Our California Experience
We just left California after living there for a month, traveling around the state from Fortuna to Lodi to Kingsburg to Santa Clarita. We enjoyed seeing the sites such as the Redwoods, Sequoias, Lake Tahoe, vast vineyards and fruit orchards, the beaches, as well as more populous places like San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Disneyland, etc. I wanted to try to understand how Californians have allowed the state to collapse to the degree that it has. Even while deliberately avoiding the worst areas, we still saw rampant homelessness throughout the state from the north to the south. There is litter nearly everywhere, and a general undercurrent of crime, with frequent graffiti, bars on windows, and more. The tourist parking lots of San Franciso were littered in broken glass from cars being broken into. This seems like the inevitable result of failure to prosecute criminals, which is the worst in the largest cities. I can understand why their police decline to put their lives and careers on the line to apprehend a criminal who will simply be released immediately, with no repercussions. When we were staying in Lodi, we saw on the news that a jewelry store in El Monte was robbed after the criminal pepper sprayed a guard. The guard fought through the spray and tackled the criminal. The state's response was to threaten to fine anyone who interferes with a robber in the course of a robbery. It's painfully obvious that most city government, and obviously state government, is firmly on the side of the criminals and out to punish average citizens as much as they can. I can't speak to their motives, but I can say with certainty that if you overtax and overburden average citizens, prevent them from earning a living, and punish them for protecting their families and their property, while simultaneously emboldening criminals and encouraging drug use and homelessness, that is the perfect recipe for the complete collapse of society.
Fuel prices were draconian, averaging around $6 per gallon for diesel due to the very high fuel taxes, but I understand California residents are hit far harder by the plethora of additional taxes, so we were thankful to only be impacted by primarily one egregious tax. Still, that one tax probably cost us an additional $300 or more during our stay versus what we would have paid in other states. And yet the roads were still in dire need of maintenance- the worst pot hole we've ever hit was on Highway 99 - we had to inspect our suspension and tires to make sure we didn't actually break anything.
I will say that we met some friendly Californians, most of whom are well aware of the decline going on around them, but who seem powerless to make change since the state is effectively under the thumb of the urban centers which simply have the majority of the votes and political power. We have met numerous Californian RVers who have left or are leaving California. We spoke with a couple from San Diego- a firefighter and a teacher, who are eager to retire and escape just as soon as their pension kicks in, and another couple, both retired from the California Highway Patrol, who left the state just as soon as they retired. Universally they all admit that it's become unlivable for most people - it's just not safe and it's not affordable due to the onerous taxes and regulations. The last statistic I saw was that 40% of Californians want to leave the state, a sad statistic since probably many of those people were born and raised in California when it was still a great state, many decades ago.
Back to the heart of the matter - how did Californians let this happen? Well, as near as I can tell, it's a combination of intentional political action on the part of city and state leaders, combined with a very self-centered and apathetic outlook on the part of the majority of Californians. As I said, I can't speak to the exact motives of the political leaders but their actions are obviously designed to collapse society, whether that is due to some misguided vision of "equity" or for their own enhanced power by increasing the number of people utterly dependent upon them, I don't know. But the sad reality is the majority of Californians we encountered, especially in the urban areas, seemed to be only concerned with their own little bubble. Many of them wouldn't say "hi" back even if you said "hi" to them in passing - they looked away or looked at the ground. Most seemed oblivious to what was going on around them. In Disneyland, people wandered to and fro without any consideration for other people. We are used to people generally walking on the right of a path, just as you drive, and there is some form of order, but there was none of that at Disneyland. People were cutting in line as if they were entitled to do so. They seemed to have no concern whatsoever for anyone else around them. In nearly every urban area, and in shopping areas, pedestrians would just walk across the street and in front of vehicles when they felt like it, never looking to see if there were vehicles coming that would need to slam on the brakes to avoid running into them. In summary, it seems that the majority of Californians are simply oblivious and apathetic and happy to be told what to do by their government leaders, which seems to be a vicious cycle. There doesn't seem to be a lot of independent thinking, or consideration as to the end results and consequences of the political policies that people are voting for.
This is a cautionary tale for all Americans, as much of this is happening elsewhere in the US, it's simply the most pronounced in California where the political will and majority control is absolute. Still, upon leaving California and entering Arizona, we noticed an immediate difference. When driving through the Walmart parking lot, pedestrians were paying attention to their surroundings, waving thank you when passing in front of a vehicle, and people you pass when walking say "hi" and are very friendly. That said, I'm sure in large urban areas in Arizona, like Phoenix, the environment will be much more similar to California. If we fail to prosecute crime, promote homelessness and drug use, and attack law abiding citizens and families with onerous taxes and regulations, the result is inevitable. An attack on the American nuclear family and a general loss of moral direction also seems to be tightly woven into this plan.