Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

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.

Sincerely, VDH

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About victorhanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

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