We’re sitting here, trying to get a handle on the stock market, our economy, where real estate prices are headed, whether there will be any room for us in California in 20 years.
The coffee is kicking in, along with the sinuses after a pleasant rainfall, and we’re crinkling our protruding brow line at news that Osama bin Laden ran Al Qaeda like IBM, that the Forest Service is repainting rocks obliterated by taggers in our National Parks – that our nation’s top banks regard us not as customers but as sheep lined up for shearing.
We’ve been in California for four generations. Our ancestors were miners, got an up close and personal look at the Great Quake and Fire of ’06, chased Black Bart in the Gold Country, saw action in World War II and watched – firsthand – as the Axis Powers fell.
All that history is cool, and the ancestors look down upon us from high shelves, but we can’t help but feel that their world is gone and ours is changing forever. We’ve seen it in our own industry, embracing the change that comes with innovation and an evolving culture and attempting to get a handle on where we’re headed.
Unless you’ve very wealthy and can afford the New California Price Tag, many longtime Californians are reversing the Great Western Expansion and are heading back east, seeking out paying jobs, cheaper land, and opportunity in new (oil) fields. The Nouveau Riche-Arrivals come with healthy bank accounts and their own idea of what Contra Costa County, California, and The Nation should look like – and they buy their piece of our Golden State, joining those established Californians with enough wealth to live here and pulling up their drawbridge or sealing off a stretch of California coastline to make it their own personal playground.
It’s the American Dream, we get it. Capitalism drives the country and money rules the day. But something seems amiss. And while the über rich shell out record payments for art and New York real estate, there’s a hesitancy in the rest of the country we know, as if America is holding its breath and hanging onto its money, waiting to see what’s ahead before shelling out greenbacks for a new car or even a Spicy Hawaiian on Pizza Night.
This newfound thrift is oddly reassuring in many ways, those ancestors on those glass shelves smiling down and intoning: “Save your pennies, boy, we ate shoe leather during the Great Depression…” But the nation doesn’t appear willing – or able – to spend money where it is needed, on things like infrastructure, a living wage for its citizens, health care or medical research – areas where other countries make The Home of the Free look like the poor second cousin of the family.
Some other interesting data we’ve come across recently:
- There are 320,918,790… no make that 320,918,790 people living in the U.S.
- There is a net gain of one person born within or arriving on our golden shores every 13 seconds.
- There will be another 100 million of us by 2050, many of them immigrants
- In 1850, 92,597 people lived in California – there were Grizzly Bears. By 1950 there were 10,586,223 people in the state – no Grizzlies. In 2013 there were 38,441,387 of us – 2,767,779 of whom arrived here illegally.
- Kids, many of them offspring of new arrivals, are looking to play sports other than baseball or football. 8.8 million kids played organized baseball in 2000. 5.3 million turned out in 2013.
- Nearly a fifth of all Americans will be foreign born by 2050
- The Hispanic population will triple – to 128 million
- The Asian population will grow by 192 percent – to 41 million
- Nearly 20 percent of the population will be age 65 or older
- We’re getting fatter (We know, we’re working on it)
- At least one in four or five people will work from home, up from roughly one in six or seven today. Our population growth is expected to overwhelm our highways and make commuting even more of a nightmarish concept than it is today.
We look to the future with hope and a healthy dose of skepticism, worrying over the numbers and dwindling resources as the New Californians are minted. We’re most interested in what you have to say about current conditions and our future together.
What do you think The Future will bring?