Over the past year, the West Coast has taught me a few important lessons -- how to drive on curvy mountain roads while admiring a sunset, how to medicate a burn caused by a face plant on a surfboard, the importance of healthy eating and clean air.
But I'm learning more and more by just watching the locals in action. What stands out is the state remains uncoupled from the bureaucratic machinery of the East.
A remnant from our pre-tech days, perhaps, but Californians still do things their own way as if assistance from Washington would take too long to arrive.
Lower your gaze from the massive economy and celebrity politicians to the average citizen in small towns and big cities up and down the state, and you will see this easily observable phenomenon.
Out here, there is a culture that is impatient and unwilling to wait for large institutions to hatch plans to solve problems and create solutions. Whether it is the Silicon Valley entrepreneur, my friends and business partners at Archi's Acres, or even folks in the entertainment industry breaking new ground, the one common thread that binds this Golden State together is a willingness to try, fail, succeed and, occasionally, triumph without anyone else's permission.
To borrow and rejigger a riff from "The South," Californians don't give a damn how you do it anywhere else.
For a population that spends so little time looking outside for ways to do something, it is especially jarring when the scent of dysfunction blows in from the east.
Case in point -- the sickening decision of the Pentagon to suspend the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for the active duty military that is being downsized after relying heavily on this force for multiple tours over the last decade.
This program allows for thousands of men and women from all branches of the military to take educational and vocational courses to help ensure a smooth transition into civilian life. In case you have not heard, the stress and difficulty in this readjustment period are akin to your worst job transfer on steroids.
Congress recently voted to turn the program back on, which makes a nice headline. In reality, by the time each branch figures out where to get find that money in their budget, thousands of men and women will be turned out into society without this training. That isn't such a nice headline.
I won't tell you what you should do or think about this problem. It is one of a myriad of sequester-related budget issues precipitated by a host of circumstances both in and out of our control.
I can only say that I know a few worthy Marines who have been caught up in the snare of this ugly situation. These men and women want to be farmers and help rebuild America's broken agriculture system. They came to the farm to take the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program but informed before arrival that they wouldn't get TAP funding.
Relying on faith and being native Californians with can-do philosophies, Colin and Karen Archipley brought them in anyway.
I think they deserve my support and I'm going to channel my inner Californian and not wait to see if Washington can fix the situation.
If you want to join me, donate here: http://www.veteransvalorfund.com
Onward and Upward,
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