California has never been able to live up to its promise, but now seems ready to embrace its dysfunction.
California has always been as much a state of mind as a physical reality. The state's natural resources, along with its inhabitants' capacity to exploit them, made The Dream more likely than not. But now it's time to stop dreaming, says D.J. Waldie, who has the unique experience of living through this crisis as both an official of an LA suburb and a prizewinning author who plumbs the Golden State zeitgeist. "The middle class and the near middle class have been missing in action in paying for the sort of life they think California owes them," he said. "Instead, they believe that someone else should pay for the California Dream. Smokers. Drinkers. Gamblers. Millionaires. But not me.
"We have sold ourselves a vision of California, but we are not psychologically or emotionally prepared to make the hard choices. We prefer to point our finger at 'waste, fraud, immigrants.' Those are all straw men. It conveniently avoids the question of what we want and what we want to give up."