Fiscally, we know that California is broke, whenever we see increasingly recurring headlines such as this one in the Orange County Register: “Hermosa Beach meter maids making nearly $100K?” But as with Greece, the culture underpinning such financial horror stories has hit bankruptcy as well. “The drive from Fresno to Palo Alto takes three hours, but you might as well be rocketing from Earth to the moon,” Victor Davis Hanson writes at NRO on the formerly Golden State’s now dramatically bifurcated culture:
In the interior, unemployment in many areas is over 15 percent. The theft of copper wire is reaching epidemic proportions. Thousands of the shrinking middle class have fled the interior for the coast or for nearby no-income-tax states. To fathom the nearly unbelievable statistics — as California’s population grew by 10 million from the mid-1980s to 2005, its number of Medicaid recipients increased by 7 million; one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients now reside in California — visit the state’s hinterlands.
But in the Never-Never Land of Apple, Facebook, Google, Hollywood, and the wine country, millions live in an idyllic paradise. Coastal Californians can afford to worry about trivia — and so their legislators seek to outlaw foie gras, shut down irrigation projects in order to save the three-inch-long Delta smelt, and allow children to have legally recognized multiple parents.
But in the less feel-good interior, crippling regulations curb timber, gas and oil, and farm production. For the most part, the rules are mandated by coastal utopians who have little idea where the fuel for their imported cars comes from, or how the redwood is cut for their decks, or who grows the ingredients for their Mediterranean lunches of arugula, olive oil, and pasta.
On the coast, it’s politically incorrect to talk of illegal immigration. In the interior, residents see first-hand the bankrupting effects on schools, courts, and health care when millions arrive illegally without English-language fluency or a high-school diploma — and send back billions of dollars in remittances to Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Read the whole thing.