California: The Road Warrior Is Here

Recently, CQ, one of our many intelligent correspondents here at Monomakhos, took me to task for doom-saying the Golden State. While he did not take the opposite tack and state that things were all Milk and Honey in California, my own negative assessment was unwarranted. Surely the increase in certain Red States’ population at the expense of California’s was too dire by half.

Perhaps. Please allow me to say something in my defense: one of the good things about not being an academic or an intellectual (and being gainfully employed in the private sector) is that when you’re asked the question “who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” I’ll invariably answer “my own eyes.” Yeah, I know: I’ve seen the stats, I know that California is still the largest state in the Union, that its population increased by 0.8 percent, etc. I also know what I see and what migrants from that state tell me. I know what they tell my friends and acquaintances and their friends and acquaintances. Thanks to the Blogosphere, I know that my own intuitions are confirmed by yet other parties.

It’s best though is to go right to the source. Victor Davis Hanson is a Classicist and seventh-generation farmer from the Central Valley of California. A bona fide gentleman-farmer who teaches college and has traveled the world, he has seen the destruction wrought on his beloved Golden State by untrammeled illegal immigration, tax-profligacy, native indolence, and a generalized collapse in public virtue.

Read it and weep.

Source: PJ Media | Victor Davis Hanson

In the case of the Australian film, the culprit for the detribalization of the Outback was some sort of global war or perhaps nuclear holocaust that had destroyed the social fabric. Survivors were left with a memory of modern appetites but without the ability to reproduce the means to satisfy them:  in short, a sort of Procopius’s description of Gothic Italy circa AD 540.

Our Version

road-warrior-mediumSometimes, and in some places, in California I think we have nearly descended into Miller’s dark vision — especially the juxtaposition of occasional high technology with premodern notions of law and security. The state deficit is at $16 billion. Stockton went bankrupt; Fresno is rumored to be next. Unemployment stays over 10% and in the Central Valley is more like 15%. Seven out of the last eleven new Californians went on Medicaid, which is about broke. A third of the nation’s welfare recipients are in California. In many areas, 40% of Central Valley high school students do not graduate — and do not work, if the latest crisis in finding $10 an hour agricultural workers is any indication. And so on.

Our culprit out here was not the Bomb (and remember, Hiroshima looks a lot better today than does Detroit, despite the inverse in 1945). The condition is instead brought on by a perfect storm of events that have shred the veneer of sophisticated civilization. Add up the causes. One was the destruction of the California rural middle class. Manufacturing jobs, small family farms, and new businesses disappeared due to globalization, high taxes, and new regulations. A pyramidal society followed of a few absentee land barons and corporate grandees, and a mass of those on entitlements or working for government or employed at low-skilled service jobs. The guy with a viable 60 acres of almonds ceased to exist.

Illegal immigration did its share. No society can successfully absorb some 6-7 million illegal aliens, in less than two decades, the vast majority without English, legality, or education from the poorer provinces of Mexico, the arrivals subsidized by state entitlements while sending billions in remittances back to Mexico — all in a politicized climate where dissent is demonized as racism. This state of affairs is especially true when the host has given up on assimilation, integration, the melting pot, and basic requirements of lawful citizenship.

Terrible governance was also a culprit, in the sense that the state worked like a lottery: those lucky enough by hook or by crook to get a state job thereby landed a bonanza of high wages, good benefits, no accountability, and rich pensions that eventually almost broke the larger and less well-compensated general society. When I see hordes of Highway Patrolmen writing tickets in a way they did not before 2008, I assume that these are revenue-based, not safety-based, protocols — a little added fiscal insurance that pensions and benefits will not be cut.

A coarsening of popular culture — a nationwide phenomenon — was intensified, as it always is, in California. The internet, video games, and modern pop culture translated into a generation of youth that did not know the value of hard work or a weekend hike in the Sierra. They didn’t learn  how to open a good history book or poem, much less acquire even basic skills such as mowing the lawn or hammering a nail. But California’s Generation X did know that they were “somebody” whom teachers and officials dared not reprimand, punish, prosecute, or otherwise pass judgment on for their anti-social behavior. Add all that up with a whiny, pampered, influential elite on the coast that was more worried about wind power, gay marriage, ending plastic bags in the grocery stores — and, well, you get the present-day Road Warrior culture of California.

Pre- and Post-Modern

I am writing tonight in Palo Alto after walking among nondescript 1,500 square-foot cottages of seventy-year vintage that sell for about $1.5-2 million and would go in a similar tree-shaded district in Fresno or Merced for about $100,000. Apparently, these coastal Californians want to be near Stanford and big money in Silicon Valley. They also must like the fact that they are safe to jog or ride bikes in skimpy attire and the general notion that there is “culture” here amid mild weather.  I suppose when a car pulls out in front of you and hits your bumper on University Avenue, the driver has a license, registration, and insurance — and this is worth the extra million to live here. My young fellow apartment residents like to jog in swimming suits; they would last one nanosecond doing that on De Wolf Avenue outside Selma.


Meanwhile, 200 miles and a world away, here are some of the concerns recently in the Valley. There is now an epidemic of theft from tarped homes undergoing fumigation. Apparently as professionals tent over homes infested with termites, gangs move into the temporarily abandoned houses to burrow under the tarps and loot the premises — convinced that the dangers of lingering poisonous gas are outweighed by the chance of easy loot.  Who sues whom when the gangbanger prying into the closet is found gassed ? When I get termites, I spot treat myself with drill and canisters; even the professional services warn that they can kill off natural pests, but not keep out human ones.

