Growing up, Hollister was where it was at. The cologne that they drenched everything in daily would waft around the mall; you didn’t need a map to find the store. You’d smell it. Today’s kids will never know the euphoria of walking into the mall and being hit with the smell of teenage California dreams, because they’ve toned it down so much. Walking inside, the stores were warmly lit (think sunset); the clothing was intermingled with surf boards and palm trees—and there was always a TV on in the store with a live feed of Huntington Beach, California. It could be -40 outside but in there, you were in California…sort of.
I loved it. My empty wallet didn’t—but I loved it. I’ve always loved the beach and everything about it, and Hollister was usually as close as I’d get.
Here’s my broader point: that’s how most of us who have never lived in California or visited beyond the touristy areas view the Golden State.
It’s Hollywood and beaches and the filthy rich Calabasas world of Kim Kardashian-West and Kylie Jenner—and their multi-million dollar mansions. It’s a laid-back, yoga filled, smoothie driven paradise of all things beautiful.
And it is, within the confines of *those* places.
But zoom out from the enclaves of the rich and famous (or even the moderately affluent) for a moment, and look at the rest of the state.
It’s an unmitigated disaster.
And it’s also our own personal little case study of the abject poverty and disparity that leftist, socialist policies leave in their wake.
(In full disclosure and complete honesty, I didn’t think of that first.)
I was listening to Rush Limbaugh talking about a conversation he was having about the lure of socialism to the young generations. After all, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Bernie Sanders’ face-lift, apparently) and her ilk are extraordinarily popular with the younger generations, and she’s preaching unabashed socialism. She’s not even really disguising it like Bernie has tried to, with creative nomenclature like “Democratic Socialism.”
Someone in his group said:
“Rush, when you and I were growing up, there was a living embodiment of the disaster of socialism and communism, and it was called the Soviet Union.”
Present-day examples like Venezuela (“Venezuela’s not big enough, not powerful enough, never has been a threat to the United States”) or North Korea (“nobody takes them seriously, little pot-bellied dictator.”) don’t resonant. They’re not comparable in size or scope or impact (at least in their minds) to the United States.
Rush continued: “What is the nearest example we have of the eventual implosion?”
CALIFORNIA! I said out loud to myself as I threw another load of laundry in on my lunch break.
“California,” he said.
(Boy I love that feeling.)
But—California? It’s the place where the sun’s always shining and dreams come true! How could we possibly lump California in with garbage dump dictatorships like Venezuela and Cuba and the rest?
Travel out west with me and let me fill in the sordid details that back up Rush’s claim.
- Poverty in California is staggering In fact, “California’s true poverty rate is an eye-popping 20.6 percent—the highest in the nation.” When the average San Francisco area home can easily top a million dollars, rent can reach three or four thousand dollars a month, and the burden of taxes and expenses is so much that “individuals earning less than $117,000, annually, now qualify as low-income earners,” well—you can imagine what happens to the poor souls even further down the food chain. Many people are relying on the state for assistance with the basics—and some are resorting to living on the streets. In fact, the problem is so bad in San Francisco that well over seven thousand people there live, eat, sleep—and defecate—on the streets. That’s right, San Francisco has a serious poop problem, with an entire task force dedicated to dealing with it. And it’s not just poop. It’s a nasty cocktail of “needles, garbage, and feces in concentrations comparable to some of the world’s poorest slums.”
- California is home to an entire QUARTER of the nation’s homeless population. It’s such a massive problem that it was a key campaign issue in the 2018 gubernatorial race. (Spoiler alert: the state elected far-left former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, whose platform contained copious free stuff that obviously requires more taxes which drives prices up, which drives cost of living up, which drives business out, which drives unemployment up, which … results in more homelessness.. But hey, you do you, right?)
- Californians are leaving in droves, and even more want to. Speaking of San Francisco, the Bay area boasts the top spot in the nation for “outward migration” and in recent years, more people have left the state than have come to it. In fact, when surveyed, “53 percent of Californians are considering moving out of state due to the high cost of living.” The most likely group? Millennials. 63 percent of them, to be exact.
- Companies are high-tailing it too. In the span of just one year, nearly 2,000 companies left California, with quite a few of them setting up shop in business-friendly Texas. In fact, there’s an area in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex nicknamed “The Five Billion Dollar Mile” due to the sheer magnitude of business growth there, with companies like Toyota and Jamba Juice setting up shop. The contrast is stark, and nothing illustrates that more ironically than the aforementioned San Francisco-based Jamba Juice, which, when selecting a new HQ in Texas, “picked a city whose very name has a nails-on-chalkboard quality to many around these parts: Frisco.”
- The wealth gap is wild. This is a state that sells homes worth millions upon millions of dollars. It’s also a state where, as I noted previously, the living conditions of the impoverished are in line with Brazilian favelas or Haitian slums. Despite the fact that if California were its own country it would have the fifth largest economy in the world, as one writer put it, “the wealth is concentrated at the top, and the squeezing of the middle class out to Nevada and Utah and Arizona and Texas has left a bifurcated state of the very rich and the relatively poor.” Look at some of California’s richest liberals, who have the good fortune of being on the right side of the wealth gap. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is worth $16 million—and that’s without her multi-million dollar husband Paul. Senator Diane Feinstein is worth a cool $94 million; Mark Zuckerburg sits on $66 billion (with a B!) dollars and Jim Carrey’s got $150 million to his name. California is, for all intents and purposes, a statewide example of what was on display during Bernie Sanders’ town hall the other night, where Brett Baier pressed him on the fact that he himself is a millionaire who only paid 26 percent in taxes—while he and his ilk (i.e. AOC) demand that the rest of the country’s successful people pony up 60, 70, 80 percent and even more of their hard earned dollars.
Here’s the kicker: California is where liberals and leftists and all-out socialists are getting exactly—I repeat—EXACTLY what they want. As Rush so aptly pointed out, California is a one-party state. The Democrats have an “unprecedented level of power in Sacramento,” and they’ve continued to use that to double down on the very political agenda that’s gotten California to the sorry state it’s in today.
Want to take socialism for a test drive?
Go west, young man. Go west.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com, and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show on KSEV 700 Radio in Houston. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree