Friday, December 24, 2004

Flyover country begins at the Altamont pass

Here's a graphic that shows how flyover country has been creeping ever closer to the coast. The graphic is part of a nice L.A. Times piece on how, despite the lock that Democrats seem to have on California, the state is trending Republican.

As usual in stories of this sort, the article focuses on one particular community, Murrieta (located here), and walks through all the cultural signs of "redness"--veneration for the military, churchifying, and so on.

What this article just barely touches on, however, is the latent class issue. The reason why people live in these far-flung, fearsomely hot places, instead in the milder climes of the coast, is because they've been priced out the nicer parts of the state. What makes them become Republicans, however, is that they don't want to admit that it's their downward economic mobility which is forcing them to live in places that no one a hundred years ago would ever have considered settling in order to get a middle class lifestyle. Money:

"People come here with their families, and they want a conservative lifestyle that they can re-create," said Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Seyrato, who moved here nearly 15 years ago with his wife from Los Angeles County so they could buy a house and start a family. "We were able to recapture the fresh neighborhood of the '60s feel…. It had a lot of promise out here."

The article then goes on to describe one Rick Reiss, a Hummer-driving prison engineer:
Reiss has a libertarian streak and hates taxes, particularly measures like Proposition 63, which proposed a levy on Californians earning more than $1 million a year to pay for mental health care for the poor. The measure won handily statewide last month; tellingly, it went down to defeat in Riverside County, even though there are only 446 people here who meet that income threshold.

"Whenever I hear politicians say they're going to raise taxes on the rich, I think, 'What's rich?' " Reiss said, and he's not alone. "To some politicians, it's $80,000. In California, that's just getting by."
I can appreciate it when people feel like taxes on the rich are all too likely to creep down the income scale till it affects them too. But to draw the line at not wanting to tax millionaires because they might come and get the prison engineer salariat... well, I can only say that this is someone who is a little out of touch with the reality of his own economic prospects.

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