Florida or California? Surely, You Jest.

 

An unapologetic paean to our new home state: Florida!

Author’s Note: While the following discussion will make occasional attempts to be fair and balanced in its analysis and comparisons of these two states, they will probably be fleeting and half-hearted at best. Most of this piece will be almost completely biased, prejudiced, partial, and one-sided, with little or no attempt to be disinterested or objective. My Lady and I love our new home state, and that will certainly be apparent throughout the following article.

Some personal thoughts/impressions about our new home: Keyword: Gratitude.

The Gulf breezes which gave our hometown its name rustling through the pine trees and palm trees around our new home in our wonderful new home state of Florida. The sound of the turtle dove cooing in the late evening shadows. The sounds of silence should be heard by more of our fellow citizens, many of whom occupy what must be called a cauldron of cacophony all their lives. As pleasant as those moments can be, nothing comes close to having that reverie explosively interrupted, as it was a couple of nights ago, by the sound and sight of the Blue Angels flying very low over our deck on their way to a westbound turn for their homeward run up the beach (colloquially known here as a Beach Buzz) to their home at NAS Pensacola after a weekend show (this one was in Michigan). Nothing.

There are many beautiful sunrises around this old orb, but none more beautiful than the one in this photo, taken two blocks from our house:

There are many beautiful beaches as well, but very few can match Pensacola Beach for its sugary sand and clear emerald water:

We see the phrase bandied about “Another day in Paradise” and our version of that credo is “Another day in the bubble” as that really does describe the feeling of gratitude one feels to be able to live in this quiet and tranquil venue. We are about 6-8 minutes from all basic sources of food (the fast variety and groceries), big box stores such as Lowe’s and Walmart, and a few minutes more into the “big town” of Gulf Breeze Proper, for other services such as library, hospital, etc. A couple of minutes from there across Santa Rosa Sound is Pensacola Beach, a magnet for sun-seekers from all over the world.

Did I mention the sunsets? How does one describe these in phrases (sounds?) other than “ahhh” or “ohhh,” or maybe the current acronym OMG! Here is a sample, taken from the balcony of our condo on the beach:

And the people! At the risk of gilding the lily, we feel the people in this area are, by and large (necessary qualification due to the bad apple syndrome), some of the friendliest we have ever encountered in all our travels. In our general area, many of the small neighborhoods have weekly Happy Hours – ours is on Thursday evenings, at the community gazebo, reminiscent of the old bandstands which once graced so many town squares across the country- and the effect on the feeling of neighborliness is amazing, just seeing each other from time to time instead of being hermetically sealed within one’s walls as is the case in so many parts of the country these days.

We here in our northwest corner of Florida, commonly referred to as the Panhandle, are also a very patriotic people, with American flags and service flags aplenty. Here is our contribution to the Red, White, and Blue landscape:

I wanted to share these thoughts, for what they’re worth, as a preamble to those of others who have moved here from other places—we spent most of our life together toiling in the vineyards of the law, based in Baton Rouge—and then a brief look at some boring statistics (sorry) which support my thesis that there is little or no question as to which place to choose.

“A Sunshine State of Mind”

So reads the title of an excellent article by Karol Markowicz, columnist with the New York Post and formerly lifelong native of Brooklyn who made the move to South Florida last year. In her most recent writing about her new home, she opened with these words:

“I thank God for this place.” It might seem a weird thing to say, unapologetically earnest and deeply uncool, but, in Florida, it’s very common to overhear someone saying exactly this. On the beach. By a pool. In a restaurant. At the checkout line at Publix.

Some other phrases you hear a lot: “I wish we had made the move sooner.” “I feel like I’ve added years to my life.” “Living the dream.” “Another day in paradise.”

It is a unique moment in Florida’s history. The feeling of gratitude is very real. Millions of people seem to have woken up one day and decided they had to become Floridians right away. I am among them.

In the course of her discussion, she notes several themes she has discerned among Floridians and we can attest to the veracity of all of them as we are some of the “early adopters” she mentions:

But while I’m comparing: there is a state pride in Florida that I haven’t seen in New York in a long time. “FloGrown” decals on the backs of cars are standard, even in my bluer new south Florida home. I’m from here and you new arrivals better recognize that. Those who got here before the pandemic freedom rush are particularly proud. They discovered the cool band when they were still rocking the local bars. They’re the early adopters, the ones who were right all along.

***

If the state has a current unifying theory, it’s freedom. The governor talks about it frequently. His campaign merchandise includes caps and flags bearing the phrase “let us alone,” a tribute to a slogan on the first flag of Florida, raised in 1845. It’s the “free state of Florida,” and everyone knows it.

