Why Is The Central Valley So Bad?

Source: Astral Codex Ten
by Scott Alexander

“The Central Valley is mostly farms — a little piece of the Midwest in the middle of California. If the Midwest is flyover country, the Central Valley is drive-through country, with most Californians experiencing it only on their way between LA and SF. Most, myself included, drive through as fast as possible. With a few provisional exceptions … the Central Valley is terrible. It’s not just the temperatures …. Or the air pollution …. Or the smell, which I assume is fertilizer or cattle-related. It’s the cities and people and the whole situation. A short drive through is enough to notice poverty, decay, and homeless camps worse even than the rest of California. But I didn’t realize how bad it was until reading this piece on the San Joaquin River. It claims that if the Central Valley were its own state, it would be the poorest in America, even worse than Mississippi.” (09/21/22)