Fox's Tucker Carlson asks why California is 'the poorest state.' It's not.


The Fox News host was correct about one thing: His question was, indeed, simple. He just didn't want to hear the answer.

In the wake of Donald Trump's vile comments about immigrants from Haiti and Africa, the usual crowd of apologists at Fox News has lined up once again to defend the indefensible.

On Monday night, Tucker Carlson added his own take, launching an unhinged and wholly false tirade against the entire state of California during a segment on his show.

Speaking to attorney Cesar Vargas, who is an undocumented immigrant himself, Carlson tried to portray immigrants as a drain on the U.S. economy. Since California has more immigrants than any other state in the country, Carlson chose to focus his ire there.

“Let me ask you a really simple question," he said to Vargas. "If more immigration always makes the country richer, then why does the state with the most immigration, which is California, keep getting poorer?"

Vargas responded by pointing out that California has a surplus of more than $10 billion.  

“Wait a second. Wait a second,” Carlson interjected. “California’s gotten poorer — one in five Californians is poor. That was not the case when I grew up in California. It has the most immigration. So if immigration always makes us more prosperous, why is the opposite happening in California? It’s a very simple question.”

Indeed, it is a very simple question. And the answer is also quite simple: California is not getting poorer.

In fact, California's economy is not only the largest of any state in the nation — it's the sixth largest in the world, and the gap between California and the rest of the nation is growing. According to an analysis by Mother Jones, California’s GDP per capita was 3 percent higher than the national average in 1997. Today, it’s 13 percent higher.

But Carlson wasn't finished.

"Even though California is now poorer than Mississippi, immigration — which is the main thing that separates California from Mississippi — has no role in that, because why?" he asked. "Do you have data on that or you just kind of don’t want to admit it like everyone else?”

California is actually not poorer than Mississippi. But more importantly, immigration is not the main difference between the two states. While it's true that California has more immigrants than Mississippi, it's also true that California's economy dwarfs Mississippi's. And, as many have pointed out, the cost of living in California — not the concentration of immigrants — is a primary reason people are poor.

Vargas tried to make this point. "I don’t think that we have data to blame immigrants for every problem of the world," he said.

But Carlson wasn't interested in hearing anything that didn't conform to his anti-immigrant narrative.

“We’re giving them credit for every success," Carlson said. "We’re saying this country’s rich because of immigrants. Here’s the state with the most immigrants. Why is it the poorest state? I mean, am I being crazy? I think it’s a fair question,” Carlson said.

It is not a fair question because the entire premise is false. California is not the poorest state. Mississippi is. And despite what Carlson wants people to believe, immigrants are not a drain on the economy. In fact, in terms of dependence on the government, California is the 46th least dependent state, while Mississippi is the 2nd most dependent state.

In other words, the state with the most immigrants has the largest economy in the nation and is among the least dependent on the federal government.

At least Carlson was correct about one thing: His question is, indeed, simple. He just doesn't want to hear the answer.