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California does not have the highest poverty rate in the USA (motherjones.com)
149 points by aston 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 19 comments



This article boils down to one point: that the basis of the LA Times article's claim is California's sky-high real estate prices. If it wasn't including house prices, poor Californians would be doing 'just fine.' That's like saying a laptop works perfectly fine if you ignore the fact the screen is busted.

Why shouldn't housing prices be looked at when determining how poor a population is? Obviously it's a significant component of cost of living, which directly impacts how much purchasing power individuals and families have.


That's your interpretation of the article. I don't believe that's how the article was written.

Author acknowledge the high housing cost but states that the metric that was used only account for a few things and it ignore other metrics which can skew it towards a certain argument.

Author also stated that the other person lied about how large state employment for California is. Author actually normalize/standardize it per capital instead of a having stating this is a large number.

You and the article can argue whatever yall want but it's just an opinion until yall do factor analysis or some sort of algorithm to figure out what's the right combination of metric is.


Imagine you're a one of Apple's (very stable) geniuses. Would you rather hear someone say "My computer doesn't work, fix it" or "I can't use my computer because the screen is busted." Yes, high housing prices are a component of poverty in California, but if you make poverty the story, you're burying the lede. The real story is housing housing housing, and that the housing crisis is creating more poverty.


This back and forth of complainers and defenders reminds me of old time raps --where someone came out with a rap and then someone would have to come back with an answer rap.

I bet if the state were controlled by different parties, Mother Jones and LA Times would have a different takes. This is politics at work.


As a Californian I don't agree with the sentiment of this analysis. Sure, certain segments of the population here are doing well -- particularly, the well-off and those from out-of-state -- but if you were born and raised an average life here any time in the past 35 years, particularly on the coast, then your life is particularly tough in some areas: $1500 rents for a 1BR apartment, super-low wages, apathetic middle class, increasing traffic, now we have a homeless problem....

More succinctly I disagree with the authors' assertion that CA is doing fine "if you take out housing prices"


My impression is that using statistics to say CA has the highest poverty rate is just a good use of numbers to get attention for a headline. I highly doubt if you carefully considered the philosophy of what it is to be poor and used that to come up with scientific methods to measure it, you wouldn't find CA at the bottom. If someone thinks it is, they probably don't have a very good view of the rest of the country. (and really, I don't think it's very helpful to rank states. economies, regions, and populations within a state and how they're doing is an actually useful metric, 'poorest state' is too far disconnected from solutions)

And if we're talking about solutions, the top point should be disabusing people of the thought that the world owes them the right to keep their standard of living while staying in the same place despite economic climate changes. All of my ancestors moved to America and around America rich and poor, were driven largely with economic motivations. I would think that most people that ended up in America (and especially California) ended up there in search of opportunity. Many of CA's economic problems can be largely solved by a population from the top to the bottom more willing to take advantage of the competition for talent, labor, and cost of living from around the country. The artificial imbalance of people and companies that just don't want to leave is causing the absurdly high prices of things near the coast.


I disagree... everyone should have special rights to their birthplace.

Not supporting those already results in the exactly the kind of gentrification that people are complaining about. CA is desirable land, the people that most support it (aka homegrown Californians still in place) should be the ones living there. Let the incoming masses pay a toll to provide for the people of the state they wish to live in.

Are you guests, or conquerors?


>Are you guests, or conquerors?

Who at this point lives on a piece of land that wasn't taken from someone else at some point?

Zoom out a few generations and the constant around the world is people moving. Why should this imagined right start now?

People deserve the right of self determination but not the right to being unaffected by change. Using "gentrification" as a dirty word and assuming that means it's bad doesn't make it true. People complain about change, that's that. This country is nearly entirely composed of people who moved because of change. Change isn't going to stop, trying to enforce constancy tends to make the change worse. (i.e. social programs and housing cost management can make inequality worse rather than better because it fucks with supply and demand of labor)

>everyone should have special rights to their birthplace

Inherited entitlements–and the authority enforcing them–are a huge source of inequality both at the top and at the bottom.


