The Poor Pay The Price For California's Environmental Policies

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California is becoming a land of the elites and the subsidized and the rest is being driven out of state. With a world wide problem like pollution, 1 state can't change the world and burden it's residents and businesses with the high costs.

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/percent-676592-california-state.html

Progressive policies drive more into poverty

Across the nation, progressives increasingly look at California as a model state. This tendency has increased as climate change has emerged as the Democratic Party’s driving issue. To them, California’s recovery from a very tough recession is proof positive that you can impose ever greater regulation on everything from housing to electricity and still have a thriving economy.

And to be sure, the state has finally recovered the jobs lost in the 2007-09 recession, largely a result of a boom in values of stocks and high- end real estate. Things, however, have not been so rosy in key blue-collar fields, such as construction, which is still more than 200,000 jobs below prerecession levels, or manufacturing, where the state has lost over one-third of its employment since 2000. Homelessness, which one would think should be in decline during a strong economy, is on the rise in Orange County and even more so in Los Angeles.

The dirty secret here is that a large proportion of Californians, roughly one-third, or some 3.2 million households, as found by a recent United Way study, find it increasingly difficult to keep their heads above water. The United Way study, surprisingly, has drawn relatively little interest from a media that usually enjoys highlighting disparities, particularly racial gaps. Perhaps this reflects a need to maintain an illusion of blue state success. If Republican Pete Wilson were still governor, I suspect we might have heard much more about this study.

State of Poverty

The United Way study – “Struggling to Get By” – delves well beyond even the recent Census Bureau analysis, which, by factoring in housing costs, already established California as the state with the highest percentage of poor people, at roughly one in four. United Way expanded this percentage by calculating what the charitable organization called the “Real Cost Budget,” which includes not only rent but also costs for child care, medical, health and transportation.

By United Way’s calculation, roughly one in three Californians can barely make ends meet, despite the state’s relatively generous transfer payments, subsidies and general assistance. Latinos and African Americans, as one might expect, fare worse, but roughly one-in-five non-Hispanic whites and 28 percent of Asians also are deemed struggling.

Roughly half of Latino households fall into this condition of poverty or near-poverty, as do a similar share of African American households. Those who do worst generally are poorly educated single mothers and their children. Poverty and near-poverty are greatest among Latinos, who also are bearing the majority of children. It is hard to imagine a more urgent wake-up call.

Not surprisingly, many of the foreign-born, the source of much of California’s population growth in recent decades, have fared poorly. Only 25 percent of households headed by native-born Californians fall below the United Way “Real Cost Budget” line for economic distress, but it’s 45 percent for those headed by the foreign-born, and nearly 60 percent for families headed by a noncitizen. The highest percentage is among Latino households headed by a noncitizen – a staggering 80 percent fall below the minimal level.

California’s rising ranks of poor and near-poor – essentially the proleterianized middle class – are not heavily concentrated in the Bay Area, which has sparked the state’s ballyhooed comeback. There, only one in four fall under the minimal “Real Cost Budget,” the best result among California’s major urban regions.

In contrast, in both Los Angeles-Orange County and the Inland Empire, some 35 percent of households fall below this level. The toll is particularly extreme for Latinos in greater Los Angeles; some 54 percent can be counted poor or near-poor, the highest proportion of any California region. Overall, the worst poverty in the state appears to be in the Central Valley, where, despite lower housing costs, 37 percent of residents struggle to make ends meet.

When researchers drilled down to see the most destitute neighborhoods, they were clustered disturbingly close to home. In parts of Santa Ana, almost three in five households are below the United Way’s minimum income level. But the five worst-off areas in the region are in a broad arc of Los Angeles, from Watts to the neighborhoods around the University of Southern California, south of Downtown. Overall, 60 percent to 80 percent of households in these areas are struggling to make ends meet.

Political Implications

Given the avowed commitment of progressives to addressing inequality and poverty, one would expect that there would be a renewed focus on spurring economic growth. But, instead, in part due to the bizarre policy choices made by many Latino legislators, the state keeps ratcheting up the prices for both energy and housing through its quixotic – and, fundamentally, narcissistic – attempt to single-handedly reverse climate change.

