Rent was astronomical. Taxes were high. Your neighbors didn’t like you. If you lived in San Francisco, you might have commuted an hour south to your job at Apple or Google or Facebook. Or if your office was in the city, maybe it was in a neighborhood with too much street crime, open drug use and $5 coffees.
But it was worth it. Living in the epicenter of a boom that was changing the world was what mattered. The city gave its workers a choice of interesting jobs and a chance at the brass ring.
That is, until the pandemic. Remote work offered a chance at residing for a few months in towns where life felt easier. Tech workers and their bosses realized they might not need all the perks and after-work schmooze events. But maybe they needed elbow room and a yard for the new puppy. A place to put the Peloton. A top public school.
They fled. They fled to tropical beach towns. They fled to more affordable places like Georgia. They fled to states without income taxes like Texas and Florida.
Actually, the deal was this: California was where the high-paying tech jobs were, take it or leave it.
Given the opportunity, they’ll leave it.
For example, the California legislature in its progressive wisdom effectively decriminalized theft as long as thieves take less than $950 worth of merchandise, officially reducing such theft to a misdemeanor but in effect making it legal, since progressive California prosecutors don’t like to be bothered by petty criminals. In practice, that means consumer goods are much harder to find in California stores than one might experience elsewhere. For me, the difference was quite revealing, as I recently returned to Maryland after spending close to nine months in Sacramento.
When I go to the Walmart near my wife’s home, I find many things openly are on display in Maryland are behind locked cases in California. Furthermore, California’s draconian labor laws mean Walmart has fewer employees, so if I wish to purchase something I easily could buy in Maryland, I have to wait for a long time and often I just walk away because no one is available to open the glass case. Yet, even with these provisions, shoplifting losses for California retailers are enormous, and the state’s pro-theft laws have encouraged organized grab-and-run rings.
My progressive colleagues, like my philosophy professor friend, see no problem with such developments. To them, the real thieves are the capitalists, the retailers like Walmart which refuse to pay “living wages” to their employees, and, according to Senator Bernie Sanders, the capitalists have “been looting” Americans for years. Thus, the wave of theft in that state is a positive development, according to progressives.
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