"Who at this point lives on a piece of land that wasn't taken from someone else at some point?"

The people on Pitcairn Island. Parts of Cape Verde, I think. And Bermuda.

Iceland got their country back.

These small examples don't weaken your argument in any way.


You are right, gentrification is not inherently bad. But the homogeneity of people it brings in is.

And while there has always been a certain amount of migration it has never affected so many in the world at once, and within such short timespans, as to consider it a constant. (Unless you're looking back millenia). Most-to-all of the major cities of the past 2000 years have stayed in the same place: Rome, London, Beijing...


Only because there is a homogeneity in the upper echelons. For now. Soon you will see rich people from immigrant backgrounds and this point does nor hold.

Unless by homogeneity you mean against poor people specifically. But in general we want homogeneity in high living standards as the target, as in no people who are poor not by exclusion, but by lack thereof.

We need then to define "poor" properly, not by what you can afford or other relative wealth measure, but by some threshold where living standards and opportunities are available and good enough. Any relative measure will be a lie sooner or later.

Suppose we have a "poor" person who does not earn much, but has many important ends met by state, e.g. good education and job opportunities, reasonable housing and health care, nourishment etc. Such a person should not be considered truly poor.

Obviously this is not really compatible with market economy which will increase price for required (income inelastic demand - housing has about 0.2 for renters, health services probably slightly negative, food in general is about 0.5 in US but curve is bathtub for some categories) goods and services until the costs are barely bearable or just beyond bearable.


As a Californian from the coast I feel your pain, but seriously compare this state to opioid country and we're doing great. Most of the people I knew from high school have had to leave because they can't afford it here now. But these are signs of a good economy and low poverty.

We are doing fine if you take out housing prices, and we are doing not great if you include them. Which is why everyone throughout the state is talking about the housing crisis. Unless you have some brilliant ideas like draining the SF Bay[0], housing is hard to do while simultaneously worrying about the environment.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reber_Plan


> compare this state to opioid country...

That was a bit gratuitous.

> ... and we're doing great.

OK...

> Most of the people I knew from high school have had to leave because they can't afford it here now.

So most of the people you went to high school with have been forced to leave (for "opioid country"?) - why? Because they'd be poor otherwise? Maybe even homeless? That's a bit odd for a place that's "doing great".

> But these are signs of a good economy...

These are signs of an economy with high cost of living, lots of high-paying jobs, and not much place in it for those who can't get one of those high-paying jobs.

> ... and low poverty.

"Most of the poor people leaving" is not normally what I think of when I hear "low poverty".

I mean, yes, if California weren't creating all these high-paying jobs, there wouldn't be the demand, and so housing would be affordable. That's all true. And yet, I think on your own evidence you're painting a happier face on the situation than it deserves.


I don't know where everyone has gone, because I'm not an obsessive Facebooker. But gentrification means the economy is doing well. It sucks if you're the one displaced. But the jobless rate is very low, and incomes are rising here. Not everyone can ride this wave, but that's capitalism in America. Yes we create more people living in cars. If we want to fix that, maybe build more housing and do UBI?

I understand the impulse to say everything is terrible, because it frequently is. But that doesn't mean it's not improving. The new challenges created are not larger than our successes in California.


The housing in California is probably most expensive in the Bay Area. On the other hand, poverty is probably disproportionately concentrated in the Central Valley, where I expect housing is very cheap compared to the Bay Area. If you just look at average housing prices and average income levels, I think you may get a distorted view of the actual cost of living.


One of the best things I ever learned in school was from my German teacher in junior high school. I have no idea what we were talking about, but she said, "You can prove anything with statistics." I'm 41 years old and that has stuck with me all of these years.


Ronald Coase: "If you torture the data long enough, it will confess."


Build more houses


Take a look at the recent affordable housing legislation passed in the state assembly and signed by the governor. Can you guess who opposes these measures?




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