***

“Welcome to the land of the free,” is another thing Floridians actually say regularly. Glad to be here, I say in response.

Another concise sketch of some of the aspects of the Florida phenomenon came from the always witty and razor-sharp mind of Roger Kimball, writing in The Spectator. In As Goes Floridahe sums it up thusly:

But the Florida example is as much about tone as it is substance. From the tut-tutting of the Covid scolds and the furrowed brows of the enforcers of woke dogma to the experts-know-best sanctimony of this administration’s policymakers, a dreary, mood dominates Joe Biden’s Democratic Party. In Florida, things feel different: more exciting, more open-minded, more optimistic, more American. Perhaps that’s the true significance of Florida today: as a refresher course in all the things that make America great.

As goes Florida…

A very good discussion of the rot and filth of California’s major cities from which their residents are fleeing is found in California and Florida Battle for the Soul of a Nation, written a year ago by Kyle Smith of the New York Post. After describing the repugnant and disgusting scenes in such places as San Francisco, he has this to say about Florida:

Any visitor to Florida can tell you the state simply looks orderly. Florida municipalities use a variety of measures to discourage loitering on the streets, including arresting for trespassing, and it largely works: When was the last time you read about an epidemic of homelessness in Fort Lauderdale?

As a society, we shouldn’t want people sleeping on the streets. If the police stop them from doing so, they’ll either find someone to stay with or report to a shelter. It is an insult to the public for its government to simply ignore concerns about orderly streets out of fear that some advocacy group hoping for a fat payout will denounce its agents as “mean” for denying people the right to set up camp on the streets.

Maintaining basic order and the rule of law is the first duty of government; a healthy society depends on people feeling secure. Secure people are free to pursue their dreams.

“Florida in 2020 feels reminiscent of California in the 1950s,” writes Jacksonville resident Charles C.W. Cooke in National Review, calling it “a place to which ordinary people are flocking in order to take advantage of the nice weather, good economy, open spaces and explosive construction.”

California may be a dynamic and diverse state, but Florida is no slouch in either department, a place where you’re equally likely to meet refugees from socialist Venezuela or socialist New York.

Florida is America’s freest state, according to a Cato Institute survey: No. 1 in fiscal freedom, No. 1 in educational freedom. Cato dubs California one of the least free states and flat-out dubs it “the most cronyist state in the union,” meaning government and its chosen allies work to milk the public purse for all they can.

A few days ago, American Greatness published one of the most thorough pieces on this issue I have seen, and it is worth examining closely as it adds much to the debate at hand. It is Florida or Californiaand it lays out the statistical contrasts quite clearly. Those aspects of the article will be addressed in the section below on boring statistics. For present purposes, however, he has this to say about the themes found in Florida but not in California (or, of course, New York):

When you tally up all these standings, clearly Florida wins hands down. Florida in a recent survey ranked No. 1 on freedom while California came in dead last.

If you were to reproduce these models nationally, Americans would have an easy choice to make. Without even more massive cheating, there is no way Newsom could get over 81 million votes. I doubt he would get six states to swing his way. America would be choosing freedom over government control, honesty over hypocrisy, and economic success over proven disaster.

Lest one gets the mistaken impression that I am now and always have been a California hater, I would note that for years when we traveled to the Golden State with a national legal organization then based in LA (now moved to Dallas), San Francisco was our very favorite city in the USA. It was, in a word, beautiful. What the far-left loons have done to that gorgeous city, where so many hearts were left, and little cable cars climb halfway to the stars, is nothing short of criminal.

Having shared some of my thoughts/feelings and those of others to support my thesis that it’s Florida by a mile over California, it will be helpful to take a quick look at some boring statistics, which will also bear them out.

Boring, but Persuasive, Statistics Proving How Far Ahead of California Florida really is.

“Figures won’t lie” (but liars will figure!), and several recent studies reveal that unless some of those liars persist in lying about these well-researched figures, it is obvious to any objective (important qualifier) observer that there is no comparison between the two states when it comes to cold, hard facts. And, yes, we all know that John Adams famously said, “facts are stubborn things,” but here they are in all their stark reality. I should note that the bulk of these findings are drawn from Florida or California, linked above, with some data being drawn from a publication issued by strategistico.com, California v. Florida- Which State is Better to Live In? 2022 Full Comparison, and an article from the San Jose Mercury News entitled Moving out: California cities are bleeding residents. How long will the trend last?.

The piece linked above opens as follows:

Which will it be come 2024?

