From the New York Times
Brown’s Arid California, Thanks Partly to His Father
By ADAM NAGOURNEY MAY 16, 2015
LOS ANGELES — When Edmund G. Brown Sr. was governor of California, people were moving in at a pace of 1,000 a day. With a jubilant Mr. Brown officiating, California commemorated the moment it became the nation’s largest state, in 1962, with a church-bell-ringing, four-day celebration. He was the boom-boom governor for a boom-boom time: championing highways, universities and, most consequential, a sprawling water network to feed the explosion of agriculture and development in the dry reaches of central and Southern California.
Nearly 50 years later, it has fallen to Mr. Brown’s only son, Gov. Jerry Brown, to manage the modern-day California that his father helped to create. The state is prospering, with a population of more than double the 15.5 million it had when Mr. Brown, known as Pat, became governor in 1959. But California, the seventh-largest economy in the world, is confronting fundamental questions about its limits and growth, fed by the collision of the severe drought dominating Jerry Brown’s final years as governor and the water and energy demands — from homes, industries and farms, not to mention pools, gardens and golf courses — driven by the aggressive growth policies advocated by his father during his two terms in office.
You know, Pat Brown lost to Ronald Reagan 49 years ago, so I’m kind of thinking that other, more recent policies since then (e.g., the 1986 amnesty and the resulting Hispanic baby boom, lack of enforcement of immigration laws, massive legal immigration, etc. ) may be more directly relevant to why population keeps going up, up, up in 21st Century California.
… Pat Brown, who died in 1996 at the age of 90, was the embodiment of the post-World War II explosion, when people flocked to this vast and beckoning state in search of a new life. “He loved that California was getting bigger when he was governor,” said Ethan Rarick, who wrote a biography of Pat Brown and directs the Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service at the University of California, Berkeley. “Pat saw an almost endless capacity for California growth.”
Jerry Brown arrived in Sacramento for the first of two stints he would serve as governor in 1975 — just over eight years after Pat Brown was defeated for re-election by Ronald Reagan. He was, at 36, the austere contrast to his father, a product of the post-Watergate and post-Vietnam era, wary of the kind of brawny, interventionist view of government that animated Pat Brown. The environmental movement had emerged in the years between Pat Brown’s defeat and Jerry Brown’s arrival — the first Earth Day and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries oil embargo took place during that period — and among its most passionate adherents was Pat Brown’s son.
If Pat Brown wanted the stunningly ambitious California State Water Project that he muscled into law to “be a monument to me,” as he later said of what was the most expensive public works project in the state’s history, Jerry Brown championed the modest if intellectually provocative “Small Is Beautiful” viewpoint espoused by the economist E. F. Schumacher, which emphasized the dangers of depleting natural resources. (Mr. Brown flew to London to speak at Schumacher’s funeral in 1977.) As governor, Jerry Brown spoke of limits and respect for the fragility of the planet from the moment he took office.
“He positioned himself as very, very different from my father,” said Kathleen Brown, who is Mr. Brown’s youngest sister. “Some looked at it as a psychological battle between father and son. I don’t think it was that at all. I think it was a coming-of-age in a different period. The consciousness that our resources were limited was just beginning to take hold in the broader community.”
Since taking office as governor for the second time, in 2011, Jerry Brown has again been the voice of limits — though this time, his view is informed less by the theories of environmentalists and more by the demands of trying to manage a drought of historic proportions. One month Mr. Brown is ordering a 25 percent reduction in the use of potable water in urban communities; the next he is pressing for a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions to battle the choking pollution that is another byproduct of the heady growth.
“We are dealing with different periods,” Mr. Brown said in an interview. “The word ‘environment’ wasn’t used then: You talked about conservation. Environmentalism came in after my father left. There was this sense that we can become No. 1 ahead of New York — they rang church bells when we did — but now, you fast-forward 60 years later, and people are concerned about whether the water is available, the cost to the environment, how to pay for suburban infrastructure.”
“All of these insights and concerns developed after most of his governorship,” Mr. Brown said of his father. “But they preceded mine — and they have intensified.”
But have these insights and concerns intensified to the extent that a massive front page article in the New York Times
about the last 56 years of California history will dare to mention the I Word? Let’s find out:
Yes! The very last paragraph:
Still, Mr. Brown said he would have done what his father did if he had been governor during Pat Brown’s era — and expected that his father would be doing the same thing Jerry Brown is doing were he running the state today.
“What else could you do?” he said. “Who sets the agenda? The times set the agenda. It’s not like I don’t have a lot of things I want to do. There are a lot of challenges — you have to respond, whether it’s water or drought or education. Health. Immigration. Here they are — do something. That’s what I do. I think my father would do the same thing.”
The word “immigration” appears in a NYT article about water shortages in California! Granted, it appears as an afterthought in a wholly non-informative context, but we still have to chalk this one up as the NYT
making intellectual progress. Give it another 49 years and who knows how far it might get?