2018 Reading

Some books that I read and liked over the last year…

The Future is History, Masha Gessen.  Russia during the last days of Communism, during the transitional age, and under Putinism, viewed through the personal stories of numerous individuals.

On Tangled Paths, Theodor Fontane.  The author has been called “The Jane Austen of Germany.”  In this novel,  it is the *male* protagonist who is under pressure to marry into money to save his family from financial disaster.  Good character development and a vivid portrayal of Berlin in the 1870s

The Bounty:  The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, Caroline Alexander.  The famous mutiny, the events leading up to it, and its aftermath.  A much more favorable interpretation of Captain Bligh’s character than the usual view.

Red Star Under the Baltic, Victor Korzh.  Memoirs of a Soviet submarine commander who served in a little-known theater of WWII.  The author writes largely from an engineering perspective, and in addition to combat episodes he describes the remarkable efforts that were necessary to keep the submarine in operating condition–including such things as repurposing the bow thruster drives, while at sea, to replace the failed stern thruster drive system.

A Pocketful of Stars and other books in the Applied Topology series by Margaret Ball, which I reviewed here.  Don’t let the Applied Topology tag scare you off; no math is required to read and enjoy.

Born Fighting:  How the Scotts-Irish shaped America, James Webb.  Some interesting history and perspectives.  It’s worthwhile to read this book in conjunction with Thomas Sowell’s Black Rednecks and White Liberals.

A Vagabond Journey Around the World, Harry Franck.  In 1904, this recent college graduate decided to travel around the world starting with no money at all.  (He modified this plan to carry enough cash to pay for photographic supples.)  Very interesting, though long.  Franck made and wrote about numerous other trips, including a 1930s visit to the Soviet Union which he documented in A Vagabond in Sovietland.

A World on Edge:  The End of the Great War and the Dawn of a New Age, Daniel Schoenpflug.  The author paints the environment in the immediate aftermath of the War by telling the stories of individuals ranging from Harry Truman, Ferdinand Foch, Crown Prince Willhelm of Prussia, Arnold Schönberg, Kathe Kollwitz, Walter Gropius, and Ho Chi Min to many lesser-known individuals such as a former sailor of the German Navy and a Cossack woman named Marina Yurlova.

Tragedy & Challenge:  An Inside View of UK Engineering’s Decline, Tom Brown.  The problems and fate of British manufacturing companies, as seen by an individual with extensive experience as an executive and board member.  There’s a review here.

The Tyrant’s Daughter, J C Carleson.  Fifteen-year-old Laila lived a privileged life in her unnamed Middle Eastern country, where her father was absolute ruler.  Then he was killed in a coup, and she escapes with her mother and brother to a suburb of Washington DC…where she faces both the problems of fitting in at her new school and the haunting question of whether her father was indeed the monster that he is portrayed by the American news media.  This is positioned as a YA (teenager)  book, but is IMO also good reading for adults.  The author is a former CIA agent.

The Theme is Freedom, John Dos Passos.  A collection of essays by this “Lost Generation” writer.  I quoted his observations about some of his Leftist comrades of the 1920s, here.

Several more, which I may review individually and/or in a future batch.

I’m currently reading a novel of the American Revolution called Celia Garth, which I learned about from a discussion at Bookworm.  It was highly recommended by Sgt Mom, among others.  I’m really liking it so far.

29 thoughts on “2018 Reading”

  1. I read Webb’s book last year and the Bounty book some years ago. Ing that one is recent,. it was another on the same theme.

    Nordoff and Hall also wrote. “Men Against the Sea” which is much more favorable to Bligh.

    This year, good books include, Pat Buchanan’s “Unnecessary Wars, which is interesting even if I don’t agree with him on most of it. His “Nixon’s White House Wars” is also excellent. I’m listening to Karl Rove’s biography of McKinley, which is good but I wish he would not read it himself.

    I’m reading a biography of Napoleon and have ordered another. I listened to Max Boot’s biography of Edward Lansdale, which is excellent. I’m also reading a biography of Huey Long.

    Max Hastings book on Vietnam is on the “to read” pile.

  2. The subtitle of the Tom Brown book… “An Inside View of UK Engineering’s Decline”…may be confusing to American readers. This Brit usage of the term “engineering” does not refer to engineering as a profession, but rather to the industry of companies making complex mechanical or electromechanical products.

    The problems discussed may be more severe in Britain than in the US, but they are by no means absent here.

