Leading article: California nightmare

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According to legend, it is the Golden State – an epithet that might originate from the discovery of gold in California in 1848, but which also reflects the quality of its unremitting sunshine and the tanned skin of its beautiful people. Yet just now very little seems to be golden in that West Coast garden.

No fewer than eight of the top 20 "most miserable cities in America" are to be found in the state, according to Forbes magazine, which each year announces the worst places to live in the US, based on a combination of statistics for unemployment, crime, taxes, commuting times and how the local sports team is doing. This year it added corruption, recording criminal convictions of government officials in each area. Miami came top of that list.

But California had too much other bad stuff going for it. In the Schwarzenegger era it racked up massive budget deficits, high unemployment, plunging house prices, rampant crime, cuts in public services and sky-high sales and income taxes. Worst of all is a place called Stockton, where the average house price has plunged from $431,000 in 2005 to $142,000 today. Thanks, Forbes, said Bob Deis, the Stockton City Manager, claiming "an article like this is the equivalent of bayoneting the wounded". Any more surveys like this and they will have to rename it the Fool's Gold State.

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