Sunday, February 4
Jerry Brown: California's rural-coastal cultural divide spans the U.S.
[California gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom] also is attempting to speak to the growing sense among the state’s more conservative rural voters that they are paying too much for services that primarily benefit those who live on the coast. That east-west divide largely has replaced the north-south rivalry that once shaped state politics.
In his final State of the State address on Jan. 25, [Governor Jerry Brown] said California is “prospering,” a nod to a growing economy that is the sixth-largest in the world.
But in an interview after the speech, Brown said that “does not mean all Californians are prospering,” and he made a distinction between the coastal “consulting class” and rural laborers whose “culture of working with their hands” is disappearing.
The state’s December unemployment figures tell the story: The rate in San Francisco County was 2.2 percent; in Imperial County, which borders Mexico and Arizona, the rate was nearly 18 percent.
“The state is more divided,” Brown said. “And it’s divided this way right across the country.”
Bridging the rural-coastal divide will be a difficult task for Newsom, who grew up in San Francisco’s Marina district with a divorced mother. He spent time with his father in rural Placer County — which stretches through California gold country, from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe — but his politics and well-tailored appearance are distinctly urban.
“There are often two different worlds in the same cities, not just the same state,” Newsom said. “There’s a cultural divide. And we’re not able to communicate on a level that is not seen as arrogant and dismissive. We need a new vernacular.”From Think California politics is on the far-left fringe? Just wait for the next elections; Scott Wilson, February 3, The Washington Post.
Also, listen to the John Batchelor Show's latest "Pacific Watch" report with Jeff Bliss "Homeless & Abandoned in San Pedro." Podcast - February 2.
And while the situation discussed in Nomadland isn't specific to California it's worth mentioning here because it will be happening to more Americans in the rural part of California -- and America's -- divide.
The book is a report on older Americans who make too little income to afford housing in either the rural or coastal divides and live a nomadic existence in search of low-paying work. Marketwatch has reprinted Next Avenue's interview with Nomadland's author and I think it's a 'must read.' Here's the introduction to the interview:
In her powerful new book, “Nomadland,” award-winning journalist Jessica Bruder reveals the dark, depressing and sometimes physically painful life of a tribe of men and women in their 50s and 60s who are — as the subtitle says — “surviving America in the twenty-first century.” Not quite homeless, they are “houseless,” living in secondhand RVs, trailers and vans and driving from one location to another to pick up seasonal low-wage jobs, if they can get them, with little or no benefits.
The “workamper” jobs range from helping harvest sugar beets to flipping burgers at baseball spring training games to Amazon’s ... CamperForce,” seasonal employees who can walk the equivalent of 15 miles a day during Christmas season pulling items off warehouse shelves and then returning to frigid campgrounds at night. Living on less than $1,000 a month, in certain cases, some have no hot showers.
As Bruder writes, these are “people who never imagined being nomads.” Many saw their savings wiped out during the Great Recession or were foreclosure victims and, writes Bruder, “felt they’d spent too long losing a rigged game.” Some were laid off from high-paying professional jobs. Few have chosen this life. Few think they can find a way out of it. They’re downwardly mobile older Americans in mobile homes.
During her three years doing research for the book, conducting hundreds of interviews and traversing 15,000 miles, Bruder even tried living the difficult nomad life; she lasted one workweek. I recently interviewed Bruder to learn more about the lives in Nomadland and what the future holds for these people: