Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Correlating California's Economically "Stressed" Counties and Water Politics

A May 3rd news story listed the 20 most "stressed" counties in the United States. Twelve of the 20 counties (60%) are in one state, California. According to the the analysis, "stress" is measured by adding the unemployment rate plus the foreclosure rate plus the bankruptcy rate. Looking at the interactive map, the California counties suffer primarily from very high unemployment.

  1. Imperial County, Calif., 31.27

  2. Merced County, Calif., 28.29

  3. Lyon County, Nev., 27.96

  4. San Benito County, Calif., 27.26

  5. Sutter County, Calif., 26.41

  6. Yuba County, Calif., 25.8

  7. Stanislaus County, Calif., 25.46

  8. Iosco County, Mich., 24.89

  9. San Joaquin County, Calif., 24.78

  10. Nye County, Nevada., 24.19

  11. Lapeer County, Mich., 24.03

  12. Cheboygan County, Mich., 23.89

  13. Luna County, N.M., 23.82

  14. Lake County, Calif., 23.78

  15. Kern County, Calif., 23.62

  16. Tulare County, Calif., 23.17

  17. Madera County, Calif., 23.04

  18. Fresno County, Calif., 22.72

  19. Clark County, Nevada, 22.65

  20. Boone County, Ill., 22.59
Mapping the stressed California counties reveals a pattern recognizable by most farmers living in the California's San Joaquin Valley. While I'm no farmer, I did grow up on a citrus orchard in Tulare County.

Many of the affected counties are part of California's Central Valley Project (CVP), the critical lifeline delivering water to California's Central Valley (San Joaquin Valley) farmers. Here are these same counties plotted on top of a map of the CVP.

Click image to enlarge in separate window.

California Central Valley Project Overlaid with Stressed California Counties

The CVP's canals are often in the news due to a controversial decision to reduce water deliveries in order to protect an endangered fish called the delta smelt.

Wall Street Journal: "California's Man-Made Drought"

Newsweek: "Dying on the Vine: Water Shortage Wilts California's San Joaquin Valley"

Driving through the Central Valley last Summer, it was the driest that I had seen. Some farmers claim that this is all a crisis created by the government, as shown by this now-famous sign reading "Congress Created Dust Bowl."

Congress Created Dust Bowl
No doubt, government policies have complicated deliveries. However, as described in a response by the Department of the Interior, the delta smelt isn't the only reason for the lack of water deliveries. California has suffered through three years of drought and there are long-neglected improvements required to the CVP. Some of these fixes require careful coordination between California state politicians and the federal government.

While I don't have conclusive evidence showing a direct correlation between the lack of water and unemployment, the link appears relatively obvious. Agriculture depends on water and employment in the affected counties relies heavily on agribusiness. It is also obvious that people in the affected counties are indeed stressed.

More Information ...

Dead and Dying: California's Central Valley Dust Bowl

Central Valley Project

L.A. Times: "U.S. speeds up water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley farmers"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

California Law, Arizona Law, and Immigration Enforcement

As graphically emphasized in a YouTube video by Arizona's Governor, you can learn a lot just by reading.

With all the national and international controversy over Arizona's new immigration law (SB 1070), one might wonder about California's existing immigration law. Read on and be amazed.

  • Are California's sanctuary cities in clear violation of federal law and of California Penal Code, Section 834b? If so, why isn't 834b being enforced?
  • Are arrests of illegal aliens being reported by California's sanctuary cities? If not, is this not also a violation of California law?
  • How is California's law materially different than Arizona's controversial immigration law?

California Penal Code, Section 834b:

    834b. (a) Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding any person who is ARRESTED if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.

    (b) With respect to any such person who is ARRESTED, and suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws, every law enforcement agency shall do the following:

    (1) Attempt to verify the legal status of such person as a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted as a permanent resident, an alien lawfully admitted for a temporary period of time or as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of immigration laws. The verification process may include, but shall not be limited to, questioning the person regarding his or her date and place of birth, and entry into the United States, and demanding documentation to indicate his or her legal status.

    (2) Notify the person of his or her apparent status as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws and inform him or her that, apart from any criminal justice proceedings, he or she must either obtain legal status or leave the United States.

    (3) Notify the Attorney General of California and the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service of the apparent illegal status and provide any additional information that may be requested by any other public entity.

    (c) Any legislative, administrative, or other action by a city, county, or other legally authorized local governmental entity with jurisdictional boundaries, or by a law enforcement agency, to prevent or limit the cooperation required by subdivision (a) is expressly prohibited.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan and Her College Thesis

    As I write this, Elena Kagan is President Obama's nominee for a life-long appointment to the United States Supreme Court, the ultimate legal authority in the nation. She has no prior judicial experience but is apparently known to President Obama through Harvard University. Consequently, I was interested when politcal web site provided an electronic download of her college thesis titled, "To the Final Conflic: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933." I downloaded the thesis from before Princeton University demand that it be removed for copyright reasons.

    Ms. Kagan's this is an interesting read although a bit long. It provides an interest history of the American socialist movement and its association with labor unions and industrial organizations.

    Her thesis makes me wonder whether Ms. Kagan actually believed or currently believes any of this stuff or was merely fulfilling a requirement for a degree. Some of her words can clearly be interpreted as pro socialist. Some of her words go beyond mere reporting and analysis to advocacy. If she were a nominee for a life-long appointment lacking any judicial experience by any other president, this thesis would likely be ignored. However, seeing the direct connection between the Obama White House and the powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) labor union--among others--this thesis may be telling.

    Why do I mention SEIU? Because it spun directly out of the American Federation of Labor (now the AFL-CIO), which is mentioned in her thesis. Both the SEIU and member organizations of the AFL-CIO, such as AFSCME, are major contributors to Washington politicians with over 90% of the funds going to a single political party.

    Here is a snippet from the Conclusion of her thesis, starting on page 127, which I believe is being quoted within the fair use limits of U.S. copyright law. My comments are highlighted.

    In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States (true when she wrote the thesis in 1981 during the Cold War but perhaps no longer true since the election of President Obama with help from various labor organizations). Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism's glories than of socialism's greatness (and examples of socialism's greatness would include ...?). Conformity overrides dissent; the desire to conserve has overwhelmed the urge to alter. Such a state of affairs cries out for explanation. Why, in a society by no means perfect, has a radical party never attained the status of a major political force? Why, in particular, did the socialist movement never become an alternative to the nation's established parties? (could it be because there is scant evidence of any of the socialist's policies and methods ever producing a successful and sustainable state?)

    After lamenting the demise of various socialists groups, Ms. Kagan's thesis ends with the following section from page 130.

    ... The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism's decline, still wish to change America. Radicals have often succumbed to the devastating bane of sectarianism; it is easier, after all, to fight one's fellows than it is to battle an entrenched and powerful foe (are the majority of Americans today's "entrenched foe"?). Yet if the history of Local New York shows anything, it is that American radicals cannot afford to become their own worst enemies. In unity lies their only hope.

    By their own words, be they known? I certainly support the right of anyone to hold whatever political views they want. However, if someone is potentially appointed for a lifetime to the Supreme Court, I would like the views of the nominee to be clarified.

    More Elena Kagan Information:

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