Social justice, the Central Valley and CA Dems

June 11, 2013

By Chris Reed

socialjusticeThe Associated Press points out a basic fact about California that our media rarely note:

“California’s San Joaquin Valley is one of the richest agricultural regions in the world, with Fresno County farmers receiving a record $6.8 billion in revenues last year. But the region also consistently ranks among the nation’s most impoverished. Sometimes called ‘Appalachia of the West,’ it’s where families, especially Hispanic immigrants and their children, live year after year in destitution.

“This divide causes concern because of what it may foretell as the nation’s Hispanic population explodes and the U.S. moves toward becoming a majority minority nation. Census data show that non-Hispanic whites will cease to be a majority somewhere about the year 2043. The shift is largely driven by high birth rates among Hispanics as well as by declines in the aging white population.

“Already there are a record number of Hispanics living below the poverty line nationwide, and the number of Hispanic children in poverty exceeds that of any other racial or ethnic group. Largely less educated, Hispanic workers are concentrated in relatively low-skill occupations, earning less than the average for all U.S. workers.

“‘America’s communities have become divided between economic winners and losers,’ said Daniel Lichter, a Cornell University sociologist and past president of the Population Association of America. ‘Increasingly, Hispanics begin life’s race at a decided disadvantage, raising the specter of new Hispanic ghettos and increasing isolation.'”

Might this have something to do with the government-driven high cost of living? With a public education system designed to protect the interests of adult employees, not struggling students? With environmental policies more concerned about snail darters than about getting water to agricultural fields to they can employ destitute farm workers?

Bingo, bingo and bingo.

CA ruling class devoted to promoting class inequality

Joel Kotkin has been writing about this dichotomy for years:

“Even before the economic downturn, California was moving toward greater class inequality, but the Great Recession exacerbated the trend. From 2007 to 2010, according to a recent study by the liberal-leaning Public Policy Institute of California, income among families in the 10th percentile of earners plunged 21 percent. Nationwide, the figure was 14 percent. In the much wealthier 90th percentile of California earners, income fell far less sharply: 5 percent, only slightly more than the national 4 percent drop. Further, by 2010, the families in the 90th percentile had incomes 12 times higher than the incomes of families in the 10th—the highest ratio ever recorded in the state, and significantly higher than the national ratio.

“It’s also worth noting that in 2010, the California 10th-percentile families were earning less than their counterparts in the rest of the United States—$15,000 versus $16,300—even though California’s cost of living was substantially higher. A more familiar statistic signaling California’s problems is its unemployment rate, which is now the nation’s second-highest, right after Nevada’s. Of the eight American metropolitan areas where the joblessness rate exceeds 15 percent, seven are in California, and most of them have substantial minority and working-class populations. …

“Yet while the working and middle classes struggle, California’s most elite entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are thriving as never before. …

“One reason for California’s widening class divide is that, for a decade or longer, the state’s progressives have fostered a tax environment that slows job creation, particularly for the middle and working classes. …

“Still more troubling to California employers is the state’s regulatory environment. California labor laws, a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce study revealed, are among the most complex in the nation. …. In addition to these measures, California has imposed some of the most draconian environmental laws in the country … .”

The Central Valley’s ‘manmade drought’

What does this mindset yield? For one region, catastrophe:

“The man-made drought in California is no secret. Burdensome environmental regulations restricting water pumping in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have contributed to hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile farmland going fallow in recent years.

“During California’s 2007-2009 drought, the Democratic majority and the Obama administration stood on the sidelines while farmers were forced to forgo planting, joblessness rose and families stood in food lines. “

Read more about the “man-made drought” here.

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