Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

If the Golden State Is to Right Its Biggest Wrongs in the New Year, We’ll Have to Embrace Some Dirty Deals

By | December 29, 2016

Grab a glass of champagne. Then bend your mind around this New Year’s resolution for Californians: In 2017, let’s become more tolerant of political corruption.
Yes, bigotry against political skullduggery is just about the last socially acceptable prejudice in our state. And while the idea of tolerating dirty deal-making may sound perverse or strange, so are the ways we make decisions in California. We rarely consider …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

The Golden State Should Be the Voice of Reason in the Conflict Between D.C. and Beijing

By | December 22, 2016

California is trapped—caught in the dangerous space between two menacingly authoritarian regimes that want to fight each other.
One regime is headquartered in Beijing, and the other is about to take power in Washington D.C. But when viewed from the Golden State, it’s striking how much they have in common.
Both are fervently nationalist, full of military men, and so bellicose they are spooking neighbors and …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

Is California Losing Its Ability to Hablar Español?

By | December 15, 2016

How are Californians going to save Spanish?
Yes, I know that a call to preserve the Spanish language might seem ludicrous in a state whose very name comes from a Spanish romance novel. Nearly half of us are either from the Spanish-speaking world, or trace our heritage there. We constantly hear Spanish—in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, and in our media; an estimated 38 percent of Californians …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

If California Won’t Build Housing on Land, Why Not “Seasteading”?

By | December 8, 2016

The devastating housing shortage in California keeps getting worse. Housing prices won’t stop rising. Why can’t we solve the problem?
Perhaps it’s because all of the proposed solutions—more construction, sprawling construction, denser construction, granny flats, affordable housing mandates, new forms of financing and exemptions from regulation—are built on the same flawed premise: that housing must exist solely on land.
And on land, California’s high costs, environmental regulation, …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

Joni Mitchell Might Be Glad to Know That California Is Finally Fulfilling Her Eternal Christmas Wish and Embracing Its Rivers

By | December 1, 2016

California is finally embracing its rivers. But it may be a choking embrace.
We Californians have long celebrated our coastal splendor and toasted the height and beauty of our mountains. But our rivers? For most of us, they have been a mere utility, the plumbing that moved water around the state..
Today in the Golden State, its regions and its people are at long last taking …

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Why California’s Not Built to Become Its Own Nation

By | November 24, 2016

California may have the size and economy and independent spirit of a good-sized country. But California is not a nation. Which is precisely why it would be so self-destructive to seek to become one.
Yes, it’s understandable why, with the election of an evil white supremacist swindler as president of the United States, the idea of California going off on its own suddenly has such great …

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Can a Sin Tax on Mindless Media Save Journalism?

By | November 17, 2016

As long as Silicon Valley and its futuristic technologies dominate our politics, we’re doomed to be stuck in the past.
The big story of the poisonous 2016 elections was how new digital media tools ended up crowding out two big topics from our conversation: the present and the future.
This phenomenon went way beyond the controversy about “fake news” on Facebook; the problem wasn’t just media quality—but …

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Why We All Need to Leave the Country After This Election

By | November 10, 2016

Now that the election is over, are you leaving the country? If not, you ought to reconsider.
I’m not kidding. Yes, a handful of our fellow Californians—prominent citizens from Samuel L. Jackson and Bryan Cranston to Miley Cyrus and Barbra Streisand—proclaimed themselves so disgusted with the sorry state of American democracy that they pledged to depart the United States after the November elections. And yes, none …

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What California Can Learn From Stockton’s Debt

By | November 3, 2016

Here’s a new maxim for Californians to live by, courtesy of this election: Don’t dismiss apocalyptic warnings from Stockton.
If you’re a Californian with a television or a mailbox, you’re encountering a barrage of ill-advised Stockton dismissals. Specifically, Gov. Jerry Brown, labor unions, and Sacramento building and infrastructure lobbies are trying to defeat a November ballot initiative—Prop 53, which would require voter approval for state revenue …

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Why California Will Need Its Own Weed Cartel

By | October 27, 2016

If California is going to transition successfully to full legalization of cannabis, our state is going to need its own cartel.
For the record (and to reassure my friends in federal law enforcement), I am not smoking anything. And I am not suggesting that California encourage a criminal syndicate like the Zetas or the Sinaloa Cartel for weed. The California cartel actually would need to be …

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