City Journal Winter 2016

Current Issue:

Winter 2016
Table of Contents
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Victor Davis Hanson
Lawmakers Gone Wild « Back to Story

View Comments (40)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.

Showing 40 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
California has never recovered from Jesse "Big Daddy" Unruh's success in creating a full time legislature. Before him, it was alternate years for legislation and for budget, like Texas'.
I find it amusing that the people who shout loudest about the good old days when California had vision and built infrastructure are fighting hardest to overturn an election and kill the infrastructure project that the people voted for.
Here's an infrastructure project for you. Why are we purifying waste water and then dumping it out to sea? Pump the purple pipe water up to the reservoirs and let it bio-filter for a while, then run it through the water treatment plant. If water is so precious why are we dumping it all out to sea?
After many generations here, my husband and I are leaving as soon as I retire. We are counting the days.
Dr Hanson,
Reading you articles still gives me hope that the American ideals are there, though not always apparent, in a silent majority of people. By being a 4th? generation rancher, teacher and resident really gives your articles such a personal message. Thank you for your work.
I am from Fresno and moved to Washington state only to see the exact same politics occurring in the pacific northwest. I seem to remember Mr Hanson from Fresno State University and from letters to the Fresno Bee, I sure wish there were more people like the author around to articulate the points in this article.
A Very succinct and well written analysis by Mr Hanson.

Although he briefly touched on the issue of the heavy handed and uber-disproportinate influence of the Gaystapo and their infiltration of the 'PowerStructure' (such as Pelosi-Heir and leader of the Larry Brinkin Posse - Senator Mark "Kiddie Porn King" Leno) - and the increasingly dysfunctional nature of their control over a legislature in itself unfit to pass gas...

There was discussion of Political Corruption - But no mention of the Corruption relating to the BLACKMAIL of 'Der Arnold' while in office over his allegedly 'secret' Extra Son.

Consider the behaviors of the Governor who took office after 'Gay Davis' was recalled - who then appointed Davis's Chief of Staff (suzi kennedy) as His Chief...

- Giving one of the most notorious enforcers for the Twysted Systehood the keys to the Republican Party; and supplied her 'happy' pals like former Senate Appropriations Chair Carole '$5 Smidgen' Migden (who had boasted "Anybody who want's $5 is going to have to come to This Dyke and Beg for it") - huge amounts of tax pork to keep them quiet - until he left office and moonbeam took over.

Still - Hanson missed another vitally important element - the Bought and Paid for 'free press' - and the role these Propaganda Empires have had in Censoring Facts from the 'mushrooms' (taxpaying voters) while spinning the party line all the way way out.
Blacque Jacques Shellacque August 31, 2014 at 11:44 PM
"...a 2014 Golden State poll suggested that the legislature’s core constituencies—youth, Latinos, and liberals—are growing unhappy with the agendas of their favored legislators."

