Stephen Flurry Columnist

The California Dream Is Dead

December 28, 2007 | From theTrumpet.com

From gold rush to fun-in-the-sun rush—now Californians are in a rush to leave.

In the dead of a cold and drizzly New York winter in 1963, John and Michelle Phillips made famous their longing for adventure and fun in sunny California when they wrote, I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A., California dreamin’, on such a winter’s day.

These sentiments were not unusual at the time. The same year they wrote their song, California surpassed New York as America’s most populated state, growing at a rate of 1,600 people per day. Newsweek featured California on a September 1962 cover as America’s “Number One State.” In April 1963, a New York Times article led off with this title: “From Gold Rush to Sun Rush.” Author Eugene Burdick highlighted numerous alluring features that helped fuel the state’s population boom—“the oil wells, the fishing industry, the availability of the beautiful mountains and beaches, the neat, prim charm of the sun-baked villages of the south, the excellence of the schools, the fertility of the land [and] the forests of the north.” Burdick continued,

The realities of California began to become apparent. It was during the ’20s boom that, for the first time, something like a normal cross section of America began to migrate to the state. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians, school teachers, physicians and intellectuals began to see the state as a place where one could live the good life and get a tan simultaneously.

If the Midwest was America’s breadbasket, then California, as the largest agricultural producer in the country, filled the basket with just about everything else. One of the state’s best-kept secrets, according to Burdick, was the quality of its public school system. These were some of the reasons California grew three times as fast as the rest of the country during the 1950s and ’60s. By 1970, one tenth of the U.S. population lived within California’s borders.

But like most of the immigrants who rushed to the state in search of gold during the 1850s, sun-rushers who poured into the Golden State during the 1960s quickly saw the California dream turn to a nightmare.

Root Causes

“Most of the trends that have recently and radically changed California life are familiar in the other America,” Time wrote in 1969, “though many first came to prominence in California. They include the hippie movement, the pop-drug culture, widespread sexual permissiveness, campus revolt and, since the Watts explosion in 1965, more virulent ghetto riots.”

In What’s the Matter with California?, Jack Cashill identifies several root causes that set off social upheavals all across the state and, following in the wake of California’s radical transformation, the rest of America. Not surprisingly, family breakdown had a devastating domino-like impact on numerous social, economic and political institutions and programs.

When Governor Ronald Reagan established a law in 1969 that redefined the curse of divorce as no one’s fault, the new label did nothing to help the already beleaguered institutions of marriage and family. Cashill wrote,

In 1970, the first full year of the no-fault law, the state registered a record 112,942 divorces, a 38 percent increase from just the year before. To put that number in perspective consider that, in 1960, there had been only 105,352 marriages in California. …

In 1970, California’s divorce rate was 60 percent higher than that of the nation as a whole, and it continued to trend upward throughout the decade. By 1980 California had registered a new record 138,361 divorces. In other words, 276,722 Californians got divorced in 1980 alone.

In 1980, embarrassed by the divorce plague in their midst, California lawmakers implemented a quick fix of world-class caliber: They would no longer keep or publish statistics!

But pretending curses don’t exist only makes matters far worse. Cashill noted that many of California’s gangs started at or around the time divorce became an epidemic. Since the establishment of the Crips in 1969, for example, approximately 100,000 Californians have been murdered—not all because of gang-related activity, of course, but a sizeable portion nonetheless. More Americans, for example, have died in the battle for south-central Los Angeles than in both Gulf Wars combined, Cashill wrote.

Who could have possibly imagined a scenario in the mid-1960s, when the Mamas and the Papas were singing about how safe it was in Los Angeles, that by the end of 2007, it might actually be safer on the war-ravaged streets of Fallujah?

The Dream’s Implosion

By the early 1990s, the number of Americans moving to California still outnumbered those leaving, but only by a small margin. Time featured California on the cover of a 1991 issue over this subtitle: “The Endangered Dream.” Jordan Bonfante wrote, “California’s fabled magnetism is reversing itself, repelling as well as attracting many of the get-up-and-go Americans who have flocked to the Golden State in search of the California Dream. The escapees are being driven away by an accelerating deterioration in the quality of life: clogged freeways, eye-stinging smog, despoiled landscapes, polluted beaches, water shortages, unaffordable housing, overcrowded schools and beleaguered industries, many of which are fleeing, with their jobs, to other states. The very qualities that have lured millions to California for 50 years are threatening to disappear.”

In the same issue, Time warned of the possible implosion of the California dream. And indeed, reading the headlines California is making today, it can be safely asserted that the dream is well beyond the point of implosion.

In October, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed four bills that promoted homosexual, bisexual, transsexual and other deviant lifestyles in the classroom. One of the bills will prevent any public school from offering instruction that might be interpreted as negative toward transsexuals.

