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Bankrupt California: No money for crumbling roads, but billions for high-speed rail
National Review ^ | 10/09/2012 | Victor Davis Hanson

Posted on 10/09/2012 5:26:31 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

I thought of my fellow Californian Energy Secretary Steven Chu last week, when I paid $4.89 a gallon in Gilroy for regular gas — and had to wait in line to get it. The customers were in near revolt, but I wondered against what and whom. I mentioned to one exasperated motorist that there are estimated to be over 20 billion barrels of oil a few miles away, in newly found reserves off the California coast. He thought I was from Mars.

California may face the nation’s largest budget deficit at $16 billion. It may struggle with the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate at 10.6 percent. It will soon vote whether to levy the nation’s highest income and sales taxes, as if to encourage others to join the 2,000-plus high earners who are leaving the state each week. The new taxes will be our way of saying, “Good riddance.” And if California is home to one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients and the largest number of illegal aliens, it is nonetheless apparently happy and thus solidly for Obama, by a +24 percent margin in the latest Field poll. The unemployment rate in my hometown is 16 percent, the per capita income is $16,000 — and I haven’t seen a Romney sticker yet.

Shortly before taking office, Secretary Chu, remember, quipped that he would like to see American gas prices rise to European levels — presumably $9 or $10 a gallon — to discourage driving and thereby lower our carbon footprint. If $50 for half a fill-up is any indication, California is over halfway toward achieving Chu’s dream. If green bicycles are the ultimate aim of our central-planning regulators, then they are making headway. I’ve never seen so many new rural bike riders, though most of them out here in the San Joaquin Valley have a bad habit of riding on the wrong side of the road.

A refinery fire, a power outage, a uniquely Californian gasoline formula, years of regulating refineries into stasis — all that has finally caught up with the state, as prices soar at the pump. Yet what perplexes about California in extremis is the liberal ability for our state government simply to ignore its own regulations, which it has been using to paralyze businesses for years. For example, a panicked Governor Brown just asked the state air-resources board to suspend the law that requires gas stations to sell our special summer fuel formula through the month of October. The state asserted that a one-time suspension would increase supplies and yet not materially affect our air quality — which begs the question: Why, if that is true, would such a regulation have been passed in the first place?

California has the nation’s highest gas taxes and fuel prices, and the tightest supplies — and reputedly one of the worst-maintained infrastructures, with out-of-date, overcrowded, and poorly maintained freeways. When I head home each week from Palo Alto, I feel like an Odysseus fighting modern-day Lotus Eaters, Cyclopes, and Laestrygonians to reach Ithaka, wondering what obstacle will sidetrack me this trip — huge potholes, entire sections of the freeway reduced to one lane, or various poorly marked detours? If the nation’s highest gas taxes give us all that, what might the lowest bring?

Although the state is facing a $16 billion annual budgetary shortfall, Governor Brown is determined to press ahead with high-speed rail — estimated to cost eventually over $200 billion. Such is his zeal that he intends to override the environmental lawsuits that usually stymie private projects for years. The line is scheduled to pass a few miles from my farm, its first link connecting Fresno and Corcoran, home to the state prison that houses Charles Manson.

Yet a money-losing Amtrak line already connects Fresno and Corcoran. I often ride my bike near the tracks and notice the half-empty cars that zoom by. Most farmers here are perplexed about why the state would wish to borrow billions and destroy thousands of acres of prime farm land to duplicate this little-traveled link. Support for high-speed rail is strongest in the San Francisco Bay Area, but there is no support for beginning the project where the noise and dirty reality might be too close to home for green utopians.

California schools rate among the nation’s lowest in math and English, but our shrinking numbers of teachers are among the country’s highest paid. One-third of the nation’s welfare recipients live in California, and 8 out of the last 11 million people added to the California population are enrolled in Medicaid, but we are also the most generous state in sending remittances to foreign countries — we contribute a third to a half of the estimated $50 billion that leaves the U.S. each year for Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. It is puzzling in the small towns of the San Joaquin Valley to see both federal and state medical centers and nearby offices that specialize in cash transfers to Mexico. But no one seems to see any disconnect between the public need for free health care and the private desire to send money to Mexico.

California has built the nation’s largest prison system, but there is no room left in either state or county facilities for an increasing number of dangerous felons. The same day last week that I emptied my wallet for gas, my 15-hp ag irrigation pump simply quit during the night. Nocturnal copper-wire thieves had come into the vineyard and yanked out the electrical conduit. That’s the third theft of pump wire I’ve had this year — and it costs $1,500 each time to repair the damage. I’m told that Mexican national gangs go down to Los Angeles with their stolen copper to sell it to mobile recyclers. No one calls the sheriff any more. Instead, we swap stories about protective wire cages, spikes, cameras, lights, and booby traps. Barack Obama once thundered, “Rich people are all for nonviolence. . . . They don’t want people taking their stuff.” I plead guilty to his writ, at least for a while longer. But I don’t agree that copper conduit is mere “stuff” or that stealing it counts as social protest or that the thieves are necessarily poor.

