Tag Archives: conservatism

Orange County, Seat of Hypocrisy [Cross Posted from Dkos]

( – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Orange County, California is a seat of hypocrisy.  Recently I spent the weekend in Orange County, long-time stronghold of conservatism.  The local newspaper, Orange County Register, features regular condemnations of “socialism” and government generally.  Despite their disdain for government spending,  in actuality the county’s residents are  are dependent on two enormous government projects.  The first is the highway system, and the second is the California State Water Project.

Orange County is doubtlessly a bastion of conservatism.  There are 1.5 times as many registered Republicans as Democrats.  Here are some gems from the blog  of the Orange County Register:  “If I were creating a program designed to keep people poor and dependent on government, this would be it. You provide new, below-market housing to people, then forbid them from selling the property at market rates when they leave….Sorry, but markets still work better than socialism.”  In another entry, a blogger writes about his recommendations for today’s Russia:  “Instead of increasing government, he [Russian President Vladimir Putin] should cancel all income taxes, welfare, etc. — the whole superstructure of socialist tyranny that remains there (and in the US, Europe, etc.) — income taxes, welfare, “Social[ist] Security,” government schooling, etc. Leave people alone to run their own lives and they’ll start having kids again.”

Notwithstanding the rants of the misinformed, Orange County is dependent on the federal highway system.  For example, in Orange County the 405 freeway is 72.5 miles long, and connects Orange County to Los Angeles and San Diego.  According to 1996 figures from the Department of Transportation, a 2 lane freeway in an urban area costs approximately $540,000 per mile.  In many places the 405 is at least 4 lanes wide on each side.  Thus, by a conservative estimate, the 405 freeway costs at least $ 39,150,000 a year.  As if that number was not large enough, Orange County is served by a variety of other Interstates, including 10, 605, 110 and 105.  Each of these freeways was built at the taxpayer’s expense.  Keeping the freeways open requires a host of maintenance tasks, as well as trustworthy inspectors to ensure that the bridges and overpasses are well maintained.  Every day people drive on Interstate 405 without paying a cent in tolls.  It is the most heavily used freeway in the country. 

On the other hand, there is also now a beautiful toll road in Orange County, State Routes  241 and 73 were built with private dollars, and maintained with toll fees.  Skeptics could point out that Orange County could have been created through a system of private toll roads.  This seems doubtful because although the roads were conceived of in the 1970s, construction did not start until the 1990’s, two decades later.  Putting the bonds on the ballot did not happen until the early 1980s.  In comparison, Interstate 405 was approved in 1955, with construction starting two years later in 1957.  In a little more than a decade, in 1969, construction crews finished the build out of Interstate 405.  It seems highly unlikely that the vast network of freeways that connect the cities of Orange County and the rest of Southern California could have been built so rapidly with private backing.  No matter how many miles a person drives on Interstate 405, or the vast majority of the highways that lead into Orange County,  they pay no increased usage fee.  The government is subsidizing every mile driven.  Sounds like socialism and government spending to me. 

While the highway system is important to mobility in Orange County, water is necessary for life.  Orange County draws a full 25 percent of it’s water from the California State Water Project and the Colorado river.  The State Water Project is a network of pipelines and aqueducts that moves water from Northern to Southern California.  The Project has gigantic (and expensive) canals and pumping stations, and cost 1.75 billion dollars to build in 1960.  In today’s dollars, that’s over 11 billion dollars.  Keeping it running is no small task either.  Like the interstate highway system, the CSWP requires inspectors and maintenance personnel for the physical plant.  Orange County residents are also the beneficiaries of the local Orange County  Water District, which manages the wells that provide 75 percent of the county’s drinking water.  The California legislature formed the OCWD in 1933 because groundwater pumping was causing the land to sink.  As people pumped out water, the land sank into the space previously occupied by the water.  There is no free-for-all of private well drilling in Orange County– rather, the OCWD makes sure that the groundwater in Orange County is protected from salt water and recharged from treated , recycled waste-water.

Without the OWCD and government regulation, the groundwater supply in Orange County might not exist in its current high quality state.  Furthermore, the county might be marred with a sinking water table, which damages buildings and roads as the earth compacts.

Orange County is just one more example of a place where government subsidies have created an entire way of life.  What’s ironic about the complaints of the OC Register columnist/bloggers is that because the government subsidies have worked so well, the bloggers are not  aware of them. Clean water comes out of the tap when you turn it on, and the “free” roads that are ”just there.”  It is easy to take something for granted that was built , at great expense, by previous generations.  The rest of the world is not like that– in many countries, a person cannot safely drink tap water, and there is no vast , free network of high speed roads. We must start asking people to own up to what it costs to maintain their lifestyle– if they expect to keep drinking the tap water and driving on freeways, they must start accepting the costs.  Again, the United States chose to spend money on public works during the 1950s and 1960s, and it laid the foundation for the economic boom.

Alternately, they can find a way to build their own roads and make their own clean water without government backing.  Good luck with that.  I hear it’s working out well in Somalia. 

