Lawlessness in California

Classical scholar, university professor, and author Victor Davis Hanson has a new article entitled "Two Californias" chronicalling some of his on-the-ground observations from the great Central Valley of California, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. He reports some dismaying developments, but ones which are not surprising to those who have grown up in the state and spent a lot of time in the Valley over the years.

His observations during his travels by bicycle in and around the small agricultural towns north and south of Frenso carry a common theme of growing lawlessness stemming from the state's total abdication of its responsibility to enforce existing laws, including but not limited to immigration laws.

As a matter of economic principle, we are 100% in favor of immigration and believe that every human being should be seen as a potential contributor to the overall value of society. This position is in contrast to those who hold a zero-sum (or "demand side") view of the world, which sees others as potential threats who are competing for shares of a "fixed pie" of wealth.

People who hold such a view typically believe that foreigners, or people of other races, or women in the workforce, or people working in other countries, or even robots and machines employed on assembly lines are taking away jobs at the expense of others. On the contrary, we believe that more productivity (whether from robots and machines or from the participation in the economy of groups and regions that did not contribute previously) is good for everybody, and makes the "pie" bigger.

This is exactly what has happened in the history of California, as immigrant groups from all over the world have contributed to create one of the most vibrant economies in America (or anywhere else).

What is most disturbing about the article from Professor Hanson is the element of lawlessness that is introduced as a result of government abdication of its most basic responsibility to enforce the laws written by the representatives of the citizens. Without the rule of law, innovation and economic growth cannot take place. Individuals cannot contribute to the economy because private property is not respected or protected and in the resulting unpredictable (and dangerous) environment, it does not make sense to build and add to a business.

As we wrote towards the end of our post entitled "The Consumer" in October of 2009:

"Unlike the desire to consume, the desire to produce can be completely squashed by foolish policy. For instance, if you lived in a country where the police did not stop looters from breaking into your store and taking all your goods, you would soon learn not to build a fixed store with inventories of goods and services. This is why in most countries without the rule of law, small-scale stands in open-air markets and bazaars are the norm, rather than larger permanent shops which can take advantage of economies of scale. Generally speaking, in those countries, scarcity is the norm, and sufficient quantities of goods and services to meet the basic needs of all those who desire them are not produced."

This is the environment that California's failure of leadership is creating in some parts of the state, and matches that described by Professor Hanson in his personal travels through the Central Valley. The problem is related to California's incredible increase in entitlement spending (which really accelerated exponentially during the 1990s) to levels similar to some of the worst offenders in Europe, which we discussed in posts such as "Greece and California" and which Chapman University Fellow Joel Kotkin described with great insight in "The Golden State's War on Itself" earlier this year.

These are extremely important economic principles of which every citizen should be aware, but which many do not understand or choose to ignore. For those of us who live in the great state of California and who yearn to see it continue its long history of innovation and growth, we can only hope that this plight will be recognized and corrected.

Please share this information with your friends and family.

Subscribe (no cost) to receive new posts from the Taylor Frigon Advisor via email -- click here.