“California Is a Cruel Medieval State”

That’s the opinion of Victor Davis Hanson, who writes:

A paradox ensues that Californians both have a high, indeed smug, view of themselves and yet do a lot of damage to their fellow human beings. Their haughtiness is based largely on the reality that Silicon Valley, sandwiched between Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley, became the birthplace of the global computer, internet, social media, and a high-tech revolution. For progressives who deprecate the capitalist lifestyle, having a lot of money still allows one to say one thing and live out the opposite.

The state’s multi-trillion-dollar companies have hired tens of thousands of seven-figure, mid-level executives and computer experts who assume that life in the California coastal corridor is a birthright paradise.

The resulting tax revenue bonanza to the state allows one-party-rule to rid California of the old bothersome Reagan-Deukmejian-Wilson working- and middle-classes by embracing not-in-my-backyard zoning, identity politics, anal-retentive regulations, steep tax rates, utopian green agendas, open borders, and decriminalization of things that used to be felony offenses.

Indeed, the bigger and wealthier California became, the more the rich sought to privatize their lives and to give up on public services, the more the middle classes left the state, the more the poor from Mexico and Latin America crossed the southern border illegally, the more its schools deteriorated, and the more its infrastructure ossified and became decrepit, from century-old power transmission towers to pot-holed and jammed highways.

The resulting medieval society is now one of a few thousand millionaires and millions of lower-middle-class wage earners as well as millions of abject peasants and poor serfs. Those on the bottom receive relatively generous subsidies to just get by. Over a quarter of the state’s population was not born in the United States. A fifth lives below the poverty line. One-third of welfare recipients in the United States live in California. These are statistics of which our moralists in Malibu or Mill Valley either are ignorant, or simply shrug that they don’t care.

. . .

One of the strangest sights in California is the horde of trailers, ratty cars, and dilapidated Winnebagos parked throughout moralistic Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and Sunnyvale, juxtaposed with gleaming high-tech corporate campuses. The most empathetic and caring people in the world, as they remind us hourly, turn out to be pretty callous about the “losers” in their midst who live in mobile and makeshift quarters on the street to keep Silicon Valley humming.

At least 19th-century company mining towns did not have the percentages of transients and homeless as does the richest, most caring landscape in the world. Those who can afford $1,000-a-square-foot coastal cottages assume that the losers who can’t code just couldn’t cut it. If you insist on driving a semi, or welding tanks, and you are not willing to program, then why in the world should you dare imagine that you deserve to live within 50 miles of the California coast?

To walk in areas of downtown San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fresno, or Sacramento is to venture into the pages of Boccaccio or Dickens, as thousands defecate, inject, eat, drink, and urinate on the sidewalks. Should the coronavirus ever incubate there among California’s hundreds of thousands on the street, the result would make the current nationwide caseload look like the common cold. Indeed, an epidemic among the tents and grocery carts of the state’s main cities would become hideous and terrifying—and right out of the accounts of Thucydides or Procopius.

There’s much more at the link.

Mr. Hanson is far from alone in recognizing what’s going on in California.  Just last night, Piers Morgan had similar things to say in an interview with Tucker Carlson.

The scary thing for me is that I’ve seen precisely that dichotomy on the streets of Third World cities for many years.  A relatively small (sometimes tiny) minority controls most of the wealth, and keeps it for themselves.  The rest of those living there must scrabble for scraps and pittances.  The wealthy and powerful simply ignore them.  (This private-residence skyscraper in India is a good example.)  Every now and again things will go too far, and those in power will be overthrown (sometimes violently), and there’ll be promises of change and improvement;  but all too often, the new overlords prove to be just as bad as the old ones, and rapidly confiscate everything they can so as to have the lifestyle that their predecessors lived.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

In that sense, California is a microcosm of the United States as a whole.  Let’s look at the year 2017 as an example.  The top 1% of US households (or the 99th percentile, in economic terms) had a net worth exceeding $10 million each.  The bottom 10% of households had a negative net worth of minus a thousand dollars, more or less.  In 2020, “the minimum requirement to gain entry into the top 1% club is an annual income of $515,371 as of 2017. That’s a far cry from the annual income reported by the average taxpayer of $41,740 … the wealth gap in the United States continues to rise, with about 1.5 million people falling into the top 1%. Those who want to become part of the top 0.1% would need to make at least $2.4 million.”

