by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The “pull” factors of Texas and similar conservative states—the absence of a state income tax, a pro-business (and anti-labor) political climate—are real enough. But these factors are not new—and if they were the real causes of the flight from California of industry and population, that flight would have occurred long ago, in the 1970s or 1980s.
What has made California so repulsive that many of its star companies and most talented individuals are making like East Germans trying to scramble over the Berlin Wall? We can begin with the squalor of San Francisco with its streets littered with needles and human feces and its public parks turned into homeless encampments. Though the crisis of public order is usually blamed on low-density zoning restrictions, the homeless tend to be drug addicts or the deinstitutionalized mentally ill, not working-class people and professionals priced out of local home ownership. Meanwhile, a wave of woke education policy aimed at the ritual leveling of Bay Area’s few actual meritocratic institutions—like San Francisco’s sole merit-based STEM high school—augurs poorly for the prospects of the children of tech workers whose parents can’t afford private schools.
Until now, many tech employers have relied on the H-1B visa program to provide them with a steady stream of college-educated indentured servants and allow California industry to be decoupled from public education in California and the country as a whole. In the event of a new travel-freezing pandemic, or immigration restrictions more stringent than those the Trump administration managed to impose, the tech oligarchs might find themselves reliant on an innumerate and semiliterate workforce emerging from public schools and universities which have lowered standards in the name of radical-left conceptions of social justice.