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 IF IT'S BROKEN...FIX IT

Getting Serious about LA’s Sidewalk Repairs: A Five-Point ‘Let’s-Get-On-with-It’ Plan

Ken Alpern
FIXING LA-Last Tuesday night's City Council Board of Public Works and Budget Committees met and allowed a lot of good public input to a series of concerned and available Councilmembers and City officials. The attendance and input were both outstanding--I want to thank Councilmember Mike Bonin, in particular, for allowing the outreach and advice to…

Latino Politicians Putting Climate Change Ahead of Constituents

Joel Kotkin
POLITICS-Racial and economic inequality may be key issues facing America today, but the steps often pushed by progressives, including minority politicians, seem more likely to exacerbate these divisions than repair them. In a broad arc of policies affecting everything from housing to employment, the agenda being adopted serves to stunt upward…

Worlds Apart on Kathryn Steinle: When Political Opportunism Reigns Supreme

John Mirisch
MUSING WITH MIRISCH-The small Swedish Jewish Museum in Stockholm is tucked away on a side street. Discreet signage instructs would-be visitors to push a button which activates a camera, so they can be screened before they are granted entry. The museum's permanent exhibition fills one fairly small room. Most of the objects on display are Jewish…

Garcetti Passes, Wesson Fails

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-Our Los Angeles Times has issued midterm letter grades for Controller Ron Galperin (B-) and City Attorney Mike Feuer (B+) and will be posting grades for City Council President Herb Wesson this Sunday and Mayor Eric Garcetti the following Sunday. Our City is facing many difficult issues, ranging from a lagging economy, relatively high…

What LA Really Needs: A Part-time City Council and a Part-time Mayor!

Dennis Zine
JUST THE FACTS-There are so many serious and pressing problems facing the City of Los Angeles and few if any real solutions are being proposed or implemented by our elected and appointed leaders at City Hall. I will start with the current city budget. Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had a $7.7 billion total budget in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.…

Why Don’t the City’s Women Managers Hire More Women?

Denyse Selesnick
MY TURN-Perusing the web is a little like the soap operas of yesteryear. You get suckered in! One link leads to another link and then one is exposed to a barrage both facts and idiocy. The reason for this discussion was my attending a July Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils (VANC) meeting with the Department of Water and Power. General…

Cleaning Up LA City Hall: ‘It’s What’s Legal That’s the Problem’

Bob Gelfand
GELFAND’S WORLD-Everyone understands that developers own our city government. Sure, there are some officials here and there who are upright and independent, but recent history shows that the developers typically get their way in spite of public opposition. Whether it is a zoning change for an office tower or the required permits for a new mall,…

Not So Fast LA! Let’s Consider the Real Costs of Hosting the Olympics before We Jump In

Greg Nelson
SPORTS POLITICS-On Monday, Boston withdrew from its offer to be the nation’s bidder for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. In January, Los Angeles finished second to Boston when the U.S. Olympic Committee made its decision. After Boston was selected to polish up its bid before submitting it to the International Olympic Committee for a final decision,…

Party Crashing for Political Access: Schwarzenegger and My Pantsuit

Charlotte Laws
CALIFORNIA ACCESS POLITICS-Party crashing—or gate-crashing, as it is sometimes called—is an art form that I stumbled upon as a teen. I taught myself how to finagle into any event, anywhere, anytime. It required being part private eye, part actress and part chutzpah machine. I had to think outside of the box, throw myself into the role, and whip my…





Art or Ad? LA’s mural law written in gray ink

Escape the Room-Conan goes for the record … and the laffs


LADWP Rates Overview

 

 

  

 

 

 

We’re Still Here, Still Golden

CALIFORNIANS AREN’T FLEEING - California, you might think, is a terrible place that people are fleeing from. One reason you might think so is that a cottage industry of pundits, business lobbyists, and politicians has been dedicated to convincing the world that California is and will remain a failure until our prevailing cultural and political climate changes. In this game, demographics are treated like a football. But the people of California are the demographics, and they may not like being tossed about.

The doomsayer narrative presupposes that any place not booming with growth must be a failure. But any change can be taken as a sign of doom. If the number or proportion of white residents is declining, doomsayers cry “flight,” which is bad.

 

Conversely, if minorities are declining, that must be a sign of gentrification, which is also bad. If the population is getting older, that’s a sign of failure, and if it is getting younger, then where have all the wise older people gone? Any demographic change can be spun as criticism to advance an agenda.

The doomsayer critics playing with demographics typically cite three reasons for the state’s woes: Business taxes are too high, development regulations are too strict, and planners are dictating lifestyles that people don’t want. Meanwhile, the people of California wonder if some of these claims are true. Demographers are experts, after all. Aren’t they?

Meg Whitman, running for governor in 2010, was only one of many politicians in recent years to adopt the doomsayer narrative. “We are, you know, crushing the California dream,” she told Sean Hannity on Fox News. “And people are moving to Colorado and Arizona and Texas and Utah, because it’s simpler and easier to do business.”

A more recent instance of doomsaying appeared in a Wall Street Journal interview with Joel Kotkin, the contrarian writer on urban matters. The feature, headlined “The Great California Exodus,” received a great deal of attention for its shocking tale of California’s demographic failure. “Nearly four million more people have left the Golden State in the last two decades than have come from other states,” read the introduction. “This is a sharp reversal from the 1980s, when 100,000 more Americans were settling in California each year than were leaving.”

Shocking, but misleading—and dangerous. Crying wolf will only succeed in getting the public to ignore all the demographic trends, some of which indeed have vital importance. A more realistic picture of California’s health and attraction is painted by a different measure of migration, one that in fact leads to the opposite conclusion.

People can leave a state for many reasons. California has many dabblers who try it out and then head home. Migration is a sorting process that can work in California’s favor, acting like a gold pan that sifts through aspiring talent and keeps the best. (New York is even more extreme in this respect.)

Do Californians really care how many New Yorkers move back to New York or on to Las Vegas? For the most part, no. What local residents care about is how many of our own friends, especially our children, leave the state. If native Californians start fleeing, then we know we are in trouble. So what do the data tell us on this?

California, in fact, holds its own. When it comes to retaining native sons and daughters, California has the fifth-strongest attraction of all 50 states. Among California-born adults who were at least 25 years of age and old enough to have moved away, fully 66.9 percent were still choosing to reside in the Golden State in 2007, the last year of high migration before the recession held people down. Texas, with 75.1 percent of native Texans still living in the state, has the strongest loyalty, and the other three rounding out the top five are Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Georgia. California’s top-five ranking is all the more impressive when you take into account the state’s high living costs and other negatives. We must have something going for us.

Nevada, as you can see here, ranks in the bottom five of states’ retention of native-born population, despite being touted as a beacon for those fleeing California. If you can’t hold your own, you’re not worth the chips you’re built on. On this key measure, California is a full house, Nevada a busted inside straight. And yet you’d never know how enticing California is for its native-born residents from the overwrought narratives.

When it comes to the question of how much growth is desirable, the last decade of booming population growth in California was the 1980s, when over 6 million people were added. That is Kotkin’s apparent standard of excellence. But the 1980s were a big anomaly. It might have had something to do with Texas being in an oil bust and the Midwest hitting the worst of its rustbelt slide.

Or perhaps it had to do with Ronald Reagan occupying the White House and launching a campaign of defense spending to outmuscle the Soviets, with much of the spending focused on southern California’s aerospace companies. California, in that decade, was a magnet without competition.

But, rest assured, California is hanging in there. This giant state has an economy that is equivalent in production to the eighth-largest nation in the world. The state certainly is afflicted with political gridlock, but so is Congress. It’s an American malaise. California still has unique assets to be deployed in the 21st century economy.

In reality, the demographic picture in California is brighter than it has been in decades, provided we meet one key challenge. New studies show that the state’s immigrants have settled in and the growth in the workforce now rides on the skills of homegrown Californians, many the children of immigrants.

The main threat in California isn’t about business climate or the types of homes being built. It is about the defunding of higher education and the failure to invest in the next generation of workers, taxpayers, and homebuyers. If there is any doubt about California’s future—and this is no crying wolf—that is the demographic challenge to keep your eyes on.

(Dowell Myers, a professor in the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California and a fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University, is the author of Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America. Zocalo Public Square … where this article was first posted … connects people to ideas and each other. A must visit.) Photo credit: John-Morgan.

-cw

Tags: Dowell Myers, Zocalo, Zocalo Public Square, California, California demographics, doomsayers, bullish on California









CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 39
Pub: May 15, 2012

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