Hispanic Growth in California Makes State a Testing Ground
Published: Saturday, June 16, 1990
The vibrant prosperity of California has drawn and rewarded many waves of migrants, both American and foreign, but some see a gloomy alternative prospect if more is not done to absorb the state’s fast-growing Hispanic work force.
Over the next 30 years, one vision goes, the Hispanic population will swell while the white baby boom generation retires. Failed by the schools and stuck in low-paying jobs, Hispanic youths will become frustrated and angry. Unable to find skilled labor, industry will flee and California’s economy will crumble.
By the turn of the century most Latinos will live in squalid towns without paved roads or electricity and stagger under heavy taxes to support Social Security and other old-age benefits for retired whites, who will retreat into walled villages.
While this outcome may be unlikely, it is not beyond the realm of possibility, says Prof. David Hayes-Bautista, a sociologist at the University of California at Los Angeles who fleshed out this pessimistic vision.
The increasingly insistent question is whether government, business, the schools and the Hispanic people themselves take the steps needed to educate Hispanic young people and integrate them into the American economy.
I guess the answer is “no.” And the more important question is why anyone thought it was worth taking the chance — it’s not like we can press a reset button and start over.