And not in a chapel off the Strip. I, California, want a real grown-up marriage with you.
Look how much we have in common. I’m the Golden State; you’re the Silver State. More than 90 percent of your people live within an hour of my eastern border. And, one in 5 Nevadans was born in California. That may not seem like many, but only 1 in 4 Nevadans was born in Nevada.
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Together, the two of us are a place apart in today’s America. The U.S. is increasingly mean, judgmental and isolationist. But you and I love to entertain, not judge. We can’t get enough foreigners and tourists. We’re both tolerant of deviancy and sin (though I’m admittedly uptight about greenhouse gases). All of which is why we’d both be better off as one merged state.
Right now, rich people and companies play us against each other, and we both end up poorer. Recently, you – feeling needy – gave $750 million in taxpayer money to the owner of pro football’s Oakland Raiders for a new stadium in Las Vegas.
Building a football stadium is a terrible investment (a Stanford economist called it the worst deal he’d ever seen), and the money will come from a hotel tax that funds transportation and schools.
Before that, you gave billions in tax and other incentives to Tesla to locate a battery factory there. Deals like these leave both of us worse off – we lose a business, and you gain huge liabilities you can’t afford.
Eliminating destructive economic competition is only part of what we could do for each other.
Look at you. Your economy lags the country because it’s too reliant on tourism and real estate. But my extraordinarily diverse economy, now outperforming the rest of the country, could help support yours. You desperately need a better-educated populace; if you married me, your kids could go to my terrific public university systems.
In return, you’d bring me more of the young people that you’ve been better at attracting than me. Perhaps you could share your secret of how to build enough housing for families. You could inspire me to exercise my old pro-business libertarian ethos, which has sagged in recent decades.
Politically, I see you as a natural ally in my biggest fight: against the president of the United States. Trump, an Atlantic City guy, wants to turn you into a nuclear dump by reviving the Yucca Mountain proposal for storing nuclear waste. As for California, the president has called my elections massive frauds, and threatened to defund the entire state if I don’t sign onto his dumbest and most xenophobic policies.
Trump fans with ties to the Russia have encouraged the #Calexit movement. Trump’s buddy Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit movement, is working to split California into pieces. Divide and conquer is what Trump wants. You and I must unite and fight back.
I can feel your hesitation. You may fear there’d be an imbalance in a marriage – I have 40 million people, and you less than 3 million. But don’t worry. You’ll have the same great deal as the rest of inland California. You’ll be subsidized by taxes paid by California’s rich coastal people, while retaining the right to make fun of those same rich people.
Remember: you and I have done great things together – from cleaning up Lake Tahoe to reviving Britney Spears’ career. Vegas and L.A.– two entertainment capitals – are deeply intertwined; Vegas is the leading source of new out-of-state residents of Los Angeles.
I hate to go negative, but do you really have other options? Utah is an attractive neighbor, but she won’t marry you unless you convert.
And if our marriage doesn’t work? No worries. You and I are both no-fault divorce states. We’d go back to being friends.
All my love,
Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square.