California

America the Mostly Beautiful

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In the fall of 2010, as part of a book project, ex-newspaperman Bill Steigerwald retraced the route John Steinbeck took in 1960 and turned into his classic “Travels With Charley.” Steigerwald drove 11,276 miles in 43 days from Long Island to the top of Maine to Seattle to San Francisco to New Orleans before heading back to his home in Pittsburgh.  In “Dogging Steinbeck,” his new e-book about how he discovered “Charley” was not nonfiction but a highly fictionalized and dishonest account of Steinbeck’s real trip, Steigerwald describes the America he saw.

"Big."

"Empty."

"Rich."

"No change since 1960."  read more »

For A Preview Of Obama's America In 2016, Look At The Crack-Up Of California

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Conservatives of the paranoid stripe flocked to the documentary “America: 2016” during the run up to the election, but you don’t have to time travel to catch a vision of President Obama’s plans for the future. It’s playing already in California.  read more »

How California Lost its Mojo

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The preferred story for California's economy runs like this:

In the beginning there was prosperity.  It started with gold.  Then, agriculture thrived in California's climate.  Movies and entertainment came along in the early 20th Century.  In the 1930s there was migration from the Dust Bowl.  California became an industrial powerhouse in World War II.  Defense, aerospace, the world's best higher education system, theme parks, entertainment, and tech combined to drive California's post-war expansion.  read more »

Is California the New Detroit?

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Most Californians live within miles of its majestic coastline – for good reason. The California coastline is blessed with arguably the most desirable climate on Earth, magnificent beaches, a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, and natural harbors in San Diego and San Francisco. The Golden State was aptly named. Its Gold Rush of 1849 was followed a century later by massive post-war growth.  read more »

How Fossil-Fuel Democrats Became An Endangered Species

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In an election pivoting on jobs, energy could be the issue that comes back to haunt Barack Obama and the Democratic Party as the cultural and ideological schism between energy-producing Republican states and energy-dependent Democratic ones widens.  read more »

High Speed Rail Advocates Discredit Their Cause - Again

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Is there any high speed rail boondoggle big enough to make rail transport advocates reject it?  Sadly, for all too many of them, the answer is No, as two recent developments make clear.

The first is in California, where the state continues to press forward on a high speed rail plan for the state that could cost anywhere from $68 billion to $100 billion. Voters had previously approved $10 billion in bonds for the project, but as the state's economy and finances have continued to sour – including multiple major cities going bankrupt – the polls have turned against it, and with good reason.  read more »

No, It's the Deniers who Are Wrong

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Dennis Meyers is the Principal Economist at California’s Department of Finance. He has recently published two parts of what is promised to be a four-part series titled The Declinists are Wrong. He intends to convince us of “the fundamental strength of the Golden State’s dynamic and vibrant economy.”

I was going to wait until the entire series was complete before commenting, but part one and part two are so poorly argued that I feel compelled to respond now.  read more »

Is Perestroika Coming In California?

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When Jerry Brown was elected governor for a third time in 2010, there was widespread hope that he would repair the state’s crumbling and dysfunctional political edifice. But instead of becoming a Californian Mikhail Gorbachev, he has turned out to be something more resembling Konstantin Chernenko or Yuri Andropov, an aged hegemon desperately trying to save a dying system.  read more »

From California to Canberra, the Real Class War

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Just under a year before she crawled over Kevin Rudd to claim the Prime Minister’s office, Julia Gillard visited the United States in her then capacity as Australia’s Education Minister. Her stay in Los Angeles took in the Technical and Trades College, where she brushed up on the teaching of “green skills,” a subject close to her heart.  read more »

Facebook’s IPO Testifies to Silicon Valley’s Power but Does Little for Other Californians

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The  $104 billion Facebook IPO testifies to the still considerable innovative power of Silicon Valley, but the hoopla over the new wave of billionaires won’t change the basic reality of the state’s secular economic decline.  read more »