What Mitt Romney Is Up Against

Demographics. That’s Mitt Romney’s real opponent between now and election day. Demographics are working against white conservatives, and it’s making them ornery. Thanks to demographics, Mitt Romney cannot really go for the juggler with Barack Obama–it will put off the independents that he has to attract to win. But if he doesn’t go for the juggler in the last month of the campaign, his (shrinking) base will be put off.

Jonathan Chait at New York magazine explains the fight or stand-down existential dilemma facing Republicans going forward:

[T]he psychology of decline does not always operate in a straightforward, rational way. A strategy of managing slow decay is unpleasant, and history is replete with instances of leaders who persuaded themselves of the opposite of the obvious conclusion. Rather than adjust themselves to their slowly weakening position, they chose instead to stage a decisive confrontation. If the terms of the fight grow more unfavorable with every passing year, well, all the more reason to have the fight sooner. This was the thought process of the antebellum southern states, sizing up the growing population and industrial might of the North. It was the thinking of the leaders of Austria-Hungary, watching their empire deteriorate and deciding they needed a decisive war with Serbia to save themselves.

And, of course, it’s the thought process of the contemporary base voter in the GOP. Romney is trying to manage the decline of an angry base and win votes from moderates. I therefore predict that his debate performance tonight will flounder between these two poles (to the displeasure of both).

Romney is a sailor attempting to navigate between Scylla and Charybdis. In Greek myth, Scylla and Charybdis are sea monsters situated to either side of the Strait of Messina (between the Italian mainland and Sicily). If Romney goes too far to the left or right, he’ll find himself eaten by one of them on election day.

Here’s Johann Heinrich Fussli”s depiction of the sea monsters (via Wikipedia Commons). That would be Mitt Romney with his ass exposed.

File:Johann Heinrich Füssli 054.jpg

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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26 Responses to What Mitt Romney Is Up Against

  1. Here’s wishing Romney and all the Republicans are thoroughly consumed by sea monsters as they are more likely to believe in monsters than science.

  2. Staffan says:

    Demographics can save Obama but I doubt a huge influx of poorly educated Mexicans can save America. As for the wealthy white liberals that vote for him they won’t be so wealthy in a near future. Their loyalty will be tested when they can’t afford the summer house anymore.

    It’s a comforting illusion to imagine that your ideas are somehow inevitably succesful. But America was built on entrepreneurs. It’s easier than ever to relocate your business so the idea that business owners are somehow tied to the ground and can be milked like cows is false. At some point they are just going to give up or move to Australia or somewhere else. Then what?

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Your take on demographics is too narrow. America is looking more and more like California demographically. That’s the Republican Party’s ultimate problem. California is urban, not rural; highly educated, not under-educated; multicultural, not fundamentalist; feminist, not misogynist, etc.

      Having said all that, Romney was Odysseus in last night’s debate; a very impressive navigator of perilous seas. He is a shape-shifter; a mimic octopus. His shtick may just work this year after all.

      –Santi

  3. Staffan says:

    It’s true what you say about Californian demographics but is it spreading and is it the reason the GOP is in trouble? Urbanization is a global phenomenon present in gangsterized Russia as well as highly corrupt countries in Africa and the economically failed Muslim countries.

    High education, yes, but what is cause and effect? I’m sure you’re familiar with a book called the Bell Curve which summarizes research on IQ, education and economic growth. IQ is certainly a causal factor since it’s highly genetic in origin. California has an exceptional amount of Asian and Jewish people whose intelligence has translated to financial success. In the future you have to take Mexicans with average IQ of 85 into the equation.

    When you try to apply a Euro-Canadian welfare model to all of them you’re going to run out of money. This is clearly illustrated by the fact that middle class families are leaving California. While that may make California more multicultural it also reduces the amount of money available for public expenses.

    Chances are you will in the future experience these problems yourself and decide to move to Utah, Colorado or some other place that is less multicultural and urban.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Demographically, you’re not correct. California added residents last year. The state is not being evacuated. There was some white flight in the 1990s to states like Idaho. The whites that can get along with nonwhites and prefer diversity stayed.

      By 2020, 70% of all jobs in the United States will require a college degree. The future is not in Mississippi; it’s in California.

      If what you said is true about Hispanics, California would, of course, be doomed to ruin. But it’s not. There is no economist or demographer who thinks that California will be a less wealthy state 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years from now than it is today. California will be “browner” over time and more prosperous. This is true of the US as a whole. The two are not mutually exclusive (as you seem to presume).

      As to creativity and entrepreneurship, ever heard of Silicon Valley, UC Berkeley, and Hollywood? Those aren’t in Alabama.

      As to urbanization, demographers tell us that 90% of humanity will live in cities by the end of the century. And they’ll be more prosperous and liberal for doing so. The US trend is part of a global trend, but that doesn’t make it any less liberalizing.

      Republicans have to start respecting energy efficiency, ecology, internationalism, the mind, urbanism, feminism, and diversity more than they do because that’s where the world–and the US–is trending.

      Here’s a video that provides the really big picture:

      –Santi

  4. Staffan says:

    “Demographically, you’re not correct. California added residents last year. The state is not being evacuated. There was some white flight in the 1990s to states like Idaho. The whites that can get along with nonwhites and prefer diversity stayed.”

    I’m not saying the state is losing people. I’m Mexicans are moving in and predominantly white middle class families are moving out. We can always speculate about the reasons but there is no question that this means dimishing tax revenues and increasing public expenses.

    “By 2020, 70% of all jobs in the United States will require a college degree. The future is not in Mississippi; it’s in California.”

    Downward comparison is for people who have problems to make them feel a little better. And again with the Bell Curve you can see that IQ levels of various ethnic groups can explain this, as it explains why California is going south.

    “If what you said is true about Hispanics, California would, of course, be doomed to ruin. But it’s not. There is no economist or demographer who thinks that California will be a less wealthy state 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years from now than it is today. California will be “browner” over time and more prosperous. This is true of the US as a whole. The two are not mutually exclusive (as you seem to presume).”

    Because researchers like Herrnstein and others get into trouble when they say it. I think it’s a collective delusion. That’s why the Bell Curve caused so much controversy. But fact remains: the economy is proportionate to the IQ level. Will California be the exception to the rule?

    “As to creativity and entrepreneurship, ever heard of Silicon Valley, UC Berkeley, and Hollywood? Those aren’t in Alabama.”

    Yes, that’s what made California succesful in the past and to a large extent in the present. But not in the future. As for Alabama see Mississippi.

    “As to urbanization, demographers tell us that 90% of humanity will live in cities by the end of the century. And they’ll be more prosperous and liberal for doing so. The US trend is part of a global trend, but that doesn’t make it any less liberalizing.”

    It has some advantages but also some serious problems. Large cities typically have higher crime rates and more polluted air. And you have rich and poor people at close proximity which lead to social unrest like the riots in London not long ago.

    “Republicans have to start respecting energy efficiency, ecology, internationalism, the mind, urbanism, feminism, and diversity more than they do because that’s where the world–and the US–is trending.”

    It’s hard to make projections like that. I agree about the energy efficiency and ecology but that’s because it reflects my values rather than your optimistic fatalism or whatever label fits your attitude the best.

    “Here’s a video that provides the really big picture:”

    Rosling is a funny guy but the way he explains data is a bit simplistic. Health is not equal to life expectancy. As obesity increases along with improved healthcare people live long unhealthy lives. And healthcare can only do so much in keeping people alive as you can see by the fact that Cuba now has the same life expectancy as America.

    And trade doesn’t necessarily mean that countries embrace diversity. There is a large variation of multiculturalism in Europe for instance and it does not correlate with economic strength. It’s clear that monocultural countries like Poland and Estonia are on the way up. Their schoolchildren are outperforming those of multicultural Sweden. But that rather conspicuous sign of failure is not discussed much in Academia for the same reason that economists of demographer won’t say that California is in trouble. Because they will be punished one way or the other if they do.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      But white middle class people are not leaving California. Why would they? If you’re, say, a white professional, the cities of California are desirable places to live. Who wants to live in rural Idaho before retirement (or even after retirement)?

      California is not a dystopia. It’s a magnate for minds. It doesn’t need oil wells because it has mind wells everywhere.

