Notes From Babel

California and the Big Flushing Sound

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I suppose it goes without saying, November 2 put California significantly closer to hitting the reset button.  It’s not been since 1932, I believe, that one party was so overwhelmingly victorious in this state’s elections—and of all elections, and of all parties, California made 2010 the year to affirm their commitment to this state’s particular off-the-rails brand of lefty Democrats.  As I tried to warn here and here, Jerry Brown will be a death blow to California’s judiciary, where it looks likely that as many as four of our Supreme Court seats will be up for grabs.  When they come up, they will be filled by the same governor who gave us the Court who actively declined to enforce the state’s death penalty laws, and who made “wrongful life” a legal cause of action in California, alone among the states in the nation.

Ed Whelan had this to say:

On the legal front, Brown’s multiple derelictions of duty as state attorney general in failing to defend California’s marriage laws should have led more directly to impeachment and disbarment than promotion. And the same Brown who appointed terrible state supreme court justices like Rose Bird three decades ago can be expected to do as poorly—or even worse—this time around.

And Steven Greenhut is spot on here:

No state is in a bigger fiscal jam than California, with its structural budget deficit and massive unfunded liabilities for well-compensated public employees. The state’s business climate is atrocious, and unemployment has topped 12 percent. Yet California voters on Tuesday not only sidestepped the national backlash against liberal Democratic policies; they declared that they want more of them.

. . . .

California is said to be a national trendsetter, but Tuesday night, it lagged behind the rest of the country. The state continues to move toward the financial precipice. It’s becoming more likely that California is, as former state librarian Kevin Starr put it, a “failed state.” For this, Golden State voters have no one to blame but themselves. I can only take comfort in H. L. Mencken’s words: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

How does one explain this commitment to the policies that are so obviously suffocating us?  Professor Mondo recently solicited feedback  about “adulthood” and “childishness” in political ideologies.  At the risk of sounding undignified, I think there is a genuine claim that the leftovers of the 60s liberal movement, at least, smacks of what can probably fairly be called youthful idealism.  And because the 60s were so iconic and indelible, the ideology of that era tends to grip the imagination of ex-hippies to this day.

The night ObamaCare passed, I had myself a rant about our beloved parents’ generation who, after enjoying what was then still a largely unregulated and undeveloped America and plucking opportunity from her branches heavy with fruit, are now working furiously to rope off those orchards from their children’s generation through stifling environmental and economic regulations. For what purpose? Probably because the only place such a beatific vision of humanity could ever survive is in government. And that vision, activated by power, allows boomers to bask in a nostalgic stupor: green regulations keep land undeveloped to keep things looking like it did back in the 50s; economic regulations insulate familiar though inefficient businesses from their own natural mortality; profligate unions keep treating the mediocre among us to homeownership, a relic of a time when American economic power was at its height (and regulatory costs of development were substantially lower than today); and socialized medicine and reverse mortgages and fat pensions ensure they all get to keep us from changing the channel a few more years while they chew on the pith and pips of America’s former glory.

Let’s hope California’s not still the nation’s trendsetter.

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Written by Tim Kowal

November 18, 2010 at 10:59 pm

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