The Great California Exodus

Of all the angles one could take to critique the present state of leadership in California, perhaps none is as simple and objective as the basic fact of exodus.

Fiscal considerations are subject to idiosyncratic catalysts that skew the data for periods of time (to either the positive or the negative). Unfunded pension liabilities speak to a future problem to result from present malfeasance, but they still allow people to conclude, “Well, maybe that works out better in the future than it sounds now.” (It won’t.) The widening economic divide is felt to be a problem only by those on the losing side of it. A lack of cultural cohesion is not just “not a problem” for many on the left, but an explicit aim. California is a mess economically, fiscally, socially, educationally, and culturally, but in each category there exist sufficient can-kicking options, or at least prima facie “spin” opportunities, to soften the realities of what is taking place in the Golden State. But there is one basic, objective reality that is impossible to spin away — people are leaving in droves.

I suppose that some states or pockets of the country in various periods, likely cyclical ones, could be susceptible to mass exodus. Weather conditions, quality of life, scenic options, pace, energy, educational opportunities, job-market dynamics — there are always reasons that could lead one to leave a certain place for another. But every one of those issues was a magnet to California decade upon decade — not a deterrent to coming or staying. Come spend a day with me in Newport Beach sometime and tell me that the weather is the reason people are leaving this state. You can rest assured that no part of Cali­fornia will receive a failing grade for its weather.

To leave a spot often branded as paradise for its warm, sunny, and consistent weather, there has to be a catalyst. Dreamers long flooded into California  because of an entrepreneurial culture that was real and palpable. From Holly­wood to Silicon Valley, from the Central Valley to San Diego, from downtown Los Angeles to the Inland Empire, whether in entertainment, technology, agriculture, sciences, big business, or small business, there was a dream associated with being in California. It was aspirational. It was a spot of infinite opportunity that also had the Pacific Ocean and 70-degree weather. It was no accident that California grew as it did, and no accident that such profoundly important businesses grew here, came here, were founded here, and flourished here.

But, alas, it has been no accident, either, that all of this has wrenchingly reversed. The weather and the dreams have not changed. But the tax rates, the regulations, and the cultural climate have. And over two decades marked by a highly conscious policy shift, the Left has helped to reverse the New Year’s Day dynamic of folks around the country watching the Rose Bowl on ABC, wondering why they are shoveling snow off their driveways when those lucky SOBs in Pasadena are bathing in sunshine with a view of the San Gabriel Mountains. It takes a lot of work to reverse a force like that, but the work was done, and that force has been reversed.

There is no one factor that has provoked the exodus. In fact, nearly every person I have ever talked to who has left the state was willing to swallow one of the major disadvantages of life there. Perhaps they didn’t like the heavy tax burden but were willing to bear it in exchange for the various advantages that life there gave them. The inexorable increase in cost of living was a bear but acceptable up to a point. The regulatory burdens were unwarranted but tolerable if one could just manage to do whatever it was one aspired to do. …

Click here to read the full article from the National Review.


  1. Richard Cathcart says

    California’s former ambiance was thoroughly disambiguated by professional politicians, Hollywood celebrities and so many Lefty others. Its new “ambiance” is toxic to fairness, love, trust, prosperity and restful slumber. The elites may continue to seemingly flourish for a few years yet–housed in their gated and guarded communities in the major coastal cities–but within perhaps a mere decade they will see their wonderful views blighted by yearning poor masses, many foreign-born, who won’t be so peacefully accepting as those who have already and will soon leave a rotting corpse of a once near-idyllic State landscape.

  2. Congestion, intractable social problems, dysfunctional schools and government, high real estate prices are all factors that cause sane people with other options to leave such a failed society. The trajectory will only be worse as people lack options and flee the chaos, or seek to have government take care of their every need, not understanding the high monetary price coupled with the loss of liberty to lead life how one chooses. It is true, the wealthy can attempt to insulate themselves from the deteriorating conditions outside of their gated compounds and communities, but as people in South Africa have found, that ‘protection’ only lasts so long until the mass of people demonize the people considered elites.

