The Valley That Jobs Forgot

posted at 11:35 am on December 31, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

If one had to guess where unemployment is highest in the US, most would probably suggest Detroit or Michigan as a whole.  Others who paid attention to the midterm elections would know that Nevada surpassed Michigan as the state with the highest unemployment rate about mid-year.  Others might guess Florida.  However, in terms of metropolitan areas with the highest levels of joblessness, a new survey by the Birmingham Business Journal shows that California’s Central Valley is the epicenter for unemployment.

Verum Serum discovered this while analyzing the data and noting the incredible concentration of joblessness in the country:

The first thing that strikes me is how heavily concentrated the worst unemployment is. 22 of the 35 metro areas with the worst unemployment are either in California or Florida. Three of the remaining 13 are in Michigan.

But the concentration within the concentration clearly shows the Central Valley as the worst area for jobs.  Nine of the top 10 metro jobless rates in the nation are California, and seven are in California’s Central Valley:

  • El Centro, CA – 29.3% (east of San Diego near border with Mexico)
  • Yuma, AZ – 26.7%
  • Yuba City, CA – 17.8%
  • Merced, CA – 16.3%
  • Stockton, CA – 16.3%
  • Modesto, CA – 16.2%
  • Visalia-Porterville, CA – 15.9%
  • Fresno, CA – 15.7%
  • Palm Coast, FL – 15.5%
  • Hanford – Corcoran, CA – 15.0%

Four of the next five after that are in central California as well, with #15 being the Riverside-San Bernardino area, not necessarily considered a Central Valley locale but also an area of significant agricultural production in normal times.

Why has California become the epicenter of unemployment?  While Michigan and Florida have a mix of problems, including (in Michigan’s case) a history of bad management decisions on labor contracts, California’s Central Valley woes are entirely a government creation.  As I wrote yesterday, the decision by a federal judge to cut off water supplies to an area that literally fed the world turned the Central Valley from an agricultural export powerhouse to a center of starvation within two years.  Congress has refused to act to reverse this decision, and as a result, almost a quarter of the families in the area now need government assistance to feed themselves while living on some of the most productive land in the world.

John at VS concludes that the federal government can take just three actions to address these concentrations of chronic joblessness: “Control the border, turn on the water in the central valley, and prevent unions from negotiating any more devastating contracts like the ones that almost destroyed the nation’s auto industry.”  Turning the water back on to the Central Valley is the easiest and quickest of the three, and unlike the labor-management relationship in (what used to be) a private industry, falls entirely within the purview of the federal government, thanks to the much-abused Endangered Species Act.  Until Congress turns the water back on to this breadbasket to the nation, nothing they do on joblessness can be taken seriously.


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With all due respect, if anyone wants to be angry about this abouse of the law to implement enviro-nazi inititives, at least put the blame where it lies. HERE is the enemy who caused this mess, as they were they ones who brought the suit the judge ruled on. If you want to hate, hate them; the organization and the individuals who support it.

MikeA on December 31, 2010 at 3:02 PM

Hanford is a charming, picturesque little town, a vibrant county seat. At least it was once.

The nine of the top 10 have something else in common: enormous Latino populations and high percentages of illegal aliens (gee, I hope that term isn’t too hurtful to our undocumented immigrant demographic). Read Victor Davis Hanson’s essay of a few weeks ago to see the kind of lawless cesspools these areas have become. I never thought I’d say this, but not only do we need to plug the border, we need to declare a moratorium on immigration from Mexico (10 years minimum). Far too many come here strictly for financial benefit, not for the so-called “better life.” They bring the squalor of their lives right along with them and then do their best to perpetuate it.

SukieTawdry on December 31, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Thanks for the link, Mike. I left a message at their staff blog where they’re currently extolling the resurgence of the delta smelt and salmon fishing industry.

SukieTawdry on December 31, 2010 at 3:33 PM

California and Nevada deserve it, the dems rule there regardless of the situation.

royzer on December 31, 2010 at 3:33 PM

I think it should be reiterated from my comments on a previous post: Central Valley has always been California’s Appalachia. It’s almost always had jaw-droppingly high unemployment numbers. Only briefly does it experience sub-10% unemployment and that’s only when the rest of the state is already well into the recovery. What the ruling does however is assure that the Central Valley will never experience close to sub-10% unemployment since it cripples its only industry. Also, identifying the top 10 counties with the highest unemployment rate does conceal the fact that all but 4 of California’s counties have double-digit unemployment rates. LA and the IE alone has more 14% unemployment rate. “Growing” Silicon Valley also has +10% rates.

