The Clerisy in California

It would be as simplistic as it is true to say that water policy in California has been set by those who have plentiful water supplies in man-made reservoirs with the highest priorities in claims on far distant snow melts. Water elites pontificate about environmental restrictions on water use to others who do not enjoy a rank so high in the water-allotment queue.

By that I mean at no time did any Los Angeles or San Francisco legislator offer to divert their Pyramid Lake or Crystal Springs allotments to replenish the San Joaquin River for salmon runs or to improve the delta landscape of the 3-inch delta smelt. Instead I think the mentality could best be summed up as something like, “Unnatural dams and reservoirs are necessary to supply water for elite coastal grandees like us so that we can live in arid, picturesque Pacific communities without aquifers and thereby have the leisure to cut off water for others not so worthy.”
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Diversity is a popular coastal concept — for others. The three most powerful elected federal representatives of a state (Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Dianne Feinstein and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi) with the largest percentage of Latino residents, with the greatest number of residents under the poverty line and with the largest percentage of residents on welfare are three Bay Area liberal multimillionaire women in their seventies. In current liberal parlance, that is a demographic hardly reflective of their constituents’ ethnic, gender, age, class, or geographical diversity.

The same habits characterize education. Most of the push for a therapeutic and politicized curriculum, open admissions, and the Dream Act applies more forcefully to places like Fresno State, Cal State Bakersfield or Cal State Stanislaus, and not so much to UCLA, or the private bastions like Caltech or Stanford. There are no Harker, Sacred Heart, Menlo School, Castilleja, or Stevenson private academies in Modesto or Avenal. The state puts its new prisons, not its new prep schools, in its interior. Could not the Menlo School open a new branch in Corcoran to serve the needs of the underrepresented?

Versailles in California

We’ve heard a lot of election-year class warfare talk, from makers vs. takers to the 1% vs. the 99%. But Joel Kotkin’s important new book, The New Class Conflict, suggests that America’s real class problems are deeper, and more damaging, than election rhetoric.

Traditionally, America has been thought of as a place of great mobility — one where anyone can conceivably grow up to be president, regardless of background. This has never been entirely true, of course. Most of our presidents have come from reasonably well-off backgrounds, and even Barack Obama, a barrier-breaker in some ways, came from an affluent background and enjoyed an expensive private-school upbringing. But the problem Kotkin describes goes beyond shots at the White House.

In a nutshell, Kotkin sees California, once again, in its role as an indicator of where the nation is headed. And it’s not an attractive destination.

America’s new class system

I Have a Dream


Forward! (But You Can’t Fix Stupid)

Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline.

However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading. Oh, and pay “public servants” what they are worth.

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