Tim Draper, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist behind companies like Tesla and Skype, has a crazy idea. In order to make California more responsive to the needs of local communities, it should be broken up into six separate states: South California; Central California; North California; West California; Silicon Valley; and Jefferson.
This concept might seem more fit for a speculative novel than reality, but Draper’s dream may actually get its moment in the sun. On Tuesday, he informed USA Today that his Six Calfornias campaign had received 1.3 million signatures—far more than the roughly 808,000 required for the initiative to appear on the 2016 ballot.
Draper’s proposal still has virtually zero chance of ever happening. Even if the ballot initiative is approved (a December Field Poll showed only a quarter of residents support it), a California breakup would require the approval of Congress. And it is all but impossible to imagine a GOP-dominated House ever approving a plan that could potentially create 10 new Democratic senators.
That said, the venture capital mogul has apparently captured the imagination of many Californians who yearn for a more representative and responsive government than the one in Sacramento. In that light, it’s worth examining what six new Californias would really look like.
The major flaw in Draper’s plan is that the six new states he has outlined are not economically equal. In fact, they’re so unequal that many have wondered if the whole concept isn’t just a techno-libertarian plot to free Silicon Valley from having to share its wealth.
Under the breakup plan, some new “states” would be getting a pretty good deal. Others, well, not so much. Here’s a breakdown of each region and how it compares on various economic metrics. (All state comparisons are relative to the current United States.)
The common theme: Things look pretty darn good for Silicon Valley and West California (which includes Los Angeles), at the expense of making Jefferson and Central California two of the poorest states in the union.
Silicon Valley: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose
North California: Sacramento, Santa Rosa
West California: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara
South California: San Diego, Anaheim
Central California: Fresno, Bakersfield
Jefferson: Redding, Chico
West California: 11.5 million (8th in the U.S., similar to Ohio)
South California: 10.8 million (8th in the U.S., similar to Georgia)
Silicon Valley: 6.8 million (14th in the U.S., similar to Massachusetts)
Central California: 4.2 million (27th in the U.S., similar to Kentucky)
North California: 3.8 million (29th in the U.S., similar to Oklahoma)
Jefferson: 949,000 (45th in U.S., similar to Montana)
Personal Income Per Capita
Silicon Valley: $63,288 (1st in U.S., similar to Connecticut)
North California: $48,048 (7th in U.S., similar to Wyoming)
West California: $44,900 (15th in the U.S., similar to Illinois)
South California: $42,980 (21th in the U.S., similar to Vermont)
Jefferson: $36,147 (40th in the U.S., similar to Arizona)
Central California: $33,510 (50th in the US, similar to Idaho)
Percentage Living in Poverty
Silicon Valley: 12.8% (35th highest U.S., similar to Colorado)
North California: 13.7% (28th highest in U.S., similar to Illinois)
West California: 15.2% (21st highest in U.S., similar to California)
South California: 17.8% (7th highest in U.S., similar to West Virginia)
Central California: 19.9% (2nd highest in U.S, similar to New Mexico)
Jefferson: 20.8% (2nd highest in U.S., similar to New Mexico)
Median Home Price in Largest City
Silicon Valley (San Jose): $708,500
West California (Los Angeles): $520,500
South California (San Diego): $494,500
North California (Sacramento): $247,400
Jefferson (Redding): $207,600
Central California (Fresno): $165,000
Number of State Universities
West California: 9
Silicon Valley: 7
South California: 7
North California: 4
Central California: 4