List of Sources

Steve Greenhut, Housing Socialism in Irvine OCREgister.com.
John Seiler, “OCRegister blog:  Orange Punch – post: Socialism = death.”  OCRegister.com
Orange County Registrar of Voters, “Voter Registration by SOS District.”  OCVOTE.com.
Daniel P. Faigin, “California Highways (www.cahighways.org): Routes 371 through 480.”  California Highways
US Dept. of Transportation/US Dept. of Commerce, US Urban Freeway (Motorway) Cost per Person Mile.”  The Public Purpose.
TCA, “The Toll Roads – Background and History.”  The Toll Roads.
Department of Water Resources, “State Water Project – History.”  Department of Water Resources Public Affairs.
Tom R. Halfhill, “Tom’s Inflation Calculator.”  Tom’s Home Page.
Orange County Water District, “OCWD Online – Water Factory 21.”  Orange County Water District.

CA-04: When You Lose John Fund…

The S.S. John Doolittle just got a little lighter today, as The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund becomes the latest rat to desert the sinking ship.  The opening line is devastating:

It’s sad when someone you’ve known for decades gets in trouble and you’re not surprised.

It gets worse from there, and if you read closely, you can almost hear the tiny chorus of the world’s smallest violin section.


…political observers back in Mr. Doolittle’s hometown of Sacramento agree his congressional career is over. Last year, publicity about his ties to Mr. Abramoff caused his popularity to plummet. He won re-election by only 3% in a district President Bush carried by 24% in 2004. Now he is almost certain to face a primary challenge from a local GOP state legislator, as Republicans scramble to make sure the seat stays in their hands.

That’s new information there… even if he sticks around, he’ll be primaried?  I’ll believe that when I see it.

This is the part where the Vasoline gets smeared on the lens and Fund takes you back to those halcyon days when Doolittle was just the Conservative Mack, man!

It will be a sad end to a political career that began with such promise. In 1980, when I met Mr. Doolittle, he was a 30-year-old lawyer and political upstart and I was a California college student. Mr. Doolittle had just defeated an incumbent Democratic state senator in Sacramento County, which had elected only one Republican to partisan office in the past generation (and she soon switched parties).

Mr. Doolittle, a confirmed Reaganite, inspired an entire generation of local Republicans to take advantage of demographic changes in the state’s capital. Today, Sacramento County often votes for Republican statewide candidates, and outside of the central city elects only Republicans to the Legislature and Congress. In the state Senate, Mr. Doolittle amassed a solid record as a fiscal conservative and championed ethics reform in the wake of an FBI sting operation that sent several legislators to jail. In 1990, he ran for and won a seat in Congress.

He was such a good man!  He fought corruption and everything!  Until some sort of Satanic bacteria got in his water (probably some liberal concoction out there in DC), John Doolittle was the finest public servant the world has ever known!

The rest of it is kind of hilarious, as Fund does what conservatives always do when faced with a corrupt or incompetent member of their own party – claim that they’re not a true conservative.  See, he didn’t support term limits and he once talked to Maxine Waters:

When Mr. Doolittle went to Washington, he clearly didn’t intend to sacrifice much. True, he gained headlines as a member of the “Gang of Seven,” a group of reform-minded freshmen who tweaked Democratic leaders for their abuse of the House Bank and Post Office. But at the same time, just two months after taking office, the ostensible reformer teamed up with Democrat Maxine Waters, a left-liberal firebrand with whom he’d served in the Legislature and who went to Congress in the same election as he did. Together, the two proposed a wish list of new perks that would make even European Union bureaucrats blush.

Conservatism never failed, it’s just never been tried…

The truth is that John Doolittle did what every Republican in the 109th Prison Basketball Team Congress did; he got himself on a powerful committee and used it as leverage to personally benefit himself and his family.  And he did it while being a rubber stamp for every conservative cause he’s ever voted on.  Here’s another example of this neat little trick by Fund, where he claims essentially that no real conservative has ever written an earmark.

Fiscal conservatives will shed few tears over Mr. Doolittle’s likely departure from Congress. Ever since he joined the Appropriations Committee in 2001, he has been preoccupied with shoveling pork back to his district, telling one reporter he had adapted his small-government principles to the system Congress had created to spend money: “You work with what you’ve got.” In conversations with me, he would marvel at how well Democrats and Republicans got along on the Appropriations Committee because “we so often have the same priorities”–namely spending other people’s money.

Bullshit.  The problem is that the GOP Congress sought to run a criminal enterprise out of the Capitol building because they have no interest in doing anything else.  Doolittle was perfectly following the conservative script – fight any effort to make government work while making it work for his bank account.  It’s true that there’s nothing conservative about it; but don’t give me this fiction that he’s not a “real conservative” because of it.  Because if that’s true, then there are no real conservatives in the whole Congress.

We shouldn’t let anyone get away with this dodge.  John Doolittle is as conservative now as he’s ever been.  The movement is trying to jettison him because his days are numbered.  But in truth the conservative movement only serves to destroy government and reward friends.  Which is all John Doolittle has ever done.

P.S. Oh yeah, come to our blograiser for Charlie Brown.