Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Tag Archives: California

The Costs of the Environmentalism Cult

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

California is in the third year of a drought, but the problem isn’t a lack of water. The snowfall in the Sierra provides enough to help us ride out the years of drought. All we need to do is store it.

WaterArchives.org via Flickr

WaterArchives.org via Flickr

But California hasn’t built a new dam in 35 years. Worse than that, every year we dump 1.6 million acre-feet of water––about enough to serve 3.2 million families for a year––into the Pacific Ocean in order to protect an allegedly “endangered” 3-inch bait-fish called the Delta smelt. California’s $45 billion agricultural industry, a global breadbasket that produces nearly half of U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables, is set to take a huge hit, with hundreds of thousands of acres left fallow and the San Joaquin Valley region’s already sky-high 17% unemployment destined to increase.

Meanwhile President Obama continues to dither on approving the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada. The latest in a string of environmental impact studies since 2008 has determined that the pipeline poses no threat to the environment. Indeed, it will lessen spills and pollution by transporting oil by pipeline rather than by more risky trains. Nor will abandoning the pipeline reduce carbon emissions, as the 830,000 barrels of oil will simply go someplace else, most likely China, the world’s leader in carbon emissions. What will happen is up to 40 thousand American jobs will not be created, and dependence on imported oil from hostile countries like Venezuela will not be reduced. Meanwhile because the pipeline crosses our border with Canada, Secretary of Read more →

Republicans Go On an Immigration Reform Bender

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

Rather than twisting the political knife in the gaping wound that is Obamacare, House Republicans are off on a “comprehensive immigration reform” toot. The 519px-Greatwall_largelatest news has the Speaker putting off any action for now, and waiting until after the midterm elections in order not to anger the anti-amnesty base, and “to goose Latino turnout or to swing purple districts” in 2016, as political blogger Allahpundit put it. In other words, electoral timing rather than principle is determining what happens.

But principle, not to mention common sense, is what’s at stake here. Anyone proposing “comprehensive” anything after the debacle of Obamacare is delusional. Complex problems are not going to be solved with grandiose legislation that tries to politically please everybody. Nor are most sensible voters likely once again to play Charlie Brown to the Congressional Lucy jerking away the promised “enforcement triggers” and “border security” football after the de facto amnesty is already in place. We went through all that in 1986, when the same promises of employer checks of legal residency and beefed-up border security were broken, more than doubling the number of illegal immigrants from 5 million to 11 million today. Read more →

An Immigration Morality Tale

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

If there are executive orders overriding federal immigration law to extend amnesty to foreign nationals, without legal residence, and to continue their educations, there are also de facto all sorts of un-Dream Acts that simply allow anyone wishing to enter the United States without much audit. In other words, one of the strangest things about illegal immigration is that a nation that is monitored, taped, videoed, and bugged, that is struggling now with the AP, IRS, and NSA scandals whose common theme is excessive government intrusions in our private lives, knows absolutely nothing about those who arrive illegally into the U.S. Read more →

A Tale Of Two Droughts

by Victor Davis Hanson // Tribune Content Agency 

Despite recent sporadic rain, California is still in the worst extended drought in its brief recorded history. If more storms do not arrive, the old canard that California could withstand two droughts — but never

Photo Credit: NASA/NOAA

Photo Credit: NASA/NOAA

three — will be tested for the first time in memory.

There is little snow in the state’s towering Sierra Nevada mountains, the source of much of the surface water that supplies the state’s populated center and south. The vast Central Valley aquifer is being tapped as never before, as farms and municipalities deepen wells and boost pump size. Too many straws are now competing to suck out the last drops at the bottom of the collective glass.

The vast 4-million-acre farming belt along the west side of the Central Valley is slowly drying up. Unlike valley agriculture to the east that still has a viable aquifer, these huge farms depend entirely on surface water deliveries from the distant and usually wet northern part of the state. So if the drought continues, billions of dollars of Westside orchards and vineyards will die, row cropland will lay fallow, and farm-supported small towns will likewise dry up. Read more →

The Rural Way

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

Hard physical work is still a requisite for a sound outlook on an ever more crazy world. I ride a bike; but such exercise is not quite the same, given that the achievement of

Richard Croft

Richard Croft

doing 35 miles is therapeutic for the body and mind, but does not lead to a sense of accomplishment in the material sense — a 30-foot dead tree cut up, a shed rebuilt, a barn repainted. I never quite understood why all these joggers in Silicon Valley have immigrants from Latin America doing their landscaping. Would not seven hours a week spent raking and pruning be as healthy as jogging in spandex — aside from the idea of autonomy that one receives by taking care of one’s own spread?

On the topic of keeping attuned with the physical world: if it does not rain (and the “rainy” season is about half over with nothing yet to show for it), the Bay Area and Los Angeles will see some strange things that even Apple, Google, and the new Read more →

The World of the Coliseum

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

I woke up one morning not long ago, and noticed that the world that I was born into no longer exists. It was as if I had once lived in Republican Italy, took a nap, and awoke to the Roman 472px-Carl_Gustav_Carus_-_Das_Kolosseum_in_einer_MondnachtEmpire, AD 200.

