Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

We Are All Californians Now

California Drought — Bad Policy, Poor Infrastructure 

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online


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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.

19 Thoughts on “We Are All Californians Now

  1. Move to Singapore. They do not brag about rearing stupid children.

    • Stan Pakulla on July 2, 2015 at 3:57 pm said:


      Darn near choked to death upon reading your post. One should never combine Lean Pockets and diet root beer while reading VDH’s papers.

      More seriously, I wish I had large amounts of money to pay for huge billboards. The graphic would show the smiling faces of Chinese students standing in front of sparkling new skyscrapers on the left, and pictures of our inner city students (texting, hanging out, smoking up) in front of decrepit buildings on the right. Your words “They do not brag about rearing stupid children in Singapore.” would be in large black letters across the top of the billboard. Some might call it racism, but I call it “democrat policy results.”

  2. Bill Korstad on July 2, 2015 at 4:47 am said:

    But it’s what the lemmings in California vote for time and time again and cannot be denied. Democracy at its moment of truth.

  3. William Lueg on July 2, 2015 at 6:51 am said:

    The main thing we Californians (nearly all of us it sometimes seems) have lost and, I believe, is a respect for a living God whose perspective is truth, reality and an awareness of the beginning, the present and the future consequences of things. It seems to me that a common denominator in all things stupid is willful ignorance that there is a real God.

  4. How fitting that the liberals who want this TRAIN don’t see the impending WRECK.

  5. Dale Martin on July 2, 2015 at 7:12 am said:

    Right to the mark Dr. Hanson! Thank you!
    I lived in California for 7 years and loved the beauty and many of the people. I moved to the Southeast in 2013 as it became patently obvious that the election of Obama had fueled the suicidal trajectory of the Golden State. Wouldn’t surprise me to see La Raza become a major political player in the not so distance future.

    VDH, do you see yourself moving someday?

  6. Mr Hanson’s perspective is just that a perspective. The reality is we ARE all Californians. Even the Swiss are inviting many immigrants into their previously closed society because they need the bodies to do the work. This workers are from a variety of occupation, software developers and industrial designers to sanitation engineers, but the one thing they have in common is that they want to work and make a better life for themselves. Why do people come to California? Opportunity. There is now an opportunity to solve real problems in education with the implementation of the Common Core. Please volunteer time at your public middle schools to help the kids.

  7. Diane on July 2, 2015 at 9:25 am said:

    My only question is: are you three really on line at 3 and 4 in the morning?

  8. Mike St James on July 2, 2015 at 9:46 am said:

    Och, Californee, we hardly knew ye.

  9. California is a rube factory, a very special rube factory. It’s special because these rubes were taught to be overjoyed that what a rube leader does will have its way with the rubes. Rubes must love their leaders!

    The real answer: tar and feather the rube makers! But again, the rube makers have taught the rubes the whole problem is Fox News and Donald Trump and an old TV show with a Rebel flag on the roof of a car.

  10. InWar Resolution on July 2, 2015 at 10:05 am said:

    I left CA for these reasons this year. Unsophisticated voters led like lemmings vote for contradictory and unworkable policies, which VDH points out day after day. I knew that the state was doomed when the Governator’s 4 modest proposals lost at the ballot box in 2005. The state is (almost) too collectively stupid to survive. If it weren’t for all those natural resources, tourism, Silicon Valley and Hollywood, it would be a wasteland like Detroit already, but those 4 lifelines will probably keep it afloat indefinitely like the Costa Concordia of states.

  11. “We are all socialist now, I suppose” Does anyone remember the Brit royal in the 1930’s who made that comment. And whom it was that, Winston Churchill took a very dim view.

  12. Lance Benner on July 2, 2015 at 1:10 pm said:

    Dependency on government generates the dumbing down of each succeeding generation = The dumbing down of each generation creates dependency on government!
    I hate to say, or perhaps I don’t, but we need another world conflagration where America has to fight for it’s very survival! Only then will people know what is at stake and realize what is relevant in life! But there is the possibility that we are too stupid to wake up and will end up under the control of a China/Russia axis!
    You get what you deserve!

  13. cause1 on July 2, 2015 at 5:04 pm said:

    When a large percentage of immigrants start surfing Bodhi might have something to say about that.

  14. Bowmanh on July 2, 2015 at 8:59 pm said:

    We’re doing some of the same things in Oregon now that the Democrats have a super majority in the legislature. As of yet, we don’t have a major drought or as many illegal immigrants, but the same sorts of policies are being enacted. It doesn’t look to end well when theory supersedes pragmatism.

  15. It’s refreshing to see that intelligence and common sense can still coexist at the University level. But of course Stanford is an exception by having some true conservatives on the payroll.

  16. J. B. Carter on July 6, 2015 at 8:19 am said:

    As one rarely disposed to express my opinion in writing to newspaper op/eds, I feel an urge to include my two cents worth “We are all California” published today in the Richmond Times/Dispatch. Particularly as my wife and I are “bi-coastal” grandparents living in both Richmond and the Sacramento area in CA.