Nothing is likely to change; they'll just cast their votes for a different liberal.
lets discuss the silicon valley billionaire democrats who support amnesty for illegal aliens, they would never hire the poor and uneducated all they want is to hire foreign tech workers to avoid state and federal taxes you know that taxes that they support. I know everyone who reads city journal know that
so while they say they support high taxes and the rich need to be taxed, they lobby for every tax break under the sun (i know you all know that )the trick is to let the poor know that Kashkari needs to make that case he needs to go to the poor neighborhoods to let the poor know that the democrats are not their friends every where from gas prices to school reforms.
Chillingly accurate. The Golden State has become the Altered State and an ATM for Progressive Democrats, especially Mr. Obama. Reality gets ignored here. Fantasy rules. Hopefully, Mr. Hansen will jolt us awake before we die from an overdose.
I own a small business in California, C&B Photography. This article is spot on. While I am not a farmer, the major industries in my area are ag and oil. How sad is it that even I am considering moving out of such a beautiful state for better economic opportunities and less regulation. Great article which hits several of the points dead on.
Scott deBeaubien June 07, 2014 at 12:12 PM
The sad thing is, for those of us who grew up here in CA and are old enough to remember when times were good, and the balance of power wasn't so whacky, that everything in the article is so pathetically obvious and yet we have no voice, no representation, no power in this because of the way they control both the legislature and the discussion. The outflow of Californians peaked some years back, when there were enough liberals and progressives in Colorado (where I lived for 12 years) to actually tell the voters they needed to repeal TABOR (Tax-payers Bill of Rights, the equivalent of Prop. 13 in CO). Can you imagine being dumb enough to believe that your Bill of Rights had to be repealed? We're going to lose Prop. 13 here in CA too. Not long before that happens now. They have plenty of support (and have had for some time). All they need to do is to tell the mass of low-info voters (liberals) that repealing Prop. 13 will help "Redistribute" wealth and they'll do it. Personally, I would like to be gone from CA before that happens, but not sure we'll make it out in time.
Well written, concise and right on target! Thanks.
I am convinced that the only way reform will ever come to California is when the treasury runs dry. Right now California is riding high on capital gains but when the market crashes the 1 to 2 billion dollars that Brown has in his rainy day fund will not be enough.
if San Francisco has a treasury that has abundant funds, why is Ed Lee always hitting us up with new taxes. He needs money for the homeless, for the jail, for transportation and muni upgrades. Why are the teachers demanding more and the muni bus drivers demanding more and more people can not afford rent? by the way Lee needs more money for public health
This is so true.
Down in San Diego, the City has piled mile upon mile of red tape on the development industry. The latest brilliant idea is that since there is a shortage of housing around SDSU, and developers are starting to build new student apartments to meet the demand, that the City decided that they want a bigger piece of the action. So they just voted to increase the development impact fee by $10,000/unit.
We have 3 projects that were borderline profitable that are now, in all likelihood, DOA. On a 100 unit project that cost $25M to build, this ADDS $1M (on top of the $2M+ in fees they already get).
That is when we get the developers calling us and saying - like the sharks on Shark Tank - "I'm out"
The city experts will wonder why their revenues are down, why our economy is anemic, why we have a lack of housing and determine that the private sector model doesn't work.
Here, they tax and regulate private affordable housing out of existence and then turn around and provide state funded 'affordable housing' development at a cost of $450k/unit.
There's no cheese like government cheese.
The biggest problem for California seems to be that it is full of class traitors.

In every other Western nation, those with money vote Conservative. However, it would appear that the insecure rich in California have worked out that the best way for them to stay rich, and to ensure that no-one else becomes rich who doesn't hink like them, is to encourage 'progressive" policies which disarm and drive away middle income earners.

I would encourage any Californians who want to brethe free to come to Australia. Yes, we too have annoying lefties, but our conservative politicians rule more often than not, our wether is good, the place isn't too crowded and the culture is a wonderful mixture of British, American and asian
Count me in the 150k who has been paying for everyone else, and planning to depart. I grew up in CA, on the Orange County coast, and love the beach and summer weather, but, having lived and traveled other places, I can think of nothing else I like better about CA now. The people are more friendly and genuine elsewhere, traffic is lighter, there is better hiking, the weather is nicer in some areas 8 months of the year and the scenery is every bit as good, the air is cleaner, it is much more business friendly and less litigious, taxes are MUCH lower and state regulations are much less overbearing. When I leave, I will take my income, my business, and sizable deferred capital gains which will eventually be realized, out of CA's reach. Let them get someone else to pay for their ridiculousness. What they thought was a tax increase for me, will actually be a tax reduction for the state. I'm voting with my feet. I may visit now and then in summer to enjoy the one thing left I like about CA.
As a FORMER resident of California who grew up in rural Yuba City (40 miles north of Sacramento) during the 60's and 70's (before embarking on my adult life ELSEWHERE after graduating from UC Davis) I can hardly believe what's happened to California since. Many of my family and closest friends still live there, and they confirm EVERY point in this article, which is one of the most well written and accurate assessments of California's politically created doom I've ever read.

Little wonder six (and counting) rural northern California counties have officially gone on on record about secession.
Sounds exactly like Connecticut, but without the natural resources. Our nuts in Hartford are banning chocolate milk in schools while we have the second highest per capita public debt and liability in the nation.
I've read this kind of piece from Dr Hanson many times. I believe he is right on all counts. I've even ridden through Fresno and the farming areas near there and have seen first hand what he has described.

Unfortunately, I believe Calif. is unchangeable given it's geographic size and population. The unholy cultural and governmental alliance he writes about won't be broken easily if ever. And when it is, Calif. will not look or be the same again.

