California’s gross domestic product surpassed $2.7 trillion in 2017, reports the Associated Press, an output with places California’s economy ahead of the United Kingdom’s.
California now has the distinction of having the world’s fifth largest economy, a distinction it last held in 2002. According to the AP, California’s economy in recent years has ranked as low as 10th, which it reached in 2012.
While strong economic growth is certainly welcomed news, for far too many Californians, higher GDP numbers have yet to translate to greater prosperity.
In fact, according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental poverty measure, one in five Californians live in poverty, 20.4 percent to be exact, compared to a national average of 14.7 percent, the highest rate of poverty in the nation.
By extension, California also has the distinction of having the highest child poverty rate in the nation, with an average of 22.8 percent of California’s children living in poverty in 2013-15, including 5.1 percent living in “deep poverty.”
On top of it all, California is also the home of a quarter of the country’s homeless.
It is unconscionable that a state can be as wealthy and purportedly progressive as California is and yet fail as much as California does.
But while some might see the disconnect and see a need for more government meddling and more government spending, perhaps we would be better off assessing why it is that a wealthy state like California with a state government that spends as much as California’s finds itself in the position it is.
We already know that even when California has the money and the mandate to spend money on particular problems, government officials always seem to find a way to mishandle things. We know that much of California’s job creation is for low-wage work, and that superficial minimum wage hikes will only do so much good for people fortunate to get jobs while other jobs get lost as a consequence. And we know that California’s regulatory and taxation environment stifles housing production and job creation alike.
And don’t get me started on the recent push for farcical “solutions” like rent control.
Perhaps putting less trust and power in government to solve all of our problems is the way forward. If a government as large and well-financed as California’s hasn’t solved the problems of poverty and homelessness, and in many ways only make the problems worse, then maybe bigger government isn’t the solution.