Behold this mighty new maritime nation rising in the west, nimbly riding the undulating ring of fire round earth’s greatest ocean! The Fabulous Four, California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii, boasting more than 50 million inhabitants, as multicultural and multicolored as you’ll find in any comparable place on the planet, harmoniously occupying more than 325,000 square miles of earth just as varied and even more spectacular in nature’s blessings. View its high mountains and low mountains, high deserts and low deserts, grassy plains and fertile valleys, tropical rain forests and evergreen conifer forests and evergreen broadleaf forests and even elfin forests, not to mention its 8,895 miles of consistently exquisite tidal shoreline, hugging the dominant physical feature on planet earth, the ocean after which it is named, Pacifica.
Many more superlatives go with all that—the driest place in the former U.S. (Death Valley, California), the wettest place (Kauai, Hawaii), the lowest place (Death Valley again), the highest place in the former forty-eight (Mount Whitney, California again), and the highest mountain island in the world (Mauna Kea, Hawaii), a priceless bounty of national parks and wilderness areas—more beauty parts than Ross Perot can count. Consider also the floral and faunal smorgasbord, sans griffins. Biggest trees, tallest trees, oldest trees. And then there is Hawaii, the happiest place in the present nation. (FOOTNOTE 2-1) Talk about a terrestrial paradise!
Politically, unlike the motherland which has just been stricken with a likely fatal seizure of dissociative personality disorder, we in the far west have a lot going for our healthy, left-of-center, progressive, near-perfect union. Skeptics have failed to notice just how far leftward the Pacific States have drifted over the last two decades. Proof of our plunge into the deep blue? Eight out of eight of our United States Senators are Democrats (three male, five female—how’s that for gender fairness?); all, at last count, oppose offshore oil drilling, by the way. All four governors are Democrats. In the U. S. House of Representatives, California has a 39-14 Dem bias, Oregon a 4-1 edge, Washington a 6-4 margin, Hawaii a 2-0 sweep. That’s a total of 51 to 19, or 60% good guys and gals. Wouldn’t you agree that result is rather lopsided?
As for presidential preferences, the last three general elections put the political climate in clear view; Hillary Clinton was Pacifica’s overwhelming choice, while our native son Barack Obama before that twice thrashed his Republican rivals handily (FOOTNOTE 2-2):
These numbers show decisively the liberal-progressive mindset of Pacifica’s people—a preponderance not found in any other region of the present nation. How to account for that? Well, living closer to nature’s grandeur, with the will to keep it as pristine as possible, makes for happier humans and stokes their optimism. Nature in turn has been generous to Pacificans in gifts animal, vegetable and mineral, assuring a comfortable base on which industrious folks can build prosperity. And build it they have. Take the Gross State Product (2015 figures) of the four merging states and you get a GNP in excess of three trillion dollars, placing Pacifica seventh in the world among nations, just behind France and ahead of Brazil, Italy and Russia. (FOOTNOTE 2-3)
But that is now; you haven’t seen anything yet. Where is the smart money’s bet on the future? For that we look to venture capitalists who make a habit of putting their money where their mouth and their hunches are. And that is? Yep, same place—the Left Coast, by the latest data we’ve got. Try these numbers (from 2011-2012) on for size to find where the venture capital, by state, is going: (FOOTNOTE 2-4)
Yes, that’s Pacifica—Golden Bears and Huskies reconciled—taking the lion’s share (roughly 75%) of the optimists’ money. And that’s Texas down there in a fading fifth place.
You might remember that five or six years ago California was being written off by the Wall Street Journal and much of the eastern press as bankrupt and all but terminal; Texas was being ballyhooed by credentialed seers as America’s future, supplanting that tarnished Golden State has-been. Indeed, then Texas governor Rick Perry (two-time Republican Presidential candidate, now heading Trump’s Department of Energy—the federal agency Perry couldn’t remember the name of but promised to eliminate if and when he were president) took trips west to poach coastal business enterprises by offering tax-break bribes to move to the Lone Star State. The hustle soon fizzled when the price of oil dove into a crater, taking Texas with it. (Listen up, Tex, as beginning investors are advised from the get-go, you gotta diversify, diversify, diversify. And remember, commodities like oil and cattle are not enough on which to base a world-class economy, least of all a future.) And as East Coast media mavens are hereby advised once more, actually go west young man and young woman, stay longer than three days, and take a long look before you write off the new center of the world.
Pacifica’s four member states didn’t lose much business to Perry and his Texas raiders. A check now of the Big Board and NASDAQ names confirms that: Amazon, Microsoft, Costco, Starbucks, Paccar, Expedia, to go with old standbys Boeing, Nordstrom and Weyerhaeuser, are still headquartered in the state of Washington; Nike and Precision Castparts remain in Oregon; Dole stays in Hawaii; and Apple, Amgen, Calavo, Cisco, Chevron, Direct TV, Disney, Facebook, Google, Intel, Oracle, Qualcomm, Spacex, Sunkist, Wells Fargo, Western Digital, and Yahoo are among too many to track who prefer staying here in the culture of the promised land.
