SCOTUS Makes It Official: California A Failed State
Published on: May 27, 2011
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  • Luke Lea

    “Immigrants are a net plus for the United States” A net plus for or GNP but not a net plus for working-class people as a rule. Like immigration — and automation — it has the effect of increasing the supply of labor and thereby lowering its price.

    In the case of illegal immigration we are talking about an uncontrolled demographic invasion from a neighboring nation with irredentist claims to the American southwest.

    The United States needs to seriously consider an immigration time-out or moratorium to give us a chance to assimilate and integrate the 30 million plus foreign-born residents we already have, many from countries with no democratic traditions. Nobody voted for this and a lot of Democratic interests groups in alliance with Republican businessmen seem determined to make sure we don’t get a chance to vote on it now. Major Jewish organizations in particular, who have done so much to shape current immigration policy and practices, need to take another look at this issue and its effects on the least-powerful segments of the population.

  • Luke Lea

    “Following a series of misadventures that I hope will NOT see the light of day after all these years . . .” Were you inspired by “On the Road”? How foolish, how naive — how Romantic! 🙂

  • Diver

    No, every state should have a bicameral legislature, and we should go back to per-county seats. Cities above a certain threshold could have per-borough seats.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Socialism has never worked anywhere.
    It wasn’t until the Democrats gained complete control in California, that it all went to s__t. Look to Michigan to see the end results of Democrats in control. You point out that California has an illegal immigrant problem, but Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona have the same problem. The labor gang monopolies are also a problem, which the Democrats can’t deal with, as we can see from the prison problem. Both leftist Judges and the Prison Guard labor gang have driven costs to $50,000 per prisoner.
    It is clear that, you can have the Democrats in control, or you can have the American Dream, you can’t have both.

  • closedanger

    Then pass % of GDP tax laws in local and state governments – shoo in fair tax. PR 52. We must find a way to alter government’s behavior, activity, and spending. Or kill it dead like a rabid dog.

  • vanderleun

    Breaking up California is a brilliant and rational idea.

    And the only rational response is, “Fat chance.”

  • sexychick

    It was Republicans playing their ‘tough on crime’ attitude that lead to prison overcrowding. Three Strikes your out, Prop 215 and the profiteering of the prison industry were all acomplished during Republican administrations over the last 20 years.
    CA is an example of a socialist state with its large number of public employees. Either way, if broken up the 8th largest economy in the world contributes ALOT to the largest GDP in the world, the United States of America. You cant collapse one without significantly impacting the other. They are not mutually exclusive.

  • Toni in Texas

    Mr. Mead, where in the world do you get the idea that Texas needs to be broken up?

    Texas is the opposite of a failed state. Unlike California, New York, and Illinois, Texas taxes and regulates lightly, and its economy outperforms theirs by far. Michael Barone rounds up some stats here:

    Because Texas’s government is relatively small — the legislature meets for 140 days every two years — local communities are still important. Local politicians have to cater to their citizens’ concerns.

    To the extent that agriculture, oil, and gas built Texas, they could have built Louisiana, and Louisiana has the Mississippi River to boot. Yet Texas is the entrepreneurial and corporate powerhouse.

    Texans never asked government to solve all their problems. They never believed they could have something for nothing. Here, “Yes, we can” has a whole ‘nother meaning.

    Though it irks some outsiders, Texan culture is different, too. Compare Texas Monthly to New York, the only other state magazine. I don’t believe the latter knows upstate New York exists. But people all over Texas really do care about other people and places all over Texas. Texas Monthly’s founders tried to duplicate their success in California, and flopped for the reasons you cite.

    Do I protest too much? Well, that’s something else different. No Texan ever thinks she (or he) can protest too much.

  • JLK

    Odd Dr Mead…I was telling my wife that last week. California IS past the point of no return. There will be no “NEXT” recovery.

    We live next door in Oregon and our finances are a microcosm of the Golden State; and our problems can be stated in a nutshell: too much PC.

    Like California we have reelected a Governor who helped cause the problemt to begin with. Kitzhaber (our new governor who I am sure your readers have never heard of) is the same guy who put PEU officials in charge of PERS annual return calculations!!!

    That alone broke the bank in 2002 and so another LIbtard governor was forced to put some half hearted band-aid-like PERS “reform” measures together in 2003 but here we are right back in the s… again for the next biennium. (This time $3.2 Bil in the hole for a state of 3.8 mil)

    It is almost like we are aping California with their Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown redux.

    Now what do these guys have in common besides the “D” in the Voter’s Handbook?…you guessed it they are hard left card carrying PC’ers with solid Greenie credentials.

    To add to the insults, injuries and teethgrinding foisted on us Center-Right moderates, the last Governor (Kulongoski) in his last speech in office, after trashing the state finances for EIGHT years, says we need to “cut back spending”.

    And why did Oregon fall into this trap? Through migration we became an outpost of California for those who have already wrecked their state. Of course the Lefty wreckers wanted to start a “Greenfield” wreckage project in Oregon back in the 1980’s. (Cheap housing did not hurt)

    Back in the day Oregonians thought independently…not anymore.(I call it BC for “Before Californication”) Lockstep with the PC trend of the day! Damn the logic of avoiding bankruptcy, full speed ahead!

    God help us all out here on the Left Coast.

  • Harold Seneker

    Breaking up California into five states? That would mean that instead of two liberal senators from California we would have at least eight and possibly ten (your proposed State of Steinbeck might vote more sensibly than the rest).

    Bad idea.

  • Toni in Texas

    Mr. Mead, an addendum on breaking up Texas, from the University of Texas’s primer on Texas political culture (

    “The diversity contained in Texas was recognized even in the Joint Resolution of the U.S. Congress of Annexing Texas, passed in 1845, which allowed that new states, not to exceed four, could be formed out of Texas territory, for a total of five possible states.”

    The Texas State Historical Society describes attempts to break up the state for one reason you suggest, i.e., different needs in different areas ( Texans have sometimes considered division but never followed through:

    “In the 1930s John Nance Garner proposed a division that called for the maximum number of states permitted under the law, East Texas, West Texas, North Texas, South Texas, and Central Texas. Garner’s arguments were familiar. Texas was too large, the sections of the state have contradictory interests, the West and South deserved increased representation in the Congress, candidates for office have too great a difficulty in carrying their program to all sections in an election campaign, and the people of the new states would be able to elect representatives more conversant with their needs. The Garner plan, like all others, came to naught.

    “After the 1930s division proposals were not taken seriously.”

    I believe this puts paid to the idea that Texans would ever break their beloved state.

  • Anthony

    WRM’s forecasting apres nous le de-luge for not only California but also several other contintenal states brings to mind (after reflection) “social problems” as paramount importance to long term health of United States. These problems (every civil institution…has to fail….), despite sociological commissions and reports over last 40 plus years, have not been made more tractable. I think, via California, WRM is suggesting U.S. citizenry can no longer accept political neglect (at all levels – local, county, state, federal) by appointed and elected politicians focused solely on market place imperatives at expense of deteriorating states’ fiscal/social conditions (eroding at core).

    Given our antiquated political system, news ways forward given the ongoing challenges produced by science and technology must be found to stanch this rising tide of unsolved fiscal/social problems potentially reconfiguring our states.

    Goverments and economic systems are never separate and experience shows that their leading personnel are interchangeable. Consequently, how much of our cultural system (operative value of American society) of exemplified success has contributed to cycle explored by WRM? Monetary success as a proper life goal imbues America to the extent that the monetary unsuccessful are regarded with contempt, indifference, or pity (sometimes even by themselves). I think what C. Wright Mills called the “cultural apparatus” has played a major role in reducing/making fragile the sinews that kept the California of WRM’s youth vital. Nevertheless, conditions and circumstances were both different then and accorded with the idea of the ‘successful man’ as an implied value to American society.

    As I read WRM’s SCOTUS Makes It Official: California A Failed State, it brings to mind that the aformentioned lies at the bottom of our failing Californias. That is, the values promoted by our success cult and our basic politico-economic system (in need of revision) has landed us in 2011 searching for adjustments, causes, remedies, and answers as outworn and patched state systems of governance dangle in the balance. “The causes of American state insufficiency are political, not economic, or at least political before they are economic. Better put, they are cultural.”

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    Dr. Mead: California may be on its way to a de facto crack up as you propose – it is called “realignment.” The State is broke and is decentralizing much of state government back to the counties. This is a way for the state entity of government to stay alive while local governments will fail.

    It is the county governments that are most overburdened with the coming pension Tsunami. And now that the Supreme Court has ordered prison releases it will be the counties that will either have to build jails quickly or let felons go.

    But this crisis may also provide opportunity for the counties to form different types of government than the state. If they survive, that is.

  • boqueronman

    The comment thread is actually taking the theme initiated by WRM to its logical conclusion. No, the situation the U.S. faces is that it’s federal system is collapsing. California may be more of a “region” than a “state.” But taking that one step further, as an earlier commenter does, the entire West Coast is thoroughly, and maybe irredeemably, committed to the Progressive-left utopia. Thus, it seems to me, the only way to get like with like, is to split up the entire United States into independent regions which share cultural values, e.g. Northeast, Rust Belt, South, Southwest, North and Central and West Coast. Each would have its own Senate and House, Chief Executive and court/justice system. The only remaining function of the “United States” would be territorial defense and foreign representation (but probably not treaty making). The “states” within these regions could subdivide in a manner which hopefully would maximize the benefits of Jethrine system of subsidiarity. But each would set up its own system. Oh, and, of course, each region would have a set of “immigration” laws defining who from the other regions and rest of the world would be allowed to reside there. This framework seems like the most likely “endgame” for the turmoil that is coming.

  • Jerry Brown signed my University of California diploma in 1980 well maybe Jerry didnt technically sign my faux parchment but it was his signature ……. …..Now 30 years later my two daughters just graduated from college and cue Twilight Zone music Brown is once again running for governor of California. Like a woman whose memory of childbirth fades over time has Jerry Brown forgotten how difficult it is to run a state as contentious as California?As one who previously held of Governor of California Brown should know better than anyone what its like to work with the California State Legislaturea pugnacious group that makes the guys from The look like Campfire Girls.

  • America had the same problem during alcohol prohibition. It is in the history books. You can look it up. You want lots of criminals and overflowing prisons in America? Institute a prohibition regime.

  • So America from about 1925 to 1933 was a failed state? That is news to me. I guess news travels very slowly these days.

  • So from 1920 until 1933 America failed to produce law abiding citizens and then in 1933 it miraculously turned around? That is going to be a hard one to explain. How in 1933 did our institutions suddenly start working? I know. A miracle happened.

  • glenn

    As a long time California resident who came here from a commonsense place I’ve been frustrated by the lack of attention to the criminal element here. I came when I was 12 and it took me 3 years to figure out California didn’t have a three strikes law. It took the rape/murder of a 12 year old girl by a 5 arrest/4 conviction sex criminal to get us one and now the Supremes have said we can’t use the penal system to protect ourselves. I wonder if they understand that there are alternatives. Having said that we get a lot of our criminals from the rest of you guys. We don’t grow ’em all.

  • Toads

    While I generally agree with the premise of the article, it makes the same mistakes most conservatives make.

    Rather than say ‘California’ generates criminals, instead recognize that the US criminalizes far more behavior than it should. For starters, many men are in jail for merely failing to make their demanding wives sufficiently happy.

    Google ‘Feminist Gulag’ by Stephen Baskerville.

    A ‘tough on crime’ conservative is a great friend of the police-state left.

    A ‘protect angelic women from evil men’ conservative is the best possible instrument of the police-state left.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      The post doesn’t address the question about why so many people are in jail in California; the fact that the state is imprisoning more people than it can afford to lock up is itself evidence of massive dysfunction. I agree that part of the problem involves more than just building more prisons; California seems unlikely to do this particularly well.

  • Hurtin1

    Geographers would agree with Mr Mead with regards to California. It’s hard for a large territory that runs longitudinally to govern itself. There’s a reason why most nations of significant size, if you look at a map, stretch East-West if they stretch at all. It’s easier to govern along a latitude; you have more in common. History is replete with examples of societies fracturing along latitudinal lines.

    Of course, that’s not a hard and fast rule, just a tendency. And FIVE states is pushing it. We’re not trying to build a utopia for one, and for another the GOP would never agree to give the Dems another 6 or 8 net Senators.

    Just a snip separating Aztlan from NoCal would suffice to make CA a less ridiculous state to govern. Either split the Central Valley between them, make it a third state, or annex it to neighbors, as residents wish.

    As for Texas, why fix something that’s not broken? And in actuality, though you can be in Texas and get very far away from somewhere that’s also in Texas, the state is centrally proportioned. And the other suggestions are just ridiculous. We can’t go parsing up relatively small states just because they happen to have big cities in them. All Illinois needs is some very prolonged attention from the FBI.

  • Toads

    The real solution for CA is something the GOP/Tea Party has no [courage] to push :

    1) Have the Federal Government take over CA govt, refinance the debt, and completely re-write the CA state constitution.
    2) Bar CA from voting in national elections for the next 4 years while this process is underway.

    This will not only turn CA into a laboratory of free-market, pro-business ideas, but will also cause the rest of the country to shift rightwards, as CA is not part of national elections for 4 years.

    All problems will be solved at once.

    This is the only solution. Breaking up CA is the worst solution, worthy only of unpatriotic losers. Hollywood and Silicon Valley are major assets of NATIONAL value, and will not be duplicated anywhere else in the US. The US has to preserve them, or lose them.

    If Silicon Valley is weakened by too much government, it will not move to Texas, it will move to Asia. It already is.

    If Hollywood is weakened by too much government, you better start watching Bollywood flicks, which are already produced for a tenth of the cost. Don’t think Bollywood will not hire American actors (who are free agents).

  • DRJ

    I’m a Texan and I agree with Toni that the Texas model still works. I think it’s because most Texans believe in personal responsibility and are proud of our State. These factors unite us when other things pull us apart. Most Americans felt this way when I was growing up 30-40 years ago. I’m not so sure that’s true anymore.

  • Anthony

    Are we now proposing dividing continental United States as a consequence of outworn and patched state systems of governance as represented by social/fiscal crisis in California? Is that the endgame for a pluralistic nation? Or can Americans reconsider ideals from their Creed and its peculiar brand of nationalism and right the states? The American Creed that has lured millions of all nations to our shores certainly can provide framework for reconfiguring issues posed by WRM without throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water.

  • Steven E

    I’m here in El Paso, which is as isolated from the mainstream of the state as anywhere, and I want to be clear: Texas is fine as-is.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Don’t mess with Texas seems to be a common sentiment out there; no such responses yet from New York, Illinois and Florida!

  • MJH

    It’s posts like this I’m always surprised that Dr. Mead is a Democrat. You have TX booming and CA Democrats visiting the state to learn to how to create jobs. You want to create jobs, cut taxes, simplify regulations and have a sane judiciary. Then get out of the way.

    CA is going to keep going in its failed form, just like Greece et al will continue along.

  • Prof Mead:

    You say. “Let there be no mistake: when you produce so many criminals that you can’t afford to lock them up, you are a failed state. ”

    Not to be a smart[ypants] but…says who?

    You neglect to mention three strikes laws. I’m pretty sure that those are not part of the “blue state model,” but do contribute significantly to prison overcrowding.

    You also neglect to mention mandatory minimmum sentencing laws, again not part of any “blue state model.” Judges are forced to send people to state prison who 20-30 years ago would have been sentenced to some kind of diversion program.

    You also fail to mention the percentage of these criminals whose crimes flow directly from the war on drugs, again not part of any blue state model I’m familiar with.

    You applaud North and South Dakota but fail to mention that the State of California subsidizes the citizens of North and South Dakota,through the Federal Government pipeline. See here for example:

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Your observations don’t undercut my point that California’s political system is not producing smart and workable answers to the state’s social problems.

  • Otto Maddox

    California isn’t too large to govern. The problem is simply that it’s being run by Socialists, and, as we all know, Socialism doesn’t work. What more proof do you need?
    As far as a solution, let it implode and burn.

  • Harold Seneker

    Your point is well taken, and incontrovertible. As usual.

    But I don’t think the sheer size of California is the problem, as you go on to argue. Today’s China is working incomparably better than the same China under Mao, though its area is the same and its population (despite strenuous efforts by Red Guards and childbirth police) somewhat larger.

    I think California’s problem is the cultural, social, political and ideological values that govern there. I think California is in the vanguard of those proving an earlier point you have made, that the blue state model is coming apart at the seams and collapsing of its own weight. California is proving you right

    The implication of your break-up-california argument goes beyond states. It suggests no country should be much larger than Switzerland. I disagree. As the world becomes ever more complex, ever more interconnected and interdependent, ever more – let’s say it proudly – global, there will be a need for comparably large units of government to deal with the complications that presents.

    Rather than fret about that, I suggest a reconception of the governmental pyramid, where the citizens are at the bottom and the central state at the top. I propose an inverted pyramid. Let’s call it neither blue nor red, but the Gold Standard. Place the individual citizens at the top, with as much as possible of the responsibility and the means for dealing with their own problems invested in mentally competent adult individuals. Such a system would be based on individual responsibility for individual actions – and outcomes. Problems they cannot solve individually or in concert with immediate associates should get kicked up to the next level – we in the US would think of it as municipal. But as few as possible, with the least power and resources necessary to handle the job. Problems insoluble there go up to the next – county? – level. And hence to the state, the national – perhaps in the future the continental or world level, but in each case with carefully limited powers, responsibilities and assigned resources. All above the individual level governed by elected representatives of the governed, of course. I suggest the result will be more thoughtful, customized, and frugal decisions and actions at every level.

    This is not a new concept, really. The earliest expression of it on record is to be found in Deuteronomy 1:9-17, though that appears to deal primarily with the judiciary. The concept appears enshrined in the US Constitution and many of the writings of the Founding Fathers. It only seems novel, even radical, inside the Beltway – and apparently, in California.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I’d think that if the ‘too large to govern’ explanation were correct, the ‘glorious’ California that WRM first drove into would never have existed at all. But California did work pretty well, up until thirty or forty years ago. So what happened then?

    I really think it’s going to come down to a complete failure of self-discipline on everybody’s part.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Massive population growth… I see a causal relationship between a dysfunctional political system and a declining public understanding of how governance actually works.

  • Toni in Texas

    Golly Moses. Mr. Mead, if “your observations” refer to mine, well, I thought my whole first post supported your point.

  • infidel

    Just what we need. Give those morons 8 more senate seats so that they can make an even bigger mess of things. Also, don’t mess with Texas

  • TJ

    Mr. Mead says

    “Don’t mess with Texas seems to be a common sentiment out there; no such responses yet from New York, Illinois and Florida!”

    I am from Illinois and if it was up to me, Chicago and Cook County could be gifted to Michigan.

    90% (physical) of this state is not blue. The main reason we are in the shape we are is due the the dem’s policies.

  • koblog

    Dr. Mead, your observations are correct and brilliant in conciseness.

    But your solution is iffy.

    Otto Mattox above has it exactly correct: California is run by socialists and socialism does not work. Five socialist states will still be dysfunctional.

    Gerrymandering has been very effective: when I moved into CA36 in 1980, “B-1” Bob Dornan was my representative. That’s conservative. Dornan was reapportioned out of existence, and replaced by a permanent Dem seat populated by the forgettable likes of Mel Levine, Jane Harman and now whoever wins the “open” primaries that virtually shut Republicans out of the process.

    This creates a permanent, unassailable single party that cannot but lead to the corruption you so ably denote.

    That, and we are being bankrupted by the failed school teachers/administrators; prison guards and public pensions.

  • teapartydoc

    No, it should not be broken up. It should be returned to territorial status and not allowed back into the union without the approval of 3/4 of the other states. Secession should be granted by approval of the voters of the state and a majority of the other states, with oil and mineral rights retained by the USA. And Disneyland. We keep Disneyland.

  • Now that the Left has destroyed California, they’ll move to financially prudent states, where–you guessed it–they’ll proceed to Californize them. Locusts, but more destructive.

  • DeeG

    Illinois does not need to be broken up into multiple states.

    Illinois, like California, suffers from the problem that at the state and federal level both the Dems and R’s have had the ability to solidify political bases by way of feeding at the public trough. (I refer to them as the Chicago machine and the Downstate combine). It isn’t surprising that our Congressional representation swings depending on which party last did the redistricting.

    In Illinois (helped in part by federal regulation such as EPA, labor laws, that has driven manufacturing out of the U.S.), too high of a proportion of jobs originate with the “knowledge class,” eg traders, banks, insurance, lawyers, universities, hospitals, and government (a HUGE percentage of middle class voters in Chicago are government employees at the federal and local level, nearly all of ’em unionized).

    Illinois would be not-great, but not ready to fall off a cliff financially but-for the pension/medicare costs it has. Illinois will have a hard time jettisoning them without a fight from a very entrenched political class. We’ll run out of money eventually, and they’ll devour their own. We’ll have to go through Michigan/California-like periods of hurt.

  • NWBill

    California is a perfect theme for the Republicans in 2012: “Elect us, or watch the rest of the country turn into …. THAT!”

    What a textbook example of the failure of liberalism, the anti-Americanism if progressivism, and the fear of a state that can produce someone like Nancy Pelosi!

  • Not “Baja Norte” but, “Iowa West” better describes my home turf, and if anything, our hispanic population reinforces my point.

  • Carl Eric Scott

    First, you would need most of the politicians and at least 60% of the voters in a presumably far-more-failed-than-it-already-is California to agree to divide the state. Such support would have to be bipartisan.

    Second, support of this idea would have to coalesce around an agreed-upon non-revisable vote for deciding a) how many states to split into, and b) what parts belong where. For example, would El Centro want to be part of state centered around San Diego, or would it prefer to be part of non-coastal state extending up to the east-of-the-Sierra desert communities, or, even into the San Jaouquin Valley? You can see the endless bargaining issues here.

    Third, you would need that consensus to hold for several years, to survive the basic bargaining process, to survive the additional bargaining divvying up resources and personnel, to survive revelations of harmed services and shady deals, to survive confusing court challenges, etc.

    Fourth, as per article IV of the U.S. Constitution, Congress would have to approve. This means a majority in the House, and another in the Senate. This means, before we even get to partisan calculations, that every small-population state would likely tell its Senators to vote against this de facto diminishment of their present (disproportionate) representation in the Senate. There are more of these states than large ones, so their advantage in Senate votes is daunting. Moreover, even a large state like Texas that doesn’t want to split would likewise have reason to oppose the precedent set by California’s split-up–“happy together” large states would not want to grant the populations of “split-wanting” states more Senate seats anymore than small ones would. Nor can you change that dynamic by means of a previous national embrace of proportional Senatorial representation: the last clause of Article V, the one and only non-amendable part of the Constitution prohibits that.

    Fifth, this national aspect of the question further means that likely swing-vote Representatives and Senators from other states would inevitably inject themselves into the initial intra-California bargaining about the shape of the split: “If you split into three, and in a way that favors such-and-such an interest, you’ll have my support; otherwise, forget it.”

    So it’s almost certainly impossible.

    But why would Dr. Mead even entertain it as a solution? Cannot county-level, district-level, community-level governance be radically rejiggered within an intact California? What would having a state capital in, say, San Diego not Sacramento, and more pull in the national Senate, really get the residents of, say, Temecula, if the patterns of local, county, and state government remained largely set? And what is it about the radical/painful/probably-impossible “split-up” reform that is so necessary to allow radical within-California reform of local, county, and state government? Or that even makes such reform more likely?

  • I live in Illinois. In a failed city. Rockford, Illinois. #9 on the list of the most crime ridden cities with populations over 100,000. Why? The police chief says we are a drug hub. We built a new 1,000 bed jail three years ago. There is talk of building another one. The sales tax is probably going up to pay for it. We do have a lot of big box stores out by the freeway. Prices are good. Do your deal and get your loot here.

    Maybe that is why the Drug War is so much on my mind.

    As long as the man from Chicago, Illinois is President, nothing will change in Illinois.

    And as long as most Republicans are idiots on the matter nothing will change. Oh yeah. I’m a Republican of the libertarian persuasion.

    If the Federal Government was going in a different direction it might inspire California. But we have the man from Chicago ne (Hawaii).

  • “More exposed to illegal migration than any other state, California has been overwhelmed by both legal and illegal immigrants.” The second part of this sentence is certainly true, but living in Texas, I know we have a much longer border with many more border towns.

    I’d say Texas is both more exposed and doing a better job of handling its illegal immigration problems than California.

    If by “exposed” you mean instead “more attractive to illegals who want to freeload instead of work,” you might have a point there, one consistent with many other observations in the piece.

  • Rick Hardy

    It was all good until Reagan’s amnesty and the huge influx of illegals from down south. Along with the visa overstays from elsewhere. I left teaching in LAUSD after my homeroom asked for a mexican flag to say the pledge to. That was Ramona Oppotunity School. I now live in Montana and love to visit my friends. What i don’t love is the crumbled infrastructure, gangs, illegals and mexican flags all over the place.

  • willis

    “you are often treated to long and impassioned arguments among intellectuals about where it all went wrong.”

    That is like arguing at which dose of cocaine one becomes an addict. It may differ by person but once it does happen, it is irreversible. A citizenry that transfers responsibility for its quality of life to its government loses its self-reliance. Reliance on others to cope with the vagaries of one’s fortune is addictive. It is done incrementally, but at a critical point it is forever. Government ultimately seeks only power and everything else is secondary, including the quality of life of its citizenry. Citizenry without self-reliance can’t fix a dysfunctional government. Without outside intervention to break the cycle they both fail. You propose an excellent outside intervention.

  • Bonfire of the Idiocies

    The real solution to California and America’s problems is to demand require holders of elected office to have held jobs other than lawyer prior to taking power. No more career politicians. The country is basically being run by people who know NOTHING about anything except running for office. Their arrogance is rivalled only by their ignorance, but they think they are all geniuses able to solve everybody’s problems. You couldn’t create a bigger bunch of fools even if you dumped all the characters from the worst half-witted sitcoms into a box and shook it vigorously.

  • Luke Lea

    “America can be a superpower or a welfare state, but not both.” T or F? Please discuss.

    hat tip: War News Update

  • Trent J. Telenko


    There are two major cultural differences hard wired into Texans compared to Californians:

    1) Private property.

    By quirk of our annexation as a separate nation, the Texas state government owned all public lands and our corrupt Texas politicians sold that land to private interests before the progressive era arrived. Over 95% of Texas land is privately held.

    The differences that makes in public political culture is profound and is very much unexamined by American political scientists.

    California had — between Federal lands and the Railway corporations — less than 50% of the land in private & non-corporate hands at the turn of the 20th century. So the American Progressives had a basis for growth in California they lacked in Texas.

    California needed a strong central state government to get the hydraulic projects needed to make central valley industrial extraction agriculture, and the heavily populated greater LA metropolitan area, possible.

    2) The environment of Texas has to be conquered for people to safely live in it. Oil extraction and air conditioning is what civilized Texas.

    That makes for a much harder and more practical people around which to build a civil society.

    California’s Mediterranean climate breads the same kind of lotus-eating, magical thinking, wish fulfillment civil behavior by the general public you are seeing in Spain, Italy and Greece.

    The combination of those two cultural differences with one party political rule is what destroyed California.

    All of California will look like Detroit in 15 years, after Silicon valley relocates to Austin, Texas.

    The IT industries won’t even have to turn out the lights, because the rolling black outs and the corrupt state government environmental regulations on Silicon Valley self-generation of electrical power will be what drove them out.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Hard wired? Really? Wasn’t Ronald Reagan a very popular governor of California not all that long ago?

  • PJ

    What other failed state has righted itself?

    I really want to know. I live in L.A. and don’t see much hope.

  • PD Quig

    My native state is aching to collapse. I long for it. I cannot wait until the mess becomes so obviously far beyond redemption that the last of the reasonable people leave it to the anarchists, socialists, and idiots of all other persuasions. When Pelosi’s SF looks like Detroit their work will be done. I can’t wait.

  • Prof. Mead

    I think you miss my point.

    You claim California’s prison problems are the result of a blue social model. My point is that the prison problem is specifically the result of conservative law and order policies and conservative refusal to pay for the government they want.

    California conservatives passed a three strikes law which imprisons even minor repeat offenders for very long stretches of time. At the same time California conservatives fight tax increases which in California require a super majority, bonds, prison building programs… anything that might cost them money. Well you can’t have it both ways.

    That’s my point.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      I see your point; I think you miss mine. I said “partially” due to the model. The real problem is a mix of policies that do not jell. You could have a war on drugs, tough on crime policy and a set of economic, managerial and revenue policies that made that affordable if not perhaps effective. California can’t do anything right. It mixes red and blue policies into a mix that is unsustainable and incoherent.

      Libertarian drug policy by the way is neither blue nor red. There is a minority on both the left and the right who favor legalization or other reforms of drug policy.

  • jim

    Please call it “immigration,” not the currently fashionable term “migration.” Removing the prefix makes it sound like citizenship and sovereignty don’t matter; that people, like the Arctic Tern, have the right to simply migrate from place to place.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      You read it that way; I don’t. In any case, California suffers from a migration problem. Too many poor and unskilled people are migrating in; too many affluent and skilled people (and businesses) are migrating out.

  • Anthony

    WRM has raised an American concern (California/state collaspe) that, in my opinion, goes beyond customary Blue/Red model, Republican/Democratic affiliation, liberal/conservative orientation, Southern/Nothern/Eastern/Western latitude& longitude. And his analysis implies assuming distinctions are misleading to overall point: California and other states have governing problems going forward; no matter how we got there. WRM implies that reasoned attitudes rather than rationalization by all Americans vis-a-vis politico-economic system is necessary to avert futher California replication. As I understand inference, it is in our self interest to salvage our national interest.

  • Robert Dennis

    Great dissection of California’s troubles and a very thoughtful solution. Your analysis only touches on some of the impediments to implementing that solution. The biggest impediment, I think, is bound to be presidential politics. California was once a reliably Republican state. Since 1992 it has been reliably Democratic. Especially in a close election, neither party will want to sacrifice any of the huge electoral vote treasure that is just about the only golden thing left of California.

  • Anthony

    Degree of purposeful abstention and lack of ardor, beyond voting “against”, among many Americans for electoral process indicates ineffectiveness of which Bonfires of Idiocies spoke @47. Nevertheless, we must more carefuuly examine the PUBPOLS.

  • M. Report

    Subdivide California into one small state,
    a large Territory, and several abandoned areas (not geographically contiguous) _or_
    continue to ignore the current reality until
    Martial Law is declared by an authoritarian
    Federal government which rides to power on a wave of fear; Lots of luck on living to see the end of that ‘Temporary Emergency’.

  • Meh

    On the whole, a sound article from Mead. California desperately needs to break up into manageable pieces that would more naturally reflect the major socioeconomic fault lines of the state. Unfortunately, there are lots of tricky details that would need to be ironed out in order to make his prescription a reality, but it can (and should!) be done.

    “The federal government’s generation of serial failures in migration policy is also to blame.”

    Of course, from an overall perspective, the migration situation in California has been a disaster of unimaginable consequences, especially when considered against the backdrop of California’s true potential.

    But is this really true from the perspective of our increasingly failing political system? After all, certain industries have the cheap labor they want and the progressive elites have the votes they want, perhaps the incredible social costs that come from having such a chaotic migratory policy are worth it to them. I mean this with all seriousness. To pose a rhetorical question, does anyone reading this comment honestly doubt that if the voting habits of the newcomers to California were more conservative than the state average circa 1990 that the migratory situation in that state wouldn’t have been brought under control at some point.

    Even with all its natural wealth, California still needs people in key positions of leadership who actually care about California.

  • Prof.Mead:
    Well I think that’s a better formulation but…

    The bad policy work is, to a certain extent, the result of another conservative reform which goes unmentioned, term limits. Willie Brown may have been slightly corrupt but now we have a government run by clueless, inexperienced, newbies who have to steal all they can in a brief period.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      There’s a long list of liberal and conservative policy failures and contradictory mandates cursing California these days.

  • rms

    The States are already “subdivided”. These subdivided regions are called cities and counties. What has broken the politics of the USA and California is the centralization of power to the most remotest corners of the political universe so politicians can be removed from electorate. The Founding Fathers knew this would happen as it is part of human nature to abdicate responsibility to well meaning tyrants. No amount of rearranging will make a difference until the underlying populations return to the founding principles of local government. I don’t think that is coming until the total collapse of the USA within the next 10 years or so. Have a great day!

  • T Johnson

    California has one, and only one, problem: We ran out of other peoples money!

  • Algernon Moncrief

    Colorado is a less disfunctional state? Funny.

    Colorado is in the middle of an attempt to breach the contracts of its retired public employees, taking fully vested, contracted, accrued benefits earned over thirty years. Immoral as [heck]. The case goes to trial next February. What kind of a governmental entity attempts to break its contracts? Do we live in Bolivia?

    Colossippi is at the bottom of the barrel in education funding. The University of Colorado gets about 8 percent of its funding now from the state, our roads are detrioriating. Hardly a model for CA to emulate.

  • Trent J. Telenko

    >Hard wired? Really? Wasn’t Ronald Reagan a
    >very popular governor of California not all
    >that long ago?

    Democracies get the leadership their public’s deserve.

    The California of Ronald Reagan (1967-1975) was also immediately after (1975 to 1983) the California of Governor Jerry “Moon Beam” Brown — and is again starting this year (2011).

    Proposition 13 marked the beginning of the era of “wishful fulfillment thinking” by the California general public.

    The end of the Cold War, followed by the dispersal of the Defense/Aerospace white middle class in Southern California, and the mass naturalization the Clinton Administration did after the Proposition 187 Illegal immigration initiative, was the final tipping point leading to the failed blue-state pathologies you write of.

    The institutional incentives set in place by those events lead to the California of today.

    At some point you have to blame the California general public for their poor choices in leadership. The California General Public has lost its “civic virtue.”

    A straight line projection from today failed blue-state pathologies leads to a near future where Southern California reaches Detroit’s level of public dysfunction.

    Then the massive Colorado River water diversion projects that made Greater LA logistically possible are going to fail from corruption caused lack of maintenance…and CA state government environmental regulations & public employee work rules won’t let them get repaired.

  • David Billington

    “California used to be the glory of this country, the dream by the sea, the magic state.”

    Yes, but government made most of it possible: Hoover Dam supplied electric power, World War II brought urban industry, and after the war massive water projects and federal expenditures on aerospace and military electronics attracted middle income people and underpinned Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. California was literally a creation of big government.

    Things changed when (1) voters rebelled in the 1970s against the increasing relative as well as absolute growth of the public sector and (2) federal spending in California declined in the 1990s with the end of the Cold War.

    Needless to say, there was mismanagement, documented recently in a cover story in The Economist, aggravated by a reliance on capital gains taxes for much of the state budget and by an initiative mechanism that transferred too much legislative power to the electorate. But voters who turned against big government were really turning against what had made it possible for them to be in the state.

    California continues to attract high-skilled people to its small high-tech private sector as well as low-skilled immigrants to its low-tech occupations. As in the rest of the United States, it is the people in the middle whose future is most uncertain. The question is whether the answer for these people is even fiercer extremism or support for a stronger form of centrism.

    The biggest reason for gridlock in California has been polarization. Voters recently enacted a nominating system that should favor more centrist candidates. If the political environment becomes less partisan, more comprehensive changes to the system may then be possible and easier. California will be a test case of whether it is practical to change the character of government in this way, and if so, whether it makes any difference. I wouldn’t be as pessimistic as you until we see how this turns out.

  • This article is a drive-by shooting. It certainly has gotten people’s attention, but it’s part of the problem, not the solution.

    It’s filled with words designed to evoke strong emotions but absent thoughtful, penetrating, evidence-based discussion. I’m interested in what’s in the best long-term interest of the people of California, but this article doesn’t advance the discussion one iota. I would have been ashamed to have written it.

  • Deport all illegal aliens in prison ranks!

  • JohnR22

    Break it up? Nah…that’ll never work. I say lop off the entire coastal area (except for San Diego) and push it into the sea. The sooner the better.

  • John Rogitz

    You’re probably right Mead, but it is odd that you don’t seem to recognize that your argument also applies – more so – to the country as a whole. Far more differences and diversities than those you cite for California.

  • Rik van Riel

    California is simply a preview of what’s to come for the USA as a whole. When a country is ruled by special interests, the common good gets lost and collapse is inevitable.

    It’s not too late to take power back from the special interest groups. However, it does require that voters vote for the common good instead of their own narrow interests, and I am not sure they want to.

  • Robert Helbing

    When people ask me how to fix California, I offer a simple suggestion. Draw a circle just big enough to include San Francisco and Sacramento. Everything inside will keep the name (and institutions) of the Golden State.

    The rest of us become part of Arizona. Let’s sign up with some sensible people and leave the goofballs behind to continue to foul their own nest.

  • SeekingRationalThought

    Mr. Meads off-hand comment that Californians are as smart as residents of other states is interesting and disturbing. It ignores the results of their votes. Intelligence can be viewed in at least two ways-whether the individual in question has physiological “brain power” and by the results of how he or she exercises that power. While Californians certainly have the same physical brain power as resident of other states, the results of their actions clearly indicate that they exercise that power less successfully than the residents of other states. Many of the greatest failures and even villains in history had brain power, but, in the end, can we say that they were “smart?” Californians, as a group, are responsible for their own problems and Mr. Mead’s comment lets them off the hook for their own failures and actions.

  • BlackSaint

    lifornia the Golden state, Obama & the Democrats model for American future, is fast becoming the poster child for an bankrupt third world State!

