Monday, November 4, 2019

To all my friends back East, we're all doing just fine here in LA

Though air quality is always a concern, other than a few hazy days, very few of us have been directly affected by the fires.

Homelessness remains a huge problem on a humanitarian level, but the streets do not run with sewage, used needles do not litter the sidewalks and the housed do not cower in fear.

Housing prices and traffic have definitely taken a turn for the worse over the past five or so years, but for those who are not at the bottom of the income ladder (and we should be doing more for those who are), the city is still manageable if you are flexible about where you live, particularly if you don’t insist on trendy neighborhoods and aren’t afraid of ethnic and economic diversity.

 Climate change has us worried about fires and droughts, but not so much about rising oceans. The California coast has lots of high ground. The elevation of downtown LA is almost 300 feet above sea level, with much of the town considerably higher. Perhaps more importantly, being on the western side of the continent, we are not in the path of any tropical cyclones. Rising oceans and more powerful hurricanes make for a bad combination.

Just to be clear, I don’t want to make light of any of these challenges facing the state, but it is possible to take the problems seriously and still recognize the silliness of the dystopian disaster porn coming out of otherwise respectable publications like the New York Times and the Atlantic.

Steve Lopez has the essential summary of the latest wave of California-is-doomed stories.

The political right, of course, has long specialized in the sport of California mockery. But we’re now getting it from the left, as well. People are running for their lives and losing their homes, and the haters can’t wait to do a grave dance.

“It’s the End of California As We Know It,” warned a New York Times headline on an op-ed piece declaring that “at the heart of our state’s rot” is “a failure to live sustainably.”

Yeah, we‘ve got problems and a long way to go, but is there a state in the union that has done more in the interest of sustainability?

“California Is Becoming Unlivable,” screamed the Atlantic.

Speaking of which, do we sit around in California wondering if the Southeast — where many states are governed by Republicans, not wifty liberals — is unlivable because decades of construction on fragile coastal land has put millions of people in the direct path of killer hurricanes?

“Climate change,” the Atlantic said of our state, “is turning it into a tinderbox; the soaring cost of living is forcing even wealthy families into financial precarity. And, in some ways, the two crises are one: The housing crunch in urban centers has pushed construction to cheaper, more peripheral areas, where wildfire risk is greater.”

Some fair points can be found in this article. But even when you have to clear your throat to draw attention to yourself, there is no good reason to use the word “precarity.” Second of all, are some wealthy families, God forbid, selling their Range Rovers and laying off half the domestic staff? Are those among the horrors of financial precarity?

Even before fire season, California was under attack.

“California’s Hobo Paradise” was the title of a September editorial in the Wall Street Journal. The piece parroted President Trump’s bashing of California, particularly San Francisco and Los Angeles, for its tent cities and public health problems.

By the way, please advise Trump he doesn’t need to fuel up Air Force One and fly to California if homelessness is a genuine concern, because there’s a sizable population within walking distance of the White House.
“California is a failed state,” said Breitbart News, which, as I recall, was founded by a man who lived rather comfortably here in one of the many affluent areas of our failed state.

“As climate change ravages the Golden State, earthquakes could become the least of residents’ concerns,” said the New Republic, which also questioned whether California is still livable.

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