… and California … today

This is an article from  Victor Davis Hansen, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute at StanfordUniversity  (Emphasis added by Mr. Hansen)


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.

During this  unscientific experiment, three times a week I  rode a bike on a 20-mile trip over various rural roads in southwestern FresnoCounty . I also  drove my car over to the coast to work, on  various routes through towns like San Joaquin ,  Mendota, and Firebaugh. And near my home I have  been driving, shopping, and touring by intent  the rather segregated and impoverished areas of  Caruthers, Fowler, Laton, Orange Cove, Parlier,  and Selma . My own farmhouse is now in an area  of abject poverty and almost no ethnic diversity; the closest elementary school (my  alma mater, two miles away) is 94 percent  Hispanic and 1 percent white, and well below  federal testing norms in math and  English.

Here are some  general observations about what I saw (other  than that the rural roads of California are fast turning into rubble, poorly maintained and  reverting to what I remember seeing long ago in  the rural South). First, remember that these  areas are the ground zero, so to speak, of 20  years of illegal immigration. There has been a  general depression in farming – to such an  extent that the 20- to-100-acre tree and vine farmer, the erstwhile backbone of the old rural   California , for all practical purposes has  ceased to exist.

On the  western side of the Central Valley , the effects  of arbitrary cutoffs in federal irrigation water  have idled tens of thousands of acres of prime  agricultural land, leaving thousands unemployed.  Manufacturing plants in the towns in these areas  – which used to make harvesters, hydraulic  lifts, trailers, food-processing equipment –  have largely shut down; their production has  been shipped off overseas or south of the  border. Agriculture itself – from almonds to  raisins – has increasingly become corporatized  and mechanized, cutting by half the number of  farm workers needed. So unemployment runs  somewhere between 15 and 20  percent.

Many of the  rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to  the naked eye no different from what I have seen  in the Third World . There is a Caribbean look  to the junked cars, electric wires crisscrossing  between various outbuildings, plastic tarps  substituting for replacement shingles, lean-tos  cobbled together as auxiliary housing, pit bulls  unleashed, and geese, goats, and chickens  roaming around the yards. The public hears about  all sorts of tough California regulations that  stymie business – rigid zoning laws, strict building codes, constant inspections – but  apparently none of that applies out  here.

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?

Many of the  rented-out rural shacks and stationary  Winnebagos are on former small farms – the  vineyards overgrown with weeds, or torn out with  the ground lying fallow. I pass on the cultural  consequences to communities from  the loss  of thousands of small farming families. I don’t  think I can remember another time when so many  acres in the eastern part of the valley have  gone out of production, even though farm prices  have recently rebounded. Apparently it is simply  not worth the gamble of investing $7,000 to $10,000 an acre in a new orchard or vineyard.  What an anomaly – with suddenly soaring farm  prices, still we have thousands of acres in the  world’s richest agricultural belt, with  available water on the east side of the valley  and plentiful labor, gone idle or in disuse. Is  credit frozen? Are there simply no more farmers?  Are the schools so bad as to scare away  potential agricultural entrepreneurs? Or are we  all terrified by the national debt and uncertain  future?

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.

In fact, trash  piles are commonplace out here – composed of  everything from half-empty paint cans and children’s plastic toys to diapers and moldy  food. I have never seen a rural sheriff cite a  litterer, or witnessed state EPA workers  cleaning up these unauthorized wastelands. So I  would suggest to Bay Area scientists that the  environment is taking a much harder beating down  here in central California than it is in the  Delta. Perhaps before we cut off more irrigation  water to the west side of the valley, we might  invest some green dollars into cleaning up the  unsightly and sometimes dangerous garbage that  now litters the outskirts of our rural  communities.

We hear about  the tough small-business regulations that have  driven residents out of the state, at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a week. But from my  unscientific observations these past weeks, it  seems rather easy to open a small business in   California without any oversight at all, or at  least what I might call a “counter business.” I  counted eleven mobile hot-kitchen trucks that  simply park by the side of the road, spread about some plastic chairs, pull down a tarp  canopy, and, presto, become mini-restaurants.  There are no “facilities” such as toilets or  washrooms. But I do frequently see lard trails  on the isolated roads I bike on, where trucks  apparently have simply opened their draining  tanks and sped on, leaving a slick of cooking fats and oils. Crows and ground squirrels love  them; they can be seen from a distance  mysteriously occupied in the middle of the  road.

At crossroads,  peddlers in a counter-California economy sell  almost anything. Here is what I noticed at an intersection on the west side last week:  shovels, rakes, hoes, gas pumps, lawnmowers,  edgers, blowers, jackets, gloves, and caps. The  merchandise was all new. I doubt whether in  high-tax California sales taxes or income taxes  were paid on any of these stop-and-go  transactions.

