Instead of a land of opportunity, California has become increasingly feudal. According to recent census estimates, the state suffers some of the highest levels of inequality in the country. By some estimates, the state’s level of inequality compares with that of such global models as the Dominican Republic, Gambia, and the Republic of the Congo.
In 2011 in Brown v. Plata, a 5-4 Supreme Court majority reaffirmed a lower-court mandate that California cut its prison population to 137.5% of “design capacity,” defined as one inmate per cell, which in effect required the state to remove 46,000 criminals. The High Court agreed that the state was providing an unconstitutional level of health care and that the only effective remedy was to remove prisoners.
A majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are low-income for the first time in at least four decades, according to a new study that details a demographic shift with broad implications for the country.
Despite the altruistic efforts of old-timers, like a lot of particularly beautiful places in Southern California, such as Malibu Creek State Park and the upper San Gabriel River, Stoney Point is inundated by the bad habits of picnicking Latin American immigrants and their kids.
"What we're trying to do is change the culture of the place," Cedillo said. "To keep people from setting their sofas and mattresses on sidewalks, to stop them from tossing their hot dog and burrito wrappers on the floor."
California is both more poorly managed than any time in its past, more divided between rich and poor, more fragmented by opportunistic ethnic identity politics, more impoverished by massive illegal immigration — and never more naturally wealthy. The other day I drove through the verdant Central Valley on Manning Avenue. Each acre I zoomed by is producing thousands of dollars in global profits. At I-5, I looked out at fracking country, before descending into the land of Facebook, Google, and Apple — all on mostly poor roads, with terrible drivers and third-world public rest stops, and now and then passing inferior schools.
California's rising standards of living and outstanding public schools and universities once attracted millions seeking upward economic mobility. But then something went radically wrong as California legislatures and governors built a welfare state on high tax rates, liberal entitlement benefits, and excessive regulation. The results, though predictable, are nonetheless striking. From the mid-1980s to 2005, California's population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000.