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Room with a View: Weeping for California

A little family history explains my reaction to the current repulsive mess that is California.

My paternal grandfather (born in 1897), as he liked to say, learned how to carry on a conversation following the south end of a north-going mule. From that, and asking his more talkative wife, I learned that his family was literally dirt poor (living in a sod house) and he literally farmed himself out to local ethnic German farmers as a hand in order to feed himself and his siblings. (He was the oldest of twelve.)

He didn’t much like the work. A rampaging desire to better himself and his circumstances grew in his heart.

He apprenticed himself to learn automobile painting. It paid better, and the view changed once in a while. He earned enough to get married and start a family.

Then the Great Depression squelched the car-painting economy. With a young family, he did odd jobs while looking for a new car-painting job.

One way or another, he heard of a job in California. So he headed west and was hired.

Then California closed its borders to unemployed Okies. You had to prove you had a job to cross the border.

My grandfather asked his boss for a letter attesting to his having a job. His employer was happy to oblige. My grandmother loaded up the car with kids and what personal belongings fit and headed to California.

The car died when they arrived, and so did my grandfather’s job. He spent the rest of the Great Depression doing what we’d call gigs. One of the gigs that paid more than most was dumpster diving — he’d pick broken stuff off trash heaps, fix it, and sell it.

Anything to get food on the table and pay the rent.

Weeping for California

But these days, California won’t let you debase yourself in a similar manner! No, you should throw yourself on the mercy of the Great State of California, and if you try such a “side hustle” you’ll find the gig economy closed by State law and employers closed by edict of the Governor.

And, now, the California Employment Development Department — in charge of handling unemployment benefits, including the emergency benefits for those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic — is not returning calls, both literally and virtually.

We found this out by innocently publishing an article yesterday on the launch of the second phase of those emergency benefits. We had no idea that EDD was so monumentally screwed up.

(I just watched a Facebook Live program sponsored by OC Taxpayers Association that featured California State Senator John Moorlach. He said that his office is fielding calls and emails regarding the mess at EDD. So: reach out to your State Senator or Assemblymember. Make it too hot to be ignored.)

So, let’s recap:

  1. You lost your job.
  2. You tried to apply for unemployment but EDD is non-responsive.
  3. You can’t get any kind of work because Governor Edict has shut down your sector of the economy.
  4. You can’t get gig work because the State Legislature has restricted it according to the whim of a California judge and to the applause of unions. The State of California is suing Uber and Lyft, for crying in a bucket.
  5. You have run out of rent/mortgage payment relief. The next payment due must also include any missed payments.
  6. You are paying more for gasoline because the State of California raised the gas tax on July 1.
  7. You are still paying a deposit on plastic bottles even though you can’t recycle them because Governor Edict closed recycling centers.

What can you do?

If we were in a similar pickle (we aren’t for the moment), I would check the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 page for spots outside California where the impact of the pandemic is lighter than in California. Compare that list to a list of states with fewer restrictions on jobs. Start looking for a job in any state that meets those criteria.

In short, go elsewhere. Feel free to flip a bird at the border, and shake the dust of California from your feet.


  1. So sad, but so true.
    Thanks for a little honesty in the press.

  2. I am also a fan of your articles. Thanks for printing the sad truth.

  3. This is a fantastic analysis of all that is wrong with California. Almost weekly I learn of someone moving out of this state or starting the process to move. So sad…

  4. I love you!

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