These policies – and their predecessors over the years – are at the heart of rising housing and electricity costs, which are plaguing California’s massive population of struggling households. As a recent Manhattan Institute paper reveals, over 1 million Californians already face “energy poverty,” paying upward of 10 percent of their incomes to keep their lights on. The most hard-hit areas, the study found, were in inland communities, particularly the Central Valley, where the climate tends far more to extremes than in the more affluent coastal regions.

My recent column attacking the fecklessness of California’s Latino political class, not surprisingly, drew some criticism, including from my old friend Manuel Pastor. Manuel claimed Latinos, according to polls, regard climate change as a major issue. Besides the fact that I didn’t address what people thought, this assertion seems a bit misleading. Like most Californians, Latinos are concerned about climate change but the environment hardly registers as a major concern compared with such challenges as the economy, employment or the drought, which is particularly troubling in the heavily Hispanic inland of the state. Only 5 percent of Californians, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, identify the environment as the leading challenge for the state.

In order to placate the rising numbers of poor and near-poor, California’s climate-obsessed political elites are offering expanded subsidies for housing. Some $130 million from cap-and-trade funds – the very mechanism helping to drive higher energy costs – will go for affordable housing. Yet this is the most full-bore tokenism imaginable. At a cost per afforable apartment unit of about $300,000, at best only a few thousand Californians will benefit, making it essentially irrelevant in a state of almost 39 million people.

California’s rising poverty – driven in large part by relentlessly rising rents – cannot be addressed seriously by such gestures. High transportation costs for most Californians certainly won’t be eased much by Gov. Jerry Brown’s $70 billion high-speed rail project, which, if and when it is finished, will be too expensive for most of these people to ride, and it certainly won’t address how to cheaply get from Riverside to Irvine or from East Los Angeles to the Westside. Something more enduring and broadly uplifting must be tried.

What can be done? We might start by reversing our frog-walk toward ever more extreme greenhouse gas reduction goals, which will only boost housing prices, threaten middle- and working-class jobs and make things worse overall without doing much of anything for the climate. Spending on vitally needed infrastructure – like water storage, seawater desalination, port and road improvements – could spur jobs and the economy. Measures to at least slow down, or even reverse, some of the most regressive taxes, and perhaps reduce the burden on potential job-creating businesses, might be considered.

This is a debate all of us in this state need to have. California can continue to work to reduce greenhouse gases in a reasonable way, but with a goal of not further victimizing our increasingly large population of poor and near-poor.

Anyone who criticizes the current policy drift, no matter how social democratic their perspective, will likely be written off as a “denier” or right-wing, or simply ignored by the mainstream media. In contrast to the people-centered progressivism of a Gov. Pat Brown or President Harry Truman, today’s Left increasingly seems unconcerned about their policies’ true impact on the poor and struggling middle class. Call it progressive heart failure."

DynoDon
Joined:
Jun. 29, 2012 9:24 am

Comments

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/coal-676552-states-obama.html

"The de facto tax that Mr. Obama wants to impose on American coal is doubly dastardly because its impact will be felt hardest in relatively poorer states. And because Census Bureau data confirms that poor households spend four times more of their income on energy than rich families, the Obama policy will make income inequality much worse. But, of course, the upper-crust Manhattan liberals who fund the Sierra Club and Obama and profess to care so much about the poor, can live with that. So much for “environmental justice.”

Maybe all of this pain would arguably be worth it if somehow these policies were going to reduce global carbon emissions and stop global warming as Mr. Obama assures us they will. They won’t. New data from the Energy Information Administration and other sources tells the opposite tale. China and India are adding coal plants on a massive scale. At least 1,000 new coal plants are planned worldwide.

I did the rough calculations. For every reduction in BTUs burned from coal in the U.S., China and India alone will burn 10-12 more BTUs. Even if the U.S. cut coal use to zero over 20 years, global emissions from coal will rise sharply. So the Obama plan is all pain, no gain. It would be like trying to reduce unwanted pregnancies in the Third World by having Americans use more birth control."

DynoDon
Joined:
Jun. 29, 2012 9:24 am

I completely reject the premise that regulation (environmental or otherwise) is driving poverty. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that it is conservative based neoliberal economic policies that have decimated the middle class and driven hard working Americans into financial instability. Housing prices reflect costs and if working class people can't afford housing it means that they are not being appropriately compensated for their labor, not that costs are being inflated by the fact that primarily essential social issues are finally being addressed. Working people are also burdened with costs that include things like high medical insurance which reflects the unnaturally high incidences of cancer, asthma and other illnesses associated with environmental degradation and corporate irresponsibility (like the overuse (abuse) of non-biodegradable plastic wrapping only because it's a bit cheaper and more convenient just for instance).

