Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

There is no California ^ | August 16, 2012 | Victor Davis Hanson

Posted on 08/16/2012 3:46:36 AM PDT by Kaslin

Driving across California is like going from Mississippi to Massachusetts without ever crossing a state line.

Consider the disconnects: California's combined income and sales taxes are among the nation's highest, but the state's deficit is still about $16 billion. It's estimated that more than 2,000 upper-income Californians are leaving per week to flee high taxes and costly regulations, yet California wants to raise taxes even higher; its business climate already ranks near the bottom of most surveys. Its teachers are among the highest paid on average in the nation, but its public school students consistently test near the bottom of the nation in both math and science.

The state's public employees enjoy some of the nation's most generous pensions and benefits, but California's retirement systems are underfunded by about $300 billion. The state's gas taxes -- at over 49 cents per gallon -- are among the highest in the nation, but its once unmatched freeways, like 101 and 99, for long stretches have degenerated into potholed, clogged nightmares unchanged since the early 1960s.

The state wishes to borrow billions of dollars to develop high-speed rail, beginning with a little-traveled link between Fresno and Corcoran -- a corridor already served by money-losing Amtrak. Apparently, coastal residents like the idea of European high-speed rail -- as long as noisy and dirty construction does not begin in their backyards.

As gasoline prices soar, California chooses not to develop millions of barrels of untapped oil and even more natural gas off its shores and beneath its interior. Home to bankrupt green companies like Solyndra, California has mandated that a third of all the energy provided by state utilities soon must come from renewable energy sources -- largely wind and solar, which presently provide about 11 percent of its electricity and almost none of its transportation fuel.

How to explain the seemingly inexplicable? There is no California, which is a misnomer. There is no such state. Instead there are two radically different cultures and landscapes with little in common, each equally dysfunctional in quite different ways. Apart they are unworldly, together a disaster.

A postmodern narrow coastal corridor runs from San Diego to Berkeley, where the weather is ideal, the gentrified affluent make good money, and values are green and left-wing. This Shangri-La is juxtaposed to a vast impoverished interior, from the southern desert to the northern Central Valley, where life is becoming premodern.

On the coast, blue-chip universities like Cal Tech, Berkeley, Stanford and UCLA in pastoral landscapes train the world's doctors, lawyers, engineers and businesspeople. In the hot interior of blue-collar Sacramento, Turlock, Fresno and Bakersfield, well over half the incoming freshman in the California State University system must take remedial math and science classes.

In postmodern Palo Alto or Santa Monica, a small cottage costs more than $1 million. Two hours away, in premodern and now-bankrupt Stockton, a bungalow the same size goes for less than $100,000.

In the interior, unemployment in many areas peaks at over 15 percent. The theft of copper wire is reaching epidemic proportions. Thousands of the shrinking middle class flee the interior for the coast or nearby no-income-tax states. To fathom the state's nearly unbelievable statistics -- as the state population grew by 10 million from the mid-1980s to 2005, its number of Medicaid recipients increased by 7 million during that period; one-third of the nation's welfare recipients now reside in California -- visit the state's hinterlands.

But in the Never-Never Land of Apple, Facebook, Google, Hollywood and the wine country, millions live in an idyllic paradise. Coastal Californians can afford to worry about the state's trivia -- as their legislators seek to outlaw foie gras, shut down irrigation projects to save the 3-inch delta smelt, and allow children to have legally recognized multiple parents.

But in the less feel-good interior, crippling regulations curb timber, gas and oil, and farm production. For the most part, the rules are mandated by coastal utopians who have little idea where the gas for their imported cars comes from, or how the redwood is cut for their decks, or who grows the ingredients for their Mediterranean lunches of arugula, olive oil and pasta.

On the coast, it's politically incorrect to talk of illegal immigration. In the interior, residents see first-hand the bankrupting effects on schools, courts and health care when millions arrive illegally without English-language fluency or a high school diploma -- and send back billions of dollars in remittances to Mexico and other Latin American countries.

The drive from Fresno to Palo Alto takes three hours, but you might as well be rocketing from Earth to the moon.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; Extended News; Government; US: California
KEYWORDS: bankruptcy; california; highspeedrail; vdh; victordavishanson
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-79 next last
To: Kaslin

-——a small cottage costs more than $1 million-——

There is a caveat however....... My conservative friends own just such a house. Both are now retired and have stirrings of thoughts of moving away from the paradise Silicon Valley to somewhere there is not the continuous liberal whining and stupid laws and taxes.

