American Elephants

The Right’s Hate Speech? Uh huh. by The Elephant's Child

California’s Big Problems Include a Tiny Minnow. by The Elephant's Child

The Green Lobby convinced federal judge Oliver Wanger in 2007, that the Endangered Species Act gave the federal government the right to cut water to thousands of farmers in California’s Central Valley in order to protect the delta smelt, a 3″ baitfish.  Cutting off the water didn’t save the smelt.  New studies showed that cutting off 90% of the water had no effect on the smelt.  It’s still endangered. Wrong remedy.  The video above is from the Reason Foundation. It outlines the problems of the valley.

What the ruling did was to turn the west side of the valley into a wasteland.  California’s Central Valley has long been one of the great breadbaskets of the world. The fields and groves went fallow, family farms went under, and food prices went up.  The farmers went through two years of supply cuts before science and better information appeared.  Many of the farms have been bought up by agribusiness — which the Green Lobby hates. Ironic.

California is in desperate shape. Businesses and people are moving out of the Golden State in droves. The state is a poster child for the left’s big government welfare state. Some 2.3 million Californians are without jobs.  The unemployment rate in the state is 12.5, over 16% in the Central Valley. The state has lost 34% of its industrial base. The state’s budget gap for 2009-2010 was $45.5 billion, 53% of state total spending.  The unfunded pension liabilities for California’s state and public employees may be as high as $500 billion.

California is rapidly approaching bankruptcy, and may be beyond repair. 80¢ of every government dollar goes to government employees’ pay and benefits.  A typical San Francisco resident with one dependent pays $953 for health care, while the city employee pays less than $10.

Victor Davis Hanson, a 5th generation Californian who grew up on a farm near Fresno where he still lives and farms and writes, describes the problems in California’s agricultural heartland:

“[I see] former small farms – the vineyards overgrown with weeds, or torn out with the ground lying fallow. …  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.
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.  … 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.”
Another former Californian, Allysia Finlay, an assistant editor at Opinion Journal writes:
“[The] government is run by a brothel of environmentalists, lawyers, public sector unions and legislative bums…When you inevitably crash and burn, don’t count on us to bail you out.”
In the center of California’s problems is the California Air Resources Board (CARB), run by an assistant former EPA administrator.  CARB plans to impose a pollution standard on Diesel exhausts, not backed by any scientific evidence, that would put California’s trucking industry out of business.  On top of that, they are attempting to impose a cap-and-trade policy that even California’s legislature has not been able to pass.  Neither science nor law will hold down the efforts of the Green activists. A San Francisco Supreme Court judge has issued a ruling that would keep CARB from implementing their plan.

The battle over water and the smelt goes on, and the science can go hang.

Mobs Across the World: Middle East-Violent, Wisconsin-Vulgar. by The Elephant's Child

A voice from our neighbor to the north, David Warren writes about “Yankee Mobs:”

Wisconsin, and at least three dozen other states, face exactly the same challenge as states within the European Union, which have piled up debts that simply cannot be repaid, and are staring into bottomless chasms of public sector “entitlements.” Taxes have been pushed to the practical limit — beyond which private enterprise becomes pointless — and something has to give.Compounding this is the squalor of post-modern society, more advanced in Europe. Populations are aging rapidly, two full generations after a “sexual revolution” undermined both the Christian moral order that glued society together, and the demographic principle by which the aged and deceased were replaced by babies. This is further compounded, in the European case, by massive immigration of the culturally alien, into countries which have no “melting pot” experience.

The U.S. and Canada are not nearly as far gone, but we are headed unambiguously down the same road. And the Americans are displaying their “exceptionalism” again, by wrestling with these problems in an open way.

Yes, “squalor” would correctly describe the union mobs in Madison. And these are the people teaching America’s children? Squalid indeed. No teacher who was part of a howling mob, screaming and waving signs of disgusting vulgarity can expect to regain the respect of their students. They have forfeited it. Asked to pay a small portion of their own costs in order to save the jobs of their fellows, their answer has been – No! me! me! me!

David Warren goes on to explain what he sees as our saving grace, our formalized adversarial order that so many, so often decry.

I promised to complete the circle, and here is my try.  It is just possible, in the U.S. and  the West, to confront problems that would overwhelm a country, because organized oppositions exist.

Republicans are waiting when Democrats fail, and vice versa.  It is because of the long history, not so much of “democracy” per se, but of a formalized adversarial order, that such a chance exists.

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