Get PJ Media on your Apple

Works and Days

Beautifully Medieval California

March 6th, 2013 - 10:00 pm

The middle is still shrinking. They are mostly the over three million who have left California for no-tax Nevada or Texas, or crime-free Idaho, or sane Wyoming and Utah. High-paying jobs in manufacturing, construction, and energy are disappearing. The aristocracy, whose religion is the green government, believes that to extend the conditions of its own privilege to millions of less well-educated and less correct-thinking others (e.g., build new affordable condos alongside interstate 280, open up the Malibu hills to low-income development, start drilling for oil and gas in the Monterey Shale formation, build some more dams to ensure irrigation water, widen the 99 and 101 to three lanes from northern to southern California) is to destroy the hallowed lord-serf system altogether.

The aristocracy sails in the summer, not powerboats. In winter, it tends to ski, not use snowmobiles. Its SUVs are Volvo and Mercedes, not second-hand Tahoes and Yukons. Ideally, its kids go to UC, Stanford, or USC, not to CSU campuses in Turlock, Fresno, or Bakersfield. The aristocracy believes in noblesse oblige, but it is a funny sort of one: shutting down a quarter-million acres of farmland is good for all of us, especially for a three-inch bait fish, and even for the farmworkers and managers who must lose their jobs for a just cause. Keeping derricks out of the coastal panorama is wonderful for rich and poor — and really, who would want a smelly job anyway out on a nauseous oil platform? To paraphrase Steven Chu, European-priced gas is the goal: $10 a gallon would thin out the traffic, keep the right people on the roads, clean up the air, and make high-speed rail economical.

The disappearing middle-class worker in California, who is not connected to the aristocracy or part of the clergy, gets up to work in places like insolvent Stockton, Modesto, or San Bernardino. He drives on substandard roads to a job that does not quite pay for his once overpriced but now underwater house, or the most expensive and highly taxed gas in the nation. Yet he shrugs that he cannot so easily leave a state, with a house without equity, and yet cannot quite stay either — when the nation’s highest sales and income taxes lead to the nation’s nearly worst schools and infrastructure.

If he whines, he is told that he is lucky to live in California with its climate, weather, and culture — and so must pay a premium in taxes, regulations, and high costs, despite receiving very little in return in the form of state services. So without a vibrant middle class, the medieval world thrives.

In medieval California, the elderly and retired sometimes head to the foothills, a poorer man’s coast, where there is less crime and less worry over what California has become. I never quite fathomed fully why a classical Greece of city-states on the plains became an Ottoman Greece of villages perched on mountain slopes. I knew, of course, in the abstract that Greeks fled Turks to escape the taxman, conversion to Islam, and the Janissaries, but I can now appreciate that maybe such a sense of impending dread is real in interior California, as valley towns become darker at night from lights that no longer work, and streets that are no longer safe and assumptions that are no longer familiar. Even the most liberal retired professor seems to head for the hills once his thirty years at CSU are up.

The peasantry — one third of the nation’s welfare recipients, in a state in which almost a quarter of the population is officially “poor” — lives mostly in the central interior, or in the vast Los Angeles basin, or in small-service enclaves along the coasts — a Redwood City or Seaside, where they tend to the aristocracy’s daily needs. The aristocracy makes enough not to mind high taxes, and takes care of the tax-freed peasantry by offering the nation’s highest public benefits, including generous EBD and WIC cards, Section 8 housing, daycare help, education supplements, legal assistance, and cash grants.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (48)
All Comments   (48)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
By the way Dr. Hansen, I very much like the title of your blog. I enjoy Hesiod very much and for someone who is something of a farmer it is an apt title.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think California is more like Late Antiquity Gaul, say late 400s, than Medieval Europe. As in Gaul, the migrating hordes are firmly ensconced, taking over the political life of the state but the old aristocracy is still living in their villas, clinging to a dying way of life. I think that in many ways, we are living in a time very like late antiquity through out this nation and in the west in general.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For anyone as knowledgeable of history and its ways; For Dr. Hanson to stay implanted in that God forsaken place, and face the incessant nibbling away of his cherished ancestral masterpiece is non compos mentis.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is the latest and superior iteration of VDH's California dystopianization seen first hand by a man who knows what farm labor is
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Agriculture is booming; but farming is long dead."