Is America going to choose the Florida model or the California way? What if it comes down to Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom versus Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for president of the United States? One has an America First philosophy and the other a socialist one. One works, the other fails, badly. One sees people and businesses moving to the state in droves, the other, people are moving out in record numbers.

Which will it be, if the faceoff occurs? The Sunshine State or the Golden State?

The author then goes through a number of categories and examines the figures relative to each area; here is a summary of those analyses:

On The Economy: Florida job growth: 2.4%. California: 1.2%. Net legal migration for Florida: 1.3%; California: “an astonishingly negative 0.2%. Florida gained a Congressional seat in the last Census; California lost one.

On the Cost of Living: Gas now over an average of $6.50 a gallon and climbing in California; we are paying in the range of $4.40. Housing is, quite simply, unaffordable in California. Median home value (repeat: median!) is approaching $700,000.

On Taxes: this is one of the most often-cited reasons many new Floridians give for their move here. We have no (repeat: no) state income tax at all. Florida ranks fourth lowest in taxes overall in the nation. Tax rates in California are among the highest in the nation, if not clearly the highest of all.

On Crime: California: murders, rapes, and burglary are at all-time highs. Its cities are among the most dangerous and unsafe in the country. Its prosecutors do not enforce the law as witnessed by the recent recall of the Marxist DA of San Francisco. Shoplifting items with a value less than $950 will not be prosecuted. Florida ranks in the middle of all states on crime per thousand; prosecutors actually enforce the law and go after lawbreakers. (Imagine! What a quaint concept!)

On Education: This is one of the brightest spots for Florida, now ranked third in the country; California is not even in the top 20. California’s illiteracy rate is now the same as Mississippi’s, and there is little to no school choice but a great deal of indoctrination around sex, gender, and race (CRT). Florida has banned CRT— in the words of Gov. DeSantis: “We are not spending tax dollars to teach kids to hate our country or to hate each other, and instead we’re placing a renewed emphasis on American civics in our high schools.”

On Environment: Florida has 18 days of unhealthy air a year compared to California’s 201 bad days. Florida has almost no homeless problem; we all see so many images of the homeless taking over large parts of California’s major cities there is no need to repeat that data here.

On Guns: Florida’s right to bear arms is written in the state constitution; it allows concealed and open carry. It has “stand your ground” self-defense laws. As to California, no other state regulates firearms as much as California-the effect of the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on the Second Amendment may have a significant impact on some, or many, of those regulations.

On Abortion: California has probably the most liberal abortion laws in America. It plans to pay women to come there as “abortion tourists.” (I must confess to having never heard that phrase before researching this article; due to my status as a dinosaur, I guess.) Florida has enacted strict abortion laws and only allows the practice up to 15 weeks.

On Financial Stability: Florida is very stable, with a strong bond rating, a balanced budget and liquidity rate of 5.8%. California has a very low bond rating and its liquidity rating is very low.

On Climate: here comes my one passing attempt at some objectivity in favor of California. Florida’s weather, as we can attest, is much more humid than California and is generally warm all year long, with the winter temperatures rarely dropping below 40 degrees. And, of course, we live in “hurricane alley” with the season running from June to November; we can, like so many of our fellow Floridians, attest to the severity of some of these storms and the misery it can inflict upon its residents. California’s overall climate is, on balance, more favorable than Florida’s.

Governor Ron DeSantis: he is, quite simply, the best Governor in the United States, hands down. We had the pleasure of hearing him speak recently (at a Hillsdale College function in Naples, Florida), and to call him a dynamic and inspirational speaker would be an understatement. We have all heard the speculations about a possible Presidential run in 2024. While it is far too early to even try to address that question, we can say that if he does run, he will be by far the most formidable candidate – perhaps, in the opinion of many, even more formidable than President Trump. As to Gov. Hairdo of California, I will let this little cartoon speak to that:

“Please Don’t Move to Pensacola!”

A few days ago, I heard a bit of an interview given by our Governor, Ron DeSantis, in which he commented on the sudden phenomenon of seeing more and more California license plates around Florida as more and more Golden State people are escaping the insane policies of that totally out-of-control state for the immeasurably better quality of life here in our new home state. He emphasized that he was born and raised in the Sunshine State and that, until not long ago, it was very rare to see a California plate here; now it is becoming a more frequent sight. As if to emphasize his point, a few days ago we were out and about in Pensacola and here was one of those more and more ubiquitous Californians right in front of us:

Later, I discovered a delightful bit of parody in which the author urges that people considering a move from places like, well, California, to our state and to our city, specifically, think twice before making the move. I highly recommend reading the entire piece as it will definitely lighten up your day. Here are a few brief excerpts:

Please don’t move to Pensacola. Seriously. I know it has superficial attractions like miles of clean beaches, real estate costs which are a third, or a fourth or a fifth of home values in hip-and-happening major metro areas and sure, you can easily park on the streets downtown, but do you really want to give up the joys of huge cities and vast suburbs for life in a state with no income tax?

