Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate for California governor, left his home with $40 in his pocket to spend a week homeless and looking for work in Fresno, California.
Governor Jerry Brown (D., Calif.), whom Kashkari is challenging, declared over a year ago "California is back." Yet California continues to have the highest poverty rate in the country. Kashkari set out to see what being "back" really means for people out of work.
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Kashkari documented his journey, as store after store told him no one in the area was hiring, and passersby confirmed that things were bad everywhere.
Unable to afford a hotel, Kashkari slept on benches and in parking lots, at one point being asked to leave by the police. He ate his meals at a homeless shelter, but they did not have enough beds for him to stay overnight.
"I walked for hours and hours in search of a job, giving me a lot of time to think," Kashkari wrote in the Wall Street Journal. "Five days into my search, hungry, tired, and hot, I asked myself: What would solve my problems? Food stamps? Welfare? An increased minimum wage?
"No. I needed a job. Period."
Kashkari calls California's poverty a "man-made" problem: "Over-regulation and over-taxation that drive jobs out of state, failing schools and misguided water policies, to name a few."