California economic reality may dim the Kamala Harris star

While California's Senator Kamala Harris has become the latest flame of big-money Obama-Clinton backers – "the big Democratic star right now, at a time when they badly need a star" – the economic picture in her home state may not be quite so attractive for Democrats in 2020.

Jennifer Van Laar at townhall.com warns that "the last thing Republicans should do is underestimate" the "Dems['] rising star," but Ms. Van Laar also links to a 2015 San Francisco Magazine piece that casts the political rise of then-Senate candidate Harris in a slightly different light:

But, as is the case with so many bright, shiny things, her luminescence is all that you see: Any troubling material on the periphery is lost in the glare.

California politics has, let us say, evolved since the last California politician became president, and Ms. Harris may have troubling material arising from her home state economy over the next few years.

Joel Kotkin at forbes.com makes the case that the "Bay Area tech boom" has masked disturbing trends in the California economy, and that dependency on a volatile "tech economy" could "pose dangers":

People tend to forget the depth of the tech bust at the turn of the century.

Mr. Kotkin further notes that the "growing hegemony" of a few very large firms" has reduced "opportunities for potential rivals, much as the monopolists of the late 19th century did," leading to a decline in "high-tech startup formation."  The upshot of slowing tech growth, and a possible "major correction," is that economic problems elsewhere in California become more pronounced.

Progressives love to campaign on inequality, but California may not be the best example for Democrats, according to Forbes:

As of 2011, nearly half of the 16 counties with the highest percentages of people earning over $190,000 annually were located in California but denizens of the state's interior have done far worse.

... Six of the ten metropolitan areas in the country with the highest percentage of jobless are located in the central and eastern parts of the state.

Kotkin points out that California's $15 minimum wage may work in "affluent" San Francisco, but it will have "more severe ramifications" in the rest of the state.

Climate change policy is also wreaking havoc, with California electricity prices 70-80 percent higher than in neighboring Oregon and Nevada.  Moreover (emphasis in original):

A recent study found that the average summer electric bill in rich, liberal and temperate Marin County was $250 a month, while in the impoverished, hotter Central Valley communities, where air conditioners are a necessity, the average bill was twice as high.

Among other findings in the extensively researched Forbes article:

  • Environmental restrictions on homebuilding have resulted in the lowest home ownership rates "since the 1940s."
  • Younger people in particular are leaving the state in droves, with one poll finding that "nearly half of all Bay Area millennials" are looking to move out, largely due to housing and living costs.
  • The state has had "net domestic migration outflows" for "22 of the past 25 years," combining with low birth rates to create a "looming shortage of new workers."
  • California is "home to over 30 percent of the country's public assistance population, with further expansion on the horizon."
  • While tech has boomed, "apologists" have been able to "ignore some 10,000 businesses that have left or expanded outside the state."

Kamala Harris may be the latest "bright, shiny" progressive star, but the crushing reality of California's "disappearing" middle class may not be so attractive to Democrats.

While California's Senator Kamala Harris has become the latest flame of big-money Obama-Clinton backers – "the big Democratic star right now, at a time when they badly need a star" – the economic picture in her home state may not be quite so attractive for Democrats in 2020.

Jennifer Van Laar at townhall.com warns that "the last thing Republicans should do is underestimate" the "Dems['] rising star," but Ms. Van Laar also links to a 2015 San Francisco Magazine piece that casts the political rise of then-Senate candidate Harris in a slightly different light:

But, as is the case with so many bright, shiny things, her luminescence is all that you see: Any troubling material on the periphery is lost in the glare.

California politics has, let us say, evolved since the last California politician became president, and Ms. Harris may have troubling material arising from her home state economy over the next few years.

Joel Kotkin at forbes.com makes the case that the "Bay Area tech boom" has masked disturbing trends in the California economy, and that dependency on a volatile "tech economy" could "pose dangers":

People tend to forget the depth of the tech bust at the turn of the century.

Mr. Kotkin further notes that the "growing hegemony" of a few very large firms" has reduced "opportunities for potential rivals, much as the monopolists of the late 19th century did," leading to a decline in "high-tech startup formation."  The upshot of slowing tech growth, and a possible "major correction," is that economic problems elsewhere in California become more pronounced.

Progressives love to campaign on inequality, but California may not be the best example for Democrats, according to Forbes:

As of 2011, nearly half of the 16 counties with the highest percentages of people earning over $190,000 annually were located in California but denizens of the state's interior have done far worse.

... Six of the ten metropolitan areas in the country with the highest percentage of jobless are located in the central and eastern parts of the state.

Kotkin points out that California's $15 minimum wage may work in "affluent" San Francisco, but it will have "more severe ramifications" in the rest of the state.

Climate change policy is also wreaking havoc, with California electricity prices 70-80 percent higher than in neighboring Oregon and Nevada.  Moreover (emphasis in original):

A recent study found that the average summer electric bill in rich, liberal and temperate Marin County was $250 a month, while in the impoverished, hotter Central Valley communities, where air conditioners are a necessity, the average bill was twice as high.

Among other findings in the extensively researched Forbes article:

  • Environmental restrictions on homebuilding have resulted in the lowest home ownership rates "since the 1940s."
  • Younger people in particular are leaving the state in droves, with one poll finding that "nearly half of all Bay Area millennials" are looking to move out, largely due to housing and living costs.
  • The state has had "net domestic migration outflows" for "22 of the past 25 years," combining with low birth rates to create a "looming shortage of new workers."
  • California is "home to over 30 percent of the country's public assistance population, with further expansion on the horizon."
  • While tech has boomed, "apologists" have been able to "ignore some 10,000 businesses that have left or expanded outside the state."

Kamala Harris may be the latest "bright, shiny" progressive star, but the crushing reality of California's "disappearing" middle class may not be so attractive to Democrats.

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