      The state’s GDP is not decreasing, it’s increasing. And that means that the state can tax that increase and it does. The state can also cut back on services, and it is. There is no tax crisis in California unless the state chooses to increase state government faster than the state’s GDP growth. And it’s not doing that. It’s making substantial cuts in services right now to make sure that it doesn’t do that. And when it wants something bad enough, such as more funding for schools, it goes to the voters for it and they decide.

      As to your IQ determinism, it’s ridiculous. Brazil, for example, is a much “browner” country than the United States and its prospects over the next several decades is extraordinary. And if you could get in a time capsule and see America fifty years from now, what you would find is a “browner” America and a richer America. Per capita income over the next fifty years is likely to double, meaning that the average American will have an income equivalent to something closer to 100,000 dollars a year than to 50,000 dollars. Barring an epidemic, a nuclear war, or some environmental catastrophe, there is simply no grounds for your pessimism.

      The sheer fact that solar cells and other forms of clean energy are likely to be dirt cheap 30 years from now (and processors are likely to be vastly faster), technology is likely to drive another round of global economic expansion. Can you imagine what a smart phone will do in 20 years? Probably wipe your ass for you.

      As to crime rates in California and the US as a whole, they’re at 1950s levels. As for urbanism, pollution, and crime, contemporary cities are actually quite safe and people living in cities actually produce less pollution than those living in suburbs and rural areas (due to various efficiencies associated with the city, such as public transportation and new and energy efficient architectural projects).

      As to monocultures like Poland, bully for them. Japan too is a monoculture. But these countries are all linked to the others via the Internet and via their large cities. And larger countries–the US, India, China, Brazil–tend to have very different–and more diverse–histories.

      Larger countries and cities that embrace diversity and freedom–Los Angeles is an obvious example–do well in the global economy.

      1 in 9 Americans live in California. If it sucked here, people would split. Obviously, there are good reasons not to.

      –Santi

      • Staffan says:

        According to one demographer, Joel Kotkin, a resident of California himself, there is an exodus of so far 4 million people over the last 20 years. According to Kotkin this is both working and middle class families: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304444604577340531861056966.html

        As for the GDP increasing, do you have any figures on that whic can be compared to other states? The GDP has a tendency to increase in most places on Earth.

        As for my IQ determinism,there is an overall correlation between IQ and wealth. Brazil has just bumped into a fortunate situation in which food and ethanol is in high demand. That won’t last. This can be seen within the US as well. States with many Jews and Asians and European Americans are doing well and states with many African Americans and Latinos are doing worse. How much of that is nature and nurture is an open question but fact is that these groups do differ in how financially succesful they are. And California has benefitted from it’s demographic in that way.

        It may well be that crime rates are down, but the rank order between larger cities and the more rural areas are still maintained. And the reason why crime rates are so low now is because the population is so old. That can’t go on forever.

        I live in a rural suburb and I’ve seen numerous studies on air pollution in Stockholm and they always indicate that the inner city is the worst and it then gets gradually better the further away you go.

        No, I don’t think the larger cities of smaller countries are that multicultural. There is one thing being influenced by the internet and another one to import people with little or no education. Is Tokyo really multicultural? According to Wikipedia the have 2.5 percent foreign residents. It doesn’t give any figures for Warsaw but states, “Most of the modern day population growth is based on internal migration and urbanisation.”

        Finally, California has 25 percent of Americas illegal aliens. They are boosting you economy right now but will become a burden later. All of this together is why people move out.

        Do you have any sources on how great California is doing? Because when I check taxes and income stats from various sources I can’t find any support for you optimism.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        I don’t think illegal immigration at its current levels hurts our economy and the children born in this country to illegal immigrants will, over time, contribute more to the US economy than they take out, so I think that they’re not a problem either.

        As to Poland and Japan, I didn’t mean to imply that their cities were mulitcultural, only that their cities are connected via Internet, airports, etc. to the international community. Polish youth and Japanese youth living in cities have more in common with urbanites globally than they do with their parents or native traditional cultures.

        How many young urbanites in Poland, for example, are likely to be practicing Catholics and anti-semites (as were their grandparents and great grandparents, and perhaps their parents)?

