Ed Driscoll

California Got What It Wanted

For a fascinating juxtaposition, recall that one of the 1950s-era photos in the “Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan” article at Foreign Policy we linked to earlier today features a handsome mid-century concrete hydroelectric dam, and is captioned:

“Sarobi hydro-power plant on Kabul River is one of the country’s foremost power stations.”

With German assistance, Afghanistan built its first large hydropower station, pictured here, in the early 1950s. At the time, it was state of the art. It is still in operation, but unfortunately, in the last eight years, Afghanistan’s government has not been able to build a single large power plant of any kind.

These days, neither can we, as we move the clock forward 60 years, but the progress in America backwards:

When FDR commissioned projects such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, he literally brought light to darkened regions. The loyalty created by FDR and Truman built a base of support for liberalism that lasted for nearly a half-century.

Today’s liberals don’t show enthusiasm for airports or dams — or anything that may kick up some dirt. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Deanna Archuleta, for example, promised a Las Vegas audience: “You will never see another federal dam.”

Harold Ickes, FDR’s enterprising interior secretary, must be turning over in his grave.

As we’ve noted before, American Express thought that this was such a swell idea they built a commercial around it:

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Or as Victor Davis Hanson writes today, “California Got What It Wanted:”

Our elites liked the idea of stopping new gas and oil extraction, shutting down the nuclear power industry, freezing state east-west freeways, strangling the mining and timber industries, cutting off water to agriculture in the Central Valley, diverting revenues from fixing roads and bridges to redistributive entitlements, and praising the new multicultural state that would welcome in half the nation’s 11-15 million illegal aliens. Better yet, the red-state-minded “they” (the nasty upper one-percent who stole from the rest of us due to their grasping but superfluous businesses) began to leave at the rate of 3,000 a week, ensuring the state a Senator Barbara Boxer into her nineties.

Yes, we are proud that we have changed the attitude, lifestyle, and demography of the state, made it “green,”and have the highest paid public employees and the most generous welfare system—and do not have to soil our hands with nasty things like farming, oil production, or nuclear power. And now we are broke. Our infrastructure is crumbling and an embarrassment. My environs is known as “Zimbabwe” or “Appalachia” for its new third-world look that followed from about the highest unemployment and lowest per capita income in the nation. Again, thanks to the deep South, our schools are not quite last in reading and math. So of course, like the Greeks, we are mad at somebody other than ourselves. Californians are desperate for a “them” fix. But who is them? “Them” either left, is leaving, or has been shut down.

And as awesome as VDH’s writing is, sometimes a picture really is worth a 1000 words. Or 15 percent unemployment:

Linking to the above map produced by the Verum Serum blog, Ed Morrissey noted on Friday that “California’s Central Valley woes are entirely a government creation”:

While Michigan and Florida have a mix of problems, including (in Michigan’s case) a history of bad management decisions on labor contracts, California’s Central Valley woes are entirely a government creation.  As I wrote yesterday, the decision by a federal judge to cut off water supplies to an area that literally fed the world turned the Central Valley from an agricultural export powerhouse to a center of starvation within two years.  Congress has refused to act to reverse this decision, and as a result, almost a quarter of the families in the area now need government assistance to feed themselves while living on some of the most productive land in the world.

Which is why, “Everyone I Meet Is Leaving California.”