuit that seeks to end the city's Skid Row homelessness crisis isn't backing down from his order requiring that all indigent persons in the area be offered shelter within six months. US District Judge David O. Carter is opening the door for more discussions by setting additional hearing dates and clarifying some portions of his ruling. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. In 60 years, the book :“1984, California edition”, will be wonderful reading. It can draw comparisons to Venezuela at its worst, analyze the causes and effects of low quality education on future employment capabilties.

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