Home Sweet Home


Victor Davis Hanson:

A day later, I am now driving westward on Manning Avenue, for about 60 miles to I-5 through the towns of Raisin City and San Joaquin, dissecting the corporate farms of the West Side. A few things are striking in a way not true even a decade ago. Agriculture has never seemed more productive or lucrative. New orchards and vineyards are going in everywhere. Sky-high prices for alfalfa, row crops, nuts, fruits, and wheat show in the face of the land. Water is scarcer and more likely to be cut off — and yet even more brilliantly squeezed out and metered by sophisticated computerized drip-irrigation regimes.

Tractors are both even bigger and look right off the lot. There is a feeling of neatness — no junk piles, no burn piles, no paper and trash blowing over the road. One can smell money, as in billions of dollars in export cash pouring in from India, China, Japan, and South Korea. Of course, few live out here in the land of corporate latifundia. But these vast agribusiness conglomerates, to the eye almost on autopilot, are earning billions of dollars for their owners, and a good life for their fewer and fewer employees, as machines make the old hard work rarer.

I pull over for a bit to watch a skilled driver in a huge John Deere with a mega-ripper, prepping a field for planting. In the 1980s I drove what I thought was a large 100 hp Allis-Chalmers, with a four-foot ripping blade to develop a new, small vineyard. In comparison, this tractor is a colossus — enclosed temperature-controlled cab, and the expert driver on a cell phone. In one swath, he covers the same ground I did in four, but straighter, deeper, and just better all around. My Allis smoked, his John Deere seems to have no exhaust.

When I wrote Fields Without Dreams and The Land Was Everything, I compared a land of agrarian communities that once grew families and cultures with a Mendota and San Joaquin out here, pyramidal societies, more Egyptian than Hellenic, in which a tiny top lorded over a large bottom, with very little middle in between. That’s truer than ever. But it is also accurate to confess that never have so few produced so much food so cheaply for so many throughout the world.

In other words, the world gone by of my youth and early middle age — small 40-acre and 80-acre orchards and vineyards, farmhouses with real owners living in them, three or four children working with a dad in the fields, a mother overseeing the books and taking her turn on the tractor in the hectic season — is dead. That agrarian culture is gone, vanished, kaput. Central California’s once agrarian east side now operates like out here on the West Side.

Yet with agrarian demise, food production soared with economies of scale and decisions that were entirely market-based and not culturally predicated on tradition and morality. Is this good or bad news, both or neither — you decide; I cannot any longer. I know a nice guy who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars speculating and merchandising land to pension funds, EU expatriates, and celebrity investors. He does not know a spring-tooth from a flat furrower, and is richer for the ignorance. And I know a cranky, obnoxious old-timer holdout who still farms his small acreage and snaps at his workers. I want to believe that the latter is superior to the former, but I have seen too much in the last thirty years to be able to tell any more. Does someone in Africa who eats cheap U.S. wheat or rice say, “Thank God for mass food production?”

Dr. Hanson is describing the place I live and grew up in. The San Joaquin is one of the most (if not the most) productive agricultural areas in the world.


By some estimates, federal restrictions on shallow well irrigation systems threaten the productivity of the San Joaquin Valley, which produces the majority of the 12.8% of the United States’ agricultural production (as measured by dollar value) that comes from California.[2] Grapes—table, raisin, and to a lesser extent wine—are perhaps the valley’s highest-profile product, but equally (if not more) important are cotton, nuts (especially almonds and pistachios), citrus, and vegetables. Though it has been called “The food basket of the World”, the San Joaquin Valley has not been nationally recognized for the diversity of its produce. Oranges, peaches, garlic, tangerines, tomatoes, kiwis, hay, alfalfa and numerous other crops have been harvested with great success. The J. G. Boswell Company’s farming operation in Kings County is the largest single cotton farm in the world, occupying over 162 square kilometres (40,000 acres). Certain places are identified quite strongly with a given crop: Stockton produces the majority of the domestic asparagus consumed in the United States, and Fresno is the largest producer of the raisin, originally a Middle Eastern commodity.

