However unintentional, Democrats, who have controlled both houses of the Legislature for 56 of the past 62 years, have created policies that increase both the cost of living and the discriminatory effects on those who can least afford them.
By Lloyd Leighton, Special to CalMatters
Lloyd Leighton is chairman of the Sutter County Republican Party, firstname.lastname@example.org.
California is a textbook example of structural racism.
Thanks to state policies enacted over the past 62 years, we now have the third highest cost of living in the nation. We have the second highest home prices, nearly the highest rents and the fourth highest per capita expenditures for health care. We pay more than $1 a gallon above the national average for fuel. That’s just for starters.
The effect of those high costs is not only oppressive to lower-income workers and their families, it’s discriminatory. Wealthier families, over-represented by Asians and whites, continued to build income and wealth even during the pandemic. They never stopped buying homes in the most expensive markets and best school districts. Their wealth increased as home values appreciated at artificially high rates because government policies created a housing shortage.
California ranked 47th in income equality before the pandemic because our high cost of living leaves lower-income families living paycheck to paycheck. More than a third were living in or near poverty and over half of those Californians were Black or Hispanic. Policies that favor Asians and whites while oppressing Blacks and Hispanics are a textbook example of structural racism.
Exorbitant home prices and rents force lower-income workers and families to pay a daunting share of their income for housing. They endure longer commutes to work and are forced to live in both overcrowded and substandard housing. This lack of affordable housing has caused homelessness to spike — and we lead the nation by more than 75% over the nearest state.
Children from lower-income families are effectively excluded from our best schools. A Brookings Institute study revealed that it costs nearly $11,000 a year more to live near a high-scoring public school than it does to live near one that is low-scoring.
High health care costs leave lower-income Californians with poorer access to health care. They’re more likely to skip important doctor visits and vaccinations. This remains one of the reasons that Hispanics and Blacks have the highest COVID-19 death rates.
Democratic politicians talk of ending poverty and structural racism, but they are its unwitting architects. They have controlled both houses of the Legislature in 56 of the last 62 years. They have a fundamental distrust of free-market capitalism. They owe their allegiance to entrenched special interest groups that fiercely resist changes to the rigged system they’ve created. In short, they are incapable of making the bold policy changes to housing, education, health care and health insurance that California desperately needs. However unintentional, comfortable government elites have created policies that increase both the cost of living and the discriminatory effects on those who can least afford them.
The antidote to these failed policies starts with this seed of truth. The truth is that limited government regulation and free-market capitalism built the largest and strongest middle class in the world. They inspire innovation and entrepreneurship. They make it easier to start or expand a business, increase job opportunities, encourage competition, give consumers more choices and lower the cost of living. The greatest income, wealth, gender and racial equality are rooted in states and countries that embrace these principals. The best housing, health care and education systems are there as well.
I’m not saying Democratic politicians are racist — but their policies are. I’m not saying they’re trying to keep poor kids out of our best schools — but that’s the effect their housing policies have had. I’m not saying they set out to have us lead the nation in poverty and homelessness or that their goal was to have over a third of Californians living in or near poverty — but that’s the reality.
What I am saying is that 62 years of domination by one party is enough. It’s time to elect leaders who understand the policy changes required to actually lift up the poor. It’s time to vote Republican.