Latifundia

Let me explain. All the farms in these environs that I grew up with — 40-80 acres with a farmhouse and family — have simply vanished.

Where did they go?

I suppose when I meet someone with 5,000 acres that I am supposed to think that spread represents the old, and now recombined, 100 50-acre farms under new management. Yet where did the 100 farm households go — and what replaced them?

When I ride around the rural landscape, I see the old skeletons of farmhouses; but they are mostly rented to farm workers.  Are the social circumstances of renting a house and working on a 5,000-acre farm different from 100 agrarian households doing it — in terms of local PTA, Little League, the regional hospital board, or city council?

I leave it to you to decide. I can attest only that in terms of agricultural productivity, today’s 8,000-acre almond operations look far more efficient, up to date, and savvy than what 100 80-acre almond orchards used to seem like: old barn, clunky tractors in the yard, kids out in the orchard not up on the latest scientific approaches to fertilization, mom doing the books in a way the computerized corporate whiz kid would laugh at, tight-fisted gramps hobbling about looking for loose tire-popping nails in the alleyway while giving sermons about avoiding a mortgage. Read more →

The Bay Area’s 1 Percenters

If you’re hip and liberal, your kids don’t have to go to school with the gardener’s kids.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

Strip away the veneer of Silicon Valley, and it is mostly a paradox. Almost nothing is what it is professed to be. Ostensibly, communities like Menlo Park and Palo Alto are elite enclaves, where power couples can easily make $300,000 to $700,000 a year as mid-level Photo Credit: Chris Smart via Flickrdot.com managers.

But often these 1 percenter communities are façades of sorts. Beneath veneers of high-end living, there are lives of quiet 1-percent desperation. With new federal and California tax hikes, aggregate income-tax rates on dot.commers can easily exceed 50 percent of their gross income. And hip California 1 percenters do not enjoy superb roads and schools or a low-crime state in exchange for forking over half their income.

Housing gobbles much of the rest of their pay. A 1,300-square-foot cottage in Mountain View or Atherton can easily sell for $1.5 million, leaving the owners paying $5,000 to $6,000 on their mortgage and another $1,500 to $2,000 in property taxes each month. Add in the de rigueur Mercedes, BMW, or Lexus and the private-school tuition, and the apparently affluent turn out to have not all that much disposable income. Read more →

Reading Among the Ruins

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

I have been reading both new and classic books this week among the ruins (see photos below).

Martin Anderson, now almost in his 90th year, has written a fascinating memoir about fashioning a cattle and big-game preservation ranch in Africa: Galana: Elephant, Game Domestication, and Cattle on a Kenya Ranch. At one time Galana was believed to have been the largest single ranching operation in Africa, and one encouraged by the Kenyan government to be a model of tourism, cattle production, and wildlife protection.Galana is an analytical but also personal memoir about what Africa was like in its once hopeful and immediate postcolonial phase, and how Martin Anderson in his late thirties came to the Kenyan wild in 1960, when most Westerners were leaving, often for understandable reasons. When I last saw Martin two weeks ago, he was headed to Nairobi, undaunted by the recent Islamic violence at the shopping center, and eager to return to his ranch. When talking with Martin (who appears more like 65 than 89), one realizes that in some sense age is a state of mind — and old age a referendum on a life either smartly or unwisely lived.

Speaking of the bush and the wild, as I was finishing rereading Galana last evening, I got a call from my son about a truck speeding out of the family vineyard alleyway across the road. Yes, I know, reader — same old, same old:

The miscreants had already dumped their trash: chemical drums, paints, solvents, oils, concrete, tires, garbage, and lots of broken fluorescent glass tubes — something a bit worse than the usual toxic brew that is left on San Joaquin Valley property. Read more →

Medieval Liberals

Unlike classical liberals, the liberals of today hew to doctrine in the face of the evidence.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

A classical liberal was characteristically guided by disinterested logic and reason. He was open to gradual changes in society that were frowned upon by traditionalists in lockstep adherence to custom and protocol. The eight-hour work day, civil rights, and food- and drug-safety laws all grew out of classically liberal views. Government could press for moderate changes in the way society worked, within a conservative framework of revering the past, in order to pave the way for equality of opportunity in a safe and sane environment. Read more →

The Decline of College

by Victor Davis Hanson // Tribune Media Services 

For the last 70 years, American higher education was assumed to be the pathway to upper-mobility and a rich shared-learning experience.

Young Americans for four years took a common core of classes, learned to look at the world dispassionately, and gained the concrete knowledge to make informed arguments logically.

The result was a more skilled workforce and a competent democratic citizenry. That ideal may still be true at our flagship universities, with their enormous endowments and stellar world rankings.

Yet most elsewhere, something went terribly wrong with that model. Almost all the old campus protocols are now tragically outdated or antithetical to their original mission.

Tenure — virtual lifelong job security for full-time faculty after six years — was supposed to protect free speech on campus. How, then, did campus ideology become more monotonous than diverse, more intolerant of politically unpopular views than open-minded?

Read more →

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