California Is Poverty Capital Of America!
By: Jake Fogg
With one out of five residents poor, California is now the poverty capital of the United States.
In spite of the tremendous growth in the state’s GDP, the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure shows that the state’s policies have succeeded in creating a much larger underclass while eroding its middle class.
On the national level when the economy grows, there is always a reduction in poverty levels. But California’s economy has nearly doubled the U.S. average in the last few years due to several industries but, especially Silicon Valley. Yet sadly, more continue to join the ranks of the “poor” with almost one-third of all welfare recipients in the entire country residing in California. With a booming economy, how is this possible?
From 1992 to today, the state has spent nearly a trillion dollars on the war on poverty with no end in sight. Therefore, it must be concluded that the state is not trying to reduce poverty levels at all, but rather, continuing the trend intentionally for ideological purposes.
California is a state run by law makers who engage in the elite mentality that holds that only a “few intellectual types” are smart enough decide what the rest of a population should be doing. Their huge government bureaucracy has created a society whereby only the upper middle class and above can survive on their own resources. At this rate, the middle class in its entirety is likely to disappear in the future and not by accident, but by design.
Claiming on the surface to be against “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer”, the Democrat legislators that control the state are engaging in this very act. Their policies continue to create dependence on the government and discourage and even punish self-sufficiency.
As with all bureaucratic agencies, budgets are more important than the stated purpose of the programs they represent. In California, welfare recipients are not encouraged to get jobs or get off the program because that would represent job loss and budget cuts in the programs themselves.
Once any government program is implemented, there is a huge incentive to keep it going even when data shows that it isn’t working. There are appointed heads, upper management, and workers employed by these so-called services who have no incentive to make their agency actually work. California has 883,000 full-time workers, many of whom are in the social services segment. If suddenly 25% of welfare recipients pulled out of the program, the job cuts as a result would number in the thousands.
In other words, bureaucrats who run the welfare system in the state of California want people to stay on it in order to preserve the tax payer funding that it receives. But this is a vicious circle because the more a bureaucracy grows, the more tax-payer dollars it will require. Increased taxes are often happily paid by the self-righteous elites who can easily afford it. But, higher taxes for the middle class represent a much greater burden.
Increasing taxes are one of the many things that have happened to the middle class in California. But there are many other causes and elements to this complex system designed to drive more on to the government dole and out of the realm of financial freedom.
For a state that claims to support the poor and downtrodden, it continuously adds to the cost of everyday expenses that make it increasingly difficult to acquire what is considered basic necessity in most other parts of the United States.
California’s war waged against the suspect notion of manmade climate-change has come at a huge cost to consumers. Through legislation and fiat regulation, lawmakers add heavily to the price of energy among other necessities.
Some speculations hold that California’s energy costs are 50% higher than the national average. Overall the households around the state spend 10% to 17% of their income on energy.
Personal transportation has long been considered in the U.S., a staple of everyday life. It not only represents more personal freedom, it also represents greater opportunities for financial freedom.
Yet, in California vehicle ownership is rapidly becoming a luxury. Fuel prices, due to continued gas tax-hikes are the highest in the nation, second only to Hawaii, another progressive-run state. California lawmakers are also exploring the idea of a mileage tax, which of course, will increase daily expenditures for consumers even more.
In addition to fuel costs, there are other operating expenses associated with owning a vehicle which include registration fees, maintenance, insurance costs, and state regulatory requirements. The costs associated with owning a vehicle are higher in California than almost every other state. In fact, Michigan, due to no-fault insurance laws affecting premiums, is the only state where driving, is at this moment, more expensive.
California has one of the highest costs of vehicle registration in the nation. Passing smog requirements can add up to hundreds of dollars extra to the price of registration. These costs overall make it much more difficult for the poor to own vehicles, thus making it even more difficult for them to be self-reliant.