        As to California population loss, if 200,000 people leave the state each year, how many come in? I’ll look at your link, but my initial question is this: what was the population of California in 1992 and what is it now? That will tell you the health of California.

        As to your suggestion that California must surely be growing slower than the US economy generally, I don’t know about that. But the fact is this: if it’s growing at all, it’s not in decline (by definition).

        As to the aging population, America (like other industrialized countries) is not going to be, on average, younger 40 years from now, but older. And so crime (if the key factor is age) should stay pretty low.

        And America has an advantage over an aging population like Japan’s: it can, with its diverse history, let in a lot of young immigrant labor if things get really bad, whereas Japan, culturally, seems incapable of doing this. Somebody’s got to make babies to become nurses to an aging population, etc.

        I’ll look into the California population number.

        —Santi

  5. Santi Tafarella says:

    Staffan,

    As I suspected, there’s no exodus from California. It’s exactly the opposite. The WSJ piece you linked to was deeply misleading.

    This is from a website that tracks global demographics:

    At the last official US census carried out in 2010, the population of California was declared at 37,253,956 which made the state the most populous in the country by some distance. However, the vast area that California encompasses means that in terms of population density, with 242 people for every square mile it ranks only 11th in the nation.

    The population of California in 2012 is growing at an impressive rate and an estimate carried out in June 2011 suggests that there has been an increase from those 2010 Census figures to numbers in the region of 37,691,912.

    In 1850 there were just 92,597 people living here but the gold rush of the mid 19th century was primarily responsible for a rise of over 300% to 379,994. The population of California continued to grow at a steadier rate but increases in excess of 50% between ten year censuses were not uncommon.

    After the Second World War, the California Population in 1950 was declared at 10,586,223 and it has been growing exponentially ever since. Ten years later in 1960 it was 15,717,204 and in 1970 that had grown to 19,953,134. From there, the numbers have been increasing at similar rates.

    California has a healthy natural growth rate and the gap between the birth rate and death rate is quite significant. Between 2000 and 2009, 5,058,440 births and 2,179,958 deaths resulted in a natural growth of 3,090,016.

    Another significant factor is immigration: California had huge appeal in the days of the Gold Rush and that fact holds true today. Between those years of 2000 and 2009 the state enjoyed a net migration gain of 306,925 people. It’s also estimated that up to 7.3% of California’s population is made up of illegal aliens.

    The end result when taking all these figures into account is a population that is simply huge. Based on current estimates, California is larger than all but 34 countries in the world. It is also the second most populous national sub-entity, behind Sao Paulo of Brazil.

    Here’s the link: http://worldpopulationreview.com/population-of-california-2012/

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      One more statistic: the white population in California, according to US Census figures (provided at the same website above), increased by 6% over the past 10 years.

      —Santi

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      As for California’s GDP, this is at the Orange County Register (a California newspaper):

      California has its problems, but it is still an economic powerhouse that led the nation last year in state gross domestic product — by far, reported the Bureau of Economic Analysis Tuesday.
      .
      The Golden State accounted for 13.1% of all the goods and services produced in the country last year, down from 13.2% in 2009 and 13.4% in 2007 and 2008.
      Texas was a distant second with 8.3% of the U.S. GDP in 2010, up from 8.2% in 2009. (Click on map to enlarge.)
      .
      In terms of year-over-year percentage change in GDP, however, California was in the middle of the pack. The state’s GDP grew 1.8% in 2010 to rank 34th among the 50 states. Texas grew 2.8% to place 17th on the list.
      .
      The winner in year-over-year percentage growth was North Dakota, whose hot mining sector pushed its state GDP up 7.1% last year.
      .
      New York was the second biggest grower at 5.1% and Illinois was third at 4.6%.

      Website here: http://economy.blog.ocregister.com/2011/06/08/california-still-leads-u-s-in-state-gdp/57715/

  6. Staffan says:

    First off, your source doesn’t even have an About section so it’s just some random guy saying things you enjoy hearing.

    And Kotkin or I isn’t saying the population is decreasing – stop bashing that straw man. The exodus is in the form of middle class leaving. That doesn’t stop people from having kids or illegals crossing the border so the population can still increase.

