Thursday, April 14, 2022

California, There It Goes

If you think that New York has problems, take a gander at California. Some might suggest that California has descended into dissolution and devolution in order to make the rest of the country feel better. Reading about California from New York cannot help but produce feelings of Schadenfreude

Of course, and not for the first time, we turn to Joel Kotkin for an assessment of the current state of California. In his new and extended analysis of the decline and fall of his home state he begins with the words of a top Democrat, a Berkeley professor named Laura Tyson.

Whatever the cause or the reason, she is happy to cheerlead for a state that is frankly, falling apart.

Kotkin opens:

Laura Tyson, the longtime Democratic economist now at the University of California at Berkeley, praises the state for creating “the way forward” to a more enlightened “market capitalism.” Like-minded analysts tout Silicon Valley’s massive wealth generation as evidence of progressivism’s promise. The Los Angeles Times suggested approvingly that the Biden administration’s goal is to “make America California again.” And, despite dark prospects in November’s midterm elections, the President and his party still seem intent on proving it.

So, California is something of a laboratory for what are gingerly called progressive politics. How is that working out?

Glad you asked:

In a new report for Chapman University, my colleagues and I find California in a state of existential crisis, losing both its middle-aged and middle class, while its poor population faces dimming prospects. Despite the state’s myriad advantages, research shows it plagued by economic immobility and inequality, crushing housing and energy costs, and a failing education system. Worse than just a case of progressive policies creating regressive outcomes, it appears California is descending into something resembling modern-day feudalism, with the poor and weak trapped by policies subsidized by taxes paid by the rich and powerful.

On the poverty front, California excels. It excels, that is, in producing poverty. It’s progressive politics in action:

…. today the state suffers the highest cost-adjusted poverty rate in the U.S. The poor and near-poor constitute over one third – well over 10 million – of the state’s residents according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Los Angeles, by far the state’s largest metropolitan area, and once a magnet for middle class aspirations, has one of the highest poverty rates among major U.S. cities. A United Way of California analysis shows that over 30 percent of residents lack sufficient income to cover basic living costs even after accounting for public-assistance programs; this includes half of Latino and 40 percent of black residents. Some two-thirds of noncitizen Latinos live at or below the poverty line.

And, Californians make no effort to hide the poverty and the homelessness, and of course, the crime that their policies have produced:

The state’s poverty and associated dysfunction are on full display in leading cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, where a large underclass now inhabits the streets – the once-iconic locales having become poster children for urban dysfunction. 

Beyond massive homeless camps, crime has become so bad that the LAPD has warned tourists it can no longer protect them. San Francisco, meanwhile, suffers the highest property crime rate in the country. Businesses like Walgreens have shut down numerous Bay Area locations due to “rampant burglaries.” Homelessness and crime increasingly dominate the state’s political discourse, particularly in these two deep blue bastions.

Apparently, high tech is not going to save California. The grandees who run those companies do not much care about the poverty they are generating. They are happy to put poor people on government doles.

Similarly, according to the Brookings Institution, San Francisco, the technology industry’s most important urban center, has experienced the most rapid growth in inequality among the nation’s large cities in the last decade. The California Budget and Policy Center has named the city first in California for economic inequality; the average income of the top one percent of households in the city averages $3.6 million, forty-four times the average income of the bottom 99 percent, which stands at $81,094 in a city and state with a high cost of living.

Of course, the jobs that are fleeing California would have provided decent middle class jobs.

The biggest losers in California have been those industries that historically provided the best opportunities for working-class people – manufacturing, construction, energy – as well as agriculture, the state’s historic economic powerhouse. On a per capita basis, California builds only a fraction of the housing compared to its main rivals, while corporate new investment, suggests a new Hoover Institution study, has shriveled to a rate one-tenth Texas and one-sixteenth that of Ohio.