No one in the Central Valley believes that they can stop the epidemic of looting copper wire. I know the local Masonic Hall is not the Parthenon, but you get the picture of our modern Turks prying off the lead seals of the building clamps of classical temples.

Protection is found only in self-help. To stop the Road Warriors from stripping the copper cable from your pump or the community’s street lights, civilization is encouraged to put in a video camera, more lighting, more encasement, a wire protective mesh — all based on the premise that the authorities cannot stop the thieves and your livelihood is predicated on the ingenuity of your own counter-terrorism protocols. But the thief is always the wiser: he calculates the cost of anti-theft measures, as well as the state’s bill in arresting, trying, and rehabilitating him, and so wagers that it is cheaper for all of us to let him be and just clean up his mess.

Reactionary Dreaming

In around 1960, rural California embraced modern civilization. By that I mean both in the trivial and fundamental sense. Rural dogs were usually vaccinated and licensed — and so monitored. Homes were subject to building codes and zoning laws; gone were the privies and lean-tos. Streets were not just paved, but well-paved. My own avenue was in far better shape in 1965 than it is now. Mosquito abatement districts regularly sprayed stagnant water ponds to ensure infectious disease remained a thing of our early-20th-century past. Now they merely warn us with West Nile Virus alerts. Ubiquitous “dumps” dotted the landscape, some of them private, ensuring, along with the general code of shame, that city-dwellers did not cast out their old mattresses or baby carriages along the side of the road. It seems the more environmental regulations, the scarcer the dumps and the more trash that litters roads and private property.

I walk each night around the farm. What is the weirdest find? A nearby alleyway has become a dumping place for the rotting corpses of fighting dogs. Each evening or so, a dead dog (pit bulls, Queensland terriers) with a rope and plenty of wounds is thrown up on the high bank. The coyotes make short work of the remains. Scattered about are several skeletons with ropes still around their necks. I suppose that at about 2 a.m. the organizers of dog fights drive in and cast out the evenings’ losers. I have never seen such a thing in 58 years (although finding plastic bags with dead kittens in the trash outside my vineyard was a close second). Where is PETA when you need them? Is not the epidemic of dog- and cock-fighting in central California a concern of theirs? (Is berating in Berkeley a corporation over meat-packing a bit more glamorous than running an education awareness program about animal fights in Parlier?)

Education, Education, Education…

The public schools were once the key to California’s ascendance. Universal education turned out well-prepared citizens who were responsible for California’s rosy future — one based on an excellent tripartite higher education system of junior colleges, state colleges, and universities; sophisticated dams and irrigation systems; and a network of modern freeways and roads. In the private sphere, the culture of shame still prevailed, at least in the sense that no one wanted his 16-year-old son identified in the papers (with his home address no less) as arrested for breaking and entering. And such crime was rare. Rural California was a checkerboard of 40- and 80-acre farms, with families that were viable economic units and with children who worked until dark after school. It is hard to steal when you must disc ten acres after baseball practice.

I think it is a fair assessment to say that all of the above is long past. Since about 1992, on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing, California ranks between 41 and 48 in math and science, depending on the year and the particular grade that is assessed. About half of the incoming freshmen at the California State University system — the largest public university in the world — are not qualified to take college courses, and must first complete “remediation” to attain a level of competence that was assumed forty years ago in the senior year of high school. The students I taught at CSU Fresno were far better prepared in 1984 than those in 2004 are; the more money, administrators, “learning centers,” and counselors, the worse became the class work.

I finally threw out my old syllabi last month: the 1985 Greek Literature in Translation course at CSU Fresno seemed to read like a Harvard class in comparison to my 2003 version with half the reading, half the writing, and all sorts of directions on how to make up missed work and flunked exams. It wasn’t just that I lost my standards, but that I lost my students who could read.

Life in the Whatever Lane

Does any of that matter? Well, yes. Those who are not educated soon inherit the reins of public responsibility. In practical terms, the symptoms are everywhere. I now expect that my county property tax returns will have common errors, from the spelling of my name or address to the particular acreage assessed.

When entering the bank, I expect people not just to not speak English, but occasionally not to write any language, and thus put a mark down, in Old West fashion, to cash their checks.

When I deal with a public agency, I assume the person on the opposite end of the counter or phone will not to be able to transact the requested service, or at least not be able to transact any other service other than the narrow one trained for. Calling any public agency is to receive a recording and then an incoherent order to press numerous buttons that lead to more recordings. Woe to the poor fool who walks into a Department of Motor Vehicles office on an average day, seeking to obtain a copy of his pink slip or find a registration form. The response is “get a number,” “make an appointment,” “get in line,” “wait,” or “see a supervisor.”


I quit not just riding a bike on the rural avenues where I grew up, but walking upon them as well. Why? There is a good chance (twice now) of being bitten not just by a loose dog without vaccination, but by one whose owner is either unable to communicate or vanishes when hunted down. And then there are the official agencies whose de facto policy is that our ancestors did such a good job eradicating rabies that we can more or less coast on their fumes.

