November 30, 1991
By Yolanda Reynolds
California Governor Pete Wilson facing major budget problems and having tried to maintained Republican economic practices has had to look for other causes for the deteriorating state economy.
During the last ten years, beginning with former President Ronald Reagan, the Federal government has spent what reserves that it had and borrowed extensively. The last two administrations of Regan and Bush also deregulated the banks, the savings and loans and other industries. All of these actions, taken together, have caused the United States to go in a short ten years from being the largest creditor nation in the world to the largest debtor nation in the world. The national debt has more than tripled in that time. They promoted the “trickle down theory,” where the rich given great tax breaks and privileges in the form of “deregulation” on the basis that they would invest in business that would bring more jobs. The total failure of these policies (except to enhance the wealth of the very rich) has brought the country to the edge of an economic breakdown.
Governor Wilson claims that the large number of immigrants to California have contributed greatly to the state’s woes. The fact is that since the great depression of the 30’s there have never been so many have many Americans out of work. The question that many people ask is “how long is this recession going to last?
Governor Wilson is reported to have said that the working, tax paying segment of the population is leaving California to the “poor and immigrants. “This is a situation that greatly disturbs him. Such concerns could well recede if more money spent on the very young that are not leaving California or if more money were made available to those who wish to learn English as a second language.
The Governor’s charges, are strongly contested by many. Senator Art Torres has been reported to blame the Governor’s advisers for his controversial assertions regarding the “immigrants budget drain.” The statewide Latino Issues Forum has rebuked the Governor for blaming the poor and immigrants for California’s ﬁscal problems and has suggested that he recognize research that details the economic contribution of the newly legalized immigrants.
The questions of immigration, who comes, how many and their skills of lack thereof have been discussed at great length in the United States.
What is frequently mentioned relative to the size of the resident population has actually decreased. According to Reinhard Meier is his article “Immigration – A Source of American Vitality” published in the monthly Sept. 1991 Swiss Review “At the turn of the century the annual average ratio was 10.4 new arrivals for every thousands Americans; today the comparable ﬁgure is 2.5 immigrants per thousand population. Until recently California was one of the fastest growing states because of people moving here from other states of the Union to as well as being the preferred state for many of the nations new immigrants.
Meier says that this number (ratio) is “even lower than in Canada and Australia today. He says that, “even west European countries such as Germany, France, Britain and Switzerland have higher ratios of foreign born residents per resident population these days.
The charge that the new immigrants are heavy users of state funds and services are disputed by many. Meier says that recent studies show that immigrants families, “draw much less heavily on social welfare (programs) than the average American family.”
Meier says that studies of the long-term tax statistics reveal that in three to five years after immigration, those families’ aggregate income exceeds that of the average American family.
According to research these new workers do initially take jobs that others would have (but often those jobs that others do not want) but “ultimately create more jobs than they absorb, because of their entrepreneurial spirit.”
With the new U.S. immigration policy, most of the new immigrant visas (3/4) will be issued for family reunification. Another 110,000 visas have been reserved for skilled workers and specialists. According to the new law there is a limit of 700,000 regular visas allowed each year- that number will be reduced to 675,000 by 1995.
California population is changing dramatically – just as many states on the east coast changed when those cities and states absorbed great number of Italian, German and Irish immigrants in the early 1900’s. Then too, there were those who blamed all of the “ills” on the “immigrants.”
Those Itian, Irish, German immigrants were characterized by the earlier European American settlers who were mostly of British ancestry, to be clannish, and too “different” because many were non-English speaking and not Protestant. These same “immigrants” are now considered both by themselves and others, to be part of the “white” establishment.
As for the claims that the “immigrants” overuse such services as medical care, education and housing; the fact is that new immigrants are not the primary recipients of these services.
Some companies located in California are claiming that the State government has legislated excessive rules, taxes and regulations. The economy in California is not suffering primarily from excessive taxes and even excessive regulation. The State is doing poorly because in addition to the disastrous economy, in the last ten years the Federal government has put excessive financial burdens on State governments for such social services as medicare and refused for too long to extend unemployment benefits to the nation’s worker’s, many of whom, were fired from their jobs in order to pay for the leveraged buy outs of parents companies.
Fortunately, some of those who orchestrated the greed in Wall Street and other dishonest corporate leaders are now serving time in prison. The unfortunate fact is that many of those conspired in the Savings and Loan failures were able to keep their proﬁt, while the American taxpayer picks up the tab for the deposit insurance of these failed institutions.
Education is constantly assailed for its “failures.” The fact is educators are teaching far more students than ever before with relatively less money per student than ever before.
The Republican party, according to Kevin Phillips (one of the acknowledged architects of the Republican “revolution”) won its elections by engaging in the politics of “rich and poor.” They claimed that the poor (those on welfare), the schools and government regulation were an excessive burden on the taxpayer, even Phillips now admits that this policy carried much too far and has harmed the country.
Many of the homeless are the working poor whose salaries are so low that they cannot afford housing. The cost of the Savings and Loan bailout far exceeds the amount of money that goes to the needy. No “welfare queen” could amass the fortune that some of the 90’s money men “scammed” from ﬁnancial institutions.
Recently, Chronicle writer Don Clark reported that the greatest number of fast growing companies in California are located in San Francisco, a city frequently described as hostile to business.
A recent highly publicized statement that 25% of all businesses were leaving California has been shown to be inaccurate. Of 3,000 businesses selected by a businesses lobby for a poll they conducted it was acknowledged that less than half returned the survey – of those that did, some 300 were “thinking” about downsizing or removing operations from California.
More and more people are dissatisfied with the spending priorities of bot their national leaders. Groups such as PACT (People Acting Together in Community) have challenged the priorities in San Jose and ask that a “Fair Share (of the City’s budget) be spent on youth.”
If you wish to contact the Governor regarding his claim that immigrants are a drain on the economy call his office at (916) 445-2841. If you wish more information on PACT their telephone number is (408) 998-8001.