Is California Worse Off than Iraq?
Today, I am the unhappy recipient of email which attempted to portray my adopted state of California as being in a predicament comparable to Iraq's. It was emailed to me by a relative of mine who is a two-time, unapologetic Bush voter. So as not to give the email's attachment any more space than it deserves, I'll just cite its source. I invite you to peruse it before reading further.
In the department of "don't get me started", my initial response:
- First and foremost, California is not occupied by a foreign army. I admit to never having lived under foreign occupation, but I hear from a wide variety of sources who have that it's a real morale crusher.
- No section of California is subject to daily bombing sorties. None of its cities have been completely demolished, flattened, incinerated or otherwise rendered uninhabitable (however you want to characterize it). There are no Fallujas, Tal Afars, Hits, Rawas Hadithas or Ramadis in my state.
- California's unemployment rate is not close to Iraq's 60% (a conservative estimate).
- Kidnapping for ransom is not a major cottage industry in California.
- Iraq's top professionals -- doctors, lawyers, professors, and business executives -- have been targeted by shadowy political groups for kidnapping, ransom, as well as murder and are running for the borders; California's intelligentsia is staying put.
- The California infrastructure is not on life support. to mention but one example, electricity in major cities such as Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Oakland is not limited to four hours a day.
- In California, the price of gasoline is high. But as yet, there are no long lines at the pumps or every-other day rationing. But there are long lines in Baghdad for gasoline. There, rationing prevents sales larger than 8 gallons per person bi-weekly. A large part of the shortage is due to the fact that gasoline is needed to power generators, a problem directly related to a devastated infra-structure.
- Neither the California Highway Patrol nor local municipal police departments or county sheriffs are under the control of religious zealots bent on ethnic cleansing.
- 40,000 Californians have not been displaced statewide as a result of ongoing sectarian violence, whereas some 1,000 Iraqis are being displaced daily. Whatever its state of disrepair (under its GOP governator), California is not poised on the precipice of being divided into two or three partitions.
- Finally, in California, we have accurate and reliable statistics on violent crime. In my state, 90 journalists have not died violent deaths in the last five years. There is no accurate record of the current rate of violent fatalities in Iraq because journalists do not feel safe to 'journey' outside the Green Zone. (That's why Bush supporters constantly complain about no good news coming out of Iraq: they're oblivious to the fact that it's just too dangerous for journalists to go out and find it.) Therefore, there's no telling of the exact extent of the chaos and anarchy currently existent in Iraq.
And don't tell me to chill out. Baghdad, after Bush's invasion is worse off than Sarajevo ever was. Even if this piece in the TAE was meant to be funny, it's not funny.