• Eric Fisher

Callen: Not Bullish on California

The Clarksvillian

In a surprising shift of personality, Bryan Callen's 2021 high-profile series of interviews didn't look for laughs or smiles. Instead, the focus was on the state of the struggling standup comedy world, economic concerns, and the knee-jerk reactions to cancel culture. Below is a transcript of a wide-ranging interview with author Dave Rubin.

"I'm not bullish on California. And that just isn’t me. I've spoken with some very smart people who are economic animals, and they agree and they’re all looking to get out. It's too expensive. Why? I live in skid row, basically. I'm in Venice and been there for 25 years. I love it. I just don't recognize my town anymore."

Leaving California for Texas?

"Yeah, I am strongly considering leaving California. I didn't think about staying in fighting until now (speaking with Dave Rubin). I haven't stopped thinking about it, and I think he’s right. I was recently in Austin looking at property and does that seem nice. In California, it seems businesses are leaving for just that reason (expenses). It's very expensive to do business in California. What the state has going for it is a very diversified economy and amazing weather. It's a hugely important state for a lot of reasons. California was the state that worked. And now we have a Democratic super majority and, if you look at local power politics, anytime you have a super majority of any group, I don't care if it's Republican or Democrat, I don't believe it’s good for democracy. Look at your vote. If you are someone who leans even a little bit to the right, your vote doesn't count. Stay home, we do not care, and you aren't getting elected to local office. You're just not getting elected to government office, you're not pro big union across the board. Good luck and I'm a member of a union. I'm in SAG, so I understand the value of unions. It's just become too expensive to do business and unless you can push back a little bit or come up with a compromise, I don't know what the solution will be?"

California's Homelessness

"These people need treatment. Many of the people on the street are not there because of a housing problem. It's not a housing problem. It’s a mental health and addiction problem. Until we get serious about that, we're in trouble.

Weird watching Venice these days. It’s always had people on the street. Hollywood has also always had a certain amount of the same. It's kind of taken over Hollywood. If you go down the streets, especially now when there aren't as many other people on the streets, it just seems there are transient people and homeless everywhere. It's tense.

It's gotten really bad over there. It's not just gotten unbelievably bad, but it's become profitable. Profitable because developers now get government contracts for projects. I can build a bunch of apartments for $200 million on prime real estate by the beach. The thought now is we just create homeless apartments and not worry about them doing drugs or anything else. We will not apply restrictions while they come and go. A scholarly guy I had a long conversation with called it the “homeless industrial complex”. Once there is money to be made in building and getting homeless people into shelters for big developers? You better be careful."

The State of California's Government

"It's not about right or left and you must ask yourself - do you really think a bloated bureaucracy is the first line of defense? Is that the best way to solve these problems? Is it? I don't think so. Is government going to keep families intact? Is a government official or bureaucrat who studies family law or whatever going to keep your family intact? Are they going to get you to take care of your kids? Are they going to get you the skill set you need in this changing 21st century economy? It's a question. Yeah, maybe the answer is “yes” sometimes. I don't know if that's always the answer. You’ve gotta ask those questions. And that is the problem. Are we a Republican or Democrat? Am I left or right? Just start here. What percentage of your money do you want to give to the government every year and every day? I pay something like 52% taxes, so half my check and half my year is working for someone else. How much more do you want from me?"