Where the California Exodus is Really Coming From

PhotobucketConservatives are all abuzz with the righteous anger of the rich. Surely the will flee the state if taxes are increased, or so goes the logic of people like former LA Mayor Richard Riordan:

The rich (and I am one of them) already have their mansions, airplanes and yachts. There is nothing morally or ethically wrong with increasing their taxes. But if the burden becomes too great, the rich will simply take their money (and the taxes they pay and the jobs they create) and move elsewhere. And it is the poor who will be hurt by such an exodus.(LA Times 3/29/09)

Leaving aside the fact that there isn’t really any evidence that increased taxes really causes people to flee, Riordan’s anecdotal and unsupported references to 1950s Britain aside, the argument really doesn’t hold the water that conservatives want it to hold.  The rich can cut back on expensive vacations and other luxury costs, but it isn’t so easy for the poor to cut costs. You can only cut your food budget so low if you want to provide adequate nutrition for your family.

And today, the Times provided an interesting perspective on the story:

A few days later, [the homeless couple] were on a bus headed to Denver, where a relative had agreed to take them in. To their surprise, a local nonprofit group had agreed to pay for their one-way ticket out of town.

Since January, the Grace Resource Center has offered to cover transportation expenses for homeless people to return to their home states or wherever they have families or other means of support. So far the group has spent about $2,500 to help more than a dozen people leave Lancaster through the Opportunity Bus Pass Program. (LA Times 3/30/09)

Whether California is losing population is still up in the air, but California is not the same place that the Okies came to settle during the Depression. If anything, we are the New Oklahoma. We’re running out of water and once fertile land is no longer viable.  There are no jobs, and cities are now just raising the white flag in hopes that people will just move along.

I don’t fault the Center that is doing the Bus program, it isn’t an unreasonable idea to reunite people with their support systems.  Despite the mayor’s quotes about trying to pawn off the homeless in other areas, this is a time when people are forced to cede some independence in the name of thrift. That means making sacrifices that we aren’t used to making.

But what happens when our economy rebounds? How do we build the economy of tomorrow if everybody’s heading for the exits?

2 thoughts on “Where the California Exodus is Really Coming From”

  1. It’s just anecdotal, but the company I used to work for, Dimensional Fund Advisors, used to employ about 300 people in Santa Monica.  It set up an office in Austin and now has over 200 employees there.  By the end of this year I expect them to have fewer than 100 people in Santa Monica.  The jobs that have left were well paid, with many people making 6 figures and some making 7.  David Booth, who started DFA in his basement 25 years ago and recently donated $300 million to the University of Chicago, is one of those who has relocated.  In other words, he has done precisely what Riordan is talking about.  The reason for the move was two-fold:  taxes and the deteriorating benefit/cost trade-off of life in California.

  2. We have been here since 1968 now Mom and I are leaving for Nevada on May 1st.  We can't afford to stay here any longer, mom has dementia and the services suck and I need a night job so I can watch her during the day.  The nursing homes here are disgusting and I do want to be near a place with a decent water supply.

     I never thought it would come to this.

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