Sunday, October 04, 2009

Paul Harris of the Guardian writes that California may be a failed state

I found one paragraph especially disturbing:

Yet California is currently cutting healthcare, slashing the "Healthy Families" programme that helped an estimated one million of its poorest children. Los Angeles now has a poverty rate of 20%. Other cities across the state, such as Fresno and Modesto, have jobless rates that rival Detroit's. In order to pass its state budget, California's government has had to agree to a deal that cuts billions of dollars from education and sacks 60,000 state employees. Some teachers have launched a hunger strike in protest. California's education system has become so poor so quickly that it is now effectively failing its future workforce. The percentage of 19-year-olds at college in the state dropped from 43% to 30% between 1996 and 2004, one of the highest falls ever recorded for any developed world economy. California's schools are ranked 47th out of 50 in the nation. Its government-issued bonds have been ranked just above "junk".


Yet Harris writes something else that doesn't make sense to me: he says California may lose a congressional district after the 2010 census. But census estimates show that California's population has risen a little bit more than the country's (in percentage terms) over the course of this decade, so unless he has special insight into problems with census estimates, this statement does not make sense to me.

But the broader point still holds. California is currently engaged in an experiment testing whether a place with lots of advantages (including some of the most talented people in the world) can overcome disfunctional government. It would appear that the answer is no.

8 comments:

stefan said...

I've been trying to figure out where Harris got "The percentage of 19-year-olds at college in the state dropped from 43% to 30% between 1996 and 2004, one of the highest falls ever recorded for any developed world economy" from. The California Postsecondary Education Commission reports "College-Going Rates of Public High School Students Students of All Ethnicities Statewide to Any California Public College or University." The high is 50% in 1989 and the low is 43% in 2003. 2008 is 46% and 2007 was 48%. For the two years cited by the Harris they have 49% in 1996 and 45% in 2004. Did HS graduation rates fall enough to get to Harris' numbers? There are supposedly lots of data problems with HS graduation rates, but NCHEMS reports 65.3% in 1996 and 70.4% in 2004 for California, so that doesn't line up with Harris' claim. But the HS graduation rate reported for CA is back down to 65.8% in 2006. Not clear to me if this sort of volatility is credible or if most is some sort of measurement error.

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Anonymous said...

The public school system is over priced by a factor of at least 2. The public sector needs to become more cost efficient just the way the private sector already does.

Callistenes said...

To lose a seat mean the population is dropping. Does this mean that people are fleeing. I can tell you that Texas has many more people moving here from Cali than in the past.

Callistenes said...

To lose a seat mean the population is dropping. Does this mean that people are fleeing. I can tell you that Texas has many more people moving here from Cali than in the past.

Julie Kinnear said...

Sounds like California is on the edge of becoming a bankrupt state. It's always been one that was very different from the other when we talk about its government and now it showed that the choices they made were not the best in the past. It's crazy how a state with so many high tech facilities and so many tourist locations can break down so easily. I wonder how the real estate market is doing over there. Canadian Realtors are optimistic because the market here is finally growing and performing a lot better than earlier this year. I just hope CA can get out of it soon, it would be a shame to loose all those privileges that they posses.

Take care, Julie

commercial real estate said...

everything is changing but i think it california wont fall that easily..

dallas real estate said...

California will progress very soon..