Tulio: Hey RL, just a bit off topic, I was recently reading that California when adjusted for cost of living has the highest poverty rate in the country and that it also has the most welfare recipients.
The Right has been going nuts in the Trump era bashing California and called it a failed 3rd World state that looks the way it does because it’s controlled by Democrats. A lot of that is of course hyperbole, but there is a lot of struggle in California.
I’ve always found this argument a bit specious because there are 15 or so other states where Democrats control the governorship and legislature that don’t have the same quality of life problems. The Right will ignore of course that the majority of high-poverty states are red states.
But there is a question I’m wondering. Is the demographic change of California from majority White to now mostly Latino the reason for these economic problems? It stands to reason that if most of your demographic change is coming from immigrants of a poor country, it will make your state a poorer place.
And this has nothing to do with people voting Democratic per se. If tomorrow 10 million Central Americans immigrated to Nebraska I’m sure you’d see similar issues emerge.
Good question. This is an excellent hypothesis, actually. I just don’t think there is much of anything to it.
High Cost of Housing: The Secret Behind All of the Problems
The adjusted poverty rate is due to the high cost of housing. Everything else flows from that. What are we supposed to do about it? This is a problem of capitalism. Explain what the state is supposed to do about this housing problem.
I mean we are trying to do a lot of things but the money’s not available for a total solution to the problem. Also our solutions are running into a lot of NIMBYism.
The Homeless Cataclysm
We are fairly kind to our homeless here, so other states kindly put their homeless on buses to California, especially cities like San Francisco. We are trying to deal with this homeless problem as best as we can. What are we supposed to do? The homeless problem is also tied into the housing problem.
Problems of Penal System Reform
The problem is also drugs. Face it, a lot of the homeless are mentally ill or alcohol or drug addicted. They can’t work even if they wanted to. We have decriminalized a lot of drug use here and we released a lot of inmates and reduced a lot of crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Also our jails and prisons are badly overcrowded. Hence a lot fewer minor offenders are getting locked up and a lot of them are just roaming the streets instead.
Problems of Drug Decriminalization or Legalization
Everyone says we ought to decrim drug use and I have always tended to agree. But this is what you end up with when you do that. In Seattle, they look the other way on minor drug use and possession, hence there is a huge amount of open drug possession, use, and dealing, a lot of it right out in the open and associated with the homeless.
The drug of choice is often methamphetamine, which can make you act pretty crazy. So you have these crazed meth heads roaming around the streets scaring everyone, certain streets no-go zones due to open drug use, homeless everywhere, even sleeping on sidewalks where you have to step over them, and rampant crime, mostly petty thievery from stores as addicts steal like crazy to get money for their habits.
I am at a loss to do about any of these problems, sorry. I just want to throw up my hands.
What’s Wrong with Social Programs?
So we have a lot of welfare? Big deal. That’s the state trying to deal with the poverty problem. Good for the state! Keep in mind that to these guys, everything is welfare: Section 8, Food Stamps, Disability, Workman’s Comp, reduced utility bills, on and on.
Serious Limits on What a Mere State Can Do about These Things
We are a very liberal state with a very liberal Legislature that cares a lot about these problems, but they are beyond the scope of the state government to deal with, much less fix. But we are trying our best. Ask these Republicans what we ought to be doing instead.
I don’t think changing from a majority White state to a majority Hispanic state has much to do with it. There is a lot of poverty, here but there is also a lot of wealth. Keep in mind that California has the 8th largest economy on Earth, higher than the vast majority of actual countries. And we’re not even a country. We are just a state.