Over the past decade, it turns out, next-door Nevada enjoyed the largest percentage population gain of any state, growing by 35 percent -- perhaps because it is the nearest place Californians can flee.
Who killed the California dream? Politicians did -- specifically, politicians who pushed a vision of big government that called for redistributing wealth and rewarding indigence while penalizing the hard work and calculated risk-taking that marked Californians of generations past.
In October, the Tax Foundation rated all 50 states by how their tax climate treated business. California ranked 49th. Only New York rated worst. The foundation also judged that California had the 48th worst individual income tax system and the 49th worst sales tax system.
With established businesses fleeing and new entrepreneurs choosing to go elsewhere, unemployment has been trending up in California for four straight years. It is now at 12.4 percent -- tied with Rust Belt Michigan for the second highest unemployment rate of any state.
The Census Bureau's 2010 Statistical Abstract says that from 2000 to 2008, 1,378,706 "domestic" migrants left California for other parts of the country. That was balanced by 1,825,697 "international" migrants (the Census Bureau does not distinguish between legal and illegal) who moved to California from other countries.
The Pew Hispanic Center, meanwhile, reported in September that 23 percent of the illegal immigrants in the United States -- or about 2,550,000 illegal aliens -- live in California and make up 9.3 percent of the state's workforce.
Unlike previous generations that migrated to California, these immigrants are not coming to a frontier, but to a welfare state. Whether they replace indigenous workers by taking their jobs or increase the burden of government on those workers by going on the dole, the illegal immigrant population is helping to build California's welfare state -- as are pensioned state-government employees and native-born Americans who have grown accustomed to government dependency.
In November, California's state Legislative Analyst's Office issued a budget report estimating that the state's government will face a deficit of about $20 billion per year for the next six years.
At the same time, it estimates that Medi-Cal (the state's version of Medicaid) will cost an average of about $20 billion per year (rising from $17.6 billion next year to about $24 billion in 2016). Currently, 7 million of California's 37 million people are enrolled in Medi-Cal.
There are now only 11 states, according to the 2010 Census, that are populated by more people than California has populating its socialized medicine system.
California's Legislative Analyst's Office assumed in its budget report that in the coming years California will continue to have a net outflow of "domestic" migrants. That was wise.