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Dennis Wyatt

The reports of California’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

If you doubt that, consider one word.


The chipmaker — thanks to its unmatched prowess to power artificial intelligence — has vaulted into the fourth largest company worldwide in terms of market capitalization at $1.97 trillion.

It’s a Santa Clara, California company. It’s not a San Antonio, Texas company.

If that’s not enough, let’s back up a few words under tech names starting with the letter “N.”

Does Neuralink ring a bell? It’s the Elon Musk founded tech firm that this past week energized the tech world with the announcement they have successfully implanted a chip in a human brain after getting FDA clearance.

The goal is to restore motor skills in those suffering from paraplegia, spinal cord injuries, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

It’s a Fremont, California company. It’s not a Frisco, Texas company.

As far as San Francisco, everyone’s go-to personification of hell on earth, the Wall Street Journal recently documented that tech leaders are flocking back to San Francisco.

The reporting came after a story earlier this month on a surge in major investment firms snapping up office property in the city along with a tech-industry led pushback on “progressive” agendas that have created collateral damage of San Francisco’s quality of life.

Say what you want about loading up the truck and moving to the Texas hills, but the heart and soul in tech innovation draws young men and women in greater numbers to follow Horace Greeley’s advice to go west.

California is still on the edge, figuratively and literally, of the United States’ unparalleled continental expansion.

The California Dream is still going strong.

Yes, there are nightmarish aspects to it, but then there always has been.

And if you think California is a microcosm of what ails the United States, you are right. But it is also a microcosm of what is right with the United States.

Nowhere else in any of the 50 states is the melting pot concept America cherishes as prevalent as it is in California. And it is closer to being a purée than a stew where everything pretty much stays separate with minimal “flavors” mixing.

I know. I know. That sounds like mumbo jumbo. So here are the facts:

• California is by far the leading agricultural and technology state in the country. As much as some people like to dismiss agriculture, the world’s 8.1 billion people can’t eat smartphones or nourish their body by the act of posting TikTok photos.

• We also have more varied geography and climate within the borders of a single state. That is reflected in the fact nine of this country’s 63 national parks are in California. That is by far the most of any state.

But since most people these days seem to be impressed by tech and money, let’s get down to the brass tacks.

California, at the end of 2022, had a gross state product that — if it were a free-standing nation — would make it the world’s fifth largest economy at $3.701 trillion.

Beating California out based on the Cato Institute comparing like data are the United States at $26.9 trillion, China at $17.7 trillion, Germany at $4.4 trillion and Japan at $4.2 trillion.

As of the end of 2023, six of the top 10 tech companies in the United States by valuation were in California.

When using a global yardstick, five of the top 10 tech firms on the planet are headquartered in California.

And guess where you will find those companies. It’s not Los Angeles. It’s just over the hill in the Bay Area bookended by San Jose and San Francisco.

It is that “hill” — the Diablo Range of the Coastal range where Altamont Pass and Pacheco Pass serve as the primary umbilical cords connecting the Bay Area and the Valley— that more than once has provoked astonished responses from young adult visitors from east of the Rockies.

Over the years, more than a few adults under 25 arriving in San Francisco International, have been awestruck about the size of the mountains.

You tend to smile and keep quiet as you crest Altamont Pass at 1,001 feet knowing in a few days they will be overlooking Yosemite Valley after hiking to North Dome at 7,854 feet.

And those same young adults when you take them on a whirlwind tour of San Francisco Bay attractions are more excited to pass the headquarters of Apple, Facebook, and Google than to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge which in itself will elicit euphoric responses.

There is no other marriage of tech, spell-binding natural features, and bountiful agricultural all in such a diverse and massive fashion in the United States and arguably the world.

If California is resting on its laurels, then you haven’t been paying attention to higher education much beyond the self-absorbed woke debate. Although it has been maligned, the U.S. News and World Report ranking of universities is still the 900-pound gorilla that is referenced. Four of the top 20 universities on the 2023 ranking list —Stanford, Cal Tech, Berkeley, and UCLA are in California.

Expand the look to the top 30 and there are three more. They are UC San Diego, UC Davis and the University of Southern California.

Now to give something to ponder for those that think Northern California’s future is in the toilet:

• UC Berkeley is 85 miles from Ceres.

• UC Davis is 92 miles from Ceres.

• Stanford is 97 miles from Ceres.

If the proximity to higher education doesn’t impress you, then how about the headquarters of companies that are pervasive in your life and that of others often in ways you are unaware of?

• Ceres is 76 miles from Fremont, home of Neuralink.

• Ceres is 88 miles from Santa Clara, home of Nvidia.

• Ceres is 92 miles from Sunnyvale, home of Yahoo.

• Ceres is 102 miles from Cupertino, home of Apple.

• Ceres is 87 miles from San Francisco, home of Salesforce.

• Ceres is 93 miles from Palo Alto, home of Meta (Facebook).

• Ceres is 93 miles from San Jose, home of Cisco.

And topping that all of, Ceres is just 54 miles from one of the nation’s two foremost research labs in Livermore.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is where every day they are following through on being able to create fusion energy.

Yes, there are a lot of issues California is dealing with. But it you look at the balance sheets, the assets far outweigh the deficits even with all of the dysfunction we may have in Sacramento.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Courier or 209 Multimedia.