I missed this when it was first published at NRO. Victor Davis Hanson did a little bit of a survey of the conditions on the ground in California. The results are far from pretty:
Many of the rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to the naked eye no different from what I have seen in the Third World. There is a Caribbean look to the junked cars, electric wires crisscrossing between various outbuildings, plastic tarps substituting for replacement shingles, lean-tos cobbled together as auxiliary housing, pit bulls unleashed, and geese, goats, and chickens roaming around the yards. The public hears about all sorts of tough California regulations that stymie business — rigid zoning laws, strict building codes, constant inspections — but apparently none of that applies out here.
It is almost as if the more California regulates, the more it does not regulate. Its public employees prefer to go after misdemeanors in the upscale areas to justify our expensive oversight industry, while ignoring the felonies in the downtrodden areas, which are becoming feral and beyond the ability of any inspector to do anything but feel irrelevant. But in the regulators’ defense, where would one get the money to redo an ad hoc trailer park with a spider web of illegal bare wires?
There is much, much more, please go read it and shudder. California is often touted as the bellwether for the rest of the country. This may well be where the rest of us are heading if things do not improve rapidly.
I was clued to this piece by one that popped up on Real Clear Politics today by Thomas Sowell. In his piece, Sowell riffs off the Hanson article, deeming the situation to be the result of “mascot politics”:
What is going on? These and other groups, here and abroad, are treated as mascots of the self-congratulatory elites.
These elites are able to indulge themselves in non-judgmental permissiveness toward those selected as mascots, while cracking down with heavy-handed, nanny-state control on others.
The effect of all this on the mascots themselves is not a big concern of the elites. Mascots symbolize something for others. The actual fate of the mascots themselves seldom matters much to their supposed benefactors.
So long as the elites have control of the public purse, they can subsidize self-destructive behavior on the part of the mascots. And so long as the elites can send their own children to private schools, they needn’t worry about what happens to the children of the mascots in the public schools.
I don’t know if mascot is exactly the right term for the elite’s permanent underclass, but it works until I can come up with a better term. It’s a brave new world, that’s for sure.