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If Your Rent is Going Up, This Episode is for You

By: Jane Coaston
On: The Argument

Rent is soaring, but close to two-thirds of renters remain on leases because of financial reasons. In 2019, nearly 70 percent of millennials surveyed said that they could not afford to buy a home on account of rising prices, and the number of people in the United States without shelter has increased by about 30 percent in the past five years. We’re in a housing crisis. Read more

Gavin Newsom’s White Privilege

By: William McGurn
On: Wall Street Journal

If the polls going into Tuesday’s recall election in California hold up, Gavin Newsom will keep his job as governor. But if he does, no one should ever again take seriously progressive complaints about white privilege.

Because if white privilege is a thing, Mr. Newsom is drenched in it. Mr. Newsom’s father was a well-connected state judge who once managed one of the trusts for the family of oil magnate J. Paul Getty.

As for his son, the Los Angeles Times says that “a coterie of San Francisco’s wealthiest families has backed him at every step of his rise.” This privilege is reflected in the $70 million Mr. Newsom raised to fight the recall—more than five times the $13 million raised by his leading challenger, Republican Larry Elder.

“California has become the epicenter of neo-feudalism, and Newsom symbolizes this new autocracy,” says Joel Kotkin, a fellow in urban studies at Chapman University in Orange County. “The irony is that Elder is attacked as the candidate of the rich and greedy by this new elite—high tech, teachers unions, the media and some of the state’s wealthiest citizens.”

Covid has put this privilege in stark relief. While many of California’s public schools remained closed, for example, Mr. Newsom’s own children were at a private school that offered in-person learning. Perhaps the governor’s most Marie Antoinette moment came when he was caught flouting his own guidelines by dining out with a group of lobbyists at the French Laundry, where, the New York Times reports, “dinner for two costs more than many people earn in a week.”

Progressives Have Ruined California

The very idea of a recall vote seemed absurd at first in California, this bluest of US states. Yet Californians’ surprisingly strong support for the removal of Democratic governor Gavin Newsom has resulted in precisely that, with the vote scheduled for 14 September. This reflects a stunning rejection of modern progressivism in a state thought to epitomise its promise.

Some, like the University of California’s Laura Tyson and former Newsom adviser Lenny Mendonca, may see California as creating ‘the way forward’ for a more enlightened ‘market capitalism’, but that reality is hard to see on the ground. Even before the pandemic, California already had the highest poverty rate and the widest gap between middle and upper-middle income earners of any state in the US. It now suffers from the second-highest unemployment rate in the US after Nevada.

Today, class drives Californian politics, and Newsom is peculiarly ill-suited to deal with it. He is financed by what the Los Angeles Times describes as ‘a coterie of San Francisco’s wealthiest families’. Newsom’s backers have aided his business ventures and helped him live in luxury – first in his native Marin, where he just sold his estate for over $6million, and now in Sacramento.

California’s well-connected rich are predictably rallying to Newsom’s side. At least 19 billionaires, mainly from the tech sector, have contributed to his extraordinarily well-funded recall campaign, which is outspending the opposition by roughly nine to one.

There is little hiding the elitism that Newsom epitomises. In the midst of a severe lockdown, he was caught violating his own pandemic orders at the ultra-expensive, ultra-chic French Laundry restaurant in Napa.

Newsom insists California is ‘doing pretty damn well’, citing record profits in Silicon Valley from both the major tech firms and a host of IPOs. He seems to be unaware that California’s middle- and working-class incomes have been heading downwards for a decade, while only the top five per cent of taxpayers have done well. As one progressive Democratic activist put it in Salon, the recall reflects a rebellion against ‘corporate-friendly elitism and tone-deaf egotism at the top of the California Democratic Party’.

Much of this can be traced back to regulatory policies tied to climate change (along with high taxes). These policies have driven out major companies – in energy, home construction, manufacturing and civil engineering – that traditionally employed middle-skilled workers. Instead, job growth has been concentrated in generally low-pay sectors, like hospitality. Over the past decade, 80 per cent of Californian jobs, notes one academic, have paid under the median wage. Half of these paid less than $40,000.

Read the rest of this piece at Spiked.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Why Did Larry Elder Call Me for Advice?

The emergence of 69-year-old talk show host Larry Elder as the leading candidate to depose California’s Gavin Newsom is both odd and significant. Elder is no one’s idea of a politician, and when he called me for advice at the start of his run, I was perplexed. I thought Larry had it all — the nest egg, nice house, successful career.

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