Bill Maher on Liberal California

As a Californian, I can say that Maher’s description of the state is dead-on. It really is nice here.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Bill Maher on Liberal California

  1. Staffan says:

    Job Creation Index: 44th
    Overall Well-Being: 19th, (pretty good, maybe that sunshine)
    Underemployment: 1th!
    Lack of Health Insurance: 4th
    City Optimism (“my neighborhood is getting better”): 38th
    Poverty: 1th!
    Economic Inequality by GINI Index: 8th (worse than Texas)

    Source: Gallup’s State of the States. US Census. Wikipedia/US Census.

    Then there is the murder rate, state debt and 7 percent illegals with no basic human rights (but now with driver’s licenses – yay!)

    Smoking pot may be comforting, but reality stays the same nonetheless.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Context is everything. Northern California is not sunny, and, if we go by median household income, California is among the top ten richest states in the nation. Here’s the link for that: .

      And it’s the only huge state to crack the top ten in income (Texas is 25th; New York 16th). Interestingly, only one red state (a state that voted for Romney in the last election) makes the top ten (the low-populated state of Alaska). I’m sure that by every measure Alaska is pretty good (low unemployment, etc.), but it’s also because the state is static (grounded in resource extraction with the right number of people matching the jobs to be done). Not many people would want to live there, but those that do are happy. But neither you nor I would be happier in Alaska than in, say, Humboldt or San Diego in California.

      So yes, of course California is going to look problematic on such measures as poverty and employment because a lot of immigrants come here looking for work. A dynamic economy kicks up a lot of anxiety, traffic, urban sprawl, homeless shelters, etc. Alaska is free of a lot of such things, but that doesn’t make it better. There is actual pressure being applied to California’s numbers because people are entering the state, not leaving it. And whites are simply not fleeing the state as you imagine. One in nine Americans live in California. There’s no exodus from here. There is a stark contrast between coastal cities and inland cities (Bakersfield is a whole lot poorer than Malibu).

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      This comes from the Detroit Free Press:

      “Four of the 10 wealthiest cities in the country with populations of more than 100,000 are affluent suburbs of either San Francisco or Los Angeles. Meanwhile, California towns like Stockton, Victorville and Fresno, located inland, have among the highest poverty rates in the country.”

  2. Staffan says:

    It’s true that I probably would prefer California to Alaska. However, I would rather live in Nebraska for obvious reasons,

    It’s funny that you choose to measure success in income; I would measure it by how the majority are treated or even those who are struggling. Californians may vote for Obama – but somehow they can’t compete with Nebraskans when it comes to spreading the wealth. That’s weird, no?

    But more important is the fact that this metric is not a measure of how dynamic your economy is. If you look at per capita income since 1990, the national average has gone from 90 to 95 percent of the Californian income. So if you are dynamic it appears you are also a little less dynamic for every year that goes by. That’s more in line with old money being used up than liberal politics paying off. And the rest are catching up with you – without creating the kind of poverty and unemployment and inequality that California has. For all I know they may already have caught up in many states – those figures you use are from 2010, mine from 2011. I tried to check the first quarter this year but Department of Commerce has shut down because of the political situation.

    “So yes, of course California is going to look problematic on such measures as poverty and employment because a lot of immigrants come here looking for work.”

    That’s one of my arguments against immigration. Who will feed all these low-skilled and uneducated people? To me, this sounds like you agree on a policy that increases poverty.

    As for the White exodus, I can’t access those data either (not that you offered any empirical support for a lack of White flight) but hopefully we can agree that the changing demographic means the percentage of Whites is shrinking. They are probably wealthier than the increasing percentage of Latinos. So you have a reduced tax base just the same. Those Asians will have to pay more and more every year. That’s unlikely. Sooner or later you’ll have a Yellow flight too.

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