California Studies Association

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Joe Mathews writes in the L.A. Times on whether California has always been in crisis

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In an article in the L.A. Times on Sun., Jan. 25, 2009, author Joe Mathews, currently an Irvine Fellow at the New America Foundation, wondered if, based on his reading of writings by Carey McWilliams, Joan Didion and others, the norm throughout California’s history has been financial crisis, as the state has had to deal with the costs of continuous growth.

From the article:

“‘No calculus exists by which needs can be fully anticipated in California,’ McWilliams wrote. ‘Other communities can project a population curve, and, with fair accuracy, anticipate needs twenty and thirty years in advance; but it would be a brave man, indeed, who would undertake to chart California’s growth for the next decade. There are too many unpredictable factors; too many variable elements.’

“That passage begs the question that’s been posed recently by media analysts, and even by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in this month’s state of the state address: Is California still governable? Reading McWilliams suggests the proper answer is another question: When was California ever governable?”


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