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The Poverty Trap

The economist has a good article about poverty in California. Here's a disturbing statistic:

"19% of Californians were poor in the three years 2015, 2016 and 2017, the highest rate in the country excluding the special case of Washington, DC. The national average was 14.1%."

In one of the richest states in the union, whose "median household income in 2016 was $11,500 above the national average."

There are several reasons for this crisis, including rental costs that are well beyond the means of the poorest. But the most important reason is the nature of wealth creation in CA: both of its world-leading industries, i.e., Hollywood and Silicon Valley, create wealth on the backs of a few highly skilled and educated workers while automating or outsourcing everyone else. As a result:

"a better predictor of poverty is lack of a university education: 35% of those with only a high-school diploma are poor."

In other words, a college degree is a necessity if you want to avoid poverty. Guess who doesn't have a college degree? Children, of course. Which leads to the eye-popping declaration that

"45% of children live in households that are poor or near-poor (living below 150% of the poverty line). By the time they are 18, estimates Mr Flood, half the children of the Golden State will have made use of food stamps or food banks."

We are now living in an era where energy extraction and information extraction are combining to create utopia for the few, uncertainty for the many, disaster for the marginal and catastrophe for the planet.

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