Apologetic California on December 31, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Unfortunately there is no hope for California. They will go bankrupt and the rest of us will have to bail them out. The cycle will continue until we are all out of money. Let the Chinese figure it out. Californians never will.

BetseyRoss on December 31, 2010 at 3:58 PM

If Barbara Boxer won, in those conditions, they deserve her fully.

Schadenfreude on December 31, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Let the Chinese figure it out. Californians never will.
BetseyRoss on December 31, 2010 at 3:58 PM

It’s funny, really, because it’s so ridiculously easy to figure out. But a kind of determined idiocy is at play. I agree, it is hopeless. Catastrophe will have to step in.

rrpjr on December 31, 2010 at 4:05 PM

Red states – yer next!

Ca politicians have found the killer distributionist formula. They could not care less about state economics and have perfected the art of triangulation to pay lip service to it.

I’m here, unemployed and sulking like many other highly-skilled IT pros. We impotently watched as they hyped social wedge issues to bamboozle independents while placating their hard left base.

The Tea Party v1.0 had the fix kinda right: Obey the Constitution. It will continue to fail tho if it continues to misunderstand the value system upon which it was based.

That is, Individual Property rights.

Compromise this (with stuff like that newly-passed tax deal) and we dilute our brand – it forfeits any moral economic advantage.

This formula revitalized a floundering Obama. (Krauthammer is right & Gallup is myopic.) Now with it, O destroys Palin, Huck, & Romney.

So, where the F do we turn? Ron Paul? :-p

Quetzal on December 31, 2010 at 4:08 PM

I’ve been to El Centro and Yuma. When there, If I didn’t know I was in the US, I would have sworn I had crossed the border. Not surprising that the economies in those cities are on par with the economy in Mexico.

angryed on December 31, 2010 at 4:22 PM

How can it be, that those state which stand boldly for the bleeding-heart left, are those with the most unemployment? It’s not FAIR!
/sarc

Idiots. Keep voting for Boxer and Feinstein, keep sending California down the drain…

Freelancer on December 31, 2010 at 4:26 PM

GOOD NEWS!!!! I just got a full time job here in Michigan after almost two years without one!!!! BAD NEWS!! My husband just lost his yesterday after 33 years employed…. oh well, a mixed bag perhaps.

Still thinking positive!!!

shar61 on December 31, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Don’t take this the wrong way…

Why are you still in Michigan? If it takes 2 years to get a job, doesn’t that tell you something?

I just don’t get people who stick around in places like Michigan. It’s only going to get worse there. The good times of the 50s and 60s are never coming back. No matter who is president or governor.

You have an entire country to choose from, why force yourself to live in the worst place economically? I get it, there’s probably family around. But it’s not 1910 when a cross country trip took a week. You can fly anywhere for $250 these days. There’s email, facebook, web cams, etc to stay in touch virtually.

I can see staying in LA unemployed for the weather. But Michigan?

angryed on December 31, 2010 at 4:30 PM

With all due respect, not all Californians deserve the royal shaft they are getting. The overabundance of left-leaning voters in places like LA, San Fran, Oakland, etc., skews the whole deal.

I sincerely pray for the good folks of CA who want work and can’t get it due to the stupidity of their neighbors’ voting habits, and the idiocy of yet another overbearing federal agency.

hillbillyjim on December 31, 2010 at 5:37 PM

Take away SF, LA and SD and CA is a Red State. Perhaps they should split and form two states and we could call them Red CA and Blue CA.

DL13 on December 31, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Perhaps they should split and form two states and we could call them Red CA and Blue CA.

DL13 on December 31, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Having lived in California [Sacramento and Monterey] I’d agree.

But instead of Red and Blue, could we go with Superior California and Lower California instead?

coldwarrior on December 31, 2010 at 7:35 PM

California used to be the fifth largest economy in the world!

Now the state is pushing 10th, this last election, unbelievably, Californians elected the Democrat party who killed the golden goose, to the highest office(s) and did away with the 2/3rds vote requirement to pass a budget the only wedge Republicans had against even more massive over spending, AB32, plus Ca. Cap and Trade, the enviro whacko dreams come true, are now both free to trash the already downward spiraling economy unchecked, and with a current 150 billion plus unfunded public pension liability, the stage is set for the floor the drop out.

