California is often portrayed as a great place to visit. And certainly, there are many tourist attractions to see and participate in. The weather is great and you can see Mickey Mouse do his thing at Disneyland. However, it’s best to have fun during a short stay and then be on your way. Why? Simply, California has to be perhaps one of the most hazardous places to live. If one were to measure the odds, it would be very easy to conclude that chance of some disaster befalling you is fairly high (increasing in direct proportion to the duration of your stay). Don’t believe me? Consider these top 10 reasons NOT to live in California:
10. The Governor of the State is the Terminator
The man who has warned guys not to be a “girly man” is the chief executive of the state of California- none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Actors turned politicians have mixed results (depending on who you talk to). Under Governor Schwarzenegger’s reign, the state of California has suffered through a number of trying issues. Perhaps the most serious, and the ones that have caused the most rancor among voters, are the economic issues. With shrinking state revenues, budget tightening has resulted in social programs being chopped, state jobs being eliminated, and a need to increase state revenue (higher taxes). All of this has many Californians lamenting that the Governor has reverted to his “Terminator” alter ego and is determined to extinguish all life (or at least a comfortable life) in the state. (Note from editor: Yes I am aware the video I included was taken from Predator, not Terminator, but it was so good!)
9. Seasonal Disasters
Natural disasters seem to find consistent and continual life in Cali. There are of course earthquakes. The occasional shake is common enough that many Californians don’t think much of it, aside from having to replace the odd broken dish. Then of course, there are ever-present brush fires. While there is not a high loss of life with this particular disaster, there is a tremendous toll in terms of property damage, not to mention severe ecological damage. If an earthquake or a fire doesn’t get you, then a mudslide might. There are a lot of hills and elevated areas in California; when the seasonal rains come, so does erosion. The result is the earth giving way, with people and property being in the path when it does. The results are devastating in terms of loss of life and property damage. These are just some of the common disasters that Californians have to deal with on a regular basis.
8. Impending Horrific Earthquake
Keeping with the natural disaster theme: there is of course the expected “big one” that many believe will eventually hit California. The state of California has the misfortune to lie over a major fault line (the San Andreas). Experts predict that at some point in the future there will be a major shift of tectonic plates resulting in a catastrophic level earthquake. Along the lines of the earthquake that leveled San Francisco in 1906, the next “big one” is expected to be even more devastating due to population and urban growth. If the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile are any indication, then a major shake hitting such populated areas as LA, San Diego and San Francisco would have horrific consequences. What’s scary about this is that scientists and experts warn that it isn’t a matter of “if” this will happen, but rather “when.”
7. Will Eventually Fall Into the Ocean
This is more of a theory than an actual scientifically proven fact, but this particular idea is so widespread and believed that one has to take it into consideration. Some have predicted that, as a result of the likely catastrophic events in #8 above, California will somehow break off from the mainland and sink into the ocean. Fortunately for Californians, there doesn’t seem to be any hard data to support this particular theory outside of Hollywood. Even considering the very real tectonic activity, the motion that these plates generate is horizontal (as opposed to lateral, which could indicate a potential ‘dropping’ of land mass). In fact, the constant shifting of the earth in the California area is along a north/south axis – meaning that LA is slowly creeping towards San Francisco at a whopping few millimeters a year. While this bit of news may be problematic for Southern Californians (in about a million years at the current rate of speed), it certainly falls short of an apocalyptic event. Assuming, of course, that the ‘experts’ are to be believed (and they, naturally, are always right!)
6. High Taxes Make Life Unbearable
California Tax Carol from Larry Meador on Vimeo.
The state of California is suffering through a fiscal nightmare. Simply, the state has more expenses than it does revenue. For any able minded politician, one quickfire solution (albeit an unpopular one) is to either raise taxes, install new taxes, or a combination of both. While voters have continually voted down higher tax proposals that have made it to the ballot, California is still leading the nation in a number of tax categories: income taxes (2nd), corporate taxes (8th), and sales tax (13th), to name a few. All total, the full tax load ranks 6th in the nation. California’s heavy tax burden has caused concerns among many about the financial ability of many families to realistically reside in the state. Further, even with the various taxes in place, the state’s budget has still ballooned – outpacing revenues by a large margin. The resulting disparity has crippled any number of programs, especially those aimed at helping the poor – placing even more people in potentially dire circumstances.