Nor will our country look the same either.
Hanson is one of the best political writers around.
I have another thing to point out. A lot of Cali's diminishing salmon and steelehead is due to the drainage of the massive lake in the San Joaquin Valley for agriculture. It was a natural treasure that was destroyed.

Another disaster to salmon and steelhead was the introduction of striped bass by some guy who didn't appreciate the fighting qualities and tastiness of the Oncorhynchus genus. Who eats the Delta Smelt? Onchorhynchus of sufficient size to devour delta smelt are not really feeding, they're mostly converting to a starvation mode as they acclimatize to fresh water.

I learned an interesting lesson fishing in Baja. Dolphinfish of 18 inches attack 8 inch bonito bait. Salmonids of this size don't attack such "big" prey. Not even Brown trout, which are supposedly high-order predators.

I used to go into VDH's territory to catch Golden Trout. Just east of Fresno, above Lake Edison at 9000+ feet, they're pretty abundant.
Another lucid, incisive piece on California.

Cali has always been a tough place to live. I can recite problems of the affluent of 60-80 years ago, such as high-daily-dose nicotine addiction and alcoholism, and kids who were the children of privilege, got really screwed up. Then, children not of privilege got screwed up.

Cali was nevertheless an amazing place. All the waterworks and transportation systems were amazing. All conceived by visionaries, designed by top-flight engineers, and workers who believed in the future.

Cali turned semi-desert and even desert spaces into green places. A lot of this was led by UC research. Cali led the world in aircraft and spacecraft design and production, led by Caltech profs and alumni. Then information technology, led by Stanford grads, but also Berkeley grads (e.g. Intel).

Things in Cali are crumbling. I rode a bike last year in Cali. Not on the smooth roads I grew up on 50 years ago, but deteriorating roads. There is no money devoted to maintaining once-impeccable surfaces.

Schools in Cali are anti-STEM, which is why I took my kids to home-tutoring. Teachers who were giving my kids "B's" and "C's" in math in regular school, zoomed. I can't explain how they scored low 700s on SAT I, then "aced" SAT II Level II (or CB Achievement Level II) with 800s (all of my kids did this), but there was something wrong with regular schools' teachers judging my kids to be "meh" to "bottom of the class" when they had strong talent.

One of my home-tutored kids is teaching overseas. His school's headmaster is more than satisfied with his teaching performance.

Kids attending Cambridge, Oxford, Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and Duke, majoring in engineering, show what talented students being taught by talented teachers can accomplish.

He teaches at an "elitist" school. Teachers can choose to live on campus, and be available for evening help. They eat lunch with kids--not monitor the lunchroom, but sit at tables eating and talking with their students. Like Exeter, but tuition is one-third Exeter's, which is about the cost of many U.S. public schools.

It's not a boarding school. Parents invite him and his wife to dinner.

I quit having the slightest sympathy for you, Mr. Hanson, some time ago. Somewhat like the hapless and condemned Jews in the Warsaw ghetto you have the bravery to fight the unwinable fight but not the smarts to get out.
As always it comes down to people, voters who elect these clowns of both parties and then wonder why everything is turning to crap, and those who don't even bother to vote at all. The tendency of almost every writer, whether conservative or progressive, is to never place any blame on those the blame truly lies with: the people. Californians, legal and illegal, rich or poor, fully deserve what they are getting, and will get more of it shortly. This also applies nationwide, the entitlement mentality writ large, thinking everything will go on as before. And it will, until it hits a quickly approaching wall and chaos ensues.
This is a long read and it does not have a happy ending. A middle-class resurgence is not even a distant hope. The middle-class is being squeezed out of existence. California as I knew it 60 years ago, doesn't exist anymore and that California, of my early adulthood, will never return.
Ah yes. I just returned last week from the beautiful coastal enclave of San Clemente on a car hunting trip. For a brief moment I wondered what it would be like to live in Southern California again. I left in 1978 as the realization of what a Democrat utopia it already was what with the high taxes and high cost of real estate. I voted for Prop 13 on the way out and headed to Texas. I've been in TX ever since enjoying the good life I could only dream about in CA. You can have your governor moonbeam and the rest of the rot. I've never looked back.
Richard Winston June 03, 2014 at 9:17 AM
I have of late begun to wonder if Governor "Monnbeam" Brown, an avid pot-smoker in the 1970s, has, like the mayor of Toronto, shifted to smoking crack. It would explain a lot.
Personally, I would not oppose starting talks with Mexico to give California back to them. It is only partially American and that diminishes each day. I'm not sure that Mexico would be agreeable since they have too good a deal as things stand now. But we can try!
I wonder if this nuttiness has anything to do with 1,500 Californians a day moving to Texas?
One reason that a population becomes " ungovernable" is that the government becomes so involved in minutiae. California is obviously in that category, but the rest of the country is rapidly following suit. This is the predictable outcome of allowing the federal government to attempt local control.
Brian Richard Allen June 02, 2014 at 3:14 AM
Your Projected and/or otherwise perceived "pessimism," Bill Carrothers -- and umpteenth-generation Selma California raisin farmer, Doctor Hanson's -- and my -- simple Truth.