    An unholy alliance of Socialist Democrat politicians, Unions, and Illegal Aliens supporters are feasting at the trough of tax payers paid benefits while taxing & regulating business and the tax paying public into poverty.

    The pandering of Left Wing Democrat Politicians to their constituency of Welfare leeches, Illegal Aliens Parasites, Public Unions and Left Wing American hater,s are driving business and citizens to other states & countries, while leaving the parasites & welfare leeches in an increasing bankrupt, crime ridden, dysfunctional state!

    For years California has ignored economics 101 by rewarding Public employee with wages and benefits that far exceed any in the private sector or tax payers ability to pay, to buy their votes, while importing poverty, Criminals and uneducated parasites from Mexico, which increased Medical, Welfare, Crime, Prison, etc. & adding a estimated 22 billion per year to Calif. State expense to provide for the invading horde of Illegal Aliens while exporting business and educated working tax payers.

    Like all Socialist & Marxist States the results have been a astronomical increase in social welfare, schooling, prison cost etc. and a lowing of Living standards, Education standards, Tax receipts & finally a looming Bankruptcy.

    The policies of Obama and Wash. DC Democrats are intent on following Calif. policies and are rewarding the Unions, Lazy, Corrupt, Criminal, Greedy and Stupid while punishing the tax paying, Law abiding citizens that pulling the cart and carrying the load.

    Amnesty & Citizenship as a reward for their invasion of the USA, will result in the rest of the USA turned into a Spanish speaking third world slum, modeled on Mexico and follow California into a polluted, over populated, Spanish speaking third world Nation of Crime, Corruption, Poverty, Cruelly & Misery!

    This will result in a population depending on Welfare and the Democrat party, thus assuring the lock on power for the Socialist Democrat party of the United States of Mexico!

  • Rocky

    Personally I like the fact that California only gets two US Senators, we couldn’t stand any more! I would also point out that while your theory (smaller states) has some merit to it the success of large states like Texas and Florida point to a different set of facts for the failure of California (and soon Illinois). The Blue model is corrupt. It operates on the theory that nanny state knows best. To me it’s this simple…Obama got elected because he convinced people to believe in him, Reagan got elected because he convinced ‘the people’ he believed in them. This IS the difference between blue and red states. We can see who has the better model…that’s why the census shows a steady flow from blue states to red…

  • Mriordon

    “Representative government in California is not failing because Californians are stupider than other people.” It is, they are.

  • Scott

    Thanks for writing this. I was born in Fresno in 1951, the son of Texans who came here after the war. I grew up in the 50s and 60s in the Golden Dreamland…and we all knew it. Relatives came to visit from Texas and we might as well have lived on Mars. They were astounded at the beauty and the bounty of the place, being ranchers and farmers as they were.

    It’s all gone. I have just retired and will be relocating to New Mexico soon. I hate to leave, in principal, as this is my home. But I can’t afford the idiocy and the corruption anymore. I’m one more productive taxpayer leaving who will be replaced by an illegal family of 8 from Mexico. Good luck, California.

  • Lenny Mendonca

    Californians will be debating a number of these issues at the end of June. Check it out:

  • Stockton Joe

    I’ve lived in California for 55 years, and I have to say that this article is spot-on. California needs to be split into 2 States. Divide the State roughly in half, East and West along Interstate 5.

    I’ve read several comments here to the effect of “the Conservatives voted …..” Well, as a Californian I can say with absolute certainity that the “Conservatives” CAN’T win an State-Wide election here in California. So the next time a California ballot initiative doesn’t go your way, don’t blame the Conservatives. There aren’t enough of them to pass anything in a State-Wide election.

  • Mark Olsen

    I don’t live in California, but I’m not convinced that the state needs to be broken into sub-states. I would argue that a bond default trigger to drive a new California Constitutional convention would be a better first step. Wipe out all the voter propositions, all union contracts with the state, all district boundaries and start anew. While the state is currently ungovernable, it doesn’t have to be this way.

  • Russ

    I see Prof. Mead’s been reading his Webster. Good for you!

  • valwayne

    The extreme left wing Elites, and their allies the public unions and to a lesser extent the extreme environmentalist have destroyed CA and turned it into a failed state. CA had one last chance in the 2010 election to choose experienced business people who could turn it around and they rejected that solution in favor of a retread Governor who helped create the corrupt deal with the public employee unions that has so damaged the state, and they reelected Sen Boxer. What more can be said then that? As long as the extreme left wing Elites and their allies control the state CA cannot begin to recover. In the meantime if you work for a living or own a business and are tired of having the rich Elites suck your lifeblood just get out. As is pointed out in this article their are states where people who work for a living or own a business are not looked upon as sheep to be shorn!

  • Rich

    PLEASE don’t make Orange County part of Lost Angeles! The two are vastly different, politically, philosophically and culturally.

  • kent schmidt

    Small quibble. As one who toiled in the municipal bond business for 20+years in California B of A was not alone. Security Pacific, UCB, Crocker, Wells, First Western,Union, Bk of Cal and many non commercial bank dealers were part of a very large and competitive financial community that underwrote the thousands and thousands of bonds issues for every conceivable public agency that built California and did so for decades.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      But B of A got in very early and helped make the market — back in the 20s, I believe.

  • The problem is larger than CA, and breaking-up CA is part, but only part, of the fix.

    The problem, as Mead has pointed-out here before, is the Blue state model.

    And the fix is secession by the Red States from the Blues — and the Red Counties from the Blue States. The split-off Red counties can decide to join another Red State or form an entirely new one.

    Something like 50 of CA’s 58 counties are Red. Colorado has a higher percentage of Red:Blue, as does NM. Time to just completely re-draw the map of the US. The productive ones must split from (or throw-out) the unproductive ones. The Blue State voters – predominantly entitlement-grabbers in the major metro areas, can find out without any more redistribution from the productive class, just how poorly their model works when the Red States no longer subsidize it.

    There is just no reason at all that those who believe in the future – and have children to populate it – should continue subsidizing those who don’t believe in the future, and who have fewer than 2 kids to be there to populate it. The Blue States believe in all kinds of crazy, nonsensical, ahistorical nonsense. There is no reason to continue punishing intelligent adults who work for the best for their children in order to placate the something-for-nothing crowd. The Blues believe their model is best; fine, let them die by it on their own.

  • EJM

    A very accurate and disturbing picture, Prof. Mead. Victor Hanson has described California in much the same terms of a failed state.

    Whether it is wise, practical or even possible to break California up into 5 or more states, I doubt. However, as you point out, there are an increasing number of once great states that are also failing by the same measures–Illinois, Michigan, New York among them. California is only leading the meltdown, and the same cancer has now metastasized in Washington as well, giving new meaning to the phrase that California is America only more so.

    Interventionist courts, overegulated businesses treated as necessary evils (if not actual enemies), entrenched unions with defined benefits bleeding the state dry, one-party control with a sprinkling of RINOs, millions of illegal immigrants, perpetual “reforms” that make matters worse, higher and higher taxes with poorer and poorer results–this is the endgame of “progressive” politics.

    As someone who watched the decline of New York from the decay of the Bronx, and lived in California as well, the once Golden State’s decline to similar failure for similar reasons was completely predictable.

    Socialism has failed wherever it has been tried. It doesn’t matter which continent, which language, culture, or how big or small the state. Only differences of degree and the time and method for decay to turn into collapse separate the different failed experiments, from New England communes to the Soviet Union.

    America awaits the same fate as California or Greece, unless we can return to balanced budgets, limited government, free markets, and free people who accept responsibility for their failures as much as they reap rewards from their successes.

  • EJM

    A very accurate and disturbing picture, Prof. Mead. Victor Hanson has described California in much the same terms of a failed state.

    Whether it is wise, practical or even possible to break California up into 5 or more states, I doubt. However, as you point out, there are an increasing number of once great states that are also failing by the same measures–Illinois, Michigan, New York among them. California is only leading the meltdown, and the same cancer has now metastasized in Washington as well, giving new meaning to the phrase that California is America only more so.

    Interventionist courts, overregulated businesses treated as necessary evils (if not actual enemies), entrenched unions with defined benefits bleeding the state dry, one-party control with a sprinkling of RINOs, millions of illegal immigrants, perpetual “reforms” that make matters worse, higher and higher taxes with poorer and poorer results–this is the endgame of “progressive” politics.

    As someone who watched the decline of New York from the decay of the Bronx, and lived in California as well, the once Golden State’s decline to similar failure for similar reasons sadly was completely predictable.

    Socialism has failed wherever it has been tried. It doesn’t matter which continent, which language, culture, or how big or small the state. Only differences of degree and the time and method for decay to turn into collapse separate the different failed experiments, from New England communes to the Soviet Union.

    America awaits the same fate as California or Greece, unless we can return to balanced budgets, limited government, free markets, and free people who accept responsibility for their failures as much as they reap rewards from their successes.

  • AJ

    I agree fully with the premise and conclusion here, except that I would think two states, North California and South California, would be sufficient. Divide it in half roughly in the geographical middle, and you have two states with a solid mix of urban and rural, natural capitals, etc. I think trying to make a “blue state” and a “red state” out of it, while tempting, would produce an illogical result.

  • Skeptical

    “California is too populous, too diverse, too complicated to flourish as a single state. Unless we carve this beast into something like five more compact and manageable states, Californians will never have decent representative government at an affordable price.”

    Can’t the same be said about the country? The northeast is nothing like the southwest, and the west coast and south couldn’t be further apart politically, economically, or socially. Certainly these differences dwarf the differences, let’s say, between northern and southern California. Is California not a microcosm of the U.S.? Shall we divide the U.S. into five separate countries?

