California Should Make Regular People More of a Priority

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California in 1970 was the American Dream writ large. Its economy was diversified, from aerospace and tech to agriculture, construction and manufacturing, and allowed for millions to achieve a level of prosperity and well-being rarely seen in the world.

Forty-five years later, California still is a land of dreams, but, increasingly, for a smaller group in the society. Silicon Valley, notes a recent Forbes article, is particularly productive in making billionaires’ lists and minting megafortunes faster than anywhere in the country. California’s billionaires, for the most part, epitomize American mythology – largely self-made, young and more than a little arrogant. Many older Californians, those who have held onto their houses, are mining gold of their own, as an ever-more environmentally stringent and density-mad planning regime turns even modest homes into million-dollar-plus properties.

What about California society as a whole? The Chapman University Center for Demographics and Policy released a report this month, by attorneys David Friedman and Jennifer Hernandez, on “California’s social priorities.” It painstakingly lays out our trajectory over the past 40 years. For the most part, it’s not a pretty picture and – to use the most overused word in the planning prayer book – far from sustainable from a societal point of view.

Read the full article at The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. He is also executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is also author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.  He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Photo by Thomas Pintaric (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Listen to this conversation between Charles Murray and Robert Putnam at the Aspen Insitute and tell me that the trade policies adopted during the first Clinton administration aren't a a major source of the problem, which is nationwide, by the way, not even Texas excepted.

What does the future hold?

Thank you Joel for another excellent article. I would be very interested in a companion future-looking piece to see what California will look like against Texas, North Carolina, etc.

I was confused by one statistic quoted in the article, could you explain the following: "Meanwhile, our state’s numbers of adults who didn’t advance beyond high school also trailed the nation – 40 percent against a national average of 69 percent."

I read that to mean that 60% of Californians went on to college while 31% of the rest of the nation went on to college. This seems like a positive statement about higher education, am I missing something?