Saturday, January 19, 2008

Land of Fruits and Nuts

[Hattip Lou] This from Victor Davis Hanson:
At some point we Californians should ask ourselves, how we inherited a state with near perfect weather, the world's richest agriculture, plentiful timber, minerals, and oil, two great ports at Los Angeles and Oakland, a natural tourist industry from Carmel to Yosemite, industries such as Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and aerospace—and serially managed to turn all of that into the nation's largest penal system, periodic near bankruptcy, and sky-high taxes.

I'll hold off for a few replies before weighing in.


Robbie Fields said...


Unknown said...

Henry George was murst on this very question 130 years ago. cf. Progess & Poverty, published 1879, or the geolibertarians if that is more thing

Robbie Fields said...

We started down the slippery slope during the 1980's economic expansion. Instead of dirt cheap oil, California came to rely on cheap illegal labor in virtually all sectors of the economy.
So long as the propertied and professional classes prospered, there was no incentive to tackle the immigration issue for the greater good of the population.

Eventually what had been seen as a manageable problem in the 1980's spiralled out of control by the turn of the century, the public sector overwhelmed and the private sector now under political siege.

Rob Dawg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Dawg said...

California failed to transition from a pure growth economy to a mature economy of balanced factors. It was unfortunate as to the timing of maturation as it was unduly influenced by social fads in the political realms. That means they screwed up in things like offshore petroleum and Nuclear investments for instance. Then came the big city issues overwhelming Statewide concerns. There's at least one PhD thesis in there alone.

We can fix CA by going BosWash and splitting into 8 or so individual States. Let me be clear, 2 States is not viable. IMHO 2 States would be worse and thus I expect it to be proposed.

Robbie, even in the 80s the big productivity was among the highly paid professionals. The low cost grunt labor was not enough to matter.

A generation of disinvestment. A generation of single party politics. A generation anti-productivity incentives. The only question is if we get rid of the bad or try to charge the good even more to cover the gap. Everything to date indicates the latter.

Sac RE Agent said...

Having lived throughout California for the better part of my life, I've often wondered why it isn't divided up into a few different states. There is just too much difference of wants, needs & desires, between the agricultural valleys and the cities.

And it's sad to see the degeneration of California over the years. There are so many good things about it, yet politicians (both local and statewide) don't wish to make any difficult decision to move the state forward in a positve way.

Lou Minatti said...

I think many of the failures are due to the growth of government.

Take the housing price calamity for example. We all wondered where the hell the regulators were. The answer is simple: Political leaders of all stripes had no desire to rein in the idiocy because idiot lending practices created cash out of nowhere that flowed from the pockets of consumers into government coffers. That money was an elixir to a government that just a few years prior was strapped for cash.

There are also too many people there now. I don't know how that will be solved. With a declining economy, it may resolve itself to an extent. It seems crazy to me to build subdivisions 50 miles away from job centers while the lifeblood of civilization (water) is only available via a thin steel pipeline stretching across hundreds of miles of desert.

California's definitely not the place I remember in the 1970s, when Garden Grove was a good place to be a kid. When I drove to the house a few years ago I was horrified at what LA/OC has become - a mass of single family houses separated by about 10 feet of space, laced with enormous clogged freeways. When I was a kid we would walk to the movie theater and walk to Atlantis. I definitely wouldn't let my kids do that today.

I am not sure how splitting California into separate states will change this. I do see a proposal causing problems, though. Particularly over water rights. The State of San Joaquin may decide that agriculture is more important than providing water to LA and decide to keep the water.

chickelit said...

Housing getting more affordable-check
people moving out of state-check
immigration slowing, possibly reversing (true but not yet official)- check
Hollywood influence declining-check
Too much Casey Serin mentality- have you seen him lately? check
Budget deficit? bloated services?-Cut services -check
Tax hikes? who or what credibly threatens to do so? check
Taxes unfair- trying running from default-check
Scumbag liberals in Sacramento under fire?-check

while on that topic, who thinks the national face of CA politics in DC will remain female, liberal, and Bay area forever?

So what' exactly is not getting fixed?

Oh, it's now probably much harder to get rich quick here or live off unearned equity- should that ever have been easy?

You'all quit'er bitchin'... you too VDH...I used to read you too. Go back to your fifth generation ranch spread and sulk some more.

Unknown said...

We can fix CA by going BosWash and splitting into 8 or so individual States.

Can the lowermost state be called North Mexico?

I won't even speculate what the San Francisco area might be re-named. ;-)

sm_landlord said...

@Robbie: I count the downfall of the state as starting when Governor Moonbeam was elected, and Adriana Gianturko (sp?) shut down the state highway department. Instead, we were supposed to have a state satellite. Gasoline taxes were diverted to mass transit.

@Rob Dawg: You basically nailed it, the politics started going nutty when the New Yorkers showed up and started trying to make the cities into their idealized version of what New York should have been, had they not already made a mess of it.

The resulting de-industrialization created an underclass of unemployable manual labor, but that labor did not out-migrate due to the great weather and the generous social programs. The education faddists assured that their children would not be equipped to compete in a technological society.

@Lou: The water rights thing would be resolvable if we had a market in water. If the cities were not subsidizing the basket-case ex-economies of the northern counties (Trinity, Shasta, Lassen, Yuba, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, etc.), I'm sure that they would be happy to sell water to the cities. As it is, they get the money anyway. It's not clear that the cities would pay any more for water if they simply bought it, rather than paying up whether they get it or not. And those counties would then have real income instead of welfare checks, subsidies, and massive unemployment. Even the central valley farmers would have to think twice about growing flood irrigation crops like rice rather than selling the water.

@Fredrick: The San Francisco area would surely be named after NAR President Dick Gaylord.

Bob said...

Most here probably weren't around when Norman Mailer (RIP) ran for Mayor of NYC; he proposed that the City secede from NYS.

Secession would be an interesting social experiment. Not likely that Congress will let you do it.

Pleather Murse said...

The idea of the city-state is much older than the idea of the nation and may well make a comeback and even appear in this hemisphere sooner rather than later. When you look at the history of Europe/Asia you find that many cities are considerably older than the nations that they are currently inside, some cities even changing hands multiple times. Of course you have cities like Singapore and HK that have long been very successful city-states. In the U.S., this is a rare phenomenon, only cities like N.O. and L.A. come to mind as major cities that have changed flags a few times. It could happen again.

DCRogers said...

Gad, none of you folks get it. Split into separate states? That suggests a political problem... not that. The problem? One word:


Demos: 1. spend. 2. commit to spend to 20XX.
Repubs: cut taxes: ("deficits don't matter")

Same thing.

When I arrived here, the roads were paid for out of current taxes, and were the best in the world. Once financial wizards convinced us bonds were the ways to go, separating the pleasure from the pain, we were doomed.

To the poster who blamed Jerry Brown, at least he was a balanced budgeter, as (once) were Republicans. The only salvation for this state is to start linking specific taxes back to specific projects again, to teach the electorate: no pain, no gain.


Rob Dawg said...

Your analysis may apply more to the Federal situation. California does not have a taxing problem it has a spending problem. Jerry Brown drastically reordered spending away from traditional State uses towards social programs with incredibly high growth in out year expenses.

Your idea is something that I agree with but unfortunately is absolutely impossible. The whole point of the CA budget is to redistribute wealth from the haves to the have nots and from the productive to the consumptive. We can't even get illegal aliens to pay out of state tuition.

Michael Ryan said...

Isn't NY a city-state now? There's the city area, and then the slightly separated place where they have their vacation homes. Those 'rural' residents just serve to maintain the vacation homes and add 'local color'.