    Although you do not say it, it seems that part of the problem is diversity run amok. We are stronger for our diversity. But is diversity also — shudder, shudder– part of the problem? I am speaking of religious, ethnic, political, economic, and geographic diversity. Can we get to a point where we have so many groups with interests in conflict with one another that we become a dysfunctional nation? Once, time and distance insulated us from the differences. Not any more. Now, with instantaneous communication and rapid transportation, are we not sitting on top of one another and in each other’s business, even when we are 3,000 miles apart?

    Aren’t those contradictory policies you accuse California of implementing a democratic response to conflicting interests? If the only solution for California’s woes is dividing it into homogenous parts, is that, then, the only solution for the country? I’m wondering, because it sure sounds like everything you say about California applies to the country.

  • Mike Field

    What is supposed to be “bizarre” about the Warren Court’s “one man, one vote” ruling?

    You could just as easily make the argument that each urban neighborhood and suburban town should have it’s own state senator, while vast rural areas with much large populations possess such a commonality of interests that they can be represented by a single state senator.

    I’m sure that any rural resident who heard this argument would be tearing his or her hat into tiny piece, and rightly so. Sorry, but the rotten burough system fell apart under its own weight worldwide after World War II. That’s right, WORLD WAR II. Have you heard of it?

    Now, California, that’s another question, but there is one thing I believe is true. Anglo California, that is to say the demographic domination of California by English speakers of white, European descent, along with the adjunct African-American population, is an aberration of world history. What demographic event is in the pipeline that is going bring a new Anglo population into California? The last one was the “hippie” “disapora” which brought many people into Northern California. They have left descendants and are a large influence on the politics of many Coastal Counties.

    What has happened since? Nothing. And before that, there was the Cold War aerospace boom. A huge demographic influence in its time. But where are the descendants? There seem not be very many.

    You want to talk about California, you’d better look ahead to the end of the Anglo era. No one will be left behind except the very rich, farmers, and those comfortable living within a world of chaotic lower-middle class blight.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Bizarre because a system that existed throughout the union at the time of the drafting and ratification of the Constitution was suddenly deemed to violate that same Constitution. The Constitution would not have been ratified if people at the time believed that the Supreme Court would interpret it in this way. The 14th Amendment would not have been ratified if people at the time thought that this made illegal the system under which the very senators who approved it had been chosen. (US Senators at that time were still elected by state legislatures.)

  • Jim Chester

    “.. houses of worship are failing to build law abiding citizens,..”

    Ah,,sir…at risk of shaking your box, our innerlecshul libruls own California and have since WWII.

    Nothing that’s a mess there can honestly be blamed on conservatives,especially Christians. Every effort they may make to change people’s directions or insert some commonsense has been shouted down by the sneering voices or court actions from the dominate wacko power structure for decades. People who have no voice have no power and Christians and conservatives have had no voice in CA for a very long time.

    Dogs know that if they poop in their own bunk it may be easy at first but it will eventually get too bad to sleep in; political liberals don’t seem to be dog smart so they foul every place they live. And then have the audacity to demand the rest of the world has an obligation to clean up after them, with no change on their part!

  • Rick LaBonte

    [Comment approved for publication — although the author seems to have taken what I hope is temporary leave of his senses and his manners; “hundreds of thousands” of violemt [sic] psychopaths are not going to be released in California. However, in the interests of letting Via Meadia readers understand a wide range of public opinion, the following comment is reproduced verbatim. Ed]

    Anthony Kennedy and his fellow socialists are highty responsible for California’s lawlessness, yet the ruling class will never face any consequences for their crimes against humanity. California has actively imported hundreds of thousands of violemt psychopaths from Mexico, gives them sanctuary, and now Kennedy unleashes them on the public.

    We need to dismantle the federal judiciary. It’s the #1 enemy of freedom in America.

  • EJM

    A very accurate and disturbing picture, Prof. Mead. Victor Hanson has described California in much the same terms of a failed state.

    Whether it is wise, practical or even possible to break California up into 5 or more states, I doubt. However, as you point out, there are an increasing number of once great states that are also failing by the same measures–Illinois, Michigan, New York among them. California is only leading the meltdown, and the same cancer has now metastasized in Washington as well, giving new meaning to the phrase that California is America only more so.

    Interventionist courts, overregulated businesses treated as necessary evils (if not actual enemies), entrenched unions with defined benefits bleeding the state dry, one-party control with a sprinkling of RINOs, millions of illegal immigrants, perpetual “reforms” that make matters worse, higher and higher taxes with poorer and poorer results–this is the endgame of “progressive” politics.

    As someone who watched the decline of New York from the decay of the Bronx, and lived in California as well, the once Golden State’s decline to similar failure for similar reasons sadly was completely predictable.

    Socialism has failed wherever it has been tried. It doesn’t matter which continent, which language, culture, or how big or small the state. Only differences of degree and the time and method for decay to turn into complete collapse separate the different failed experiments, from New England communes to the Soviet Union. “Liberal” social democratic politics as practiced in Western Europe and increasingly in America since FDR is simply another variant of same toxic elixir of recycled leftist wishful thinking embedded in a Bismarckian welfare state to keep the masses on the dole and under the thumb of the central government elites. Europe drank deeply of the hemlock and is now the most ill, but with Obama the democratic socialists have finally come out of the closet to reveal that their intentions for America are same as Pelosi’s for California.

    It is the same recipe for progressive decline, not just of our economy and living standards, but our very birthright as a free people.

    With 9% umemployment, millions more uncounted out of work, and stagnation apparent, America now glumly awaits the same fate as California or Greece. Only a return to balanced budgets, the limited government defined quite clearly by the Constitution (still two or three centuries ahead of its time), free markets, and a free people who are determined to reclaim their birthright of freedom can possibly change this.

  • Greg Den Haese

    The bottom line is this….California is following the course that ALL liberal states will go. They eventually tax and spend so much that it consumes the state. Corporations leave for other states which further diminishes the tax base and requires cuts or another increase in taxes making the state even worse off. The United States is taking the same course and I only hope we can reverse it before the liberals and their tax and spend philosphy destroys our country because instead of leaving for other states those same corporations will leave the United States all together. California…dont you worry there are many other liberal states that are following right behind you…illinois, New York, and Michigan…. good luck to you…here is a hint…live within your means and make it a favorable environment to exist. You have the most beautiful state with the most toxic existence….you are not attracting companies or keeping them because your state is not beautiful its because nobody can afford the toxic business/living climate!

  • Mr. Bill

    As a 50+ year CA resident, I’ve seen it all and am in complete agreement with the general tenets of Mr. Mead’s essay.

    It breaks my heart. Clearly the inmates have taken over the asylum, here.

    I want to stay, stand, and fight…but at some point a rational person sees the fire as too large to fight alone and must retreat and hope to rebuild after the destruction is complete and the fire out.

    The last election of 2010 here with Brown and Boxer being returned was it for me.

    The wolf that is Socialism (hiding under the sheep’s clothing of “Progressivism”) has been in control via the Democratic Party this state for over 25 years here, if not longer. And the last election cycle sealed it for real for the whole world to see, now.

    What frightens me the most now is what I used to be most proud to say in the past, “So goes California, so goes the rest of our country”.

    I can only pray that America – and the rest of the states – wakes up before it’s too late for them.

    It is in my personal best interests to remain in this state until my son turns 18 in 3 1/2 years. I see the remaining three years as ample opportunity to research where to move to from here, and take an active role to try and turn the tide back however possible via the “Tea Party” networks that are coalescing here in CA.

    Best of luck to you all!

  • Milo Creech

    The breakdown is not completely in the morality of the incarcerated. The citizens of the state have adopted a legal system where people can be imprisoned simply for doing things that the majority doesn’t like. Morality has nothing to do with it. The Good Samaritan and St. Francis would be thrown in jail if they sold marijuana. If California had enough money, carnivores and gas-guzzlers would be in jail. California’s failure is the failure of a puritanical, quasi-theocratic nanny state.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Not if they were medical providers — and in any case something tells me that neither St. Francis nor Jesus Christ were big on selling pot.

  • Mike Field

    What makes rural residents more deserving of disproportionate representation than someone else?

    I grew up in a big city under the rotten borough system. Many things were not right because of it.

    I don’t buy the argument. And if you live under a rotten borough system, and don’t like it, how do you generate the political mass to change it when you do not have equal representation?

    • Walter Russell Mead

      It’s constitution not policy — I tend to agree that one person one vote is the best system — but I don’t think the Supreme Court judges should be enacting their personal policy views into law. Left or right it is a bad idea.

  • BlackSaint

    Obama and the loony left wing of the Open borders, Multiculturalism wing of the Democrat party must be the only species on the face of the earth that cannot or will not learn from experience, even Animals learn from experience!

    The Socialist countries in Europe , Britain, France, Germany, Greece etc. have finally recognized Socialism and the Welfare State with Massive Invasion of uneducated third world parasites flooding in to get on the public dole, does not work and are cutting back government, including numbers, wages, & benefits in order to survive as a Nation and returning to capitalism.

    While here in the USA Obama and the Democrats are taking the USA to a welfare socialist paradise in spite of proof all over the world and in the failed Blue States here that it does not work.

    Illinois, Calif, New York, New Jersey, all Blue States that have been controlled by Democrat Majorities for years and long enough to try their spending and taxing that is driving business to other States or Countries while buying votes of public union members by giving wages and benefits that is bankrupting the government and pandering to illegal Aliens with citizens tax money, are now seeing the results, all are bordering on bankruptcy.

