Certainly in some places around the world, public servants have become like medieval clergy, rapaciously enjoying benefits paid for off of the back of the serfs:
A medieval society can be defined in a variety of ways. In terms of class, there is more a pyramidal culture. A vast peasantry sits below an elite of clergy and lords above â€” but with little or no independent middle class in-between.
I think California is getting there quickly â€” with the U.S. soon to follow.
For our version of the clergy, think public employees, whose salary and benefits are anywhere from 30-40% higher than their counterparts in the private sector. In California, the security guard in the symphony parking lot makes minimum wage and has no pension, even as he faces as much danger as his counterpart in the state police. And like medieval churchmen, our public-employee clergy positions are often nepotic. Families focus on getting the next generation a coveted spot at the DMV, the county assessorâ€™s office, or the local high school. Like the vast tax-free estate of the clergy that both nearly broke feudalism and yet was beyond reproach, so too Californiaâ€™s half-trillion-dollar unfunded pensions and bond liabilities are considered sacrosanct. To question the pay or the performance ofÂ a California teacherÂ orÂ prison guardÂ is to win the same scorn that was once earned from ridiculing the local friar. If suggesting that the man of god who was too rotund as a result of living freely on his tax-exempt church land was worthy of stoning, then so too suggesting that our teachers or highway-patrol officers are paid incommensurately with the quality of students in our schools or the safety on our roads is likewiseÂ politically incorrect right-wing heresy.Â
The Renaissance freed us from the deprivations of the clergy…no suchÂ renaissanceÂ has yetÂ occurredÂ to free us from publicÂ servants:
The Renaissance marked a lessening of the intolerance and censorship of the medieval clergy. Art, literature, science, and philosophy were freed from shibboleths of Aristotle, Church doctrine, and formalistic conventions. But California has of yet had no such renaissance. In our closed, anti-scientific, and deductive way of thinking, Solyndra was a success. Drilling for cheap natural gas in the Monterey Shale formation would be seen as failure. When our governor told Rick Perry that Californians did not need to cool off in 110 degree heat through â€śfossil fuelâ€ť-fed air conditioning, he did not mean that solar panels were energizing green air conditioners in Barstow, but rather that our elites on the coast have natural air conditioning; itâ€™s called the Pacific Ocean. And although wind and solar provide miniscule amounts of California energy, it matters little, given that coastal elites enjoy 70 degree weather year-round and keep their power bills low. PG&Eâ€™s and Southern California Edisonâ€™s astronomical energy costs are for â€ślittle people,â€ť the middle classes in the hot and cold interior and mountains. The aristocracy sets the regulations that make power soar, and the interior pays far more of the costs.
In medieval California, certain thinking is off-limits, just as during the tenth century in France or in the eighth century in Constantinople. I once wrote, on these pages, that one could not any more determine exactly the racial and ethnic heritage of millions of intermarried and integrated Californians, much less could universities easily determine why particular California ancestries qualified for affirmative action and others did not (e.g., was it due to ongoing racism, skin color, historical claims against the majority culture, purposes of â€śdiversityâ€ť? etc.). The next thing I knew theÂ Stanford DailyÂ was calling for me to be disciplinedÂ by the Hoover Institution. Indeed, these monthly reflections on California earn on occasion an angry op-ed in a California paper, dozens of hate emails â€” and even now and then a phone call from an irate state official.
You see, in medieval California the orthodoxy of the clergy and aristocracy must remain unquestioned. Wind and solar are superior energy sources to natural gas or other fossil fuels. The blue-state model of high taxes and big government has been redeemed by the public-approved tax hikes of 2012.