Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness
One way of understanding California is simply to invert traditional morality. What for centuries would be considered selfish, callous, and greedy is now recalibrated as caring, empathetic, and generous. The current ethos of evaluating someone by his or her superficial appearance—gender or race—has returned to the premodern values of 19th-century California when race and gender calibrated careers. We don’t pay medieval priests for indulgences of our past and ongoing sin, but we do tweet out displays of our goodness as the penance price of acting amoral.
A paradox ensues that Californians both have a high, indeed smug, view of themselves and yet do a lot of damage to their fellow human beings. Their haughtiness is based largely on the reality that Silicon Valley, sandwiched between Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley, became the birthplace of the global computer, internet, social media, and a high-tech revolution. For progressives who deprecate the capitalist lifestyle, having a lot of money still allows one to say one thing and live out the opposite.
The state’s multi-trillion-dollar companies have hired tens of thousands of seven-figure, mid-level executives and computer experts who assume that life in the California coastal corridor is a birthright paradise.
The resulting tax revenue bonanza to the state allows one-party-rule to rid California of the old bothersome Reagan-Deukmejian-Wilson working- and middle-classes by embracing not-in-my-backyard zoning, identity politics, anal-retentive regulations, steep tax rates, utopian green agendas, open borders, and decriminalization of things that used to be felony offenses.
Indeed, the bigger and wealthier California became, the more the rich sought to privatize their lives and to give up on public services, the more the middle classes left the state, the more the poor from Mexico and Latin America crossed the southern border illegally, the more its schools deteriorated, and the more its infrastructure ossified and became decrepit, from century-old power transmission towers to pot-holed and jammed highways.