While some people can indeed walk to work or use public transportation, those with vehicles have more freedom and control over their lives being less at the mercy of distance and bus schedules. In essence, the state is on the side of the “little guy” so long as he is willing to stay in one area and not try to be self-sufficient, or even worse, successful.
But, if high cost of operation is not enough to show legislative mal-intent, then shadow governments and unelected bureaucracies driven to get vehicles off the road should. Two such entities are the Southern California Association of Governments(SCAG) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
SCAG is a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) comprised of a group of representatives from several municipalities surrounding Los Angeles. It is the largest agency of its kind in the United States and it received heavy funding from the federal government for regional transportation planning. But, the funding that SCAG procures is not used to expand the highway system or repair roadways.
Instead, the money is used to discourage the practice of driving altogether and used to toward rebuilding the entire Los Angeles area into a metropolis envisioned by its leader and former Russian city planner, Hasan Ikhrata.
Ikhrata views American freedom and driving with contempt having made the statement “In a great nation like ours, you can’t let people do what they want”. His idea as well as other Utopian leftists is to force people out of their suburb neighborhoods and into mega-city apartments whereby work places and homes are all located within the limits of public transportation.
One of the missions of the unelected bureaucracy is, according to one SCAG staffer, Arnold San Miguel, to “minimize single occupant vehicle use”. This type of “planning” helps to ensure that those who need to drive in the interest of upward-mobility, will not be able to do so.
CARB, on the other hand is a an organization that ignores state law and implements its own regulations often forcing small businesses in the transportation industry to shut down, taking with them what jobs they provided for their communities.
Based on the intent to “control vehicle emissions” CARB is at the heart of massive regulations demanded of the trucking industry in its entirety. These regulations are based on false science and have been disputed by scientists in this area of expertise. Nevertheless, the bureaucracy’s demands have forced the industry to use, in many cases, untested implements on vehicles that raise the cost of maintenance, cause rapid equipment depreciation, and present fire hazards.
At a January, 2015 public hearing on CARB, a former Heavy Tow Truck business owner, Mike Foreman, explained how the massive organization was “indifferent” to the concerns of small trucking businesses and how their arbitrary regulations forced him to sell his business.
In the same hearing several other truckers testified of how they lost their businesses or worked for companies that lost literally millions of dollars as a result of CARB regulations. Forcing small players out of competition in the trucking industry not only creates great losses in jobs but serves to increase inflation.
Virtually everything in any household or business has been transported on a truck. Increasing industry costs and thinning competition as a result of CARB regulations serve only to increase prices on literally all goods and services in the state.
This, of course creates an even higher cost of living for those who can barely support their own families. For the elites, however, it is a small price to pay to be viewed as “being on the cutting edge” of pollution control. But, it is well known that those who belong to this “smarter than-most” class of pseudo-intellectuals also have no idea, nor care what it takes for the lower-middle-class to survive on their own.
While transportation has a tremendous impact on the self-sufficient, the housing shortage and cost of real estate is yet another straw on the camel’s back. The housing shortage in the state is worse than anywhere else in the country. It contributes to the highest rents and home values in the United States.
While state legislation demands that cities and counties submit housing development plans every eight years, it does not actually hold the municipalities to the plans. Thus, plans are indeed submitted in typical bureaucratic fashion, but nothing comes of it as many of these areas simply refuse approve building anything new.
Another huge obstacle to increased housing in the state is the mountain of regulations that builders and developers face. There are federal regulations, state regulations, California Environmental Quality Act(CEQA) regulations, local regulations which often require further review by (CEQA), environmental organizations, and construction labor unions who often prevent non-union jobs from getting approved.
All of these bureaucratic measures are at the cost to those who wish to build. In addition, the entirel process can take up to several years to obtain approval. Touted as “protecting” citizens, these regulatory monsters do even more to add to the cost of home-building on top of the shortage itself.
But overall damage caused by the state is long term in any case. Even if the number of housing units were to begin to catch up with the population, there would likely be little or no immediate impact on housing or rent prices. A recent study by the Institute of Government Studies at University of California, Berkley points out that it could be decades before any strides in building would have any beneficial effects prices or rents.
