Tim Draper should be shrewd and pragmatic given his successful track record of being a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who was on the ground floor of firms such as Tesla and Skype.
Based on his obsession with splitting up the Golden State, he has clearly lost his Midas touch.
First he spent $5 million out of his own pocket to try and qualify a measure for the November 2016 ballot to slice and dice California into six states. It failed to get enough signatures.
His latest chainsaw act was dialed back a bit to cutting California into three states. His effort to collect enough signatures paid off meaning you can indulge Draper trying to become the face associated with the phrase “a fool and his money are soon parted” when the Nov. 6 vote rolls around.
It doesn’t really matter how you vote because it’s simply not going to happen.
If it passes, the governor would be required to ask Congress to approve the move. How many states would be willing to dilute their power in the U.S. Senate by essentially giving California six senators instead of two?
That’s as likely as Robert De Niro sending $1 million to Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
The next step is for the California Legislature to determine who gets what and how the debt would be split.
That should go extremely well. Who gets Oroville Dam and water rights on the Feather River — the new Northern California or the sliced off segment centered around Los Angeles that Draper believes is worthy of being called simply “California?” And can you really split up the existing stare prison system and not have greater LA criminals imprisoned out of state in Northern California or Southern California given how The City of Angels over the years successfully blocked prisons brunt built anywhere in the LA Basin?
It gets better. If the Legislature can’t decide after a year how to split the debt, it automatically is split evenly between the three new states. Southern California that includes San Diego, the Inland Empire/ Mohave Desert, and the south San Joaquin Valley could end up automatically with a third of the debt and the least amount of tangible assets.
One thing for sure is it would kill high speed rail as it would be hard to picture the high court of the future state of Southern California that excludes the Los Angeles Basin allowing something to be built in Kern and Fresno counties that would serve practically no one in their state.
Assuming the majority of the 120 members of the current California Legislature can divide everything within a year by employing the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job — something they can’t even come remotely close to today — there’s the endless prospect of lawsuits from special interest groups that will be slighted no matter how things are divvied up. That’s not to mention the endless potential for litigation between the three new states. Instead of being called the California 3 Act it should be dubbed the Full Employment Act for Lawyers.
Then there is the issue of who will shape the new three states. If you think it is anyone outside of the Bay Area, the Los Angeles Basin, or San Diego then the only California trip you are capable of taking is on LSD. No one who isn’t wearing three-inch thick rose colored glasses could look at you with a straight face and not say you’re simply taking one California and slicing it in three without coming up with the same regulations, same red tape, regional haves and have nots, and the same urban-rural issues that don’t get resolved.
If you don’t think this is what will happen if by some bizarre chance the measure not only passes but gets implemented, then let’s visit Draper’s extremely flawed rationale for parting not with $10 million or so if his “hard earned” dollars amusing himself with his Don Quixote antics but with $10 million he earned essentially gambling given that is what venture capitalists do.
Draper believes California has become “ungovernable” based on its economic and geographic diversity along with a population pushing 40 million.
If that’s true, what’s his next target — breaking up the Union as plantation owners that weren’t getting their way in Congress tried to do? The USA has almost 330 million people and even greater economic and geographic diversity. Based on the world according to Draper, that would mean the USA should be broken into 30 or so separate nations much like the Balkan states of Europe that addressed economic and governing issues by becoming small enough that almost everyone is struggling to survive while employing a system of governance that is far from being a republic or a democracy.
At the end of the day what Draper wants is a Balkanization of California. History shows us that chopping nations into smaller states has a nasty tendency to create entities that are hostile and uncooperative with each other.
In such an environment bottom feeders such as Draper stand to gain immense wealth profiting from the new political and governing infrastructure needed to be set up whether it is investing with firms that would get such work or benefitting from new rules to do business in the three new states that they can influence. The un-empowered little guy that Draper needs to try and make his California 3 scheme work by first getting it passed at the ballot box would still be un-empowered.
Draper is counting on California voters on Nov. 6 to prove the PT Barnum’s alleged maxim that a sucker is born every minute.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.