Six Californias

You may have heard about the proposed “Six Californias” initiative, another dumb idea from the Dream Factory in Silicon Valley, a place formerly known for making revolutionary hardware that changed the world, but now just features super-rich people throwing money at each other to make apps for phones.

The whole thing is silly and wouldn’t work for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that it doesn’t make sense. Even if you were to divide California into separate states, the way this one is configured makes no sense at all. Let’s break it down:

1. The Division is Kind of Dumb.

He has the coastal areas broken up into two separate states, the Central Valley (let’s call it “Oklafornia”) as its own state, and North North California and the Inland Empire as their own states. The only two things that sort of make sense would be spinning North California and the Inland Empire off into the void.

When people talk about “Northern California,” they’re really talking about the Bay Area and Sacramento. There’s a whole ‘nuther third of the state above them that no one ever thinks about. Seriously, if it were to disappear, Oregon would notice before the rest of California. It is not on anyone’s mind at all, and on the rare occasion that it does come-up, everyone just knows it as the place where all the pot and Mt Shasta is. I would call this state “Potlandia.”

The Inland Empire is just desert and is seen as something to get through to get to somewhere interesting. It’s even worse than Potlandia, since the area produces nothing but crazy desert people. Let’s name it “Shitty Nevada.”

It would be beyond galacticly stupid to split the coastal areas and the Central Valley into separate states. The Bay Area and Southern California are the economic engines and where most people live. Oklafornia is where all the food comes from. To have these as three separate states that cannot survive on their own (and have a general history of antagonism toward each other, especially the tension between Oklafornia, which is an eclectic mix of Corporate Farmers, Oilmen, White Supremacists, Survivalists, and Hispanics, and the coastal areas, which are Moderate to Liberal, diverse, and educated) would be madness.

2. The One Thing that Really Matters in the West: Water

This plan was obviously devised by some Bay Area nitwit, since it ignores the most important factor in Western politics: Water. Within California are vast aqueducts and irrigation networks that bring water from the Northern Mountains and the Sierra down into the Central Valley so they can grow food and keep the massive corporate farms and oil production industry alive.

Without these complex irrigation systems that come from other parts of the state, no food can grow and we’d all starve. Nearly all of the food West of the Rockies (and a lot of it East of them) comes from the Central Valley and the vast majority of winter vegetables comes from California.

The politics within the state when it comes to water and irrigation are bad enough, but there’s always the ultimate ability of a central authority to force all these different areas to work together for the benefit of all to make things work. With so many different areas and constituencies with vastly different circumstances and goals, the political representatives have to engage in a good amount of horse trading to get things done, which has the benefit of ultimately serving the needs of everyone in the state. Eliminate that and you now have six separate states that no longer have any reason to send their water to the others, or who will demand outrageous concessions for access via economic blackmail. It would be disastrous.

Water politics outside the state would be even worse. With the creation of six new states, all existing water rights and agreements would require revision, which would open up a political war that would make our current national situation seem tame in comparison.

Since the state of California, the most populous in the Union and the most politically powerful in the West, no longer exists, its existing water rights from the Colorado River Compact and succeeding water acts would become void with its dissolution. The other Western states, seeking an opportunity to finally revise water agreements that’ve been in place since the early 1900s (and heavily favor California), would use their newfound political might to amend these agreements in their favor to the detriment of the former Californian rump states. They would have the advantage of primacy and deep Federal political influence. Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah would essentially rewrite all agreements to give them greater amounts of acre-feet per year to support their populations.

The six Californian states, now with no meaningful representation in Congress and no way to push their agenda as a unified power, would be at the mercy of the others and see themselves choked-off from the Colorado watershed or economically blackmailed into making damaging concessions, especially to Arizona.

Arizona opposed the construction of one of the most important engineering marvels of the 20th Century (Hoover Dam) and it refused to sign the Colorado River Compact for almost 20 years. Its intransigence led the other signatories to modify the agreement to say that only six of them had to sign it for it to go into effect, Arizona or no. It’s basically opposed every water measure in the West because any one of them might, in some way, benefit California. It is a virtual certainty that Arizona would significantly modify any new water compact to deprive the new petty states of their allocation to its own benefit. A couple of these┬ánew states would inevitably align themselves with Arizona and the other Western states to make gains at the expense of the coastal areas.

Having divided itself, California would be politically conquered by the rest of the West, because some buffoon in Silicon Valley wanted two United States Senators on his payroll.

I’m fairly certain that this initiative will easily fail, given that the voters of California have more sense than money; the same cannot be said for the Bay Area nincompoop who devised this nonsense.

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