Many economists believe that Cambridge, MA is the center of the universe. I have lived there or within 2 miles of there for 8 years of my post-PHD life. I have a pretty good sense of the intellectual benefits of being located in the 02138 zip code.
But, I'm now in California and I'd like to praise a few things I like about California that Cambridge can't match.
1. Outdoor exercise every day of the year. I was outside for 3 hours today and could have spent longer outdoors. I find that research ideas and exercise go together. I don't move at high enough speed for my ideas to be crowded out by a beating heart.
2. A well functioning Department of Motor Vehicles. My wife and I need California ID cards. I was worried that we would lose 3 hours at the notorious DMV. We were out of there in 25 min. Try that in Boston!
3. Street signs --- Boston is not stranger friendly
4. fresh fruit --- As I get older, I need more fiber in my life. Somehow Boston's selection of fine local fruits is narrowed down to lobsters and clams. I won't even bother to elaborate on praising California.
Yet despite all of these important amenities, California takes a lot of crap from the rest of the nation. I'm wondering if there is a research paper to be written on this point.
Economists are voting with their feet to move to CA. Look at UCLA, Berkeley, San Diego, Santa Barbara, CALtech, Stanford, Irvine, Davis and even Santa Cruz. All of these places have some great scholars even though the salaries are not always at the Washington University in St. Louis level.
I must teach 2 quarter classes at UCLA in spring 2007. I'm toying with offering a course on California Environmental Sustainability. If you have any thoughts on this issue, please email me!