That old adage, as California goes, so goes the nation?
Well, this state is plenty big enough to take the rest of the nation right down the tubes with it, bailout or no.

Pure political expediency and liberal ideology has put the state on the edge.

Now might be a good time for federal regulators to step in and force austerity, even now the revenue is enough to run the state if the immense waste and ridiculous pensions are brought under control.

Might be better than the very scary alternative which will not be confined to California.

Speakup on December 31, 2010 at 8:52 PM

angryed on December 31, 2010 at 4:30 PM

I’d suggest that you consider just how expensive it is to relocate to another state, except where you accept a job offer that includes a good relocation package. Moving a family of four would cost thousands of dollars, money that people in that situation living on only one income would likely not have.

Also, with unemployment so high and taxes high, I’d be surprised if any of the Fortune 100 companies is under much pressure to offer relocation packages these days.

My advice to anyone seeking a professional position in CONUS would be to not limit your search to any particular region. While it may suck to have to relocate your family, better to be employed somewhere else than to be destitute back home.

Wanderlust on December 31, 2010 at 10:43 PM

ernesto on December 31, 2010 at 12:44 PM

The GOP controls only the House, ernesto. But you know that.

ladyingray on January 1, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Will California remain a state after it goes bankrupt?

While this seems a bit strange at first, would it be to the advantage of the Democrats if California returned to territory status with no state level government at all? Then they could divide it into 3 or 4 different ‘states’ and get 6 or 8 democrat senators. Some of these new states could eliminate some of those pesky provisions in the current state constitution, like english as the prevailing language.

I wonder if parts might just decide to align themselves with Mexico? Or maybe create their own ‘New California’ as a seperate country! Does anyone think that the US military could even be deployed to do anything about it? I could see Obama presiding over the elimination of a state as he hates the values this country was founded on any way. Obama would no doubt blame the Republicans for the entire situation.

Freddy on January 1, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Central Valley Danger:
The most-liberal and “Reconquest” goals for the California Central Valley are for the government to abandon the entire geographic area to the Mexican illegals. This is already happening in areas of Arizona. The refusal of the California government to enforce laws in the area is described in VDH’s essays referred to by others, on his Works and Days site.

GaltBlvnAtty on January 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM

For 30 years I’ve been wondering how long it would be before people woke up to the economic damage the environmental movement is doing to this country. Everybody wants clean air and water, but the greens don’t stop there. They want to tear down dams, and as in California cut off water to farms in order to benefit obscure, even specious endangered species of whatever is handy. They have stopped us from developing our own natural resources and made us more dependent on countries whom we can’t trust. They hate business and profit, and would love to become the masters of a new green socialism, where they and their cronies would prosper while the rest of us starve.

California is the prime example of what progressive policies lead to. Between the Democratic Party, public employees unions and the green movement, it is on its way back to the desert it was before the Gold Rush.

flataffect on January 1, 2011 at 12:55 PM

flataffect:
Agreed. Obama will push for “green jobs”, supported by the upcoming full court PR press for global warmers to regain the initiative. This is a black hole for our country, which is where Obama wants to take us.

GaltBlvnAtty on January 1, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Don’t take this the wrong way…

Why are you still in Michigan? If it takes 2 years to get a job, doesn’t that tell you something?

I just don’t get people who stick around in places like Michigan…

angryed on December 31, 2010 at 4:30 PM

If you think a $250 plane ticket is the solution, then clearly you have thought about it for less than three seconds. I don’t even know where to begin. What’s the right way to take an utterly clueless remark like yours?

cheeflo on January 1, 2011 at 2:11 PM

I’ve personally given up hope for California. They just re-elected the same Democrats that have caused their problems, given them the power to tax, without a 2/3 majority, and kept the same environmental rules in place all of this wasn’t done by the Democrats, it was done by the voters. Go figure!!!

If the government hasn’t taken care of the Central Valley yet, why would they now, they obviously weren’t held accountable. Any state that allows that to happen and not be outraged, is hopeless IMHO.

bflat879 on January 1, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Take away SF, LA and SD and CA is a Red State. Perhaps they should split and form two states and we could call them Red CA and Blue CA.

