California is the center of American racism?

“Number One in Poverty, California Isn’t Our Most Progressive State — It’s Our Most Racist One” (Forbes) is kind of fun in the same way as me offering my neighbors with the Black Lives Matter posters a minivan ride down to the Fresh Pond McDonald’s for a viewing of some people of color.

For me the most powerful part of the argument concerns real estate regulation and taxation. By making it tough to build anything new, California enriches owners of existing property. Most of these folks are white or Chinese investor visa immigrants. Prop 13 taxes long-time homeowners at much lower rates than recent home buyers. Guess what color the average person who has been in the same house since 1978 is?

California also has sales taxes, which are regressive, much higher than what other states charge.

The author attacks Califronia for running public schools for the benefit of unionized school employees and the politicians who receive their reliable votes. Nobody in California cares what the students learn. But how is that different from other states?

6 thoughts on “California is the center of American racism?

  1. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under of robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some points be satiated; but those who torment us for their own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to heaven yet at the same time likely to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on the level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

    -CS Lewis

  2. Upon visiting a middle school in San Francisco’s Marina district 15 years ago, I was shocked at the condition of the school, which obviously hadn’t seen any upgrades since the 1950s. Peeling paint, ancient facilities, not even clean. Posters on the wall re: how not to get pregnant.

    The condition of the bathrooms in nearby Galileo high school were worse. Bathrooms in the basement, without even paper towels.

    With the affluence and progressive politics of this city, this is shocking to me.

    But God forbid we should fail to sort our recyclables into the right bin…

  3. Zillow shows any number of condos and small houses available between 200k-300k in Escondido, a bedroom community of San Diego. Houses in Solana Beach, a beach community with good schools and a 30 minute train ride to downtown San Diego are shown costing 5 to 10 times as much.

    A gardener in Del Mar lives in Escondido and drives a Ford Ranger. He mows the lawn of a guy who lives in Del Mar who drives a Mercedes.

    Subsidizing the gardener so he can live in Del Mar makes about as much sense as buying him a Mercedes.

  4. Brian: says Escondido, a two-hour(?) 60-mile round-trip commute from a job in San Diego, has a median home price of $513,400. Zillow says that, absent savings for a big down payment, your gardener would have to earn about $130,000 per year to afford that house.,-California says that $13.44/hour is the average wage for a gardener in California. So it would take four gardeners working full time (2000 hours each per year) to earn enough to afford that median house in Escondido. says that the nationwide median pay for a “grounds maintenance worker” is $13.51 per hour.

    These do seem a little low. I wonder if there is some sort of government policy that works to depress the wages of low-skill native-born workers and thus make it cheaper for wealthy politically influential people to have awesome gardens in the backyards of their mansions.

  5. GC: I’m sure that the school was legitimately gross, but your examples sound a bit pampered. Paint is superficial and can peel very early with sloppy work. Ancient facilities sounds like a euphemism for “this is an older building” (see: Phil’s recent notes on unnecessary school replacement). Not clean could mean anything at all in a building full of teens all day. Even rich teens will get stupid ideas about pregnancy if no one forces them to go to health class. I don’t even know what’s relevant about the basement, but I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t run out of paper towels constantly. And, of course, they could have nice Dyson hand dryers for eco-reasons for all we know.

  6. Phil:
    1. They are not commuting to San Diego but to the bedroom communities on the coast. Service industry people who work in San Diego live in other places. Commute time to the coast is a more reasonable 30 minutes.

    2. $13.50/hr. is what a guy with a rake makes. A gardener with a truck, and power tools (lawnmower, leaf blower, etc.) shows up at my house twice a month and makes $30-$40/hr. He optionally pays taxes on this income. Some other service industry rates: A nanny who speaks English and has a drivers license – $30-40/hr., a car detailer with a van – $30-40/hr. A house cleaner (English not required) $25-$40/hr. People in the construction trades, drywall hangers, plumbers, carpenters, and electricians typically make more, along with folks who fix appliances such as washing machines.

    3. A median house in San Diego includes two living rooms (one is called a “family room”) and close to one bathroom for each inhabitant. There is nothing median about this.

    4. You can buy a house in San Diego, provided you have two incomes such as in the above example. People do it all the time. They get married, save money, and practice family planning. Unlike the stereotype, they are often of Mexican descent. It is, admittedly, hard for many people to do this.

    Perhaps the worst problem with this is that, often the schools are crummy in working class neighborhoods.

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