My brother, an employee of the University of California, kept getting e-mail messages describing one catastrophe after another: furloughs, pay cuts, layoffs, collapsing physical plant.... It just does not sound like a pleasant place to work. Even once UC schools start hiring again, I can only imagine that they'll have lost a good deal of their luster. Meanwhile, my cousin is an assistant principal at a school in the Bay Area. She's supposed to go on disability pay for maternity leave, but that pay is being given to her in the form of an I.O.U. She can't spend that, but she could sell it for 85 cents on the dollar.
Meanwhile, the freeways, the city streets -- everything that comes to mind when I think of the word "infrastructure" -- just looked really run down. It's not like this just happened all at once, but my recollection of California from when I was a kid was that the place always looked new. It just always seemed cleaner and better than any of the decaying cities in the East. Not any more.
There's a scene from "Taxi Driver" (1976) in which Peter Boyle is talking with a colleague about how things work in California. I can't recall or find the exact lines, but it had something to do with how when one member of a same-sex couple dies in California, the partner inherits the estate. The characters weren't even particularly fond of this imagined policy (they referred to the partners as "fags"), but they remarked that California was way ahead of everyone else. That really struck me. Even if you didn't particularly like the way the future was going to look, California was the place you could see it first.
I hope that's not true today.