California schools have definitely come a long way since being the state’s best-kept secret in the early 1960s. Just this week, a new study revealed that one in three California students fails to graduate from high school on time. According to the report, a modest graduation rate increase of just 10 percent would result in 500 fewer murders and 20,000 fewer assaults across the state every year.

Nationwide, according to the report, 68 percent of prison inmates are high school dropouts. “The key is getting kids started on the right track as early as possible and then making sure the schools do what is needed to help [them] succeed and graduate,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

But because of California’s budget crisis, Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing a $1.4 billion cut in funding for public schools.

That’s not to say throwing money at the problem would make everything better. But it does show how long the list of crises really is. Whether it’s family life, gang warfare, environmental pollution, high schoolers dropping out, illegal immigration, the housing market or the budget deficit—everything is now topping out at full-scale crisis mode!

Two weeks ago, Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of fiscal emergency, relying on a never-before-used provision in the law books that will force legislators to fix California’s out-of-control budget. During the sunny days of the housing boom, California not only ate up its huge tax windfall, but expanded and created all kinds of government programs—programs that are now reliant on taxes generated from the presently collapsing housing industry.

With the fiscal emergency going into effect in January, Schwarzenegger is essentially forcing state legislators to deal with the budget shortfall. The current budget deficit is about $1.9 billion. Next year, because of California’s “booming” social programs, the deficit is projected to be $14 billion. For a state with a current debt of $48 billion, a 30 percent increase on top of that would break California’s back.

And so politicians are finally resorting to what they should have been doing decades ago: cutting costs. Only now, it’s much too little and way too late. One cutback Schwarzenegger’s aides recently proposed in order to alleviate pressure on California’s overcrowded prison system and to reduce government spending involves setting free as many as 30,000 inmates.

You would think California would have learned its lesson by now. Turning criminals loose in society and labeling them law-abiding citizens will only—believe it or not—make matters worse.

Last week, California’s Department of Finance released a study showing that California’s population grew by only 1 percent over the past year. Not counting new births, the state added 111,000 new residents from outside its borders. The key figure in the study, though, reveals that 200,000 entered California from outside America—foreign immigrants, in other words. That means 89,000 more moved out of California than moved in from other U.S. states.

The dream is dead.

Blessing and Cursings

During the California wildfires in October, theTrumpet.com re-printed excerpts from two articles my father has written about the many “curses” California has experienced in recent decades—the fires, the drought, the riots, the earthquakes, etc. Of course, many scoff at the idea of an ever-living, supremely powerful God actually intervening in the affairs of mankind, whether to bless or curse a people.

Abraham Lincoln didn’t. “I believe,” Lincoln said, “that it is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father equally in our triumphs and in those sorrows which we may justly fear are a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our reformation.” Just as God rewards us for obedience to His laws, He lovingly punishes His children for disobedience so that we might be reformed, Lincoln said.

It is this God who has set before all of mankind two ways of life: the way of blessings and the way of cursings, as it says in Deuteronomy. God will not force us to choose one way over the other. But we all must make a choice. And there are consequences for our choices, whether good or bad. To use the biblical analogy, we reap what we sow. If we choose the way that results in cursings, no amount of wishful thinking will magically transform a curse into a blessing.

In the case of California, thanks to a promise God made 4,000 years ago to the great patriarch Abraham (for more on this, read The United States and Britain in Prophecy), the Golden State was once the recipient of a lavish array of fantastic blessings.

The unbelievably shocking facts of the present make it undeniably obvious that those blessings have long since been removed.


Obadiah Chapter 1

א חֲזוֹן, עֹבַדְיָה: כֹּה-אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה לֶאֱדוֹם, שְׁמוּעָה שָׁמַעְנוּ מֵאֵת יְהוָה וְצִיר בַּגּוֹיִם שֻׁלָּח–קוּמוּ וְנָקוּמָה עָלֶיהָ, לַמִּלְחָמָה. 1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom: We have heard a message from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the nations: ‘Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.’
ב הִנֵּה קָטֹן נְתַתִּיךָ, בַּגּוֹיִם: בָּזוּי אַתָּה, מְאֹד. 2 Behold, I make thee small among the nations; thou art greatly despised.
ג זְדוֹן לִבְּךָ הִשִּׁיאֶךָ, שֹׁכְנִי בְחַגְוֵי-סֶלַע מְרוֹם שִׁבְתּוֹ; אֹמֵר בְּלִבּוֹ, מִי יוֹרִדֵנִי אָרֶץ. 3 The pride of thy heart hath beguiled thee, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, thy habitation on high; that sayest in thy heart: ‘Who shall bring me down to the ground?’
ד אִם-תַּגְבִּיהַּ כַּנֶּשֶׁר, וְאִם-בֵּין כּוֹכָבִים שִׂים קִנֶּךָ–מִשָּׁם אוֹרִידְךָ, נְאֻם-יְהוָה. 4 Though thou make thy nest as high as the eagle, and though thou set it among the stars, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD.

%d bloggers like this: