Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Here's the choice, California: High-Speed Rail or increased rate of state poverty

This is the kind of news that turns my stomach into knots.  California's poverty rate is accelerating and state poverty has grown three times as fast as the population.

There are still high-speed rail promoters, possibly on the payroll, who like to say things like, California can afford this train and everything else on the budget.  No need to slash budgets on anything. (I'm guessing that they've cancelled their newspaper and endured an unsuccessful brain transplant.)

Those high-speed rail supporters, always pointing at the anticipated massive population increase in our state as a justification for building this gold-plated Ferrari of a train, need to look at, and digest some other data as well.

What all this suggests, while the Governor and the Rail Authority advocate building this luxury train for the rich, is that the well-to-do will eventually enjoy the opportunity to ride the train. However, those people, and the legislators who made this train possible, can watch as the rest of the state sinks into massive poverty. 

It's even safe to say that all those people who hope to get employment building this train, will never be able to afford to ride on it. And, by the way, there is a close correlation between our poverty rate increases and our school drop out rate increases. Those are not going to be the high-speed rail riding sector of our population.

Do not be confused.  This high-speed train is not intended to become a public mass transit commuter train that gets a huge number of Californians to work and back. If that's what people believe, they are sadly mistaken.  

You have to ask, where are our priorities? 

Our governor and the legislature are asking all of us who are taxpayers, to support the construction of an expensive luxury train that only the affluent can afford to ride, even if we can't.  At the same time, the social conditions are deteriorating for the large middle and under classes, while our tax burden will include this wasteful train. Our middle-class is shrinking, while our population of the poor increases.

What is wrong with my Democrats to permit this bizarre and cruel joke on California?

Governor and Legislature, what is wrong with you guys?

November 29, 2011
California's poverty grows three times as fast as population

Dan Walters blog:

California's population increased by 10 percent between 2000 and 2010 but the number of Californians living in poverty grew more than three times as fast, a new U.S. Census Bureau report reveals.

The data are found in a massive compilation of poverty statistics broken down by state, county and school district. And if the Census Bureau adopts a proposed new method gauging poverty, which takes into account regional and local costs of living and other factors, the state's poverty rate may climb even higher.

In 2000, 4.3 million Californians were living in poverty but by 2010, the number had increased to 5.8 million, a 34.3 percent jump that reflected the serious recession that has gripped the state in recent years. The state's overall rate climbed from 12.7 percent in 2000 to 15.8 percent in 2010.

Virtually every region of the state was affected, from the most affluent counties in the San Francisco Bay Area to the poorest in interior agricultural areas.

San Mateo County had the state's lowest poverty rate in 2000 at 5.1 percent and was still lowest in 2010, but had seen a rise to 7 percent. Imperial County, in the state's southeastern corner, had the highest poverty rate in 2000 at 24.7 percent, nearly twice the state rate, but by 2010 had ceded that dubious title to Fresno's 26.8 percent.

Even more dramatic contrasts in poverty rates are evident in the state's school districts, a separate Census Bureau compilation reveals.

The bureau reported numbers of school children in poverty-stricken families for each school district, but did not calculate poverty rates. They can be extrapolated, however, from the data.

In Los Angeles Unified, by far the state's largest school district, for instance, 211,407 of the district's 773,749 school-age children are in poverty-stricken families for a 27.3 percent rate. At the other end of the size scale, Maple Creek Elementary in Humboldt County has just six kids and lists one in poverty.

Not surprisingly, given the county rankings, one of the state's highest rates of school district poverty is found in Fresno Unified at 44 percent. But in Clovis Unified, on Fresno's affluent northeastern flank, it's scarcely a third as much, 15.5 percent.

The very lowest rates of school district poverty are found in the state's most affluent communities, such as San Mateo County's Hillsborough Unified at just 3.9 percent. Beverly Hills Unified, however, has a 14.1 percent poverty rate, nearly as high as the state as a whole.

One of the more interesting contrasts is found in two small school districts which are next door to one another in the Census Bureau's alphabetical listing, but about 160 miles apart on the map, Marin County's Reed Union and Tehama County's Reed's Creek. The former has a poverty rate of 6.4 percent while the latter's is 43.3 percent.

Categories: California by the Numbers
Posted by Dan Walters

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