“It’s no longer legal to say, ‘We don’t want African-Americans to live here,’ but you can say, ‘I’m going to make sure no one who makes less than two times the median income lives here,’” Jargowsky told me.
The above quote is from an Atlantic article on the resurrection of American slums. I recommend the entire article. It highlights the cycle that our slums have gone through over the past 25 years or so.
However, the quote succinctly tells a story that I’ve been trying to tell for the past 15 years. California is now dominated by a wealthy elite, an elite that has molded policy to advance their preference. Those preferences are all about the elite’s consumption. They are nothing about opportunity for the less fortunate.
By implementing policies that limit opportunity, the elite are ossifying our society, limiting socioeconomic mobility. The New York Times has an article on the correlation between a person’s parents’ income and their own. Here’s the money quote:
I hear from people who say something like: I grew up poor, but I worked hard and I made it. If other people tried, they could, too. Bravo! Sure, there are extraordinary people who have overcome mind-boggling hurdles. But they’re like the N.B.A. centers with short parents.
Bloomberg has noticed that our young people aren’t working summer jobs as much as they used to, but they get it all wrong. Our young people aren’t lazy. The decline in teen jobs is not exogenous, or an act of God. Immigrants may be taking some traditionally teen jobs, but policy is the reason there aren’t enough to go around.
Each of these three articles highlights some results of policies optimized for the elite’s consumption rather than economic opportunity. California, of course, is the nation’s forerunner in policy optimized for the elite. The results are sometimes beautiful cities. Santa Barbara, Monterey, and Malibu are excellent examples. Just as often, the results are ugly cities. Consider that San Bernardino has the second highest poverty rate among large U.S. cites, second only to Detroit.
The ugly results on people are not so obvious, but these three articles show that they are starting to become unavoidable. Now, if people would take them as serious as a dead lion, we’d be getting someplace.