Our third-world country on the West Coast

A few years ago, a friend from Brazil visited Los Angeles and was appalled at what he saw.  He called it a third-world country, an amazing comment since my friend lives in São Paulo.  He said that L.A. is not what he remembered 25 years ago.  It was sad, or so he said.

Well, California is in decline, no matter how wonderful the climate is.  Just ask the people who live there like Joel Kotkin:

Despite the state's myriad advantages, research shows it plagued by economic immobility and inequality, crushing housing and energy costs, and a failing education system. 

Worse than just a case of progressive policies creating regressive outcomes, it appears California is descending into something resembling modern-day feudalism, with the poor and weak trapped by policies subsidized by taxes paid by the rich and powerful.

California may conjure images of Rodeo Drive and Malibu mansions in the public imagination, but today the state suffers the highest cost-adjusted poverty rate in the U.S. 

The poor and near-poor constitute over one third -- well over 10 million -- of the state's residents according to the Public Policy Institute of California. 

Los Angeles, by far the state's largest metropolitan area, and once a magnet for middle class aspirations, has one of the highest poverty rates among major U.S. cities. 

A United Way of California analysis shows that over 30 percent of residents lack sufficient income to cover basic living costs even after accounting for public-assistance programs; this includes half of Latino and 40 percent of black residents. 

Some two-thirds of noncitizen Latinos live at or below the poverty line.

How does such a failed state survive?  Well, the rich live in well-protected gated communities and attend a climate change seminar often to feel relevant.  The poor, and whatever is left of the middle class, have to survive the crime, high cost of living, and a collapse of law and order.

Normally, such a political class would be thrown out of office by angry voters.  Incredibly, the Democrats have achieved the winning formula: they win elections while refusing to take care of their constituents.  I don't know how they do it, but they do it.

So don't expect anyone to record a tune about California dreaming.

PS: Click for my videos and podcasts at Canto Talk.

Image: Thomas Hawk.

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