Dream big, Californians, but plant your dreams in real gardens.
Victor Davis Hanson offers some suggestions which may or may not guide policy on a mid to longer-time horizon (water projects, roads, and an awareness of the economic and cultural bifucation which has occurred).
The short-term’s looking messy, indeed. The mid- and longer- terms, of course, are still in doubt:
Part of what’s happened is cultural:
Louis Menand’s piece at the New Yorker: ‘Out Of Bethlehem:‘ (he’s still dealing with the idea of multiculturalism).
The radicalization of Joan Didion?:
‘After the Old Sacramento moment, Didion came to see the whole pioneer mystique as bogus from the start. The cultivation of California was not the act of rugged pioneers, she decided. It was the act of the federal government, which built the dams and the weirs and the railroads that made the state economically exploitable, public money spent on behalf of private business. Didion called it “the subsidized monopolization” of the state.’
Much is downstream of culture:
‘When Robert J. Samuelson published a Newsweek column last month arguing that high-speed rail is “a perfect example of wasteful spending masquerading as a respectable social cause,” he cited cost figures and potential ridership to demonstrate that even the rosiest scenarios wouldn’t justify the investment. He made a good, rational case — only to have it completely undermined by the evocative photograph the magazine chose to accompany the article.’
In my experience, it’s not much about economics (those rationalizations tend to come later), but more about many people finding solidarity, common-cause, identity and group-identity through a set of shared interests and ideals. My major complaint is that basic human needs met under such ideals become met through politics and often non-delimited theories of political power.
To say nothing of other people’s money.
Utopias, progressivism and new-age explorations still have to answer to time, truth and reality.
‘California high-speed rail will connect the mega-regions of the state, contribute to economic development and a cleaner environment, create jobs and preserve agricultural and protected lands’
What could go wrong?
Much left and left-liberal idealism finds expression through high-speed rail: If you build it, the ideal society will come.
Unions and union-elected government representatives tend to get contracts, money, power and influence, if they play the game right. Many environmentalists and environmental groups can get contracts, money, power and influence, if they play the game right. Everyone somewhat invested in the ideal of a better, shared, collectivist society (especially those further left into anti-capitalism and diversified into identity groups by ‘race, gender and class’) might get money, power and influence…if they play the game right. The winners aren’t always so ‘sharing.’
As I see it, much political stability and individual liberties are lost as these political and social arrangements become reflective of both actual human nature as it is and the economic scarcity of reality.
A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’
The people who promise solutions to poverty and homlessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’…
Some concentrated wealth on top, a stalled legislature with members who know how to play the game…and a service sector beneath…that probably can’t go on forever: …From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’…