If America worked like California, America would have guaranteed paid vacation, bihourly breaks, and workman’s comp for the caregivers down at The Babysitters Club Local 427. If America worked like California, our naked masses would be welcomed into our McDonaldses — provided they lay towels between their undercarriages and the plastic bucket seats — but toys would be forbidden in their Happy Meals. If America worked like California, every home would have an obligatory compost pile, and none would have puppies from pet shops. If America worked like California, the legality of fireplace usage would vary by day per “Spare the Air” edicts, and the reading of the Gospels with four or more friends would require a conditional-use permit. And if all of America were absorbed by the Sacramento Commissariat, all of America would have A.B. 32, the Golden State’s ambitious carbon-curbing initiative, and all Americans would be wearing dumb smiles as we marched over the edge into an economic abyss.
To see why, you drive east on I-80, out of San Francisco, across the bay and over the nub of the North Coast ranges into the vast, flat, wet expanse of the Central Valley. The Sacramento Valley, to be precise, where they can grow anything. At the university town of Davis, you get on State Route 113 and you drive north through ten miles of brown-green to Woodland. You go past a strip mall or three, you cross over the tracks, and, in an industrial island in the middle of a sea of farmland, you come to the Pacific Coast Producers tomato plant. It’s less than a half hour’s drive northwest from Sacramento, and is staring at the business end of A.B. 32.