From an Angry Reader:
You are most definitely wrong, California could go it alone. They are after all the sixth largest economy in the world. If secession is in their future the US Federal government would be more likely to fall into chaos than California. We need them more than they need us. As for your comparison between post Civil War South Carolina and California you again miss the mark. California is not a defeated state divided along the lines of different human types. They get along together just fine. The comparison you make is a better fit to the new White House. White billionaires take over America. Private academies, are you playing with me? These are the future under the new White house. California’s crumbling infrastructure would be a thing of the past if they seceded. You my friend and I would pay for it when we go to the grocery store. If you think produce from Mexico and South America will fill this gap your wakeup to reality will be monumental.
I live in New Mexico. Like California, a closer look reveals we are both minority majority states. Unlike California we are highly dependent on the feds. Still rich or poor we all get along. I’m poor by fed standards but I could still move to California and live in my own house on my own land. Your world is one of needing the very best, living on or near the sea or some big lake, having tons of belongings. Like the people who now rule America. Is that your idea of righteous?
Your take on our current state of affairs is what will bring America down. And that should be were your focus is. You have a following that could make a difference. Speak out against discordant bunk. I love this country more than I can put into words. I actually went to Vietnam and represented my country. Oh I had bone spurs in my feet, still do. But real Americans would never use this as a cop out to service. There is no greater honor than service to ones country. The difference is believing you can make a difference or help yourself to a bigger piece of the pie.
Keep writing sir, and I’ll keep reading. I may not like all of what you say, but I have an open door policy. If it’s good for all Americans, I’m all in.
Regards, Julian Schuetz.
Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:
Dear Angry Reader Julian Schuetz,
I’m a bit confused about the incoherent directions of your letter, but here is an attempt to sort them out.
California cannot go it alone. The federal government owns vast amounts of state property. The state has 1/3 of the nation’s welfare recipients; 1/5 of Californians lives in poverty, and 1/4 were not born in the U.S. Its health and social welfare costs for the poor, the unemployed, and immigrants have become staggering, as well as its education and penal expenses. You can perhaps sort out the paradox of sky-high income, sales, and gas taxes, combined with Mississippi-like roads and test scores. I cannot.
So, yes, California’s investments in infrastructure have been diminished due to the costs of social welfare, pensions, and entitlements. As far as the billionaires go, look at the top 10 in the world, they are almost all leftwing grandees, and of the top 50 many reside in the Silicon Valley. As a general rule, the richer or poorer one becomes, the more likely he is to become progressive; lack the elite romance for the distant poor and the supposed high culture of the elite, and thus are often neglected.
Charter schools are not private academies, but an attempt to allow poor people to choose schools that might differ from the status quo without having to pay private academy tuition. If California seceded, it would have more infrastructure challenges—given that it needs $100 billion in federal help to restore crumbling roads, dams, and bridges, and would more likely spend even less on infrastructure maintenance and more on high-speed rail, climate change, etc. We have wasted a valuable wet year, by previously cancelling all dam construction that would have captured the likely 20 million acre feet or so of certain lost runoff. Boutique environmentalism would only increase with secession.
The rest of your letter is unhinged, so I cannot reply.
A note though: I don’t have lots of “belongings” but drive only mid-level Hondas and live in a 140 old house on which I do my own repairs most of the time, mow my own law, and keep up my own garden. My farm outside of Selma is neither by a lake nor a sea. I think you are well-meaning, but do not let emotion erode logic; and strive for clarity of thought in lieu of unfocused passion.