via Works and Days
To drive through downtown Santa Barbara is to count the amazing variety of Volvo, Mercedes, Lexus, and BMW SUVs — and wonder where the gasoline comes from, as off-shore drilling declines. You get the picture — our top echelons have become quite prissy. The redwood deck is beloved, not the falling coast redwood tree; kitchen granite counters are de rigueur, not the blasting at the top of the granite mountain; the Prius is a badge of honor, not the chemical plant that makes its batteries; we now like stainless steel frigs, but hate steel’s coke, and iron ore, and electricity lines; arugula is tasty, not the canal that brings water 400 miles to irrigate it; I support teacher unions and -studies courses in the public schools, but not with my Ivy-League bound children.
And on the other hand…
At the other end of the social spectrum, the underclass seems to be growing. I don’t expect to see much cash at mega-supermarkets in my area. Food stamps — and yet expensive food — are the norm. The school systems of California’s major cities are broken; the wealthy praise them and flee, and the poor complain about their inadequacy, but insist on the sort of identity “pride” politics curriculum and staffing that ensure the inadequacy.
Don’t mention parental responsibility; that’s either Neanderthal or racist. When I see gang bangers in San Jose or Fresno, I think two things: they like DVDs, nice cars, drugs, and the cult of male violence, but when they get hurt they show up at the emergency room and demand 21st century medical care from the nerds they so often intimidate on the street. Is a Stanford-trained emergency doctor potential prey on Saturday night at the stop light, or a few hours later in surgery a godsend?
It is taboo to ask our failing youth a simple question, “What exactly have you done the last month to ensure your birthright to the world’s most sophisticated lifestyle propped up by advanced math, science, social stability, and political tranquility?”
I love that last sentence. Go read the whole thing…