California, the Beautiful

By Antonio Castillo yosemite-national-park

Recently, I watched an advertisement on YouTube. In the video, a YouTube personality shares his tactic for dealing with bad days: looking in the mirror and reminding himself of how beautiful he is. At first, I laughed. However, upon contemplation, I recognized that a sizable amount of people consider this “self-love” a positive and constructive way to confront life’s troubles. However, on a grander scale, I realized that Californians have used this tactic with regard to our disgraceful policies of recent years.

Since California is a resource-rich state, its inhabitants tend to be particularly proud of their home. We boast extensive natural resources, ranging from fossil fuels to renewable energies. Our agricultural yields account for a sizable majority of the nation’s food supply. Of course, our pleasant, year-round sunny weather also attracts millions of tourists every year. Beyond that, we take pride in our ethnically diverse population and open-minded culture. We have the nation’s best universities, best artists, and best burritos. As a result, Californians tend to disparage and stereotype our fellow American citizens in the South and the Midwest as if they are barbarians. Despite this overt pride, our state has experienced an immense overall decline in the past couple of years. Like the YouTube personality, we look in the mirror at the wonder of our natural beauty, while many of our fellow Californians relocate to more affordable states like Texas and North Carolina.

For the past four years California has been suffering a severe drought. Our government blames citizens for the shortage. The State has implemented water rationing and restrictions in certain areas. In response, Californians have collectively reduced their water usage by 33 percent—well above Gov. Jerry Brown’s target of 25 percent. Still, our drought persists. Clearly, the problem originates with regulators, not the people.

Most Californians are unaware of the fact that millions of gallons of water have been poured into the ocean due to a lack of storage facilities. In the Sierra Foothills, state officials have emptied reservoirs in order to protect “unimpeded” river flows and thereby benefit small numbers of non-endangered hatchery fish. Even worse, California bureaucrats have begun to demolish dams and water storage facilities due to safety concerns relating to poor upkeep. At the same time, our government has made no efforts to reconstruct our lost infrastructure. State regulations not only exacerbate the process for building new facilities, but also entirely block construction in some cases.

Moreover, many Californians have heard that the agricultural sector uses 80 percent of our state’s water. In reality, farmers use 40 percent. Liberals have excluded statistics from the state’s environmental projects (which account for 50 percent of California’s water usage) so that they emphasize individual impacts. They are right to criticize inefficient farming practices and call for reform. At the same time, shifting blame onto private citizens is uncalled for. These are the very same environmentalists who wasted $1 billion of taxpayer money on a green energy initiative that achieved close to nothing.

The California Clean Energy Jobs Act, or Prop. 39, raised corporate income taxes and allocated projected revenue to the green energy industry. Prop. 39 was projected to create tens of thousands of jobs in three years, but has created only 1,700. According to billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, the law “closed a corporate tax loophole for companies that ship local jobs to other states.” Yet, jobs are still leaving our state, even in the green energy sector. Despite endless corporate welfare offerings made by Gov. Brown, Tesla Motors recently decided to establish its next factory in Nevada. In addition, Prop. 39 was supposed to save the Los Angeles Unified School District at least $27 million dollars in annual energy costs. Instead, the district has spent $12.7 million on consultants and has failed to complete a single project. Steyer, who bankrolled Prop. 39, boasts that the initiative saved schools statewide about $25 million annually. However, in reality, state officials do not know if they have saved any money at all.

These issues are just the tip of the iceberg; there is much more evidence of California government’s poor performance. Never has a region been so naturally rich but so poorly run by its latest generation of custodians. California endures some of the highest gasoline taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes in the nation. Yet, our roads and public schools rate near the very bottom of U.S. rankings. Instead of using the tax money to improve California, our officials waste money on their pet projects, like Prop. 39. Our state has significant amounts of petroleum and natural gas. These used to be a pacesetter in building nuclear and hydroelectric plants. However, because of inept government, California’s electricity and gasoline prices are among the highest in the nation. Although we have a robust welfare system, we also have the nation’s worst poverty rate—about 25 percent—and among the worst unemployment rates. Our government contradicts our potential.

I was born in California. My parents fled here in search of safety when government corruption and war destroyed their homeland. Unfortunately, California’s current affairs are going down a similar path. California is a beautiful state, but it’s time for it to face the facts (unlike the YouTube personality).