  3. I follow a couple industry trade publications based in England, and I’ve noticed a great divide between the panic in the mainstream press concerning Brexit and the optimism in the trades. Strangely, it seems like there is a significant percentage of people in and around London who have no idea that the UK actually makes things.

    To assuage my confusion I looked it up awhile back. England alone employs 2 million workers and generates £200 billion per yer in the manufacturing industries. How did that become so invisble to the City?

    Even I, out here in the backwaters of the middle of North America, grew up understanding that the British Empire developed and championed the standards and methods with which most countries and industries around the world operate. As far as I can tell the knowledge and methods are still there being used.

    Yet most Remainers fear disasters and shortages if the UK were not to stay under the EU security blanket.

    I am pretty sure it will be the opposite. EU manufacturing, outside of the Rhine valley maybe, is in serious trouble. The English Midlands, on the other hand, are set to explode higher after shedding a lot of useless regulatory and bureaucratic dead weight.

  4. The problems discussed may be more severe in Britain than in the US.

    I have read that Britain has only the financial sector from Europe and all manufacturing has fled. That is why BREXIT is so controversial. They are far along the path set for us by Democrats.

  5. Mike, there is still quite a bit of manufacturing in the UK; see for example this:


    From the review that I linked…

    “The British class structure, reinforced by the educational establishment, channelled the brightest people into the professions and the City rather than engineering and industrial management.”


    “The class divide meant that those who understood the job had no voice in strategy and those who decided strategy had no understanding of the job.”

    We don’t have the same historical class divisions that Britain has had, but the exaggerated credentialism now in vogue (especially with regard to credentials from “elite universities”) has had some of the same malign effects.

  6. The UK has issues with manufacturing that aren’t readily apparent to the people running things, over there. There’s a disconnect down on the factory floor and loading docks, where the interface between the middle management and the guys who do the actual work is utterly and possibly irretrievably broken.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of that dysfunction more than a few times, ranging from dealing with British Leyland to get Land Rover parts, to ordering parts for our bridge boats in Iraq. The Brits have got wonderful engineers, wonderful craftsmen, and the whole thing goes to crap when the final product goes to get shipped or supported. There’s a reason that Dyson moved manufacture from the UK to Malaysia, and while it had a lot to do with cost, the real reason was that they were having huge problems with getting things done down at the shipping dock-level.

    This isn’t a new phenomenon, either–Go back to WWII, and look at the difference between US and UK practices in terms of shipping equipment. The UK shipped tanks from the factories to North Africa, starting out with the tanks leaving the factory ready to go to combat. By the time they hit the ports in Alexandria, they would be missing nearly everything in terms of accessories and tools, plus have been damaged by weather. US tanks, on the other hand? Shipped weatherized, all accessory items boxed and sealed against pilferage. The Brits were amazed that the Grant tanks they were getting from the US could basically get driven off the docks, and go straight into issue to the units. The ones from the UK? First, they had to go to the rebuild shop, and then get all the bits and bobs that they needed to go to war with re-issued from stocks…

    This ain’t new. Why is it a problem, and what’s the source? Who knows–I’ve got a friend who used to work at Dyson, and he blamed the middle management types more than anything else. The workers try, but everything they say or do gets ignored, and then they quit trying.

    He had worked at an old British Leyland plant somewhere in the hinterlands; described it as a nightmare. Went back to the same plant, when it was under Nissan management, and described it as being manufacturing heaven–And, what was odd? It was mostly the same workers, just under Japanese-led middle management.

    The UK has had this issue going back a long ways, and I’d lay long odds on them not changing much until they have no other choice. There’s a reason that the UK has lost all the markets it has–Perkins used to have the Gulf oil industry sewn up, for marine engines in all the boats. After dealing with the poor and essentially non-responsive service they were getting, the Arabs tried the Japanese. Now, it’s Nissan Marine that has most of that market, and you can get spare parts drop shipped from Japan almost overnight. Before, Perkins might take six months to get you spares, and they’d likely be the wrong ones. We ordered parts for our bridge boats from the Kuwaiti Perkins dealer, and that was in late 2003. The parts showed up on our next rotation, in 2006, and they were the wrong ones.

    I love a lot of British engineering–Much of our combat engineer equipment is designed in the UK, especially bridges. But, if you’re going to rely on the Brits to service or build the stuff…? LOL. Nothing good to say, about that–Get a license, build your own.

  7. “The class divide meant that those who understood the job had no voice in strategy and those who decided strategy had no understanding of the job.”

    My favorite novelist was Neville Shute Norway who wrote under his pen name Neville Shute. He was an aeronautical engineer, trained at Oxford, who worked on the British R100 Airship project. The R 100 was built by Vickers, as a private project in competition with the government built R 101.

    The R 101 crashed on its maiden flight. The R 100 flew round trip to Canada with Shute Norway aboard.

    After the war, disgusted with the Socialist government, he emigrated to Australia. His experience with the R 100 was part of it.

    Several of his novels have the Socialist ineffectiveness as a theme.

    My point about BREXIT is from reading about the issue in Britain. The same issue seems to be involved in UK, France and the US. The elites are no long elite but cling to power that is their source of income and self regard.

    It reminds me of reading about the Ford Motor Company in the 60s when it was taken over by accountants and engineers were relegated to second class roles in the auto business.

  8. “It reminds me of reading about the Ford Motor Company in the 60s when it was taken over by accountants and engineers were relegated to second class roles in the auto business.”
    Similar to the Hollywood discussion…Businesses don’t do as well beyond the founding generation, because they get in the hands of people whose skill is in navigating the bureaucracy rather than building the business.
    I recall being struck in the HQ building of a certain 3 letter agency, where the pictures of leaders changed very obviously over time from military to engineers to bureaucrats.

  9. Grurray: “The English Midlands, on the other hand, are set to explode higher after shedding a lot of useless regulatory and bureaucratic dead weight.”

    That assumes the regulatory and bureaucratic dead weight comes from Brussels, not from the Palace of Westminster. We shall see! The historical evidence suggests the English are quite capable of throttling the goose that lays the golden egg all on their own.

    From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that hope triumphs over experience in the minds of the separatists who want the UK out of the EU. Suddenly, the same Political Class which has made such a dog’s breakfast of Brexit is going to transform itself and quickly negotiate favorable trade deals around the world? We shall see!

    It may be that much of the blame for England’s decline should be laid at the feet of Lord Keynes, or at least at the feet of the Political Class intellectuals who misused his insights. In the face of the Great Depression, Keynes emphasized the importance of consumption. That may have been appropriate at that time, but Keynes’ point was to boost consumption as a way of jump-starting production. Unfortunately, in the clumsy hands of England’s politicians, boosting consumption has become a way of boosting imports. The true basis of any economy is production — since goods & services have to be produced before they can be consumed.

  10. Yes, just like here, the low interest rates/ high inflation/ social welfare formula that was good for the financial services/ political class goose wasn’t so good for the interior working class gander.

    It was worse in the UK because their membership in the undemocratic EU strangled any political will to forestall the decline. Multinational corporations with little loyalty to the community felt no responsibility to or hire or train the workforce when the government was more than willing to siphon off workers onto the dole while waving goodbye to the employers.

    The good news is that England was always ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ built by small enterprises. After Brexit it will be so again.

  11. The historical evidence suggests the English are quite capable of throttling the goose that lays the golden egg all on their own.

    It would be useful to read Theodore Dalrymple’s “The Uses of Corruption.”

    The Italian public administration has traditionally had one saving grace by comparison with its British counterpart, however: its corruption.

    Admittedly, corruption is a strange kind of virtue: but so is honesty in pursuit of useless or harmful ends. Corruption is generally held to be a vice, and viewed in the abstract, it is. But bad behavior can sometimes have good effects, and good behavior bad effects.

    Where administration is light and bureaucracy small, bureaucratic honesty is an incomparable virtue; but where these are heavy and large, as in all modern European states, Britain and Italy not least among them, they burden and obstruct the inventive and energetic. Where bureaucrats are honest, no one can cut through their Laocoönian coils: their procedures, no matter how onerous, antiquated, or bloody-minded, must be endured patiently. Such bureaucrats can

    neither be hurried in their deliberations nor made to see common sense. Indeed, the very absurdity or pedantry of these deliberations is for them the guarantee of their own fair-mindedness, impartiality, and disinterest. To treat all people with equal contempt and indifference is the bureaucrat’s idea of equity.

  12. In my reading the Napoleon biography, I have come across the story of Toussaint L’Overture, who was apparently quite competent. Napoleon, after his fall, confided to an aide that his worst mistake was to oppose L’Overture and send an army and fleet to overthrew him. L’Overture had considered Napoleon a mentor.

    The story also sheds light on Gabriel’s Conspiracy, a slave revolt in Virginia that panicked Thomas Jefferson, then US VP. Jefferson feared that a black government in Santo Domingo would be “an Algiers on our southern border,” and encourage slave revolts.

  13. “The good news is that England was always ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ built by small enterprises. After Brexit it will be so again.”

    For their sakes, let’s hope so. Realists will remember that back in the Thatcher era, there was a real effort by the UK Government to stimulate entrepreneurship — results seem to have been less than overwhelming.

    What seems obvious to the outsider is that the separatists are building expectations that everything is going to come up roses immediately after Brexit. They are not being realistic about the inevitable short-term pain before they reach the long-term gain — and misleading the population is socially dangerous in a country which is nearly evenly divided on the question of separation from the EU. The separatists need a Churchill promising the Brits blood, sweat, and tears in pursuit of an eventual worthwhile goal — not charlatans pretending that everything will be wonderful from Day One.

    I am always struck by the casual assumption of the Brexit crowd that the world is eagerly waiting for their exports. Maybe the US will do a deal with the Brits — but President Trump will not sign on unless it is an even-handed deal which also promotes exports from the US. The Chinese will sign only if the deal favors them! If we are on the brink of a global recession, as many analysts suggest, the challenges in front of post-Brexit UK will be even larger. A lot of UK exports are financial & legal services, but competition has been getting stiffer in that arena even ahead of separation. I was involved in a deal between an Arab company and a Russian company; they agreed that any arbitration would be under English Law — but the locus of arbitration would be Singapore.

    Longer term, the Brits may indeed be better off outside the EU. But longer term, the EU is going to collapse anyway. Brexit is probably just a distraction from the Brits dealing with their own real internal problems.

  14. I now think there is a good chance that Corbyn will be PM and Communism will get a trial. Marx always thought Britain or Germany was the best for a trial of Marxism. Maybe he will get his wish. I remember that when Mitterand tried a full Socialism program, there was a mass exodus of wealthy and some nice bargains in real estate. Some guys I knew bought a chateau in the south of France for a nice price.

  15. I’m no expert on British politics, but I don’t think the far left can do too much on the economic side, nothing to compare to what they did after WWII, for the plain and simple reason that there’s no money left. The left’s main focus now seems to be racial and cultural.

  16. They are not being realistic about the inevitable short-term pain before they reach the long-term gain

    Even coming in with low expectations, Theresa May has disappointed because she has tried to steer this bizarre Goldilocks middle course. It’s clear to anybody paying attention that the EU is out for blood and can ill afford anyone leaving. Yet she proceeded with the illusion that there could be a compromise.

    The UK is lucky to get out lest they be dragged down in the sinking ship. The fact is that Brexit will unleash a cascade of disunion in the Eurozone that actually probably began long ago. The artificially low interest rates that have been feeding Germany’s export economy will soon end.

    Ireland can not survive with a hard border with the UK. They will have to fall back into a gateway position somewhere in between the UK and the EU. Scandinavia is reeling from the migrant crisis that has turned their citizens into hunted prey. Italy has finally taken measures into their own hands and is finally throwing off the Brussels yoke. Greece is now officially seen as what it’s implicitly been for a good many years now, which is a vassal state of Germany. Fortunately for Britain, May wasn’t allowed to turn them into the same.

    And we see on TV that the collapse of the Fifth Republic is playing out on the streets of France.

    There is no where in Europe to hide the problems anymore.

  17. Grurray — I completely agree with everything you point out. That is why the bureaucratic EU is doomed — and was doomed long before UK separation was brought up.

    What I take issue with is the separatists’ “Blame Someone Else” assumption that all their problems come from Brussels. It was not Brussels who gave the UK its very unwise immigration policies. It was not Brussels who enforced the incredible over-reach of “Health & Safety” regulations in the UK. It was not Brussels who cluttered UK streets with their plethora of pointless wheely-bins. No, the Brits have nothing to learn from the EU when it comes to excessive bureaucracy. Yet separatists assume that all the foolish rules the Brits have imposed on themselves will be swept away when they leave the EU. Hardly likely!

    It seems foolish for separatists to assume that the same London Political Class who first got them into the EU and now have made such a mess of Brexit will suddenly become wise captains of the ship of state as soon as Brexit is complete. It is more likely that the denizens of the Palace of Westminster will continue to make their annual pilgrimage to Davos — because their peer group is their fellow politicians in Europe, not their constituents.

  18. “Ireland can not survive with a hard border with the UK.”
    Why exactly can’t the UK on March 29 just say that they won’t interfere at all with cross-border traffic in Ireland? That as far as they’re concerned, they should have free trade with Ireland, and will act accordingly, until something can be formalized? The EU won’t like it, but too bad. Make them be the bad guys. Take the position that the Brexit position is opposition to the EU as a supranational wannabe government that tramples on national sovereignty, NOT to Common Market style free trade.

    I’m no expert on this, but it seems to me that arguments against doing this are basically just trying to throw up administrative state roadblocks to Brexit, and can be easily overcome. I think the main position for the UK should be to force the EU to impose unpopular policies, not to do so themselves. Of course, the problem is that it doesn’t seem that anyone on the UK government side of these negotiations actually wants Brexit to happen.

  19. Brian — an open border (at least an inwards open border) between Ireland/EU and Northern Ireland/UK would require a degree of creativity and open-mindedness of which the London politicians are apparently incapable.

    Some would argue that an open border between Ireland and the UK would result in much of the UK import traffic currently going through English ports simply switching to Ireland. Perhaps more significantly, people in the EU could simply step across the Irish border, making UK control over immigration that much more difficult.

    Libertarians would say that the obvious solution is for the UK after separation to declare there are no tariffs on any imports. However, if the UK pre-emptively surrenders on tariffs, what incentive would any country have to make a trade deal with the UK?

    Some of the more astute observers are beginning to suggest that one of the consequences of separation from the EU will be the break-up of the UK, including possibly the break-up of England into something like its ancient kingdoms.

  20. None of that sounds like impossible obstacles, if the UK powers that be actually wanted Brexit.

    Stuff produced in Europe should be pretty easily able to be differentiated from stuff made in Ireland. People who aren’t authorized to work in Britain should be pretty easily distinguished from those who are. It should be pretty simple for the UK to make the EU make the tough decisions, rather than to do it themselves. But of course, the UK authorities don’t want Brexit.

  21. Some of the more astute observers are beginning to suggest that one of the consequences of separation from the EU will be the break-up of the UK, including possibly the break-up of England into something like its ancient kingdoms.

    That could happen. The Scots are always clamoring for a break up, still harboring grudges against the wardens of the marches or something. The Welsh are even worse, with their long simmering contempt of Hengist and Horsa trampling all over their holy leeks.

    However, I tend to think the opposite. There’s too much solidarity still lingering throughout the English speaking world for it all to fragment into pieces. Don’t bet against the Anglosphere just yet.

  22. Brian — I completely agree that the incompetents who run the UK (and will continue to rule the UK after separation) could have done Brexit in a fairly straightforward way … if they had wanted to. But they don’t. And one can’t help but wonder if that means post-separation UK will really be the land of merry maypole dancers that the enthusiasts expect.

    As to the Irish border — if there is some UK civil servant there checking whether a person on the EU side is eligible to step onto the UK side, then that is what is called a Hard Border. And that is not acceptable to the Political Class in Northern Ireland, on whom the UK Conservatives depend for support of their minority government. Lots of challenges!

    Some observers expect that the ultimate solution will be for Northern Ireland to say sayonara to the intellectuals in London and rejoin the rest of Ireland. We should remember that the reason Northern Ireland did not severe the bonds with England along with the rest of Ireland almost 100 years ago was religious. Northern Irish are descended from Gaelic-speaking Scottish Protestants who got an offer they could not refuse from Oliver Cromwell to relocate to Gaelic-speaking Catholic Ireland and act as informers. But religion has declined in Ireland along with the rest of Europe. The Catholic/Protestant divide is becoming increasingly irrelevant, since Ireland is now all-abortion-all-the-time under the guidance of a homosexual part-Indian prime minister. Based on the Brexit debacle, it is unlikely that Northern Irish see the Political Class in London as any better than the Political Class in Dublin.

    Northern Ireland’s departure will likely trigger further crack-ups in the rather Un-United Kingdom, at the same time as the Catalans are getting tired of Spanish rule while the French & Walloons in Belgium never really liked each other anyway. Long range projection — EU dissolves and Europeans return to their squabbling roots. No need for the rest of the world to get dragged down by this.

  23. “Don’t bet against the Anglosphere just yet.”

    We could really use some of that Anglosphere unity within the USA right now! And the way that English separatists talk about their fellow citizens who are opposed to Brexit makes Hillary Rodham-Clinton seem like Mother Theresa.

    Much of the world faces troubled times, and this is all happening against the backdrop of the coming economic Day of Reckoning when it becomes clear that many governments are not going to be able to continue spending money they don’t have, and they will be unable to fulfill the pension commitments they have made, or even pay interest on their spectacular debts. All we can safely predict is that things are going to change, and the future will not be a simple extrapolation of the past.

  24. “if there is some UK civil servant there checking whether a person on the EU side is eligible to step onto the UK side, then that is what is called a Hard Border.”
    That’s not what I meant to suggest at all. I don’t have some grand plan. That should be up to the people of the UK. I say that if they want, they should do nothing to enforce the Irish border at all. Nothing. Say they want, and will have, free trade with Ireland. Or even with Europe. Make the EU say no. But if they decide to say they want free movement with Ireland, but NOT Europe, then why does that have to be enforced right at the border? Just enforce work eligibility rules at the point of employment. So if an Irish citizen wants a job, they can get one pretty easily, but some other European citizen can’t. Doesn’t seem like a major problem to me. If European citizens want to cross over from Ireland, then so what? Tourists are good for the economy. And like I said, if the UK wants to allow free movement, I don’t see why there would be any illicit traffic, because Europeans could just come direct to London or wherever as they do now. Every “problem” I’ve read about Brexit seems to just be an excuse to override the will of the people as expressed in the referendum.

  25. Much of the world faces troubled times, and this is all happening against the backdrop of the coming economic Day of Reckoning when it becomes clear that many governments are not going to be able to continue spending money they don’t have,

    One small example and even an explanation within the story is The Los Angeles teachers’ union strike.

    An estimated 30,000 Los Angeles teachers recently took to the streets for the first time in 30 years. What was the reason for this strike that crippled the second-largest school district in the country, affecting half-a-million students? Unsurprisingly: money. Marching down the streets of L.A. and sporting the color red, thousands of teachers and activists wanted four things:

    A 6.5% pay raise right away.
    A reduction in class sizes (meaning less work).
    An order to “fully staff” schools with librarians, nurses, counselors, and other support personnel.
    A guarantee that public school funding will not be impacted by privatization.

    OK but what is this all about ?

    Let’s begin with the makeup of the school district: It boasts a $7.52 billion budget and <b<more than 60,000 employees, including about 26,000 teachers, with the average annual salary being $73,000. While employment has gone up 16% since 2004, enrollment has dropped 10% in the same period.

    Say what ? Who are the 34,000 non-teachers ? Why are there more non-teachers than teachers ? Are they all janitors ?

  26. It’s the educational bureaucracy in California. One of my pet peeve‘s is whenever they are seeking a bond on our initiative process they are all listed as “helping education“, when in reality they want you to help the bureaucracy.

  27. California spends half its budget on education, by constitutional mandate. They were ordered by the courts to make their school funding “fair” by divorcing it from property taxes, and hence destroyed both the schools AND their housing system, and literally no one would argue that either system is more fair or as good in quality as they were before. Great job, folks!

    And of course the system is hopelessly corrupt:
    “08/22/2010: LOS ANGELES — Next month’s opening of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools will be auspicious for a reason other than its both storied and infamous history as the former Ambassador Hotel, where the Democratic presidential contender was assassinated in 1968. With an eye-popping price tag of $578 million, it will mark the inauguration of the nation’s most expensive public school ever.”

    As with the bullet train, and the stem cell boondoggle, California is REALLY good at funneling money to real estate developers. Making a decent state for their citizens, not so much. That’s why Americans are fleeing that $h!th0le.

  28. California is REALLY good at funneling money to real estate developers.

    I spent a few years on the city planning commission of my small city in Orange County. I became acquainted with the iron triangle of “Affordable Housing.”

    First, the state passes a law requiring a proportion of all construction to be “affordable housing” by their definition. Then, “public interest law firms” sue the city for violating the state mandate. The law firms are funded by real estate developers. The city settles and builds more housing, if there is room. The law firms are awarded fees, which they use to file more suits.

    The developers fund the state legislators and the cycle begins again. When I was on the commission, I suggested that subsidized housing (apartments) be scattered through the projects they were already developing. That was not acceptable. There was one project in Mission Viejo that was to be divided by a fence into an over 55 section and a Section 8 (Subsidized apartments) section. The two developments were on the same piece of land but the over 55 buyers did not want the section 8 kids to be able to come into their area. The fire department, I think, put an end to that.

    Developers would build 700 apartment projects that had no subsidized units, then support suits to build other projects that were all subsidized.

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