Driving home from New Mexico a couple of weeks ago, I stopped for gas at the Love Truck Plaza in Tucumcari, New Mexico. A guy pulled up at the gas pump next to mine, driving a good-sized vehicle and pulling a large storage trailer.
As I walked behind his rig, I notice a sign on the back of the trailer: "We Did It!! We Escaped Commie-Fornia. We back the Blue!!"
I've got to meet this guy, I said to myself. So I chatted with him a bit while he was gassing up. He turned out to be a real nice guy with a big smile and a sunny disposition. He said he and his wife were moving to Florida to be nearer their grandkids.
I didn't want to intrude on this man's privacy, so I broke off our conversation without asking him about his political views. I don't think he was some right-wing zealot. I read him as a guy with mild political views who just wants to move to a place where life is a little easier.
And who can blame him? I'm not making a political statement when I say that California appears to be rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell (to paraphrase Merle Haggard). The forest fires are out of control despite everything the Californians have done to manage their public lands.
I'm not saying these massive fires--4 million acres burned this year alone--are anyone's fault. I agree with Governor Newsom that climate change is probably the biggest contributor to the state's forest fires. Who's done more to combat climate change than the Californians?
Nevertheless, it must be terrifying to live in a neighborhood that could be engulfed at any time during the fire season by a holocaust fire. That little fire extinguisher you bought at Home Depot won't do you much good when the big one comes roaring down the street at 20 miles an hour.
Then, there is the growing problem of homeless, which is out of control in San Francisco and a few other California cities. I'm not blaming that on anyone either. I have thought a lot about the homeless crisis, and I've done some volunteer work at food banks.
I don't know how to solve the homelessness problem--made almost intractable by the fact that so many homeless people suffer from mental illness. Nancy Pelosi doesn't want homeless people living in her neighborhood, and I can't really blame her. The image of some bum peeing in her hot tub is too horrible to contemplate.
But something else is going down on the West Coast--beyond the forest fires and the homelessness. The California legislature appears to be dominated by lunatics who, unfortunately, are not homeless. The California university system is a mess and seems to have forgotten how to teach young people how to think and reason.
Crime. I read that Walgreen's closed its third store in San Francisco due to high levels of shoplifting.
The state pension funds are underwater and will someday collapse.--when, nobody knows. Who is going to bail out the California pension funds--the taxpayers of Ohio?
I find it ironic that hundreds of thousands of Americans from the Midwest came to California as refugees during the Great Depression--the Okies and others who rolled down old Route 66 in beat-up cars and trucks. And the Californians tried to keep them out.
Now, Californians are baling on the Sunshine State and are moving east to the Rocky Mountains states, Texas, and Florida. They can count their lucky stars that the people who live in these states are mostly decent and compassionate Americans who will greet them much more warmly than the Californians greeted my ancestors when they went west in the 1930s to escape the Dust Bowl.