Postcard From California

26 October 2021

by Clive Pinder

A glistening Pacific Ocean. Glorious sandy beaches. Glamorous Hollywood. Giant redwoods. Golden Sunsets. The Golden Gate Bridge. Iconic images that often adorn the front of a postcard from California. Like Hollywood, today those images flatter to deceive.

For those who are thinking of visiting the Golden State now that President Biden has decided to open the borders to air travel on November 1st and not just illegal immigrants traveling across the Southern border from Mexico, I write to let you know that all is not well in paradise! If nothing else, like many other places on the planet, the Covid pandemic hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.

The irony is that both California and the United Kingdom, despite being by led by governments that claim to be from the opposite side of the political divide, chose to follow the same course. Boris, a supposed champion of individual rights, chose the same policies as Governor Newsom, a self-proclaimed champion of progressive collectivism and woke culture:

Engage mainstream media to spread hysteria. Suspend personal liberties. Lock down businesses. Rat on neighbours. Mandate masks and vaccinations while censoring or maligning anyone who dares to question ‘The Science’ or their policies.

The result? Remarkably similar in terms of case and fatality rates – and a lot worse than Sweden. In other words, a government that chose to trust their citizens to make smart personal decisions and exercise mutual responsibility delivered much better health and economic outcomes than the ‘We Know What’s Best For You’ regimes of Governor Newsom and Prime Minister Johnson.

These two administrations were also similarly hypocritical. Boris cancelled Christmas then celebrated with his wife’s ‘bestie’ at Number 10. Gavin closed restaurants and California’s public school system while enjoying celebratory meals at the most expensive restaurant in the State and sent his children to private schools that remained open.

Today San Francisco feels like a ghost town, highlighting the detritus and misery of a growing homeless population. Businesses are closing not just because people with means are fleeing the city, but because the District Attorney refuses to prosecute any theft of property worth less than $999 or any business that refuses to police the mandatory vaccinations required of customers. (See this article in the Babylon Bee that sums up the absurdity of the situation in San Francisco.)

A visit to see Mickey, Snow White and Goofy at Disneyland is hardly an escape to a magic kingdom. Parades, fireworks and other activities are suspended and while Mickey isn’t wearing a mask, all up-close encounters with him, Minnie, Cinderella and other characters are forbidden.

Vaccinations don’t help either. Despite 61% of Californians being fully vaccinated with many more having antibodies, the mantra of ‘flatten the curve’ has been condemned to the dustbin of broken promises just as it has in the U.K.. In its place California became the first state in the nation to insist school children from five years old and college students are vaccinated. Strangely, in another act of gross hypocrisy, the Governor declined not to mandate vaccines for teachers after the all-powerful unions, who happen to be among his largest donors, objected.

Many entertainment venues from bars to concerts to sporting events also require proof of vaccination.

If that isn’t enough to make you question the wisdom of a visit to California right now, consider this. Despite having one of the highest tax rates in the country and being one of the richest places on earth, California ranks in the lower quartile of states on almost every metric that matters to ordinary people. Wealth and income inequality, economic opportunity, education, healthcare, crime, cost of living, drug abuse, homelessness and infrastructure. Not to mention electricity blackouts and destructive wildfires. All of this is due to poor planning, incompetent bureaucracy and progressive policies that seem to be made on the basis that more government, more legislation and more money is the best solution to any socio-economic or cultural problem.

That might be one of the reasons that in the last 20 years nearly three million Californians have moved to other states like Texas and Florida. For the first time in recorded history, California’s population decreased in 2020. That trend has only accelerated throughout the pandemic, with iconic Californian names like Tesla, Apple, Oracle, Joe Rogan and Kim Kardashian all moving out of state.

Don’t get me wrong. California remains a memorable place to visit, and if you stay out of the metropolitan areas a lovely place to live.

However, if you’re thinking of taking a holiday in the U.S., I’d suggest considering other states like Florida, Texas or South Carolina. Not only are they run by state governments that treat people like adults and respect individual rights; they also have beautiful beaches, great scenery, and good weather. Perhaps most pleasing of all, Brits are more welcome in the Southern States than anywhere else in America.

Clive Pinder is a Daily Sceptic moderator.