Forty years ago I assumed rightly that cars parked along the side of the road were out of gas or needed repair. Now? I expect that the cars are much more reliable, but the owner of any car parked outside my house is either stealing fruit, casing the joint, using drugs, or inebriated. Last week I explained to a passer-by why he could not steal the peaches from my trees; he honestly thought not only that he could, but that he almost was obligated to.

What makes The Road Warrior so chilling a metaphor is the combination of the premodern and postmodern. While utter chaos reigns in rural California, utter absurdity reigns inside the barricades, so to speak, on the coast. So, for example, San Franciscans will vote on whether to blow up the brilliantly engineered Hetch Hetchy water project (I bet they won’t vote yes), more or less the sole source of water for the San Francisco Bay Area. The National Park Service debates blowing up historic stone bridges over the Merced River in Yosemite Valley — as hyper-environmentalists assume that they have so much readily available power and water from prior generations at their fingertips that they have the luxury of dreaming of returning to a preindustrial California. Of course, they have no clue that their romance is already reified outside Madera, Fresno, or Bakersfield.

High-Speed Madness

Take the new high-speed rail project, whose first link is designated to zoom not far from my house. An empiricist would note there is already an Amtrak (money-losing) line from Fresno to Corcoran (home of Charles Manson). There is now no demand to use another lateral (getting nowhere more quickly?). There is no proof that California public agencies — from universities to the DMV — can fulfill their present responsibilities in such a way that we would have confidence that new unionized state workers could run such a dangerous thing as high-speed rail (e.g., if we can’t keep sofas and washing machines out of the local irrigation ponds, why do we think we could keep them off high-speed rail tracks? Do we think we are French?).

If one were to drive on the 99, the main interior north-south “highway” from the Grapevine to Sacramento, one would find places, like south of Kingsburg, where two poorly paved, potholed, and crowded lanes ensure lots of weekly accidents. Can a state that has not improved its ancestors’ highway in 50 years be entrusted to build high-speed mass transit? Can a state presently $16 billion in arrears be expected to finance a $100 billion new project? Can a state that ranks 48th in math field the necessary personnel to build and operate such a postmodern link?

We Are Scary

One of the strangest things about Road Warrior was the ubiquity of tattooed, skin-pierced tribal people with shaved heads and strange clothes. At least the cast and sets seemed shocking some thirty years ago. If I now sound like a reactionary then so be it: but when I go to the store, I expect to see not just the clientele, but often some of the workers, with “sleeves” — a sort of throwback to red-figure Athenian vase painting where the ink provides the background and the few patches of natural skin denote the silhouetted image. And stranger still is the aging Road Warrior: these are folks in their forties who years ago got pierced and tattooed and aged with their sagging tribal insignia, some of them now denoting defunct gangs and obsolete popular icons.

I am not naïve enough (as Horace’s laudator temporis acti ) to wish to return to the world of my grandfather (my aunt was crippled for life with polio, my grandmother hobbled with the scars and adhesions from an unoperated-on, ruptured appendix, my grandfather battled glaucoma each morning with vials of eye drops), when around 1960, in tie and straw hat, he escorted me to the barber. The latter trimmed my hair in his white smock and bowtie, calling me at eight years old Mr. Hanson.

Like Road Warrior, again, what frightens is this mish-mash of violence with foppish culture, of official platitudes and real-life chaos: the illiterate and supposedly impoverished nonetheless fishing through the discounted video game barrel at Wal-Mart; the much-heralded free public transit bus zooming around on electrical or natural gas power absolutely empty of riders, as the impoverished prefer their Camrys and Civics; ads encouraging new food stamp users as local fast-food franchises have lines of cars blocking traffic on the days when government cards are electronically recharged; the politician assuring us that California is preeminent as he hurries home to his Bay Area cocoon.

On the Frontier

I find myself insidiously adopting the Road Warrior survival code. Without any systematic design, I notice that in the last two years I have put a hand pump on my grandfather’s abandoned well in the yard and can pump fresh water without electricity. I put in an outdoor kitchen, tied into a 300-gallon propane tank, that can fuel a year of cooking. I am getting more dogs (all vaccinated and caged); for the first time in my life I inventoried all my ancestors’ guns in all the closets and found shotguns, deer rifles, .22s etc.

I have an extra used pickup I chose not to sell always gassed in the garage. For all sorts of scrapes and minor injuries, sprains, simple finger fractures, etc., I self-treat — anything to avoid going into the local emergency room (reader, you will too, when Obamacare kicks in). And the more I talk to neighbors, the more I notice that those who stayed around are sort of ready for our Road Warrior world. At night if I happen to hear Barack Obama on the news or read the latest communiqué from Jerry Brown, the world they pontificate about in no way resembles the world I see: not the freeways, not the medical system, not the educational establishment, not law enforcement, not the “diversity,” not anything.

Hope and Change

Yet I am confident of better days to come. Sometimes I dream of the booming agricultural export market. Sometimes hopes arise with reports of gargantuan new finds of gas and oil in California. At other times, it is news of closing borders, and some progress in the assimilation of our various tribes. Sometimes a lone brave teacher makes the news for insisting that her students read Shakespeare. On occasion, I think the people silently seethe and resent their kingdom of lies, and so may prove their anger at the polls, perhaps this November.

One looks for hope where one can find it.