You can fish in the Gulf of Mexico, but it’s hardly an adventure when you only have to travel a few minutes. And okay, the white sand at the wide beaches is famously crunchy and you don’t have to worry about hypodermic needles washing ashore so where’s the sport?

***

Getting decent food around Pensacola is not easy. How fresh can the seafood possibly be when it’s pulled off boats every morning? Does anyone really have time to visit the many restaurants, galleries and shops downtown or the 120 booths with local foods and crafts set up Saturdays at the Palafox Market? Or what about the local and wonderful Apple Market? What about Naval Air Station Pensacola, the remarkable National Naval Aviation Museum and the famous Blue Angels flying teams? If you move here won’t you miss the fight for restaurant reservations, combat parking and dinner prices that resemble the national debt?

***

Please don’t move to Pensacola. You won’t like it here. It’s true your mortgage payment might be a third of what you’re now paying in chic metro centers but what about the commute, the state income taxes, and jousting to find a parking space?

You’ll miss them in Pensacola. Honest.

Florida or California?

So, there you have it. Would that all decisions in life would be this easy! By all means, come to Florida; however, if you’re moving here from a deep blue state, please leave all the attitudes and politics which drove you to move to our beautiful state back there. As the popular slogan here goes:

Don't California My Florida Men's T-shirt

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  1. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Reading this while listening to constant, rumbling thunder that’s been going on for 30 minutes solid was very entertaining.

    I love my state.

    • #1
  2. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    Maybe groups that live over 2000 miles from each other shouldn’t be in the same country?

    I’ve yet to see examples of jurisdictions that size or greater that are spectacular social cohesion success stories.

    • #2
  3. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Florida is the destination California used to be . . .

    • #3
  4. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser
    @Buckpasser

    Go easy on those of us who did move from covidland (California) to freedom (Flarida).  We made the move in 2020 (for work, otherwise it would have been a lot sooner) and haven’t looked back.  It’s nice to live in a place that loves it’s country.

    • #4
  5. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Floridians can remind incoming Californians (as Texans do) to remember that they are refugees,  not evangelists.

    • #5
  6. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Many of the transformations in Florida over the last 60 years are quite remarkable. 

    Job creation: The appellation “God’s Waiting Room” was for a long time quite apt. The state didn’t seem interested in attracting anyone except wealthy retirees inclined to spend their time and money on golf and tennis. 

    Schools: Schools in the past were not looked after well, with little investment. An elderly population with few school-age children just wasn’t interested in developing good schools. 

    • #6
  7. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    If you do need to discourage Californians from moving to Florida, point out how much of the Florida fauna is out to kill humans. 

    • #7
  8. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    During the first summer of COVID,  my family needed a vacation.   We flew to the Destin  Ft. Walton Beach area of the Florida Panhandle and had a blast.   The restaurants were both open and high quality,   and people were living rather than quarantining.  The beaches were outstanding,  and there was a cool pier that must have gone a mile into the gulf.   Vaccines were not available yet,  but none of us came down with COVID.    My family was so grateful that the Destin  Ft. Walton Beach area, and it’s people, existed. 

    • #8
  9. Painter Jean Member
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    My new next door neighbors moved here – Minnesota – to escape the craziness of California. I have suggested to them that they moved to the wrong state. Florida would be the better option!

    • #9
  10. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    During the first summer of COVID, my family needed a vacation. We flew to the Destin Ft. Walton Beach area of the Florida Panhandle and had a blast. The restaurants were both open and high quality, and people were living rather than quarantining. The beaches were outstanding, and there was a cool pier that must have gone a mile into the gulf. Vaccines were not available yet, but none of us came down with COVID. My family was so grateful that the Destin Ft. Walton Beach area, and it’s people, existed.

    We love Ft. Walton – one of our favorite restaurants in the entire country is there- The Bay Cafe, right on the water, plus, as hard as this is to believe, a first-class French (the real thing) cuisine. People come from all over to dine on their deck, especially for Sunday lunch when  it is packed. Like so many of our fellow natives, we steer clear of Destin as the traffic is horrendous these days. So glad you had such a good time in Paradise! Jim

    • #10
  11. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    All true.  In San Fran we do have cooler summers. All of 68 today. And no gators. That’s about it.  Well we do have the Warriors.  So we do get some entertainment.  And shouldn’t forget the wine.  