Yes, culprit California, the causal center of it all, for all its past economic ups and downs, has as many corporate legs to stand on as a centipede has legs to crawl: Silicon Valley technology, aerospace, the wine industry, the entertainment industry, the fashion industry, the fishing industry, lumber, mining, manufacturing, South Coast biotechs, military bases, tourism, successful professional sports teams, not to mention an agricultural cornucopia without equal in the world. (FOOTNOTE2-5).
Of course money and ambition and cooperation between government and its citizens are not everything that makes a super economy. They don’t even include the most important thing. That would be knowledge and its motive power forward, learning. Knowledge for its own sake, and knowledge applied to ease the human lot—with scientific knowledge preferred. And where is it centered? Several entities and publications rate the world’s research universities. Appearing consistently in the top ten, in varying order, are UC Berkeley, Stanford, UCLA, Caltech; up the best to the top 15 and you might add the University of Washington or U.C San Diego. (FOOTNOTE 2-6) Remember, that’s the world. Yes, academia, and its camp follower, “High Culture,” have found a receptive home on Pacific shores.
Another unifying factor that favors Pacifica and unites us in common purpose is that we trust government to solve problems and do not share the Tea Party’s wish to become the next Yemen or Somalia. Moreover, we actually encourage voting out here, not suppress it by passing voter ID laws, cutting early voting, and purging the voter rolls at every opportunity. We wish to nourish democracy, not maim it.
It’s remarkable how much in agreement West Coasters are in matters where personal beliefs and public policy meet. Oregon, the first state to approve doctor-assisted suicide (followed by the state of Washington, and most recently California), is also the first state in the present union that automatically registers you when you get or renew a driver’s license (or ID card). Under this new Motor Voter Law, you receive a card in the mail. Do nothing, and you’re registered to vote as a non-affiliated voter. Return it with your party preference marked and you’re registered to vote in that party’s primaries as well. Or you can return the card and opt out of voting at all, if you wish to surrender your precious right.
The state of Washington votes by mail and allows you to register online. The Aloha State also permits online registration, as well as absentee and early voting. California, that giant stage where forward thinking usually debuts, naturally offers online registration, as well as assistance in doing so in English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese. FOOTNOTE (2-7) Students studying in other states may register online if they choose to vote at home, as may any qualified Californian living abroad register and vote by mail.
Liberal as it is, Pacifica of course welcomes all moderates and the many thousands of conservatives who still choose to live within our tolerant borders. Together we can all go back to the old politics of JesseUnruh—reasoned discussion, multilateral concessions, you know, “if you vote this way for me, I’ll side with you on that.” You remember those horse-trading compromises they used to make in the Old Times before the Reagan Revolution ushered in ideological rigidity and contempt for government generally.
Some of you neo-foreigners are snickering by now...how can the State of California, which not too long ago flirted with bankruptcy, seed a new Republic of such lofty station? Easily done. In case you didn’t notice, back in 2010 Californians termed-out the Terminator and elected a veteran democrat Governor, Jerry Brown by name (since reelected), and what would become a veto-proof Democratic legislature; they raised taxes, trimmed spending, and voila! The state economy recovered and we’ve gone back to being our old prosperous selves again, discussing these days what to do with our surpluses. Led by Governor Brown and a Democrat-dominated legislature, Californians in 2014 put money aside in a “rainy day fund” and have since added to the multi-billion dollar stash, now approaching seven billion dollars, to guard against sudden future dips in the economy.
Already the pioneer in curbing photochemical smog from automobiles, the state is now working to further cleanse its air by having adopted a cap-and-trade energy policy—similar to what a brain-dead U.S. Congress ignored. Most recently it has embarked on a $2-billion effort to house its many homeless. Many? Doesn’t that belie my claim for a terrestrial paradise? No, not really. Yes, Los Angeles leads the nation in “hosting” the homeless and is now (January 2017) ready to declare a state of emergency to cope with the estimated 100,000 people living on its streets, with more coming daily. Understandable. Wouldn’t you, with a reversal in fortune, or the change in administration, head west to where the sun shines year-round and you have a safety net in place? That’s why some long-time locals secretly pray for rain on New Year’s Day, so as not to advertise through the televised Rose Parade and Game how good we’ve got it.
Of course there’s another, greater reason California welcomes precipitation: drought abatement. True to its habit of anticipating future needs, the state has a detailed plan in place to cope with dry cycles in its climate. It starts with self-rationing and ends with unsightly desalinization plants tapping our life-sustaining mother ocean if aridity continues and we are forced to extreme measures. Fortunately, there are signs this year that our dry spell is over and heavy rain and snow are ushering in another wet period in our climate cycle.
California has also started building its biggest public works project ever, a 64-billion-dollar Hi-Speed Bullet Train (200 m.p.h.) that will eventually connect San Diego and Sacramento, 800 miles in length, with 24 stations. While dogged by delays and the usual wrangling among various local and special interests, as well as rising costs, don’t bet against any West Coast vision yoked to ambition from becoming a reality. Indeed, with Pacifica’s pending unification, the line could wisely and logically be extended to Seattle. Bring back civilized travel in scenic space! And think of the jobs created.
Those curs-in-the-mangers across this once great land of ours who doubt all this will be affordable fail to consider that California, the largest tax contributing state to the federal coffers (FOOTNOTE 2-8), as well as fellow donor states Washington and Oregon, won’t be sending money east anymore just to feed beggar states like South Carolina and its ilk, who miss no chance to trash us and our immoral (read envied) way of life. Just imagine how large Pacifica’s surplus would be if California kept the whole dollar it presently sends to Washington D. C. annually, only to get .78 cents back for spending money; that the state of Washington keeps its whole dollar instead of getting .88 cents of it back from the Feds; that Oregon keeps its whole dollar instead accepting a return of .93 cents of it. (FOOTNOTE 2-9) Multiply those differences by the gross tax dollars paid by the three former states and you’ve got lots of extra bucks staying at home. And we’ll be spending them on ourselves!
Still skeptical? Doubters who think Pacifica will never fly with flighty California as its principal pilot might check with billionaire Nicolas Berggruen. The Paris-born futurist heads and funds a non-profit, non-partisan think tank, the Berggruen Institute, headquartered in West Los Angeles. Since its founding in 2010, the Institute’s mission to foster fresh thinking in solving the problems of global governance has remained constant; its present quarters, however, are temporary. Berggruen has committed to funding $500 million to build a more permanent headquarters on 450 acres in the nearby Santa Monica Mountains for what has been called his “secular monastery,” located just a Hope Diamond’s throw from the high culture art exhibits and programs of the Getty Center. But why California of all places?
“California is a place of invention,” says Berggruen, “a place of courage, a place of vision, a place of the future. People who made California what it is were willing to take risks, think outside convention and build…. Other places in the world, including other places in America, I don’t think have that, unfortunately. California...has this window into our future.” (FOOTNOTE 2-10 )
What do we already see outside that window? Tomorrow crowding out today at near light speed. We see Apple and Google and all the other Silicon Valley upstart startups appearing almost daily to alter how we communicate, driverless car experimenters and Uber and its imitators changing how we move about; visionary Elon Musk making Tesla electric cars in Fremont and returning rockets to earth for reuse in his Spacex enterprise in Hawthorne; and JPL (Caltech) space scientists celebrating the latest successful Mars landing by dancing like joyous children. No surprise that in the home of SETI, we aim telescopes skyward from Palomar, California, and Mauna Kea, Hawaii, looking for origins and destinations and life-mates in the far out there. At the same time, biotech breakthroughs at home lengthen our lives and bring us a healthier future almost daily. It’s hard for even your most hyperactive imagination to keep up.
Of course, Berggruen’s window has now widened to include those kindred, simpatico former states soon to be a part of Pacifica. Together we will design and then cement our union with a Constitutional Convention. Why not hold it in centrally located San Francisco? Think dining out. OK, agreed.
A few more snickers. The handful of knowledgeable naysayers will point to Berggruen’s role in Repair California’s recent (2010) failed attempt at that very thing—a constitutional convention to remake the then-sorry scheme of things entire in the Golden State. Not enough dollars to fund an initiative, and broad opposition from the Right, notably the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, did it in. This time it would be different, though; it’s a deep-pockets California plus three now facing the mindless Leviathan suddenly brought to this continent by Herr Trump, not to mention a California Republican Party in shambles. Need we debate the necessity to preserve our liberty?
Back to our need for a fresh, cleaned-up founding document, so essential to keeping us together and free. Agreed, we should use the rightly revered United States Constitution as our blueprint, our template, our model. But as great as it is as is, we’ll probably have to tweak it here and there to suit our local needs and lacks; no, we won’t touch the Bill of Rights (original version, not the one tampered with by the late Anthony Scalia and his Opus Dei cell) at all...unless absolutely necessary, of course. All ideas welcome, all the time. Just remember, we’re all pragmatists now.
