America's High-stakes Experiment

Book - 2006
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University of California Press
"Once again, Peter Schrag asserts himself as a perceptive and courageous commentator. This book can be painful because it is so true. Here is first-rate social commentary: edgy, engaged with disquieting issues, yet never, finally, despairing that California might regain its way and, after corrective action, reclaim its role as a hopeful American experiment."--Kevin Starr, Professor of History, University of Southern California

"Peter Schrag has written a reasoned and passionate essay about California's vast problems and its even more astonishing possibility as America's America."--Richard Rodriguez, author of Brown: The Last Discovery of America

"There is no one better at observing, analyzing and understanding the great California experiment in politics and culture than Peter Schrag. For more than a century, this state has been the nation's economic and cultural leader. The question posed by Schrag is whether that leadership will continue or end in the 21st century. Facing the growing conflicts of diversity, dysfunction, disinvestments and disenchantment, can this state again govern itself? The answer to that question will be a test not only for California but for the future of the nation."--Leon E. Panetta, former White House Chief of Staff, and Director, Panetta Institute

"I recommend Peter Schrag's California: America's High-Stakes Experiment for anybody interested in understanding the great challenges facing our state. California, once known throughout the world for the quality of its schools, freeways, water systems and parks, has not significantly improved its infrastructure since the late 1960s when there were 16 million residents. We now have 37 million, according to the California Department of Finance, and by 2025 there could be as many as 46 million. After reading this book, you can understand why Schrag concludes that California is 'the ultimate test both for the nation and perhaps the world of whether a society so large and diverse could successfully integrate into an effective modern democracy.'"--Senator Dianne Feinstein

"Schrag has managed a rare accomplishment--offering a detailed account of the political, demographic, and fiscal realities of California in a both broadly appealing and carefully detailed volume. This is a timely, relevant, and very important work."--Mark Baldassare, director of research, Public Policy Institute of California, and author of California in the New Millennium

Peter Schrag takes on the big issues—immigration, globalization, and the impact of California’s politics on its quality of life—in this dynamic account of the Golden State’s struggle to recapture the American dream. In the past half-century, California has been both model and anti-model for the nation and often the world, first in its high level of government and public services—schools, universities, highways—more lately for its dysfunctional government, deteriorating services, and sometimes regressive public policies. Schrag’s incisive analysis of the state’s political, demographic, and fiscal realities vividly demonstrates that it has been struggling with a range of problems for a generation. The author deftly shows that California’s ability to forge its culturally and ethnically diverse population into a successful democracy will be of crucial importance not only to America, but to the world. He also explains how many current "solutions" exacerbate the very problems they're supposed to solve and analyzes a variety of possible state and federal policy alternatives to restore accountable government and a vital democracy to the nation's largest state and world's fifth largest economy.

Among the issues that Schrag tackles:

* The impact of Latino and Asian immigration and the emergence of California as the first large majority minority state

* The globalization of California’s economy and culture

* The growing reliance of voters on the initiative, referendum, and recall processes

* The increasing instability of elected government

* California as cultural avant-garde, from hippies to gay marriage

Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, c2006
ISBN: 9780520244368
Characteristics: xi, 328 p. ; 24 cm

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