    The point is that the shifting demographics will hurt the economy and if you try to fix that with higher taxes more people are going to leave. And as now, it will be middle class people rather than illegals who don’t pay tax anyway. And to think that illegals won’t hurt the economy is assuming that they have just as good education as legal Americans which just isn’t true. But they are almost as overweight so they will be a heavy burden.

    As for the GDP being the largest in America, that’s just an effect of being the most populated state. Italy has a GDP slightly above that of California; I think we can agree that they are in trouble. A better measure would be growth and like you said yourself, California is “in the middle of the pack”. And that’s with a huge amount of illegals that give a short term boost and a long term headache.

    And one more statistics: While the white population has increased by 6 percent in the latest 10 years its portion of the population is down from 47 to 40 percent. It’s not about the absolut numbers but the overall pattern. At some point Jews and Asians are going to start relocating too, if they havent already begun doing that.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Staffan,

      You wrote, “The exodus is in the form of middle class leaving.” Such an “exodus” would obviously be reflected in the form of a lower GDP in the state year over year. By definition, if the middle class is abandoning the state to the poor, the state must be getting poorer, and it’s not.

      By your thesis, the rich would have to be making up the deficit of middle class incomes, but then you would have to ask, “Why aren’t the rich leaving as well?”

      There are no big crime spikes in California; there are no huge social pathologies that afflict California more than other states. California is a rich state. It is a free state. Gays, for example, are welcome here, and mega-churches packed with evangelicals are everywhere as well. Somehow people seem to get along here.

      As for Jews and Asians leaving the state, that’s delusional. Jews and Asians are “civil-rightsy” people. They like California precisely because it is diverse and welcoming and both groups have built up neighborhoods and centers of power in the state where they are happy and live well.

      One of the highest concentrations of PhDs in the world is in San Diego; Long Beach has one of the largest international ports in the world. The brain power around the California university system is staggering (from Stanford to Cal Tech). The Jet Propulsion laboratory (where the Mars Curiosity rover is being navigated from) is in Pasadena.

      Who would want to abandon this state for some dumbfuck part of the country with low diversity? Answer: the unimaginative and perhaps retirees afraid of Hispanics for some utterly irrational reason.

      A Hispanic, one should recall, is just someone who speaks Spanish and is, genetically, a mix of European and Asian ancestors, or ancestors solely from Asia. The “Indians” are just the descendants of some Asian tribes that migrated to the Americas 10,000-20,000 years ago. That’s who the first Spaniards conquered–Asians.

      Today, for example, my wife and kids visited an Indian museum in California and saw a 7,000 year old arrowhead retrieved from Barrel Springs (not far from where we live in Northern Los Angeles County). Asians have been in California for a long time.

      But you’ve got this narrative going in your head that California is being ruined–ruined!–by high taxing liberals and barefoot illegals. You should actually visit the state and see what it’s like.

      –Santi

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Staffan,

      One more thing. Here is a global statistics website with a really enjoyable tool for breaking out different countries and tracking vital statistics. I played with the downloadable tool at the site. Perhaps it can break out California stats as well. I don’t know.

      http://www.gapminder.org/

      –Santi

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      I found the “gapminder” for California and other states in the United States. If you find some dystopian statistic that supports your thesis when playing with the tool, please share it. I played with it a bit and California compared to other states looks pretty good. The bulk of the statistics don’t go all the way up to the present, but they still give a sense of things. Once you arrive at the site, use the toolbar at the left to check all sorts of measures. I loaded bankruptcies. They’re lower than other states (at least up to 2006, the last data point).

      http://www.gapminder.org/labs/gapminder-usa/#$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly=2003;lb=f;il=t;fs=11;al=30;stl=t;st=f;nsl=t;se=t$wst;tts=C$ts;sp=2.9741935483871;ti=2006$zpv;v=0$inc_x;mmid=XCOORDS;iid=pp59adS3CHWfKPVb7dEexFA;by=ind$inc_y;mmid=YCOORDS;iid=pp59adS3CHWfNvaPqbNd-eA;by=ind$inc_s;uniValue=20;iid=pp59adS3CHWedi8p5UR-KMw;by=ind$inc_c;uniValue=255;gid=CATID1;iid=pp59adS3CHWeR0Ufcou95MQ;by=grp$map_x;scale=log;dataMin=408;dataMax=157975$map_y;scale=lin;dataMin=0.3453;dataMax=11$map_s;sma=93;smi=2.8$cd;bd=0$inds=i263_r,,,,,,

  7. Alan says:

    Not to worry, Jerry Brown will fix California finances with his new bullet train.

  8. Staffan says:

    Staffan,
    “You wrote, “The exodus is in the form of middle class leaving.” Such an “exodus” would obviously be reflected in the form of a lower GDP in the state year over year. By definition, if the middle class is abandoning the state to the poor, the state must be getting poorer, and it’s not. “
    Like I said before, the economy is growing on most places on Earth so you have to look at growth. And by your own admission California is average, or just below average, in growth. I haven’t found any year by year stats on gdp in different states but California has clearly built up a wealth over the years so it must have had more than average growth earlier. But no more.
    “By your thesis, the rich would have to be making up the deficit of middle class incomes, but then you would have to ask, “Why aren’t the rich leaving as well?””
    This could be a matter of how rich a person is. The very rich may be willing to pay the taxes while the merely wealthy may choose to leave. Via the OC Register I found stats from the California Budget Project that showed that those who make more than one million a year are staying. I imagine they are the ones that can afford it. What the CPR stat also showed is that those leaving earn more than those moving in – which supports the theory that white middle class are moving. The really rich may stay for a while yet because the taxes don’t affect their lifestyles. But they are not a cornucopia so it won’t last forever.
    “There are no big crime spikes in California; there are no huge social pathologies that afflict California more than other states. California is a rich state. It is a free state. Gays, for example, are welcome here, and mega-churches packed with evangelicals are everywhere as well. Somehow people seem to get along here.”
    I don’t think you’ve reached the point where crime, riots and such becomes a problem. Although it seems your level of violent crime is well above average – but I don’t know if that is a recent development or not. Your sinking from a high level so it will take some time to reach the bottom. If you get along that’s great. I’m not a gay-hating conservative. Our minister of integration, Nyamko Sabuni walked in the pride parade wearing a latex cat suit. I just wish all Muslims were more like her.
    “As for Jews and Asians leaving the state, that’s delusional. Jews and Asians are “civil-rightsy” people. They like California precisely because it is diverse and welcoming and both groups have built up neighborhoods and centers of power in the state where they are happy and live well.”
    I’m not saying it has already happened, I’m saying they are likely to do so in the future or they may have just begun moving out. Another straw man.
    “One of the highest concentrations of PhDs in the world is in San Diego; Long Beach has one of the largest international ports in the world. The brain power around the California university system is staggering (from Stanford to Cal Tech). The Jet Propulsion laboratory (where the Mars Curiosity rover is being navigated from) is in Pasadena.”
    This is not the big picture but cherry picking. If it was representative of the state then why is the Californian growth average?
    “Who would want to abandon this state for some dumbfuck part of the country with low diversity? Answer: the unimaginative and perhaps retirees afraid of Hispanics for some utterly irrational reason.”
    According to the stats it’s middle aged and children – families. Middle class people who are making less than you and see the problems earlier.
    “A Hispanic, one should recall, is just someone who speaks Spanish and is, genetically, a mix of European and Asian ancestors, or ancestors solely from Asia. The “Indians” are just the descendants of some Asian tribes that migrated to the Americas 10,000-20,000 years ago. That’s who the first Spaniards conquered–Asians.”
    Like I said, I can’t sort out the nature from the nurture, I just state the obvious that Hispanics are less economically successful than most other groups.
    “Today, for example, my wife and kids visited an Indian museum in California and saw a 7,000 year old arrowhead retrieved from Barrel Springs (not far from where we live in Northern Los Angeles County). Asians have been in California for a long time.
    But you’ve got this narrative going in your head that California is being ruined–ruined!–by high taxing liberals and barefoot illegals. You should actually visit the state and see what it’s like.”
    I’ve backed this “narrative” in my head with real statistics, some of which you’ve actually provided. I would love to visit California, but people have a tendency to overestimate conspicuous information – the stuff they saw with their own eyes – at the expense of other sources of information. I wouldn’t be able to assess the economic growth or the crime rate as a tourist. So I’d still go with the info the Department of Commerce, California Budget Project and others have provided.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Staffan,

      There is no contraction of California’s economy. You concede that. Until it begins to seriously contract and sustains that contraction for decades, none of what you say would ever come to pass. According to the gapminder, Germany’s economy has buzzed along over the past decade with just over a 1% growth rate. Nobody thinks Germany is a dystopia or heading for collapse (so far as I know). California could also stay in a slow growth pattern and still be a good state to live in.

      I want California’s economy to grow faster and not be in an anemic phase. You imagine (presumably) that a deregulated, lower-taxed California with a less permeable border fence and tougher immigration laws is the answer. My answer is basically the status quo on these issues and leaving the smart people to figure out new innovations in technology and efficiency. The next engine for economic growth is not eliminating, for example, green energy regulations in California or gutting the state college system, but some idea that comes out of the head of a smart person as to how to make, say, high-efficiency solar cells cheap as paper and durable as steal.

      People are not unmotivated to stay, think, and work in California. It just takes intellectual incubation followed by entrepreneurial trial and error to move from one major growth phase to the next. We’re all trying to work a puzzle–a kind of algorithm–to making the material world serve our purposes better and better. That, at any rate, is my view. Therefore, mind wells, not oil wells, is the answer (and not assuming that co-existence with others is a zero-sum game).

      I truly believe that diversity is an enormous source of strength in California. Few cities of the world are better positioned than Los Angeles, for example, for being a winner in the next phase of turbo-charged global economic growth for the simple reason that the world is already here in the form of immigrants with connections to their homelands. Global networking is one of LA’s strengths. LA is a mini-globe for the very sorts of trade and co-existence experimentation that makes it far superior a place to live than, say, a mono-cultural city like Tokyo. It’s hard to see alternative ways of being and doing things if you are rarely exposed to them.

      –Santi

  9. Staffan says:

    “There is no contraction of California’s economy. You concede that. Until it begins to seriously contract and sustains that contraction for decades, none of what you say would ever come to pass. According to the gapminder, Germany’s economy has buzzed along over the past decade with just over a 1% growth rate. Nobody thinks Germany is a dystopia or heading for collapse (so far as I know). California could also stay in a slow growth pattern and still be a good state to live in.”

    I concede that but like I said, economies tend to grow everywhere so growth is a better measure. Germany has the EU/Greece crisis on its hands. That won’t last forever. Your however, are not going anywhere and the white middle class leaving are probably doing so for good.

    “I want California’s economy to grow faster and not be in an anemic phase. You imagine (presumably) that a deregulated, lower-taxed California with a less permeable border fence and tougher immigration laws is the answer. My answer is basically the status quo on these issues and leaving the smart people to figure out new innovations in technology and efficiency. The next engine for economic growth is not eliminating, for example, green energy regulations in California or gutting the state college system, but some idea that comes out of the head of a smart person as to how to make, say, high-efficiency solar cells cheap as paper and durable as steal.”

    Let’s get something straight: I’m a socially conservative but economically a leftist. So yes, a higher fence, but I don’t see deregulation and low taxes as the fix. What I do see is that increasing taxes indefinitaly is eventually going to make those who pay the most leave.

    “People are not unmotivated to stay, think, and work in California. It just takes intellectual incubation followed by entrepreneurial trial and error to move from one major growth phase to the next. We’re all trying to work a puzzle–a kind of algorithm–to making the material world serve our purposes better and better. That, at any rate, is my view. Therefore, mind wells, not oil wells, is the answer (and not assuming that co-existence with others is a zero-sum game).”

    I agree but those mindwells spring from some groups/cultures more than others. The influx of Latinos makes for a lot of people who have to live off those wells. And some wells might just start to feel that they are being taken advantage of.

    “I truly believe that diversity is an enormous source of strength in California. Few cities of the world are better positioned than Los Angeles, for example, for being a winner in the next phase of turbo-charged global economic growth for the simple reason that the world is already here in the form of immigrants with connections to their homelands. Global networking is one of LA’s strengths. LA is a mini-globe for the very sorts of trade and co-existence experimentation that makes it far superior a place to live than, say, a mono-cultural city like Tokyo. It’s hard to see alternative ways of being and doing things if you are rarely exposed to them.”

    There is both strength and weakness in diversity. With it comes the meeting of ideas and perspectives, but also social conflicts and violence – California is well above average on violent crime. And more Mexicans is not more diversity; it’s just more of something you already have plenty of.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Staffan,

      You said, “mindwells spring from some groups/cultures more than others. The influx of Latinos makes for a lot of people who have to live off those wells.”

      Latinos, on the whole, are not living off of those Californians that produce mind wells. They have jobs and are part of the economy. The Latino population puts more into the California economy than it extracts in government services. Unless a group of people literally contributes less than they take out of a system, they are not parasites. Latinos are very far from being parasites on the California economy.

      Here’s an issue: Hispanics in California are younger than a lot of other groups, which means that they are more likely to have children in the public schools. Public schools are expensive, but they have always been expensive. Over the lifetime of a person who has passed through public schools, that investment gets paid back to the state (in the form of that person’s work productivity).

      A lot of the older white middle class in California had no problem paying for public education when it was their kids passing through the system in the 70s and 80s. Now, when it’s not their kids, they don’t want to pay for public schools. They would rather have lower taxes. But public schools are part of the game of modern existence. It’s how the world goes on.

      You appear to imagine that these students won’t be, on balance, productive over their lifetime, but there is no reason to think this. On balance and on average, they will put more into the system than they take (just as the children of white parents in the 70s and 80s did).

      –Santi

  10. Staffan says:

    I’m not saying they are parasites. Even if they would be taking more than they contribute financially I think that metaphor suggests an intentional exploitation which might be another of your straw men. But there is a economic reality and saying that they put in more than they take out is besides the point if their net contribution is less than that of others. Remember that almost all economies worldwide are growing so they can be net contributors with California still falling behind because of them, which I suspect is the case. And then you have the illegals who at some point have to become legals. That’s not going to boost the economy.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Staffan,

      You said, “Remember that almost all economies worldwide are growing so they can be net contributors with California still falling behind because of them, which I suspect is the case.”

      In terms of California growing more slowly relative to others, it’s silly to scapegoat Latinos as the cause. Brazil is also a “brown” area of the world, yet has a high growth rate. California is a mature economy. That’s an issue. It needs big technological innovations to grow fast. The dynamic is not the same as smaller states where, say, a particular mineral in the ground can make for boom or bust there.

      And what sane person would want to live in Utah? I, personally, could not imagine choosing to live, for long periods of time, in a place that wasn’t within 60 miles of New York, Los Angeles, or London. But that’s just me. If you can choose, why live where the action isn’t?

      –Santi : )

  11. Staffan says:

    Here is a little something more up to date than Gapminder, http://www.gallup.com/poll/156449/Utah-Poised-Best-State-Live.aspx#1 Notice that there is nothing dystopic about it, I never implied that. I’m merely saying that things are going a bit south.

  12. Staffan says:

    You said, “Remember that almost all economies worldwide are growing so they can be net contributors with California still falling behind because of them, which I suspect is the case.”

    “In terms of California growing more slowly relative to others, it’s silly to scapegoat Latinos as the cause. Brazil is also a “brown” area of the world, yet has a high growth rate. California is a mature economy. That’s an issue. It needs big technological innovations to grow fast. The dynamic is not the same as smaller states where, say, a particular mineral in the ground can make for boom or bust there.”

    Brazil is growing because they have a less mature economy, they happen to have lots of minerals and the right climate for producing ethanol that happens to be in high demand right now. As for smaller states you may have noticed that Gallup future livability survey. It wasn’t just mining states but lots of others that beat California.

    “And what sane person would want to live in Utah? I, personally, could not imagine choosing to live, for long periods of time, in a place that wasn’t within 60 miles of New York, Los Angeles, or London. But that’s just me. If you can choose, why live where the action isn’t?”

    Is it really that much action though? The film and tv production has been moving out for years now. I’m sure they are not the only ones looking for tax friendlier options,

    http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/15/business/la-fi-ct-runaway-tv-20120814

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