We’ll follow it in electing a president and vice president to preside over our confederation. I personally favor election by popular vote, and given the catastrophic outcomes of our former nation in 2000 and 2016, I believe we can agree to kill any idea of an electoral college, but we can discuss it. Public financing of all campaigns is a must, with a limit of twenty-five dollars donation per person per candidate to allow voters a small gesture of their support, keep them in the game, as it were. How do you feel about primaries taking place 60 days before the general election...and the time for all campaigning contained within an election cycle not to exceed six months?
We’ll consider the State of Washington’s vote by mail policy as a practice for our nation as a whole; or at least an option to the more expensive election-day precinct voting; we’ll also look into what is called instant-run-off or ranked-choice voting recently tried in Oakland’s mayor’s race, where voters select their top three choices, and if one candidate does not reach 50% plus one, the candidate at the bottom has his second place votes allocated to the remaining contenders, and so on, until one candidate gets a majority. It saves money on costly run–off elections and is much fairer in close races where there are many candidates. (One might argue that it is also the shortest path to consensus attainable.)
Then there’s California’s recently passed Proposition 14 (yep, another Prop. 14), commonly called the “Top Two” law copied from the State of Washington that replaces partisan primaries in state and congressional races with open primaries. It’s meant to reduce partisan gridlock and promote moderation. So far, so fair. Let’s remain good pragmatists and continue its trial run to see how it works out. As for the Initiative process, let’s keep a modified version, allowing a clear path for the people to power while making it more difficult for well-heeled special interests to hire slick Frank Luntz-type word sluts to dupe the masses. We can discuss it.
Legislative representation will be a trickier matter. Bicameral or Unicameral? Likely the former, as was the case in 49 of the previous 50 United States. California should probably have three or four senators to the others’ two, given its physical size and population. Negotiable? No filibustering allowed, and a simple majority passes laws. Agreed? As for the Assembly (a better name for the lower body than “the House” or “Congress,” which Mark Twain shrewdly called the only “distinctly native criminal class” in America), for balance it would be best to work out a formula where both population and size of the state taken together determined the number and distribution of districts. And absolutely no gerrymandering! I believe we can all agree on that.
If I am fortunate enough to be named a delegate to that Constitutional Convention (and I feel I deserve to be, since I am foregoing the title Father of My Country), I would urge making those Assembly districts manageably small, so voters again can meet their representatives face-to-face and not get their information from distorted negative advertising on the tube. Let’s have 450 of them territorial and another 50 as at-large districts. Why? Well, I know the Founding Fathers who framed the 1789 Constitution feared (rightly, it turns out) “factions” and “parties” developing, but develop they did, and quickly... probably inevitably...in the nature of things. That said, let Pacifica be inclusive of all parties that meet a certain low threshold of public support, and apportion at-large Assembly seats accordingly, bringing more voices into the governing process. Just to illustrate, in the California gubernatorial election of 2010 the American Independent Party candidate got 166,730 votes, the Libertarian Party candidate got 150, 470, the Green Party candidate got 128,319, and the Peace and Freedom candidate got 92,567. That’s well over a half-million citizens who had no representation at all. Let’s bring them into the process and hear their views. What’s so wondrous about the number 435 anyway, that limit of U. S. House seats arbitrarily set in 1911? All the U. S. Constitution says is that the number of representatives “shall not exceed the number of one for every thirty thousand.” The United States presently has a population of roughly 319 million. Doing the math gives us the maximum number of 1063 allowable reps. Half that seems more then sensible.
Whoa! Why, that kind of thinking might lead to coalition governments. Right on. Forget the nonsense you heard from your high school civics teacher (when he wasn’t coaching the Junior Varsity baseball team) about coalition governments being bad because Europe has them and we don’t. In their parliamentary system legislators have “no confidence” votes in which they can force a fresh general election when the opposition party (or the one in power) calls an election to confirm where citizens really stand on major issues.
What can we do in such a case? Suppose this year President Trump and House Speaker Ryan really agree to bury the hatchet and make a deal on their priorities. Trump goes along with Ryan on privatizing Social Security and Ryan agrees to push through a repeal of Roe v. Wade? Consider them done deals. Ryan and his majority party will not be up for reelection for more than a year, and Trump won’t answer to the voters for three.
What are you going to do? This is not a theoretical question. Both outcomes are likely given the President’s and Speaker’s recent statements. Now take another look abroad...not so bad “over there” in nascent Pacifica, is it? Wouldn’t alliances with minor parties loosen the clutch of gridlock in your country? Wouldn’t “no confidence” votes come in handy...like right now?
While we’re on the subject, how has your sacred “two-party system” been treating you lately? And are you looking forward to imminent one-party rule? Yes, the GOP, which is currently suffering an identity crisis of its own, now controls the White House, both houses of Congress (with mastery over any Senate filibuster possibility), and will shortly appoint and approve the tie-breaking fifth conservative justice on the Supreme Court. True, the crucial last-mentioned edge was gained by flaunting protocol and fairness in stonewalling on President Obama’s moderate nominee to the high court this past year, clearing the way for Trump to appoint a righty.
