‘Third World” is now an anachronistic geographical term of the old Cold War. But after 1989, “Third World” was reinvented from a political noun into an adjective to mean more than just Asian, African, and Latin American nations nonaligned with either the West or the Soviet bloc.
Rather, the current modifier “Third World” has come to transcend geography, politics, and ethnicity. It simply denotes poor failed states all over the globe of all races and religions.
Third World symptomologies are predictably corrupt government, unequal or nonexistent applicability of the law, two rather than three classes, and the return of medieval diseases. Third World nations suffer from high taxes and poor social services, premodern infrastructure and utilities, poor transportation, tribalism, gangs, and lack of security.
Another chief characteristic of a Third World society is the official denial of all of the above, and a vindictive, almost hysterical state response to anyone who points out those obvious tragedies. Another is massive out-migration. Residents prefer almost any country other than their own. Think Somalia, Venezuela, Cuba, Libya, or Guatemala.
Does 21st-century California increasingly fit that definition — despite having the nation’s most amenable climate and most beautiful and diverse geography, with major natural ports facing the dynamic Asian economies, and being naturally rich in timber, agriculture, mining, and energy, and blessed with a prior century’s inheritance of effective local and state government?
The California Manor
By many criteria, 21st-century California is both the poorest and the richest state in the union. Almost a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. Another fifth is categorized as near the poverty level — facts not true during the latter 20th century. A third of the nation’s welfare recipients now live in California. The state has the highest homeless population in the nation (135,000). About 22 percent of the nation’s total homeless population reside in the state — whose economy is the largest in the U.S., fueling the greatest numbers of American billionaires and high-income zip codes.
But by some indicators, the California middle class is shrinking — because of massive regulation, high taxation, green zoning, and accompanying high housing prices. Out-migration from the state remains largely a phenomenon of the middle and upper-middle classes. Millions have left California in the past 30 years, replaced by indigent and often illegal immigrants, often along with the young, affluent, and single.
If someone predicted half a century ago that a Los Angeles police station or indeed L.A. City Hall would be in danger of periodic, flea-borne infectious typhus outbreaks, he would have been considered unhinged. After all, the city that gave us the modern freeway system is not supposed to resemble Justinian’s sixth-century Constantinople. Yet typhus, along with outbreaks of infectious hepatitis A, are in the news on California streets. The sidewalks of the state’s major cities are homes to piles of used needles, feces, and refuse. Hygienists warn that permissive municipal governments are setting the stage — through spiking populations of history’s banes of fleas, lice, and rats — for possible dark-age outbreaks of plague or worse.
High tech does its part not to clean the streets but to create defecation apps that electronically warn tourists and hoi polloi how to avoid walking blindly into piles of sidewalk excrement. In Californian logic, public defecation butts up against progressive tolerance, so it is exempt from the law. Yet for a suburbanite to build a patio without a permit, for example, costs one dearly in fines. Indeed, a new patio without a permit can be deemed more dangerous to the public health than piles of excrement in the public workplace.
One out of three Californians who enters a hospital for any cause is now found to be suffering from either diabetes or pre-diabetes, an epidemic that hits the Hispanic community especially hard but for a variety of reasons has not led to effective public-health efforts and sufficient publicity. State-run dialysis clinics now dot the towns and communities of the Central Valley — a tragic symptom of dietary culture, massive illegal immigration, and poor public-health education.
Infrastructure Is for the Unwoke
California’s transportation system, to be honest, remains in near ruins. Despite the highest gas taxes in the nation, none of its major trans-state freeways — not the 99, not I-5, not the 101 — after 70 years off use, are yet completed with six lanes, resulting in dangerous bottlenecks and wrecks. Driving the 99 south of Visalia, or the 101 near Paso Robles, or the 5 north of Coalinga is right out of Road Warrior — but not as dangerous as the fossilized two-line feeder lines such as 152 into Gilroy, or the 41 west of Kettleman City. The unspoken transportation credo of Jerry Brown’s aggregate 16 years as governor apparently was “If you don’t build it, maybe they won’t need it.”
Meanwhile the concrete carcass of the recently cancelled multibillion-dollar high-speed rail system dots the skyline over Fresno. Bureaucrats now insist that more billions must be spent to ensure that a short segment of the least traveled route will be finished, though they obviously do not anticipate spurring a new tourist or commercial corridor between Merced and Bakersfield.
High-speed-rail gurus insist on salvaging something of the boondoggle not because they have an economic rationale justifying more dollars — they would be far better invested in improving freeways, airports, and rails — but largely out of pride and shame that demand some small token rescued from a very bad pipe dream.
