I've posted two articles about California over the last month or so. Reaction from readers who live there has been pretty intense - and even more negative than the articles! They've commented mainly via e-mail, and sent me links to several more articles. Here are short excerpts from four of them.
1. Victor Davis Hanson - California At Twilight
There are thousands of drivers without licenses, insurance, registration, and elementary knowledge of road courtesy. Half of all accidents in Los Angeles are hit-and-runs.
My favorite is the ubiquitous semi-truck and trailer swerving in and out of the far left lane with a 20-something Phaethon behind the wheel — texting away as he barrels along at 70 mph with a fishtailing 20 tons. The right lane used to be for trucks; now all lanes are open range for trucking — no law in the arena! The dotted lane lines are recommendations, not regulations.
. . .
Wrecks so far? It is not the number, but rather the scary pattern that counts. I’ve had three in the last 10 years: a would-be hit-and-run driver (the three “no”s: no license, no registration, no insurance) went through a stop sign in Selma, collided with my truck, and tried to take off on foot, leaving behind his ruined Civic; a speeder (80 m.p.h.) in L.A. hit a huge box-spring on the 101 near the 405, slammed on his brakes, skidded into a U-turn in the middle lane, reversed direction, and hit me going 40 m.p.h. head-on (saved by Honda Accord’s front and side air-bags and passive restraint seat harnesses; the injured perpetrator’s first call was to family, not 911); and a young woman last year, while texting, rear-ended me at 50 m.p.h. while I was at a complete stop in stalled traffic in Fresno (thank God for a dual-cab Tundra with a long trailer hitch). She too first called her family to try to help her flee the scene of her wrecked car, but my call apparently reached the Highway Patrol first.
Drive enough in California, and you too, reader, will have a ‘”rendezvous with Death, at some disputed barricade.”
2. Victor Davis Hanson - Beautifully Medieval California
California’s public education curriculum is medieval. There are certain religious tenets that are sacrosanct and indoctrinate the young. A grasping white male Christian culture gave us a burdensome legacy of racism, sexism, homophobia, and nativism. Courageous Latino, black, gay, and female heroes fought on the barricades to ensure us the present utopia. We name new schools after 19th Century Mexican bandits who were hung for murder, not any longer after Father Serra or Luther Burbank.
To the degree there is a Stanford University, or Southern California Edison, or a California oil or farming industry, it was due not to those who designed or invented such institutions, but to the unsung heroes who did the actual manual labor of laying cement and hammering nails. Fossil fuels and nuclear power are largely a curse; wind, solar, and biofuel are our future. Only heretics and reactionary witches doubt the sanctity of gay marriage, or pine for anti-abortion legislation and capital punishment — leftover prejudices from our pre-green government past. When we say “celebrate diversity” at our universities, we do not mean celebrate all sorts of thinking, from radical left to reactionary right, from the atheist mind to the Church of Christ zealot, from the capitalist to the socialist, but rather we define diversity as superficial appearance, and the degree to which different races and genders march in lockstep to a uniform ideological drummer. In medieval California there is no empiricism: the public schools are successful, the CSU system is reaching new academic heights, and high-speed rail is shortly to replace our crowded freeways.
3. K. E. Grubbs Jr. and Shawn Steel - Paradise Lost: California Is Not Too Big To Fail
Take Ka Pasasouk (please). Now charged with orchestrating four homicides, the Laotian had stuck his thumb in the eye of California’s criminal justice and immigration bureaucracies for more than five years. Charged with felonies ranging from auto theft and assault to illegal drug possession, Pasasouk, against probation department recommendations, last September was moved from jail to a drug diversion program by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. Upon his release from state prison in 2008, authorities sought to deport him but failed to file requisite paperwork, the Southeast Asian thus becoming emblematic of government failure to serve and protect the public.
With California already under a U.S. Supreme Court mandate to relieve inmate overcrowding by multiple thousands, the Pasasouk case pricked the anxieties of a public already alarmed by what violent crimes may await them. At the end of the year the Sacramento Bee reported that gun sales had jumped dramatically—600,000 last year alone, up from 350,000 in 2002. Giving credence to the argument that more guns equal fewer crimes, gun injuries and deaths also plummeted over a corresponding period, the latter by 11 percent, though the Bee, not without an ideologically satisfactory explanation, attributes the improved numbers to “a well-documented, nationwide drop in violent crime.” Sure.
More recently, reports the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland police last year arrested 44 percent fewer suspects on violent and other charges than in 2008—not because of shrinking crime rates but because of a triage policy adopted in the face of lower budgets. Notoriously, Oakland maintains the state’s highest crime rate. Last year saw “a 23 percent spike in murders, muggings and other major offenses.”
The political left may chortle that gun purchasers are panicking, but the reality is that more municipalities are likely to fall into bankruptcy (Moody’s warns of 30 more, joining Stockton and San Bernardino), severely cutting police, court, and jail budgets.
4. Gregg Stevens - A Hole In California
I used to think there wasn’t much a hole in the ground could do. The hole could get bigger, or it could get smaller. And that’s about it. But I’ve recently learned that a hole in the ground can not only suck an enormous amount of money, time and energy from a fellow, it can drive him to the edge of madness as well.
I run a small campground on a river in northern California, and one winter day a big old fir tree blew over into the water. It’s fairly common for trees to fall here on the heavily wooded, storm-battered Mendocino Coast. But this particular tree was a bit different than most. For it fell under the benevolent gaze of the California Coastal Commission.
. . .
I have filed many, many permits over the years, so I have it down to an art. All the various federal, state and county agencies laying claim to the river were advised of the project and their approval requested. Two or three dozen adjacent landowners were notified and their input encouraged. Photos of the project site were compiled, maps and diagrams put together and detailed description of the work involved and materials used were written. Then multiple copies of this stuff was assembled and shipped off to Eureka. After a few follow-up e-mails and phone calls, I was given a date for a pre-approval inspection. The whole process went rather smoothly, and I congratulated myself on having my act together.
When the Commission people showed up they immediately determined that there was in fact a tree lying in the river. Then they surprised me by saying that I didn’t need a permit to remove it. Apparently there was a clause in the law that stated the tree didn’t actually become a salmon habitat for 60 days. So I could do what I wanted with it.
I did not know of this clause. Nor, I suspect, did the salmon. But it was good news to me. I would have the thing gone in a day. The tree was not a problem after all. But the hole in the ground the tree had left behind was a different matter entirely.
Because of its proximity to the river, I was told I would definitely have to get approval from the Commission to fill the hole.
If you read only one of the four articles I've linked above, read the last one, about the hole in the ground. It's absolutely mind-boggling in its bureaucratic obfuscation and obstructionism!
Reading these articles, I couldn't help but wonder why anyone in his right mind would stay in a state such as California appears to have become, instead of leaving at the earliest available opportunity. My correspondents weren't slow to disillusion me. They pointed out that they couldn't afford to leave. The value of their homes was, in many cases, now much less than the amount they owed; they were too old to be sure of getting jobs somewhere else, where younger workers would accept lower wages than they could afford; and their families, relatives and friends were all around them, so that leaving them would be difficult.
Nevertheless, reading those articles, I shudder to think that the old, trite saying may be true. What if it really is the case that 'As California goes, so goes the nation'? Heaven forbid!