True also is that the GOP actually lost the 2016 poplar vote for the presidency by more than 2.8 million votes, and in total votes for the United States Senate lost by well over 10 million votes, yet kept their losses to a mere two seats, enough to keep control of the upper body. Further evidence of the undemocratic nature of U.S. elections can be found in the 2016 voting results for the House of Representatives: Republicans received a total of 62,153,387 (49.1%) votes cast; Democrats got 61,776,218(48.0%). Yet the GOP kept control of the House by a whopping 241 to 194 seats, or an 11% margin. How can that be? Gerrymandering. The fine Machiavellian art of drawing the legislative district lines on a map to advantage your party at your opponents’ expense. Additionally, you can stack the deck in favor of rural folks at the expense of urban dwellers, as we continue to do big time. No, it doesn’t sound right. But what the hell—all’s fair in love and politics Republican style. Right, Mitch?
You’ve read or heard of Trump’s criteria for filling the deceased Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat...and those seats to follow. Ladies, dust the rust off your chastity belts: no abortions. Election reformers, prepare for more dark money from Oligarchs United; your attempts at “leveling the playing field” will encounter a new granite mountain root of untraceable fresh cash. Left behind working-class white guys, who blame “elitist” Democratic politicians instead of the capitalist system they work in for their fall from Middle Class grace, should really sharpen their skills; automation assisted by hyper-efficient robots will provide keen competition for those few jobs President Trump will be bringing back from overseas.
Tell me again about those checks and balances, George, while I stroke the rabbits.
Pacifica, of course, will benefit from the USA’s hopeless struggle between equally strong and angry antagonistic forces. A condition of disabling stasis will deepen in the Old Country. Meanwhile, enlightened and progressive and secular, we’ll lock into our constitution principles already agreed upon. Start by strangling any idea of an Oligarchs United in its crib, before it can draw its first breath. That sentiment was plainly expressed in the 2016 general election when both California and Washington passed symbolic initiatives repealing it.
A commonality of culture breeds consensus. This is borne out in my admittedly unscientific sampling of opinion in the states that will form Pacifica. I find they favor a single-payer health plan above all others. They stand for a woman’s right to choose and “Death with Dignity” laws. They want a living wage guarantee backed up by law. They insist on government transparency and a strong government safety net. They back marriage equality and equal rights for all, including LGBT, the disabled, the mentally afflicted and substance addicted. Most importantly, they do not deny the reality of global warming so obvious in the earth’s recent weather changes, which bear out decades of warnings from meteorologists. As the nursery for any number of environmental movements, Pacifica joins the world’s responsible nations in confronting this prime threat to humankind’s continued existence—no matter what the remaining 46 states under newly elected Reichsleiter Trump choose to do.
What else? Guns and pot, once two hot potatoes, one of them now almost cool to the touch. Yes, Californians voted by initiative in November 2016 to legalize the weed, following state-mates Oregon and pioneer Washington in the sensible act. (When the majority flaunts the law, maybe it’s the law that is at fault.) Hawaii has decided to legalize pot for medicinal—not general—use. That’s fine and in line with Pacifica’s siding with local option whenever possible, though decriminalizing pot’s general use seems the humane next step in any case.
Hawaii, on the other hand, is much more active in gun control, and this year, under Governor David Ige, passed the most restrictive gun law in the USA—entering gun owners on a FBI data base that provides an ongoing background check on whether a gun owner is eligible to own the weapon. No wonder the Aloha State(it need not change its nick name, only its allegiance) has the lowest murder rate in the nation. Both California and Washington used the initiative process in 2016 to tighten controls of firearm ownership in their states—part of the ongoing practice of moving at the state level when the U.S. Congress does its usual nothing.
A more rational policy of reconciling “Second Amendment Rights” (as they were called under the old regime) and public safety bids to be among Pacifica’s first orders of business. Most Pacificans concur that we don’t need military-style automatic weapons in everyone’s reach, and that background checks on high-risk citizens be a must.
What of visitors bringing guns into Pacifica? No way. Tourists, check your heat at the door...or the border station, where you can claim it as you exit. (Pacifica’s own TSAs will check air arrivals, Pacifica’s own customs agents will handle those debarking at our ports.) We of course welcome visitors to our enlightened showcase of a modern model nation; we only ask them to remember they are not “back home” and their gun laws are not ours.
To those of my countrymen who think these measures harsh, I remind them of the 2015 Bundy Gang invasion of Oregon and its 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge at the cost (to all of us) of six million dollars and one life. Please explain how the perpetrators could be acquitted and released to return to their Nevada base of nefarious operations? This aggression cannot stand, man.
What about lobbyists? That bane of modern democracy! We can’t ban them entirely, I guess...maybe just license them in tolerant Pacifica. Of course, lobbying will have been severely hampered already, everywhere. Imagine those bow-tied and be-suited gents with the bloated expense accounts finding the time, energy and money to wine, dine and bribe legislators from as many as forty-six different polities! In Pacifica, perhaps we could consider not only licensing them, but reversing the money flow—by law the office holder will pay the lobbyist out of his or her modest salary if he or she really needs help from an outside expert.
Pacifica will have its own Supreme Court, of course. Nine members seems fine to me, assuring each former state at least one justice, with California no more than four, for the sake of checks and balances. No for-life-certain appointments, though. Don’t you agree that each justice should be subject to what might be called a “post-tenure review” every five or ten years (we can discuss), and if he or she can’t score above 88 on an IQ test, expect to get pensioned off to Molokai? Moral turpitude will also get you sacked. Take heed, accused ass-grabbers! We know who you are.
As previously stated, Pacifica will reject the Oligarchs United decision out of hand. You’ll have to be bipedal with a pumping heart and external reproductive organs to be a “person” in our enlightened Republic. No Bush versus Gore, either. And no Dred Scott.
Capital city? How about either Portland or San Francisco? Or perhaps Honolulu? Maybe rotate it seasonally or annually.... I can hardly wait until we delegates sit down at the round table as enlightened equals and decide.
Given Left Coast voting patterns in recent decades, I think I can safely speak the citizens’ collective mind on economic matters. Pacifica will be a social democracy, and still stand tall as the seventh greatest economic power in the world. It will give no tax breaks to those shipping overseas jobs that can be easily done here with no loss in quality. Instead, we’ll consider a “departure penalty.”
And for those West Coast firms who threaten to leave Pacifica if their tax bills aren’t cut —listen up friends of Diebold et al.—we’ll tax your finished products out of affordable reach if your attempted blackmail fails and you move elsewhere. And we’ll be in a position to actually deliver on our threats as one of the largest and most lucrative markets in the world. Your choice, of course. “Made in Pacifica” has a nice ring to it.
Yes, our government policies will favor at-home businesses and industries that keep jobs here, in the earthly paradise. The proven quality and productivity of our workers will make “Made in Pacifica” the mark to meet around the world. Don’t doubt it for a minute.
Once we get our little Eden up and running, envious entities will no doubt clamor to come aboard. I suggest the answer be a firm “no.” We don’t want to blur or distort our common vision, do we?
Some of my co-conspirators and future would-be Pacificans (who shall remain nameless and presumably harm-free if and when the Trumpian-backed indictment for treason comes down upon me) beg that some flexibility be shown here. Shouldn’t we offer Nevadans membership in the world’s brave new nation now that it’s become a purple state? After all, they just voted for Hillary Clinton and senator-elect Catherine Cortez Masto. Stood by us when the rustbelt nuts screwed us and voted in the Gauleiter. (Caution: both Nevada races were close at less than 3 points difference last I looked.)
Moreover, you argue, even happy and content Pacificans need a break from virtuous bliss now and then for...uh...a little fun... you know, an occasional walk on the wild side. Why not a discreet place close-by where we can spend some of our ample disposable incomes, now that we are not sending our bucks back to slacker states east and south of us.
Tempting. But I’m hesitant. First off, Nevada has no frontage with the Pacific Ocean, that bearer in its onshore breeze the promise of truth and tolerance—a major qualification for acceptance into the fold. And Nevadans have a record in the not-so-distant past of electing alleged sex-offenders to high public office. Remember, it wasn’t so long ago that they voted out Governor Jim Gibbons, a man accused of attempted rape and multiple charges of serial adultery, not to mention plagiary, misuse of state funds, taking bribes, accepting illegal political contributions and employing an illegal. Remember his most memorable quote? Referring to California’s makers of movies as“tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals [in Hollywood who should]...go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else...It’s just too damn bad we didn’t buy them a ticket [to become human shields in Iraq].” Now how does he think that makes us feel? Mr. Gibbons will probably not be vacationing at Disneyland.
Ditto for Nevada’s former junior senator, John Ensign, a born-again member of the Pentecostal International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and a former member of the C Street Fellowship in Washington D.C., who urged President Clinton to resign in 1998 because his adulterous affair left him no credibility. One would assume that Ensign, too, had no credibility left, following the revelation that he had a lengthy affair with an aide’s wife, tried to cover it up, broke Senate rules by appointing the cuckolded aide to a position as lobbyist, and finally had his own daddy and mommy either give or pay off the wronged family $96,000 for precisely what is still not clear. Hush money? Or just plain old Christian charity?