5. Hundreds of Prisoners Are Being Released Because of Budget Constraints
Faced with shrinking funds, state legislators (and apparently supported by the Terminator – we mean the Governor) determined that the state could realize tremendous savings by releasing thousands of prisoners from state penal institutions early. The move is estimated to save the state about $1.2 billion – not an insignificant amount of money considering the prevalent financial woes. California has the largest population of prisoners among states, boasting well over 170,000 inmates. The proposal aims to release non-violent offenders, including those that are sick and elderly. Naturally, the best of plans tend to go awry when a government entity is involved and dangerous prisoners have been released – some of whom have committed new crimes. Laws that were held as progressive in previous years, such as the states so-called “three strikes” have resulted in the vast overcrowding. Now, faced with the inability to actually pay for these policies, lawmakers are in a tough bind – a real “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.
4. Serious Gang Violence
Criminal gang activity is a very serious problem in California: many neighborhoods are literally terrorized by gang activity. Residents are victims of random drive-by shootings, physical assaults and other criminal activities perpetrated by gang members. Drug-related crime has also proportionally increased as well. Families who manage navigate these dangerous war zones face the prospect of their children being recruited to join local gangs. Aside from the more traditional gangs such as the Bloods and Crips, new (and some believe deadlier) Hispanic gangs have entered into the fray. Fueled by poor economic conditions, the increase in gang participation is on the rise. As gang membership increases, inter-gang violence has also become deadlier. Reacting to the dangers that gang violence poses, law enforcement and government officials have proposed and enacted numerous programs to stem the tide. Only time well tell if these measures are effective.
3. Liberal Culture is Harbinger of the Apocalypse
The end of times may be a bit of a reach, but those of the conservative establishment do hearken to liberal culture as the precursor of many of the social ills within our communities. For its part, California has long been a bastion of liberal (some would say progressive) thought and action. Consider that California is very accepting of alternative lifestyles, is environmentally conscious, and not particularly religious (at least in terms of a dominant block of religiosity)- and you have the makings of a counter-culture stronghold. Indeed, many of the universities in California (UCLA, UC Berkley and others) were home to many of the social protests that highlighted the social movements of the sixties. All of this is dire evidence for those who tend to lean toward the more so-called “traditional values” lifestyle. Many of this perspective hold California up as the example of all that is wrong in America – from ineffective government to high crime – the state (from a conservative viewpoint) is on the verge of collapse as result.
2. Police Brutality
While the saying “crime doesn’t pay” may hold true in many places, in California it doesn’t pay to land in the hands of the cops whether a crime has been committed or not. California has a number of high profile incidents involving police misconduct – from the Rampart scandal in the 90’s to numerous police beatings caught on film (i.e. Rodney King and others). And these are the incidents that are known. Residents of economically depressed neighborhoods have long complained of draconian police activity, complaints that have largely fell on deaf ears. With the advent of camera phones and other convenient recording devices, however, citizens are now capturing clear evidence of police officers engaged in nefarious activities. Crimes such as murder, rape, drug trafficking, robbery and much more are among the violations for which cops in California have been convicted. In short, the residents of California often need protection from the protectors.
1. Pending War With Mexico
There is a brewing war zone festering on the southern border of the U.S. that threatens to spill over and engulf California in the ensuing blood bath. Not since the Mexican-American War (1846 – 1848) have the citizens of the U.S. had to be concerned about armed conflict arising from beyond the southern border. This is no longer the case with the brewing drug war that is taking place in Tijuana – a Mexican town just south of the California border with Mexico. In the last 1 ½ years, the death toll has exceeded over 1500 and the body count continues to rise. Well over a third of these deaths are police officers and government officials. The drug cartels, reacting to Mexico’s declaration of war against drugs, have sought to establish their own authority. The Mexican government, for its part, has deployed well over 250,000 troops along its border with the U.S. to stem the tide of violence. The Mexican government has called on the U.S .to assist with narcotic interdiction on the American side of the border. What many fear is that the Mexican drug cartels will react just as violently on this side of the border if the U.S. decides to interfere. Considering that the drug cartels have no inhibition to killing anyone – women, children, whomever – Californians are correct in being concerned that the violence may soon touch them.
by Lee Standberry