Should California ‘Devolve’?

Pet Peeves Hit the Ballot Road

GOT A PET PEEVE? (And $200?) Who knows, maybe you can get it on the California ballot and see if the electorate will salute.

Everyone else seems to be trying. Hate gays? An Orange County (of course) lawyer (of course) named Matthew McLaughlin wants to allow people to shoot them in the head. I kid you not.

I’m sure by now that you, as a public-spirited citizen, have heard of the freaky Sodomite Suppression Act. Even in the sometimes-wacky state of California, it’s not likely to make it to the ballot, or be approved by voters if it does.

But how about Louis J. Marinelli’s proposal to remake California into a Scotland-ish quasi-independent appendage to the U.S., something that sounds just short of secession?

His group, Sovereign California, says it’s preparing to collect 366,000 signatures to put an initiative called A New Hope for California on the November 2016 ballot. It would create a panel of experts aimed at putting the state on a path to becoming “an autonomous region of the United States.”

It calls for the state to “devolve,” shedding the (ugh!) grip of the Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and just about every other federal agency.

Everything, as I understand it, would just be shifted to the state government, under the assumption that Washington, D.C., would just happily hand it all over.

What’s not clear is what would happen to such federal facilities as Vandenberg Air Force Base. Would the governor — who would be renamed “President of California” — shut it down and lay off the missile-eers? Or would it become a state missile base? If the National Park Service gets the boot, who would take care of Yosemite?

And what of Lake Cachuma, which holds what little is left of our water? After all, it belongs to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, along with Bradbury Dam. Then there’s the Channel Islands National Park, the Veterans Administration, Coast Guard, FAA control tower at the Santa Barbara Airport, the Bankruptcy Court, and all kinds of other federal fingers in our pie.

And let us not forget Social Security, which pumps many, many dollars into our economy. Is it to be cut loose, too? How would it fit into devolved California?

Devolution backers thunder about federal courts, the Electoral College, and how taxes paid by Californians go to other states that don’t pull their weight. The latter point is true. We subsidize red states that sneer at our pro-Obama, pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-inclusion, pro-civil-rights attitudes.

I don’t see where the hated IRS is specifically mentioned by the promoters, but you can be sure it’s in their sights. Nor do I see much about how the U.S. Constitution fits in. How can you devolve the Constitution?

But to Marinelli’s Sovereign California, it’s just a “great historical document with little practical value today.” Kiss it good-bye, I guess.

It’s hard to know which political side of the fence Sovereign California is coming from: maybe from everywhere at once. Not only is Washington out of touch, it’s “corrupted, dysfunctional, self-serving, and bordering oppressive — particularly nations towards the people of other nations.”

The group cites as examples the PATRIOT Act, “mass government surveillance,” the Citizens United power-to-the-rich Supreme Court decision, “militarization of the police,” and “far-reaching executive orders.”

Under devolution, we’re told, Californians would be paying fewer income taxes, and the state would “create its own immigration system [and] have control over our own natural resources.”

But what if we’re attacked? In that case, says Marinelli’s group, the good old U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines would ride to our rescue.

<b>AMERICAN SOUL:</b> T.C. Boyle’s 15th novel, <i>The Harder They Come</i>, was released this month

T.C. BOYLE: According to the New York Times’ book section, the Santa Barbara author prefers to read “what is quaintly called literature,” in his words, rather than genre stuff like sci-fi, horror, or thrillers. His favorite author, “hands down,” is Gabriel García Márquez. “For me, a thrilling read is Faulkner’s Light in August ….” Asked if he were hosting a dinner party, which three writers he’d invite, Boyle narrowed it down to one: Ernest Hemingway. “At least we’d know in advance what the chief topic of conversation would be.” By this, I assume he meant Hemingway himself, and the sun would be rising by the time Papa stopped.

JANE AUSTEN: The Instant Karma Improv Comedy group came to town last weekend, sending New Vic audiences into giggles and outright laughter with Jane Austen UnScripted. In full costume, the actors made merry with Jane’s characters. May they return soon.


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