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[flagged] Is California a Good Role Model? (nytimes.com)
27 points by ishikawa 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 37 comments



Looking at total GSP makes no sense. California has the largest GSP, but it is only #8 in GSP per capita. Also, when we compare countries, we usually compare PPP (purchasing power parity) GDP per capita, not nominal GDP per capita. California has a cost of living much higher than the national average.

If you look at real purchasing power, California ranks #37: http://www.aei.org/publication/adjusting-state-incomes-for-t.... The usual retort to attempts to adjust for cost of living is that iPhones, Teslas, etc., cost the same anywhere in the country. This is where inequality comes in--your average person spends most of their income on purchases indexed to cost of living: rent, food, gas, child care, etc. If you make $300,000, you'll have more disposable income in California than if you made $200,000 in Minnesota even with the higher cost of living. If you make $75,000 in California, you might be living very similarly to someone making $50,000 in Minnesota.

Nor is California like say Germany or France, where substantially lower GDP per capita and higher taxes (relative to the U.S.) is balanced by a robust safety net and ample public services. California has among the worst public schools in the country: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/economy/2018/02/08/geog.... Its public universities are quite expensive. It doesn't have a leg up in healthcare like say Massachusetts. Public transit is basically non-existent outside SF/LA. (To compare: Dresden and Sacramento are about the same size; Dresden has an extensive commuter rail system, and a tram system with 150 stops. Sacramento has no commuter rail and a light-rail system with 50 stops.)


>Nor is California like say Germany or France, where substantially lower GDP per capita (relative to the U.S.) is balanced by a robust safety net and ample public services. California has among the worst public schools in the country: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/economy/2018/02/08/geog.... Its public universities are quite expensive. It doesn't have a leg up in healthcare like say Massachusetts.

It's true the public schools are lackluster, but I'm not sure the same is true of public universities and healthcare. California universities have a great reputation and student debt is relatively low [0][1]. Uninsured rates aren't Massachusetts-low, but their health outcomes are comparable or better [2]. California has made headlines for being one of the few states to lower mortality. [3]

[0]: https://ticas.org/posd/state-state-data-2015

[1]: https://edsource.org/2016/california-college-grads-incur-les...

[2]: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/stats_of_the_states.htm

[3]: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/6/29/15830970/wo...


Your purchasing power map is also misleading because it just compares how far $100 will go in each state. Of course CA will appear to be worse. What this misses is that CA salaries trend higher too. (But it's AEI, so kinda expected).


Outside of the Bay Area (which accounts for maybe 18% of the population) they really don't. Check out [1] and sort the table by median household income. You have to go way down the list to get to a place outside the Bay. In fact, California is ranked 10th for household income by state [2], after Virginia. If you excluded the Bay Area bubble it would be much lower.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_counties...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_income


Scroll down: the state-by-state ranking (where California ranks #37) accounts for the higher salaries.


> If you look at real purchasing power, California ranks #37

That's not PPP. It's a measure created by the Tax Foundation think tank and published by AEI, both of which obviously have an ideological agenda. Their results seem questionable to me: New York is in the bottom half, and Oregon and Hawaii are below impoverished Mississippi.

I'd prefer to use numbers from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Here [1] is a table of results pretty much straight from there. (You can find the simple methodology if you scroll down.) According to that data, California's per-capita income rank actually goes up when you take cost of living into account.

[1]: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/economy/2018/05/10/cost...


The Tax Foundation article uses Bureau of Economic Analysis data as well. The difference is that the Tax Foundation article also accounts for taxes. (Hence my digression on why Californians' lower purchasing power is not, unlike in Europe, offset by robust public services.)

Note that your reference has California at #25 for personal income, and #21 adjusted for cost of living. That seems odd...


>Depending on how you look at it, it’s one of the richest states or one of the most unequal.

It can be both, you know.


That's a pretty obvious conclusion that modern commentators have a hard time with. Folks go to great lengths to ignore stratified society.

In 2018 California, New York (ie. My grandma thought White Plains was some frozen tundra near Niagara Falls) and even Massachusetts are examples of that. Victorian England is another great example.


So what's it like living in a less stratified society?


It pretty much has to be both.


> At the moment, the Democratic coalition in California is — relatively speaking — a smooth running machine.

I'm not so sure about that. If that were true, we wouldn't see so many vetoes by the Democratic Governor of the laws passed by the Democratic legislature, nor we would we see so many failed bills in the Legislature.

There is definitely a split in the party between those that are "almost Republicans" and those that are "liberal Democrats". The Democrats have a supermajority in both houses -- they should be able to pass anything with ease.

But for example, they couldn't pass a new zoning law that would allow for a ton of new housing, something we desperately need. If the party were running smoothly, they would have been able to work out a new zoning bill that everyone was happy with.


