By: Robert Bryce
A few years ago, author and demographer Joel Kotkin declared that “California is a great state in which to be rich.”
Of course, it’s good to be rich anywhere. But California—the province that for decades has led the United States in cultural issues like fashion, gay rights, and entertainment—has devolved into a state where the American dream is being strangled by a phalanx of energy and climate regulations that are imposing huge regressive taxes on the poor and middle class. And worse yet, the state’s vast bureaucracy is imposing yet more regulations that will further tighten the financial noose on Californians.
Before going further, it’s essential to put California into context. While the state is known for posh spots like Beverly Hills, Marin County, and Silicon Valley, the Golden State has the highest poverty rate in America. Indeed, the poverty figures in the state can only be described as shocking. A 2021 report by the Public Policy Institute of California found that “More than a third of Californians are living in or near poverty. Nearly one in six (16.4 percent) Californians were not in poverty but lived fairly close to the poverty line … All told, more than a third (34.0 percent) of state residents were poor or near-poor in 2019.” Los Angeles, the state’s biggest city, and a magnet for generations of immigrants has one of the highest poverty rates among America’s biggest cities.
California also has the largest Latino population in America. About 15 million Latinos live in the Golden State and they account for about 40 percent of its population. But the PPIC report also found that more than Latinos account for nearly 52 percent “of poor Californians but only 39.7 percent of the state population.”
Despite these numbers, California policymakers continue to implement policies on energy, housing, and transportation that are driving up the cost of living and deepening the state’s poverty problem.
Read the rest of this piece at Quillette.
Robert Bryce is the host of the Power Hungry Podcast, and the author of six books, most recently, A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations.
Homepage photo: Andrey Metelev on Unsplash.