California Politics: The Fault Lines of Power, Wealth, and Diversity

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Cq Press, Jan 30, 2008 - Social Science - 170 pages
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California is full of myths and legends, but its political system shouldn&BAD:rsquo;t be. In this refreshingly critical take, Edgar Kaskla brings an analysis of power&BAD:mdash;how it is distributed, how it is used, and to what end&BAD:mdash;to bear on California&BAD:rsquo;s political system and the many troubling issues it currently faces. Starting from the premise that California is in deep crisis politically, economically, culturally, and environmentally, Kaskla traces the state&BAD:rsquo;s economic and political development as a process controlled by and for the elite, be they land barons, the Hollywood glitterati, or Silicon Valley execs.Kaskla focuses on what he calls growth machine politics&BAD:mdash;elites and their land use as promoters of development and redevelopment&BAD:mdash;to show students how the gap between the rich and poor in California continues to widen. As minority communities increase in size, as the cost of campaigning in the state balloons, and as the state&BAD:rsquo;s debt crisis mounts, the socio-economic and cultural issues at play in California add up to a real threat to democratic governance. Kaskla clearly outlines how each of the state&BAD:rsquo;s institutions are organized, but also shows how they are affected&BAD:mdash;indeed distorted&BAD:mdash;by a host of serious economic and social inequalities. Not one to mince words, Kaskla is in places irreverent, but his text is thoroughly researched and well argued, never crossing the line into the polemical. Tables, figures, maps, and lists for further reading help reinforce the book&BAD:rsquo;s substantive points and critical approach, and a host of student and instructor ancillaries help with study, review, and preparation.

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I picked this book up by chance while looking for a good read. I have a particular interest in California politics because it is one of the epicenters in our world economy. California often goes ignored or not discussed, shunned off as some liberal blue state. When in reality California is instrumental in keeping our world afloat. Kaskla brings to light the inner-workings of California, and how it fits into the bigger picture of what he calls "machine politics".
Kaskla's work is some of the best I have ever been privileged to read. I would have to put him in the same category of Chris Hedges and similar authors who leave the reader shaken up and disturbed. It is certainly not for the faint of heart at times, but we need more people to be aware of what is going on in the world around us.
To sit back and ponder on the world around us knowing something is not quite right is simply not enough as we move forward in a grim present, and an even more grim future. Regardless of what end of the spectrum an individual may sit on, everyone should read this book!
Agree or disagree with him, but certainly do not miss this read and the facts it presents.


Power Elite 2005
Individuals and Organizations
The Historical Development of Elite Politics

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