Environmental degradation leads to all sorts of social ills that fall disproportionately on the poor and defending that environmental degradation in the name of the poor is exceptionally malicious; and particularly when we all know that it's corporate profit driving the the sort of propaganda you're trying to spread here.

mdhess's picture
mdhess
Joined:
Apr. 9, 2010 10:43 pm
Quote mdhess:

I completely reject the premise that regulation (environmental or otherwise) is driving poverty. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that it is conservative based neoliberal economic policies that have decimated the middle class and driven hard working Americans into financial instability. Housing prices reflect costs and if working class people can't afford housing it means that they are not being appropriately compensated for their labor, not that costs are being inflated by the fact that primarily essential social issues are finally being addressed. Working people are also burdened with costs that include things like high medical insurance which reflects the unnaturally high incidences of cancer, asthma and other illnesses associated with environmental degradation and corporate irresponsibility (like the overuse (abuse) of non-biodegradable plastic wrapping only because it's a bit cheaper and more convenient just for instance).

Environmental degradation leads to all sorts of social ills that fall disproportionately on the poor and defending that environmental degradation in the name of the poor is exceptionally malicious; and particularly when we all know that it's corporate profit driving the the sort of propaganda you're trying to spread here.

I AGREE AND VOTE YOUR STATEMENT UP! :-)

MrsBJLee's picture
MrsBJLee
Joined:
Feb. 17, 2012 8:45 am

I figured you two would respond. The bottom line is that the poor are paying a heavy price for California trying to solve the world pollution problem all on its own. Your idealogical devotion blinds you to the practicalities of people and their everyday lives. Your answer is to give everyone subsidies for everything. Is it a coincidence the high rate of poverty in CA and all the regulations and taxes the govt has placed on us? Let the rest of the country catch up to CA and then examine the situation and how to move forward.

DynoDon
Joined:
Jun. 29, 2012 9:24 am

Here's a great example of what I am talking about. Here from the Arizona website.

https://www.azag.gov/consumer/gasoline

"There are no oil refineries in Arizona, so almost all of the state’s gasoline is imported from California via the “West Line” and Texas via the “East Line”. See pipeline map below. Refinery outages or pipeline problems, therefore, can severely limit Arizona’s supply and cause prices to spike. As it takes a shipment of gasoline approximately seven days to travel through the West Line from California to the Phoenix terminal and approximately 6 days to travel on the East Line from Texas to Phoenix, refinery outages or problems with either of the two pipelines can significantly affect Arizona’s supply and cause prices to rise for an extended duration."

https://www.azag.gov/sites/default/files/sites/all/docs/consumer/gasoline/GasGraphs2015.pdf

Check out the AZ gas price charts. While CA refineries were exporting gas to sell in AZ for $2.80/gal, SoCal gas prices from the same refineries were at $4.30+. The poor in less regulated AZ are less burdened with gas prices.

http://www.scpr.org/news/2015/07/14/53108/why-gas-prices-took-a-jump-this-week/

DynoDon
Joined:
Jun. 29, 2012 9:24 am
Quote DynoDon:

I figured you two would respond. The bottom line is that the poor are paying a heavy price for California trying to solve the world pollution problem all on its own. Your idealogical devotion blinds you to the practicalities of people and their everyday lives. Your answer is to give everyone subsidies for everything. Is it a coincidence the high rate of poverty in CA and all the regulations and taxes the govt has placed on us? Let the rest of the country catch up to CA and then examine the situation and how to move forward.

Much of what you've said doesn't make any sense. >>"Your answer is to give everyone subsidies for everything."<< Where in the heck did you get that idea and what the heck are you talking about?

In your world vision, only the poor are getting taxed? They're the only ones that have suffered with this heavy tax burden? And California is the only state with poverty?

Nice try. It's simple. Without regulations we get polluted water, polluted air, fracking right in YOUR backyards and without taxes we get no police, no roads, no fire department, wild fires out of control, no trash pick ups....do I need to go on? Do you honestly think we could just drop regulations? We wouldn't have any forests, wildlife, clean water to drink or clean air to breath! You're wrong on so many levels.