    Raised in southern California (SoCal) and married to a CA born native, we have truly lived the “dream” that seems to so inspire non-Californians, though, as you point out, its happy ending is seriously in doubt. Our upbringing in the 50’s was a time of great expectations, as thousands were released from the service of our country after WWII in SoCal locations like Long Beach and San Diego, took one look at the post WWII industrial growth and the jobs accompanying it, and of course, the superb (pre-smog) weather, and asked themselves: “What’s to go home to?”. Land use planning in this land of plenty wasn’t even an afterthought. Life was good and looking to get better, and, while not on the range, the sky was “sunny all day”, and the resources cheap and plentiful. Until they weren’t.

    Thanks to the federal water projects designed to attract west migrating immigrants to settle California with free water (guaranteed in perpetuity don’t ya know!), the major obstacle to living in this desert climate was eliminated. When even that appeared to not be enough the MWD (LA’s Metropolitan Water District) simply and secretly bought up water rights in places like the Owens Valley and shipped the water south. Voila, problem solved and the growth in SoCal continued without concern: except to Mono Lake and the residence of the Owens River valley. Traffic concerns? Build more “free”ways- a real California construct. Need housing? Build it and they will come.

    And come they have, outstripping natural and social resources like a giant swarm of locust. The socially moderate, fiscally conservative Republican leadership of people like Earl Warren, Alan Cranston, and others today only exists in coastal enclaves that birthed such enigmas as the John Birch Society: A long ago doomed group fallen to the crush of immigrants not only seeking what they perceived as a kinder, gentler way of life, but a benevolent one as well. Everything important appeared free or at least very affordable- water, freeways, land and housing. And that mantra continues today despite California’s absolute inability to provide those things any longer. Particularly in SoCal it appears political suicide to state the obvious: We must stop encouraging population increases by building new houses. It is political suicide to blatantly state that of course, thanks to a deaf Supreme Court with rulings like Citizens v United unleashing a torrent of money from special interest groups to which opposition on the basis of fiscal conservancy, or environmental degradation or climate change is futile.

    We can no longer afford the generosity demanded by the unionization of government workers like SEIU and fraternal orders (police, fire, etc). But who is going to tell ‘em?. We are actually bankrupting city and state governments throughout California and the nation, and few seem to care. And the ones that care are virtually powerless in the face of opposition funding (see Supreme Court above). But the “dream” continues until I believe we find California (and much of the rest of the nation who use CA politics as a Rorschach test and go along for the “free” rides) beginning to see a “reduction to the mean” of living there upon us, strangled by our “enlightened self interest” as the only standard by which we think (and vote). We seem to have fomented a social democracy we cannot afford, the consequences of which will be disastrous to generations that follow.

    You are correct. Even with the highest taxes in the nation, an even cursory look at the facts shows California is broke, and hundreds of Billions in debt. And the governor proudly proclaims to have balanced the state budget. Poppycock! The acid Kool-Aid test is eventually going to show up, and like Greece in the news today, the results will be very ugly. How we (Californians) find the guts and determination to stop this slide into disaster and face the real facts of our financial, environmental and social situations, AND the process by which to persuade the people to man up for the long term benefit of the state, will be interesting. Particularly to the many other states who have serious leadership deficiencies and look to California to skate across that suspiciously thin ice before venturing out themselves.

    We have a crisis of leadership in our country. Leaders who can successfully posit new directions that vary from the dogma of the political parties and infrastructure. We have the great minds to address these long term problems. But current politics are tone deaf to their teachings. We need to somehow find and activate the great minds that will be the leaders of the charge into a new age of our countries ultimate success. IMHO our current political party system is not the answer, but stands in the way of our progress.

    Thanks for your inspiring editorial… please don’t condense “us” all into Californians. Neither of us can afford it.

    J. B. Carter
    (804) 320-0693

  17. Chris on July 7, 2015 at 6:32 am said:

    I’m so glad to see VDH’s essays appear in the San Jose Mercury newspaper. My hope is that Californians will wake up to the insanely destructive path that liberalism has taken us and turn around before it’s too late. I personally would leave this state in a flash if it weren’t for family ties.

  18. California Patriot on July 26, 2015 at 11:54 am said:

    VDH’s blogs need to be published in Santa Barbara local papers where are leadership and general citizenry are either under-informed, desperate, super wealthy to buy their way out of any and all crisis, or have decided to simply live for today — otherwise known as the ‘ostrich syndrome’. My family came to CA in 1896, after VDH’s, and like VDH, my cousin still lives in our original family home in Redondo Beach, CA. SoCal realities — beyond the point of no return with too many people, cars, reckless-crowding behavior, ignorance or stupidity — are as headed North, now into Santa Barbara, after voters decided to purchase and transfer water instead of living within our means. UCSB is ruining Goleta and Isla Vista with its mega-development expansion projects that are not subject to any control and oversight and are all off-the property tax roles requiring residents to cross subsidize UCSB via increased fees and decreased service. What I observe are the local wealthy either leaving SB, selling or renting with the middle class frustrated we cannot afford to sell because 45 cents of every dollar must be paid in taxes upon home sale. Who’s buying: foreigners.

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