And, you will not be surprised to learn that environmentalists in that very woke state have instituted policies that have helped destroy the economy. Green politics destroys the energy grid and helps produce more poverty:

The state’s climate change policies, however well-intentioned, have had a particularly devastating impact on manufacturing. California’s “renewable energy” push has generated high energy prices and the nation’s least-reliable power grid, crippling an industry reliant on fossil fuels and a stable electric supply.

Under California’s green agenda, electricity has skyrocketed while its grid has become less stable.

As the environmentalist Breakthrough Institute summarizes it, the state’s climate agenda has created a “new Green Jim Crow era” keeping more people, particularly minorities, in poverty.

As for education, the state is failing its students. You will not be surprised to learn that valuing diversity, equity and inclusion renders children stupid:

Yet for decades the state’s schools have underperformed national norms, particularly for poor students. Since 1998, California has ranked, on average, 46th in 8th-grade reading and mathematics subject-area performance on the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), the only comparable assessment between states nationwide. This includes comparisons with demographically similar states like Texas, which spends less money per student.

How bad is it? Very bad indeed.

Today, almost three of five California high schoolers are not prepared for either college or a career; the percentages are far higher for Latinos, African Americans, and the economically disadvantaged. Among the 50 states, California ranked 49th in the performance of poor, largely minority, students. San Francisco, the epicenter of California’s woke culture, and site of the recent recall of several far-left school board members, suffers the worst scores for African Americans of any county in the state.

These students are often unprepared for college. At California State University – where ethnic studies programs are now mandated – the need for remedial courses or 40 percent of freshmen demonstrates a low level of preparedness in such basic skills as reading comprehension, writing and mathematics. Some educators have decided to eliminate this problem by eliminating remedial classes.

And, it’s getting worse:

California’s model curriculum, which focuses on how to “build new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes collective narratives of transformative resistance,” may only exacerbate these problems by inculcating attitudes antithetical to those necessary to succeed in a highly competitive capitalist economy.

Of course, as everyone with a minimally functioning brain understands well, teaching equity renders people useless. The only way to prepare children for the world of work is to teach hard math. You cannot do it while fostering equity, diversity and inclusion:

Many California educators from the highest reaches of academia down to the grade school level champion “equity” in education over developing hard math skills and fostering excellence. Even basic life skills such as being on time are eschewed: The San Diego Unified School District will no longer count such scruples as turning in work on time in grading and evaluation. It may reduce the penalties for cheating. This is justified as a way of redressing racial issues, as many of the malefactors (like most California students) are from disadvantaged minority groups.

The tech titans do not much care. As we have noted on this blog, most the the tech talent in these companies was educated abroad, as in, in China:

Tech titans, once focused on improving schools, now seem less engaged. This may make sense given the extent to which tech relies on global talent rather than recruiting locally. In 2018, three-quarters of the tech workforce in the Bay Area was foreign-born, a majority on short-term non-immigrant visas.

Unsurprisingly, people are leaving California. The outmigration has been picking up speed:

Demographer Wendell Cox notes that since 2000, California has lost 2.6 million net domestic migrants, more than the current populations of San Diego, San Francisco and Anaheim combined. In 2020, California accounted for 28 percent of all net domestic outmigration in the nation, about 50 percent more than its share of the US population.

If you don’t live in California, that will brighten your day.


John Fisher said...

So basicly Venezuela with better weather.

John Fisher said...

Came across this after I commented above. Why do politicians think Atlas Shrugged is an operating manual?

Anonymous said...

My company keeps losing people to CA companies. Of course they are all USA trained PhD Engineers from China.

370H55V said...

As long as Kotkin takes every opportunity to take a swipe at Donald Trump in all his essays in order to maintain his tenuous connection to the left, I can't take him seriously.

Anonymous said...

Ah, California! Shooting off its feet with a howitzer... The STUPID is STRONG in California.

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Callmelennie said...

With apologies to Al Jolson

California, there I go
Back to the land of ice and snow
Where bowers of flowers
Are covered till spring
But stoolings aint pooling
Really stinks up everything
A corn fed maiden says "Dont be late"
Thats why I won't hesitate
To just get on that Interstate
California, there I go