Sunday, July 20, 2014

Six Californias, 40 Million Lab Rats, One Oblivious Narcissist

So bitcoin-addled third-generation venture capitalist Tim Draper might have enough signatures to put his Six Californias initiative on the November 2016 ballot. He claims they do, anyway; I'll believe it when and if the signatures are verified. (There are allegations of petition fraud against the company that collected signatures--a company with a long and sleazy history of decptive practices.)

A perfect storm of arrogance, narcissism, stupidity, self-interest, and more arrogance (San Francisco a part of "Silicon Valley"? Really?), it's a spectacularly bad idea that fails even on its own terms: initially touted as addressing the inequality of Wyoming having as many senators as California, it would create a situation where Jefferson (pop.: 950,000) has as many senators as West California (pop: 11 million).

And then there are, unsurprisingly, a few complications that Draper doesn't appear to have contemplated:
Water agreements, such as the Hetch Hetchy system that serves San Francisco and the Peninsula, would now be between separate states, as would the California State Water Project, which transports water south.

Prisons are not always in the areas where their inmates come from. About 37 percent of the state's prisoners, for example, were convicted in what would be West California, which would include Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties - but those counties have only 7 percent of the state's prison beds.

Fire stations, state parks, office buildings and even state vehicles and other equipment are all spread unevenly across California and would have to be considered in any split of the state.

There's no guarantee this can happen in a hurry. West Virginia seceded from Virginia in 1861, but it wasn't until 1915 that the dispute over who owed what to whom was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In other words, we would still be untangling things when the seventh generation of venture-capitalist Drapers is unleashing its sense of entitlement on the world earning its way through pluck, hard work, and enormous talent.

But of course Draper has a plan to deal with these things, right?
But when pressed on just how a plan that creates six smaller states with huge disparities in population, resources and income would be good for all Californians, Draper was less forthcoming.

Questions, for example, about who would run the labyrinthine network that delivers water to arid regions with millions of people, how California's multibillion-dollar pension obligations would be paid, and how the University of California and state college systems would be divided can all be worked out, Draper said. [emphasis added]
Right. He's been working on this for months and hasn't given any thought at all to how it would work out in practice.

The whole thing is an object lesson in the poverty of libertarianism. Libertarians think governing is easy. They think it's easy because they don't really care about the details, and they don't really care about the details because they think it's easy. (And of course they think it's easy because at heart they're fundamentally anti-democratic, fetishizing the dictatorial rule of all-powerful CEOs as their model for governance.)

And because they think governing is easy, because they don't care about the details, whenever by some hideous mischance one of them is given a position of responsibility, they invariably prove spectacularly inept at governing.

The Six Californias plan isn't going anywhere; the one poll taken so far shows 59% of Californians opposed. Nobody has polled Congress (which would have to approve the split), but preliminary estimates suggest upwards of 100% opposition among non-California Senators.

But the inconsequential, sideshow nature of the thing doesn't mean it should be forgotten. We should hold it up as a perpetual reminder of the kind of aggressive stupidity that that libertarians come up with as 'policy'.


Erik C. said...

"...but preliminary estimates suggest upwards of 100% opposition among non-California Senators."

I dunno, seems to me some of the more wingnutty ones (a dickhead named "Cruz" comes to mind, for example) would welcome a few more like-minded Senators.

Dark Avenger said...

According to George Skelton at the LA Times, the area I currently live in would be a state that would be poorer than MS if the scheme went through.

Tom Hilton said...

Yeah, the 100% figure was hyperbole. There might well be some who go for it on purely partisan grounds. But for the most part I think Senators will act in the interests of (not diluting) their own power.

DA: hey, when you've got under-performing divisions in your corporation, you unload them on somebody else. Draper is just applying the glorious and infallible logic of the private sector to public governance.

(Snark aside, if I got going on everything that's wrong with this idiocy I'd be here all day...)

Victor said...

Take it easy on yourself.

There's nothing right about this idiocy.

And that's all you need to say!

orangemike said...

The Six Californias are shamelessly gerrymandered to create four new "Sagebrush Rebellion" Republican states, with eight new U.S. Senators and eight new electoral votes, while creating one new probable Democratic-leaning state with two senators and two electoral votes. Net gain for the right wing: six more U.S. senators out of 110, and six more electoral votes out of 464.

flarenut said...

The prison and water and food issues would pretty much explain why the inland states might end up the richest rather than the poorest parts of the new dominion...