  3. No other state deserve their fate more than California.
    Voters asked for it and it will be the only thing to turn the state around.
    California deserves to financially implode!
    Bounced payroll and retirement checks, schools shuttered and not because of this virus but because there’s not money to pay the utilities to keep the lights on and the floors swept.
    California is led by an incompetent cabal of Democrats and Left sympathizing cry babies.
    She really does deserve to go broke.
    Democrats lie and this is the consequence they deserve.

    • Corruption beyond comprehension continues to rot the state. The sweet smell of communism is rooted in and totally ignored by the public. The only action taken by the political swamp is raising taxes. They live well
      on the applause of those who voted them into office.

  4. We can slow it down by recalling Pretty Boy Newsom.

  5. California Governor Newsom’s Energy Policies are Racially biased against those that voted for him. The most expensive electricity and fuels in the nation are being borne by those that can least afford living in “energy poverty”.

    The growing homelessness and poverty populations in CA, gives the Governor more to talk about, while he fuels (no pun intended) energy and EDD poverty onto the CA residents. The accelerating costs for energy are also fueling (again, no pun intended) the exodus of businesses and residents out of the once Golden state.

  6. There are multiple reasons for leaving CA but they pretty much fall under one umbrella —– liberal policies; and I can attest that the states where those Californians are moving to only hope and pray that these ex-californians are not bringing there sick politics with them.

  7. There are multiple reasons for leaving CA but they pretty much fall under one umbrella —– liberal policies; and I can attest that the states where those Californians are moving to only hope and pray that these ex-californians are not bringing there sick politics with them.

  8. The California expats will find themselves embroiled in a liberal surge elsewhere, wherever they go.
    Leftist and even Communist language has taken over this country and silenced those who had a happy life and culture 15 years ago. As residents move out, hordes of poor and hungry immigrants fill their places, largely without skills and resources, sucking up the welfare money California couldn’t afford for its own longterm residents. California is inexorably becoming a State without a middle class, the elites and their millions and billions grabbing up the land and the State’s other treasures, protected from taxes by their multiple corporate entities, and safe from the huddled masses by their walls and gun-toting security. Meanwhile the jobless and helplessly dependent underclass votes for the leftists because they need the handouts. The one million undocumented entrants arriving in 2021 all have families that they will get into the US, so 1 million quickly becomes 5 million.

  9. TheRandyGuy says

    Author misses the truth. Yes, people are leaving CA, but not RICH PEOPLE. The top 10% of CA wage earners pay 70% of the state income tax. The top 20% pay 90% of the tax. Unless and until THOSE people leave, the pols couldn’t care less who leaves – there is no financial impact to the treasury. And polls are very clear that the rich have no expressed intent to relocate out of state.

  10. The California decline and trageic possibility of implode is only made possible so we come to learn in 2021 after the stolen election of 2020– that the operative word is and has been all along – DOMINION!

    We were all led to believe it was the illegal vote, the poor people wanting handouts, and the Unions. Well, we now have PROVEN beyond a shadow of doubt that because of the Soros factor in California going back 60-70 years now, and moving to other contiguous states, it has been the liberals in power that have brought us the corrupt voting that we never even suspected – UNTIL NOW.

    So, their cover is over. The corruption and downfall will be over AS SOON AS WE GET BACK TO VOTER INTEGRITY WITH PAPER BALLOTS, VOTER ID, AND CLEANING OF VOTER ROLLS.

    The sooner the better, and I only hope we can do this by the RECALL ELECTION coming up.

  11. I’ve been here a long, long time. The first 35 years were like crack. The last 25 not so much. Did you know that the taxpayer pays for everything the politicians do?

  12. Francois P Jerins says

    California has now become the new Commiefornia. No freedoms, full of illegals. Hight cost of living. Highest taxes in the country. High gas prices. High housing prices. High unemployment. Run by Marxists. Did I leave anything out?

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