Jewish World Review Oct. 14, 2003 / 17 Tishrei, 5764

Thomas Sowell

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Is California crazy? | The California recall election and its surrounding hoopla may have confirmed the suspicions of some people in other parts of the country that Californians are crazy. But not all Californians are crazy — just the most affluent and highly educated ones.

Although the state as a whole voted to remove the disastrous Governor Gray Davis from office by 55 percent to 45 percent, he received a solid majority of support in most of the upscale northern California coastal counties.

In San Mateo County, where the average home costs more than half a million dollars and the environmentalists reign supreme, keeping the vast majority of the land off-limits to building, 63 percent of the voters wanted Gray Davis to remain in office. In even more upscale Marin County, 68 percent of the voters were for Gray Davis. And in San Francisco, the furthest left of them all, no less than 80 percent voted to keep Gray Davis as governor.

There is a certain irony here, since the Democrats like to portray themselves as the party of the working people, with special solicitude for "the children" and for minorities. But working people, families with children and blacks are precisely the kinds of people who have been forced out of these three affluent and politically correct counties.

All three of these ultra-liberal counties have been losing black population since the previous census. Kindergartens in San Mateo County are shutting down for lack of children. The number of children in San Francisco has also gone down since the last census, even though the population of the city as a whole has gone up.

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Out in the valleys to which those who are not as affluent have been forced to flee, in order to find something resembling affordable housing, the vote was just as solidly against Davis as it was for him among those further up the income scale. Out where ordinary people live, the vote against Governor Davis was 64 percent in Merced County, 72 percent in Tulare County and 75 percent in Lassen County.

The time is long overdue to get rid of the outdated notion that liberal Democrats represent ordinary people. They represent such special interests as trial lawyers who keep our courts clogged with frivolous lawsuits, busybody environmentalists who think the government should force other people to live the way the greens want them to live, and of course the teachers' unions who think schools exist to provide their members with jobs.

Many of these people are over-educated, in the sense that they have spent many years in institutions which have propagandized them with the politically correct vision of the world — even if they have not taught them much history, economics, or other mundane things.

Someone has said that people are not born stupid, but are made that way by education. Certainly that is true of what too often passes for education these days. You don't have to be crazy to want to keep Governor Gray Davis in office, but it helps.

This is the same Gray Davis who recently signed a bill to allow illegal aliens to get California driver's licenses. Using driver's licenses as identification, illegal aliens can now do pretty much whatever a citizen can do. Given our lax election laws, that probably includes voting.

Although Governor Davis is best known for the blackouts that his crazy policies on electricity brought on, he has been versatile in the havoc he has wreaked. Nor is he through yet. He could get writer's cramp from all the bills and appointments he signs before leaving office.

What can Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger do for California? Given the Democrats' solid control of the state legislature, Arnold is unlikely to get any laws passed reflecting his own views.

Nevertheless the new governor will have a line-item veto to cut back on some of the reckless spending that California's liberal Democrats specialize in. More than that, Schwarzenegger can use the bully pulpit of his office to educate the public on what is wrong with the bills he vetoes.

In short, he can promote sanity among the electorate, so that they do not keep putting in office the kind of people who make others wonder if Californians are crazy.

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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, "Controversial Essays." (Sales help fund JWR.)


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