California has the best of all worlds and splitting it is a mistake


Photo credit: Michele Suthers

Diego Lynch

A “state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country,” said US supreme court Justice Louis Brandeis, meaning that states are free to rise and fall based on the policies which they chose to implement. By laboratory standards, California has been a triumph.

California has came a long way since its annexation from Mexico in 1848 and subsequent statehood in 1850. It has undergone a historic transformation. If California was its own nation state it would be the world’s 8th largest economy according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis for California and the International Monetary Fund for the Nations. This means California’s economy is bigger than Russia’s.

On top of the purely economic achievements, California has a well-earned reputation for entrepreneurialism and tolerance. For example, it was in large part due to California’s Silicon valley that the entire planet has entered what is being called the “Information Age.” And where would the LGBTQ movement be without San Francisco? No Castro district means no Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the US.

California doesn’t just have a great culture, but thanks in large part to Hollywood, we spread it around. California probably hosts the biggest collection of internationally recognized household names.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Tim Draper’s proposal to split California into six states is flawed. In the past 164 years of development California has grown into a increasingly complex interconnected system and six states means six new governments, six new state constitutions and six state supreme courts.

Business interests in each new state would lobby their representatives to ensure the laws favored them, probably to the detriment of interests in other states. In other words, the potential for a split should trigger salivation in lawyers and cold sweat for whoever would end up with the short end of the stick.

In all likelihood, the chilly wet one would be, Central California, one of the proposed states. It would be the poorest state in the country according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. It is home to the Central Valley Project, a water system hosting seven million acres of water or 17 percent of developed water in California. It is doubtful that a split would be anything short of catastrophic for Central California.

California has faced some tough years since the financial crisis, but that is no reason to throw out the past one and a half centuries of historic success.

Read the opposing view written by Essence McConnell here.