    Now Obama is following the same blueprint on a vastly bigger scale for the rest of American using 100,s of billion of the simulate money to reward Democrat supporters and to keep the under worked and overpaid public unions in jobs and buy Workfare & Welfare votes!

    The same multi-trillion dollar con job Obama is attempting, by open borders and giving Amnesty to the invading horde of Criminals & Uneducated Prolific breeding third world parasites & with chain immigration all the ones still left in Mexico to buy 10,s of millions of welfare votes for the Democrat party with money borrowed from China while bankrupting this Nation.

    With the future & further goal of turning the USA into a Spanish speaking Third World Slum modeled on Mexico but controlled Lock, Stock & Barrel by the Socialist/Democrat party Dictatorship of the United Sates of Mexico!

  • EZ

    Do the USA a favor and make Cali part of Mexico. Just make sure the illegals who then become legal do not migrate to AZ, OR, and NV.

  • Danram

    California is but the clearest example of how a vibrant, thriving economy that was once the envy of the world can be slowly laid to waste by decades of bone-headed “progressive” liberal policies.

    Thank God I had the good sense to leave California and move back to Texas, a state where common sense still matters, two years ago.

  • Art Norwalk

    Before swooning at the altar of “smallness as salvation” consider Rhode Island. Virtually identical set of symptoms (and causes) to CA but with all the compactness one could imagine — and no closer to a solution. Breakup is not a panacea, no matter how firmly tongue is held in cheek.

  • Mike Field

    re: Rotten Boroughs/”one man, one vote”.

    Remember Bismarck’s famous dictum, “Eisen and blud”? Blood and iron. What that means, really, is that you cannot go on forever arguing and arguing. Sometimes, things have to be either this way or that way. This way. Or that way. When it comes to representation by district, it’s this way. And it’s going to stay that way.

    Whatever you think about the Warren Court, it did a pretty good job of deciding which way it was going to be. If you don’t want unelected judges making these decisions, make them yourself first. When people show no integrity, power has to flow somewhere.

  • alex

    there’s a larger issue just around the corner. california and other top-heavy progressive utopias are going to need a bail out, and the money’s going to come from responsible conservative states, either directly or indirectly through the federal government. why the [heck] should we pay for their excess? california needs to be forcefully restructured and liberals need to be prohibited from statehouses.

  • When a state’s voters continue for decades to elect liberal big spending-taxing Dems in the State Leg. and Congressional districts , the state is bound to be like….Greece or hey, DC. The taxes drove out already many business investors and innovators. The illegals swamping our schools, public safety, health areas do not make for civilized decision making but ones based on tyranny, entitlements and handing out goodies for votes. Dems do this just fine. We have liberal state jurists who continue to operate as a mix of the KGB and Pravda in their PR for wrongheaded decisions. The state wastes money on railroads to nowhere, saves the Delta Smelt while ruining farms, keeps energy companies form exploiting huge deposits, and fears nuclear energy more than the Islamofascists. Its schools remind one of the Young Pioneers of old and Berkeley is the chief brain washer. On it goes and though the state is really lovely, has nice restaurants and sometimes gorgeous weather, it is now Mexifornia with a bit of Greece and the Dust Bowl era mixed in. And Dems love it. So does Bama and thus we have prisoners , gangs, Cartels going wild, morals gone and the cultural Lions are eating the Christians whole.

  • MaryOk

    To: Greg Marquez:

    Conservatives might be willing to pay for their conservative law and order policies but the likely are not willing to pay the level of salaries and pensions for public employees. The point is there is not enough for the totality of California’s expenditures. I suppose there is some debate about the three strikes you’re out law but is there any real debate that the total compensation for public employees is seriously out of whack?

  • EZ

    Every inmate released should be bused to the front door of the judges who made the decision. Preferably when the judge is home.

  • Anthony Esolen

    I think that Burke said that votes must be weighed as well as counted. I’ve never believed in the one-man one-vote idea — it’s what has reduced Nanada of the North to a principality ruled by the elites of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

    Why should rural votes count for more? Well, let’s see. The rural people do more for the cities than the cities do for them, especially nowadays. The cities, let’s see, produce a great deal of moral sewage; a lot of crime; worthless media outlets; not a whole lot of manufacturing. But the rural areas provide EVERYBODY with that little thing called FOOD, not to mention the natural resources that go towards making your houses and cars and everything else you use.

    ALSO: there’s something to be said for the sheer DIVERSITY that the old senate system encouraged. The voters of Philadelphia could have their proportionate representation in the House, fine. But why should that particular URBAN way of life dominate over all other possibilities? Giving a senator to every county gives different ways of life a voice that would otherwise be drowned out.

  • SamAdams25

    Brilliant article! Although I may not agree with all the points or proposals in the last few paragraphs, the general thrust was an example of fresh “out of the box” thinking that has been woefully lacking in the discussion of California’s obvious decline.

    I also think that the demonstrably destructive policies of forced unionization and sanctuary cities were not properly identified as primary factors in California’s astounding fall from prosperity. If you’re going to tell it like it is, political correctness must be ignored in any honest analysis.

  • PhillyJim

    You want to give California 10 senators?

  • Noesis Noeseos

    Your map provides at least six more Democrat Senators to the U.S. Congress. I would not call this a positive solution.

  • Voyager

    It’s less that we’re not willing to pay for basic law and order, rather, we’ve lost patience with paying for all the idiotic frufru that pols seem to want to spend all our money on, before they even both paying for the basics.

    New Orleans kept diverting the levee funds to finance river boat casinos, so when they actually needed the levees to work, they failed. The same thing is going on in California, writ extra large.

  • jlrlee

    For a number of years, I’ve been a proponent of all 50 states separating into 50 republics. There would many great things that would occur including getting away from Washington, DC and places like California. Many states (for example, the mountain states) could form an organization similar to NATO to provide for their security. All states have their own departments to deal with situations that are dealt with by the federal government including education, state police, water and other utilities and so forth. I think since states would no longer be sending billions of dollars to Washington, the same states could even continue social security as they came up with something far better. In my opinion, it 50 republics would have to be better than the current situation created by liberals.

  • L35

    We don’t need more stars on the flag, we need more flags. It’s time to look at making a new nation from the states that can succeed. Let the rest stay with California.

  • George

    Cut the right wing chest thumping! Everybody is so eager to dance on CA’s grave, as if it were the only dysfunctional state in the nation. And looney left are the only ones who can’t learn from mistakes? Give me a break! The GOP just keeps trumpeting “no taxes” and then wondering why there is no money in the state coffers. CA does NOT have the market cornered on deadbeats — both poor and rich ones — who would gladly and seflishly burn the entire country to the ground to make sure they get their OWN check (or tax break) and keep their current standard of living.

    HIstory will judge us all most severely.

  • Jim

    As a Texan, I think the Constitution of 1876 hit upon the answer. For us, the relevant unit of government in most people’s lives is the county, not the state. The state legislature meets every other year for 5 months (and is reported to be drunk most of those 5 months), and the legislators are not paid enough that they can do it for a living. The state has no income tax and relatively low business taxes, no collective bargaining for teachers, and the judiciary is largely fragmented between criminal courts and civil courts at the state level. But the county is the unit of government that provides most services, raises most revenues, and is most visible in people’s lives. What happens in Austin is a faraway mystery, but the county seat is a tangible symbol of government.

  • Decline and Fall

    Dear Sir,

    I defy you to sit through endless meetings with California Teachers Association representatives, as I had to a few weeks ago, and then make your statement: “Representative government in California is not failing because Californians are stupider than other people.”

    Other problems, yes, but stupidity must be given a seat at the adult table.

  • It’s no secret that if you want to secure a future in a state where individual liberties, family values and the American dream still exist – you’re not going to find it in California!

    Try Alaska, Arizona, Washington State, Wyoming, Montana or Colorado to name a few…

  • Barleyman

    Blues states generate more GDP per capita than Red States. CA has one of the highest GDP per capita. Doesnt sound so failed now…

    I’ll take California over ND any day…

  • william e martin

    do you also have solutions?

  • james

    Even in collapse, California is still one of the worlds most significant economies. The key to saving California is to agressivly investigate fraud commited by California’s public officials. Look into the Redevelopment Agencies.

  • Steve

    I would argue with the author about two things. First, Texas does just fine as it is. Yes, we are larger than California with the second largest population in the country at 26 million. But, we are sensible people. Our Constitution limits our legislators to meet for 140 days every 2 years. In Texas, we would prefer that it were 2 days every 140 years, but we’re working on that. The second point I take issue with the author about is the statement that ‘California is not failing because Californians are stupider than other people.’ I would disagree. Californians ARE stupider than other people.

  • Zach

    Your analysis fails to consider the fact that California has one of the highest federal tax burdens yet receives proportionally less in federal tax spending. Whereas South Dakota, which you think is so great, receives higher than average federal spending. Maybe California would not have to tax so much if it received proportional federal spending. Perhaps your solution of breaking Cal up is best as it would give more representation in the Senate.

  • MJ

    As a third generation Californian who grew up during California’s golden years in what is now Silicon Valley, an observation. During my formative years, nearly everyone I knew was a California native; many were second or third generation. Not so any more. Because of its reputation as ‘the land of milk and honey’, California long ago lost its identity and became not so much a melting pot, but a kettle of stone soup. Like maggots attracted to rotting meat, the state become overrun by elitist east coast educated liberals who have used Hiram Johnson’s libertarian design of direct democracy to further their social experiments and to entrench their eurocentric classed view of society. To Wit: Pelosi and Boxer — both are east coast stock who have no business representing California. And then we elect an Austrian socialist movie star for governator. What a joke.

