In a late July I spent a week in northern and central California. I saw a gorgeous, if somewhat untidy city, San Francisco. I viewed some of the world's most beautiful vistas at Yosemite National Park. In the state's Central Valley, I encountered one of one of the world's most productive agricultural areas, a region now plagued by drought.
What was my takeaway? It's a nanny state. From the 1849 Gold Rush until the emergence of the Silicon Valley, California was the home of no holds barred capitalism. Then something went wrong--the do-gooders took over.
Take a close look at the sign on top. (To make any image larger, just click on it.) It says, "This area contains chemicals, including tobacco smoke, known to the state of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm." Okay, if there is a person over the age of seven who does not know smoking causes cancer, that individual suffers severe mental impairments. And was it the state of California the institution that finally determined tobacco causes cancer? No, it was the office of the US Surgeon General.
The sign on the top right is similar, albeit it does not mention smoking. It directs you to a web site, which essence tells you that chemicals can be bad, but doesn't tell you what to do about it. Moving to another state is an option, which a lot of Californians are doing. Not because of these signs, over-regulation and of course more oppressive Nanny-state-ism are the driving cause. High unemployment is just a symptom of the troubles of the Tarnished State.
I've managed to pump gasoline into automobiles without killing myself or blowing up a gas station for thirty years. But that yellow and black sign on the left--Warning, fire!!--would make the uninitiated think that they are stepping into the passenger bay of the Hindenburg before it famously exploded in 1937. Oh, the humanity.
Still, California is worth visiting. I enjoyed my trip to San Diego in 2005, and I feel that I'm missing something because I've never been to Los Angeles. So, I plan to return to California. I just don't want to live there.
Thanks go to former Illinoisan ThirdWaveDave who gave me some great tips for the Yosemite part of the trip. And to Jack Cashill, who prepared me intellectually for my trip west with his book "What's the Matter with California?: Cultural Rumbles from the Golden State and Why the Rest of Us Should Be Shaking."
This is a political blog that delves occasionally into travel and running. My other travel series avoided political discussions, but the do-gooders, the Nanny-staters have politicized the Tarnished State to an extent that it is impossible to avoid politics when covering California. If you are offended by this series, you have my apologies. But if you've read this far, you probably agree with me.
Meanwhile, my apolitical Upper Peninsula Upventure (I'm still diggin' the alliteration thing) continues. And I'll post an occasional California pic when the mood strikes me--it's a beautiful place.
Sea and Sand
Charlie Brown and Santa Rosa
Central Valley Orchards and Drought
Shiloh Wind Farm
First National Bank of Oakdale Building
Strawberry Fields Forever
Tioga LakeNapa Valley
The Pacific Crest Trail
Glacier Point Sunset
Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Yosemite
Obama's economic stimulus "campaign sign" stains Yosemite National Park
San Francisco and homelessness
Is something going on here?
San Francisco's Chinatown
Harvey Milk's Camera Shop
San Francisco's Union Square
The Painted Ladies
San Francisco and the military
Mission San Francisco de Asís
San Francisco's sea lions
San Francisco's blues mural
San Francisco: Cable cars
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