DL13 on December 31, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Why are you slandering San Diego? San Diego voted for Fiorina (by over 8 points) and Whitman (by nearly 8 points).

besser tot als rot on January 1, 2011 at 3:11 PM

flataffect on January 1, 2011 at 12:55 PM

The Green Movement only pretends to be about the environment, clean water and air, endangered species, etc. in order to appear noble and gain public support from uninformed sheeple. It is anti-Capitalist, anti-America, anti-West, anti-human progress. It’s the new repackaged Socialist Totalitarianism that everyone can get behind because we all want a healthy environment and planet. But it’s a smokescreen — the goals are the same as they’ve always been with Communism: dominate everything and everyone on the planet, human welfare be damned.

infidel4life on January 1, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Why are you slandering San Diego? San Diego voted for Fiorina (by over 8 points) and Whitman (by nearly 8 points).

besser tot als rot on January 1, 2011 at 3:11 PM

People forget that. California libtards are heavily concentrated in LA county, the seven Bay Area counties, and Sacramento/Yolo. Unfortunately for Republicans, that’s more than half the voters voting libtard by double-digits.

Apologetic California on January 1, 2011 at 4:24 PM

If you think a $250 plane ticket is the solution, then clearly you have thought about it for less than three seconds. I don’t even know where to begin. What’s the right way to take an utterly clueless remark like yours?

cheeflo on January 1, 2011 at 2:11 PM

And if you think staying unemployed in Michigan for two years is the solution, then clearly you have thought about it for less than three seconds as well.

Midas on January 1, 2011 at 4:58 PM

But it’s a smokescreen — the goals are the same as they’ve always been with Communism: dominate everything and everyone on the planet, human welfare be damned.

infidel4life on January 1, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Damn right. Turn the damn water on!

AshleyTKing on January 1, 2011 at 5:47 PM

Well the ultra cons can pan New England’s general lefty bent all they want but….One nice thing about living here is that we are about as far away geographically from CA as you can get and still be in the continental US. LOL!!!

jeanie on January 1, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Of course I failed to mention that NY is right next door. but, hey….

jeanie on January 1, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Hollywood needs to produce a comedy about LA natives, grown destitute by the environmental lunatic policies of California and sick of the economy, moving East… to Tennessee or Kentucky… to become small, subsistence farmers.

The Beverly Ill-billies?

profitsbeard on January 1, 2011 at 7:16 PM

With all due respect, if anyone wants to be angry about this abouse of the law to implement enviro-nazi inititives, at least put the blame where it lies. HERE is the enemy who caused this mess, as they were they ones who brought the suit the judge ruled on. If you want to hate, hate them; the organization and the individuals who support it.

MikeA on December 31, 2010 at 3:02 PM

I trust the suit-bringers and their donors, to say nothing of anyone more prominently placed, are all still alive and indeed unharmed. This is America, after all, where a man will live and thrive, no matter how many men he drives to ruin, and no matter how readily he may be found. But what is the limit of the Americans’ decency? It seems any such limit must eventually be reached.

Kralizec on January 1, 2011 at 8:48 PM

As a proud Californian, I welcome our state going bankrupt. Rewrite ALL of those public-employee pensions and kiss my capitalistic butt.

John the Libertarian on January 1, 2011 at 11:14 PM

Hollywood needs to produce a comedy about LA natives, grown destitute by the environmental lunatic policies of California and sick of the economy, moving East… to Tennessee or Kentucky…

We don’t want their ass. There should be a law that if you live in California and voted democrat you are required to stay there. Reap what you sow suckas.

BacaDog on January 2, 2011 at 12:38 AM

All of a sudden public spending is a trade-off! Every other time an issue like this comes up, you and everyone else here immediately dismisses it as some sort of guaranteed boondoggle. High speed rail? Not a trade-off, just all socialist scheming. Insurance to the uninsured? Not a trade-off, just a socialist scheme. And either way, why can’t California pay for their own dams? You keep telling me that its not the government’s money, why should they take ours to bring water to areas that didn’t have it?

ernesto on December 31, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Yeah, let’s build a high-speed rail! It did wonders for Japan’s economy. 20 year recessions ****ing rock.

