Californication - Part 2
By: Doug Hawley
"As far ahead of Oregon as Washington and British Columbia are, California is leagues ahead. The population of Oregon was close to that of Los Angeles alone earlier in this century. California is superior in just about every measurable way, and that was increasingly been true since the gold rush depopulated Oregon. This is still true, even after California's recent decline. Clearly, the claimed dislike of Californians is really envy and feelings of inferiority. Specifically, Portland has San Francisco envy, because San Francisco is clearly more liberal and even weirder."
"Another cause of antipathy is the 'exaltations of small differences'. It is in the nature of humans to fear or dislike those who are perceived to be different. Ancient Greeks viewed others as barbarians. Tribal thinking goes back to our ape forebears. Oregonians feel 'authentic' with their cheap clothing, and locovore eating and drinking habits. In fact there is very little difference between Oregonians and the typical Californian, much less any difference between a southern Oregonian and a northern Californian. Oregonians like to feel different and superior. They are not."
After professor Alberton had delivered his lecture, we asked if blaming Californians for unaffordable housing and continuous traffic jams in every metro area was irrational. The professor was late for a meeting and had no time to respond.
In our last issue, we interviewed Professor Jeff Alberton about the enmity native Oregonians have for the mass of Californian immigrants. We got responses from Oregonians about his dismissal of Oregonians' dislike of the immigrants.
We first talked to a colleague of his at Portland State University, Professor Leonard Jones of the School of Urban Planning. "What Professor Alberton does not tell you is that he was at California State Stockton until about three years ago. He took a pay cut to teach at PSU and tells everyone how happy he is to be out of California. He also talks about the poor suckers that he outbid to buy his house. Sure, publicly he says native Oregonians are delusional about their dislike of Californians, but privately he tells people that he wishes that he was the last Californian to move here. He says 'I'm here, now pull up the drawbridge'. He is such a hypocrite and he does not want to address the real problems of congestion and housing."
Professor Alberton did not respond to the allegations of Professor Jones, except to say "Unfortunately, there is a lot of infighting in academia."
In an email to the Oregonian Manley Roberts wrote "What Alberton doesn't talk about is that California was ruined by overpopulation. What most Oregonians want to avoid is the same fate, and we are headed in that direction. We've been able to get by without massive road construction like happened in California for close to seventy years. As the California population gets smaller, it would become more livable, except for the weather of course. Our commutes are bad now, in part because of the mass immigration, but the California commutes are even worse. Even with the huge desertion of California and the horrible weather there, home prices are still higher there than here. Any rational person living in Oregon would not want to live as Californians do, so why would anyone here want to turn the state into another California?"
We asked for a response to Alberton from Susan Striper of Livable Oregon, a group that lobbies against immigration. "Professor Alberton primarily talks about California's alleged quantitative superiority, which is missing the point. Our craft beer is better than the mass produced drinks, and eating the vast array of locally grown crops is better than importing food from thousands of miles away, not only in the harm caused by the transportation thereof, but the loss of freshness. He mentions the exaltations of small differences. If he spent any time in Los Angeles and Portland, he would see that the differences are not small. Further, he seems to be truly impressed by the huge businesses in California. We here in Oregon appreciate the smaller scale of our businesses and institutions. For example, our wine production pales compared to California, but I think that our quality is better, as do many wine judges. The same goes for our superior strawberries. There are just so many examples which show that small can be better than huge."
We asked local author fifty-three year old Duke Hanley what he thought based on being a native Oregonian who spent nineteen years in California. "When I moved to California from Colorado to work in insurance, I thought it was great to get away from the snow of Denver, but after three years in Los Angeles, I was happy to see LA in my review mirror. Not only that, but I found out that I'd had a headache all the time that I lived there. I didn't notice it until I left. Living in the Bay Area was better, but the home prices were horrendous, and traffic was miserable. I was so happy to return to Oregon. It hurts me every day that I see Oregon look more like California. I think that Alberton is off his rocker."
Oregonian Special Californication Issue February 14, 2045
In this issue we look at the migrant and native Oregonian experience.
Mel Jacobs, age forty-five, moved to Tigard from Orange County in Southern California twenty years ago. He tells us how that has worked out. "When I got here twenty years ago, I was so glad to get out of the greater LA area. My grandparents lived in the same general area where I grew up. They told me when they were young that it was a paradise of orange groves and small towns. I don't know if Disneyland ruined it, or only hastened its destruction. By the time that I left, it was wall to wall people and cars. Of course it suffered from the same oppressive heat as all of Southern California. I was so glad to get out when I was offered a transfer to our Portland office. Traffic was so much easier and I could take Clackamax light rail to work. My house here cost half of what it would have cost in Los Angeles and a quarter of what it would have cost in San Francisco. For many years after we moved, life was sweet. Then everybody else started moving in. I know, I did the same, only earlier, but I'm still not happy. It's hard to simply drive to get groceries now, and the weather is heating up here. I'm thinking about Idaho now. We have an office there, but I'm not the only one that wants to relocate there."
Joe Henry is a third generation Oregonian living in Gresham. "It's not the Oregon that I grew up in, and I blame that on the politicians. When they saw so many people moving here, rather than think of ways to keep them out, they said 'Let's increase density. Build fifty story apartment buildings on every block. Get rid of cars, buy everyone a bike. While we're at it, let's make it as attractive as we can for bums.' Like my eighty year old mother is going grocery shopping on a bike. I'll tell you what they should have done. Change the zoning for less density, no more building permits, limit the available water hookups. But no, welcome all the millions getting out of California and all those other undesirable places. I think there will be a revolution around here soon; I'm not the only one sick of the way things are going. I went away to school at UCLA, and if there is one thing I hate, it is turning the Portland area into LA, but without the glamour. But I'll tell you, I'm staying here. This is my place, and I'm not letting the idiot politicians and outsiders ruin it."
