Yet California is currently cutting healthcare, slashing the "Healthy Families" programme that helped an estimated one million of its poorest children. Los Angeles now has a poverty rate of 20%. Other cities across the state, such as Fresno and Modesto, have jobless rates that rival Detroit's. In order to pass its state budget, California's government has had to agree to a deal that cuts billions of dollars from education and sacks 60,000 state employees. Some teachers have launched a hunger strike in protest. California's education system has become so poor so quickly that it is now effectively failing its future workforce. The percentage of 19-year-olds at college in the state dropped from 43% to 30% between 1996 and 2004, one of the highest falls ever recorded for any developed world economy. California's schools are ranked 47th out of 50 in the nation. Its government-issued bonds have been ranked just above "junk".
Yet Harris writes something else that doesn't make sense to me: he says California may lose a congressional district after the 2010 census. But census estimates show that California's population has risen a little bit more than the country's (in percentage terms) over the course of this decade, so unless he has special insight into problems with census estimates, this statement does not make sense to me.
But the broader point still holds. California is currently engaged in an experiment testing whether a place with lots of advantages (including some of the most talented people in the world) can overcome disfunctional government. It would appear that the answer is no.