Good Solid B-Plus on January 2, 2011 at 8:15 AM

Many of the problems in AZ come from the Californians that re-located there to escape the problems they caused in CA. And now they continue to push for and vote in the same policies that made them want to leave CA in the first place. Always believing that it’s the implimentation and not the policies that are the problem.

conservativecaveman on January 2, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Palm Coast Florida, number 9 on the list is just a few miles north of my home in Daytona and is largely a retired population. The city was built as a planned community by ITT and targeted at retiring pensioners from the north. Very little industry was ever built there.

conservativecaveman on January 2, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Central Valley has always been California’s Appalachia.

Apologetic California on December 31, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Born in ’61 & raised in Fresno. Left in the mid 70′s & returned there through the mid 80′s. I don’t recall that at all. There were bad areas and great areas, it wasn’t all one bad area.

roy_batty on January 2, 2011 at 10:31 AM

And if you think staying unemployed in Michigan for two years is the solution, then clearly you have thought about it for less than three seconds as well.

Midas on January 1, 2011 at 4:58 PM

You miss the point. I don’t think that. But there’s a lot more to relocating than just buying a plane ticket, which is a facile suggestion for an unemployed homeowner, who may have children, who is trying to make ends meet, who has an established household in Michigan. It’s not cheap and it’s not quick to uproot your family and move them to another state, where there may or may not be a job waiting. Have you tried to sell a house in Michigan lately? Ever look for a job in your fifties? Or should someone just throw away everything they’ve worked for on the chance that it might be better elsewhere? Viable solutions are hard to achieve, but there are more options than packing it in.

Shar61 held it together and finally found a job.

cheeflo on January 2, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Wait wait wait. A huge public works program created that ideal agricultural area. Now, they shut some of it down and conservatives cry for it to return? I though you guys hated public works!

ernesto on December 31, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Typical liberal fallacy: if someone supports any public works, he must support all public works, otherwise he is a hypocrite. I sometimes wonder if liberals have any ability to reason, whatsoever.

(Of course the aqueduct is already built unlike the high speed rail, but I’m sure you see that, somehow, as a distinction without a difference.)

besser tot als rot on January 2, 2011 at 10:35 AM

Many of the problems in AZ come from the Californians that re-located there to escape the problems they caused in CA.

conservativecaveman on January 2, 2011 at 10:10 AM

You could also say the same about California. That state has grown in population more than most others since the Gold Rush. For a long time they were a rather conservative state that allowed people from all over America a chance at a new start. The libs that run the state are a lot of transplants from the eastern liberal strongholds.

We see a lot of the same things here in Virginia. People who are tired of living in the northeastern states that have really screwed up laws and taxes are moving south. Problem is that many of them don’t associate the people they vote for as having anything to do with the decline.

TugboatPhil on January 2, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Kralizec on January 1, 2011 at 8:48 PM

Some I have long wondered about is why the side of reason never seems to learn from these things. While I despise the motives and goals of the hardcore enviro-nazis, I admine their ability to be effective in thier methods. Why, I wonder, does not their victims ever seem to learn from that and use the same tactics themselves?

Imagine if the people from the area affected by this disaster were to organize and mount a months long protest at the homes of the execs of the NRDC? The Judge? Large Donors? Why not file a class action suit against the EPA for damages and make it a media show trial complete with dirty hungry kids and jobless farm workers? Why stick to reasonablness and facts when the opposite seems to be working better for the other side?

MikeA on January 2, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Turning the water back on will not change a thing. You can’t go back to the way things were because there is no normal by definition of having the water turned off in the first place. Wake up. The reason the water could be turned off is migrant immigration (legal and illegal). As VDH noted recently, there is no longer an diversity on or in California farm lands. Travel inner Baja and behold your nation’s future. Thank the 60′s Teddy Kennedy immigration policy changes for that and all the pinworms and lice the school districts deal with every 45/15 system. You all have no concept of living in this reality and even VDH’s is somewhat removed due to his outside job and supplemental income with a guaranteed state pension.

The only remedy is no amnesty, deportation, border enforcement, and cut Visas and immigration. Allow Americans (no matter their background or race, Hispanic too) to settle or return to the community and demand from their representatives the American way of life and not Mexico North or Democrat plantations.

FeFe on January 2, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Look under: DEMOCRAT PARTY RESOLUTIONS FOR 2011.

Mutnodjmet on January 2, 2011 at 4:36 PM

California’s high-speed rail project is another black hole. Construction will be commenced solely for the purpose of getting “federal” funds.

