November 3, 2015

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON IN THE L.A. TIMES on How the widening urban-rural divide threatens America:

How did the new Californians deal with the drought? Not as in the past. Enthralled by a fantasy of a pristine 19th century California that has it all — from daily fresh organic tomatoes to schools of fish jumping amid white water, without understanding what it takes to grow those tomatoes — urbanites have argued that farmers can make do with less but wildlife needs ever more. Millions of acre-feet of precious stored water were released out of rivers as urban environmentalists hoped to increase the population of 3-inch delta smelt and to restore salmon to the upper San Joaquin River. Despite millions of acre-feet of released water, both fish projects have so far failed. Meanwhile, under pressure from environmental groups, the state canceled water projects such as the huge Temperance Flat reservoir on the San Joaquin River.

Common sense would have warned that droughts are existential challenges, the severity and duration of which are unpredictable. Droughts are times to bank water, not to release it for questionable green initiatives. Such common sense would assume, though, that millions of Californians had seen a broccoli farm or a Flame Seedless vineyard and had made the connection that what they purchased in supermarkets was grown from irrigated soil.

The founders and early observers of American democracy, from Thomas Jefferson to Alexis de Tocqueville, reflected a classical symbiosis, in which even urban thinkers praised the benefits of life in rural areas. Jefferson famously wrote: “I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.”

Read the whole thing — and then ponder how the typical bobo Los Angeles Times reader would respond to VDH’s harsh truths.

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