California is the Poorest State

Most people don’t realize it, but California has the highest poverty rate of any US state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  (see SPM column on page 28).  That’s right, CA has worse poverty than Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and W. Virginia.

Since 2011, the Bureau has measured poverty using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which most people agree is a better tool than the one invented in 1963.  Others have picked this up and have reported on it:
SD Tribune
USA Today
CALMatters
and dozens of others.

Back in 2005, I was trying to be funny.  It’s not funny anymore.

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Replacing Trump isn’t gonna fix “the problem”

In this great article in the Atlantic, on How the Government Lost its Mind, author Deborah Pearlstein describes how we’ve built a government unable to cope with a pandemic, and suggests how we can fix it. Core to her observations is the point that over time, we’ve failed to preserve the “tools essential to enlightened governance”. In my own words, the government has gotten stupid. Tellingly, she claims that this problem preceded Trump, and “cannot be fixed solely by his removal”. Ouch; that got my attention.

A major assertion is that, over time, “Congress has delegated increasing amounts of regulatory authority to expert executive-branch agencies”, and it’s become easier for those agencies to get packed with unqualified political-appointees. She also points to the sharp politicization of the federal courts, where extremist organizations “have become influential players in championing alternative channels of legal professionalization, up to and including the selection of judges to the federal bench”. So you have hacks and chumps running the business of governing.

In the article, the author suggests several concrete steps to re-establishing a working government, and it’s well worth a read. But as a “final step”, she points out that a fundamental problem is that the electorate itself is tragically ignorant. For example, recent surveys reveal nearly “75 percent of respondents could not name the three branches of the federal government at all. As long as ours is a representative government, this staggering degree of basic incapacity will be represented among our elected officials and their staff. Part of the correction here will require improved civic education in elementary and secondary schools; one in five states, for example, currently has no civics requirement for graduation at all.”

Complete list of electives for middle and high school

If you are looking for ideas for electives for your middle or high-schooler, I’m compiling a complete list of electives here. If you know of other electives, and/or where they are available, leave a comment and I’ll update this list. Kids enjoy school more when they can study things that interest them. I hope it becomes a useful resource to parents, teachers, administrators and students. Suggestions welcome.

 

Recovering from Santa Cruz Mountains fire

We were evacuated on 8/19/20 and spent 10+ days with friends and in hotels, before returning on 8/30. It was terrifying to think we might lose our home, but we were lucky. To-date, over 900 families in Santa Cruz county have lost their homes. Here are a couple of local agencies who can help and who would appreciate donations. Thank you.

Valley Churches United

Community Foundation’s Fire Response Fund

Remains of house in Boulder Creek, CA