    • #11
  12. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    • #12
  13. The Cynthonian Member
    The Cynthonian
    @TheCynthonian

    Now I want to visit the area!

    ”Don’t California my Arizona” and similar phrases are common bumper stickers here.  My informal estimate is that eighty percent of new residents in my area are California refugees.

    • #13
  14. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Many of the transformations in Florida over the last 60 years are quite remarkable.

    Job creation: The appellation “God’s Waiting Room” was for a long time quite apt. The state didn’t seem interested in attracting anyone except wealthy retirees inclined to spend their time and money on golf and tennis.

    Schools: Schools in the past were not looked after well, with little investment. An elderly population with few school-age children just wasn’t interested in developing good schools.

    I remember when a friend of mine and I went to my school’s bowl game.  We left midway through the third quarter because we were getting creamed.  On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a Publix to stock up on beer and munchies, intending to watch other bowl games on TV.  As we went through the store, we noticed most of the other customers spoke with New York accents . . .

    • #14
  15. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    “Caltrans’ responsibility is to ensure the safety of the traveling public and to protect and maintain California’s highway infrastructure. The department is taking this action to address the increasingly serious safety risks to life, property and infrastructure at the encampment, including from the fire this week that prompted the closure of the MacArthur Maze,” Caltrans said.

    There are nearly 200 people living at the encampment currently…

    The two-alarm fire that ignited Monday caused lanes to be blocked on Interstates 880, 80 and 580. Oakland Fire Chief Reginald Freeman said “a little bit of everything” was burning, including cars, debris and RVs. Monday’s fire was the latest in a series of fires to break out at the massive encampment.

    Trump had a word for these type of localities. lol 

    https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/caltrans-to-shut-down-sprawling-oakland-encampment-where-fire-started-monday/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=t.co&utm_campaign=socialflow

    My sister just left what is basically Walnut Creek. On that day at 80 guys rated that department store that was three blocks from the police department, talk radio called Walnut Creek a “democrat hellscape”. lol

     

    • #15
  16. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo
    • #16
  17. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

     

     

    • #17
  18. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Columbo (View Comment):

     

     

    That is excellent.

    • #18
  19. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    #VoteDemocrat 

     

     

     

    • #19
  20. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Gob Bless, Jim George. I am thrilled for your happiness. May you and your wife continue your love affair with each other and with your life in Florida.

    • #20
  21. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    #VoteDemocrat

     

     

     

    Embrace The Suck!

    with love, Nan

    • #21
  22. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Epic 

     

    https://www.stitcher.com/show/the-classicist-with-victor-davis-hanson/episode/e226-california-at-dusk-83943443

     

     

    • #22
  23. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    cdor (View Comment):

    Gob Bless, Jim George. I am thrilled for your happiness. May you and your wife continue your love affair with each other and with your life in Florida.

    Thank you! You are officially my new best friend! Most gratified that you liked the piece. Jim

    • #23
  24. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Memes can be very useful.

     

    • #24
  25. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    navyjag (View Comment):

    All true. In San Fran we do have cooler summers. All of 68 today. And no gators. That’s about it. Well we do have the Warriors. So we do get some entertainment. And shouldn’t forget the wine.

    As soon as I hit the publish button, I realized I had left out a part I had intended to include– our love for the wine country and especially the wines of Sonoma Valley! That is truly a magical area of the country and I regret leaving it out of the post. What are your favorite wine venues/areas? Wines? Chardonnay is my favorite and I love the Sonoma Valley Chardonnays. Last time we were out there, Sonoma was still a very pleasant place to tour while Napa had become something like a wine enthusiast’s version of Disney World! While I know it’s a Napa product, my version of the way to go would be to have a couple of glasses of Rombauer Chardonnay every evening! What a way to go! 

    • #25
  26. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Priceless! I only wish I had seen this when drafting the post-perfect! 

    • #26
  27. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    We considered Florida but neither of us like it much.  If I could afford Jackson Wyo. I’d return but can’t ski anymore even if we could afford it, which, of course we can’t.  So a daughter in North Carolina brought us here form Pa.  If we can replace the Democrat gov we might stay.  If not, we’ll join the separation if that can get going after the Democrats steal the next elections.   Jesus.  

    • #27
  28. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member
    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw
    @MattBalzer

    Jim George: Surely, You Jest.

    I don’t jest, and don’t call me Shirley.

    • #28
  29. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw (View Comment):

    Jim George: Surely, You Jest.

    I don’t jest, and don’t call me Shirley.

    Good repartee! But you really should try jesting- it can be fun! 😎

    • #29
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