California is a blue state. For those who just dropped in on the conversation about politics, that means we tend to vote for Democrats, are more inclined to hold liberal views. By a huge majority, California voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.
Here in Butte County, however, Trump won by well over 3,000 votes (Trump: 42,193, Clinton 38,676). That makes us a red county, like much of the rest of the state between here and the Oregon border.
California is home to nearly 40 million people with a per capita annual income of $29,906, and a median annual income of roughly $25,000. The first number is reached by adding up the income of all residents of California, then dividing it by the total population. The median income, on the other hand, represents the amount of income that divides those who make more and those who make less. So, the $25,000 number is the dividing line between the half of us who make less than that, and the half who make more. How much more runs from $25,001 up to Silicon Valley billionaires who got so rich so fast in the tech industry.
There's a lot of desperate poverty among those who make less than $25,000 a year. If you are the only breadwinner in a family of four and your annual income is $25,000, you're right around the 13.5% of Americans who are, by census, living in poverty. The per capita income for those of us who live in Butte County falls just below $25,000 at $24, 573. Up here in Magalia, where I live, we're about 20% poorer, with an annual per capita income of $20, 818.
That ain't very high on the hog. Twenty grand is the chumpiest of chump change for guy we are about to inaugurate. Trump and the gaggle of billionaires and multi-millionaires he's chosen to fill up his cabinet of closest advisors will soon be the highly paid managers who will run the bureaucracies that tend to the people's business, from housing to food safety, from environmental protection to monitoring the prices of everything from pharmaceuticals to food additives, from interest rates to oil leases.
It's not likely to go well for most people with an annual income of $25,000 or less.
That fact notwithstanding, a majority of us in northern California don't like or trust government. Consequently, we voted to turn the government over to people who are vastly more wealthy, remote from our daily struggles.
We voted once more for Doug LaMalfa, a rich rice farmer, to represent us in the U.S. Congress. LaMalfa talks a good game about smaller government, but he's a gluttonous beneficiary of big government handouts. Nearly half the people in La Malfa's district didn't vote at all, or if they did, they voted for Dougie, who, in turn, voted to eliminate the only source of medical insurance lots of those voters had.
The connections between Trump enterprises and Trump associates with criminal elements in Russia are slowly being revealed
A majority of poor folk in this part of the state also voted for Donald J. Trump. As a result, people who can't afford health insurance will see the loss of the Affordable Care Act (back to hospital emergency rooms for them), the closing of Planned Parenthood facilities that provided pap smears for poor women, impending threats to Social Security, and cuts to programs that subsidize the crummy wages paid by big government beneficiaries like Wal-Mart and other outfits that underpay their workers.
In the weeks since Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots, we've seen a frightening spectacle. The soon-to-be-inaugurated POTUS fought Twitter wars with Meryl Streep, John Lewis, Alex Baldwin and Saturday Night Live. He's ramped up tensions with China while he continues to refuse to release his tax returns, something he said he would do when and if he won the presidency. He's going to build his border wall with American taxpayer money and try to get it from Mexicans later. Or so he says. He held his first so-called "press conference," a clown show event characterized by a table loaded with phony prop documents and a paid cheering section.
Meanwhile, the connections between Trump enterprises and Trump associates with criminal elements in Russia are slowly being revealed, from the half trillion dollar Exxon deal negotiated by Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, to the connection between Trump's law firm and the honor bestowed on those lawyers by the Russian government.
So, for all those people here in Butte County who voted for Trump, I'm wondering if you're having just a little buyer's remorse yet, a smidgen of regret for having cast your vote for the political equivalent of the world's worst car, a lemon that is starting to make Nixon look like an honest man, a clunker that is already making the hapless George W. Bush look like a statesman.