Jun 17, 2022 3 min read

Decades of Progressivism Have Ensured California’s Decline

Americans are leaving the Golden State in droves as crime rates and housing prices rise.
Decades of Progressivism Have Ensured California’s Decline

Democrat stronghold: Since the mid-1990s, the Golden State has been a harbor of progressive policies, leadership, and ideals. California has voted Democrat since the 1992 presidential election, with Gov. Gavin Newsom surviving a 2021 recall election as 61.9% of Californians voted to keep him in power.

Leaving California: More than 25 years after the blue shift, the leftist push in California has led to increasingly poor conditions and a migration out of the state.

  • Increasing crime rates, high taxes, steep living costs and growing homelessness are driving people out of the Golden State at outrageously high levels.
  • Over 182,000 Californians left the state in 2020, the first annual decrease in the state’s history, with many citing increasing taxes and costs of living as their rationale.

Every California county has been in a population decline since March 2020. According to a California Policy Lab brief, “California loses more than twice as many people to domestic migration as it did before the pandemic.

Why?

Crime

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, property and violent crime rates have increased in the past year.

  • Auto theft and car break-ins have reached pre-pandemic levels, increasing by 7% after dropping in the early months of 2020..
  • Violent crimes increased by 5% across the state, with about 75% stemming from aggravated assault.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta was clear about the increase in crime on California’s streets: “While violent crime rates are still well below their historic highs in the early ‘90s, the increases we’ve seen during this pandemic are unacceptable.”

Taxes

Despite California already having the highest state income tax rate in the United States, legislators in the Golden State continue to push for tax hikes. Assembly Bill 1253 would raise the tax rate to 14.3% for those making over $1 million a year, 16.3% for those making over $2 million and 16.8% for those making over $5 million.

Higher tax rates have led many individuals to leave the state, taking their companies and thousands of jobs with them. Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX, Joe Rogan of the Joe Rogan Experience, Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire, Larry Ellison of Oracle and Drew Houston of Dropbox have all left California behind.

Cost of Living

California’s housing shortage, combined with the pandemic and current inflation rates, has led to a spike in housing prices.

Home prices jumped by 16% in Southern California, with median prices hitting $919,000 in Orange County and $788,000 in Los Angeles County.

Housing prices are on the rise nationwide, even in less progressive states like Florida. The difference, however, is that Florida’s housing cost is increasing alongside its recent population growth. The Sunshine State is expected to grow by more than 300,000 residents a year.

On the other hand, California’s housing prices are increasing despite a decline in population. This is caused by the state’s seemingly chronic housing shortage, with one 2016 study estimating that it needed 3.5 million new housing units to alleviate it.

Add to this the increasing price of gasoline in the state. According to the American Automobile Association, California has the highest state average gasoline price, sitting at $4.66 per gallon. The state also levies the highest gas tax in the country, which allows gas prices to rise above $5 per gallon in cities like San Diego.

Homelessness

The homeless population in California grows in parallel with the cost of living. According to a 2021 report, 151,000 Californians are considered homeless — the highest homeless population in the nation. This estimate was taken before the height of the pandemic, and current numbers are likely much higher.

At a Los Angeles cleanup event in December, Gov. Newsom announced plans to clear homeless encampments and clean up the state. Experts, however, express concerns that clearing homeless encampments doesn’t solve the core issue.

Researcher Josh Barocas argues that Newsom’s policies merely shift populations.

“It doesn’t actually take into account the long-term health effects of those being displaced and doing the displacement, and their future needs,” Barocas said.

Gov. Newsom is right about one thing: California is “leading the nation.” Not in economic growth as he claims, but in crime rates, tax rates, cost of living and homelessness.

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