California is a beautiful state, no one can deny. Perhaps the fairest of them all.
Where else can you spend the morning on the beach, the afternoon in the mountains, the evening in farm country, and the night in the desert – all in a single day? The weather, vistas, and national beauty are second to none.
But, in large part due to the kinds of bad ideas and poor management that tends to be a byproduct of one-party rule, this lovely state faces ugly realities.
Los Angeles and San Francisco used to compete for tourist dollars. Now the cities are competing for the dubious title: “Homeless Capital of America.”
They don’t call it the Golden State for nothing. Sometimes, it feels like you need to rob Fort Knox to live here.
In 2017, the median price of a home in California was more than 2.5 times the median price in the nation as a whole. In the five largest cities, the median price of a home ranges between $500,000 and $1.5 million.
As it stands, one in five Californians live in poverty when you factor in the cost of housing and the price of child care.
Not that all is lost. California is now the world’s fifth largest economy. And the state still produces more than its share of new jobs, more than 3 million in the last decade.
Yet, paradise has its problems. And it’s the job of state lawmakers to solve them. You would think that the Democrats who run the state would have more than enough on their plate to occupy their time.
Still, their minds drift to other issues as they look past making California a better state to grander thoughts of creating a newer world.
Since they don’t need a single Republican vote to pass any piece of legislation, Democratic lawmakers sometimes head to Crazytown.
This year – by approving a trifecta of controversial bills on vaccinations, school discipline, and gig economy workers and sending them to the desk of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom for signature – they took the express train.
Senate Bill 276 – authored by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, who happens to be a pediatrician – tightens the requirement that children be vaccinated before entering school by cracking down on medical exemptions that let kids skip some vaccines and still enroll.
It takes the control over the exemption process out of the hands of doctors and puts it in the hands of state public health officials. It also creates a database of children who have been given medical dispensation. The whole idea is to make the state the central player in the vaccination process. And, proponents hope, all of these measures will make exemptions rare and vaccinations more universal.
On school discipline
Senate Bill 419 – authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley – prohibits public and charter schools in California from expelling, or even temporarily suspending, students from kindergarten to eighth grade who disrupt the learning process or defy the authority of teachers, administrators and other school officials.
The goal is to protect kids, and especially minority kids, from excessive discipline in schools. The assumption seems to be that reducing school discipline will result in more positive outcomes for students. Yet, giving students license to defy and disrupt with impunity is likely to have the exact opposite effect.
On the so-called gig economy
Assembly Bill 5 – authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales, D-San Diego, and signed by Gov. Newsom Thursday – makes it harder for employers to categorize workers as “independent contractors” so as to escape the costs and regulations that come with designating them as “employees.”
The industry likely to bear the brunt are ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, who do a tremendous amount of business helping Californians get from one place to another in a state where the car is king. The companies are now preparing to spend millions on a ballot initiative campaign to readjust the balance in their favor. If it fails, they’re likely to cruise right on out of the state.
What do these new laws have in common? They’re all disruptive to the way of life of everyday Californians – whether you’re trying to protect your child from what you perceive to be the dangers of vaccines, or trying to teach a class of unruly and defiant children, or just trying to catch a ride from one place to another.
And who would dare cause so much disruption? Answer: An unbridled group of self-assured lawmakers who are intent on imposing their will and bringing to life their vision of a utopian society in a system without checks and balances, the kind that could prove useful just in case they’re wrong.
With its mountains, coastline, deserts, and lush farmland, God made California beautiful. Through the legislative process, Man is making it unlivable.