Simple reality.
Of course there's TX...when a fertilizer plant exploded killed a dozen firefighters, the response of the TX legislature regarding an overhaul of the fire code was


The TX legislature cut the state's firefighting budget then had to beg the federal govt for assistance when brush fires hit the state

Conservatives are quite willing to kill people in the service of the rich
Great article as usual. Thanks for pointing out that lawless foreign nationals have more rights than American citizens. No coincidence that these foreigners feel at home in this state full of corrupt politicians, just like the countries they came from. I am researching alternative places to live as well.
My son has left California for Arizona and probably will not return; as soon as I retire we will probably join him. Most of the people I know want to leave the state as soon as possible and are just staying until they retire. California has become another New York.
Arthur Chandler June 01, 2014 at 6:02 PM
Though the author raises some telling issues, his essay nevertheless looks to me like an pessimist’s vision of gloom and disaster.He never factors in the abilities of the people of California to come up with solutions to problems that have beset the state since the Gold Rush (water supply and its misuses, for example). He also envisions immigrants’ contribution to the state as nothing but negative — much, I think, as conservative East Coasters would have seen European and Jewish immigrants 100 years ago. He seems unwilling to discuss how these immigrants are contributing to the economy as it currently operates, and unwilling to see how such people might contribute to California’s prosperity in the future.

Recall that, in one perspective (Native American): all of us mongrel Euros are aliens.

As for the stupidity and ineptitude of our legislature: I concur. But better or worse than any other nation’s (think North Korea, or even France), or almost any other state’s (how’s it going in New Yawk? Michigan?). A detailed look at the bills the California legislature has passed would incline some pessimists to despair. But keep perspective: look at the big picture. Has there been any time, or any place in the past or present with as rich a culture as we have in California in the 21st century? As someone said: “Don’t let the best be the enemy of the better.”

The fact that the author of this essay chooses to live in California and work at the Hoover Institute at Stanford provides his own stated choice as the best place to live.

I apologize for the somewhat refractory tone of my response. But I don’t like to hear pessimists attempt to set the tone for a state who fundamental nature and achievements have been formulated and acted upon by people with firmer faith in the abilities of its constituents — long-timers or “aliens” — to deal effectively, and even spectacularly, with future situations.
Bill Carrothers June 01, 2014 at 5:33 PM
Victor Davis Hansen, you and I both know that the "border" will never close as long as those who come here can find work, schooling for their children, WIC benefits, and possibly Affordable Care Act benefits and "affordable" subsidized housing (I'm talking about Monterey County, where I reside). Only when we end ALL immigration, and protect American jobs by repealing AB 1264 will this stampede to "a better way of life" end. When we make it imperative to be an American Citizen that did not receive their citizenship by any of the seven amnesty acts since 1986 in order to receive any benefits not paid for by the sending nations, we will not even need a Border Patrol any more because the ultra-wealthy billionaires of Mexico, China, and India will see to it that nobody leaves their countries for the USA. Think about it, V.D. Hanson: California's population needs to contract, rather than expand, so that we will have enough natural resources for this State to be the wonderful place that it used to be.
Kill switches on smartphones make a lot of sense. A smartphone is an all too attractive target of thieves. A kill switch would allow the real owner to convert it to a paperweight. This would make stealing the things much less rewarding.
Very logical & sensible. However you obviously have an inadequate medical marijuana RX.