California has an abundance of poverty and a shortage of housing. Crime, energy prices, rent and the general cost of living are increasing. Our tax burden is one of the highest in America. Californians pay 40 percent more than the national average for their energy. All of this is the predictable result of state laws and regulations that the elites can afford but that make the rest of California poorer.
Call it poverty by design.
One party, the Democrats, enjoys unchallenged control of California government and for a generation has been actively ignoring basic economic principles to implement its progressive policies. Our socioeconomic maladies are squarely, inarguably, the responsibility of the party in power. By every measurement, our standard of living comes up short in comparison to other states. California once led the nation in opportunity, housing, affordability, educational excellence and upward mobility. Now we rank at or near the bottom in nearly every category.
California's has America's highest poverty rate at 20.6 percent, according to the Census Bureau's Supplemental Poverty Measure, which experts consider the best measurement of poverty, as it accounts for cost-of-living factors such as taxes, housing and medical costs - in addition to income. In Central Valley communities such as Bakersfield, Delano (Kern County) and Turlock, the poverty rate is even higher.
•Another 20 percent of Californians live in "near-poverty" and struggle to pay for such necessities as food and shelter, according to estimates by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
•13 million of California's 39 million residents are enrolled in Medi-Cal, the federal-state program to provide medical services for the poor. From the perspective of health care affordability, one-third of Californians are poor.
•$100 has only $88 of actual purchasing power in California, because of our high cost of living.
These outcomes may not be intended, but they aren't accidental.
The failure to pursue rational water policies, such as expanding our water storage infrastructure, deepens droughts. The result is forced conservation, which requires local water agencies to raise rates to compensate for reduced revenues.
For years, progressives have pushed mandates to increase the number of electric and hybrid vehicles on the road. Because these cars use little or no gasoline, the gas taxes that fund highway and road repair remain flat even as the number of cars increases. Rather than re-prioritizing spending, Sacramento politicians are imposing a huge tax increase on gas and diesel fuel.
Everyone agrees the high cost of housing, whether owned or rented, is a huge contributor to poverty in California. However, the state's governing elites never ask themselves: "Why we are short 1.5 million housing units? Or why are rents so high and homes so expensive?" It's not a market defect, but a tangled web of environmental and land-use policies that make it nearly impossible for developers to bring affordable housing to the marketplace.
Imagine government regulations making it so expensive to build cars that automobile manufacturers could only earn a profit by selling luxury vehicles. That will give you an idea of what progressive politicians have done to housing development in California.
Misguided policies from Sacramento force us to pay more than our fellow Americans for the necessities of life: food, housing, energy, transportation. They've wiped out swaths of middle-class jobs and are rapidly transforming California into a state of haves and have-nots as the middle class flees to states where the cost of living is lower, and work and thrift are rewarded instead of punished.
It doesn't matter that Sacramento politicians don't intend to make Californians poorer and their state more expensive. Their intentions are irrelevant because the reality is that under their reign this state has more poverty and less opportunity than ever before. The reality is the ruling Democratic politicians are building a vanity economy that rich elites can afford to indulge but that poor and working Californians pay for through higher taxes and more expensive housing, energy and services. They earnestly believe their policies will refashion California into a society of sustainable abundance. But like utopian social engineers throughout history, they're unwilling to take off their ideological blinders and honestly confront the disastrous human results of their actions.
Travis Allen, a Republican, represents Huntington Beach in the state Assembly. He is a candidate for governor.