Fool's Gold: In the Golden State, We're NOT So Educated ... or Open-Minded!

LEANING RIGHT--As the headlines scream "Sanctuary State!" and "California Economy Booming!", while the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles bash President Donald Trump and (admit it, Reader Friend) we're relieved to NOT live in the Hurricane Zone or Tornado Land, things may not be so Golden in the Golden State. 

Certainly the Golden Rule of "Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You" isn't always practiced, in that true freedom of speech, and truly promoting a two-party system with a free exchange of ideas, and truly respecting the struggling middle class, and truly reforming education, is something that hasn't been practiced in this state for a rather long time. 

As we continue to see an exodus of the middle class from the Golden State, I cannot help but be reminded of my own five-year stay in the South after growing up as a California kid in suburban Long Beach: tract homes, bike lanes, open space, parks, and a penchant for a grounded philosophy in respecting others, shunning racism, and promoting education. 

Of course, my own experiences of anti-Semitism (I'm Jewish, and got this from both Muslim and Christian influences), anti-intellectual trends (having to prove myself and "apologize" for getting good grades), and being on the receiving end of more bullying than most, probably didn't make for the most easy childhood but ultimately made me tougher on myself and more empathetic to others. 

Enter my acceptance into medical school at Galveston, Texas (University of Texas Medical Branch), which seems to go underwater every few decades due to some hurricane or another. 

Enter my decision to go to the Medical College of Virginia at Richmond for my intern year, prior to being accepted to the University of California, Irvine as a dermatology resident. 

Enter my initial derision of Southerners when I went to Texas--both my UC San Diego roommate and I went to medical school in the Lone Star State after three years of an excellent, first-rate college education at Revelle College, thanks to a host of AP classes and some seriously hard work)--only to discover that Texans weren't uneducated and closed-minded...but WE sure were. 

It's certain that very rural Texans are rather ... interesting, and perhaps DO fit the stereotypes that we in "enlightened California" have for them (without having ever met them, of course), but there are stereotypes in urban/suburban California that are also painfully true. 

And clearly, the educated and urban/suburban Texans try to steer clear of their rural counterparts (regardless of color), while the educated and suburban/rural Californians try to steer clear of their urban counterparts (regardless of color), there's a strange phenomenon ... 

... of Californians moving to Texas ... and Utah ... and Idaho ... and the Midwest)...while gritting their teeth initially because they fear their new neighbors but ultimately finding themselves slack-jawed that THEY are the closed-minded bigots who have much to learn. 

Meanwhile, Californians who have never left the state continue to promote how wonderful their education is while ignoring its decreasing affordability. 

Meanwhile, Californians of all political bents promote our higher K-12 graduation rates while ignoring the failure and/or loss of shop/technical skill classes, driver's education, home economics, financial literacy, and basic life skill classes. 

Meanwhile, Californians continue to crow about how environmentally-friendly we are while both jacking up utility bills that thrash the quality of life of the disappearing middle class, and encouraging overdevelopment without any regard to environmental sustainability. 

Meanwhile, our thought leaders continue to push for New Urbanism while ignoring the fact that even Millennials (at least the self-respecting ones, and/or those lucky enough to have sufficient income) still want the suburban life, albeit a bit altered from the 1950's. 

The list goes on and on, but I doubt I am the only Californian who stays here because of love of family.  I also doubt I am the only Californian who wonders how many would stay if the weather stopped being so much nicer than most of the United States. 

But as the exodus continues (mainly middle class, or upper middle class, and certainly of all colors and ethnicities) from the Golden State, perhaps the smugness of our elected leaders should be tempered by the fact that their managerial skills and decisions aren't so great. 

Leaving, of course, the great question of what future our leaders would have if we encouraged more Californians to see the greater world, or at least other parts of the United States, merely just to allow our state's residents the ability to achieve a truly educated, open-minded outlook of how California could be, or even should be.


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)