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We’re Still Here, Still Golden (Liberal USC Professor Pans California Doomsayers)
City Watch ^ | 05/14/2012 | DOWELL MYERS

Posted on 05/15/2012 9:17:24 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

CALIFORNIANS AREN’T FLEEING - California, you might think, is a terrible place that people are fleeing from. One reason you might think so is that a cottage industry of pundits, business lobbyists, and politicians has been dedicated to convincing the world that California is and will remain a failure until our prevailing cultural and political climate changes. In this game, demographics are treated like a football. But the people of California are the demographics, and they may not like being tossed about.

The doomsayer narrative presupposes that any place not booming with growth must be a failure. But any change can be taken as a sign of doom. If the number or proportion of white residents is declining, doomsayers cry “flight,” which is bad.

Conversely, if minorities are declining, that must be a sign of gentrification, which is also bad. If the population is getting older, that’s a sign of failure, and if it is getting younger, then where have all the wise older people gone? Any demographic change can be spun as criticism to advance an agenda.

The doomsayer critics playing with demographics typically cite three reasons for the state’s woes: Business taxes are too high, development regulations are too strict, and planners are dictating lifestyles that people don’t want. Meanwhile, the people of California wonder if some of these claims are true. Demographers are experts, after all. Aren’t they?

Meg Whitman, running for governor in 2010, was only one of many politicians in recent years to adopt the doomsayer narrative. “We are, you know, crushing the California dream,” she told Sean Hannity on Fox News. “And people are moving to Colorado and Arizona and Texas and Utah, because it’s simpler and easier to do business.”

A more recent instance of doomsaying appeared in a Wall Street Journal interview with Joel Kotkin, the contrarian writer on urban matters. The feature, headlined “The Great California Exodus,” received a great deal of attention for its shocking tale of California’s demographic failure. “Nearly four million more people have left the Golden State in the last two decades than have come from other states,” read the introduction. “This is a sharp reversal from the 1980s, when 100,000 more Americans were settling in California each year than were leaving.”

Shocking, but misleading—and dangerous. Crying wolf will only succeed in getting the public to ignore all the demographic trends, some of which indeed have vital importance. A more realistic picture of California’s health and attraction is painted by a different measure of migration, one that in fact leads to the opposite conclusion.

People can leave a state for many reasons. California has many dabblers who try it out and then head home. Migration is a sorting process that can work in California’s favor, acting like a gold pan that sifts through aspiring talent and keeps the best. (New York is even more extreme in this respect.)

Do Californians really care how many New Yorkers move back to New York or on to Las Vegas? For the most part, no. What local residents care about is how many of our own friends, especially our children, leave the state. If native Californians start fleeing, then we know we are in trouble. So what do the data tell us on this?

California, in fact, holds its own. When it comes to retaining native sons and daughters, California has the fifth-strongest attraction of all 50 states. Among California-born adults who were at least 25 years of age and old enough to have moved away, fully 66.9 percent were still choosing to reside in the Golden State in 2007, the last year of high migration before the recession held people down. Texas, with 75.1 percent of native Texans still living in the state, has the strongest loyalty, and the other three rounding out the top five are Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Georgia. California’s top-five ranking is all the more impressive when you take into account the state’s high living costs and other negatives. We must have something going for us.

Nevada, as you can see here, ranks in the bottom five of states’ retention of native-born population, despite being touted as a beacon for those fleeing California. If you can’t hold your own, you’re not worth the chips you’re built on. On this key measure, California is a full house, Nevada a busted inside straight. And yet you’d never know how enticing California is for its native-born residents from the overwrought narratives.

When it comes to the question of how much growth is desirable, the last decade of booming population growth in California was the 1980s, when over 6 million people were added. That is Kotkin’s apparent standard of excellence. But the 1980s were a big anomaly. It might have had something to do with Texas being in an oil bust and the Midwest hitting the worst of its rustbelt slide.

Or perhaps it had to do with Ronald Reagan occupying the White House and launching a campaign of defense spending to outmuscle the Soviets, with much of the spending focused on southern California’s aerospace companies. California, in that decade, was a magnet without competition.