In spite of its agricultural productivity, the San Joaquin Valley has the state’s highest rate of food insecurity.[3]

Cattle and sheep ranching are also vitally important to the valley’s economy. During the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Miller & Lux corporation built an agricultural monopoly centered around cattle. The success of the business can be attributed to his direct management style which is reflected in his detailed correspondences to his subordinates. During recent years, dairy farming has greatly expanded in importance.

From age five until twelve I spent my evenings and weekends on a farm labor camp on a Del Monte peach ranch just outside Planada in Merced County, an hour north of the place Hanson describes. (During the weekdays I stayed with my grandmother in Merced while my mom worked.) Miles and miles of peach orchards, now all gone. But the land is still in use growing tomatoes.

These days the San Joaquin Valley doubles as a welfare slum for all the poor people priced out of LA and the SF Bay Area. We got lots of drugs and crime now. But hey, we’re getting a $100 billion high speed rail line!

My childhood home aka: "Fancher Ranch, Camp 3"

My childhood home aka: “Fancher Ranch, Camp 3”

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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86 Responses to Home Sweet Home

  1. myiq2xu says:
  2. myiq2xu says:

    CNN: Obama approval drops to 47/50

    The latest CNN poll has bad news, more bad news, and then even more bad news for Barack Obama. The first set of bad news come on his approval rating, which has dramatically reversed in just two months. Obama has gone from 55/43 in January in the aftermath of his win on tax hikes to 47/50 today — a drop in the gap of 15 points, +12 to -3. It’s the first negative approval rating in this poll since January 2012, when Obama’s approval stood at 47/51. Among independents, his approval rating is only 41/53.

  3. votermom says:

    Good! I don’t understand the rush on this – we have more pressing problems

  4. yttik says:

    The times they are a-changing! I no longer know what’s good or bad either, but I now believe it doesn’t really matter. Even if it were a bad change, we’re not ever going back to the way things were anyway. Change is simply inevitable.

    One thing we do need to do, is to raise kids that are flexible and can adapt. Gone are the days of spending your life focused on building one career in one area. The odds these days are that you’re going to have to change and adapt are pretty high.

  5. myiq2xu says:
    • myiq2xu says:

      During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) grilled ICE Director John Morton and DHS officials about the release of illegal immigrants from detention, including Level I violators (aggravated felons). The Obama administration has claimed that sequestration forced them to release the detainees.

      “What is a Level I violator?” Gowdy asked Morton.

      “First, obviously I disagree about your characterization about these being–” Morton began.

      “That’s fine. You can use your time to disagree with my characterization, don’t use mine. What is a Level I violator,” Gowdy shot back.

      Morton said a Level I violators are “aggravated felons.” He added that eight Level I violators were released, but after faulty computer records and a mistake, four were put back into detention.

  6. HELENK says:

    David Burge ‏@iowahawkblog

    The WH Chief of Staff has a 6-member, 24-hour Secret Service detail and her own Chief of Staff. Maybe they can volunteer as WH tour guides.

    but no Easter egg hunt or white house tours

    • HELENK says:

      a man who understands that change is coming, but will try to control it for the best of his country

    • wmcb says:

      That’s a REALLY good interview. I was surprised to hear King Abdullah say he’d like to move to a British style constitutional monarchy. He’s no dummy – it’s his best bet to preserve his family from revolution – taking on a minor monarchal role.

      • myiq2xu says:

        Peaceful transitions from dictatorship to democracy are difficult and rare. All too often revolutions just trade one dictatorship for another.

        • myiq2xu says:

          Our Founding Fathers had a little experience with democracy and self-governance because England basically left them on their own.

          • myiq2xu says:

            If we had lost the revolution then Lord General Cornwallis would probably have been appointed as Viceroy of the American Colonies. Instead he went to India and became Viceroy there.

  7. myiq2xu says:

    RNC Report — 100 pages and not a single word about bloggers

    Apparently Republicans only pay attention if you make them pay lots of money first.

  8. myiq2xu says:

    Bad News- Good News

    Bad News: After busting my hump yesterday to get all my yard work done before it rained today I look outside and see it’s sunny and warm. The rain won’t arrive until tonight.

    Good News: I can sit on my ass all day because the yard work is done already.

  9. myiq2xu says:

    This song would be awesome as an instrumental:

  10. foxyladi14 says:

    Enjoy the day off myiq. 🙂

  11. myiq2xu says:
  12. HELENK says:

    ten years later, THANK YOU to all the veterans of the Iraqi Freedom operation

    • yttik says:

      Now there’s something that hasn’t changed, homelessness in California! My grandfather used to show me pictures of the dust bowl refugee camps. When I was little, I remember the camps for the migrant workers, the mentally ill on the streets in San Francisco and the drunks on Skid Row.

  13. foxyladi14 says:

    In case you missed it. 🙂

    • HELENK says:

      I have such a good feeling about that man.

      • yttik says:

        Me too! It’s kind of funny, I’ve never felt enthusiastic about a pope before. I’m not even Catholic, but when they picked him I got all teary.

    • wmcb says:

      We’ll see. He has, so far as I’ve seen, stressed actually ministering to the poor and forgotten in concrete ways. Yes, he is orthodox in doctrine, but it doesn’t seem that doctrine disputes are his heart.

      I’m not Catholic, and never have been. But for most of my life the one thing I admired about the Catholic church, despite my disagreements, was that commitment to service. To going to the places no one goes, and helping people, day after day.

      Frankly, it seemed to me that the Church lost that in becoming political, becoming focused on this or that doctrine or sin. I’d like to see that spirit of self-sacrificial service return. I won’t lie: I still won’t like some of the other stuff. But THAT was always one thing the Catholic church had going for it in my eyes.

  14. HELENK says:

    Report: US government abandons plan to require graphic warning labels on cigarette packs – @AP

    OMG did anyone tell nanny bloomberg???

  15. myiq2xu says:

  16. HELENK says:

    World Health Organization says it will send medical supplies to Aleppo on Wednesday; cannot confirm if chemical weapons used in Syrian city – @Reuters

    • HELENK says:

      More: World Health Organization visiting health facilities in Aleppo, providing technical support to Syria on the treatment of chemical toxins, spokesman tells @Reuters

  17. HELENK says:

    white privilege from a black conservative point of view

  18. elliesmom says:

    We needed a break from the troubles of the world. We went to see “Oz”. Just me, Elliesdad, and another set of grandparents with their grandkids in the whole darn theater. It’s a sweet movie. They don’t make very many sweet movies anymore. Mentioned on my FB page I liked the movie. Got blasted because it’s another movie about submissive women. Nothing submissive about those evil witches in my eyes. I think I’m going to turn in my “feminist card”. Or put it through the shredder with my “liberal card”.

    • HELENK says:

      funny thing about those so called feminists, they kneel down to a man more today then in my day. Their main focus is body not brains. Many of them think that being passed around for sex makes them free.. It is ok to be paid less, if they work for a liberal. they really do not have a clue. too many go along to get along and see nothing wrong with that

    • DeniseVB says:

      I saw Oz today too elliesmom and enjoyed it very much! I used to think James Franco was a jerk, now I have a little cougar crush on him 😀

      I don’t think the kids will have nightmares like I did with the original flying monkeys. Submissive women? Nah, those were badass witches! Even Glinda the Good Witch. LOVED the ending !!!

  19. wmcb says:

    One of my UK friends on facebook is always chiming in about how swell the gun ban in the UK is every time I make a gun post. I just replied this to him, and thought you guys might like to see it. I think I was fairly polite to the Limey:

    Derek, with all due respect, the United States is not the UK. We are entirely different culturally. Around 47% of US homes report owning a gun at either home or work. Around 2 million gun owners annually use their guns to stop or prevent a crime. Our culture is one of individual self defense – of doing for ourselves. Regardless of what happens elsewhere, there is no evidence that gun laws prevent crime here, and in fact often do the opposite, as our criminal population is quite well-armed indeed. For good or ill or both, we *are not Europeans*. The UK, even prior to the gun ban there, was not a country where almost half the population owned guns. Ever. It’s not their nature, and never was, since British culture evolved out of manarchies and nobility where the common man had no real history of being just as well-armed as the local sherrif or nobleman. The USA evolved entirely differently. Arms are normal to us, and have been since our founding.

    I often hear tales of “The Ugly American” going to Europe and having zero respect for the culture there. I’ve seen it happen, and I agree that it’s quite arrogant. Please be aware that that street can go two ways, when Europeans opine on the ills of the United States. Americans are not Europeans. We have an entirely different history and culture, that is ours, that is bone-deep, and that isn’t going to change. Our zeitgeist has never been Europe’s and we have no desire to be Europe.

    That’s not a rejection of Europeans or others entering into conversation regarding politics in the USA, by the way. I welcome that. But take care, as you do, that you do not become “The Ugly European”, constantly wondering aloud why those stupid Americans don’t do it the way we do back home. Because we are not you.

    • myiq2xu says:

      You shoulda just said “Piss off!”

      • wmcb says:

        He’s actually a friend, and a nice guy, so nah. 🙂

        • myiq2xu says:

          How does the crime rate in England compare to ours?

        • wmcb says:

          It’s really hard to compare if you are talking about violent crime, because they include some categories of violent crime that we consider property crime. Some sources say higher, some say lower.

          It’s always iffy comparing statistics between countries unless the methodology is exactly the same.

        • wmcb says:

          You also have to consider the difference in culture there, as well. Britons are by and large a reserved, mannerly people, not wild-eyed ornery individualists like us. So you cannot know if their crime rates would be comparable, guns or no guns.

          What is absolutely certain is that for the United States, gun laws seem to actually increase crime.

          • myiq2xu says:

            Britons are by and large a reserved, mannerly people, not wild-eyed ornery individualists like us.

            Ever watch British soccer?

        • wmcb says:

          I have a theory that they are so constrained in much of their daily lives, that they save up all their human rage just for soccer. Only acceptable outlet.

    • DandyTiger says:

      Really good analysis.

  20. DeniseVB says:

    Enjoyed the travelogue of your home myiq, have you ever thought of running for local office? I felt your passion for the area, that would resonate with your constituents 😀

  21. DeniseVB says:

    I saw the the WH is threatening to shut down their Easter Egg Roll event. Key word: sequester. So why did Jay Carney dress down a Fox reporter when she asked about it a few days ago?


  22. wmcb says:

  23. wmcb says:

    The administration is refusing to answer congressmen on specifics of DHS’ 1.6 billion rounds of ammo purchase.

    Yeah, yeah, I know they have told the press is for target practice. Bullshit.

    The US Military only used roughly 70 million (not billion) rounds of ammo per year at the very height of the Iraq war. Homeland Security is buying enough ammo to supply a 20-year hot war. That’s how much ammo this is. On American soil? What the fuck for?

    • yttik says:

      I’m pretty sure they’re buying ammo to “stimulate the economy” and to justify the Homeland Security budget. Where I live HS has been buying jet skis, motorcycles, weapons and toys of all sorts. Hundreds of thousands of wasted dollars, mostly because if they don’t spend the money, they won’t get any next year. A couple of guys who actually work up North here with HS, testified to congress that HS was completely wasting money. The problem is, if HS doesn’t justify their budget, than we loose jobs and even though those jobs are completely useless, they’re still jobs.

      • wmcb says:

        I’m not sure of that at all. 2800 armored personel carriers as well? And why are they refusing to answer questions on it?

        Sorry, I don’t trust them. And I could give a fuck if every last one of them lost their jobs. I think DHS needs to be disbanded, period. It’s a monster.

    • myiq2xu says:

      Did you watch the video?

      • wmcb says:

        Yes. He says he has asked the question, can’t get it answered.

        • yttik says:

          Right after 911, our dinky little police force bought a tank and a couple of paddy wagons allegedly for “crowd control.” There aren’t enough people around here to create a fricken crowd! Anyway, security money has been flowing out of DC like there’s no tomorrow. So it’s always possible the Gov plans to declare war on the citizens, but it’s far more likely that all these law enforcement agencies have found a cash cow and are completely wasting our money. Politicians aren’t going to turn off the tap and law enforcement has to have something to show for their budgets.

          • myiq2xu says:

            The local cops got an armored personnel carrier and a “Mobile Tactical Command Center” which is basically an RV with lots of commo gear. Our bomb squad got a really cool robot too. Ten years later they really haven’t found an excuse for any of them but they keep trying.

  24. wmcb says:

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