‘We are destined to live with a growing and permanent underclass’

‘We are destined to live with a growing and permanent underclass’

povertyCAIt may be building very slowly, and years later than it should have first appeared. But there is beginning to be a groundswell of a broad understanding in California that there is a link between job creation and what the state government does. In recent months, Dan Walters of the Sac Bee has repeatedly focused on poverty stats that Cal Watchdog has long highlighted.

And in op-ed pages, we’re seeing more and more pieces like this one by John Husing, an economist who works for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership who’s been a familiar figure for Southland journos for three decades. I’m pretty sure Husing’s a Democrat, but he’s given up on California’s Dem leaders:

“There was a time when California made it a priority to create jobs that would allow its most vulnerable residents to move up skill ladders into the middle class. No longer. Today, the Golden State is quietly seeing millions fall into poverty while their plight is met with a deafening silence from Sacramento. … today’s generation of Democratic leaders have virtually ignored this situation. …

“Geography is a key because one in every five people living in counties along the state’s central spine from San Joaquin County to the Mexican border plus Los Angeles are living below the federal poverty level (family of four: $23,550). In these 12 counties, 3.7 million people are poor including 29 percent of the area’s children. It is no surprise that 21 percent of residents have no health insurance.

“Class is an issue because California is increasingly being divided between a well-educated elite who control the state and a huge marginally educated underclass that has remained largely invisible to them. The governing class tends to live in coastal counties, the Bay Area and Sacramento. Again, numbers tell the story. While 43.5 percent of the adults who live in the nine Bay Area counties have a bachelor’s or higher degree, 5.4 million of the 11.7 million people (46 percent) living in the state’s interior or L.A. County either stopped their educations with a high school diploma or did not get that far.”

Disconnect in CA Dems among rank-and-file, not electeds

Husing does a great job laying out the disconnect between impoverished, mostly inland Dems and elite, mostly coastal Dems. There’s also the disconnect between Dems who back teacher unions and Latino and African-American Dems who want minority students to get a higher priority that adult employees in school districts.

But these are disconnects that exist among rank-and-file Dems. Not elected Dems. In Sacramento, it’s insanely rare to hear a Dem say Dems are causing poverty. And outside of Gloria Romero, I can’t think of an elected Dem raising doubts about the CTA’s hegemony over California’s schools. This is bizarre.

Back to Husing, whose op-ed was in the Redlands Daily Facts:

“If California had appropriate policies for dealing with the poverty facing this huge portion of the state’s population, two efforts would be in evidence. First, an immediate goal would be to encourage sectors with few barriers to entry and with skill ladders up which marginally educated residents could move toward middle class incomes. Second, the state would be engaged in the equivalent of the GI Bill with short-course programs aimed at giving these adults the tools they need to move up these skill ladders. That is vital since the nature of the work in most sectors is becoming increasingly technical.

“Do we see this? No. …

“Unless California’s leaders, in particular given their majorities, those in Democratic Party, begin to understand the pain that their policies are inflicting on a huge share of the state’s population, we are destined to live with a growing and permanent underclass …”

Powerful stuff. Here’s hoping for more and more of this sort of thinking finally breaking through the conventional wisdom served up by the L.A. Times and the Sac Bee’s editorial pages, which never note that Californians are much worse off than they used to be — or that rank-and-file Democrats aren’t being served well by elected Democrats.

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