Charles Schwab recently announced it was moving its headquarters from San Francisco to Dallas-Fort Worth as the result of a merger with TD Ameritrade. Not long ago, such a move would've resulted in tons of hand wringing about the demise of the Golden State, but now, most Californians probably say "good riddance".

California has 40 million people, more than all of Canada. It is home to 3 of the 10 largest cities in the US (LA, San Diego, and San Jose). In the last century, Los Angeles added more people than any metro area in the world except for Tokyo. All these superlatives have come at a price. Freeways are nothing but bumper to bumper traffic. Affordable housing as most people would define it does not exist anywhere. Even Sacramento is one of the more expensive metro areas in the country. Picturesque hills and orchards long ago were replaced by subdivisions and strip malls.

This concentration of people has political consequences too. The reason why Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college was because she wasted millions of votes running up margins in California. It's also a problem in the senate where 21 states with as many people as California get 42 senators while California gets just 2.

California has been a net loser of domestic migrants since 1990, but that's been more than cancelled out by immigration and natural increase. In order to restore California's quality of life and rebalance national politics, the state needs to lose a lot more people.

Let's imagine that the state lost ¼ of its population, 10 million people. That would only turn the clock back to 1990 on population growth, and even back then the state frequently felt overcrowded. Texas would be the new most populous state, but who cares? New Yorkers didn't bat an eyelid when their state lost its population leadership after 150 years first falling behind California, then Texas, and now Florida. And more importantly, I think Californians would give up a few bragging rights if it meant housing was once again affordable and the journey to work could be counted in minutes instead of hours.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. From what I’ve heard, you are absolutely correct, with one exception.

    Two senators per state is as it should be, for exactly the reasons you put forward. There is one legislative body where all states are equal. That balances out populist power. In fact, when it was created, the Senate represented the states themselves, not the citizens of the states.

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