Some have argued that raising minimum wage could help low income families catch up with the rising cost of living. Most economists agree that this would really just exacerbate the problem by adding to already rampant inflation the state experiences. Minimum wage increases are also linked with higher teen-age unemployment, thus delaying younger people from entering the workforce and gaining valuable work experience.
Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, raising minimum wage would do nothing for the 60% of poor Californians who don’t have jobs to begin with.
Many of the Big-Government Socialist types in California government will boast of having the sixth largest economy in the world. They will also claim to be a caring government that seeks to help the “poor and downtrodden”.
But, it is difficult to tell just who, of the state’s legal and illegal residents actually fit this description. It is also hard to discern the definition of “help” that the state intends to engage in. The current trend indicates that “help” is not meant to assist the low-income to become self-supportive, but rather to promote dependency on the bureaucracy.
It would also appear that the state government’s view of help for one group may intentionally require dismantling another group in its entirety — the middle-class. It is common knowledge that the Democrat Party is extreme in its support of the elite mentality.
As earlier mentioned, it is this mentality that holds that only a few are intelligent enough to know how society should be modeled. According to them the free market has no place in society and a few people are smart enough to decide what needs to be produced in order to satisfy “their” demand for “equality of outcome”. Simply put, their leftist ideology embodies Socialism, Fascism, and perhaps more so, Communism.
Consistently, this type of thinking has been shown to fail. During the years as the Soviet Union, Russians experienced famine on a grand scale. Although China still prohibits political freedom, mass starvation also forced the country to abandon its control over economic freedom in favor of Capitalism.
Pol Pot is known for mass killings that took place in Cambodia in his version of this style of government, but it was starvation that killed many more.
Venezuela is, perhaps, the most recent example of failed leftist ideas. Margaret Thatcher once said “The problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”. In 1999, Hugo Chaves, a socialist became president of Venezuela. Making promises to “make the rich pay their fair share” and financial “equality”, he quickly went to work taking over every industry to finance them.
Indeed, the country did run out of money, but Chavez died in 2013, almost 4 years before chaos ensued. His successor, Nicolas Maduro continued in his path which resulted in the full collapse of the country. The once-thriving Venezuela is now ravaged by starvation, hyperinflation, and no employment. The government has destroyed its own Constitution and with it, all economic and political freedom. Maduro punishes all political dissent because freedom of speech is no longer allowed.
Propped up by U.S. subsidies and a healthy tech industry, the state of California has largely avoided such an outcome. But, it would seem that arrogance on the part of lawmakers insists on ignoring history while, at the same time, watching their own state plummet.
However, given the circumstances it is very possible that the Democrats in charge of California are purposefully allowing the state to fall into complete disarray. After all, those who often tout the “wonders of socialism” often seek power over the masses.
It is not unthinkable that this is exactly what the legislators want. One of the issues that keeps them in power in the state is the continuous promise of “free stuff”. Skeptics know that few politicians really care about helping anyone but themselves. The idea that Democrats really care about helping the minority or the “poor underdog” is lost on the fact that they use other people’s money to help them.
The power they gain by having so many people dependent on the system is immense. Without oversight, it could eventually lead to law makers taking over most other facets of everyday life. Houses and personal vehicle ownership will only be for the wealthy.
Some argue, “This is America, that can’t happen here!” But, in the sixth largest economy in the world it, for all intents and purposes, is already happening.
Unlike the state-sponsored slavery of the aforementioned, the U.S. Constitution promotes “equality of opportunity” and not outcome. That is, the least government control as possible allowing people to live as they wish and become as successful as their hard work and ideas permit. Add to it, a free market where all consumers decide what is produced via daily transactions.
It is worthy to note that, while no state is without bureaucracy, those who have the least seem to have lower percentages of their citizens depending on welfare programs.