Victor Davis Hanson ruminates on the state of his upbringing:
The last three weeks I have traveled about, taking the pulse of the more forgotten areas of central California. I wanted to witness, even if superficially, what is happening to a state that has the highest sales and income taxes, the most lavish entitlements, the near-worst public schools (based on federal test scores), and the largest number of illegal aliens in the nation, along with an overregulated private sector, a stagnant and shrinking manufacturing base, and an elite environmental ethos that restricts commerce and productivity without curbing consumption.
To say that the place sounds like it is struggling would seem to be an understatement. But don’t they have lots and lots of rules to keep everybody in line? Maybe not so much.
It is almost as if the more California regulates, the more it does not regulate. Its public employees prefer to go after misdemeanors in the upscale areas to justify our expensive oversight industry, while ignoring the felonies in the downtrodden areas, which are becoming feral and beyond the ability of any inspector to do anything but feel irrelevant. But in the regulators’ defense, where would one get the money to redo an ad hoc trailer park with a spider web of illegal bare wires?
Is this not much like the federal government not taking the time to enforce immigration because, well, it would cost money and it/they don’t really feel like doing it anyway? Yet, at the same time, our federal government directs us all to purchase health insurance?
California coastal elites may worry about the oxygen content of water available to a three-inch smelt in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, but they seem to have no interest in the epidemic dumping of trash, furniture, and often toxic substances throughout California’s rural hinterland. Yesterday, for example, I rode my bike by a stopped van just as the occupants tossed seven plastic bags of raw refuse onto the side of the road. I rode up near their bumper and said in my broken Spanish not to throw garbage onto the public road. But there were three of them, and one of me. So I was lucky to be sworn at only. I note in passing that I would not drive into Mexico and, as a guest, dare to pull over and throw seven bags of trash into the environment of my host.
You must remember, Mr. Hanson, that these unfortunate people have been dumped on by wealthy white men such as yourself all of their lives. They are just righting a wrong–one bag of trash at a time.
I note only that there are vast numbers of people who apparently are not working, are on public food assistance, and enjoy the technological veneer of the middle class. California has a consumer market surely, but often no apparent source of income. Does the $40 million a day supplement to unemployment benefits from Washington explain some of this?
I’ll quit excerpting here to say that you should go and read it all. I am left wondering what some of the places of my childhood have become. If I had the time and the money, I think a properly documented road trip would be in order (particularly to those areas below the frost line).