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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
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"Can you give me sanctuary, I must find a place to hide,

A place to run and hide."

61 posted on 08/16/2012 8:07:57 AM PDT by going hot (Happiness is a momma deuce)
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To: napscoordinator

The rest of us are not responsible for California. Only California can fix California. If they have a death wish, there’s not much the rest of us can do about it, unfortunately.

62 posted on 08/16/2012 8:22:16 AM PDT by Cymbaline ("Allahu Akbar": Arabic for "Nothing To See Here" - Mark Steyn)
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To: sam_paine


63 posted on 08/16/2012 9:18:36 AM PDT by Jacquerie (Obamacare - Constitutional Despotism)
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To: p. henry

That sounds right. Thanks.

64 posted on 08/16/2012 9:19:32 AM PDT by Jacquerie (Obamacare - Constitutional Despotism)
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To: Kaslin
Victor Davis Hanson writes another great commentary that is accurate and truthful. I was born and raised in Fresno right next door to Selma where Victor is from, and I graduated from Fresno State where he was a professor for many years. I have a daughter who lives in Pacifica (Coastal suburb of San Francisco) who works for a major movie company and one daughter at home who just became a registered nurse. There are few available jobs for new nurses unless they move out of state, mostly due to Obama care impacts and reductions to state benefits going to hospitals and medical facilities. The older daughter makes over $100,000 a year just starting out and can’t afford a home in the bay area. When she comes home she like to take Amtrak, but the train does not go all the way from S.F. to Fresno and she must take a bus from Stockton into the bay area coming and going. She likes the train, but this idiotic state wants to spend billions on a high speed rail nobody will ride. Few people travel from L.A. to S.F now and at most 2% or less that travel on I-5 by car will take a train for the same reason that they don’t fly between the two areas now. What makes them think they will use a train? They could spend 10% of that amount and make a decent rail system and improve Amtrak service instead of wasting money on a high speed system. A high speed system should only be built to replace an existing system that is overloaded. Right now the only thing overloaded is the highway and even that is not really bad for traffic other than through the metro areas.

You could divide the state in half and separate all the coastal areas from the interior and have a red state and a blue state, but that would upset the applecart for the Democrats and they would never again win control of congress and the White house, so it will never happen. What is happening is cities all over the state are going bankrupt, the higher education system is going bankrupt, the welfare systems are going bankrupt, all the State dept. are frozen for new hires – furloughing, everywhere cutting back in services. It will keep doing this and crime will keep going up and even the coastal cities will begin to suffer as the whole state begins to crumble, but unlike Detroit there is little snow and all the bums come to California to enjoy the weather. In short we are heading down the path to resemble what is coming over the border. We will be Mexico in another ten years with the very rich few and the very poor minority with the rich in gated communities surrounded by razor wire and gun towers and armed security. When the drug lords move in and the murders and kidnappings increase it will be too late. When the politicians begin to be the targets it will be too late. I would retire in the foothills like some of my family and contend with the pot growers getting in the way of target practice and hunting. I know too many ranchers, farmers, and people who live in the foothills who have to deal with the drug problem and dope growers on a continual basis now and law enforcement can barely keep up with. When the cartels start to buy off American politicians and law enforcement than the SHTF for sure. Turn on an AM radio in California and 80% of airwaves are in Spanish!

65 posted on 08/16/2012 10:08:59 AM PDT by Mat_Helm
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To: napscoordinator
But the bottom line is, We cannot allow them to fail!!!! The bottom line is that, in order to recover, California must first fail.

It's obvious that the state is not going to change its ways until it is, at last, forced to pay the piper. And go bust.

Then, and only then, will the adults be allowed to take charge.

GM would be better off today if it had been allowed to go through a normal bankruptcy. If that is what it takes for California, it will be better off for the experience.

66 posted on 08/16/2012 10:23:39 AM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: okie01

GM would be better off today if it had been allowed to go through a normal bankruptcy. If that is what it takes for California, it will be better off for the experience.

Repeat LOUD and OFTEN..........................

67 posted on 08/16/2012 10:28:32 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( (Lord, save me from some conservatives, they don't understand history any better than liberals.))
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To: PeterPrinciple
It was cheap wages and unions that drove GM out of California in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. It was cheap labor and unions that drove GM out of Detroit and into Canada, Mexico, and China. As goes California so goes the nation eventually.
68 posted on 08/16/2012 10:40:35 AM PDT by Mat_Helm
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To: Kaslin
It's estimated that more than 2,000 upper-income Californians are leaving per week to flee high taxes and costly regulations

Yeah, so they can vote Dem in some unlucky red state that will host them.

