Can Sacramento end poverty in California?

desaulnier-millerState Senator Mark DeSaulnier and other ultra-liberal politicians in Sacramento think they can End poverty in California. But first, consider this parable:

The Chairman of the Communist Party, the Premier, and Four Star General were riding around in a helicopter above Ho Chi Minh City (formally Saigon) trying to figure out what projects should be done during the next five year plan they were formulating. “What ideas do you have”, the chairman asked. The General suggested the government build large apartment buildings so the citizens have shelter. The premier contradicted this plan saying job creation is more important because “if the people are employed, they can afford to pay rent.” The Chairman interrupted by saying “feeding the hungry should be first priority because if stomachs are full, there won’t be any civil unrest.” The discussion grew more heated until finally they asked the pilot what would be the best thing they could do to help the people. The pilot replied “Jump!”

End Poverty in California?

One can ask how this tale about the failure of communism relates to California where capitalism and free enterprise allegedly reigns supreme. Unfortunately, this is not entirely the case. State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and his cohorts in the legislature, have started the Ending Poverty and Inequality Caucus. (EPIC).

This program is an outgrowth of the platform of noted social reformer and author Upton Sinclair who unsuccessfully ran for Governor in 1934 on the Socialist ticket.

According to DeSaulnier’s hand-out given attendees at his recent Holiday Open House, EPIC’s goals to end poverty in California are:

1.  Increase awareness about poverty and income inequality in California and its effect on individuals and the State.

2.  Work with the Executive Branch, academia, employers, and community based organizations. Labor, local government, and others to develop implement data driven policy changes to reduce poverty and increase income equality

3.  Provide a lasting structure within the legislature to regularly examine the state of poverty and income inequality in California and to drive policy change.

There is no doubt that poverty is a persistent problem.  According to EPIC’s figures, there is compelling evidence that with the recession/depression poverty is 16.5% in the “Golden State” but actually closer to 23.5% when other factors are considered.  In addition they say six million children in California (1 of 4) are living under subpar conditions.    With these indisputable facts being true, the question is what can be done to turn around the fortunes of California’s low income  people?

Is it better for government to promote tax policies and entitlement programs which advocate discredited Marxist notions of income redistribution along with legislating social justice? Or should more of this burden fall upon private enterprise to create job growth that will lift families from dependence on government assistance?

The individuals involved with EPIC feel that Government programs on the State and Federal levels are the answer to dealing with the consequences of poverty. Somehow they do not see the coloration between California’s high unemployment rates and the plight of poor families. Perhaps, well meaning people such as Senator De Saulnier should take a long look in the mirror and see how their polices have crippled job creation in recent times.

According to the California Chamber of Commerce, DeSaulnier is in a 5th place tie among 40 State Senators for worst voting record on job killer legislation. Only Loni Hancock D-Berkeley) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) in the entire Bay Area gain lower marks from the pro-business organization. Among the failed bills DeSaulnier and most of his Democratic colleagues supported in 2013 were:

SB-1054 Would delay investment in oil and gas drilling by placing new regulatory steps before any new project could begin. This would especially effect hydraulic operations used for fracking in depleted oil wells mostly in the Central Valley. Were this legislation to become law, thousands of jobs in the oil fields and refining  sector could be lost. Fortunately, it failed to pass the Senate.

SB-1118 This bill  would have created a new costly government regulatory agency for collection and disposing of used mattresses. After passage by both Houses in the legislature, Governor Brown vetoed the measure.

SB-568 Threatened thousands of manufacturing jobs by banning the use of polystyrene from all food service containers even though by doing this there would be no measureable environmental improvements by doing this. This “Nanny State” legislation passed the Senate but died in the Assembly

AB-1687 If signed into law would have  increased employer costs for by allowing the Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) to award attorney’s fees who challenges a utilization review decision regarding a future medical treatment awards. After AB-1687 passed, Governor vetoed this bill which he said was too costly for business.

But wait there’s more. Next year there is SB-761 that would increase employer costs for granting family leave and SB-391 that would be imposed a $75.00 transaction fee on real estate sales to subsidize low and moderate income housing. Always new laws and taxes are being proposed that that makes the cost of doing business in California even higher.

The list grows as the Democratic Super Majority in Sacramento tries to impose the Government’s will over their constituents. The bottom line is that the intent of the legislature to fix societies problems while commendable, actually does the opposite as unintended consequences result in rising poverty levels. Ultimately, tax payer’s end of picking up the tab for increased welfare expenditures.

The question is when the Federal and State Government will understand the relationship (As Texas and other pro business states have) between increasing taxes, minimum wages, workers compensation, environmental regulations, and opportunity costs with job creation? When will they realize the multiplier effect of new employment in the private sector (especially in manufacturing) is several times higher than growing unproductive government workers that has have pushed since Barak Obama assumed the Presidency?

Especially alarming has been the reduction of size in the middle class that has coincided with worsening economic conditions and government expansion in recent years.  Along with this we have seen the emergence of government employees receiving medical and pension benefits far greater than what workers earn in the private sector. This is very similar to what occurred in the old Soviet Union where Party members enjoyed preferential treatment compared to ordinary people.

Perhaps the joke about the Communist leaders flying around in the helicopter is not entirely out in “left field.”  When politicians try to enhance their “Progressive” credentials with their entitlement supporters by advocating  the philosophies of EPIC, they may not be doing anyone a favor.

It may time to draw the line and hold office holders accountable for the worsening economic conditions in the State of California and how it effects the population from top to bottom.

Next Week- DeSaulnier turns his attention to regulating strip clubs and creating other Nanny laws.

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  1. says

    This year is the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. As we enter the 50th year, we should note that poverty is greater now, than when “the war” started, plus we have to put up with a significantly larger “poverty bureaucracy” making ever greater pronouncements and proposing even more outrageous programs. Who, for example, are better off for George Miller having been in Congress for decades, George Miller or his constituents? I doubt few would answer his constituents.
    As California moves toward more control of our lives through new regional governments like Plan Bay Area, funded by outrageously misguided program like California’s “Cap and Trade” slush fund we will see more and more poverty created so as to allow our elected officials the opportunity to “solve” the problem.

  2. says

    These grandstanding pronouncements are like seasonal weeds and keep popping up. Antonio Villaraigosa spouted the same nostrum when he was the Speaker in 2002 before he became Mayor of Los Angeles, and we all know how that turned out. Don’t forget the War on poverty. These idyllic schemes only end up creating bigger, unproductive government bureaucracy, regulations and taxes to keep the state machinery grinding along as the real help and opportunity, for those that want to take it, never trickles down to the poor.