LA Times asks, “Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?

nancy pelosi tweet

Demorats own this.

Doesn’t take an econ major in junior high to solve this riddle.

Kerry Jackson at the LA Timeswrote this op-ed piece: Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country? Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia, but California, where nearly one out of five residents is poor. That’s according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in the cost of housing, food, utilities and clothing, and which includes noncash government assistance as a form of income.

Given robust job growth and the prosperity generated by several industries, it’s worth asking why California has fallen behind, especially when the state’s per-capita GDP increased approximately twice as much as the U.S. average over the five years ending in 2016 (12.5%, compared with 6.27%).

It’s not as though California policymakers have neglected to wage war on poverty. Sacramento and local governments have spent massive amounts in the cause. Several state and municipal benefit programs overlap with one another; in some cases, individuals with incomes 200% above the poverty line receive benefits. California state and local governments spent nearly $958 billion from 1992 through 2015 on public welfare programs, including cash-assistance payments, vendor payments and “other public welfare,” according to the Census Bureau. California, with 12% of the American population, is home today to about one in three of the nation’s welfare recipients.

The generous spending, then, has not only failed to decrease poverty; it actually seems to have made it worse.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, some states — principally Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia — initiated welfare reform, as did the federal government under President Clinton and a Republican Congress. Tied together by a common thread of strong work requirements, these overhauls were a big success: Welfare rolls plummeted and millions of former aid recipients entered the labor force.

The state and local bureaucracies that implement California’s antipoverty programs, however, resisted pro-work reforms. In fact, California recipients of state aid receive a disproportionately large share of it in no-strings-attached cash disbursements. It’s as though welfare reform passed California by, leaving a dependency trap in place. Immigrants are falling into it: 55% of immigrant families in the state get some kind of means-tested benefits, compared with just 30% of natives.

Self-interest in the social-services community may be at fault. As economist William A. Niskanen explained back in 1971, public agencies seek to maximize their budgets, through which they acquire increased power, status, comfort and security. To keep growing its budget, and hence its power, a welfare bureaucracy has an incentive to expand its “customer” base. With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy. Many work in social services, and many would lose their jobs if the typical welfare client were to move off the welfare rolls.

Further contributing to the poverty problem is California’s housing crisis. More than four in 10 households spent more than 30% of their income on housing in 2015. A shortage of available units has driven prices ever higher, far above income increases. And that shortage is a direct outgrowth of misguided policies.

“Counties and local governments have imposed restrictive land-use regulations that drove up the price of land and dwellings,” explains analyst Wendell Cox. “Middle-income households have been forced to accept lower standards of living while the less fortunate have been driven into poverty by the high cost of housing.” The California Environmental Quality Act, passed in 1971, is one example; it can add $1 million to the cost of completing a housing development, says Todd Williams, an Oakland attorney who chairs the Wendel Rosen Black & Dean land-use group. CEQA costs have been known to shut down entire homebuilding projects. CEQA reform would help increase housing supply, but there’s no real movement to change the law.

Extensive environmental regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions make energy more expensive, also hurting the poor. By some estimates, California energy costs are as much as 50% higher than the national average. Jonathan A. Lesser of Continental Economics, author of a 2015 Manhattan Institute study, “Less Carbon, Higher Prices,” found that “in 2012, nearly 1 million California households faced … energy expenditures exceeding 10% of household income. In certain California counties, the rate of energy poverty was as high as 15% of all households.” A Pacific Research Institute study by Wayne Winegarden found that the rate could exceed 17% of median income in some areas.

Looking to help poor and low-income residents, California lawmakers recently passed a measure raising the minimum wage from $10 an hour to $15 an hour by 2022 — but a higher minimum wage will do nothing for the 60% of Californians who live in poverty and don’t have jobs. And research indicates that it could cause many who do have jobs to lose them. A Harvard University study found evidence that “higher minimum wages increase overall exit rates for restaurants” in the Bay Area, where more than a dozen cities and counties, including San Francisco, have changed their minimum-wage ordinances in the last five years. “Estimates suggest that a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage leads to a 14% increase in the likelihood of exit for a 3.5-star restaurant (which is the median rating),” the report says. These restaurants are a significant source of employment for low-skilled and entry-level workers.