  1. M. Stankovich says

    What you need to do is rent the 1998 film short A Day Without a Mexican which lead to the full theatrical comedy version (give it to them for ingenuity) A Day Without a Mexican to realize the staggering dilemma of deporting illegals that constitute the underlying framework of the California economy. Every contractor in San Diego County knows the location where illegal immigrants gather each and every morning – uncontested, and undisturbed by La Migra, the Border Patrol – blowing horns of pick-up trucks and yelling “Travajo!” (work) They know who is reliable, who is trustworthy, and who will give an “honest day’s work.” They will accept “referrals” & family members, blah, blah, blah just like in the real world. When people occasionally complain, it is not Immigration & Naturalization that shows up, but the local cops, advising them to move across the street “or disperse,” only to reassemble in a day or two. The fact of the matter is that they are essential. It is not a matter of “stealing” jobs or displacing workers, as they are the most respected, trustworthy, and dependable workers in the community, and they certainly earn any educational and emergency health “benefits” they take.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I don’t dispute your premise one bit. However, what this movie and those who declaim about the cheap labor that Mesoamericans do, that is to say we can’t survive as an economy without their cheap labor, is make the same justification that the South did before The War Between the States. That it’s economy could not survive the emancipation and/or repatriation back to Africa of the black underclass.

      Really, all this is at base is nothing more than a justification for helotry.

      The answer? Pres Eisenhower instituted “Operation Wetback” back in the 50s and deported one million illegal aliens. What did the native farmers do? Did crops rot in the fields? No. Did food prices go through the roof? No. They hired Americans to do the work.

      • jacksson says

        What many people do not realize is that the largest percentage of the ‘illegals’ are not standing on the corner waiting for a job. They are taking advantage of the government handout system. I would estimate that one in ten is in this country to work in the fields. I live about ten miles away from Victor Davis Hanson and also taught at CSU Fresno in the Industrial Technology Department and I agree totally with his summation of the current California situation. Mr Stankovich does not live here in this state (I believe) and has been watching too many films like “El Norte” and reading too much liberal propaganda apparently and doesn’t have a clue. CQ must live in a La La Land enclave in the LA area and again, doesn’t have a clue. I live in a gated senior citizen community and we have people coming over the fence or cutting holes in it on an average of two times a week. The police are overwhelmed and much crime is not even being reported. A friend of mine down the street has been hit three times in the past two months; the last time he had parked his truck inside the security area inside the gates and the thiefs cut a hole through the chain link fence and cleaned out his tools again. I have two basic considerations that keep me in the state; one is I like being near and attending church at a nearby monastery (female) and the other is our nearby family.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Jacksson, sometimes I think the problem in perception is one of proximity. It depends on where one lives and where one works, and how one has been impacted personally to see the problem of illegal immigration. People that work in manufacturing or in emergency rooms, or teach children who can’t speak English in run-down classrooms have a far different attitude towards the problem of illegal immigration than do those who work in foundations, state/ecclesial bureaucracies, etc.

          • Michael Bauman says

            I got a new view on the whole problem recently when we hired a legal Hispanic lady to sell insurance. Even amongst those who owned businesses, like her husband, there were so few who were legal she couldn’t find enough clients. Worse, even among the legals their develops such a tolerance for lying that it is difficult to trust anyone. She even found out that people she had known for years, other soccer moms, had never told her their real names or the fact that they shared a social with several others.

            Whatever values these folks once had are erased by the fabric of lies and deceit in which they now live.

            Several years ago an employee for a company was driving several other workers home after work. He had a fatal heart attack and the car wrecked killing one other and severely injuring others (all legal). It not only called into quickly question the insurance coverage for the illegal guy, but all the others two. He had two ‘wives’ each represented by an attorney appear to claim the death benefits.

            The last I knew it was still in the courts somewhere.

            What effect such a culture has on the citizen children as they grow is not hard to understand. A bit like the Traveler families I suspect.

            No amount of immigration reform will overcome the illegal culture.

            • George Michalopulos says

              What you describe is the fraying of the social fabric that takes place when multiculturalism overwhelms the majority culture. Not only is social trust between ethnic groups extinguished but within specific social groups its considerably frayed. Tribalism takes over and it becomes increasingly violent, pace The Golden Dawn phenomenon in Greece.

          • Proximity absolutely matters, George. I find your assumption that I have no proximity to the things you hang your hat upon to be grossly unwarranted.

            I step out my front door and am greeted by homelessness and gangs on the one hand and entitled wealthy faux-liberals on the other. That’s what’s within my proximity…all within 300′ of my front door.

            My spouse worked in a trauma center in downtown Los Angeles for years. You know, the place where they take gang bangers and homeless people and undocumented people to get treated for problems unknown in most cities and banished from the suburbs. One sister-in-law taught in a classroom in which exactly one student’s family spoke English at home. Another taught in a classroom where over 30 years the white population became a black population and then became a trans-Asian population. My brother leads a school district in which >60% of the student body is “Latino,” a term that means less with every passing generation.

            The entire population of Tulsa County is just a shade over 600,000. The entire population of Los Angeles County is a shade under 9.9 million. Our direct experience living in the midst of 9.9 million people is going to be very different from those who live on the edge of 600,000.

