Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Proposal to split up California stupid, self-serving

  • Print
Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper talks to reporters next to six boxes of petitions for a ballot initiative that would ask voters to split California into six separate states, before turning them into the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters, Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. Draper delivered what he said were 44,000 signatures, of the 1.3 million the Six California's campaign plans to submit statewide this week. If enough signatures are verified, voters in November 2016 would be asked to divide the state into six states called Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California and South California.

RICH PEDRONCELLI / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper talks to reporters next to six boxes of petitions for a ballot initiative that would ask voters to split California into six separate states, before turning them into the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters, Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. Draper delivered what he said were 44,000 signatures, of the 1.3 million the Six California's campaign plans to submit statewide this week. If enough signatures are verified, voters in November 2016 would be asked to divide the state into six states called Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California and South California.

Chop California in six? Tim Draper’s idea just doesn’t add up.

As a native Californian who was born in Oakland, raised in the San Fernando Valley, schooled in Berkeley and now living in Venice, I’d like to say one thing to Draper, the Silicon Valley kajillionaire pushing the idiotic breakup of the Golden State: Please go away.

Recently, Draper announced he is on track to gather enough signatures to get his mind-blowingly stupid measure on the November 2016 ballot. To that end, he has spent — well, wasted — $4.9 million of his own money, a sum that could certainly have been put to better use if he really cared about the welfare of Californians.

Draper has proposed dividing California into six states: Jefferson (Redding, Eureka), North California (Sacramento, Marin County), Silicon Valley (San Jose, San Francisco), Central California (Fresno, Stockton, Bakersfield), West California (Los Angeles, Santa Barbara) and South California (Riverside, Anaheim, San Diego).

Why?

"California needs a reboot," Draper writes on his website, SixCalifornias.com. "Our public schools have gone from the top in the nation to 47th. We are ranked 50th out of 50 for the worst business climate in the United States. … Our state needs a massive investment in infrastructure and a streamlined process to help grow and keep business."

Yes, our schools are a mess. But breaking up the state would not help. It would put a terrible burden on children in poor counties. Right now, school funding is equalized because of a court-ordered formula that redirects revenue from richer areas to poorer ones. Do you foresee a world in which the rich of one state voluntarily redirect their tax revenue to the poor in another?

Yeah, reboot this.

Contrary to right-wing myths about California’s unbearable business climate, the state is not losing jobs to more business-friendly states like Texas. California adds jobs at "roughly the same pace as the nation as a whole," according to the Sacramento Business Journal. Between November 2011 and November 2012, the Journal wrote, the state lost 12,000 manufacturing jobs, a decline of one per cent. "But the state added 26,000 information technology jobs, a 6 percent gain, during the same period."

If you watch the animated video on the Six Californias site, you will hear a pleasant-sounding lady offer vague bromides about how smaller states would bring government "closer" and make it "more responsive."

California is too big, she says. Driving the state north to south takes 14 hours, she says, as if this is a bad thing. How can Draper, allegedly a native of the state, be so pitifully unaware that Californians take pride in the vast size of our state?

Anyway, calls to break California up are nothing new. They began in 1850, the year we achieved statehood, and have never stopped (or succeeded).

As recently as last September, supervisors in Modoc and Siskiyou counties voted to support breaking away to form Jefferson. I would be tempted to let them go, as they are contiguous with Oregon and/or Nevada and don’t bring much to the party. In addition to their bad attitude, Jeffersonians rank dead last in personal income tax, the state’s greatest source of revenue.

Nevertheless, their departure would have an adverse affect on our state’s lovely silhouette. It would create a weird little claw out of Del Norte, Humboldt and Trinity counties. For aesthetic reasons, if nothing else, they must stay.

As for the actual nuts and bolts of a breakup, state legislative analyst Mac Taylor’s report on the proposal, available online, is enlightening. Taylor outlines a process that would require so much co-operation by local, state and federal politicians that its failure is a foregone conclusion.

Congress would have to approve the plan, and the president would have to sign it into law. (Is it likely that Congress would give California 10 additional U.S. Senators? Three words: Har har har.)

What Draper’s plan would really do, besides make him famous, is create winners and losers, rich states and poor states.

California’s current per capita personal income is $46,477, 12th among the 50 states. But the proposed Silicon Valley would have a per capita personal income of about $63,000, making its residents the richest of them all. (And by "all," I mean it would be the richest state in the country. Only the District of Columbia would surpass it, the place where our very best public servants toil at low wages for the betterment of the country … until they can cash out and become lobbyists. But I digress.)

Our poorest state would be central California with a per capita personal income of $33,510, which would also put it dead last in the country, $150 below Mississippi.

The Draper plan would inflict decades of expensive litigation on a state that can ill afford a distraction whipped up by a venture capitalist with more money than good sense. (Draper makes Tom Perkins, who likened vandalism on Google buses in San Francisco to the Holocaust, look positively reasonable.)

And it would create even more enmity and discord than usual: Who would own our far-flung public universities and state colleges? How would we handle the incredibly complex and divisive issue of water? What about the planned high-speed rail? How would we address unfunded liabilities of the state’s existing public employee retirement plan? And last but not least: What about prisons?

Some have speculated that Draper, who made news recently when he scooped up millions of dollars of Bitcoin seized from the Silk Road marketplace, is trying to vault himself to prominence for a political career. Or that he’s trying to goose Republican voter registration in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 43.1 per cent to 28.4 per cent.

I have no idea what his true motivations are. But I do know this. No one who truly loves California, and appreciates its pull on the American imagination, would ever want to break it apart.

Robin Abcarian is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

— Los Angeles Times

 

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Architect Antoine Predock speechless after CMHR opening

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A group of Horese pose for the camera in the early evening light at Southcreek Stables in Stl Norbert Wednessday. Sept  14, 2011 (RUTH BONNEVILLE) / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you plan on attending any of the CMHR opening weekend events? (select all that apply)

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google