I’m So Old, I Can Remember California

By | January 7, 2019 | 3 Comments

They say no one wants to grow old. This is not true. All the people ‒ mainly young men ‒ who died at Lexington, and Antietam, and Belleau Wood, and Normandy, and Tarawa, and the Chosin Reservoir, and the Ia Drang Valley, and Mazar-i-Sharif, and Fallujah, would have been happy to live out their lives and grow old.

Nevertheless, it is true that no one wants to be old. On the other hand, being old has advantages. In fact, I’m so old that I can remember when:

● The unofficial state song was “California, Here I Come.” But now, California suffers a net loss of 138,000 people to other states in one year, despite continued legal and illegal immigration. In a free state, if the people tire of the government, they change the government. In an unfree state, if the government tires of the people, it changes the people.

● California was a model of self-government, where voters could enact laws via the initiative process. But now, voters three times approved the death penalty, and two times affirmed that marriage was between one man and one woman. But each time, the voters’ decisions were trashed by the courts. And in 2016, Californians were given the choice between two liberal Democrats for U.S. senator. No wonder fewer citizens bother to vote. If you are spat in the face repeatedly, you turn away – and tend to get angry. Maybe quietly angry, but angry. Non-citizens do vote, however, in numbers that state officials don’t know and don’t want to know.

● Los Angeles traffic moved efficiently. Back then, there were a million fewer residents. Drivers could afford to be courteous ‒ for example, to slow down a bit to allow a car to enter the freeway, rather than speed up to block it, as they do now.

● There was a vibrant middle class living in houses, not a few rich living in mega-mansions, countless poor crowded into shabby apartments or garages, homeless persons living on the street ‒ and a middle class that is both shrinking and leaving California.

● People viewed houses as places to live and raise their families, not “spec houses” to flip for a fast profit before the housing bubble burst yet again.

● The University of California and state colleges were the envy of the nation, with minimal tuition and first-rate teaching. Now California has rising tuition, and universities favor out-of-state and foreign students, who pay higher tuition. The professoriate is filled with leftist ideologues who believe their role is to indoctrinate, not teach, and a student body increasingly made up of young people all too willing to be indoctrinated. As a result, conservative speakers are either not invited at all, or must hire bodyguards, and frank anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are on the rise.

● Public schools were excellent. Discipline rarely needed to be enforced, and when it was, it was enforced by teachers and principals. School police were unknown. Immigrant parents could send their children there, confident that they would be taught actual subjects, not “gender fluidity” ‒ and taught to be good Americans as well.

● The role of public schools was to prepare the top students for college, and the others for citizenship and the workforce. But now, about 40% of college freshmen are not ready for college work. Employers find many young people unable to count change, or read an analog clock, or read cursive writing, or construct an understandable sentence. And as for teaching them to be proud Americans, are you joking?

● The Central Valley was an incredibly rich agricultural area that produced large percentages of the nation’s food. But now, for the possible benefit of the delta smelt, a three-inch fish, water use was curtailed to the point that fields lie fallow and workers (mainly immigrants) are unemployed.

● California was generally a low-crime state. But now it declared itself a “sanctuary state” where police are forbidden to cooperate with Immigration. As a direct result, criminal aliens were released from jail ‒ and went on to murder Kathryn Steinle and Ronil Singh.

● Except for a few “bad” parts of town, women and the elderly could walk alone without fear. Neighbors watched out for one another. “Mugging” meant making faces for the camera.

● The police were respected and sometimes feared. Everyone knew that if you took a swing at a cop, you wound up in the emergency room before you visited the courtroom.

● If you punched a cop, he would respond with his nightstick. A “baton” was what a drum major twirled. If you pulled a knife, he would respond with his Smith & Wesson .38 Special loaded with high-speed ammunition. The revolver held only six rounds and was relatively slow to reload, so police aimed before they shot. The expression “spray and pray” was yet to be invented.

● If you murdered a child or a police officer, you would be lucky to be arrested alive. But if you were, you would usually wind up in the gas chamber in a few years. You would not die of old age, after many years of sleeping in a warm bed, eating three meals a day, watching TV, exercising, and enjoying human contact ‒ while the victims’ survivors suffered in silence, waiting for closure that would never come.

● Religious and civic leaders and judges expressed basic moral principles based on the Bible and the Judeo-Christian tradition, not on Marxist theories or their own inclinations. They were wise enough to ration their sympathy. They did not squander it on law-breakers, leaving none for the law-abiding. They did not waste it on criminals, leaving none for victims like Kathryn Steinle or Ronil Singh. They had their priorities straight.

Granted, things back then were not always cheerful. The situation of women and minorities often was not favorable. Women faced restrictions, but they were better off than Kate Steinle. Minorities and immigrants faced discrimination, but they were better off than Ronil Singh.

“Change” is not always for the better. When people talk about “progress,” we must always ask, “What do you want us to progress towards?” When President-elect Obama declared to cheering crowds, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” few listeners thought to ask, “Transforming it into what?”

Now, belatedly, we should be asking that question.

Build more high-rises? How many more? How will we handle the traffic and the parking? Admit more immigrants? How many more? The schools, hospitals, jails, and welfare offices are already overflowing. Push more students into bilingual classes? Then we will have more graduates semi-literate in two languages. Provide more benefits for antisocial behavior? Then surely we will have more of it.

The water supply and electric grid are already overstretched. More “growth” will provide more taxes for the treasury and more graft for the politicians. But sooner rather than later, the whole mess will coagulate in an enormous civic thrombosis. And then what?

Whatever programs we establish, and whatever policies we pursue, we must be absolutely certain that future Kate Steinles and Ronil Singhs will be allowed to live out their lives in safety. Otherwise, we may not survive as a state, a nation, or a civilization. Even worse, we may not deserve to survive.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.



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