            This is why I look to data instead of personal anecdotes to help understand what’s really going on, and often the data and my personal experience are different. When that happens rather than reject the data I strive to understand how my personal experience could be so different from that reported in an objective manner, and find that what’s really going on is often not what I assumed it was at all. That discovery doesn’t discount my experience or the data, but rather results in a better understanding of both.

            Proximity matters to our perception, but the data tends to tell a larger and dispassionate story. When the two diverge it’s always worth examining why they did that, rather than simply assuming that our experience is the sine qua non of “the truth.”

            • George Michalopulos says

              Then I stand corrected and offer my apologies. Still, the picture you paint is more akin to Thunderdome than Golden State.

              As for Tulsa, that same period in which the city itself experienced “zero growth” we built a state-of-the-art baseball stadium, revitalized the Greenwood area which is in proximity to it, and built the BOK center. All of this at hundreds of millions of dollars. Is anything like this happening in Detroit or inner-city Chicago?

              • Chicago and Detroit are not in California the last time I looked. 😉

                We usually have “June gloom” this time of year, but today is just another sunny day with a light breeze. Took a walk with some neighbors to breakfast on an outside patio surrounded by well-behaved children and dogs and adults, and bougainvillea all in bloom. Makes us thank God for His blessings.

                As Mack says at the end of the movie Grand Canyon, “I think it’s not all bad.”

                • George Michalopulos says

                  You’re right of course: Chicago and Detroit are not in California. Yet they are nevertheless failed cities long ruled by liberal Democrats. I’m glad though you had a wonderful day. The past two here in OK were lovely as well. Finally some warm, breezy weather (it’s been rather cold and rainy). Anyway, I don’t want California to go down the tubes but given the stranglehold that Gov Moonbeam and the public employees unions have on the state fisc, plus a burgeoning alien population, I don’t see how it can be avoided.

                  The late, great Milton Friedman said it best: “you can have a welfare state or open immigration, but you can’t have both.” Sooner or later one has got to give.

        • Never generalize from the specific. It is a classic fallacy.

          Take a look at this graph:

          I have no doubt, Jackson, that your reports of criminality are absolutely true, what my direct experience across the State (from Eureka to San Diego, and I confess I only get to Shasta County once or twice a year) and all the data indicate is that Fresno is an outlier rather than an “average” city in our State.

          • George Michalopulos says

            One reason crime has decreased since the peak year of 1990 on a nationwide basis (and it has) is because we’re incarcerating and executing more people than ever before. The US now has the highest proportion of its population in prison than any other industrialized state.

            This opens up a whole other can of worms. For now all I can say is that this incarceration regime cannot last forever. I fear we’re reaching the breaking point. And then what will the crime stats say?

          • jacksson says

            Hello CQ, I don’t quite know what you mean when you refer to Fresno as an outlier. The Fresno area has a population of about 500,000 people. I appreciate your rendition regarding the situation in the Southern California area, but it seems that we are not experiencing the same thing. The central valley area of California from Bakersfield to Redding is primarily agriculture with only a few ‘large’ population areas, Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento, and Redding to name a few with Fresno being the largest. Mr. Hanson is writing about the situation in the environment of a small, basically farming, community (Selma) with Fresno being the giant to the north; I live in a similar community (Reedley, known as the fruit basket of the world) and we (Reedley) experience similar troubles as Selma. When I lived in the mountains to the east of Fresno, I had to always make sure that my Kubota M4800 tractor was parked close to the house. Some of the locals appreciated the hydraulic system on such tractors and would remove them to modify their automobiles; the local white boys were not much into such modifications (although they might steal other stuff), so it must have been another ethnic group to blame. Incidentally, some of the forebears of the older mountain families used to have shootouts with sheriff’s posses who wanted to arrest, for instance, a family member who had killed someone in a saloon fight in one of the flatland cities – lol, some things don’t change; the descendents of those families still live in the mountains. I guess that I am trying to say that the situation that you describe in LA is not the same as the situation that Victor Hanson describes in his area or in mine; the outliers, Fresno and Stockton are another matter and have different problems probably more similar to the LA area.

            • jacksson,

              We each live in a different part of California, small farming communities not facing the same problems or having the same resources as large urban areas. So both of our experiences are not going to be true for all Californians. This is why the Statewide data matters, because it corrects both of our direct experience with objective measures across the State.

              Fresno (and Stockton) are outliers because of three things: 1) statistically they have poorer populations than the rest of the State, 2) statistically they have younger populations than the rest of the State and 3) statistically they have more foreclosures than the rest of the State. To claim they’re just like everywhere else is to forget just how not-like everyone else they are.

              And I’d note that the San Joaquin Valley is home to 5 of the top 10 foreclosure cities in the nation, which all by itself has to be destabilizing to the entire region. (Two others in the top 10: Vallejo and San Bernardino…which is teetering on bankruptcy.)

              Loved your story about the mountain families and etc. That’s rich history. A bit like our family stories of when “the County” was relatively lawless, and started just west of Hollywood…which is why there’s a “Sunset Strip” there now. 😉

              • jacksson says

                Thanks for the information about Fresno, CQ. I will start watching the Fresno Comedies with more attention to financial matters. We have a big shopping day in Fresno once a week at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, the Farmers Market in front of Kaiser Hospital and Fresno Ag Hardware. It is an interesting experience watching the large number of ‘red light runners’ (Fresno is noted in that category) and beggers on almost every street corner where there is a light. When we head south for Reedley, we usually take the old Golden State (99) road out of town and marvel at what an industrial power Fresno used to be in the abandoned warehouses and manufacturing facilities; lots of homeless and poor in the area.

