How Liberals Explain the Decision to Leave California


Alamo Square and the San Francisco skyline in March.



Photo:

john g mabanglo/Shutterstock

Residents of the New York metropolitan area have become accustomed to a common variety of politically “progressive” but ultimately sensible neighbors. In a typical case, vociferous calls for higher property taxes to meet critical community needs are followed by a less voluble announcement that the family is moving to a place where one can enjoy more house for the money, coincidentally in a jurisdiction imposing a lower cost of government. Such transitions can be difficult, perhaps even when explaining them to neighbors.

Meanwhile on the left coast, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli conducts a “California exit interview” with a young couple who have reluctantly decided to head south and east:

Alison Grady and Ernest Brown made a spreadsheet of places they wanted to live a few years ago, and Oakland came out on top… But they knew they were living on borrowed time.

“You can’t go to a party or a house or a bar with twenty-somethings” without the high cost of housing coming up, said Brown, who chaired the board of the pro-housing YIMBY Action organization. “Because however much fun people are having, there’s a low sense of dread constantly that this party can end at any moment if there’s a rent increase.”

Same goes for people who need more space to start a family. That’s where Grady and Brown are now… They just moved to Atlanta, where they can buy a bigger place in a similar downtown neighborhood for half as much.

So far so good, but then comes Mr. Garofoli’s odd explanation of the event that triggered the relocation:

They said the final straw came last year when California voters rejected Proposition 15, which would have raised property taxes on commercial property to help schools and local governments. Its rejection made the couple wonder if the public school system would ever improve.

“The decision to under-invest in the public infrastructure that is particularly important to families raising children in California makes (living here) such a hard bargain,” Brown said.

Leaving California because the Golden State doesn’t tax and spend enough is not the answer one would expect, but the happy couple should still enjoy all the bargains that the Peach State has to offer. When it comes to education, California spends around 15% more per pupil than Georgia, according to 2018 data from the U.S. Census Department. Looking at overall state and local general expenditures, the left-leaning Tax Policy Center shows California spending exceeding that of Georgia by significantly more. No surprise, the Tax Foundation finds that the departing Californians are migrating to a state with a much lower tax burden—California has the country’s eighth-largest tax burden relative to income, while Georgia ranks a very pleasant 41st.

Perhaps before departing Oakland the young couple should let their neighbors know about the better deal on government available in Georgia. Existing Georgia residents can only hope that the newcomers understand why the living is so much easier and more affordable than in California.

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Now What Should Residents Say When They Flee Oregon?

No matter how they choose to explain it, Oregonians are bound to ponder an exit as they contemplate a government-imposed new normal of permanent isolation. Sara Cline reports for the Associated Press from Portland:

As states around the country lift COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon is poised to go the opposite direction — and many residents are fuming about it.

A top health official is considering indefinitely extending rules requiring masks and social distancing in all businesses in the state.

The proposal would keep the rules in place until they are “no longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace.”

Michael Wood, administrator of the state’s department of Occupational Safety and Health, said the move is necessary to address a technicality in state law that requires a “permanent” rule to keep current restrictions from expiring.

If state law places a time limit on the ability of a bureaucrat to impose emergency orders on the population, how many citizens would describe this vital restraint on state power as a “technicality”?

Fortunately it seems the answer may be not many, as Mr. Wood’s proposal has sparked broad and intense opposition. The frustration in Oregon mirrors that expressed by Ohio’s Rep. Jim Jordan when the Republican questioned government disease doctor

Anthony Fauci

last week at a hearing on Capitol Hill. According to the AP’s report:

Opponents also are upset government officials won’t say how low Oregon’s COVID-19 case numbers must go, or how many people would have to be vaccinated, to get the requirements lifted in a state that’s already had some of the nation’s strictest safety measures.

“When will masks be unnecessary? What scientific studies do these mandates rely on, particularly now that the vaccine is days away from being available to everyone?” said state Sen. Kim Thatcher, a Republican from Keizer, near the state’s capital. “Businesses have had to play ‘mask cop’ for the better part of a year now. They deserve some certainty on when they will no longer be threatened with fines.”

Absolutely they do. “Mask Cop” should be the name of a student band in Eugene, not a permanent requirement for people trying to scratch out a living in retail. Further north in Portland, who can argue that shop owners aren’t challenged enough trying to police other aspects of their businesses? The Oregonian newspaper reports:

A group of protesters in downtown Portland lit fires, smashed the windows of businesses, a church and the Oregon Historical Society, and caused other various damage during a destructive demonstration Friday night and early Saturday.

Someone also fired several gunshots from a car traveling a block away from the protest crowd early Saturday. No one was hurt.

Police declared the demonstration a riot late Friday, marking the third time in five days the bureau had made such an announcement.

Georgia is looking better all the time, regardless of how West Coasters want to describe their motivations for moving east.

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James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”

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