In 1973, when I first visited and lived in Greece, the roads were medieval. The old Hellinikon Airport was dysfunctional, if not creepy. Highway rest stops were filthy. I have lived in or visited Greece in the ensuing 45 years since, including occasionally after the 2008 meltdown and European Union standoff. And yet today, the freeways, chief airport, and rest stops of relatively poor Greece are in far better shape than are California’s. LAX’s poor road access, traffic, uncleanness, crowds, and chaos seem premodern compared with the current Athenian airport.
It is an eerie experience to see America’s once premier state, currently at its supposed acme, now resemble Greece of the colonels a half-century ago, while 2019 Greece seems more like a functioning 1973 California. Athens and Thessaloniki are still dirty in a few places, and there are homeless and illegal immigrants. But one does not see needless and feces on the sidewalks, and it is safe to walk in the evening. Greek public restrooms, once notorious, are far more sanitary than those at rest stops in Fresno, San Francisco, or Los Angeles.
Power outrages are characteristic of Third World countries. Here in California we are advised to brace for lots of them, given that our antiquated grid apparently contributes to brush fires on hot days. As a native, I do not remember a single instance of our 20th-century state utilities shutting down service in the manner that they now routinely promise.
California for Others
Crime the last three years has increased. It is epidemic in local jails. San Francisco has the highest property-crime rate per capita of any major city. The California prison system is a mess, and sanctuary cities ensure that illegal aliens charged with crimes will not be deported. Pick up a McClatchy paper and you’ll see that the day’s fare of Central Valley criminality, even after sanitization and editorialization, is mind-boggling.
All liberals seem to have such an app; an inherent ability to NOT see what is wrong with their own ideology or the destructive results of it.
A result, no doubt, of a decision, like the left deciding everyone should give up fossil fuels even though there is no reasonable alternative, to make road transportation so painful as to drive the majority into mass transit… which doesn’t and won’t exist. More liberal genius.
And Newsome thinks he can just say, like Obama, “Ha, ha, I guess the high-speed rail wasn’t as shovel-ready as we thought.” and laugh off the $2.5 billion they have already wasted. I hope Trump squeezes that out of them; that could build a lot of wall.
This is where California invested its future. They want vast numbers of illegal immigrants to bloat residency numbers and, thus, representation in Congress. They’ve squandered much of their wealth on subsidizing illegal immigrants (and dealing with much of the side effects) instead of improving highways, energy supplies, water supplies, maintaining forests and protecting citizens. So, what happens to that investment if the census makes declaring legal residency and that is excluded from representation tallies.
It isnt just Commiefornia its every Democrat run metropolis, remember its for the children, extreme debt, blight, high crime, disease and anger extreme anger.
The politicians so far have been able to direct that anger away from themselves. I have to tell you the anger is directed at common sense and morality.
@kitt: No, California is not the only one; they just had the farthest to fall. Like Obama bringing about a roaring recovery from a deep recession, maintaining California should have been the easiest task in the world. Yet in both cases, Democrats managed to screw it up.
San Jose is BRAGGING that murders are down, what they don’t say is that SEXUAL ASSAULT is up, WAY UP. I’m guessing that the La Raza Mayor is proud of that.
I can hardly wait for the blackouts in Silicon Valley, it’s going to be fun watching them blame President Trump and not their own inept addiction to ‘renewable’ energy.
@Deplorable Me: Actually it was Detroit with the massive middle class amount of jobs lost with the ridiculous trade agreements(Japan) and democrat policies its a wasteland of empty homes and rust belt blight. The schools are unsafe most need to be condemned. Seems they never learned cannot take lessons from others failures.
@kitt: True enough, but Detroit’s winters could not compare to those in California. California has EVERYTHING yet Democrats are destroying it. Detroit was only prosperous Detroit because of the jobs; some people stay in California WITHOUT the jobs because they can live outside year round.
@Deplorable Me: Part of Detroits issues were the auto industries self inflicted lack of quality and being non-responsive to consumer demands, the fake oil crisis, during a Democrat administration. American cars were crappy low quality gas hogs in the 70s and 80s, a perfect storm. Its time for semis to go NG and the gas industry to get it into accessibility at gas stations. Compared to gasoline, compressed natural gas reduces carbon-monoxide emissions by 90 to 97 percent and nitrogen-oxide emissions by 35 to 60 percent. Natural gas is also domestically produced.
@John Galt: Welcome back! The arrogant loony left that runs that state will tell you how big their economy is and make it sound like they drive the U.S. economy and not the other way around. Years back, another state thought the same way and found out the hard way they were wrong. South Carolina circa Antebellum times. Perhaps it’s time to isolate Commiefornia since the leftists running it seem to act like they aren’t part of the country.
@kitt: I’m a diesel guy, so that wouldn’t help me.
@Deplorable Me: . All diesel engines can be converted to natural gas. A way to fill er up is the challenge for everyone.