California is lost. For all intents and purposes it will never be able to be the California of a generation or two ago that was a booming economic stalwart where one could raise a family and live a successful middle class life. This is the sad reality we face today. It may be able to recover some of its past glory if it splinters into two or three separate states, but that would still be entirely different than the past California experience. While California is gone, it would behoove us to learn the lessons of its demise while there’s still time for the rest of the United States.
Some may argue that California today is great just the way that it is. That it’s better today than ever. So it may be useful to mention some facts to support the notion that California is in worse shape today than ever. The reality is that California is no longer a state one can even afford to raise a family. They have the highest poverty rate in the country. The middle class has been completely hollowed out, and the divide between the ultra rich and the ultra poor is only widening. CNBC called it the second least affordable state to live in 2018:
These days, making ends meet in California is harder than ever. Consider the housing shortage, which has reached the crisis stage. A 2016 report by the McKinsey Global Institute found 50 percent of California households cannot afford the cost of housing in their local market. It is basic supply and demand. The average home price in San Francisco is nearly $1.2 million. A two-bedroom apartment in or near the City by the Bay — if you can find one — will rent for more than $4,000 a month.
2018 Cost of Living score: 2 out of 50 points (Top States Grade: F)
Most expensive area: San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco
Average home price: $1,182,092
Half gallon of milk: $2.72
Ribeye steak: $12.94
Monthly energy bill: $235.44
Doctor visit: $142.61
California has also seen a decline in their educational system. A few facts via USA Today:
- High school graduation rate: 83.0% (21st lowest)
- Public school spending: $9,417 per pupil (8th lowest)
- 8th grade NAEP proficiency: 27.1% (math) 28.4% (reading)
- Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 32.9% (14th highest)
- Adults 25-64 with incomes at or above national median: 51.7% (21st highest)
California has the largest network of public schools in the country — and also one of the worst-performing. Only 29.2% of fourth graders in the state are proficient in math, and only 27.8% are proficient in reading — each the third lowest share of any state. While low, the fourth-grade reading proficiency rate is much improved from only a few years ago. Between 2003 and 2015, fourth-grade reading proficiency increased by 7.0 percentage points, far outpacing the 4.9 percentage point improvement across the U.S. as a whole.
Children who are raised speaking English as a second language often face additional academic challenges at American public schools. Only 64.1% of California students have parents who are fluent English speakers, the smallest share of any state in the country.
There is also serious decay in its infrastructure, and massive budget spending with ever increasing taxes. Objectively speaking California is worse off today than it was a generation or two ago. And it’s no surprise that people are fleeing California at an alarming rate. Nearly 140,000 residents moved out of California alone in 2017.
Why? What has changed? While some of these facts may be hard to swallow for some people it is imperative we look at the data and try to learn from it. The rest of the country is already on the same trend as California, but has a much better shot at rectifying the situation before it is past the point of no return.
As painful a pill as this may be to swallow for some, demographic changes are the key driver behind California’s downward trend. California is a majority-minority state, meaning that no race or ethnicity is the majority of the population of California. The Latino population is said to have become the majority ethnicity, having surpassed non-Hispanic whites sometime in 2014 or 2015.
California’s population as a whole has sky rocketed in the past few decades, with many of these newcomers coming predominantly from Mexico.
The problems arising from this demographic shift and overall added population growth have been devastating. An additional element comes in the form of cheap overseas labor. The added number of people, coupled with cheap labor from Mexico and overseas, has simultaneously wrecked wages for Californians which has contributed to the hollowing out of the middle class. Additionally, the increase in people has not been supplemented with the much needed increase in new housing, which has resulted in sky-rocketing rents and an inability to afford purchasing a new home.
But these are only a few of the deleterious effects of this influx of people. The type of people moving to California now are vastly different than a generation ago. The reality is many of the immigrants now flocking to California come from Central and South America. Like it or not, it is a fact that Hispanics of the Mexican and Central/South American variety have a lower average IQ than white people. Again, this is not an attack on them for this, it is just a fact. I highly recommend reading The Bell Curve for an exhaustive look into this. There is a strong link between IQ and average income, and links closely to the use of government assistance. In sum, on average those making less money also have on average lower IQs. And we know that lower income people tend to rely on government assistance more. This is reflected in the data.
This is a double whammy for California. The Center for Immigration Studies recently put out a study that shows that more than 7 in 10 households headed by an immigrant are on taxpayer-funded welfare. There is a hollowing out of the middle class and an attack on wages, coupled with ever increasing number of welfare recipients. This is not a recipe for success.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t help these people. No, they must be shown compassion. IQ is not something they can control. But we must also be honest and recognize that they will not be able to be helped if the tax-paying middle class is run out of the state. As with a humanitarian crisis, levels of help must be tempered to ensure the population doing the helping isn’t overwhelmed by those in need; a case of drowning while trying to rescue others.
But as this shift continues so too will the mentality of the populace within the state change as well. It’s not hard to picture a scenario, and we’re already seeing this today, where the very policies that are killing the state are the ones now being pushed and voted for by the same populace that has overrun the “native” population there. And this makes sense. Politicians are often voted on based on in-group preferences of race and ethnicity. It only makes sense that as the Latino population grows they will try and vote in more Latinos. Whereas whites tend to vote more liberally not on the color of the politician’s skin (generally speaking, of course), when having the option minorities will often vote for their own minority. This is not at all surprising and consistent with human nature on the whole. This potentially will change for whites as more whites realize they are becoming a minority, but as of right now it is not the case. The election of President Obama is a good example of this. Of course politicians will continue to push these awful policies if it’s what will get them re-elected. And it’s also a driving force behind why it’s so difficult to enact any sort of immigration laws in this state. As it becomes more majority-minority this will only continue.
What can the rest of the country learn about the decline of California? One, demographics matter. A systematic replacement of a population with an average IQ hovering around 100 with those from countries with an average IQ of 80-90 will not bode well in the long run. Further, an influx of cheap, unskilled, labor will hurt the wages of those already living in the state, and in particular hit the lower and middle classes the hardest as they are the ones who generally will lose out on the jobs that are being taken by the new arrivals. Two, as these wages begin to decline, you’ll have more people relying on welfare to make ends meet, as well as having additional people on welfare that never contributed in the first place. The burden on the remaining taxpayers will only be that much more. Three, this increase in population will also raise housing costs if new housing cannot keep up with the influx.
These are just a few of the devastating effects of unchecked immigration into a state or country. It doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on things like added stress to infrastructure, a regression back to tribalism of sorts as more and more diverse populations are forced next to each other, or the breakdown of the community from this as well. Most people want to help those in need. But do not be sold or guilted by the lie that unchecked numbers of immigrants coming to a city or state near you is good for you or your family. It’s too late for California to reverse this trend, but this is not the case in many places in America. Demographics is destiny.