The Senate Ethics Committee’s special prosecutor investigated that case for nearly two years and found more than enough criminal wrongdoing to recommend expulsion from the senate. But, wonder of wonders, Mr. Ensign resigned from that august body just two days before his scheduled deposition before the Ethics Committee, thus escaping its toothless wrath. True, the committee handed over its damaging findings to the Justice Department for possible criminal action, which, fortunately for Slippery John, already had dropped its case against him months earlier. Why? Apparently they didn’t want to venture into the legal swamp created by the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution, the separation-of-powers provision that protects the legislative branch from the judicial. But all we know for sure is that Mr. Ensign is no longer in the United States Senate.
Concurrent with all these tawdry doings, Nevadans barely turned away Tea-Bagger Sharon Angle in her 2010 senate campaign. Remember her? She of the “Second Amendment solutions” to her hard- right grievances, who almost gave Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid his walking papers? Bad sign.
Nix on Nevada, I’m starting to think. Better, I believe, to reserve the Silver State as a kind of gamy place where our itchy citizens can sneak off to drop their scruples and their coin...a kind of Babylon with neon...a Coney Desert Island of the flesh. Not a part of the main.
Yet the very mention of expanding our borders did trigger in me another, far better idea...a long-shot, to be sure, but worth a try. What if we continued our northward spread, to the border and across it! Invited big and beautiful British Columbia to join us? No pressure on our friendly neighbor of 5.6 million good folks. Just a modest invitation to join an instant world power dedicated to peace and prosperity and conserving nature’s gifts, ready and able to don the mantle of hope and progress once worn by the United States of America.
A win-win marriage, to be sure. B. C. for its part would bring to the match a lavish dowry, including 367,669 square miles of some of earth’s most unspoiled wilderness, instantly more than doubling Pacifica’s size. And it meets that ocean frontage requirement. In a big and brawny way!
Some will throw up their hands at the very suggestion of such geographical miscegenation. But it’s not such a reach. While politics historically decreed an east-to-west wave of settlement across North America, geography was always of a different mind. Eastern woodlands, prairie, Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, Great Basin, Pacific Slope—these features are arranged longitudinally, and the people north and south of the political border grow culturally close over time at their shared meridian.
Imagine B. C.’s acceptance of our invitation! Tea in the Empress Hotel with our refined new countrymen! A stroll through Butchart Gardens! Sundays with cricket in the park! All in very-very English Victoria on Vancouver Island. Across the Straight of Georgia on a peninsula of its own is Stanley Park—a mainland preserve of primal western rainforest at city’s edge, ideal for those seeking an easy intro to the wilderness experience. The city? Vancouver, an urbane destination for savvy tourists.
More to the practical point, consider the immense addition of natural riches and resources held in those mountainous wilds. And talk about vast! Why you could drop all of New England into the Frazer River drainage and not find it for a month! By the way, that huge, east-west swath of rough and rugged country from Prince George to Prince Rupert, patrolled as it is by wolves and real grizzlies, would make a great natural barrier (no expensive wall-building necessary) to the barbarians to the north. Barbarians? Yes, I say provide Pacifica a defensive buffer against savage incursions from the fierce, proud, loudly independent, not quite self-reliant sourdoughs of the savage north led by Mama Grisly and her kindred rogues (FOOTNOTE 2-11). Let’s
call it The Chechako Line. Such security would give us good cause to extend the San Diego to Seattle Bullet Train up the Fraser River Canyon to Prince George. And wouldn’t that be a trip to take!
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the main task, with your help, of nation building. Signs past and portents present tell us we in the Pacifica-to-be are already in the vanguard of those shaping humankind’s positive future. Let’s not try to drag along any more of those social and political deadbeats that burdened the old union. We are hope let loose from Pandora’s jar. Remember also, this is just a talking paper. I need your help and input at the starting point of creating our brave new world. Personally, after working so hard to bring us this far, I feel a lot like Krapp:
Perhaps my best years are gone...But I wouldn’t want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn’t want them back.”
Let’s light up the world together!
@ FOOTNOTE 2-1 Hawaii ranks as the happiest state in the union year after year, according to the 2012 Gallup-Hathaways Well-Being Index, with Colorado, Montana, Utah and Minnesota not far back. Nature’s balm is surely the scenic space in which to move about freely...and it seems to work wonders on the human spirit. Incidentally, all four Pacifican states make the top half of the happy places. The bottom three? Mississippi, Kentucky and consistently last, West Virginia. (Almost heaven it apparently isn’t.)
@FOONOTE 2-2 Votes continue to be counted from the 2016 General Election. These numbers for president are from Wikipedia, as posted on 12/3/16.