  • dsa94085

    California used to be a great state because it used to be conservative. For too long now the democrats have controlled the state legislature and senate. They were more or less held in check until Gray Davis, and then the idiot Governator allowed them to run up a huge debt in such a short period of time, and of course there were Davis’ deal for the prison guards…
    It wouldn’t matter if or how CA would be split – it wouldn’t fix the fundamental problem of liberalism which fails every where it is tried.

  • Kathleen

    This piece is the most disingenous piece I’ve read in a long time.

    The author starts with a false premise and builds from there.

    Why has California prisons ballooned since the War on Drugs policy, instituted by Reagan — a policy instituted when crime rates were at an all time low? Additon, what party instituted the 3 strikes policy?

    More than 50 percent of the increase in the prison population over the last 30 years is due to non violent drug offenses.

    Reality and theory/ideology are different.

    Sounds like the author and a few of the commenters need a broader experience. Through experience one attains wisdom, not through textbooks or exhibiting some pie in the sky theory.

  • Bunky

    Texas and Florida are far and away in better financial condition.
    Any hint that they fall into the Ill. and Ca. category and should fragment is hallucination.
    Stick with lib land.

  • K2K

    Mr. Mead, next time you want to compare education and/or Medicaid spending per capita, use Massachusetts for education and New Jersey for Medicaid instead of the Dakotas. Real eye-openers to how California and New York have failed on both.

    If you split both Cal and NY in two, you would have four new GOP senators. And higher voter turnout.

  • websmith

    California is failing because the sunshine makes people goofy. People love the climate, the mountains, the wild life, and the ocean, but they forget that you have to have a job to live here and destroy billions of dollars in business and tax revenue to save a few turtles on a regular basis.

  • gallatin

    California can’t borrow its way to greatness, and it can’t force investors to throw good money after bad in buying more of its bonds. Economic reality steps in where political incompetence fails. Nice wortk, legislature.

  • the3Ds

    Californians continue to vote in the same people over and over again and the unions continue to do whatever they want because they’ve all bought into the argument that California is too big to fail. They believe that the government will always figure out a way to keep them afloat and why shouldn’t they? Certainly if we had to bail out GM, a state as huge and “important” as California deserves help too, right? The problem is the rest of us in the other 49 states who are getting sick and tired of bail outs and have visited California many times to know that it takes a superhuman effort to take a state as beautiful and rich in natural resources and ingenuity as California is and ruin it. I for one am happy to see California fail. I think it’s about time to see on paper what all this progressive nonsense results in. It’s one thing to have the believers talk about the shining city on the hill. It’s another to see that 2+2 still equals 4 and you have to make money to spend it on things like education for illegals and massive benefits for union workers.

  • s c davis

    You can split california anyway you want and as many time as you like but KEEP YOU HANDS OFF TEXAS, WE LIKE IT LIKE IT IS.

  • Roger

    Didn’t post the first time!
    As a native Californian I say let the state fail. When our reps make any cuts, they never cut any thing to the illegals.They need to take all the “greenies” and Jerry Brown and ship them out of state. Letting 30,000 prisoners out? I’m locked and loaded and my powder is dry.

  • rigdum funidos

    as long as all of the new states together get only 2 senators. otherwise, it is just a way to [expression made familiar from television program about the active personal lives of some California residents transformed into a verb –ed] the rest of us.

  • Zenbillionaire

    Breaking up California into little pieces isn’t any sort of guarantee but it does shuffle the deck and that’s something that needs to happen. California suffers from success and that success has drawn every carpetbagger born during the past 100 years. Its public sector is bloated and rotten to the core, but the same can be said for the US in general.

  • This article has been researched from a greedy, punitive republican bias, making it basically a load of bunk.

    Republicans, driven by corporations–including private schools and private prison industries–can hardly wait to get their grubby lunch-hooks into California to squeeze every last dime from our still abundant resources. In 2008, they came from out of state, pouring billions into nearly every single California race to no avail; they’re still smoking hot over their losses. Why did they lose? Because Californians know the cause of their woes: 30 years dominated by a string of Republican governors.

    Just because the author of this fantasy, Walter Russell Mead, declares it so, California is not a “failed state.” The reasons California can’t support it’s prisons is low property taxes combined with “tough on crime” laws, promised in the campaigns by a series of republican governors. Assisting the prison complex is the “three strikes” law, written by Polly Klaus’ vengeful father and supported by republican lawmakers. That initiative could have been suspended prior to being voted into law, if democratic legislators, who had prepared an less disastrous law, had not been slapped in the face by republican governor Pete Wilson, who said he would veto their law.

    Also to blame is the habit of California district attorneys is find as many felonies as possible in a crime, so that a person can get “three strikes” in a single non-violent burglary episode.

    From Ronald Reagan (tax breaks for the rich, cuts in education) through George Deukmejian (the death row vampire) through Pete Wilson (probably the worst) and Schwarzenegger (more tax breaks for the rich, more cuts in education) California has been driven into the ground, just as the entire nation was driven into the ground during the last long Republican presidency.

    While correctional employee unions will have to re-negotiate their pay and benefits packages,more republican thinking is not going to help California. Democrats in office will, but the few republican legislators we have must stop using every means they can to make the situation worse. If you’ve any doubt, look what they’re doing in Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida & Texas. Republicans are sadistic troublemakers who want to lock up more people, bust unions, restrict freedom, and give more and more of our money to the wealthy. They want to make our state into a smoggy horror, our wildlife destroyed, our beaches besmirched by big oil. Californians spoke in the last election: We don’t want your greed here. Go away.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Sounds like you are describing a failed state to me — and you are right that BOTH parties have contributed to the problem. California has built a horrendously dysfunctional mix of liberal and conservative policies; one can argue about which party has done the most to mess things up, but nobody is really arguing that California is working.

  • I urge my fellow sane Californians to get prepared to defend yourself and your family. For more information visit our website or those of other open carry organizations.
    FaceBook: SouthBayOpenCarry

  • Pfc. Parts

    Walter what you don’t examine is the net creditor status the state of California has WRT the federal government. California receives approximately 60% of the monies it pays in Federal taxes back from the federal government. You mention North Dakota has a balanced budget, better services and pays half the taxes Californians do– that’s because Californians are paying North Dakota’s bills for them. This isn’t hard.

  • I think many of you do not realize that the majority of people in prison are in there for things which should not be a crime… not if you really want “less government.” Unfortunately, there is also the problem that cops make arrests of individuals who [annoy them] and those individuals, without financial resources to fight the government, end up in prison.
    When so called conservatives get serious about limiting government, abolish 99% of the laws which govern private consenting adult behavior and they learn to MYOB, there will be no need to release really bad criminals because there will be plenty of room. Prisons should be reserved for those who use force, the threat of force, fraud or coercion against others… not for those whose moral values may differ from yours… that’s what freedom is about, after all…

  • I laugh at Commiecrats like [name of another commenter deleted]. She and her ilk coddled the criminals, imported a vast underclass of illegal aliens, and decided an era of the election of Gov. Jerry Brown and his “era-of-limits” “small-is-beautiful” “don’t build things and people won’t come” new-age nonsense. And he’s back again.

  • Hoosier Daddy

    It’s “loaned”, not “lent”; and it’s “paid”, not “payed.”

  • Alecto

    What would I miss most if California and the rest of its northern blue sister states finally did fall into the Pacific? The wine, not the whine.

  • Corlyss

    Californians are the American public in microcosm. They are Lotus-Eaters who think the rest of the nation, if not the world, owes them a living and that they should get all the free lunches and never have to pay a dime toward their excesses. Is there a way we can kick them out of the union? We can’t afford for them to presage developments nation-wide any more. Get rid of ’em.

  • Mitchell Young

    “North Dakota, by contrast, balances its budget every year, educates its kids better, is creating new jobs and taxes its residents at less than half California’s level.”

    North Dakota is overwhelmingly white, California is heading to a majority ‘Latino’ population. That’s all you need to know.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      That doesn’t explain Greece… And California’s electorate is significantly more Anglo than the population.

  • I think your arguments are specious at best. Forty years ago there was talk of splitting Texas into 5 states and we beat that down. But we don’t sell marijuana out of store fronts for any reason…we keep a very close eye on our education systems…we produce foods and energies and realize we need those resources…guess I’m saying we conduct ourselves more akin to adults than spoiled children…chasing every bird down the beach (as in poorly thought out natural drives).

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  • kevin chapman

    This is something I have thought about for years, and something other people have proposed in the past, even in the CA legislature. Reading the comments, two things stand out: 1. people are stupid, and 2. no one has given a very good reason why it couldn’t work hypothetically. I disagree with the political opinions of the author up to the point where he suggests splitting the state, and then I agree even to the boundaries of the new states. (Except I would create five new states, making one of San Diego, Ornage County, Camp Pendelton, Twenty Nine Palms, Edwards AFB, Palm Springs and the Mojave and give LA the Owens Valley.) Maybe the fact that a lefty and a righty can actually agree is a harbinger of hope. Unless you now change your opinion because of my agreement. The comment about RI being a small failed state may be true, but with five new small states made out of CA, there is a greater chance that at least one or two might succeed, thus reducing the damage. The Federal income tax receipts would be the same. One other point, people seem to have a misperception that all of CA is liberal. I can assure you, having lived in Riverside County for two years that the home state of Reagan and Nixon has plenty of conservatives.

  • Cathy

    i agree with your article but a a person who lives in Northern California we have a name already picked out for our new state…it is the “Jefferson State”…because most of us who live here do not smoke or grow pot and are very consertive.

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