Apparently content with futile poverty policies, Sacramento lawmakers can turn their attention to what historian Victor Davis Hanson aptly describes as a fixation on “remaking the world.” The political class wants to build a costly and needless high-speed rail system; talks of secession from a United States presided over by Donald Trump; hired former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. to “resist” Trump’s agenda; enacted the first state-level cap-and-trade regime; established California as a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants; banned plastic bags, threatening the jobs of thousands of workers involved in their manufacture; and is consumed by its dedication to “California values.” All this only reinforces the rest of America’s perception of an out-of-touch Left Coast, to the disservice of millions of Californians whose values are more traditional, including many of the state’s poor residents.

With a permanent majority in the state Senate and the Assembly, a prolonged dominance in the executive branch and a weak opposition, California Democrats have long been free to indulge blue-state ideology while paying little or no political price. The state’s poverty problem is unlikely to improve while policymakers remain unwilling to unleash the engines of economic prosperity that drove California to its golden years.

h/t PJ Media


22 responses to “LA Times asks, “Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?

  1. One reason is the large number of illegal immigrants, totaling 2.6 million or 7.3% of California’s population, the third highest percentage of any state in the country. Another reason is the large number of homeless, attracted to California because of its weather and many cities’ welcoming policy.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Reblogged this on kommonsentsjane and commented:

    Reblogged on kommonsentsjane/blogkommonsents.

    The Democrats are yelling about the high state taxes in CA – what did they expect with all of their free social programs. In the past they have been riding on the coat tails of other states by deducting their state taxes on their federal tax returns.

    With the new tax code coming into play – only $10,000 will be allowed.

    These politicians in CA are running it like Mexico and sooner than later you run out of other people’s money. They are corrupt and are lining their own pockets.


    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s right Jane, it seems to totally mystify them. If you keep spending gobs of money that you don’t have, eventually it catches up to you. Where do they think the money comes from?

      I used to have this conversation with union officials too. “If you get so much that the company goes out of business then NOBODY has a job. Comprende?”.

      They’d roll their eyes, give each other a smug look and say “we want more money”. There is no doubt that unearned extravagance just breeds more greed.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. When nuts, fools and weirdos take over this is what you get. People like them never believe their policies can possibly fail so it has to be someone else’s fault. Their faith in Marx is stronger than the Popes faith in Christ.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Um…..because it’s Liberal California??………

    Liked by 2 people

  5. As a “native” of California and long-term observer, I think this is much simpler than it appears. There are competing forces with no regard for the citizenry who have been actively looting the place for fifty + years.

    You have oil companies and mega corporations that, since the 80’s have received enormous tax breaks and other free stuff to incentivize them to remain.

    You have a gaggle of leftists (who are essentially Maoist communists), in charge. They think that the economy is “closed”, i.e. artificially manufactured somehow and are only interested in acquiring more losers to vote for them.

    Taxes and fees are off the charts. This is no problem for corporations or people who don’t work. It is only those who work who are required to shoulder the burden for the masses that don’t and the ultra-rich who who have escape holes built into the codes.

    We have a Christian responsibility to the poor. The poor are better served by providing ways for them to be self-sufficient than to endless care for their needs indefinitely. So, as the statistics show, throwing almost $1T dollars at the problem doesn’t change the problem.

    Those who are old enough to remember the USSR should immediately recognize this pattern. Of course they could stay the inevitable because they had a totally enclosed economy. California doesn’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 50 years ago, California, like Hawaii, was a conservative state!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes. And we had great roads, free tuition, plenty of employment, a great healthcare system and mental health for the indigent, no state tax, low sales tax and a balanced budget.

        Now look at it!