Jim Joel, age thirty, is much more stoic and succinct "You probably got a lot of complainers both from outsiders and locals, and this place has its problems, but where do you want to be, Ohio?"
Julie Hanson, a forty year old housewife, is one of the few people that we talked to that seemed happy. She lives in West Linn. "I understand how a lot of people are unhappy about what has happened in Oregon, but life isn't too bad here in the Southwest suburbs. Our Clackamas politicians have fought tooth and nail against the Portland way of life and it has paid off here. We don't have hour long commutes or people crowded into huge apartment buildings here. We have maintained a high quality, relaxed way of life. As a result, modest single family houses go for over a million dollars, but if you are old timers like we are, you could get a house for less than half that. I have no sympathy for newcomers. If they don't like it here, they can go somewhere else."
After the pushback that we got from our interview with Professor Alberton about the hatred against Californians, we decided to run a poll rather than consult experts.
The comments that came with the survey explain some of the odd results. Among the high number of native Oregonians that dislike the immigrants, many say that they like the ones that they know; it is more that they don't like the idea or image of the immigrants. Among the immigrants that don't like immigrants, many say words to the effect of 'I'm OK, but some of us can be pretty bad. Particularly those from some place other than where I'm from.' The apparent reasons why many want to leave Oregon is that either the immigrants miss something from wherever they came from or that the native Oregonians that think that the state is being ruined.
An odd result of the survey is the large number of respondents who wrote in "Bring the Tampa Bay Rays to Portland". This has the look of an organized movement to bring Major League Baseball to Portland from the devastated state of Florida. The rising ocean and near continuous storms has rendered the state barely habitable, much less able to support major sports teams.
Oregonian February 15, 2045
The Californication series has been limited up to now in its effects on the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest. The broader picture of climate change is even more extreme.
The extreme heat in the US-Mexican Border States and the far south of the US has fostered talks of ceding those US areas to Mexico. Arizona temperatures run ten degrees higher than they did in 2020. The population of those areas has been primarily Latin since the 2030s and most of the Anglo population has moved north. Many that had lived there couldn't take the heat and couldn't or wouldn't learn Spanish. Despite the temperatures considered high by some, it is better than Mexico or Central America.
While those negotiations proceed, the US and Canada are talking about a loose union. The US offers an unbeatable armed force and a huge economy, while Canada has vast natural resources and the potential for an increased agricultural base and a more inviting temperature as the heat increases. With the greater land area the union would offer a hedge against future weather changes. There are still many questions to resolve, but the US rejection of capital punishment and movement towards universal health care has smoothed some possible problems. If the union movement succeeds, there would be many powers devolving to the states or provinces as is currently the case, with the Union handling defense and foreign affairs.
Russia has, like the US, decided that its southern regions, particularly those that are largely Muslim, are just too much trouble, and has withdrawn from those areas and left them to fend for themselves.
Northern Europe, Argentina, South Africa, Siberia and Australia have done relatively well with the increased temperatures except for the increase in storms and droughts. In some cases, agriculture has improved. There are far more refugees seeking a better place to live than at any other time in history. Some places such as Siberia and Argentina can still support more people, but most countries can hardly support their own citizens.
President for life, Gdan Znak, has declared that weather problems in his neighboring countries are the work of Western Devils, and that only he can save Zhole. Even before global warning was in the news, he was a mesmerizing politician, and he has used the catastrophe to his benefit. Anyone who claims that temperatures have risen in Zhole is imprisoned. Most of his subjects believe that he has kept the temperatures down in their country despite the evidence to the contrary. Other cult leaders sell repressive religious or racial views as a way to rule. Some of the cults believe in end times and encourage mass suicide, celibacy or survivalist tactics. In a few short years, the franchised survival company Staying Alive has become a multi-national billion dollar company.
Conflict around the world is justified by religion or politics, but a closer look indicates that the worst off areas want what the slightly better off have. Israel and all of the Muslim countries of the Middle East want water and arable land. The same applies to much of Asia and Africa. The nationalities that believe that expanding populations equals success suffer declining health and nutrition because food production can't keep up with the mouths to feed. Much of the world has devolved into tribal primacy over national interests. Multicultural countries like Belgium, Iraq and India have splintered into more cohesive cultural units. As usual in hard times, the rich are building their fortresses and even private armies, or buying their way into more pleasant climes.
So-called first world countries have a completely different problem. In order to keep what they already have, the people there are not having children and the population is sinking. It has not taken a government decree to tell the women that more children mean a harder life. Europe, Japan, Australia and North American have an increasingly expensive elderly population, but are unwilling to open the floodgates to an unassimilated contingent that wants in. Nationalist politicians with the aid of compassion fatigue have largely taken over in the more advanced countries and have taken the path of preserving what they have over helping other nations. Despite pleas for sympathy and insults of fascism, the majority chooses survival, while millions die of disease and starvation in refugee camps. Policies vary, but Argentina, for one, will admit no immigrants.
Compared to the pain in the tropical countries, Oregon's irritation with Californians is merely a minor annoyance. Despite the problems attendant with overpopulation, life continues. Oregonians are now paying more attention to the upcoming election than environmental problems.
This ends the series. Our series on the teacher strike starts next Monday.
A slightly different version was serialized in the defunct Nugget Tales