The Labyrinth of Illegal Immigration

Navigating self-interest, ideals, and public opinion in the debate about illegal immigration Activists portray illegal immigration solely as a human story of the desperately poor from south of the border fleeing misery to start new, productive lives in the U.S. — despite exploitation and America’s nativist immigration laws. But the truth is always more complex […]

Can California be Saved?

Crime is back up in California. Los Angeles reported a 20.6 percent increase in violent crimes over the first half of 2015 and nearly an 11 percent increase in property crimes. Last year, cash-strapped California taxpayers voted for Proposition 47, which so far has let thousands of convicted criminals go free from prison and back […]

The Underbelly of the California Drought

It is September in California, year four of a scorching drought. Forest fires are blackening the arid state, from Napa Valley to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Fly over the High Sierra and about every tenth evergreen below appears dead. Even the high mountain lakes and reservoirs are about empty – and equally void of vacationers […]

Two Californians—Together a Disaster

Driving across California is like going from Mississippi to Massachusetts without ever crossing a state line. Consider the disconnects: California’s combined income and sales taxes are among the nation’s highest, but the state’s deficit is still about $16 billion. It’s estimated that more than 2,000 upper-income Californians are leaving per week to flee high taxes […]

An Engineered Drought

California governor Jerry Brown had little choice but to issue a belated, state-wide mandate to reduce water usage by 25 percent. How such restrictions will affect Californians remains to be seen, given the Golden State’s wide diversity in geography, climate, water supply, and demography. We do know two things. First, Brown and other Democratic leaders […]

It’s Hard to Screw Up California — But We Try Our Best

There is a sort of upbeat NY Times article arguing that California — in part, thanks to passing the highest sales and income taxes in the nation — might be coming back, a sort of recovery that can guide the rest of the U.S. to a renewed faith in the Obama/EU/blue state way. I can also […]

California: The Road Warrior Is Here

Crossposted on PJMedia Where’s Mel Gibson When You Need Him? George Miller’s 1981 post-apocalyptic film The Road Warrior envisioned an impoverished world of the future. Tribal groups fought over what remained of a destroyed Western world of law, technology, and mass production. Survival went to the fittest — or at least those who could best scrounge together […]

Can California Be Fixed?

Crossposted on National Review Online Recently, I was driving down pot-holed, two-lane, non-freeway 101 near Monterey (unchanged since the 1960s) when the radio blared that on a recent science test administered to public schools, California scored 47th in the nation. As I looked at the congested traffic on the decrepit highway and digested the idea […]

California’s Water Wars

Cross-posted at CityJournal.

California’s water wars aren’t about scarcity. Even with 37 million people and the nation’s most irrigation-intensive agriculture, the state usually has enough water for both people and crops, thanks to the brilliant hydrological engineering of past generations of Californians. But now there is a new element in the century-old water calculus: a demand that the state’s inland waters flow as pristinely as they supposedly did before the age of dams, reservoirs, and canals. Only that way can California’s rivers, descending from their mountain origins, reach the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta year-round. Only that way, environmentalists say, can a three-inch delta fish be saved and salmon runs from the Pacific to the interior restored.

Such green dreams are not new to California politics. But their consequences, in this case, have been particularly dire: rich farmland idled, workers laid off, and massive tax revenues forfeited. Worse still, they coincide with a $25 billion annual state deficit, an overtaxed and fleeing elite populace, unsustainable pension obligations for public employees, a growing population of illegal aliens—and a world food shortage. This insolvent state is in far too much trouble to predicate its agricultural future on fish.