But, rest assured, California is hanging in there. This giant state has an economy that is equivalent in production to the eighth-largest nation in the world. The state certainly is afflicted with political gridlock, but so is Congress. It’s an American malaise. California still has unique assets to be deployed in the 21st century economy.

In reality, the demographic picture in California is brighter than it has been in decades, provided we meet one key challenge. New studies show that the state’s immigrants have settled in and the growth in the workforce now rides on the skills of homegrown Californians, many the children of immigrants.

The main threat in California isn’t about business climate or the types of homes being built. It is about the defunding of higher education and the failure to invest in the next generation of workers, taxpayers, and homebuyers. If there is any doubt about California’s future—and this is no crying wolf—that is the demographic challenge to keep your eyes on.

(Dowell Myers, a professor in the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California and a fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University, is the author of Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America. Zocalo Public Square … where this article was first posted … connects people to ideas and each other. A must visit.)



TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: california

1 posted on 05/15/2012 9:17:35 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
It is about the defunding of higher education and the failure to invest in the next generation of workers, taxpayers, and homebuyers.

In other words, soak the producers and "spread the wealth around" to the looters. Sure, that's just the ticket to restore California.

And to think that USC used to be a rather Conservative university, where genuine learning existed. That's receding into a very dim, long ago past.

2 posted on 05/15/2012 9:22:52 AM PDT by re_nortex (DP...that's what I like about Texas.)
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To: SeekAndFind
The main threat in California isn’t about business climate or the types of homes being built. It is about the defunding of higher education...

Awww, isn't that cute?

The Perfesser wants a raise.

3 posted on 05/15/2012 9:24:33 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Do I really need a sarcasm tag? Seriously? You're that dense?)
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To: SeekAndFind

The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one.


4 posted on 05/15/2012 9:27:54 AM PDT by Tzimisce (THIS SUCKS)
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To: SeekAndFind
The doomsayer critics playing with demographics typically cite three reasons for the state’s woes: Business taxes are too high, development regulations are too strict, and planners are dictating lifestyles that people don’t want.

Yep.

Meanwhile, the people of California wonder if some of these claims are true.

Only the ones that are still there and haven't started planning their egress yet.

This professor is trying to convince citizens of rainy weather on a sunny day while pissing on their leg. I'm waiting for some of the establishment politicians in CA start blaming talk radio for the bad press and mass exodus. Oh wait....

He doesn't see ANY correlation between the numbers of people and business going away and the states fiscal and regulatory policies? None? Really? He's a professor of what again?

5 posted on 05/15/2012 9:29:14 AM PDT by Tenacious 1 (With regards to the GOP: I am prodisestablishmentarianistic!)
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To: Tzimisce

RE: The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one.

He admits that there is one, only, he’s identified the WRONG PROBLEM.


6 posted on 05/15/2012 9:35:00 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

The “makers” are bailing out.

The establishment “takers” have dug themselves in and have a death grip on the state treasury.

Meanwhile the population continues to climb as non-english speaking moochers still pour across the border and spawn anchor babies by the thousands.

No one has the guts to do what needs to be done.

California will end up becoming a federal government basket case and receive a multi-trillion dollar bailout. That will enable them to continue the insanity for a few more years.


7 posted on 05/15/2012 9:37:07 AM PDT by Iron Munro (If Repubbies paid as much attention to Rush as the 'Rats we wouldn't be in this mess)
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To: SeekAndFind

I left late last year — and I was born and raised in California.

This is the worst (best?) job of whistling past the graveyard I have ever read. It isn’t even backed up by facts (most people are fleeing to Texas, not Nevada).

There are more people in the cart than pulling it. The more they raise taxes the fewer people will be pulling the cart (plenty of people to clamber in to get the free stuff, though).


8 posted on 05/15/2012 9:37:40 AM PDT by freedumb2003 ('RETRO' Abortions = performed on 84th trimester individuals who think killing babies is a "right.")
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To: freedumb2003

Indeed. As Shaw so aptly put it: “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul.”


