Certain policies may help avoid a future of growing income inequality and social decline. One is to stop the emigration of California’s best talent. The state should meet the demand for college-educated workers by making itself attractive to the highly educated, not by trying to dragoon all students into college. California cannot hope to retain the entrepreneurs it still has and to attract others unless it radically revamps its business climate and lowers its taxes (a course made more difficult, though, by the demands on government social services imposed by the growing Hispanic population). Congress could help California stay globally competitive by letting foreign-born Ph.D. students in science and technology automatically obtain green cards to work in the U.S. after completing their degrees.
California should also create a robust vocational-education system. The fashionable prejudice against vocational education will end up bankrupting the school and college systems by forcing students into academically oriented classrooms that hold no interest for them and for which they are not qualified. Further, the blue-collar skilled trades are desperate for workers and pay much better than many a service-sector job (see “Wanted: Blue-Collar Workers,” Autumn 2011). Only 55 percent of Hispanic male students graduated from California high schools in 2007, reports the California Dropout Research Project; many of the dropouts would undoubtedly have welcomed the opportunity to learn a trade. At the same time, California must stop decimating what remains of its manufacturing sector with business-killing regulations (see “The Long Stall,” Autumn 2011).
And Washington should institute an immigration pause for low-skilled immigrants. In 1970, the average Southern California Latino spoke only English and had assimilated to Anglo culture, according to the Pepperdine study. Since then, even though California’s Hispanic population has expanded outside its traditional enclaves and spread across the state and nation, the acculturation process has slowed. In 1988, when accountant and entrepreneur Martha de la Torre began El Clasificado, a free Spanish classified-advertising newspaper, she assumed that the demand for Spanish-language publications would last only a few decades; instead, the market for El Clasificado has grown far beyond its original base in Los Angeles, even as similar English-language publications have gone bankrupt. “I’m surprised by how people in some communities try not to change,” she observes. Teachers, service employees, police officers, and ordinary private-sector workers report that many California residents now expect to be addressed in Spanish.
The reason for this assimilation reversal is our de facto open-borders policy, argues Michael Saragosa, a public-relations consultant who oversaw Latino outreach for Meg Whitman’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. “We need to allow people who are already here to grow into the American Dream over generations,” he says. “That can’t happen when they have a steady flow of people behind them.” Illegal immigration, which did not drop in California during the recession, should be reduced, and legal immigration should be reoriented toward high-skilled immigrants rather than the family members of existing immigrants.
My own experiences with the Mexican & Venezuelan "economies" taught me that the first thing a Latino or Hispanic acquires when climbing the socio-economic ladder are the traditional hidalgo avoidance of manual labor. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, but California's ceaseless lurch toward statist socialism will only increase the percentage of sinecures that an expanding state govt. will provide, and that on a proportional basis.
Heather has a solid article, but she overlooks some of those eternal verities that don't disappear over mere decades in historical evolution.