California was well down the road to becoming a Bernie Sanders-model socialist state when the coronavirus crisis came along.
But fighting COVID-19 and slowing its spread gave "liberal" Gov. Gavin Newsom a perfect excuse to unleash his inner dictator and greatly expand his power over the social and economic lives of his subjects.
Like other authoritarian Blue State governors across the country, he quickly ordered the shutdown of all nonessential activity in the entire state and issued stay-at-home orders for 40 million Californians.
Almost 4 million were immediately thrown out of work, schools were closed and hospitals were emptied in anticipation of a wave of COVID-19 victims that thankfully never came.
No one knows yet how much harm Newsom's severe and unconstitutional shutdown will do to the people of California in the long run.
But you can bet that the number of suicides and heart attacks from financial and emotional stress will spike. So will cases of spousal and child abuse.
Meanwhile, while much of the state has been put into a politically induced economic and social coma, Californians have behaved like good citizens - until last weekend.
That's when tens of thousands of young people stormed several re-opened beaches in two Southern California counties.
Gov. Newsom got really angry at this first sign of mass resistance to his arbitrary shutdown orders.
He shamed the beachgoers publicly for not practicing social distancing and putting all Californians at risk of catching and dying of COVID-19.
There was talk that he was going to close the state's 280 beaches and parks this weekend to teach all Californians a lesson.
But on Thursday, he backed off because of the increasing push-back and ordered only the beaches in Orange County to close.
Acting like anyone who doesn't keep six feet away from another person on a wide ocean beach is a potential murderer is pretty silly, but that's what we've come to in America.
The media and power-happy politicians like Newsom often fan the public's fears by implying that everyone everywhere is equally vulnerable to catching or dying from COVID-19.
But that's simply not true, and they know it.
If you're healthy and under 30 - or if you're a 20-year-old beach bunny, biker or hiker - the statistics show you have virtually zero chance of dying of COVID-19.
Of the 61,000 Americans who've died from COVID-19, nearly 2,000 have been Californians. Half of them lived here in dense Los Angeles.
Like in other states, the great majority of my state's coronavirus fatalities have been people who were very old, already very sick or both. Many were also obese.
The pandemic's death toll is obviously tragic, newsworthy and scary.
But from what I've seen so far, I don't think the media and governors like Newsom have provided the public with enough perspective about who is most at risk from COVID-19 and why.
The media report the rising infection and fatality numbers from the coronavirus 20 times a day, as if the only people who are dying in America are COVID-19 victims.
But the coronavirus doesn't compare to the much larger annual totals from common killers like cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. About 50,000 Americans die of something every week.
Luckily, for reasons the disease experts don't know yet, California seems to have been spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.
But while we wait for the country to reopen and for the invention of a COVID-19 vaccine, I wish the national media and the health experts would do a better job.
They need to spend more time telling the American people how to eat right, get healthy, stay in shape and build up their immune systems.
That way when the next pandemic comes along, they'll have a better chance of defending themselves from the virus and won't need so much "help" from the politicians.