Having lived most of my adult life in the San Francisco Bay area, I naturally think of it as home. I’ve been a citizen of California for decades.
I have made life-long friends here, worked here, gone to graduate school here, taught at various universities here, owned a home here, vacationed in the many national parks here. In short, I am a Californian. Therefore seeing what’s happening to it is distressing, to say the least.
Why the decline and fall of California? Questions about complex phenomena that begin with “why” are “over-determined” (as economists are fond of saying.) There are multiple causal factors, none of which are individually sufficient but various different combinations of them could be responsible. These factors could be economic, technological, social, cultural or historical. Analysis of complex phenomena is never entirely settled. In other words, it’s not rocket science; it’s social science.
I like Victor Davis Hanson’s take on the question. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and he’s a farmer in the Central Valley. His understanding of California is unparalleled. Here he is explaining the decline –How California destroyed its middle class.
I love California but I moved out almost six years ago. I admit I do miss it but fortunately, I have friends there whom I visit frequently. As a matter of fact, the picture at the head of this post is a view from a friend’s home where I am staying in San Jose, CA.
I think I will send this post with a song. Do you know the way to San Jose? Nice song but not as nice as “California Dreaming”. The Mamas & the Papas 1965 version is great; the harmonies are perfect. But Jose Feliciano’s cover has energy.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.
 The wiki entry on California Dreaming says:
“California Dreamin'” became a signpost of the California sound, heralding the arrival of the nascent counterculture era. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in June 1966 and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2021, Rolling Stone placed the song at number 420 in its “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list.