I?ve spend quite a lot of time trying to get as many reviews, book
reports, essays and interviews regarding this book.
The problem is that there a number of book reports and essays
available, but almost none of these are free.
I?ve found the following articles which are free, though. You can be
assured that my search was very thorough.
Interviews with the author:
-Paradise Lost: California's Experience, America's Future
A Conversation with author Peter Schrag
-An Interview With Peter Schrag
Reviews of the book and it?s message:
-Peter Schrag blames the Initiative for reigning in California's
out-of-control Welfare State
-Peter Schrag charts California's death-by-privatization
Paradise Lost: California's Experience, America's Future (review)
- A review of this book by The New York Times can be found here:
Note: free registration is required to view that review.
- More bits of various reviews by magazines can be found here:
A book report on this book can be found here:
A lot of different columns written by Peter Schrag can be found here:
Bibliography of Peter Schrag:
Here is a short summary of the book:
?Because of cuts in property taxes and a reluctance by older,
wealthier, white home owning Californians to pay for services they
don't personally use; public services in California are underfunded.
These public services are used by ethnic minorities whose population
has mushroomed in the past thirty years. These minorities are not
represented at the voting polls. The polls are dominated by the older,
wealthier, white voters who strive to reduce their taxes. The split
between the demographic profile of the voters and the users of
services is a challenge to California's state finances.
The main themes:
1) Tax revolt;
2) Demographic forces behind tax revolt; and
3) Anti government Prop movement.
The California public sector went from being the Nation's envy in the
sixties to becoming among the sorriest in the nineties. In the
sixties, California ranked among the top state in per capita spending
on schools, universities, and infrastructure. Now, California ranks
near the bottom on all counts. This shift was due to the tax revolt
started in 1978 by Prop 13.
The passage of key propositions caused budget constraints. Prop 13 in
1978 reduced property taxes by 60%. It shrank cities revenues by 27%,
counties by 40%, school districts by 46%. Prop 13 also limited the
ability of local governments to raise funds. Any parcel tax to service
new bond issuance to fund local services has to be approved by 2/3 of
voters. Ever since California schools have been underfunded. The
Gann's spending limit, Prop 4, passed in 1979 limited the growth in
state and local spending to the % increase in population + inflation.
But, school enrollment and inmate counts were rising faster than the
general population. Prop 13 & 4 resulted in cuts in K-12 spending.
Prop 98 passed in 1988, was to shore up school spending. It guarantees
that K-14 spending be equal to 40% of the General Fund. But, a decade
later school funding as a % of General Fund was lower than it was
before Prop 98. Prop 98 became a cap for school funding.
These propositions caused a shift away from direct taxation towards
fees. New fees have been raised on real estate development, business
licenses, utility services. Fees on real estate development represent
up to $60,000 per home! With the passage of Prop 218 in 1996, this
access to local revenues was curtailed. Prop 218 dictates that no
local tax, or fee will be imposed without a vote of the affected
Another impact of Prop 13 is the "fiscalization of land." Land zoning
became driven towards shopping centers which generate sales tax. This
fiscalization of land resulted in a slow growth of the housing stock.
Demographic factors behind Tax Revolt.
Demographic shifts have caused a disconnect between voters and the
users of public services. Between the 70s and the 90s, whites
decreased from 78% to 52% of the population. Meanwhile, non-Whites
grew from 22% to 48% of the population due to migration from Mexico,
Central America, and the Far East. The non-Whites are the users of
public services. In the K-12, you have a growing multi-ethnic
population. In the community colleges, Latinos dominate. In the UC
system, Asians dominate. In prisons, Blacks dominate. Medicaid
recipients are mainly Latinos. These non-Whites users of public
services are young, low income, renters.
However, 78% of the voters are White. They are older, high income,
homeowners. Also, parents with children in school decreased from 42%
of the electorate in 1977 to only 21% in 1997. The different profile
of voters and public service users is the demographic force fueling
the tax revolt.
Anti government movement.
The Proposition movement has rendered the California government so
much harder to run. Prop 140 in 1990 set term limits at the State
level. Members of the Assembly are limited to three two year terms
(six years total). State senators are limited to two four year terms
(eight years total). Thus, legislators have little experience running
a complex State government. Thus, power has shifted from legislators
to bureaucrats and lobbyists not affected by term limits. Prop 223
passed in 1998 set term limits at the Federal level. Thus, California
congressmen are limited to three to year terms (six years total), and
California senators are limited to two six year terms (12 years
total). This puts California at a disadvantage relative to other State
regarding allocation of Federal funds.
California has increasingly more propositions on its ballots. And,
more of them are deemed unconstitutional, and become stuck in courts.
There is no review process insuring that props are legally sound
before they go on ballots.
In the early nineties, the Constitution Revision Commission was an
effort to render the state constitution functional again. It made
excellent recommendations: extending term limits, eliminating the 2/3
majority to pass local bonds, and increase property tax on businesses.
The legislature dismissed all recommendations.
My one rebuttal.
The author represents that California's overall tax burden is less
than average. But, I compared the tax structure of the eight States
with population greater than 10 millions. As of 2001, within this
group, California had the highest individual income tax rate. It had
the third highest corporate income tax rate and sales tax rate. It is
only in property tax that it ranked below average at 6th among the
eight. If we looked not at tax rates, but instead tax dollars, you'd
have to bet that California's property tax would be closer to the top.
This is because California homes are more expensive. A big surprise,
California tax rates are much higher than in New York state in all
categories. Also, all of the above does not include any comparisons of
"fees" were California has to lead the nation.?
More comments from readers can be found here:
Google: ?paradise lost? ?Peter Schrag?
Google: ?paradise lost? ?Peter Schrag? review
Google: ?paradise lost? ?Peter Schrag? essay
Google: ?paradise lost? ?Peter Schrag? ?book report?
Google: ?paradise lost? ?Peter Schrag? interview
I hope you now have enough information. Too bad al lot of interesting
content about this book isn?t free.
If you have any more questions, please ask for a clarification!