MrsBJLee's picture
MrsBJLee
Joined:
Feb. 17, 2012 8:45 am

High taxes and regulatory costs are more of a burden to someone making $20K/yr than someone making $100k. Didn't you read in the article that 1 million Californians pay 10% of their income for electricity? I'm not talking about rolling back any current environmental regulations-just no expansion(and cost increasing) of regulations. Let the rest of the country catch up. You can't expect to keep increasing costs to business and not have them leave the state and taking jobs with them.

I must say the one thing I've learned over the past few years on this board is the blind spot some progressives have regarding costs of programs and regulations. It's easy to come up with ambitious programs that sound great-but you never come up with a way to pay for them(other than taxing the rich).

Taxing the rich in CA is not going to happen. Silicon Valley has proven as adept at crony capitalism and lobbying as any other industry. Brown is talking about tax reform and reducing the burden on the rich and their volatile incomes.

Your wishful thinking will have people living in appliance boxes under bridges having pristine air and water.

DynoDon
Joined:
Jun. 29, 2012 9:24 am
Quote DynoDon:

I figured you two would respond. The bottom line is that the poor are paying a heavy price for California trying to solve the world pollution problem all on its own. Your idealogical devotion blinds you to the practicalities of people and their everyday lives. Your answer is to give everyone subsidies for everything. Is it a coincidence the high rate of poverty in CA and all the regulations and taxes the govt has placed on us? Let the rest of the country catch up to CA and then examine the situation and how to move forward.


That is a complete distortion of my statement. What i said is that business and industry, the very ones responsible for the environmental degradation that MUST BE ADDRESSED, should be paying a wage commensurate with the cost of living that includes the absolutely necessary environmental regulations necessary to sustain humanity. It is not an either/or proposition but an either/or-destroy-life-on-Earth proposition. In the light of reality you are arguing certain suicide in our future for profit and convenience now.

Thank God at least one state is leading rather than bending to the will of the Chamber of Commerce and their stooges.

mdhess's picture
mdhess
Joined:
Apr. 9, 2010 10:43 pm
Quote DynoDon:

High taxes and regulatory costs are more of a burden to someone making $20K/yr than someone making $100k. Didn't you read in the article that 1 million Californians pay 10% of their income for electricity? I'm not talking about rolling back any current environmental regulations-just no expansion(and cost increasing) of regulations. Let the rest of the country catch up. You can't expect to keep increasing costs to business and not have them leave the state and taking jobs with them.

I must say the one thing I've learned over the past few years on this board is the blind spot some progressives have regarding costs of programs and regulations. It's easy to come up with ambitious programs that sound great-but you never come up with a way to pay for them(other than taxing the rich).

Taxing the rich in CA is not going to happen. Silicon Valley has proven as adept at crony capitalism and lobbying as any other industry. Brown is talking about tax reform and reducing the burden on the rich and their volatile incomes.

Your wishful thinking will have people living in appliance boxes under bridges having pristine air and water.

Nice try but, again, you're full of it. How often have we heard this "businesses will flee" crap? Never happens. California, with its progressive regulations, remains among the top ten wealthiest states in median income while the lowest states in median income are the red states where (corporate bought and paid for) politicians gut regulations.

In fact, the OMB estimates that regulations provide huge economic benefits. They find that major regulations benefit the economy between $193 billion and $800 billion a year at a cost of $57 to $84 billion. [Dr. Thomas] McGarity [a University of Texas Professor] confirms this, telling Salon, “The thing that is most troubling to me is, when right-wing think-tanks or the government estimates the cost of regulation, they never go back and see how much it did cost. The few retrospective studies that have been done have shown uniformly that the cost estimates have been higher, much higher than the actual cost of the regulation. The reason is that once the regulations are in place companies are able to adapt to them very quickly.”

http://www.salon.com/2013/12/02/right_wing_garbage_debunked_no_regulation_doesnt_kill_jobs/

And, if you want to claim that Jerry Brown is talking about reducing taxes on Silicon Valley millionaires you'll have to provide evidence before I believe it. I'm not asserting that it isn't true just that I know better than to take conservative claims at face value.

mdhess's picture
mdhess
Joined:
Apr. 9, 2010 10:43 pm

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