I think Jonathan Rodden is right. People like to attribute economic results to whoever's in charge, but a lot of it depends on factors that are either outside of political control or only changeable through long-term policies.


I think it's the latter. Which makes constant politics just so much more important. And also democracies so fragile.


Edsall, whose work I generally hold in high regard, does not address the argument that the common cause of many of the problems is a regime which prevents home building where the jobs are.


No it's not.

- Most unequal state in America

- VERY high taxes (that are supposed to stop inequality, but it doesn't. Surprise)

- skyrocketing housing prices

- Very illiberal mindset towards the first amendment, especially on college campuses and in younger generations

- Allows illegal citizens to vote

- Very "shallow" show-off culture due to the show biz


What exactly is an "illegal citizen"?


It sounds like the name of a B action movie.


I think that's supposed to read as "Someone who votes differently than I do"


Some of the Points are relevant (inequality, housing), one is subjective (shallow culture), one is relative (taxes), one is without proof (voting). And regarding the last, and this question is truely serious because I don't get it, what is it with the obsession about the First? Maybe I'm so used that everybody can voice opinion and a free press that I take it for granted, but still.

And free speech goes both ways, just saying.

Disclaimer: I'm not from the US, so some insight into how free speech is looked at in the US would really be appreciated.


Voting: https://nypost.com/2018/07/18/san-francisco-allows-non-citiz...

Look at what's happening at college campuses. Students and administrators are openly against free speech, because it "harms minorities"


Which, one being they guys running the place is their full right (in Germany it is called Hausrecht, the right of some to decide who is allowed to speak at ones place, that logic of course does NOT apply to governments and states), and two falls in opinion under hate is not to be accepted.


Based on recent political events, I would argue that it is getting more difficult in the US to be "tolerant of the intolerant". Should university students be allowed to take their grievances with speakers coming to their school not only to the streets but to the university administration when someone has viewpoints that are intolerant of LGBT, for example? I would say yes, it's an intolerable position.

At the same time, it is important to note that Devin Nunes, the congressman who runs the House Intelligence Committee, and a Republican, is from California. Thus, it can't be completely true that California is a monoculture.


Thanks for the answer. True, it is really difficult to draw the line between tolerance and tolreance of intolerance. Let's hope we all get better at that!


It's a common dog whistle from the right about college campuses suppressing the free speech of Conservatives. Their complaints stem from Conservative commentators being rejected from speaking gigs on college campuses, sometimes because of protests.


Thanks for the answer. Maybe, I'm being optimistic here, society learns how to better deal with diferent opinions in the future out of this.

Just for my understanding, it is more about the venue of where conservative commentators are allowed to speak and less about the fact that they speak in General? If it is that it seems to be kind of abusive of the First, trying to use to gain admission to every conceivable place for a Rally or talk.


This is not about conservatives, it hits everyone: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/8/3/17644180/po...

Making this issue a conservative vs liberal issue is dishonest and doesn't get us anywhere


Yeah, that is right. And I won't deny that there some very fine idiots on both sides.


Try again, kiddo.

This is not about conservatives, it hits everyone, ESPECIALLY LEFT WINGERS: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/8/3/17644180/po...

Making this issue a conservative vs liberal issue is dishonest and doesn't get us anywhere


> VERY high taxes (that are supposed to stop inequality, but it doesn't. Surprise)

This isn't justified. There's a lot of inequality in California, but given the makeup of the state, it seems reasonably likely that it would be even worse if the state were more hands-off.

> Allows illegal citizens to vote

This is not even a little bit true. You should really vet your sources of information more carefully.



Read your own source. That's not a state matter.


I think you have to separate whether California is a good social and cultural role model from whether it is a good economic role model.

Social liberals will naturally see inclusive (relative to the rest of the country), majority-minority California as a success story. Cultural conservatives will continue to regard it with distrust.

But the questions raised in this article are primarily economic, and I think the point about inequality is particularly salient given which party holds power.


A handful of (mostly) coastal states manage to exempt themselves from criticism for how their culture and government policy unnecessarily makes being being less than wealthy a bigger pain in the butt than it needs to be by saying "look, we have legal weed and easy to get abortions, look how great we are!" and ignoring the economic reality that their government/society imposes on people who are living paycheck to paycheck or worse.

I really don't like it. The issues that the upper classes in states like to pat themselves on the back about are a lot farther down the hierarchy of needs than being able to afford to register your vehicle.

It's not even a left or right thing, it's a whether or not people have to spend time/money/effort jumping through hoops (thereby driving up the cost of living) set up by the government thing.

States shouln't be measured by how nice it is to be "average" there, they should be measured by how shitty it is or isn't if you're just scraping by.

unit91 32 days ago [flagged]

Betteridge's law of headlines strikes again!


tome's law strikes again!

"In any discussion about an article whose title is a question, Betteridge's law is mentioned with probability 1."

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17918772


TIL about Betteridge's law of headlines.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headli...




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