By Maria Fotopoulos
June 14, 2010
Folks I grew up with in Oklahoma always ask how I like living in California. Inevitably, I pause, and then answer that it has pluses and minuses – and it’s always quite a balancing act.
California historically has been one of the most desirable locations to live, beckoning with economic opportunity and boasting geographic and cultural diversity. California is known for its temperate, Mediterranean weather along the coast, a climate only found on 2 percent of the planet. The Golden State also is the Wildlife State, with more species than any other state. It has the lowest and highest points in the 48 contiguous states; the tallest, oldest and largest trees in the country; and varied landscapes from deserts and salt flats to forests, mountains, wetlands and farmlands.
Yet, it’s been assaulted in recent year with mass, unchecked illegal immigration.
It’s estimated that California is home to some 3-5 million illegal aliens now. The crowding and overpopulation are obvious. The loss of biodiversity, natural habitats and farmland because of too many people is obvious too for anyone who wants to see, as are the economic costs.
California now is closing in on a population of 40 million people, a population doubling in just 40 years. As Eddie Tabash, board member of Californians for Population Stabilization, has said, “We cannot absorb them in the numbers they wish to come here.”
Californians have yet another immigration-related insult to suffer. We now are the least-educated state in the union. This is the news from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and their latest report that found the Golden State is not so golden anymore. As a result of immigration, we now have the least educated labor force.
According to CIS, California historically has not had “a disproportionately large unskilled population, like Appalachia or parts of the South.” In fact, in 1970 California ranked seventh for educated workers. That dropped to 50th by 2008. Without immigration, CIS says California’s labor force that had completed high school would be above the national average.
The CIS report has even more bad news. There are no indications that the educational gap will improve anytime soon. Add to this that California has extremely high rates of welfare usage (in L.A. County, the L.A. Times reported last year, one in five, or approximately 2.2 million people, receives public assistance payments or benefits). Add too that California has “become a state with one of the most skewed income distributions,” according to CIS, and that there are large numbers of people living here without health insurance, and it’s not a pretty picture of California.
Now when my old pals ask about California living, likely I’ll say the minuses of living here have tipped the scale to the negative. Uncontrolled illegal immigration has put the state overwhelmingly out of balance.
Los Angeleno Maria Fotopoulos is a Senior Writing Fellow for the Santa Barbara-based organization, Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS | capsweb.org), where she writes about the population-sustainability connection. Reach her at [email protected], on Twitter at TurboDog50 and Facebook at Maria K. Fotopoulos.