                On a historical note, Fresno is the home of the ‘Fresno Scraper’. ‘The Fresno Scraper was one of the most important agricultural and civil engineering machines ever made. In 1991, the Fresno Scraper was designated as an International Historic Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. James Porteous was credited with 46 inventions, most of which had to do with farming equipment important to the farmers of the Central San Joaquin Valley. The Fresno Agricultural Works in now known as Fresno Ag Hardware, located on North Blackstone Avenue (lately moved to Gettysburg and First Sts. after almost a century on Blackstone).” The blade used on the Fresno Scraper was a forerunner of the blade on the front of a bulldozer; the mules used with the scraper were exchanged for a gasoline motor.

                • jacksson,

                  I used to love our trips up and down the length of the 99. We’d stop in Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, Modesto, Sacramento, Oroville, and then up to Redding…often taking side trips through the Sierras and “Gold Rush Country.” We’d then head west to Eureka and south again on the 1 and 101 (depending on the stretch and whether we were in a hurry or not.) The 99 portion of that was a trip my dad, an accountant, did quarterly to see clients. Somehow we were always stopping at a client’s house on the first part of our vacation…the coast, however, was all fun and games.

                  Remember when the 5 ended abruptly near Los Banos, and started again in Stockton?

                  Seems to me that the valley suffers from the same ailment as the Inland Empire: inexpensive land and a lust for “growth.” The result is speculative development instead of long-term investment, that is speculators come in cheap and get out as quickly as possible, leaving investors (read: new owners and lenders) holding the bag when the bubble inevitably bursts.

                  Remember when the valley’s agricultural communities used to triple or quadruple in size during sowing and harvest seasons? The effort to stabilize migrant workers in fixed communities (and thus avoid the problems of large migrant populations) has resulted in a large underemployed population with its own problems.

                  That’s tough to address.

                  As for the Fresno Scraper: that’s an achievement with global reach!

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    Some fine Armenian Apostolic Churches in Fresno, too. Used to be little Armenia there once; perhaps that has changed.

  2. Interestingly VDH and I are about the same age, I’m 3rd generation Californian, with great-grandparents buried here in the 1890s.

    He grew up in rural CA, south of Fresno. I grew up in suburban CA, south of Los Angeles. He’s no doubt more erudite than I, I have no doubt that my work has been seen and appreciated by more people than his. Though we’re technically peers we have very different views of the same things.

    And what makes him “the source” and me not so is that you agree with his views, and disagree with mine. That’s fine, but let’s not pretend that there’s verifiable data in this article.

    Nonetheless, the criminality he recounts is real, but is far more isolated in place and time than he makes it seem. The immigration problem is real, though accounts for less crime than our own citizens. The cultural changes he sees are real enough, but the generational shift he sees is a chimera.

    The political dysfunction and its effects are real as well, though Jerry Brown seems to be succeeding in turning things around despite the monkey-wrenching of government that has been going on since 1977 or so. CA proved is that if we monkey-wrench government things do not get better.

    But overall the article reads like the rants against our (VDH and my) generation: lazy long-haired hippies who ran off to the mountains instead of working and listened to that gosh-durned rock music all day!

    Look, I hire kids from the generation VDH rants about, and they’re really great kids. Hard-working, fearless, creative, thoughtful, diligent, not to mention quite a bit savvier than I was at their age. And yeah, I don’t “get” tattoo culture, but it’s not mine so why would I? It’s fashion. (I never “got” Nancy Reagan either. She always looked emaciated to me.)

    I’m happy he’s finding a way to deal with his pessimism by pumping water and etc., because he sounds like a really unhappy person.

    Of course, some of that goes with fashioning oneself as a eminence grise… 😉

    • George Michalopulos says

      Good points, CQ. To say that crime however is “more isolated” and only due in part to immigration maybe a stretch IMHO. Even if it is true, the fact remains that we have more crime now than we would have had had we enforced the borders. And I’m talking about violent crime, not the essential criminality of breaking our laws in the first place, both on the alien part and the native employer part.

      Anyway, many municipalities throughout the US (not just California) are at the breaking point because of Central American gangs. Heather Mac Donald has researched the startling rise in pathology as well among these aliens and their children. It’s not a pretty picture. To say nothing about public schools, emergency rooms, etc.

      • Crime in CA has been falling pretty steadily since about 1990, which is now 23 years (nearly a quarter century) ago. The disconnect between facts and perception has entirely to do with changes in our perception.

        Verifiable CA crime data is at this link:

        And Central American gangs aren’t having nearly the disastrous effect on municipalities that budget cuts and political gridlock are having. Seriously, if you think MS-13 is responsible for the decline in schools, declining infrastructure (like crumbling bridges and water works) and cuts in emergency services you’re giving them waaay more credit than they’re due, and absolving those who are in fact responsible for these things of their personal accountability for their actions.

        My point remains: VDH is “the source” because you agree with him. He provides anecdotes and argumentation that support your shared narrative, but no data.

        And what I think I’ve amply demonstrated is that the facts do not support your (population decline due to “productive people leaving”), or his (spike in criminality leading to a distopian condition), perceptions and declarations of what’s “really” going on in California. If anything, the reports disprove that narrative.

        California bashing is a sport, I get it, but shouldn’t reality have a seat at the table?

        • This morning’s NYTimes pretty much puts a bullet in the “decline” meme:

          To Recap: Instead of declining, the population is growing 0.1% slower than the national average. Instead of crime going up, crime is going down. And instead of California going bust, the State’s budget is a large step into order.

          Your decline meme and “the source” are disproven by every single fact no matter where you look.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Then how do they explain the bankruptcy of Stockton and Fresno? I’m sorry, but whenever I read something in The New York Times anymore, I instinctively put my money on the opposite of what they say.

            • Let’s compare three cities: The median household income in all three cities is below the national median household income. The median age in all three cities is below the national median age.

              Fresno grew 20% in the 2000’s to nearly 500,000 people.
              Tulsa grew 0% in the 2000’s to stay flat at just under 400,000.
              Stockton grew 16% in the 2000’s to just under 300,000.

              So why did the two with growth go bankrupt and the one that flatlined did not? Simple. Stockton (the smallest of the three) had the third highest foreclosure rate in the nation, Fresno had the 10th highest. Tulsa was 20th.

              This proves that quick growth fueled by sub-prime mortgages is a phantom that undermines not just families and banks, but the health of cities as well.

              When Orange County went bankrupt in 1994, a larger bankruptcy affecting a far larger population, California continued to prosper. People who lived in Orange County continued to prosper. The world did not end, the wheels did not fall off the State, the County or its Cities. Most businesses and families were unaffected by the bankruptcy or the management of the transition back to solvency.

              To be clear, bankruptcy is a bad thing and I don’t mean to be blasé about it, but it’s not the worst thing ever, and it’s not close to a sign of decline…when a municipality goes bankrupt it’s usually a sign of political incompetence, but sometimes (as with Stockton and Fresno) a sign of being caught in a tsunami that the cities were too small to cope with by themselves.

              Those who predict California’s demise lack perspective. They always have.

              By the way it was lovely here today.

              • George Michalopulos says

                I completely agree with you re the awfulness of subprime mortgages and how they destroyed families and subsequently entire cities, then states, then the nation as a whole. This only begs the question. Are you aware of what caused the subprime mortgage meltdown? Where it began and which demographic groups benefited most from these lending practices? Why didn’t we have a meltdown in the 90s or the 80s for before for that matter? Short answer: redlining and having to put down 20% before one could qualify for a mortgage.

                As for Tulsa’s population remaining flat at 400,000 you are also correct. The suburbs surrounding Tulsa have exploded at Tulsa’s expense. Construction to the south and north is non-stop. I know, because I used to work the graveyard shift and couldn’t sleep during the day because of the incessant hammering and sawing in my neighborhood. (When we moved out here we were the only house on the block. I literally saw a coyote across the street it was that deserted. Now I see a new foundation laid every 2 weeks.)

                • The subprime meltdown was caused by the use of financial tools poorly understood by all which generated incredible profits for a few by fraudulently inflating housing prices to justify unwarranted ratings on real-estate-backed investments.

                  Those mortgages were a new way to counterfeit money, more pernicious than actual printing press counterfeiting because the false money was much harder to see. When that money came to be seen for what it was it triggered a panic because no-one knew how much of that counterfeit money they had in their holdings…every bank and lender had been lying to each other and assuming they were the only ones counterfeiting value…and they still don’t.

                  Redlining is pernicious and antithetical to a truly free market.

                  Requiring 20% down on real estate is prudent, but would slow development as most developers of large projects don’t put up nearly that much in actual cash, but rather fund their developments in a house-of-cards of leveraged assets. FWIW, slowing development is not such a bad thing, though it would mean higher housing costs for buyers and renters alike.

                  I find it entertaining that you used “begs the question” because that’s one of those things that I’d expect traditionalists to eschew.

                  Begging the question (Latin petitio principii, “assuming the initial point”) is a type of informal fallacy in which an implicit premise would directly entail the conclusion. Begging the question is one of the classic informal fallacies in Aristotle’s Prior Analytics. Some modern authors consider begging the question to be a species of circulus in probando (Latin, “circle in proving”) or circular reasoning. Were it not begging the question, the missing premise would render the argument viciously circular, and while never persuasive, arguments of the form “A therefore A” are logically valid[1][2][3] because asserting the premise while denying the self-same conclusion is a direct contradiction. In general, validity only guarantees the conclusion must follow given the truth of the premises. Absent that, a valid argument proves nothing: the conclusion may or may not follow from faulty premises—although in this particular example, it’s self-evident that the conclusion is false if and only if the premise is false (see logical equivalence and logical equality).[4]

                  Some authorities consider the use of “begs the question” as a way of saying “raises the question” or “evades the question” to be no longer mistaken because it has attained such wide usage, despite having “long been condemned by usage commentators as incorrect or sloppy”.[5][6][7]

                  One last note: Coyote are native out here, and they’ve really become urban wildlife nationwide.


