A couple of months ago, on a flight from Los Angeles to New York, I had the opportunity to sit next to an impressive young woman from New Zealand, and we had the type of conversations that occur on long flights. New Zealand was too small for her, and opportunity was limited. So, right after graduating from college she moved. Where she settled is what I found so interesting.

When I was young, she almost surely would have settled in California. California was where it was happening. Opportunity was abundant. Excitement was in the air. Anything was possible in California, and we knew it. The future was good, and it was ours. That’s how we felt, and ambitious baby boomers came to California in droves.

Of course this young woman didn’t settle in California. She runs an international marketing firm from Singapore, and as we flew across the continent, she told me about the excitement and vigor of Singapore, about its fast-growing population and economy, about its absorption of people from around the world. It sounded a lot about how we used to speak about California.

That was a data point, and I stored it away. We at CERF write about trends, not data points. Then, I saw this article today. It seems that not only has the California Dream been usurped, America is not longer the primary destination of motivated and risk-taking human capital.

To the extent that other parts of the world are catching up with us, it is good to see other centers of opportunity, but that is not the entire story. In many ways we Californians have abdicated (renounced?) our special position as the world’s center of opportunity. Instead, we’ve choked opportunity in a web of bureaucracy, regulation, and taxes.