California

Before the Storm

Featured image I was up to my neck grading end of semester term papers today, but, as you may have heard if you follow the weather, California is about to get hit with a large storm.  The surf is already epic, so I decided to play hookie for the afternoon and shoot some video.  Here’s a 2:30 highlight reel.  (Power has a way of going out in big storms on my part »

Low-Information Californians

Featured image The “low-information voter” is the au courant term these days, though the phenomenon has been well understood by public choice economists under the theory of “rational ignorance.”  But Californians clearly abuse the privilege, and appear to be “irrationally ignorant voters.”  To wit: 40% of Voters Unaware That Jerry Brown Is Seeking Another Term Here’s an eye-opener: With the election Tuesday, a whopping 4 out of 10 voters don’t even know »

Invasion of the Body Politic Snatchers

Featured image Forget the pod people of Invasion of the Body Snatchers: it seems the plastic people have taken over California government.  Think of it as Invasion of the Body Politic Snatchers.  Today Gov. Jerry Brown, who never found a goofy environmental idea he didn’t like, signed the bill to outlaw “single-use” plastic bags in California.  Which prompts the following 45-second video rant from me about how it is going to reduce »

What’s Wrong With California in One Map

Remember Barry Goldwater’s famous line that the country would be better off if we sawed off the Atlantic seaboard and let it drift out to sea?  Well, the same thing should be said of coastal California. This isn’t exactly news of course, but below is a great photo that dramatizes the problem: it shows which California counties have banned single-use plastic bags.  No mystery as to the politics of this. »

The Beholden State: The video

Featured image Steve wrote here about his appearance last week at the event promoting the northern California launch for the Manhattan Institute’s new collection of City Journal California articles entitled The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How to Recapture It.  Steve spoke on a panel at the City Club along with City Journal editors and authors Brian Anderson, Steve Malanga, and Ben Boychuk. Steve noted that the book covers the entire »

The Beholden State and Its Potemkin Economic Recovery

Featured image So where am I today?  Some mornings it takes me moment to recall, although I’m tempted to blame the second Talisker at the bar at closing last night for this morning’s fog.  Oh, wait—that’s real fog out the window: I’m in San Francisco.  Today is the northern California launch for the Manhattan Institute’s new collection of City Journal California articles entitled The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How to »

Green Weenie of the Week: Jerry Brown

Featured image Now I know what you’re thinking: doesn’t California Governor Jerry Brown deserve a coveted Power Line Green Weenie lifetime achievement award for some of the things he did 35 years ago, when he was governor first time around?  Goes without saying.  It was back during Brown’s “Moonbeam” years that California embarked on its dirigisme energy policy, with some of the first major subsidies for wind and solar power that gave »

California’s Latest Suicide Attempt

Featured image Modern liberalism is all about “rights”—rights to health care, right to a job, right to food, the right to more rights, and so forth.  You know the drill.  Of course, these kind of liberal “rights” aren’t rights at all properly understood; they are benefits that require the state to tax or expropriate someone’s property to provide the “right” to someone else. Right now the California state legislature is poised to »

How Many Ways Can California Be Stupid?

Featured image Beating up on California these days is easier than snatching lunch money from the pocket protector of a skinny near-sighted kid.  But why should Victor Davis Hanson have all the fun?  And besides, now that I’m back in my home state after a decade away, the decay is palpable, like roads suffering from obvious “deferred maintenance” to unfinished housing tracts, etc. So what are the main problems facing California right »

California, Still Dreaming

Featured image All the leaves are brown, and the budget is still red, even with Jerry Brown’s big income and sales tax hike the voters foolishly approved back in November.  The latest entirely predictable piece of news was reported yesterday.  The Wall Street Journal headline tells the story succinctly: “California Budget Hit By Facebook’s IPO.” Wait a moment: how exactly is a budget “hit” by the creation of massive new liquid wealth?  »

California, Home of the Destitute (with Steve Postscript)

Featured image Last spring, my wife and youngest daughter and I spent a week in California. We were reminded of the extraordinary natural wealth and beauty that were showered on that uniquely blessed state. For a century or so, guided by brilliant private sector leadership, California was a beacon to the world, a land of opportunity such as never had existed in human history. Unimaginable wealth was created. Yet it required only »

California, here we come?

Featured image The Romney campaign had a governing thesis. The thesis that Obama would be judged on the basis of his administration’s economic record, specifically including the dire unemployment that has come to characterize Obama’s tenure in office so far. It was a reasonable thesis, but in the event it misfired. The thesis wasn’t entirely mistaken. It was partially correct. The national exit poll reported by the AP showed the economy was »

Grill a Burger, Go to Jail?

Featured image I recall clearly back in my graduate school days in southern California in the late 1980s/early 1990s when the South Coast Air Quality Management District—the smog police—was kicking its regulatory program into warp speed and proposing regulations for just about everything imaginable.  This might even have included regulating landscaping, since biogenic emissions from certain kinds of trees (Ronald Reagan was right about this!) can contribute to ozone formation, if cooler »

Willie Brown’s Mea Culpa

Featured image I occasionally click through to Willie Brown’s rambling column in the San Francisco Chronicle–he’s obviously trying to channel or emulate the format of the legendary Herb Caen–in large part because I always regarded Brown as the smartest and most able politician in America during his heyday as Speaker of the California State Assembly.  He flummoxed Republicans at every turn (and several ethics investigations, too, if you believe the rumors). Today »

California Dreaming, Chapter 3

Featured image For this installment I take time out from observing California’s socialist-utopian dysfunctionality to observe a few of those “exploitable asymmetries” mentioned previously that make it possible for California to get away with so much of its nonsense.  The other day a pod of whales frolicked on the water just offshore from me, and I managed to catch a great blues act, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, at one of »

The Coolest RNC Swagbag. . .

Featured image . . . has to be the one for the California delegation that includes a copy of a really good book.  From the Sacramento Bee: The Buzz: California swag bags for GOP conventioneers valued at $700 By Bee staff ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — California delegates attending the Republican National Convention this week will take home a goodie bag filled with GOP gear, gift cards and some Golden State-grown staples »

California Dreaming, Chapter 2

Featured image It’s been a picture postcard perfect day out here on the central coast of California, with a large pod of humpback whales frolicking out in the ocean right in front of me (video coming shortly), so I’ve neglected the keyboard most of the day.  California enjoys what economists call “exploitable asymmetries,” which means California’s climate and topography enable liberals to get away with more idiotic stuff than interior states, because »