            • Since you don’t like the New York Times, try Business Week:


              There’s also a lot of real conservative values expressed in their cover story from April:


  3. Michael Kinsey says

    Every person in America has asked himself the simple question. Would I have wanted to be aborted.Only, the rabidly dishonest, and I have heard this answer claimed, would say, yes.The sanctity of human life is an absolute requirement for civilization.All other morals and human decency are corrupted with this murderous practice.Spiritually, abortion is a utter rejection of the Royal Law, and it practice desolates the spiritual/moral foundation of the human heart.There is no hope of salvation or civilization as long as this practice is permitted with impunity.It is a mandate to serve yourself, live for bread alone, and exault yourself, over the fact you can steal and destroy with relative impunity all the copper you want.If you start will murdering you own flesh and blood, where do you go from there? It is unreasonable to expect illegals to consider assimulation, and intergration a worthy asperation. The culture is worthless, savorless, and is good for nothing that keep body and soul, heart and mind in a state that will willingly treat his brother as he, himself would like to be treated.Baby John Doe, Marshall in Command, 1st National Day of Rescue, Sunnyvalle, Calf. Oct 29, 1988.
    Within the heart of man, there is a beam which shines forth from the Son of God Jesus Christ, which illumines the senses to the sacredness of all God creation. It’s beauty, it’s wonders, and it’s mysteries are abundant affirmation of the Command of God given to Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Command of God is Life Eternal. No government or people have ever been enpowered by God to violate this Commandment. We in the United States suffer under a spiritual corruption in a high place. It is corrupt, in that it has legalized massive infanticide in this country. We are duty bound, but only in a Christlike manner to STOP IT.
    The only example even close to the power of this statement can be heard in the movie Gandi, where he tells the British to get out.I wrote this 15 minutes before my testamony in a trial of pro-life activists for an abortion clinic blockade.Son of Thunder, is how the Christ described St. James and St John. I know why He said that of them. I hace done it myself.This is authentic prophetic witness with the full enpowerment of the Holy Spirit.Abortion is where we must start if we wish to redress effectively any ills of the modern culture.With God , all things are possible.

    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

      “The only example even close to the power of this statement can be heard in the movie Gandi, where he tells the British to get out.”

      Gandhi telling British to get out of India, much of which they had freed from the Muslim invaders, and that Muslims quickly carved their own states out of once the British left, with riots, massacres, and one of the largest population movements in history (lowest estimate half a million dead, 12 million homeless). Being a passive aggressive homosexual Hindu only works when in an imaginary world where the only opposing force is a fading Heterodox Christian island power that is in a mood to leave anyway.

      India and Pakistan both have nukes pointed at eachother now…

      Too early to tell the full damage of Gandhi’s legacy.

      • Michael Kinsey says

        Would you dare to give this justification on Judgement Day to the Christ, to His Face. I hope, you your sake, you would not be so enamored of self-righteousness, and self justification.Thou shalt not kill, is not an idle command given by a foolish God.There may be people who need protected from harm others would do, defending loved ones is very understandable. However, this cannot be applied to the right to murder your own children. Rationlization and relitivizing the right to the sanctity of life contained in the image and likeness of God in the human soul of all humanity is not within the authority of the human soul. It is God’s alone.You profess worldly reasoning, with no costly obedience to God, just ,perhaps costly obedience to the world.That kind of obedience may well be much more costly than you imagine, having an eternal consequence.I do not attempt to justify the demonic madness of the world, I only look to my own actions, which I will be held accountable for. I do not reap what others sow, I reap what I sow.Perhaps .you should come down that ladder a bit!

  4. Michael Kinsey says

    While these clerics were in seminary, I was being dragged through the streets by my hair by police, in non violent civil disobedience concerning the most important issue in modern civilization.Teach and do.

  5. Michael Kinsey says

    Everlasting Son of God is what I said, it is not meet to omit a word.

  6. Michael Kinsey says

    As Christians, we must rebuild the walls that were broken down. The Royal Law has been rejected, and replaced by the humanist value system, which only desolates and leads only to every man’s hand against his brother.

  7. Happy Memorial Day Weekend, and it is certainly a happy one for former Primate of the OCA, +Jonah, who is at St. Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary for the Pilgrimage. Yes, +Jonah is there after striking a deal with his brother bishops. He will get $3K a month and be officially retired. He will also take blame again for everything that went wrong under his leadership.

    He is walking around here with his good friend, Bishop Benjamin. What a beautiful picture of brothers dwelling in unity.

    Thought you would like to know.

    Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!


      has a photo showing Metropolitans Jonah, Hilarion Kapral and Tikhon next to each other concelebrating

      Looks like a good sign. Similarly, a good sign was Met. Tikhon serving at the former OCA parish new ROCOR parish in Stafford, VA.

      Now, where’s the apology? Is the OCA only to show the situational morality of the word that never apologizes? Maybe the South will luck out and get Jonah as an archbishop

  8. Gail Sheppard says

    California (I call it the ‘sunshine state,” because it deserves it more than FL) is just a little ahead of its time. “Coming soon to a theater near you!”

  9. OCA Road Warrior says
  10. Gail Sheppard says

    Why aren’t there any guys who look like the “Road Warrior” in CA? If there were, that would be reason enough to stay.

    The guys in CA look more like this:

    OK, I’m kidding, but not by much. :-/

    • nit picker says


      I showed that photo to my dog. He turned his head to either side quizzically a few times started to growl and then bark. I minimized the screen and he calmed down. I showed it to him again, the same reaction. Good boy Sam!!