It’s well-known how ridiculous property prices are here in Silicon Valley, where yr. obdt. temporarily hangs his hat; what’s less well-known is the horrendous coastal v. interior divide that may well eventually tear California asunder. Excerpt:
Fresno, Bakersfield, Ontario and San Bernardino are rapidly becoming the Bantustans — the impoverished areas designed for Africans under the racist South African regime — in California’s geographic apartheid. Poverty rates in the Central Valley and Inland Empire reach over a third of the population, well above the share in the Bay Area. By some estimates, rural California counties suffer the highest unemployment rate in the country; six of the 10 metropolitan areas in the country with the highest percentage of jobless are located in the central and eastern parts of the state. The interior counties — from San Bernardino to Merced — also suffer the worst health conditions in the state.
This disparity has worsened in recent years. Until the 2008 housing crash, the interior counties served, as the Kern EDC’s Chapman puts it, as “an incubator for mobility.” These areas were places that Californians of modest means, and companies no longer able to afford coastal prices, could get a second shot.
But state policies, notably those tied to Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate jihad, suggests Inland Empire economist John Husing, have placed California “at war” with blue-collar industries like homebuilding, energy, agriculture and manufacturing. These kinds of jobs are critical for regions where almost half the workforce has a high school education or less.
Just for shits and giggles, I jumped on to a couple of real estate sites and did some looking around the immediate area I’m staying in at the moment: Los Gatos, California, home of Netflix, Roku, and game-maker Cryptic Studios. For a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home, prices start at a tad under a million dollars.
In any of a dozen or so small towns in eastern Iowa where I grew up, you could have the same house for under a hundred grand, and probably a good-sized lot with mature trees into the bargain. Some of this price madness is the result of a few tech companies pouring money into the region, but more of it is due to the heavy restrictions placed on land development in California; for years now the increasingly bat-guano crazy California legislature has been adopting policies that seem deliberately calculated to drive small businesses out of the state, and now they have voted to increase gasoline taxes by over $5 billion a year.
The tax increases and insane property values don’t mean as much to the wealthy minority in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. But to the farmers, small merchants and tradesmen of the Central Valley, they are ushering in ever-increasingly dire times.
Stein’s Law will eventually assert itself: What can’t continue, won’t continue. It will be interesting to see what happens in California when that day comes.