Why don’t they move away?

The San Francisco Chronicle has a heartrending story about a couple that earns $53,000 a year, but can only afford a small rental in an icky San Francisco neighborhood:

The hard truth is that $53,000 a year doesn’t cut it anymore in the Bay Area. Tens of thousands of working families in the region, even those with what many would consider decent-paying jobs, find a modestly comfortable standard of living is out of their reach.

A family of four in the Bay Area with two working adults must earn $77,069, equaling an hourly wage of $18.53, just to pay for basic necessities, a study released today calculates. If only one adult works, that figure falls to $53,075, largely because the family doesn’t have to pay for child care, according to the report by the California Budget Project, a liberal Sacramento research group. But that one wage-earner must make $25.52 an hour.

And a single parent with two children needs to take in $65,864 annually, at an hourly wage of $31.67, to cover expenses, the Budget Project figures.

Statewide, the two-working-parent family needs an annual income of $72,343 to cover necessities; the family with one working adult must earn $50,383.

That’s in a state with one of the highest minimum hourly wages in the country – $7.50. In San Francisco, the minimum wage is even higher, $9.14. The federal minimum wage is $5.85.

“Most Californians live on less than $50,000,” said Michael Shires, an associate professor of public policy at Pepperdine University.

The Bay Area is by many measures the richest region in the United States. Median household income – the level at which half of households are above and half below – was $62,024 in 2000, the highest in the nation, according to the Census Bureau.

But that means that almost half of all households in the region don’t take in what the Budget Project reckons is needed to make ends meet. Those families often must do without some of the things viewed as essential to middle-class life, such as health insurance or a separate bedroom for the kids.

You have to plough all the way through article’s hard luck stuff to find the proposed solution, which is, of course, more government money:

The project says its findings show a need for public spending on social programs, such as subsidized child care and health coverage. Health spending is at the center of a major policy debate in California, where Gov. Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers are weighing plans for universal coverage.

“Many families may need assistance to make ends meet,” said Ross, the project’s executive director.

I’d like to propose my own solution, which is one that my parents used when they were living in an economically untenable situation:  move somewhere else.  If the Bay Area is so expensive, move someplace cheaper.  That’s what Americans have been doing since the very first settlers.  If they can’t make it in one place, they move to another.  When did it become a Constitutional right to stay in the geographic region of your choice, a right so important that the taxpayers have to cough up the money so that you can do so?


12 Responses

  1. Living in the Bay Area is not the only implicit right.

    One of my married children used her brain. The two children share one room. Both parents work a seven hour job, one starting early the other finishing late so they can each care for the children. They don’t pay for child care, except for the low cost care available at a nearby church. They have a good living, two 1990 Japanese cars and plenty of disposable money.

  2. Once diehard Californiaphiles, we left California precisely (albeit reluctantly) so that our income and spending power could be maximized, not wasted on the ridiculous “West Coast premium.” At some point our homesickness left us as the blinders fell off. Now living here in unhip flyover country we are able to afford a very spacious home and land, great schools, and plenty of cultural and recreational activities, all on a one-earner income with a stay-at-home parent. We take educational roadtrips all over the U.S. and family vacations to California in our new van. The Sierras and the Pacific are just as much fun for tourists with money and leisure as they are for natives strapped for time and cash.

    But I have another suggestion instead of that “need for public spending on social programs, such as subsidized child care and health coverage…assistance to make ends meet.” How about LOWER TAXES and GETTING the bloated, inefficient and out-of-control California GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE WAY?

  3. Or you could take the point of view that EVERYTHING is an implicit “right.”

    This is just a bit of an extension to the conversations DQ and I have had about health care, and when it – apprently – became a “right.” And where this kind of thinking leads: if you have a “right” to health care, then you certainly have a “right” to be fed, because obviously you won’t be very healthy if you don’t eat. Naturally you have a “right” to be clothed and of course a “right” to be housed, both in the interest of pneumonia avoidance, clearly a health issue. And then a right to have a car, so you can get to the drugstore and pick up your free drugs – to which you have a “right,” of course – and then in fact not just a car, but a Ferrari, so as not suffer from any issues of low self-esteem.

    And you bet: if you have kids, they’re everybody’s responsibility except your own. The fact that, not being able to afford them you damn well shouldn’t have had them is a concept that just doesn’t enter the conversation at any point any more.

    So why should they have to move away? Quite clearly: anyone who wants to live on Nob Hill has a perfect and guaranteed right to do so.

