Mercury-News report on mass CA poverty may change coverage

Mercury-News report on mass CA poverty may change coverage

ca.povertyThe pack mentality of the Sacramento beat reporters is striking. No one wants to point out that the Obama administration says fracking is safe. No one wants to point out that the Local Control Funding Formula turned out to be a barely disguised UTLA ploy to get more money for L.A. Unified so it could afford raises for teachers.

This is because no one wants to take positions sharply at odds with the media status quo. But on Friday, Jessica Calefati of the San Jose Mercury-News did just that on state poverty.

For two years, the U.S. Census Bureau has been reporting that based on a new measure of poverty adjusted for cost of living, California has by far the nation’s highest poverty rate. But while I’ve written about this for the U-T San Diego’s editorial page, Dan Walters has referred to it in some columns and Chris Cadelago mentioned it in a Capitol Alert brief for the Sac Bee, the stat hasn’t become part of the mainstream California media narrative about life in the Golden State.

Why? That pack mentality.

I’ve whined a lot about Calefati over her coverage of the bullet train. She buys the Dan Richard myth that would-be contractors are potential investors, never looking at the contractors’ history, and doesn’t appear to have read the appellate court ruling on the bullet train that provides zero long-term relief from Prop 1A’s restrictions. But on poverty, she’s nailed it. From now on, it’s going to be awfully difficult for other reporters writing broadly about California quality of life to leave out the mass poverty angle.

Here’s a key part:

“By some measures, California seems to be doing really well, but these measures are deceptive,” said Jack Pitney, a political expert at Claremont McKenna College. “So much of the good fortune is being blown to the affluent — and a lot of Californians are getting left behind.”

The state’s official poverty rate of 14.9 percent is just slightly higher than the national average. It’s decreased from a high of 16.9 percent in 2011, yet it remains stubbornly higher than it was before the Great Recession began, according to U.S. Census data.

But those figures don’t tell the whole story. According to another set of Census statistics that takes the cost of living into account when calculating need, California’s poverty rate is 23.4 percent — the highest in the nation. …

Who’s indifferent to mass poverty? The gov

But Calefati doesn’t just point out how extreme poverty is. She notes how badly poor people have fared under the state budgets shaped by Gov. Jerry Brown. She cites program cuts and then offers this broad appraisal of how the gov thinks:

Brown, stemming in part from the former seminarian’s Jesuit background, also seems to have a distaste for handing out cash to able-bodied people. He has said that the investments he made in public education and subsidized health care for the poor are among the best ways to help people climb out of poverty.

“There’s no single measure of poverty and there’s certainly no single action — or government program — that will eliminate it, which is why the administration is moving on multiple fronts to help Californians in need,” said Evan Westrup, the governor’s chief spokesman. …

Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, said she appreciates Brown pushing for the minimum wage hike but argues that he has shied away from tackling the state’s poverty problem head-on.

“The governor likes to describe this state as a laboratory of innovation,” she added. “It’s the people who make California an innovator, not just the coast line and the palm trees. If we don’t invest in our children’s well-being, who will be left to innovate?”

But termed-out Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a liberal Sacramento Democrat who led the state Senate for six years, isn’t optimistic that social service spending in California will soon be the same again — as a coalition of Republicans and moderate Democrats like Brown resist going on the kind of spending binge that led to the multibillion-dollar deficits.

“The thing about budget cuts is once they’re made it’s very difficult to restore them dollar for dollar,” he said. “It just is.”

That’s the last paragraph of Calefati’s story. Any journalism forensics technician will tell you the last graph of a long analysis is what the reporter (or line editor) thinks about the facts that have been presented.

A radical break with usual kumbaya coverage of Jerry

So here’s what the Merc News front page says: California is the poorest state in America, and Jerry Brown doesn’t care all that much.

What a remarkable difference from Brown’s (and the media’s) normal narrative of “California’s on the rebound! California’s got its mojo back!”

That narrative looks idiotic when the media actually report that due to high housing prices, California is the Mississippi of the 21st century.