9 posted on 05/15/2012 9:41:17 AM PDT by ReformationFan
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To: Tenacious 1
He's a professor of what again?

He's the Jerry Brown Professor of Moonbattery at USC. Not that they call it that.

10 posted on 05/15/2012 9:43:36 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets
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To: ReformationFan
Please excuse me for having the audacity to ask a simple question since I am not a member of the enlightened academic intelligentsia but,

WHERE IS THE MONEY TO SUSTAIN IT GOING TO COME FROM, YOU IDIOT?"

11 posted on 05/15/2012 9:51:26 AM PDT by ibytoohi
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To: Tenacious 1

And there is no political gridlock in California, the democrats own the State at all levels.


12 posted on 05/15/2012 9:55:12 AM PDT by Old North State (Don't blame me, I voted for Pedro)
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To: SeekAndFind
>>This giant state has an economy that is equivalent in production to the eighth-largest nation in the world.

True, but before the Rats took control, California had an economy that was equivalent to the fifth-largest nation in the world.

13 posted on 05/15/2012 10:07:17 AM PDT by vikingd00d (chown -R us ./base)
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To: SeekAndFind

Folks, this is your brain on drugs.


14 posted on 05/15/2012 10:09:30 AM PDT by anoldafvet
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To: ibytoohi
I believe that I have an answer to my own question.

For the good of the people (how can you resist) cut the salaries of all tenured professors, and administrators throughout the California state university system by 50%.

I see two immediate results. First, although still over paid those who sacrificed the 50% salary cut are now paid an amount closer to their actual value to the economy, and secondly, the state now has the money to begin reducing the deficit and making the state solvent.

Oops, my bad. We're talking California here. Any additional revenues will certainly be spent, not on deficit reduction, but on programs, grants etc such as "DNA and odorous investigation of Sasquatch feces in Yosemite."

15 posted on 05/15/2012 10:12:06 AM PDT by ibytoohi
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To: SeekAndFind

picture of the author

16 posted on 05/15/2012 10:16:24 AM PDT by BookmanTheJanitor
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To: SeekAndFind

Bump


17 posted on 05/15/2012 10:26:45 AM PDT by lowbridge (Joe Biden: "Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy.")
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To: SeekAndFind

Golden? More like jaundiced. CA has just about made its last lap around the bowl.


18 posted on 05/15/2012 10:32:41 AM PDT by Trod Upon (Obama: Making the Carter malaise look good. Misery Index in 3...2...1)
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To: SeekAndFind

Says the woefully ignorant academic from his EASY, ridiculously undemanding position, atop his protected satin pillow, deep inside taxpayer-funded, Communist BigEducation.


19 posted on 05/15/2012 10:33:58 AM PDT by EyeGuy (Non-Holder person.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

“He’s the Jerry Brown Professor of Moonbattery at USC. Not that they call it that. “

He makes the case for shuttering “higher education” for a period of five years, sending all the “professors” down the road to look for a real job, and starting the complete rebuilding of our educational infrastructure. Those who would be “missing out” on the current claptrap “colleges and universities,” would be better off for their “loss.”


20 posted on 05/15/2012 10:59:12 AM PDT by vette6387
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To: SeekAndFind

More power to CA if it somehow becomes stable, financially.

As for retention of native born, there are plenty of immigrant and welfare births in the 1980s. They get beneifits beyond anywhere else. Why would they move?

The retention rate is symptom of the financial instability, not despite it.

If and when CA becomes stable, local born will leave and out of staters will come back.


21 posted on 05/15/2012 11:00:15 AM PDT by cicero2k
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To: ibytoohi

Very simple. The government can just print more! ;)


22 posted on 05/15/2012 11:05:29 AM PDT by ReformationFan
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To: ReformationFan

RE: Very simple. The government can just print more! ;)

California can’t print money. Only the Feds can. Are you saying that the Fed will print more money to rescue the likes of California?


23 posted on 05/15/2012 11:35:59 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. After all, it’s a solidly Democratic state.


24 posted on 05/15/2012 12:13:28 PM PDT by ReformationFan
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