Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney compared California’s financial position to that of Greece or Italy last week. Someone as rich as he is has no business laughing and pointing at poor people, but I have no doubt that he does it even more privately than he does it publicly.
Unfortunately, he’s right. Thanks to a dysfunctional legislature and a do-nothing governor that won’t address our loophole-ridden tax code – especially Proposition 13, which seemed like a good idea at the time – we can’t fund our basic public services, such as schools and infrastructure.
And we have other peccadilloes. I still can’t hear the phrase “Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger” without thinking it’s a Saturday Night Live broadcast. Saul Bellow was right when he suggested that the country had been tilted on its side and everything loose rolled to California.
But do you know what? I love my native state anyway. Here’s why:
● We televise our really big earthquakes during major sporting events.
● We’re so deeply in Obama’s column that we’re not subject to the barrage of campaign ads the swing states have to deal with.
● We gave the world the Beach Boys, Marilyn Monroe, and Disneyland, and never asked for anything in return.
● If it weren’t for Silicon Valley and Hollywood, America would hardly have anything to export.
● We can drive around with the top down more months than not.
● If we ever had a dress code, no one seems to be able to find it anymore.
● We can fly nonstop to the South Pacific, Asia, Europe, and Australia.
● Sporting events broadcast in prime time end before bedtime.
● We don’t need real retirement plans because we have our houses.
● We could secede from the union tomorrow and be the eighth largest economy in the world (this is not a new phenomenon; when Curt Gentry published The Last Days of the Late, Great State of California in 1969, we were the world’s seventh largest economy).
● We keep the same tires on our cars all year long.
● There’s an ocean nearby whenever you need it.
● Failure in business is looked upon not as a flaw but as a really expensive learning experience.
● We have so much racial diversity that you can’t tell what country you’re in by looking at the people on the street, and even the suburbs have the most amazing array of international restaurants.
● In other states, we can get away with bizarre behavior simply by explaining that we’re from California (I did this a lot as a teen-ager).
● All the houses in classic Sixties and Seventies television shows look like the neighborhoods we grew up in.
● We have more major league baseball teams (5) and football teams (3) than any other state (two of New York’s plays in New Jersey, after all).
● Once you’ve been here 10 years, we make you a native.
I don’t hold a minority opinion on all these things. You’d think televising an earthquake would keep people away, but the fact is California’s population has grown by 8 million people since 1989. It’s hard to keep a place this much fun all to yourself.
Note from the author: Middle Age Cranky at 100: Fine Whines & Muddled Memories, a compilation of my first 100 columns, is now available as an e-book at Smashwords and other digital bookstores.