Throughout history, when too much wealth has become concentrated in too few hands, those without wealth have risen up to take it away from those who have it.  That’s happened in every era of history, in any kind of society.  What’s more, the ruling class have never voluntarily relinquished their stranglehold of privilege to share it with those less fortunate.  It’s always had to be stripped from them, the hard way.

I don’t think humanity’s changed much, so I expect that’ll happen again.  It may be through the ballot box, voting in a socialist, redistributive government who’ll do things legally through taxation;  or it may come more violently, as the dispossessed rise up to take back what they regard as having been stolen from them.  Which will it be in these United States?  Your guess is as good as mine . . . but California shows us that things can get a lot worse before they get better.  That’s not a happy thought.



  1. At least most medieval lords, counts, dukes, princes and kings understood the concept behind noblesse oblige, unlike the new 'ruling class' in California.

  2. Concur with Beans, and California IS going to have an 'uprising'… The question is where and how big. I don't think it will be long before Coronavirus makes its way through SFO/LA/San Diego's homeless and lower income. THEN it will blow the lid off.

  3. My family has lived in California since 1950.

    …"At least 19th-century company mining towns did not have the percentages of transients and homeless as does the richest, most caring landscape in the world."…

    That is wrong.
    I live in Tuolumne county and we have over one THOUSAND homeless.
    This is in a rural county. Where did they come from?
    The fucking cities truck them into conservaitve counties and drop them like trash.
    I LOATHE liberals.
    Two faced fucking bastards.

  4. They will dump them in rural counties. The rural counties will put them in camps. Then it will get really bad.

  5. What happens in such an uprising when most of the wealth that makes up those net worths isn't in any kind of tangible form? When it's composed of shares of stock in Google, or electronic money on bank computers? (Especially if those bank computers are somewhere else, like Switzerland or the Cayman islands?)

    The poor can storm the estates of the wealthy, but carrying off all of the portable goods inside isn't going to help them much. Stuffing 3 or 4 families into a McMansion will put a roof over their heads, but actually destroys value. Such a revolt would also likely simply destroy billions or trillions of dollars in shareholder value in the stocks of a lot of companies.

    So, they'll manage to tighten up that Gini coefficient, by making everyone poorer. Happy happy joy joy.

  6. I highly esteem VDH yet here I disagree with him, at least in part where he says it's not a happy thought. I suspect there are many who greatly anticipate the cleansing, or perhaps, the flensing. The nobles will not relax their grip, nor will they go willingly but for them who are prepared for the coming party, it will be a grand spectacle.


  7. I don't see an uprising happening.

    People can move to other parts of the US with more opportunities. Those on the bottom get bought off with free stuff, and those at the top are happy with their riches. And the legal voting B.S., makes sure only the right people get elected, that perpetuate all the virtual signalling. So more and more of the middle class vote with their feet, unfortunately many infecting other states with their beliefs that have messed up CA so much.

    CA GOP is so clueless and hopeless, and the 9th circuit has made things worse. Good news is 9th circuit is becoming more balanced.

    Parts of my family got here around the Gold Rush, both overland and around the cape.

  8. I live in the downtown region of Sacramento (Yes, I'm trying to get out!. It's bad here, but it pales in comparison to LA and San Francisco.

    I'm just not ready to give up on the place yet.

  9. Comparing the top 1% to the bottom 10% is stupid. It has always been thus, and shall always be.

    Matthew 26:11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.

  10. "Dear Left-Wing cities intent on dumping 'trouble' in conservative areas: We have a new policy. We issue such people rifles, and ammo, and truck them right on back. You better figure things out fast. We're DONE. And no, we aren't piddling around with small caliber nonsense. You EARNED your ass-kicking. Have a nice day. Oh yeah, we just started a lovely grenade production program."

    What, me vindictive?

  11. The left wing cities have so much free stuff, they are a homeless attractor.

    And the more free stuff they give to solve homelessness, the more they attract.

    Ca has 25% of the us homeless, but are only 10% of the us population.

  12. Complaining about wealth inequality is abominably stupid, particularly in the USA. People move in and out of the various income categories throughout their lives. Look at how many of the top 10% are newly minted millionaires. In fact, economic mobility has remained relatively constant over the last century, while our standard of living has greatly increased.

    Complaining about wealth and income inequality is nothing more than envy. While the envious may rise up and tear down the economy, California's political problems are much more serious and rooted a desire to be rulers of men rather men among equals.

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