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  1. Ronald Stein
    Ronald Stein 2 November, 2014, 08:23

    Government actions resulting in over regulations on businesses, over taxation and uncontrollable fees are contributing to the middle class becoming an endangered species as the inequality has deepened. The results are that consumers are paying for over regulations to businesses. Those behind the over regulations, over taxation, and uncontrollable “fees” on businesses are mostly the highly compensated, and most with sweet defined retirement benefit packages waiting for them upon retirement, i.e., those that CAN afford the higher costs that trickle down to all citizens for products and services.

    Those that earn less than $20 per hour, which includes virtually all those in the food and hospitality industries, are the ones that can least afford higher costs for power, transportation fuels, and food. There is minimal impact to those that can afford the results of our relentless business unfriendly efforts, but little hope for those that barely exist at today’s cost of living.

    The method to counteract the ever increasing costs to the financially challenged, from the costs of over regulations, over taxation, and uncontrollable fees on businesses that trickle down to the pocket books of the financially challenged, is to raise the minimum wage for the financially challenged. BUT WAIT….is this a camouflaged Ponzi scheme and insentivize kids to drop out of school to make $30,000 a year with no education, or just a way to buy votes from the financially challenged?

    Reply this comment
  2. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 2 November, 2014, 10:15

    “No one wants to point out that the Obama administration says fracking is safe.”

    Oh, so Obola said that? If so, that’s airtight evidence to me that fracking is not safe. Every word that leaves Obolo’s lips is the opposite of what he says. That’s been proven time and time again. If Obolo were Pinnochio you could use his nose as a flagpole.

    “Why? That pack mentality.”

    We don’t have a free press anymore, Chris. The gov and the corporations own the US media and use it as a mouthpiece. As a guy in the business, you should know that. In fact, just recently a former long-time CBS reporter told us how the media really works – from the inside out. Big gov and big business OWN the media. Heck, even CWD sidesteps a lot of major news that the public should be aware of – like on illegal immigration and all the damage it has done to California. You guys are silent too. CWD is better than most, but you have your flaws as well. It’s almost impossible to find the TRUTH in the US media anymore. I have to go to foreign publication to find out what’s going on in my own country. All media is OWNED by one special interest or another. Let’s just accept that and admit it.

    “That narrative looks idiotic when the media actually report that due to high housing prices, California is the Mississippi of the 21st century.”

    Your rants and raves over the poverty rate in California are impressive, Chris. But you fail to address causation. Why do you sidestep that? Why has California’s poverty rate increased tremendously and our school system declined sharply in the last 20 years? Easy. We’ve been invaded by millions of peasants from 3rd world nations and NOTHING has been done to stop it. You don’t have to be an investigative reporter to figure that out. Yet I have NEVER read one blog at CWD that even comes close to connecting those dots. Why not, Chris??? Cleaning up the media starts at home! CWD is a good news source, but you have room for improvement as well! 😉

    Reply this comment
  3. John Seiler
    John Seiler 2 November, 2014, 11:34

    California is impoverished mainly from sky-high housing costs caused by restrictions on building by the California Coastal Commission and LAFCOs. That’s not going to change. The way for the poor to join the middle class is to leave.

    Reply this comment
  4. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 2 November, 2014, 11:50

    Already explained this, John.

    If you look at the states with the highest rates of poverty, according to the Census Bureau, you would see that those situated along the southern border have amongst the highest rates in the nation. New Mexico, Nevada, California, Arizona, etc… Check it out. Those states with the highest rates of illegal immigration generally have the highest per capita poverty rates. This makes common sense. Those coming across the borders are dirt poor. When poor people enter our states and the government refuses to deport them – POVERTY ACCUMULATES!!! What do you get from imported poverty? MORE POVERTY!!! They don’t have high housing costs in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico. So what’s the excuse in those states???

    There is absolutely NO DOUBT that illegal immigration has GREATLY contributed to high poverty rates and a deteriorating school system in California. To deny that is simply absurd.

    Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 2 November, 2014, 15:13

    This is the best “reasontomove” infomercial script we have read in years!

    Can you see it, Chuck Woolery and Fred Thompson narrating, frowning, hands in corduroy pants pockets and Flo from Progressive winking and pointing to Nevada and Utah.

    Thank you thank you thank you……where is Queeg…gonna work that boy 24/7 movin these ripped off and cleaned out doomers-

    Reply this comment
  6. Bob
    Bob 2 November, 2014, 16:52

    Now, now Chris, nothing to see here…just move along…if there is any poverty there’s nothing that just one more tax increase won’t solve…the trough feeders who infest this blog will certainly attest to that…so don’t mention the possibility of cutting pensions for state and local gummit employees as part of your solution to any fiscal problems.

    Reply this comment
  7. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 3 November, 2014, 09:11


    Keep up the good work…so uplifting for the Doom Machine…..urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    Reply this comment
  8. RT
    RT 3 November, 2014, 09:45

    One of the many issues regarding poverty is that the steps taken by California to deal with it only make it worse. For example, the CalWORKs (Welfare) program that is not held accountable for helping those on it find work and get of it. And just wait until the federal subsidies end for the already ill conceived “Covered California” health care system. It is already pushing more Californians onto the mess know as Medi-Cal and when the federal subsidies end it will quickly became unaffordable for a large number of Californians, thus pushing them into the Medi-Cal system.
    You think there is a poverty crisis now, just wait.

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 3 November, 2014, 11:16

      It cracks me up that when an employee gets laid off and gets unemployment payments he or she must list at least 10 employers contacted over the previous 2 weeks to collect benefits. But if somebody is collecting welfare they don’t have to list squat!!! Looking for work is not required!!! 😀
      Oh, and don’t knock Medi-Cal, RT. Those folks get better healthcare FOR FREE than those who have to pay for it!!! I am not joking either. We know someone on Medi-Cal. If she wants a specialist referral from a primary care doc she gets it right away with no hassle. Free physical therapy which amounts to a massage twice a week! Need a new hip? No problem. Labor and material free of charge! Free ER treatment soup to nuts. Can’t get an appointment to see the primary care doc for 2 weeks? No problem. Just go to ANY Califoria ER. Cedar Sinai is fine. Doesn’t even have to be an emergency. All free. No premium. No deductible. No copay. All fracken free!!! All docs fully licensed and good ones too!!! Better healthcare than at the large California HMO’s that you’ve heard about. Only drawback of Medi-Cal is that if you’re over 55 years old after you (and your spouse) die the State can seize your estate to recover any money spent on your care. But any run-of-the-mill attorney can shelter your assets with simple legal maneuvers that would preclude asset recovery.
      My recommendation is Go Galt! If you can’t beat the welfare crowd – heck – join them!!! Stop producing. Start taking. I think the income threshold for a couple to join Medi-Cal under ObolaCare is about $17,000. Swallow your pride! We’re living in a different society today under new rules. No such thing as shame anymore!!! Moral codes went out with the rotary phones! Take as much as you can while there’s still some to take!!! Git some!!!! 😀

      Reply this comment
  9. vonborks
    vonborks 3 November, 2014, 11:27

    California can reduce poverty, increase jobs and clean-up the streets by providing free leaf blowers to all illegals…

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 3 November, 2014, 15:22

      ha ha. Funny one, vonborks. We need more humour at CWD! But why stop at leafblowers? Why not throw in a weed whacker and a 3.5 HP McClane front-throw mower? All those indigent illegals coming across the border only own the shirts on their backs. They rely on good ‘ol stupid American generosity. I think the gov’s goal is to assign one full-time foreign yard keeper for every California household. And all households will be mandated to build a guesthouse on their property to house the migrant. 3 meals a day and cable TV included. When Obola grants 9 million of them amnesty we’re going to have the best darn yards in America!!! 😀

      Reply this comment

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