69 posted on 08/16/2012 10:48:56 AM PDT by America_Right (Remember, Republicans have a lot more in common with Democrats than they do with Tea Partiers.)
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To: Jacquerie; p. henry

Perhaps the California Supreme Court did shoot down a law denying public school to illegal aliens; however, the United States Supreme Court decided the matter in Plyler v. Doe (1982). Strictly speaking, that decision struck down Tyler Independent School District (Texas) rule charging $1,000 tuition to each illegal alien. Gray Davis then served as first-term state assemblyman in California and obviously did not appeal because he lacked standing as a non-party to the case. Moreover, one cannot appeal a Supreme Court decision to any entity other than the Supreme Court itself, which naturally rarely entertains such appeals.

70 posted on 08/16/2012 7:45:08 PM PDT by dufekin (Obama and Pelosi: at war against the Church--and innocent American babies)
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To: Kaslin

Victor does it again! He is so right. I actually enjoy visiting Fresno, Bakersfield and that area. If those areas and others would send more conservatives to Sacramento, all of us in Calif. might have a chance.

71 posted on 08/17/2012 5:18:45 AM PDT by Moonmad27 ("I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way." Jessica Rabbit)
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To: Steely Tom

I don’t think so.

72 posted on 08/17/2012 6:58:25 AM PDT by CIB-173RDABN (California does not have a money problem, it has a spending problem.)
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To: napscoordinator

In one novel from William Gibson, California is broken up into SoCal and NorCal.

73 posted on 08/17/2012 10:03:13 AM PDT by Perdogg (It's time to come together for America)
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To: P-Marlowe; Jim Robinson

Have you seen this about California?

Is it accurate?

How much of it is the fault of Schwarzeneggar, the liberal republican governor?

74 posted on 08/25/2012 9:19:00 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! True supporters of our troops pray for their victory!)
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To: napscoordinator

“If we let them fail then the country will fail.”
Twenty two years ago I went to visit a friend and former coworker who died a few days later of colon cancer. He lay there, a man of relatively short stature who had formerly been of a beefy build, physically strong and admired by the ladies for his looks even in his late fifties. He was so thin that I was amazed to see that he had a very delicate bone structure, I hadn’t realized it before because he had carried a lot of muscle formerly, he looked like a sick girl, I would not have recognized him had I not known whose room I had entered. He thought for some reason that he owed me some money even though I told him he did not. He kept telling me that he would pay me as soon as he returned to work.

The point of this tale? Your post reminded me of his refusal to see reality. The country has ALREADY failed as has California. Unlike my friend it may be rebuilt some day and something great called California or the USA may exist on the same soil but the original has failed, we may refuse to see that but it has already happened nonetheless. This country is at least as bankrupt as the bankrupt automobile companies that the bankrupt government has pretended to save.

75 posted on 08/25/2012 12:05:55 PM PDT by RipSawyer
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To: TurboZamboni

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

How many times? And would they still be fiscally sane at that point?

76 posted on 08/25/2012 3:29:02 PM PDT by Psalm 144 (Where would Christianity be if the early believers put their hopes and trust in the Roman empire?)
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To: Psalm 144

Who knows. IMHO,the Feds will force the fiscally sound states to pony up or else...threat of keeping their gas tax highway funds or something else.

77 posted on 08/25/2012 3:33:05 PM PDT by TurboZamboni (Looting the future to bribe the present)
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To: TurboZamboni

I agree with you on federal coercion, but that is where the state and regional fault lines will widen. When the formerly solvent states also become bankrupt, and indeed the feds become bankrupt, I see Soviet style dissolution.

78 posted on 08/25/2012 3:36:37 PM PDT by Psalm 144 (Where would Christianity be if the early believers put their hopes and trust in the Roman empire?)
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To: napscoordinator

I disagree. California needs to take some bitter medicine. There needs to be drastic cuts to rein in the spending. If the rest of the states rightly let California fail, it can be the necessary wake up call that some of the other states and the nation needs.

Only then will we learn as a society, the difference between wants and needs. We will then have the opportunity to finally get our priorities set straight.

79 posted on 08/25/2012 5:34:31 PM PDT by notpoliticallycorewrecked (Our military does not kill babies, those that commit abortion kill babies.)
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