  4. What? No rental control like NYC, where they could get a rent-controlled apartment at 1950 prices?

  5. The obvious solution is to raise the minimum wage. 30 dollars an hour ought to do it. Heck, everybody knows that this will have no effect on the state economy. The libs swear by it.

  6. The study of every social problem in the contemporary social sciences invariably results in the same proposed remedy: a large scale government program. At the time reform of the bankruptcy law was debated in Congress in 2006, a study came out asserting that something like 70 or 80 percent of all consumer bankruptcies were driven by uninsured medical bills. The remedy: why, universal health care! Of course the study skewed the data to define medical expenses as broadly as possible (birth, death, alcoholism, even gambling addiction were defined as medical crises relating to accumulation of debt). It was one of those studies in which the conclusion is written before the data is analyzed, or even collected, and the whole purpose of analysis is to support the conclusion. I think the problem with much of the liberal arts, social sciences, and journalism these days is that is all agenda-driven; change the world for the better but don’t let the minor particulars of facts or human nature clutter the vision of a better world.

  7. It’s not just in expensive S.F. that this
    problem exists. My family in E. KY say
    that the same thing goes on there back
    in the “hollers”, where locals live (badly)
    on welfare, rather than pull up stakes
    and move to the next county to take a
    job. And the system doesn’t seem to
    have a problem with that – they pay and
    pay and pay. Of course, if the welfare
    caseload dropped, think of all those
    well-paid counselors and check-
    writers who might have to move to the
    next county to find a new job!

  8. It’s a good model, Book. Keeping the serfs attached to the land, will eventually not only make sure that the serfs can’t leave but that they will eventually no longer even realize that it is an option.

    More government money simply means that the serfs become more indebted to the aristocracy, or the bureacracy as they are now known.

  9. I believe that this is what we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, YM, when countless welfare-oppressed African Americans were evacuated from the “plantation” economy of New Orleans to Houston and saw that they actually could live dignified lives with decent jobs.

  10. […] within it the favored prescription for this ill:  not mobility but money, yours and mine.  I blogged this question:  why don’t people who can’t afford to live in a given place move where it’s […]

  11. Human beings require social groups in order to function at maximum potential. However, this also means that evil folks will use this vulnerability in the human condition to grab their own coterie of human slaves for their own purposes. There is no alternative other than group cooperation for humanity, although there are plenty of ways to ensure cooperation, slavery being one of the most far reaching even though it is also one of the most inefficient methods.

    When the revolutionary says that he will destroy the status quo, he is lying. For you can never destroy the status quo of the human condition and its need for hierarchy and social networking. Why, to do that, you would need to be a god or at least a demi-god. Some folks aspire to that level. Take a look at John Kerry, a demi-god in the making, with the number of tools he has used and discarded.

    You can’t destroy the status quo, but you can replace it. As Che and Castro proved, however, destroying something doesn’t automatically guarantee that it will be replaced by something better or even just as good.

    True freedom fighters know that order must be maintained, even as chaos is sown and change ushered in. Freedom fighters may fight for freedom, but those that fight for freedom are the most bound of all, for they have too many duties and responsibilities and little freedom. The design shouldn’t be to destroy a system as Leftists believe, the design should be to reform and make the system stronger, all at the same time killing anyone that gets in the way.

    In that aspect, revolutionaries and freedom fighters are very similar. Think of Robbespiere, he killed because the killing was good and because he was riding a tiger that he couldn’t get off without being eaten immediately after. George Washington also killed, but the people he killed allowed something better to be built ontop of their ashes.

    Freedom fighters, thus, are limited by what they seek to create, for destroying things is easy. Creating things, however, sets strict limitations on what you can and cannot do. The Left does not understand how to create anything, except concerning the spreading of misery and chaos. When the Left says “you can’t save a village by destroying it”, you have to ask yourself “when has the Left ever saved anybody or anything”. The Left didn’t save Japan. They didn’t save Germany and Eastern Europe in WWII and the COld War. Heck, the COmmunist Part of America were cheering the Soviets on as they crushed Poland with their Nazi allies. It was only the betrayal of the Communist Manifesto by the Nazis, now called fascistic pigs, that turned the “Left” against the Nazis, and have continued to do so ever since actually.

    The Left understands very well how complex creation and fortification are. That is why they seek to sabotage America and make the task of reconstructing people’s lives much harder than it should have been. In this aspect, they share common goals with the Islamic Jihad, regardless of how much they may or may not hate each other. Alliances are made upon mutual interest and mutual insanity. Insane ideologies like Nazism and Communism deserve each other.

  12. […] on October 18th, 2007 at 3:19 pm […]

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