Who will buy the house?

I drove the length of California in May...... twice.

My take is that the liberals are right. There are just to many people. To survive, people must be purged. However that policy is at cross purposes with the immigration policy. For every one that leaves, at least one slips in. One wonders if a scratched back ( back bloodied crawling under the fence) will buy the $1 million house.

21 posted on 08/16/2012 4:40:17 AM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Present failure and impending death yield irrational action))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Victor just doesn’t recognize a utopia when he sees it. /s

22 posted on 08/16/2012 4:41:11 AM PDT by mykroar (October race riots bring November martial law. Voting postponed for your safety.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Timely piece, from where I stand.

23 posted on 08/16/2012 4:42:32 AM PDT by EternalVigilance (The saving of America starts the day conservatives stop supporting what they say they hate.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: napscoordinator; Kaslin; rlmorel; TurboZamboni; Truth29; Gene Eric; Jacquerie; bill1952; ...
America cannot afford to let California die.

Actually, we MUST let "California" die.

Not California the land. "California" the modern liberal morass.

The "Eighth largest economy" has less to do with the geography than it does the foundations of economic freedom which sprouted there partly because of the geography. Intel does not need mountains.

We obviously can’t afford to let them go down the road they are on. Something drastic has to be done....what is that?

Both true. We cannot afford "their" stupidity and recklessness. But "we" cannot cure it. Something must indeed be done, BY THEM.

But the bottom line is, We cannot allow them to fail!!!!

Unfortunately, this is completely incorrect.


No different than a headstrong, errant child. Only one possible way to truly learn a life lesson: live it.

Anything "we" force them to do or accept will merely encourage them that they are superior and would have been successful in their utopian dream if we hadn't come in and ruined it with "austerity" or some such boogey-term.

Let them die so that they may be reborn.

24 posted on 08/16/2012 4:58:17 AM PDT by sam_paine (X .................................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: TurboZamboni

“The fiscally sane states will end up bailing the rat-run bankrupt states.”


How true, However once they are bailed out they will keep right doing the very things that got them there in the first place. Their whole mind set has to be changed and I don’t see that happening without a lot of heartbreak and spilled blood.

25 posted on 08/16/2012 4:58:21 AM PDT by mongo141 (Revolution ver. 2.0, just a matter of when, not a matter of if!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: sam_paine

-——Let them die so that they may be reborn.-——


The big’un is coming. It will provide the inertia. The old order will be wiped out by the quake

26 posted on 08/16/2012 5:04:23 AM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Present failure and impending death yield irrational action))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: napscoordinator
I disagree. Failure is exactly what CA needs. Total, complete, bankruptcy is the drastic measure you are looking for that may end the madness for good.

What you are suggesting is “too big to fail”. Hogwash. This is the very attitude that allows the Left to recoup, rebuild their power & authority. Failure, OTOH, exposes the total incompetence of the Left to govern. They need to learn that lesson. The rest of America needs to see what insane liberalism does to people & states.

It is obvious to me that Jerry Brown & Co. are forging ahead with fiscal insanity in the sure knowledge that Obama or Romney or Santa Claus will eventually come to their rescue with billions of free money - my money. Mommy's very presence emboldens the child. Well, if I have a say, CA will get NOTHING for a bailout. Nada! The state can rot in the hell they made.

27 posted on 08/16/2012 5:05:36 AM PDT by Mister Da (The mark of a wise man is not what he knows, but what he knows he doesn't know!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: sam_paine
You may have misinterpreted my post (#2).
28 posted on 08/16/2012 5:10:16 AM PDT by Aevery_Freeman (All Y'all White Peoples is racist!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

The Big One needs to hit the coast of CA hard, giving the government cover to send a newly-printed trillion to that bankrupt state in “emergency aid.” The Meany States couldn’t say anything about that very caring bail-out and the self-inflicted problems of CA would be solved...for a little while.

Barring that scenario, there isn’t a solution.

29 posted on 08/16/2012 5:19:54 AM PDT by txrefugee
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
Mexico del Norte
30 posted on 08/16/2012 5:28:40 AM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Altura Ct.

31 posted on 08/16/2012 5:28:49 AM PDT by Travis McGee (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

As someone that lives in California I beg the rest of the country do NOT bail us out. The only way out of this mess is to fail, and fail big time.

What I would like to see is the state divided up. One half the California central valley down to the border and then across to San Diego.

