California Sunset

To the editor:
Victor Davis Hanson envisions immigrants’ contribution to California as nothing but negative—much, I think, as conservative East Coasters would have seen European and Jewish immigrants 100 years ago [“Lawmakers Gone Wild,” Spring 2014]. He seems unwilling to discuss how these immigrants are contributing to the economy as it currently operates and unwilling to see how such people might contribute to California’s prosperity in the future.

Arthur Chandler

To the editor:
As always, it comes down to the voters who elect these clowns and then wonder why everything is turning to crap. The tendency of almost every writer, whether conservative or progressive, is not to blame the people themselves. But Californians, legal and illegal, rich and poor, fully deserve what they are getting, and will get more of it shortly. This is the entitlement mentality writ large—thinking that everything will go on as before. And it will, until it hits a quickly approaching wall and chaos ensues.

Kris Gilbert Tufts
Hartford, CT

To the editor:
Of course, there’s Texas. When a fertilizer plant there exploded and killed a dozen firefighters, the response of the Texas legislature regarding an overhaul of the fire code was nothing. They cut the state’s firefighting budget. Then they had to beg the federal government for assistance when brush fires hit the state. Conservatives are quite willing to kill people in the service of the rich.

Robert Puharic
Pennsburg, PA

Victor Davis Hanson responds:
Arthur Chandler knows that my essay discussed immigration exclusively in the context of massive illegal immigration, which helps to explain why over one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients now live in California and why its public schools test near dead last in the nation—all of which contrasts markedly with the diverse, measured, and legal immigration (much of it from Mexico) into California that so enriched the state in the past.

Kris Gilbert Tufts is right to remind us that legislatures represent voters, and thus voters get what they deserve. But his observation becomes banal, given that throughout the essay I focused precisely on the root causes (both demographic and political) of our legislative malpractice—mainly the strange alliance of elite and insular coastal residents with the dependent and distant poor of the interior.

Robert Puharic implies that because less regulated Texas supposedly reacted poorly to a single fertilizer accident, overregulated California is therefore preferable. A better comparison would be to ask why people are moving to Texas and leaving California, and why, with all its superior natural endowments and climate, California’s economy is stagnant, while Texas’s is booming. Puharic apparently does not know that in the last few years, California has suffered from disastrous natural-gas explosions, arson-fed deadly wildfires, and cataclysmic mass releases of dangerous prisoners from its jails. If we were to examine reactions to the deadly chaotic construction zones that characterize the work of Caltrans on our calcified interstates, or the epidemic of meth materials smuggled into the Central Valley from Mexico, or the state-engineered acerbation of the present drought, one might just as easily conclude that California is not regulated at all, or so poorly regulated as to make existing problems far worse.


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