In recent years, we’ve been hearing more and more about the problem of wealth inequality in America. To hear liberals explain the problem, Republicans want to steal from the poor and middle class, give that money to the rich, and with enough time the middle class will be gone, leaving just a small ruling class of the super-rich, and a large poor class.
If liberal policies actually made any sort of progress correcting the various inequities that they’re alleged to do, big government utopias like California would be progressive beacons of hope for the American left. California, many believed, was so progressive and forward thinking that it would experiment with various social policies and the rest of the states would follow suit. Hence, the so-called “Golden Rule” of the nation was once “as California goes, so does the country.” So, how is California doing with the problem of wealth inequality?
Not so good.
Despite having the fifth-largest economy in the world, California is one of the worst states in the nation in terms of wealth inequality.
It has both billions of dollars in Silicon Valley and rampant homelessness. Its efforts to eliminate poverty instead accentuates it, and its tax system inadvertently aids those who are already wealthy. With the middle class leaving in droves, California society represents a modern feudal system of robber barons and the poor.
Despite all the wealth in the state and the Democrat control of state government, California actually ranks as the poorest state in the country after costs of living are factored in. A whopping 19 percent of Californians live below the poverty line. While California represents just 12 percent of the nation’s population, Californians represent a third of all Americans on welfare. The average monthly cost of rent in the state is 43 percent higher than the national average. Nearly a third of Californians spend more than half of their earnings on housing. The situation is made worse by skyrocketing energy costs. “Residents who can afford rent or a mortgage are on the hook for electricity rates burdened by green initiatives and regulation that grew 500 percent faster than the national average from 2011 to 2017.”
Traditional left wing prescriptions simply have not worked in the state, which an opinion column in the Los Angeles Times dubbed the “poverty capital” of the United States. Housing vouchers increase the cost of living. The number of those with no health insurance in California fell by more than half after the state expanded Medicaid, yet poverty remains near historic highs. California spends the third most per capita on welfare programs, yet its economy continues to fail the poor and middle class
The combination of government overreach and ineffective programs creates a brutal dichotomy of very rich and very poor. California is the fourth most unequal state in the union with so many homeless who face diseases like typhus and hepatitis. The number of people living on the streets in California increased by nearly 14 percent to more than 130,000 in 2017. Mark Zuckerberg is worth $70 billion, while San Franciscans have an app that helps them track human feces on the sidewalk.
This problem isn’t limited to California. While Barack Obama was president, income inequality got worse nationwide—even as he claimed it was getting better.
Liberals will continue to talk about income inequality as a problem they alone can fix, but the facts show that their policies exacerbate the problem rather than improve it. While left-wing policies hurt the middle class, thanks to President Trump, the middle class has finally started to see some relief. In fact, middle-class income is on the rise. The “Golden Rule” that as California goes, so does the nation is truly a scary prospect for those in the middle who struggled under Obama and don’t want to see the country go the way of California.
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis