Once Upon A Time, A Golden State
Victor Davis Hanson posits at Pajamas Media on the past state of California’s greatness, and our lack of attribution to those who carried the burden of achieving it:
5) I can never quite understand the writ against our ancestors.
I came into this world in 1953 replete with electricity, and modern medicine at the dawn of the age of antibiotics and polio vaccines, and relative peace — no Japanese imperialism, or German Nazism, no death from tetanus. Who gave us all that and at what price? California had then a wonderful university system, impressive freeways, a lean and hard working public sector, and vibrant industry. We were given so much and yet appreciate so little of that inheritance, citing the sins of past generations, less commonly the gifts they bestowed. I said “gifts” because if they were not benefactions, we would have blown up Hetch-Hetchy dam, turned off the juice from the Morro Bay or Moss Landing power plants, or passed on driving on the 99. Has our generation improved test scores, or created safer streets? Is air travel so much better than forty years ago? When one walks into the DMV, or the county assessor’s office, are the employees so much more polite and competent than in the past?
As to VDH’s assessment of California, he’s on point (except to referring to Highway 99 which runs near his Fresno farm homestead as The 99. Only folks from southern California call a highway or interstate “The”).
I was born in 1967, and by the time I was in elementary school the first coloring of the California retreat was manifest. You could still point to the greatness of the California largess, but the cracks were there, and hard to ignore.
Basically, when you live in the land of milk and honey, everyone after the first generation whom built it, or the second generation that saw it being built, expects nothing less, because it was given to them, not because they worked to achieve it. Then the campaign becomes full-throated to provide for citizens, and the reasoning is twofold:
- People like it when things are given to them, and paid for by someone else.
- Giving people something, and having someone else pay for it, is a source of power, and wins votes.
So here we are today in California: bad schools, a crumbling infrastructure, business crushing regulation, a built-in functional $12billion budget hole, and no solution in sight. The most important goal now in California budgeting is The Safety Net.
We used to be something.
Sad, isn’t it?