California is the worst thing that ever happened to Buddhism. Not the place really, but that New Age garbage that seems to have been tagged on to every concept, to the point where the actual meaning of the words and the ideas behind them are unrecognizable from the actual meaning. This may be more true of our basic understanding of the concept of karma than any other that has entered into popular understanding. It may be somewhat unfair to blame just western hippies and media though, as the influx of Hindu and Animist traditions that shaped Buddhism into a religious practice in the east is just as full of nonsense as the crystal healers of the West. The popular understanding of Karma is that as you do good things, good things happen to you, and the converse of bad things is also true. So for instance if you help enough elderly woman cross the road you are saving up some kind of mystical "good" points that might be cashed in at some point to win the lottery. This isn't really even close to right.