I've just returned from an extended trip to southern California. Since it was a pleasure trip, I did not keep up with the news too closely, but I did come home with a few impressions that I would like to write about. The fiscal condition of that great state is obvious to the traveler. I've never driven on a worse piece of freeway than the one through Sacramento. You’d think they could at least fill the chuck holes. Quite a few rest stops were closed, and the others have become a haven for jobless/homeless people begging for money. In several locations I saw big signs declaring that the ongoing road improvements were the result of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Unfortunately, in none of those locations did I see so much as one worker. Not even any leaning on shovels. More phantom jobs created, I guess.
It is gratifying to see however at the California recovery web site http://www.recovery.ca.gov, that the state received $200 million of ARRA money to increase broadband Internet access in underserved areas "to promote economic growth and spur job creation". Additionally the site describes $1.47 billion in grants for 66 Broadband Technology Opportunities Programs. If each one of those programs generated 100 jobs, that would be at a taxpayer cost of over $200,000.00 per job! I guess that's a real bargain in Federal Government terms.
Up and down the Interstate 5 corridor there are signs posted saying something like "Stop the Congress Created Dust Bowl", and others naming Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Boxer. They are generally in dry dusty fields or dead orchards. What is going on in California's central valley is truly shocking. This is the food machine for America, and a large portion of the world. What we see there today it is stark testimony to what happens when the Federal Government interferes with state issues.
The Feds have cut off much of the irrigation water necessary to make this land productive. To the family farmers it is a matter of survival, and being able to feed America. To the Federal Government it is a matter of endangered smelt, salmon fisheries on the coast, global warming, pollution in the Sacramento delta, and oh yes, votes in congress. An article at Hotair.com describes that aspect of the controversy:
It has, however, provided Democrats with a way of extorting votes from California’s Congressional delegation. Two of the Congressional districts in the area got immediate increases in water allotments after their Democratic Representatives committed to vote for ObamaCare in March. The one district represented by a Republican mysteriously had its request for more water ignored.
The website Povertyandhunger.com has an excellent analysis of the issue , and a very informative timeline showing increasing federal meddling over the years culminating in an Obama administration order in June of 2009.
Early in 2009, the Bureau of Reclamation, for the first time in the history of the CVP, projected zero water allocations for agricultural water service contractors on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley. Despite adjustments to provide token water deliveries, no meaningful relief has come. As a consequence, as much as 500,000 acres will be forced out of production and, according to a recent forecast by economists at the University of California, Davis, more than 40,000 farm workers will lose their jobs. Moreover, these job losses will occur in poor, rural communities, such as the City of Mendota, which already has unemployment rates in excess of 40%, and these communities are the least capable of reacting to this economic devastation.
I sure hope some of those broadband jobs go to the San Joaquin Valley.
Originally posted on 08/29/2010 at ConservativeCompass.com