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Victor Davis Hanson & Jim Patterson Back a Tax Hike? Hell, Indeed, Has Frozen Over.
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 1 month ago on
March 4, 2024

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Six months ago, Victor Davis Hanson gave a speech decrying California’s high taxes.

Now he’s backing a tax to boost Fresno State promoted by friend Richard Spencer.

Jim Patterson’s Measure E endorsement is at odds with his decades-long anti-tax agenda. He, too, is a Spencer ally.


The campaign to pass Measure E — a new county sales tax that would raise $1.5 billion over 25 years for Fresno State — is so rich with hypocrisy that swallowing even a slice of it can trigger a diabetic coma.

Portrait of GV Wire News Director Bill McEwen

Bill McEwen

Opinion

For example, the other day I saw the right-wing professor and essayist Victor Davis Hanson on my television screen saying that voting “yes” on Measure E would produce an outpouring of police officers and nurses the likes of which Fresno has never seen.

Initially, I thought that the ad couldn’t be real. It had to be a deep fake. Just six months ago, the real Victor Davis Hanson was regaling a packed auditorium at Michigan’s Hillsdale College about the many poisons killing California. State taxes — including the sales tax that he now wants to raise — were near the top of his list.

“We say that we don’t have the highest sales taxes, but the counties and local jurisdictions add on, so most sales tax is about 11-12%,” Hanson said. “We say that we don’t have the highest property taxes, because it’s only at 1.5%, but the assessed evaluation is so high because we limit construction and new development.”

(For the record: California’s highest sales tax is the 10.75% charged by six cities in Alameda County.)

Hanson Has Long Complained About California’s Taxes, Multiculturalism

Complaining about taxes is a familiar refrain from Hanson, who has been predicting California’s demise for at least two decades.

“So why is California a blue state? In part, because its conservative base fled, a future blue-state constituency arrived, and both the very wealthy and the very poor, albeit for quite different reasons, preferred a high-tax, big-government redistributionist state government,” he wrote in 2021.

In that same article, Hanson took a swipe against California’s publicly funded universities.

“California’s public agencies and universities are obsessed with race and invest hundreds of millions of dollars establishing and defending de facto racial quotas in hiring and admissions, suing in courts to punish allegedly prejudicial victimizers and to reward prejudiced victims, and to squash free speech under the false charge of ‘hate speech.’ ”

Hanson has also gone on the record many times opposing multiculturalism and Chicano Studies classes. Not only does Fresno State require multicultural education classes to graduate, but it also has a Chicano and Latin American Studies Department.

Why Would Hanson, Patterson Flip on Taxes? Answer: Richard Spencer

Why would someone who abhors taxes and says they’re destroying California’s middle class back a sales tax hike — especially to benefit a university that applauds diversity and educates the very newcomers to America that Hanson says our country can no longer afford to absorb?

There’s only one answer. Hanson is a longtime friend of Richard Spencer, who backed Measure E to the hilt when it failed two years ago and is prepared to spend up to $4 million to see it across the finish line on March 5. Spencer also is a developer and builder whose companies could earn tens of millions — if not hundreds of millions — in construction contracts should Measure E pass.

The other notable bedfellow in the Measure E alliance is termed-out Assemblymember Jim Patterson of Fresno. For many decades — on the city council, in the mayor’s chair, and representing north Fresno in the Assembly — Patterson has railed against taxes and socialism.

Yet, the last image that voters might have of Patterson is him endorsing a tax hike — just like the Chinese investors in Spencer’s aerial lift company are doing.

Patterson, too, is a longtime Spencer ally. In fact, Spencer has contributed $33,100 to Patterson’s Assembly campaigns and $9,100 to his 2026 Board of Equalization campaign account.

Plus there’s a possibility that Patterson might get appointed to the Measure E oversight board, whose members will be allowed to draw an annual salary of up to $81,000. If Patterson, indeed, is done with politics, that would be a cushy landing spot.

Asked last week by GV Wire’s Edward Smith whether he would accept an appointment to the oversight board, Patterson said that Measure E needs to pass before he could answer that question.

Smith also asked whether oversight board members should be paid.

Patterson labeled that a “gotcha” question before adding “the size and scope of the oversight is going to be very precise, very time-consuming, and it will have to be overseen with professional individuals who have seen large budgets and who have been involved in audits and holding bureaucracies accountable.”

Measure E Is Bad Policy Writ Large

Every political effort includes obvious examples of hypocrisy, so Hanson’s and Patterson’s endorsements are merely reasons to be suspicious of Measure E — not reasons to oppose it.

However, at its foundation, Measure E promotes a terrible policy: exclusively and further burdening local residents who have already paid taxes to support Fresno State and the other 22 CSUs.

Consider these facts: The number of Fresno County families living below the poverty line is 16.62%. That’s nearly twice the state average. So, if Measure E passes, residents in one of California’s poorest counties would subsidize the education of students from the state’s 57 other counties.

Moreover, if Measure E passes, local residents would reward the state Legislature and the governor for not doing their jobs.

Anyone who has trained a puppy knows that the worst thing you can do is to reward bad behavior.

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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