@ FOOTNOTE 2-3 Some who calculate such matters place just California’s place in the world economy as sixth largest. I chose to be more conservative and “official” and went with the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (December 4, 2014), which ranks the state’s economy as eighth largest in the world. But add the Gross State Product for the year 2015 compiled by the BEA (United States Bureau of Economic Analysis) of Oregon and Washington and Hawaii, and I say, without even doing the math, we’ll jump over Brazil to seventh...maybe even higher.
@FOOTNOTE 2-4 “Venture Capital Trends by State, Industry,” Entrepreneur Magazine, 10/9/13.
@FOOTNOTE 2-5 The California Department of Food and Agriculture puts the state’s output for its farms and ranches in 2015 at approximately $47 billion, providing more than a third of the United States’ vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. For an exhaustive breakdown of its shipment of edible commodities abroad, the department, in cooperation with the University of California, Davis, publishes online figures sure to amaze. Just add water.
@FOOTNOTE 2-6 To my conservative friends who insist that government should keep its distance from the private sector, and vice versa, I refer them to the long-term relationship between the many–limbed University of California and the state’s economic health. It is not widely known that the University of California, Riverside was founded in 1907 as Berkeley’s citrus research station, and it grew as the state and the citrus industry grew. Now it is a major university on its own, with its physicists working on the prestigious Large Hadron Collider project outside Geneva, Switzerland. The University of California, Davis has a similar history. Founded in 1905 as an experimental farm for nearby Berkeley, it has likewise grown into a mature university of many distinguished schools. Still true to its bucolic roots, though, its School of Veterinary Medicine has been ranked number one in the nation the last two years. And its many contributions to California’s $32 billion a year retail wine industry (world’s fourth largest wine maker behind France, Italy and Spain) have spanned many decades and earned it a home for the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. In 200l the late vintner donated $25 million to found the Institute and fund further studies in viticulture and enology. How successful has this symbiotic partnership between vine and gown been? Ask an honest Frenchman.
@FOOTNOTE 2-7 Such signs of Pacifica’s cosmopolitan nature are nothing new. Its germ can be traced back to at least 1849 and the California Gold Rush when the cry of Eureka! brought the Argonauts running from most everywhere to the already promised-in-legendEl Dorado. Adventurers and greed-heads and risk takers, and mixtures of the same, multinational and multiracial and polyglot from round the
world headed for the storied place and its Mother Lode. America’s westward expansion took a quantum leap over plains, Rockies and high desert to light on the Pacific Coast, there to meet arrivals from Mexico, Chile and the Pacific islands—indeed, from most everywhere in the world. A magnetic mystique was born.
The late author Neil Morgan wrote his landmark book Westward Tilt in 1963, chronicling the post-world War II big-spurt continuation of the nation’s historic Westward Movement that drew ever more forward-thinking dream-chasers, along with those seeking a second chance. Since then the tilt has passed the tipping point and loosed a gathering avalanche, depositing the ingredients of a super nation on the western littoral.
@FOOTNOTE 2- 8 Wikipedia’s “Federal Tax Revenue by State” reports California contributed $292,563,574,000 in 2012 (more recent figures couldn’t be found) to the Feds, far more than Texas’s second place giving of$219,459,878,000. Some spread! Also informative is Wikipedia’s list of Gross State Product compiled by the BEA (United States Bureau of Economic Analysis) for the year 2015 in which California’s numbers grow over the previous year while those of Texas drop. A trend?
@FOOTNOTE 2-9 It’s difficult to find current metrics that don’t measure apples and oranges in figuring what states are givers and what are takers when it comes to federal taxes levied and dollars returned to the states. There’s no quibble that the Golden State ranks as the number one donor of dollars to the Feds and number 51 of same on the recipient list. (D.C. is included.) I did find the figures listed online at Tax Foundation, Center for Tax Policy, 10/7/07. The study makes up for not being that recent by being a long-duration study of a decade plus and shows very little variation in its findings year-to-year. What is most interesting and ironic is that the biggest complainers about “Big Government” and “Federal spending” happen to be the biggest takers of other folks’ money. You know...South Carolina, Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma...the usual suspects. Yes, strangely, inexplicably, even perversely, the great majority of the states that voted Republican in recent presidential elections are the takers, the hands-out, on-the-dole “welfare bums.” Please explain.
@FOOTNOTE 2-10 “Change Agent,” Los Angeles Times, 1/8/11. From an interview of Nicolas Berggruen by Patt Morrison, which also carries this revealing quote from the questing French billionaire: “In China or Paris or South America or Africa, anyplace—you talk about California, people light up. It’s still a place of dreams.” For more on the future quarters of the Berggruen Institute, and its ongoing mission see the Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2016.
@FOOTNOTE 2-11 Barbarians to the north? We’re not talking about the Roman Empire here, you remind me. I’m being an alarmist. Really? How does that old song go? “How do you keep them down in Wasilla/ After they’ve been on TV?”