I live in CA too, and pay similar taxes. I don't have a problem with the taxes.
When I came to the USA, I was taken aback by just how money-orientated the churches are. I'm irreligious, but I attended church as a kid, and it was actually about the message, about community, and definitely not about the money. Church officials (rectors and curates) are pretty poor in the UK, at least where I grew up - they have housing provided for them, and they live on a meagre salary. They are expected to work long hours for low pay. I don't get that sense when I drive past a church in San Jose that has acres (literally) of parking space, flashy electronic signs, and is located in prime real-estate area. It's very different, trust me.
I've lived here in CA for almost a decade, as I said, it's been great. There's been a couple of local school-shootings in the last year or so. Understand that from a Brit's point of view *anyone* getting shot *ever* is big news. National, prime-time TV news, possibly for days. For it to be sufficiently commonplace that it doesn't even make it past local headlines is
Your point about talking to people is a good one: if I talk to people from outside the US, our views tend to resonate, but if I talk to people who are US-born, there's way less agreement. I'm not sure if it's because this is "normal" to those born here, that they just haven't experienced anything else, that they think somehow "it couldn't happen to me", or what (sometimes it's definitely a case of USA! USA! USA!). Definitely there is a difference in outlook between natives and foreigners.
One more thing: I'm not trying to paint the UK as some sort of panacea - it's not, by a long chalk. Neither am I US-bashing for the sake of it - the above is just my observations over time. The UK has it's own issues no doubt, but bottom line: even as a white male living in an affluent area in the USA, I feel safer in the UK. And I definitely feel my son would be safer at school there. This is the fact that's weighing on me more and more.