Regress

California is a nice place to live if you have piles and piles of money. Not otherwise. Victor Davis Hanson has another piece about the social degradation of rural California. Consider his grandfather’s California, a triumph of human organizational skills and rule of law over desert wilderness, desperadoes and railroad barons:

The theme of his some 86 years was the notion of progress — that a mostly uninhabited desert (the landscape of jackrabbits, rattlesnakes, tumbleweed, and Jimsonweed), through the marvels of irrigation, the growth of small agrarian towns, and the rule of and respect for statutes, had bloomed, with steady material and ethical progress, into what he told me was “heaven on earth.”

Compare with rural California of 2016:

If I find a dead dog dumped on the alleyway (as I have three or four times over the last 12 months), with a rope around his neck and his insides exposed from dog fighting, I bury him and pass on calling the animal-control people. In fairness to them, what would they do, run an investigation into rural dog fighting—in a state in which felons are routinely released from prisons and jails, and sanctuary cities offer amnesties? I suppose a Queensland with his face ripped off is small potatoes.

Nor do I ever contact the state EPA or the county when monthly I collect baby carriages, car seats, tires, used paint cans, old Christmas trees, mattresses, and dirty diapers dumped on the side of the road—despite occasional junk mail signifying the address of the polluter. About 50 pounds of coils of old worn-out drip hoses are out in front of my house today, a huge pile of plastic junk dumped as if my roadside was a free waste site. How can such a green state that refuses to sell plastic bags at the coastal grocery markets prove indifferent to the spoliation of its rural hinterland?

…California has the highest bundle of gas, income, and sales taxes in the country, but borders on chronic insolvency. Social programs, subsidized health care, law enforcement, and crises in public education claim most of the budget, and the result is that the overtaxed state’s roads, reservoirs and once landmark water transfer systems are under-capitalized and dysfunctional. Various agencies operate on a fee basis — informally of course and denied vehemently when asked.

California is one of the most progressive states in the Union, if by progressive we mean politically left of center. In every other sense it is one of the most regressive. Its infrastructure is terribly outdated, its tax and regulatory code are designed to punish the middle class, its public schools are a farce, its politics corrupt.

 

 

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