In two  supermarkets 50 miles apart, I was the only one  in line who did not pay with a social-service  plastic card (gone are the days when “food  stamps” were embarrassing bulky coupons). But I  did not see any relationship between the use of  the card and poverty as we once knew it: The  electrical appurtenances owned by the user and  the car into which the groceries were loaded  were indistinguishable from those of the upper  middle class.

By that I  mean that most consumers drove late-model  Camrys, Accords, or Tauruses, had iPhones, Bluetooths, or BlackBerries, and bought  everything in the store with public-assistance  credit. This seemed a world apart from the  trailers I had just ridden by the day before. I  don’t editorialize here on the logic or morality  of any of this, but 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?

Do diversity  concerns, as in lack of diversity, work both  ways? Over a hundred-mile stretch, when I stopped in San Joaquin for a bottled water, or  drove through Orange Cove, or got gas in  Parlier, or went to a corner market in  southwestern Selma, my home town, I was the only  non-Hispanic – there were no Asians, no blacks,  no other whites. We may speak of the richness of  “diversity,” but those who cherish that ideal simply have no idea that there are now countless  inland communities that have become  near-apartheid societies, where Spanish is the  first language, the schools are not at all  diverse, and the federal and state governments  are either the main employers or at least the  chief sources of income – whether through emergency rooms, rural health clinics, public  schools, or social-service offices. An observer  from Mars might conclude that our elites and  masses have given up on the ideal of integration  and assimilation, perhaps in the wake of the  arrival of 11 to 15 million illegal  aliens.

Again, I do not  editorialize, but I note these vast  transformations over the last 20 years that are  the paradoxical wages of unchecked illegal  immigration from Mexico, a vast expansion of  California’s entitlements and taxes, the flight  of the upper middle class out of state, the  deliberate effort not to tap natural resources,  the downsizing in manufacturing and agriculture,  and the departure of whites, blacks, and Asians  from many of these small towns to more racially  diverse and upscale areas of  California.

Fresno ‘s   CaliforniaStateUniversity campus is embroiled  in controversy over the student body president’s announcing that he is an illegal alien, with all  the requisite protests in favor of the DREAM  Act. I won’t comment on the legislation per se,  but again only note the anomaly. I taught at  CSUF for 21 years. I think it fair to say that  the predominant theme of the Chicano and Latin  American Studies program’s sizable curriculum  was a fuzzy American culpability. By that I mean  that students in those classes heard of the sins of America more often than its attractions. In  my home town, Mexican flag decals on car windows  are far more common than their American  counterparts.

I note this  because hundreds of students here illegally are  now terrified of being deported to Mexico . I  can understand that, given the chaos in Mexico  and their own long residency in theUnited  States . But here is what still confuses me: If  one were to consider the classes that deal with  Mexico at the university, or the visible  displays of national chauvinism, then one might  conclude that Mexico is a far more attractive  and moral place than the United  States.

So there is a  surreal nature to these protests: something  like, “Please do not send me back to the culture  I nostalgically praise; please let me stay in  the culture that I ignore or deprecate.” I think  the DREAM Act protestors might have been far  more successful in winning public opinion had  they stopped blaming the U.S. for suggesting  that they might have to leave at some point, and  instead explained why, in fact, they want to  stay. What it is about America that makes a  youth of 21 go on a hunger strike or demonstrate  to be allowed to remain in this country rather  than return to the place of his  birth?

I think I know  the answer to this paradox. Missing entirely in  the above description is the attitude of the host, which by any historical standard can only  be termed “indifferent.” Californiadoes not  care whether one broke the law to arrive here or  continues to break it by staying. It asks  nothing of the illegal immigrant – no proficiency in English, no acquaintance with  American history and values, no proof of income,  no record of education or skills. It does  provide all the public assistance that it can  afford (and more that it borrows for), and  apparently waives enforcement of most of   California ‘s burdensome regulations and civic  statutes that increasingly have plagued  productive citizens to the point of driving them  out. How odd that we over-regulate those who are  citizens and have capital to the point of  banishing them from the state, but do not regulate those who are aliens and without  capital to the point of encouraging millions  more to follow in their footsteps. How odd – to  paraphrase what Critias once said of ancient  Sparta – that California is at once both the nation’s most unfree and most free state, the  most repressed and the wildest.

Hundreds of thousands sense all that and  vote accordingly with their feet, both into and  out of California – and the result is a sort of  social, cultural, economic, and political  time-bomb, whose ticks are getting louder.

