This post started as a response to a post at Althouse’s blog, then took on a life of it’s own. Ann’s post had nothing to do with California in any way – it was just a picture of a glass of Guinness, with a bald guy in the distance. but the comments meandered into a discussion of California, it’s moviestar / Governator Arnold Schwartzenigger, and its current financial mess. I had been meaning to blog about this for a while, and I guess everything just burst out of the dam (you’ll get the reference in a minute).
Yes, Arny started out OK.
In 2005 after he gained the Governorship, he tried to pass two propositions, one for redistricting, and another that would give the Gov mid year budget review, which, if passed would have gone a long way to start straightening this mess out. BUT at the same time, he supported two props that were useless in any political sense. One dealt with restricting the way unions could misspend member dues, the other increased teacher tenure from three to five years.
These props were not only useless, but they stirred up a HUGE backlash. The unions, probably more politically powerful in California than in any other state, did not take this lying down. They spent in excess of $100 mil (funny how that seems like such a small number now) to defeat not only the two anti-union propositions, but the others as well. Though the unions heavily mortgaged their property assets (we’ll be hearing about the unions needing a bailout soon I suspect) they trounced the Governator.
Why did he take on the unions… beats me. There was a already a law that allowed union members to voluntarily withhold dues that would be spent politically, and the other? There was absolutely NO public outcry concerning the length of teacher tenure. Sad thing is, that if Arny would have resisted taking on the unions, the more important props almost certainly would have passed and we might not be in the current mess.
After the humiliating defeat of all four props, Arny fired his conservative staffers and consultants, who deserved to be fired, and replaced them with liberal Democrats. The new Arnold vowed to work with the Democrats in the name of bipartisanship. Four years later, state spending has increased 40% over Grey Davis’s tenure, the Gov. Arny replace via recall, if you recall. And why did Arny replace Davis…. Overspending!!!
Now, a look at the future.
As some of you know, I live in Fresno. California’s San Joaquin Valley contains some of the richest soil in the nation. Agriculture is King! (25% of the nations total output, according to wiki) This area is one-third of the state. The climate of California is classified as Mediterranean, which means we get all our rain during the winter months, November through April, and nothing of any measure for the entire, very hot, summer season. Keep in mind we have good rain years, where we meet or exceed the average rainfall totals of 15 to 27 inches of rain, depending on which part of the state you’re in, and we have bad years, where rainfall is less. If we have more than two years where rainfall totals fall short of normal, we are said to be in drought conditions. The Sierra Nevada Mountain range, just east of here, stores much of the precipitation that falls in this region, in the form of snow. God bless the Sierra Nevada’s. Without this geologic blessing, not only would we not have enough water to survive, but this is where the 49’er gold came from.
The water supply for California residents, businesses and agriculture, comes from that stored either behind dams, or in ground aquifers. Many in the Valley rely on aquifers, but the problem with this is that, unlike dams, aquifers take a long time to replenish and in drought conditions wells that tap into this natural water storage storage system run dry.
Now, as many of you outside the state are finding out, the state’s politicians are heavily influenced by the environmental lobby, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I’m all for cleaner everything. But here’s where it gets extremely stupid. As I stated, Calif has to store it’s water behind dams to meet the demands of the population. Because of environmental concerns, we have not built a new dam since the 40’s. The population of the state has grown a bit…. from 7 million in 1940 to 37 million today. WOW. The population of Los Angeles, in the same time period has grown from 1.5 mil to 4 mil. So-Cal’ers are very much against the notion of building more dams to capture their water. So where do they get the water they need?, Yep, you guessed it. From the San Joaquin Valley storage.
To make things worse for the San Joaquin Valley, and the local farming communities in the Central Valley, environmental groups successfully sued the state to reopen the water flow to the San Joaquin river year round, in order to try and revive the habitat for a species of salmon that used to spawn in the river. Nevermind that the salmon currently spawn somewhere else, and no one is sure if the salmon will even come back. Regardless, this means that Friant Dam just outside of Fresno, which feeds the San Joaquin River, due to this environmental rule, will have much less water that in previous years.
Did I mention that this winter our rainfall totals are currently below average, and we are heading into our third year of drought conditions.
Here are the results of the failure of the state’s politicians in this matter. Last summer, several small farming communities had to rely on bottled water to drink AND BATHE because the wells that supplied their water went dry. Yes, these are whole towns. This is getting bad enough that it’s starting to make the news.
Last year, federal water deliveries were just 40 percent of the normal allocations, fallowing hundreds of thousands of acres and causing nearly $309 million in crop losses statewide… Depending on how much it rains this winter, federal water supplies could be slashed down to nothing this year, forcing farmers to rely solely on brackish well water.
One of my customers runs an ag spraying company that provides services to many farms on the west side of the valley. Two of their largest customers went out of business last year due to lack of water. One customer tried to survive by drilling a new well. The first one was dry. The second did hit a source of water. But the farmer, after spending a million a piece to drill each well, had no money left to pay his employees and went belly up. My customer normally has lots of work at this time of year for growing prep. This year she has nothing. And the well at her Fresno house also went dry. Luckily she was able to lower the pump to get more water out of her existing well. My mate’s mom is not so lucky. She also uses a well to supply the water to her house. In February she’s drilling a new one. Her well is going dry.
The news article above is candy-coating the situation. The aquifers in the San Joaquin Valley are just about tapped out. California is running out of water.
Oh, did I forget to mention that farmers in the San Joaquin are required to spray their dirt roads with water on a regular basis to help keep dust particles out of the air. Thank you Air Quality Board!!! Did I also forgot to mention that the levee system that keeps much of the Sacramento area livable are in great disrepair and may not be able to handle the load year when we actually get more rain than normal?
The state has completely neglected it’s responsibility to maintain and expand the water infrastructure to meet the needs of the people. We have been trying for over fifty years to get the state to invest in water storage, build more dams, improve the canal system that moves water across the state, but have had absolutely no success. And now, when it’s needed, more than ever, there is no money to do so. The politicians are paralyzed with fear of ticking some or other special interest group off. As with the financial system, the water system is going bankrupt.
Many people see where things are going. Those with the means to do so, are leaving this state. The term “Oakie” refers to Mid Westerners who fled to California during the dust bowl, caused in part by poor farming practices. California may be on the road to its own “dust bowl”, due to poor water management by the government. Wouldn’t it be ironic if , 80 years later, people make fun of the “Calies” who left the state at the end of this decade, at the end of the California dream.
UPDATE: Well well, looks like California’s water situation has made the news yet again. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is sounding the alarm bells that California is going to run out of water because of… drum roll please… Global Warming! So two studies, almost certainly using computer models, predict this and the guy is concerned? Hello. Environmental NumNutzes! Get A Clue!!! We already ARE running out of water!!!!!
UPDATE # 2: Here’s yet another town that expects to run out of water… by April.
PS. I’ve been Patriotized! Welcome to the pond.
4 Comments to “The Sad State Of California – The End Of The Dream – UPDATE X 2”
GayPatriot » Special Interest Politics Destroying Golden State — February 5, 2009 @ 8:18 pm