GaltBlvnAtty on January 2, 2011 at 8:45 PM

First we get this:

::yawn::

If it were up to you guys, we’d lose species daily. Sure, the delta smelt is easy to latch onto as some sort of useless creature, but they’re a leading indicator of habitat destruction; first, the smelt, next, the salmon. You can’t just go removing species!

ernesto on December 30, 2010 at 4:17 PM

Then we get this:

See, I’m willing to accept the consequences should we decide not to destroy whole habitats in the interest of bringing water to places that had none. Bring the people to the places that can handle them, not the other way around. Screw all of this infrastructure and habitat destruction in the name of more suburbs. Your area is short on water? Move! Its the free market way.

ernesto on December 30, 2010 at 10:38 PM

And then this:

Wait wait wait. A huge public works program created that ideal agricultural area. Now, they shut some of it down and conservatives cry for it to return? I though you guys hated public works!

ernesto on December 31, 2010 at 12:34 PM

So let me get the logic here.

This project entices private farming that puts a relatively minor species in danger. Government then decides to cut off the water from the project to protect the species. This is a cost-benefit analysis done by government on how to utilize resources it made available… from a ‘public works’ project made to encourage private farming.

Thus government creates a project that has unforseen consequences, entices people to an area to help better feed the State and the Nation, then turns around and decides that this wasn’t a great idea, cuts off the water supply and lets the people who were enticed by the government project go hang.

What part of ‘bait and switch’ is not covered under this concept?

A good ‘steward’ would not have put this project down in the first place.

If, having made the mistake of doing so and finding unforseen consequences, it would have given all ample warning and then sought to amend the contract it had with those that it brought in with its ‘stewardship’: for the ‘stewardship’ of public lands goes to all species on those lands, which includes the human species, and also recognizes the costs not just to the environment but to all of those who are part of the environment. That includes the human cost. And humans can sue.

If a private company had done this it would be sued to high heaven for all it was worth and put out of business. Unfortunately with a business you get a signed, written contract: with government you get promises worth the paper they aren’t printed on. You can have it one way or the other, but you cannot have it both ways unless you are willing to have government under the same sorts of penalties as private entities when they promise goods and services in return for payment, in this case water use payments, and then welch on the contract. The ‘free market way’ requires open, honest dealing from both sides of the deal. The people in the valley have been lied to, cheated, and have a two-faced government that can neither keep its promise nor make whole those who have changed their very lives due to the promises given by government. And in a captive market, which this is, anti-trust laws would be applied to this situation if this were NOT a government run operation.

The problem with a ‘Public Work’ is that it suffers under ‘Public’ control which can be capricious and never considers long-term costs that might not be on the horizon when a project is started. Yet private concerns can be on the hook for damages done and injuries both physical and economic forever without even knowing what they are. Government? So sorry! Just move if you don’t like being lied to and losing your livelihood, investment and precious time for following such ill-made promises. And what, exactly, has the government done to find creative ways to mitigate the damage IT has caused by its poor ‘stewardship’? Add catchment areas? Seek to re-utilize brown water? Purchase water rights from other areas? Companies would seek to do these things to satisfy paying customers and responsibly adhere to the guidelines set for the region’s environment.

The environment for water resources would be better managed by private concerns having the obligation to look out for the environment at each and every step of the way and NOT just go on good intentions. Putting one’s future at stake on making right decisions for tomorrow, today means having to actually do things in accord to best practices. If CA sold off the entire water management system to a private concern and left it with the obligations the State now has and allowed it to garner water use rights payment, then all would be better off as the private entity would have to act responsibly in regards to the environment as a whole. Plus the government would no longer be responsible for the maintenance, upgrade and marginal expansion of the system. Then again, government isn’t all that forward looking as it can shed accountability by being a sovereign entity… and an essential part of ‘stewardship’ is being held accountable.

That is how you increase accountability, shed costs and maintain public services without having to administer it through a ‘Public Work’. With luck it might even be profitable… but there are no guarantees on that.

ajacksonian on January 2, 2011 at 9:06 PM

I’m sure Jerry Brown will fix it.

malclave on January 2, 2011 at 9:45 PM

A federal judge smacked down US Fish and Wildlife Service over the Delta Smelt policy that shut off the water to California’s Central Valley:
http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/12/15/15greenwire-judge-discards-sloppy-science-by-fws-on-delta-75600.html

In a direct and often biting decision (pdf), U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger said the Fish and Wildlife Service had ordered a protection plan under the Endangered Species Act through a biological opinion that is “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful.”

