Every year at this time I need to go get fertilizer for the trees and shrubs in my yard. The Feb. 11 Sunday Forum article ("Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?") by Kerry Jackson of the Pacific Research Institute is a perfect pile of manure, but unfortunately not the kind my plants can use.

The overwhelming majority of Californians most days of the year enjoy mild winters and breezy summers — one of the best climates on Earth! No doubt there's poverty and hardship in the Golden State just like anyplace else. Like that manure, Jackson's omission stinks: That there's more of it per capita in Republican-dominated places like Kern County and the San Joaquin Valley than what's average for the state.

Policies that get folks fired up and out to the polls on Election Day over social issues aren't doing anything to eradicate the poverty here. And the slight concerning "a costly and needless high-speed rail system" is the most irritating point of this biased propaganda. If anybody can think of a better way to inject Bakersfield and the South Valley into the economic orbit of Los Angeles than with the prospect of a one-hour or less commute to good jobs in the San Fernando Valley and downtown L.A., let's hear it. (Putting the HSR station next to Amtrak allows passengers from north of here to take advantage of the service, too.)

I could go on with my indignation, but I have a yard to tend to.

— Tony Amarante, Bakersfield