        Liked by 2 people

        • And now let me tell you about the schools under the second Brown…(Jerry “Moonbeam,” Brown, & with his father’s- PAT Brown’s -previous “reign” as governor) .the fourth/fifth whatever overall BROWN terms/ aristocracy here in CA over the last 50 years: My middle school, 30 years old….My room has had failing air-conditioning..for ALL the 13 years I’ve worked here….(my room sometimes raises by noon to 90 degrees…. routinely …& I must finish the second half of my day in this temp..over the last decade).and we can barely survive the last few periods of our days…….I can NOT count the number of kidney/bladder infections I’ve had b/c I can not drink enough water to keep up with the dehydration through the day (I’m in this room all day….my kids are only in it for an hour as they change classes each period) with filthy walls that are “supposed” to be washed down or painted yearly during summer break but NEVER EVER are……..and my room was built for and furnished for no more than 28 students, but I’ve had 38 for the last many years with cobbled-together desks and chairs to accomodate the “extra” 10. I get $50 per section (class) to buy materials for the entire year (I teach 5 sections, which means I get $250 to spend for an ENTIRE YEAR on materials to teach ART to 1000-seat-times per week for 38 weeks….which means….all my materials are “walk away” ( paper, pencils, markers…whatever…used up and the projects taken home by students.) I don’t even KNOW the math on this….b/c it is just TOO ridiculous to figure, but it amouts to fractions of a penny per student per year…..which is just STUPID and un-attainable…which means, of course, I spend hundreds to over a thousand or more dollars per year out of my OWN pocket, & “scrounge” materials as well as plan very clever lessons that use very clever materials…. so I can “give” these kids art. My English, History, PE, etc. teachers NEVER EVER have to do this……AND, additionally, let me tell you that I’ve been teaching in a classroom that has the old, discarded folding chairs from our multi-purpose room in an art room that has art tables that require stools (long gone, long worn-out and gone after 30 years) and so my middle school kids, some of them under 5-foot tall, are sitting on chairs that make their chins level with the art table……not very “ideal” let alone comfortable or inducive to achievment in this particular subject…not that anyone cares, anyway…..

          BUT through it all….Brown has championed the “high-speed rail” of billions of dollars…light years away from reality, yet probably, as we speak, already sucking off millions of fees in planning of sorts from the Mexifornia economy…….AND the “Sanctuary” status of the entire state, along with a state “slush fund of millions to “defend” illegal aliens amongst us…including the hiring of Obama’s biggest screw-up, Eric Holder ( former Obama AG) to defend/make the case for illegals in CA…..while I, and my school kids, deal with FRACTIONS of PENNIES per day devoted to our classroom supplies: THUS is the state of Mexifornia priorities, and the state of Mexifornia economics ……..

          Liked by 2 people

  6. “New California” declares “independence” from the rest of the state…

    It’s the middle class workers, playing by the rules and doing the right thing, who are made to pay for these programs to “make all equal” — without doing anything of the sort — while the rich escape damage via tax loop-holes. There was graffiti on a wall at college back in the day: “Milk the rich, feed the poor; eat the middle class!” I didn’t understand that until I started paying property, sales, and income taxes. Can’t wait for death taxes when my parents die.

    A couple of years ago, many towns locally, at the behest of the education establishment in our state capital, decided we didn’t just need new school tech and infrastructure upgrades; they “needed” to tear down old schools and re-build from scratch, with the highest tech available for all students, the best building materials and techniques, A/C (we’re in a temperate climate; we all grew up sans A/C), even whole-building generators for power-outs. And of course, WiFi for cell phones and Internet access. My taxes doubled… As did my parents’ (long retired) in a neighboring community. Its ridiculous. It’s coddling, not aimed at better education. Our students are not geniuses.

    And as a former IT professor, I can tell you that the majority of students provided free iPads and Internet access are NOT going to use it to further their education in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Or even in STEM. Many will play solitaire. More will be on social media non-stop. Or listening to ‘tunes. Some will have ZERO interest (or time) to be bothered with it…

    And they wonder why Trump won; why his base is so staunchly still with him.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yep. I tell people that when I was in college I used a slide rule because calculators were too expensive for poor students they say “what’s a slide rule”. I tell them we took “Blue Book” tests and I get a blank stare.

      None of this is an improvement.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Ask Nancy “schmancy” Pelosi and Latrine Waters, the “girls” have all the money stashed in the attic, That’s Jerry Brown’s left overs.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. At least part of Southern California’s homeless boom seems to be fueled by the region’s 1,100 rehab centers. Some woo out-of-state addicts with free, one-way trips, only to kick them to the streets after their insurance runs out, penniless and still addicted.

    Are drug rehab centers fueling homelessness in Southern California?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. REALLY?? Are they (the talking heads at LA Times) THAT stupid?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Not exactly “on topic” but I had to post this somewhere:

    So now they are threatening legal action against California businesses that cooperate with ICE. I’d like you to think about that a few minutes. That is open rebellion to federal authority.

    The way laws generally work is that no state or locality can pass a law that contravenes federal law. They can make a federal law more strict, but they can’t “nullify” it.

    So by doing this they are placing these businesses in the position of either adhering to federal law, and facing state penalties, or violating federal law and facing federal repercussions.

    Liked by 2 people

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