California as case study in dysfunction

On principle, I do not use The Hannibal Blog to advertise my articles in The Economist, but my piece in the new issue does fit into one of my running threads: ‘the freedom lover’s critique of America‘.

The piece is about “the ungovernable state”–this being California. Consider it a case study that grew out of my thoughts here.

In it, I have fun chronicling the dysfunction, and in the process touch on several themes that I’ve mentioned on this blog before, such as:

My conclusion: I endorse wholeheartedly the growing movement for a Constitutional Convention, which would throw out that ungainly tome and start from scratch to create something clean, elegant and simple.

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8 thoughts on “California as case study in dysfunction

  1. It’s personal: I set out specifically to destroy your productivity.

    Incidentally, did I see in my peripheral vision on FB the other day that you’re joining the state department with some swanky foreign-service job?

  2. A wonderfully evocative piece about the vicissitudes of contemporary California, which, besides being America’s largest state, is also a state of mind for all non-Californians.

    State budgetary constitutional restrictions are not, as we all know, the sole province (sic) of California. There are many states whose constitutions outlaw deficit budgets. Thus these states are currently reducing spending by $350 billion America-wide, which will vitiate Obama’s $757 billion Federal economic stimulus spending programme. So Obama may be forced, later on, to increase Federal spending by the amounts which the states have cut back on.

    California’s legislative chaos I think is an expression of the endemic lack of trust in anyone (including legislators) or any institution. Trust is what greases and oils society. Absent trust, everything seizes up, as the governance of California shows.

    Anyway, despite your piece, California for me will always be “California Dreamin’ “, California Girls”, The Beach Boys, Warm San Francisco Nights, the Los Angeles of Raymond Chandler, the northern California of John Steinbeck. This, plus golden memories of all my visits there………

    • Thanks, Phillip S Phogg.

      I think you’re right that we’re in a downward trust spiral, as it were. Personally, I think that the alienation and remoteness that comes with bureaucracy and complexity is to blame in large part.

      But thank god you reminded us of the other side of California. I’m just looking outside the window at the gorgeous weather and thinking ‘at least those guys and their bureaucracies can’t screw THAT up…’

      Oh, wait, now that I think about it…

  3. That’s the plan- I’m not sure about the swanky part though 🙂

    That just means that I have to try and use my little remaining time in Damascus to learn as much Arabic as possible by trying (trying!) to ignore things like this blog, the Economist, and Amazon bestsellers. So far, I’ve succeeded with the latter two.

  4. andreaskluth you said the two most important words


    I have been discussing the Madison doctrine on my FB page and trying to get some feedback. Now I will just point them to your page.
    Thanks to my friend Jackie who gave me the link.

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