Californians remain resolute in supporting legal abortion. That’s the only possible reading of a new Field Poll. And interestingly, here is an issue where the electorate is more “liberal” than the population as a whole. (Usually it’s the other way around.) Sixty-four percent of California adults and 70 percent of voters think there should be no change in abortion laws. Almost three out of every four registered voters want the Supreme Court to reaffirm Roe v. Wade.
The Field Poll asks Californians if the U.S. is ready for a woman president. Amazingly, 24 percent say no. The surprising thing here is not that 24 percent believe that, but that so many would say so openly. This suggests there are probably even more closeted sexists who would say the right thing to a pollster, but then hesitate to pull the lever for a woman. Nor are most of the “no” answers coming from liberals who wish the country was ready, but just don’t think it is. Only 13 percent of self-described liberals say no to a Madam President, while a whopping 36 percent of self-described conservatives balk at heels in the Oval Office. (We’re ignoring past visits by J. Edgar Hoover.) On the other hand, California is more progressive than the rest of the country on this issue. Compared to the 24 percent statewide who say no to a woman president, a recent national survey found 38 percent.
How to get more people riding mass transit? Technology may provide some answers in the form of traffic lights that stay green for a few extra seconds when a bus approaches, thus speeding up trips and making buses a more attractive option. This is mentioned in a new report from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association about how to save Muni, the San Francisco bus and subway system, but surely it is applicable elsewhere too.
At a time when California is trying to promote solar power, the Environment California Research and Policy Center surveys the owners of new solar homes. The sample is tiny — barely a hundred homeowners — but the results are still interesting. More than half said their primary motivation in buying a solar home was to save money; just 15 percent cited environmental concerns. Presumably this means that if energy prices continue to rise, solar will expand naturally, without a lot of environmental hard-sell. At the same time, taxes on traditional energy sources would help push more people toward solar.
There’s nothing like the initiative process to generate calls for political reform in California. The USC California Policy Institute releases a paper arguing that the Legislature should be given the power, which it now lacks, to amend statutory initiatives, and that popularly generated constitutional initiatives should have sunset provisions. They are worthwhile proposals, but the initiative process is the political bible to Californians, and it’s difficult to rewrite scripture.
An economic analysis of America’s second-largest (but most interesting) city by the Economic Roundtable points out that the big economic divide in Los Angeles is geographic. A northwest/southeast divide chops the city in half. The rich people and growing industries tend to be concentrated in areas identified in the report as North Valley, South Valley and West LA. The unemployed and the working poor are in the Harbor Area, South LA and East LA. Bettering the lot of poor residents will mean bringing jobs and businesses to the areas beneath the demarcation line.
Is it possible to predict which prison inmates will cause trouble? The California Policy Research Center unveils a new statistical model that aims to do just that. There are no big surprises. Youthful gang members serving long sentences are likely to wreak havoc, for example. But it would be a useful advance if prison managers were able to precisely predict misconduct. Now if only somebody can come up with a similar calculation for lobbyists and members of Congress.
Everybody thinks commute times are getting longer in California, but it ain’t so. A new study by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that the state’s median commute time is the same as it was a quarter-century ago in 1980, and actually less than it was in 1990. Why? Part of the answer is more suburb-to-suburb commuting, which generally eats up less of a commuter’s day. That leads to a sentence buried deep in the report that reveals a striking fact about modern California: “Jobs-housing balance is being achieved through the suburbanization of jobs more than the residential densification of central cities.” This is not exactly what was envisioned by the advocates of “smart growth,” but it may be a more natural way of achieving the same result.
It may not be surprising that young people don’t know much about Medicare, but you would think that people on the verge of joining the program would have taken the time to educate themselves. Not so, according to a new survey of 64-year-olds by the California Healthcare Foundation. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they knew “nothing” or “only a little” about the program that provides health care for most of America’s seniors. Almost one-third of those who were less than three months away from eligibility at age 65 still had not gathered any information. A separate report crunches the basic Medicare numbers.
When You’re 64: What Consumers Don’t Know About Medicare
Medicare Facts and Figures: A California Perspective
California’s economic outlook in 2006 amounts to “steady as she goes.” That’s according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Hot industries in Southern California include aerospace/high technology, international trade, professional business services, and tourism and travel. Potential trouble spots include retailing and show business.
2006-2007 Economic Forecast & Industry Outlook for California & Southern California