The criminals have a sophisticated modus operandi, with lookouts who drive around and report by cell phone when the coast is clear — green-lighting comrade thieves who in a matter of minutes ride into the farm alleyways on bicycles, cut and pull the wire, and pedal out with little noise and no headlights. Two nights ago, when I returned to my farmhouse, an odd couple was sitting in a car — each one on a cell phone — next to my mailbox. They claimed they did not speak English, but after some harsh words they left — surprised and angry that I had dared to ask them to leave my property.

It’s a veritable war these days in rural central California — as copper-wire thieves, gangs, drug lords, and fencers run amuck in a bankrupt state that can no longer afford to keep its felons incarcerated. President Obama soars with talk of amnesty and the DREAM Act. But if we are going to waive federal statutes for each illegal alien who we feel may some day become a neurosurgeon or an experimental chemist, can’t we at least enforce the law against those not in school and up to no good in the here and now, like the two sitting in my driveway phoning directions for local thieves to yank out copper wire?

Open borders, redistributionist socialism, therapeutic and politicized public schools, and public-employee unions finally are proving a match even for Apple, Google, Facebook, the Napa Valley wine industry, Central Valley agribusiness, Hollywood, Cal Tech, Stanford, and Berkeley. In California, it is a day-by-day war between what nature and past generations have so generously bequeathed and what our bunch has so voraciously consumed.

On any given day, beautiful weather, the Pacific Coast, and the majestic Sierra Nevada are trumped by released felons, $5-a-gallon gas, and a 1970 infrastructure crumbling beneath a crowded 2012 state.

There are many lessons from California. One is that the vision of the present administration is already here — and it simply does not work.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The End of Sparta, a novel about ancient freedom.


TOPICS: Local News
KEYWORDS: bankrupt; california; highspeedrail; vdh; victordavishanson

1 posted on 10/09/2012 5:26:38 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

2 posted on 10/09/2012 5:27:06 AM PDT by SeekAndFind (bOTRT)
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To: SeekAndFind

Force the people on to public transportation and you can dictate where they live and when and where they go.


3 posted on 10/09/2012 5:29:00 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: SeekAndFind

The vision of a future California is to have the minimal individual vehicle presence, in other words owning your own vehicle will be restricted.Planners already have seen what the congestion will be like if people keep on buying cars, it will only get better if they make them flyable, and then we will get traffic like in many sci-fi movies thousands of feet high.


4 posted on 10/09/2012 5:43:34 AM PDT by Eye of Unk (OPSEC)
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To: Eye of Unk
Sorry, but your future of California is a bit off.

There will be no limit on the private ownership of vehicles. There will be no private ownership of vehicles.

If you want to really see the future of private vehicles in California look at Moscow circa 1960, Cuba circa 1980, or North Korea today. Members of the elites. political and social, will have vehicles, mostly foreign made, drive in special lanes, and shop at special stores. the rest of us - lines, shortages, and other blessings of a centrally managed economy so beloved by bureaucrats everywhere.

5 posted on 10/09/2012 6:40:02 AM PDT by Nip (TANSTAAFL and BOHICA)
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To: SeekAndFind

Why should you pay taxes to a government that can’t protect your property?


6 posted on 10/09/2012 6:48:09 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: blueunicorn6

Because you’ll get arrested and thrown in jail.


7 posted on 10/09/2012 6:53:08 AM PDT by SeekAndFind (bOTRT)
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To: blueunicorn6
Why should you pay taxes to a government that can’t protect your property?

Because they will kill you if you don't.



8 posted on 10/09/2012 7:14:29 AM PDT by zeugma (Rid the world of those savages. - Dorothy Woods, widow of a Navy Seal, AMEN!)
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To: SeekAndFind
Most farmers here are perplexed about why the state would wish to borrow billions and destroy thousands of acres of prime farm land

That's exactly why they're doing it.

9 posted on 10/09/2012 7:43:09 AM PDT by Lurker (Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is it is the only answer.)
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To: zeugma

After Waco, I understand that there are Democrats who want to kill you if you disagree with them. I also understand that there are psychopaths at the head of the Democrat party. I still think that we should oppose them. A government is not legitimate if it cannot protect its’ citizens and their property. These thieves are making money without paying income tax. They are also using a property-tax-paying landowner’s property without paying property tax. Of what use is the government then? Those who aren’t paying taxes are stealing from those who do pay taxes and the government is unwilling to stop the thievery. This is the government who receives tax money from the victims of this thievery. There’s a law suit in this. The social contract is being broken by the government. Aiding and abetting criminals is still illegal even if government employees do it.


10 posted on 10/09/2012 7:46:51 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: SeekAndFind

I would ask Mr. Hanson to speak to his neighbors about exercising the “3S” option to deal with these thugs.


11 posted on 10/09/2012 7:48:52 AM PDT by Lurker (Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is it is the only answer.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Public funded personal hobbies are more important than public funded necessities.


12 posted on 10/09/2012 8:12:48 AM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar
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To: SeekAndFind

This is U N Agenda 21. Read Rosa Kouri’s book, Behind the Green Mask. Learn what the AGENDA is and how to counter it.


13 posted on 10/09/2012 8:21:17 AM PDT by codder too
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To: codder too

ROSA KOIRE is correct spelling. BEHIND THE GREEN MASK.re.U N AGENDA 21.


14 posted on 10/09/2012 8:32:32 AM PDT by codder too
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To: SeekAndFind

California’s Greece.


15 posted on 10/09/2012 8:39:05 AM PDT by GOPJ (You only establish a feel for the line by having crossed it. - - Freeper One Name)
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To: blueunicorn6
The social contract is being broken by the government. Aiding and abetting criminals is still illegal even if government employees do it.

If there ever was a 'social contract', it was broken by the government years ago. 

The courts won't consider it aiding and abbeting. They'll just say that the government ahs no specific duty to protect any particular individual's property. They'll use the same 'logic' that lets them off the hook in cases where a person was killed by an assailant, even though the government denied the deceased the means to protect him/herself, even if there was a credible threat to their person, and even if there is a court order 'protecting' them. Unless the court order is ballistic armor, it's really a useless piece of paper.

Personally, I think the people described in the article ought to set up some ambushes, and kill every illegal invader on their property. They don't even have to say anything, just shoot, shut up, and shovel. Word will quickly get around that copper is too expensive to obtain in the area.

16 posted on 10/09/2012 9:12:03 AM PDT by zeugma (Rid the world of those savages. - Dorothy Woods, widow of a Navy Seal, AMEN!)
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To: SeekAndFind
I own a small office cleaning service as a supplemental income business and hire subcontractors. Every building I have has been hit by copper thieves -- some of them multiple times.

It's exactly as Hanson describes because one night I saw it go down -- although I didn't realize at the time what was happening.

I was covering for an employee that had taken time off. A huge black SUV with blackened windows races into the nearly-empty parking lot. Some guy on a cell phone non-chalantly emerges from the back of the complex. The SUV turns, the guy gets in and they're gone.

I walk up to the insurance office, turn the key and notice I'm standing in water. I look through the window and the entire building is three inches deep in water.

The jerk had smashed a glass door at a rear area that was under construction (and without alarms) and attempted to remove the copper water pipes. He breached a main.

Three businesses (not including mine) were shut-down for a week and a half due to the water damage.

17 posted on 10/09/2012 9:18:05 AM PDT by GVnana
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To: SeekAndFind
[A refinery fire, a power outage, a uniquely Californian gasoline formula, years of regulating refineries into stasis — all that has finally caught up with the state, as prices soar at the pump.]

Sacramento will have a solution—mandate electric vehicles for any citizen or business residing in a municipality.

18 posted on 10/09/2012 9:29:39 AM PDT by Brad from Tennessee (A politician can't give you anything he hasn't first stolen from you.)
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To: SeekAndFind

This just 1 example of the insanity of government = socialism = democrats. socialism doesn’t work.


19 posted on 10/09/2012 9:45:44 AM PDT by Democrat_media (China is destroying all our jobs and manufacturing ability. China makes everything.)
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To: SeekAndFind

At the rate things are going, the last person out won’t have to turn out the light. There will be no gas, power or copper left for them to work.


20 posted on 10/09/2012 10:10:37 AM PDT by matt04
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To: matt04

And poor Eddie Willers standing next to a frozen train.


21 posted on 10/09/2012 10:58:41 AM PDT by NonValueAdded ("Why not eliminate the middle man and have whoever feeds Obama his lines debate Romney directly?")
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To: SeekAndFind

The reason California devised and continues the “high-speed rail” fantasy is because Brown was promised by the Obama administration that every dollar spent would be matched with federal funds. The price goes up and up and as long as the project is active we get Obama money! Woo-Hoo!


22 posted on 10/09/2012 11:08:33 AM PDT by Deb (If you wanna laugh everyday, follow Deepak Chopra on Twitter)
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To: Deb
I see you don't need a ping to VDH's latest lament regarding his beloved KAL ee FORN ee aaah ...

On any given day, beautiful weather, the Pacific Coast, and the majestic Sierra Nevada are trumped by released felons, $5-a-gallon gas, and a 1970 infrastructure crumbling beneath a crowded 2012 state.

You know, if it weren't for the beautiful weather, the Pacific Coast, and the majestice Sierra Nevada, CA would already be Detroit!

Thank you liberal unconstitutional BIG BAD government! May we have another?

23 posted on 10/09/2012 12:26:21 PM PDT by Servant of the Cross (the Truth will set you free)
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To: Servant of the Cross

I was studying the Delphi technique community organizing method and came across an example of how it is used. it was the video of a meeting in some town outside San Francisco. The agenda of the meeting was about how to use tax payer traffic dollars to reduce traffic by getting people out of their cars. One of the suggestions was to not fix local roads, to just let them deteriorate, and spend the money on bike lanes and other alternative forms of transportation.


24 posted on 10/09/2012 12:30:53 PM PDT by Eva (Obama and Hillary lied, Americans died.)
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To: Eva

Cuba has about 3% car ownership.
I believe that’s the unofficial target for the leftists.


25 posted on 10/09/2012 12:33:10 PM PDT by nascarnation (Defeat Baraq 2012. Deport Baraq 2013)
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