The Middle Class is Leaving California

Troy Senik writes about the Land of Inequity at the National Review Online.

. . . While the rich and the poor may come together at the ballot box, it is indisputably (and unsurprisingly) the former who end up manning the state’s levers of power. This has given rise to a class of what my Orange County Register colleague (and self-identified “Truman Democrat”) Joel Kotkin refers to as “gentry liberals,” a left-wing governing caste whose public-policy predilections owe more to considerations of taste than of economic necessity.

The unhappy reality of life under the gentry is that the sorts of measures needed to foster economic growth — not to mention affordable middle-class lifestyles — are regarded as gauche in Sacramento. The California of the governing class’s dreams is a place where white-collar workers take public transit through densely packed urban centers, leaving nary a carbon footprint to be found in their wake. That is, a California where rank-and-file citizens have adopted the tastes of the state’s elites — despite the fact that they don’t have the resources to afford them. What it most certainly is not is a California like the one that once beguiled the nation — one with abundant, affordable suburban housing, open roads, middle-class jobs aplenty, and good schools.

It’s harmless enough, of course, for the California cognoscenti to evangelize in behalf of their artisanal lifestyles. It’s another matter entirely to insist that such tastes drive lawmaking. That, however, is precisely what’s happened in the Golden State — and that’s the trend that’s increasingly driving California’s middle class across state lines. . . .

Troy concludes his article

Why is the middle class leaving California? Because California has left the middle class. As the economy faltered, the state raised taxes and continued to let regulation and litigation run riot. As the freeways clogged and housing prices climbed to astronomical levels, environmental activists called for high-speed rail and “sustainable communities.” As the state’s schools saw their performance plummet to national lows, the California Teachers Association — the state’s dominant teachers’ union and foremost opponent of education reform — remained the single biggest financial player in state politics.

Though their interests may be diverse, the impulses of every powerful constituency in California politics converge on the same point: more government. As a result, California has become a place of government of the elites, by the elites, and for the elites. It should be no surprise then that the elites are increasingly the only ones left who can afford it.

Who is Troy Senik? He is the senior editor of Ricochet, a columnist for the Orange County Register, a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom, and the host of a series of podcasts for the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Every time you read about another School closing, it is another indicator that the middle class is leaving. While there are other demographic issues, mainly declining births and immigration, the middle class are the prime supporter of schools. When they leave the state the schools close.

About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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3 Responses to The Middle Class is Leaving California

  1. Since January, my firm has been leading an implementing of a financial system for a client that relocated from California to Seattle, WA. Over the past eight weeks, I have met many Californian’s who have relocated here for the greater outdoors, a bustling economy, and NO state income tax. (For many Californian’s the 2013 tax rate is ~9.3%). The sales tax is only a tad higher at 9.5% in the cities, 6.5% in the rural area.


  2. David N says:

    My wife and I are both engineers. We left California in 2006 and moved to Texas. Best move we ever made. I estimate that we are saving a cool $20,000 per year in Income taxes alone. Over the last eight years, that is $160,000. California is a one word IQ test. The correct answer: leave.


  3. Russ Steele says:

    Even the liberals in Hollywood are leaving for lower cost production states, or states give tax breaks and subsidies. Here is what the Milken Institute has to say:

    California’s stronghold on the entertainment industry is loosening as production jobs are lured to other locations due to production credits and other tax breaks. Between 2004 and 2012, the state lost more than 16,000 jobs in filmed production employment — a more than 10 percent drop. Meanwhile, New York, California’s main rival, added more than 10,000 such jobs. These jobs contribute to state revenues and provide sustainable incomes that result in significant local spending. In California, they are high-paying middle-class positions that pay more than $95,000 on average.


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