Well crafted words speak volumes, they have ... great pith.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Small aside: Petroleum may not be fossil fuel. Mendeleyev disagreed with Western scientists, speculating it may form from olivine and other minerals under deep pressure, such as 25 km beneath the surface. Pressure breaks molecular bonds to make new molecules taking up less space, apparently like diamonds form. It appears at the surface when it leaks up. Saudi sits over the collision of four tectonic plates. The Caribbean basin is full of cracks caused by the giant meteorite hit millions of years ago. The California coast has a subduction zone where the Pacific Plate bends and cracks, hence asphalt pills on the beach (in the old days). The Soviets worked on this and it became the Russian-Ukrainian Theory. Russians drilled where Mendeleyev's idea said there might be oil and Western theories disagreed and they struck oil. One of the first Caribbean wells became exhausted and was capped decades ago. It was a a place called "Green Island" or something, a below-surface mound. If the R-U Theory was valid, then the leak-up process would put some oil back into the well. The oil company uncapped the exhausted well and checked it out. There was a lot more than "some" oil in the well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah, but they don't find much oil below certain thermally exposed zones (do you know what conodonts are?). There may well be some autochthonous oil, but the aggregate of the evidence says, "not much".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks, some wonderfully useful ideas in there.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Dr. Hanson, great but terribly sad and true column. I remember the California I experienced when I was a child and what we have today in no way resembles it. I notice a few people state that if it's so bad, why not move out. My wife and I live in the house my folks built when I was 3 years old. It's a mere 200 feet from the house I was brought home to from the hospital when I was born. It's very difficult to make the decision to pull up stakes and move elsewhere but at the current rate of decay of our once great state, we may have no other choice. Our kids are here, all our friends are here. At our age, the decision to move is not an easy one.

We are faced with a government in this state that in a way, resembles the tale of the emperor's new clothes. Here we have a multi-billion dollar project, high speed rail, that is guaranteed to continue this states financial meltdown. And they continue to promote it as the great savior of California. The governments view has become so narrow and they are so unwilling to entertain any idea that might swerve them from their imagined goal.

The state's government wants to dis-arm us, as well as our federal government, knowing that the criminal element will not disarm. We will be easy prey if they win in their mindless efforts.

I remember the days when we could go outside and play and our parents did not have to worry about our safety. When our grand children visit, they do not go outside without my wife or I being out there with them. Armed home invasions are becoming a regular thing out here in the country because the criminal element knows it takes a long time for law enforcement to answer a 911 call, if the victims even have the chance to make the call.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Here we have a multi-billion dollar project, high speed rail, that is guaranteed to continue this states financial meltdown."

Actually, taxpayers from Pratt, KS and all across the nation help fund those california projects for many decades and continue to do. We lived in Santa Barbara County for a number of years. Our little circle (all transplants) were amazed to see how much federal funding and federal enterprise (military, DOD contractors, government agencies, national forests and parks, etc.) was building the economies of California - especial southern cali. The more central agri portion of cali was heavily federally subsidized. As more and more people followed the dream pie in the sky easy big money, the state became more and more a magnet to every kind of social and economic cancer known to mankind. Now, we all feel fortunate to be from states far away that never experienced californias rise and fall at a tremendous cost to all taxpayers of the nation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
High speed rail. It was originally passed with an estimated cost of 38 billion dollars.. It has been revised to over 80 billion dollars. And I'll bet it goes MUCH higher than that before it's done. It is based on an estimated ridership that has no relationship to reality. It is going to destroy thousands of acres of farmland. This state is in deep financial trouble. Businesses and individuals are leaving the state because it is so hostile to business and to individual rights. We have one of the highest state income tax rates, one of the highest sales tax rates and yet we are in constant danger of going bankrupt. We also have one of the highest, if not the highest welfare rates in the country. We now have a super majority of liberals in both state legislative houses and not one state level administrative position is held by a republican/conservative. If liberals are so damned smart, why are we in such trouble? Basically, this state has been run by democrats for 30+ years and do not tell me Schwarzenegger was a republican.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes, I know! When we first come to CA during Pappa Browns era we fell in love with Santa Barbara County in the beatiful Los Olivas area above Santa Barbara and wanted to retire there setting up a quarter horse ranch with cutting training and competition arenas. We made a real estate purchase and then went back to finish up my Marine Corps career. Thirteen years having lived there we seen the writing on the wall, seen a good sellers market and we made an exit.

Wherever great economic success comes, so does eventually, social and economic cancer. What goes up eventually comes down and it appears CA is a victim of its own successes and coming down. SAD!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Steve Sailer noted the irony that heavily Democratic states are most comfortable for the very wealthy (that is, they provide enclaves that keep out the oiks), while Republican states are best for the low and middle income earners.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We aren't actually regressing to the middle ages. We are, in fact, collapsing into a new Dark Age.
I'm glad I won't be here to see it. I've made my plans and am leaving california before memorial day.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All