Victor Davis Hanson is a  senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the  editor of “Makers of Ancient Strategy: From  the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome” , and the  author of “The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and  Modern.   “

About Alex Scipio

About Alex Scipio: Alex moved out of the People's Republic of California to the Free State of Arizona, finally tiring of the lack of the Bill of Rights, the overgrown idiocracy, and the catering to non-Americans & welfare recipients. He still wonders how America got from Truman, Eisenhower, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan to the Liberal and Conservative extremes so badly managing America today. And, yes, islam DOES need to be annihilated. And doing what he can to get folks away from the extremes of political life.
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1 Response to … and California … today

  1. Brittanicus says:


    Either party, Democrat, Republican are completely ignorant or just intentionally remain unconcerned about the massive expenditures for pandering to the illegal alien invasion. The federal debt ceiling and all 50 States have huge deficits from the illegal immigration occupation. Schools, health care and programs that is reducing America to a pauper nation. You as the American people must start yelling at the politicians in Washington, to demand they recognize that this issue is part of the discretionary spending. Only Rep. Michele Bachmann R-MN) Leader of the Tea Party Caucus, dares to speaks out about this issue, with a conviction that this is part of our national issues. The TEA PARTY membership can now be counted in the tens of million of ordinary citizens, who are black , Hispanic, White and other races. Bombard Congress with you voices, tell them no Amnesty, No Immigration Reform, no Sanctuary cities or States and No Dream Acts.


    This needs to be repeated that When (Fair) analyzed the cost of illegal immigration and its nationwide deficit, they came up with a stunning figure of $113 billion dollars annually, while illegal alien revenue to the government coffers was a total amount of $13Billion dollars and change. Not included in these illegal foreign labors is wages leaving the country to foreign nations, estimated to be 46 Billion dollars? Our economy is sinking and the Obama administration is insisting on passage of another Amnesty failure. Heritage Foundation has stated that cost for processing another Amnesty expenditure is another 2.5 Trillion dollars.

    Break down of revenue to support illegal migrants and illegal immigrants.
    Federal Expenditures on Illegal Aliens

    Education Title 1 program $1,332,900,000
    Migrant education program $236,900,000
    Title 111 program $538,000,000

    Education Subtotal $2,107,800,000

    Medical Emergency medical care $250,000,000
    Fraudulent use of Medicaid $1,235,000,000
    Medicaid cost of childbirth $1,238,100,000
    Medicaid for children $1,626,800,000
    other medical outlays $1,600,000,000

    Medical Subtotal $5,949,900,000

    Law enforcement Scaap compensation $330,000,000
    Federal incarceration $678,400,000
    Byrne grants $24,300,000
    Detention and removal $2,545,000,000
    Project safe neighborhoods $39,500,000
    Residual ice functions $2,824,000,000
    Exec. Office of immigration review $222,500,000
    Southwest border prosecution $33,000,000
    National Guard $642,000,000
    Coast Guard $500,000,000

    Law Enforcement Subtotal $7,838,700,000

    Public assistance Free and reduced meal program $2,264,600,000
    Temporary assist. Needy families $1,030,000,000
    Housing assistance programs $637,000,000
    Child care & development fund $633,000,000
    Public Assistance Subtotal $4,564,600,000

    General expenditures $8,184,400,000


    State/Local Expenditures on Illegal Aliens ($ M)

    Alabama $298 Illinois $4B,592 Montana $32 Rhode Island $278
    Alaska $139 Indiana $608 Nebraska $262 S. Carolina $391
    Arizona $2B,569 Iowa $350 Nevada $1B,191 S. Dakota $33
    Arkansas $244 Kansas $442 New Hampshire $123 Tennessee $547
    California $21B,756 Kentucky $280 New Jersey $3B,478 Texas $8B,878
    Colorado $1B,451 Louisiana $224 New Mexico $608 Utah $453
    Connecticut $957 Maine $41 New York $9B,479 Vermont $38
    Wash D.C. $312 Maryland $1B,724 N. Carolina $2B,063 Virginia $1B,905
    Delaware $305 Massachusetts. $1B, 862 N. Dakota $32
    Washington State $1B, 510; Florida $5B,463 Michigan $929,
    Ohio $563 W. Virginia. $31; Georgia $2B; 399 Minnesota,
    $744 Oklahoma $465 Wisconsin $883.Hawaii $155 Mississippi.
    $106 Oregon $705 Wyoming $51, Idaho $188 Missouri $338,
    Penn. $1B,378



    Category federal State/local

    Income -$2,302,800,000 $244,200,000
    Social security $7,000,000,000
    Medicare tax $1,637,100,000
    Excise and miscellaneous $2,489,700,000
    Employer (FUTA & income) $632,600,000
    Property tax $1,378,000,000
    Sales tax $2,333,000,000


    NOW CALCULATE THIS! TAKE $ FROM $ = ( $110.061.400.000 )


    If you as a taxpayer wants to keep paying financial support for 20 million illegal aliens outlaws, then you deserve higher taxes and loss of jobs. Read the projections of future years if our borders remain unsecured, or no tracking system for 40 percent of visa over stays, who disappear and all take American workers jobs. Go to the Heritage Foundation website, NumbersUSA or Judicial Watch and read for the dollar figures that will turn your stomach sour. This is a patriotic chance to help your fellow jobless countryman by Calling House and Senate Leadership NOW Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121


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