The other half the coastal cities from LA up the coast to Oregon.

Abandoned Sacramento as a capitol let the coastal state use San Francisco at it’s capitol

32 posted on 08/16/2012 5:30:21 AM PDT by CIB-173RDABN (California does not have a money problem, it has a spending problem.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mister Da

At this point, I think some states NEED to fail. That’s the point of the federal system, or it should be. Wise policies bring prosperity to wisely-run states. Foolish policies bring utter failure to foolishly led states.

33 posted on 08/16/2012 5:30:34 AM PDT by Travis McGee (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: 1010RD
Here's my proposed solution. Add ten states to the union. Take the top ten urban counties and make them their own states with the remainder of the existing counties remaining as their own state. In this way you could unburden the suburbs and countryside and allow them to thrive outside the undo influence of city liberals. What do you think?

I think the idea stinks. The 10 new senators representing the new "city-states" would be automatically bluer than blue, big government gun-grabbing demoncrats. The states from which these "city-states" were carved would very likely thereby be more conservative, but not sufficiently so to guarantee that all senators elected from those states would be conservative. Your fanciful suggestion would likely swing the balance of the Senate substantially to the left.

Now, if the ten largest cities could be carved out of their states and composed into a single state, this proposal might have some merit. A sufficient number of the senators elected from the new sans-city states would probably be reliably conservative enought to more than counterbalance the two new automatically deep blue senators from the State of Megalopolis. Illinois, for example, might actually elect conservative senators if the entirety of the Chicago metropolitan area were carved away from the remainder of the state.

34 posted on 08/16/2012 5:53:05 AM PDT by Spartan79 (I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health, and the liberties of man.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Travis McGee; CIB-173RDABN

If the feds don’t bail out California, expect to see the mayor of Los Angeles inviting the People’s Liberation Army in to keep order in the streets.

35 posted on 08/16/2012 5:55:09 AM PDT by Steely Tom (If the Constitution can be a living document, I guess a corporation can be a person.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

“Flex alert” is code for: Shortages.

36 posted on 08/16/2012 6:01:18 AM PDT by 4Liberty (Some on our "Roads & Bridges" head to the beach. Others head to their offices, farms, libraries....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bert
I imagine Jerry Brown is PRAYING for a major earthquake.

A bad quake would be just the excuse Obama needs to bailout CA. Ten minutes of CNN video of the damage will have McCain, McConnell, & Boehner weeping uncontrollably, promising TRILLIONS in aid. Billions in FEMA money would be a great stimulus to the CA economy. The construction trade unions would be flush with fresh cash. Thousands more bureaucrats will be hired to "manage" the recovery. The resulting recovery & reconstruction would postpone CA bankruptcy for years, if not completely.

All paid for by the other 49 states - you & me.

I live in an area frequented by hurricanes. I can tell you from decades of storms that the rebuild after the storm is a BIG, BIG boost to the local economy that lasts months or years. People have a wad of insurance/FEMA/welfare cash, & are in a mood to spend some money to relieve their stress, further boosting the economy. The more severe the storm damage, the bigger/longer the economic boost.

So, if you are secretly hoping for a CA quake that wipes out the Liberals - don't. You're actually hoping for the only thing that will SAVE the CA Liberals - Free Money.

37 posted on 08/16/2012 6:02:48 AM PDT by Mister Da (The mark of a wise man is not what he knows, but what he knows he doesn't know!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

I disagree with this statement:

“A postmodern narrow coastal corridor runs from San Diego to Berkeley, where the weather is ideal, the gentrified affluent make good money, and values are green and left-wing.”

The large majority of people living in that narrow corridor are poor but indoctrinated. They are demanding government give them money, and in a short time that coast will look like the Central Valley. The only difference is that it started with more money, so it is taking longer to use it all up. That, and it has long had the votes to take money from the rest of the state and spend it on themselves...

38 posted on 08/16/2012 6:03:21 AM PDT by Mr Rogers (Liberalism: "Ex faslo quodlibet" - from falseness, anything follows)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Mississippi to Massachusetts?

More like Mexico City to Massachusetts

39 posted on 08/16/2012 6:04:51 AM PDT by artichokegrower
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: napscoordinator
America cannot afford to let California die.

Perhaps California needs to die. Or at least the California Welfare State. Once the welfare system collapses under its own weight, perhaps only then would change be possible.

40 posted on 08/16/2012 6:11:39 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 (A deep-fried storm is coming, Mr Obama.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-79 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson