Earl Williams, president of California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, often comments that California is the world's fifth largest economy governed by third-world minds.
His comment always draws a chuckle, although it is not a laughing matter.
Term limits and insatiable political ambitions are moving the state closer to economic and political collapse as the state struggles to trim $30 billion from the state budget while at the same time deal with air quality, water availability and quality, workers compensation and a myriad of issue hanging over the state like a line of guillotines.
Failure to deal with any one could bring the state of more than 30 million people to its knees. The issues are real. The solutions from California's political leaders are so far farcical to non-existent.
Take for example air pollution. The San Joaquin Valley sits in a fish bowl. EPA has designated the valley as having some of the dirtiest air in the nation.
Although the valley's population is growing rapidly, there are far fewer people living and working in the valley than Los Angeles, San Francisco or Phoenix where pollution sources are far greater than the valley. However, because the valley is surrounded by mountains, pollutants remain in the valley far longer than they would without the geological fish bowl.
That is a fact of life those of us who live in the valley cannot change. Therefore, somehow we must all work to reasonably reduce pollution from all sources.
California's novice politicians and entrenched bureaucrats look for scapegoats and big, bad agriculture has become that scapegoat. It's visible with tractors and harvesters in fields, trucks hauling produce and engines pumping irrigation water.
Agriculture has a big bull's-eye painted on it and these third-world-mind politicians think they can clean up the air by regulating agriculture to death. They can probably wipe it out, but it would not solve the air quality issue.
A sign of the political morass California finds itself in is the so-called leadership exhibited by a state senator, Dean Florez, from the Kern County, Calif., farming community of Shafter. He introduced a series of bills to deal with valley air pollution.
He introduced one that would usurp federal clean air authority. EPA has proposed farmers comply with clear air standards by replacing old diesel irrigation engines with cleaner burning ones. The state and federal governments offer financial incentives to accomplish that.
Florez's bill would override EPA and require air pollution control districts to issue permits and regulate diesel pumps on farms — a license to shut down agriculture.
Florez introduced the bills as a blatant attempt to endear himself to liberals statewide to position himself for a run at statewide office.
Here is a politician who is willing to sacrifice the economic well-being of the people who put him in office; is unable to intelligently address one of the most critical issues facing his district, and actually believes he can ascend to a position of statewide leadership.
Earl is being kind when he says third-world minds.