California a Failed State?

That thought-provoking question, posted online for the world to see, made me cringe when it first caught my eye.  Not because it's an absurd notion but rather because the article appeared in The Observer and was written by someone who does not call California home. It was written by a foreigner, a Scot.

The sheer notion that the biggest state in our country is teetering on economic and social collapse would have been dismissed by the man who almost single-handedly shaped it - the late Harrison Gray Otis. The first publisher of the Los Angeles Times believed in the endless potential of this land. If you didn't get a chance to see Peter Jones' terrific documentary INVENTING LA: THE CHANDLERS & THEIR TIMES, watch the film online by heading to this KCET.org web page..

After you've seen the documentary, read the recent article by Paul Harris of The Observer. Compare where we've been and where we're supposedly heading. If Harris is right, California might collapse under its own bloated weight. I'm curious whether you'll find author's observations spiteful or uncomfortably insightful?

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Paul Harris has been the U.S. Correspondent for The Observer since 2003. It's his job to report on us. He's dissected American icons before - like the January 2006 article about what he predicted was the looming end of the U.S. auto industry. How The US Fell Out of Love with Its Cars.That article, coming long before the recent headlines about the Detroit auto industry as we've known it, infuriated car company execs in Detroit and American auto buffs everywhere. My dad was a lifelong UAW car worker so I shared his loyalty. I grew up in Motor City, after all. I knew there were problems in the industry. But like many who had no idea the worst was yet to come, it didn't seem appropriate for an outsider, a foreigner, to announce Detroit's economic backbone was about to crumble.

In re-reading the 2006 story, I hate to admit that Harris had it right. Look at what an opportunity General Motors had with the EV, the electric car program it ended only to resurrect the concept for a 2010 release. (In January, KCET will air Chris Paine's WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR as part of a special Huell Howser night.)

I'm feeling uneasy about his most recent article in The Observer. If California's own Professor Kevin Starr, Joan Didion or Ben Stein, had authored this piece I would have view it differently, no matter how sobering the prognostication might be.

Somehow it doesn't seem right that our state's problems are under the microscope of a foreigner and his global readership that doesn't necessarily care whether Riverside and Pacoima (both of which come in for a drubbing in the piece) are where our friends, co-workers or loved ones live.

I'll leave it for you to decide whether you agree with Paul Harris' assessment of what has brought the state of California to this wild new frontier.

Here is: Will California Becomes America's First Failed State?

The photo associated with this post was taken by Flickr user Clinton Steeds. It was used under Creative Commons license.

About the Author

Bohdan is Senior Vice President, Broadcast, Syndication, and Program Development for KCETLink.
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