” … basketcase Britain seems to be preferable to California. It’s not just Clegg: Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, owned by Facebook parent group Meta, and the firm’s chief marketing officer Alex Schultz, have also chosen to relocate to Britain. Clegg, who six months ago was promoted to head of global affairs at Meta, in charge of handling its incessant political firestorms, said in an interview in last year that his “heart belongs massively 5,000 miles away” and that he feels “European”.
Clegg’s Remainiac heart notwithstanding, he is one of thousands who no longer feels even remotely Californian. Rich and poor are calling time on the Golden State. Billionaires Larry Ellison, founder and chairman of Oracle, Joe Lonsdale, founder of Palantir, and Elon Musk of Tesla, have all relocated their companies to cheaper, friendlier states. Even Mark Zuckerberg’s main residence is Hawaii.
For everyone else, with remote work becoming mainstream in Covid lockdowns, net emigration has hit record highs. In 2021 the population of California fell by 117,500. People are fed up of soaring taxation, the high cost of living, groaning regulation, an authoritarian impulse on full show during Covid, and stagnating job growth. The heavy-handed state continually fails to solve the lethal social problems that are on permanent display, from mass shootings, which happen about every eight days (this is still lower than the national average), to spiralling homelessness. California’s dynamism and sense of possibility – where, despite high prices and social strains, those with hustle and good ideas could become fantastically successful – has been sucked dry. Why would you stay?
It is sobering to watch the state most associated with the miracles of American capitalist and creative glories become scorched earth – consumed with fires both real (this year has already seen whole settlements in northern California razed by flames) – and metaphorical.
The sad truth is that California is reaping what it has sown: not simply with its heavy-handed regulation, but in its deep and committed embrace of wokeness, which permeates from its courts via Hollywood to schools and hospitals. The ideological disintegration of the state was always going to hasten its economic decline and now, as the rest of the country descends into full-scale cultural war in the wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade and the ghastly normalisation of mass shootings, there is no wider structure to act as a bolster.
The Californian rot, long in place, became pronounced in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in 2020. Amid soaring crime rates, the mayors of both Los Angeles and San Francisco announced plans to defund the police, slashing hundreds of millions from budgets. It wasn’t the smartest plan: Los Angeles was experiencing a terrifying rise in homicides.
California’s committed progressivism has been evident in its embrace of illegal immigrants, offering drivers licences and free health care. If this boosted the economy and made life better for everyone, then great. But such measures do not go down well with those they are supposed to celebrate.
Blacks and Hispanics – according to US Census Data – fare worse in California than almost anywhere else in the US, with a third of Latinos living in poverty compared to the 21 per cent average elsewhere. Since 1990, the black population of Los Angeles county has dropped by nearly 200,000. More than half now express interest in leaving the state. Woke hasn’t worked.”
Comment: Lived there a couple of times. The first was ’49 to ’53 in the LA area. It WAS a kind of paradise. Weather, infrastructure, general culture, the works. All gone now. pl