Not only are FWS required to use “best available science” to correct the policy, but impact on humans must be considered as well. Imagine that.

This decision is not the result of people whining “suck it”, abandoning California, writing the state off as a lost cause. Thanks to the inspired folks that are doing the science and legal work to get this kind of result. We need more of that.

Kenosha Kid on January 3, 2011 at 12:42 AM

As I wrote yesterday, the decision by a federal judge to cut off water supplies to an area that literally fed the world turned the Central Valley from an agricultural export powerhouse to a center of starvation within two years.

The federal judge who cut off the water must not have read history books. Most of the land around the Mediterraneans Sea is much too dry for agriculture, but the Romans built huge aqueducts to carry snow-melt from the Alps to their farms and cities.

This is one area where a central government, if it acts wisely, can HELP the people, by capturing water when and where it is abundant, and distributing it throughout the year where it is needed.

California has a climate similar to that of ancient Rome–very dry in summer, but with abundant snowfall on nearby mountains. When in a Rome-like climate, why not do what the Romans did?

Steve Z on January 3, 2011 at 11:41 AM

…capturing water when and where it is abundant, and distributing it throughout the year where it is needed.

California has a climate similar to that of ancient Rome–very dry in summer, but with abundant snowfall on nearby mountains. When in a Rome-like climate, why not do what the Romans did?

Steve Z on January 3, 2011 at 11:41 AM

That’s what the water infrastructure in California already does, Steve Z. It was designed in the 1920s, built in the 1930s, and updated in the 1950s and ’60s to collect snow runoff from the Sierra Nevada in reservoirs and distribute it for human use in the farming and urban areas (for the latter, primarily the SF Bay area and LA).

The problem for the Central Valley is that the environmentalists sued to prevent reservoir pumps from being turned on, because the operation of the pumps supposedly incommodes the Delta smelt (the famous 2-inch bait fish). A federal judge ruled that the pumps had to be kept turned off. Eventually, the state and federal agencies reached an agreement for severely limited operation of the pumps, so that now the San Joaquin Valley’s westside farmers get up to 25% of the water they used to get. (The eastside farmers are in better shape: they are on the western slope of the Sierra anyway, and have more groundwater and natural precipitation and better unaided access to Sierra runoff.)

There are other enviro groups whose project is to restore the salmon runs in the Sacramento River that have long been reduced or eliminated by the water distribution infrastructure. The suppression of these salmon runs dates to the inauguration of the water projects in the 1930s and ’40s.

This restoration project is, in its way, as informative about the guiding ideas of the environmentalist movement as the Delta smelt issue. With the Delta smelt, for one thing, we’re not talking about preserving the behavior of the species in its natural habitat. The smelt is thriving in man-made reservoirs now; we have created an artificial environment for it, and to suggest that we know for sure what its condition would be if there were no man-made reservoirs is to exit the realm of science and enter that of science fiction.

With the salmon runs, meanwhile, we’re not talking about protecting an existing eco-dynamic. We’re talking about “restoring” one that no longer exists. This presupposes an idea of what the restored ecosystem should look like — but it certainly doesn’t mean that that idea is certifiably aligned with any discernible demands of nature.

What difference does it really make if there are few or no viable salmon runs in the Sacramento River network? There’s no “shortage” of salmon. There are no out-of-work salmon producers collecting unemployment along the river. The salmon economy is a thing of the past for this region. It’s not an economic dynamic on which people’s livelihoods now depend.

Instead, the environmental concern is to restore a condition that obtained before the 1930s, regardless of the impact on the humans of today. If we accept that as a principle, what will we not be asked to accept down the road? We could try to “restore” all kinds of conditions, and return human life to being solitary, nasty, brutish, and short.

The bottom-line truth is that there is plenty of water for distribution in California. The political decisions have been to support the Delta smelt and the restoration of salmon runs with it, rather than supporting agriculture.

J.E. Dyer on January 3, 2011 at 1:07 PM

http://www.sacbee.com/2009/03/19/1698037/decline-and-fall-of-the-california.html

I encourage you to hit the play button to see how grim it really is.

rbendana on January 3, 2011 at 4:38 PM

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