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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #300 on: July 23, 2012, 05:02:35 AM »

NY Times

 
LOS ANGELES — This would seem a moment of great opportunity for California Republicans. The state has become a national symbol of fiscal turmoil and dysfunction, the Legislature is nearly as unpopular as Congress and Democrats control every branch of government.


But instead, the state party — once a symbol of Republican hope and geographical reach and which gave the nation Ronald Reagan (and Richard M. Nixon) — is caught in a cycle of relentless decline, and appears in danger of shrinking to the rank of a minor party.

“We are at a lower point than we’ve ever been,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy, the No. 3 Republican in the United States House of Representatives. “It’s rebuilding time.”

Registered Republicans now account for just 30 percent of the California electorate, and are on a path that analysts predict could drop them to No. 3 in six years, behind Democrats, who currently make up 43 percent, and independent voters, with 21 percent.

“It’s no longer a statewide party,” said Allan Hoffenblum, who worked for 30 years as a Republican consultant in California. “They are down to 30 percent, which makes it impossible to win a statewide election. You just can’t get enough crossover voters.”

“They have alienated large swaths of voters,” he said. “They have become too doctrinaire on the social issues. It’s become a cult.”

There is not a single Republican holding statewide office. Democrats overwhelmingly control the State Assembly and Senate. In interviews, Republicans were unable to come up with any names of credible candidates preparing to run for statewide office. By contrast, the Democratic bench is bustling with ambitious younger politicians who are waiting for their moment. It is a giant turnaround since 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger knocked out the Democratic governor, Gray Davis, in a recall election and set out to build a more moderate Republican Party.

Republicans said their problems were made worse this year by the emphasis during the Republican presidential primaries on social issues, particularly tough immigration measures and opposition to abortion rights. That focus could make it tougher to win independent voters who are crucial to any Republican resurgence in California.

“The national party is becoming a party of very enthusiastic social conservatives driven by Southerners,” said Bill Whalen, a fellow with the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University. “It’s a problem if you’re an independent voter in California. If you think about the Republican Party, what national figure comes to mind? George W. Bush or Newt Gingrich.”

Republican leaders say they are hopeful that they can turn things around because of the troubles befalling Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

“You can only have 11 percent unemployment for so long before the populace gets tired of the people in power,” said Tom Del Beccaro, the Republican Party chairman. “The Democrats are in a lot of trouble because they’ve had the governorship, the Assembly and the Senate, and the budget is way out of balance; unemployment is third-highest in the nation.”

“They don’t have any plans related to these problems, other than higher taxes,” he said. “And the issues are coming our way because the biggest issues are budget and taxes.”

Mr. McCarthy said the Republican Party would be able to turn itself around if it recruited stronger candidates and presented an alternative agenda for the state.

“I actually believe in the next two and a half years the Republican Party is going to become much stronger,” he said. “What we have to do is build candidates who look for solutions, so you can talk about our conservative solutions, but you can’t just say no.”

The party’s decline in California has occurred even as Republicans have prospered elsewhere. In 2010 — when Republicans made huge gains across the nation — they were wiped out here in races for governor and the Senate. In 1994, the last time Republicans enjoyed a national sweep, Pete Wilson, a Republican, was elected governor by a large margin, but Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, barely won re-election.

“The institution of the California Republican Party, I would argue, has effectively collapsed,” said Steve Schmidt, a Republican consultant who was a senior adviser to Mr. Schwarzenegger. “It doesn’t do any of the things that a political party should do. It doesn’t register voters. It doesn’t recruit candidates. It doesn’t raise money. The Republican Party in the state institutionally has become a small ideological club that is basically in the business of hunting out heretics.”

“When you look at the population growth, the actual party is shrinking,” Mr. Schmidt said. “It’s becoming more white. It’s becoming older. “

Over the past decade, Republicans have turned to wealthy business executives like Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina to run for statewide office. But the party’s troubled demographics, as well as the history of these self-financed candidates getting roughed up by the political process, may give pause to other wealthy Californians, party officials said.

The slide began in 1994, when Republicans rallied around a voter initiative, Proposition 187, that would have made it illegal for the government to provide services for undocumented aliens. That campaign created a political rupture with Hispanics at the very moment when their numbers were exploding.

“The manner in which immigration is handled nationally presents a challenge to Republicans in California,” Mr. Del Beccaro said.

Republicans said they feared becoming further marginalized in November should President Obama win the state by a big margin, sweeping Democratic candidates into office in the Assembly and Senate. (There is one bright spot: Republicans seem poised to lose fewer seats than once feared in the state’s Congressional delegation.)

Kimberly Nalder, a political science professor at California State University, Sacramento, says Republicans in California are still too closely identified with socially conservative positions — on immigration, the environment, abortion and gay rights — that have put them outside the mainstream in a changing electorate.

“They’re just blind to the future,” she said. “We’re passing the tipping point now, and they are not realizing that.”

This year in San Diego, Nathan Fletcher, a Republican state assemblyman, quit the party to run, unsuccessfully, as an independent for mayor. “There are a series of issues where I am just fundamentally out of line with the current Republican Party in California — reasonable environmental protection, equal rights and marriage equality, immigration,” he said. “And it’s not a party that is welcoming of dissent on those issues.”

What is frustrating for many Republicans is that this should be a moment when they can step in. Though voters might have diverged from Republican Party orthodoxy on social issues, they have, almost without exception, voted against initiatives on the ballot to raise taxes over the past decade. Two weeks ago, Democrats pushed through approval of nearly $9 billion in financing for a high-speed rail project from Los Angeles to San Francisco that polls suggest has grown increasingly unpopular since it was approved by voters in 2008.

“While there are always woes in California, now is worse than ever,” said Connie Conway, the Assembly minority leader. “Now the majority party in the Legislature has decided that this train to nowhere is a good idea. A lot of people are really questioning that these days. Californians are waking up.”

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DougMacG
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« Reply #301 on: July 23, 2012, 11:30:29 AM »

I read through that without seeing the source, NY Times.  It looked like pretty good reporting except for having the main story line upside down.  For all I can tell reading through, the R. party may have its policies just right and it is the voters choosing the death spiral.  Or as I was calling it 'Decline by Design'.  The implication is that the last 30% should surrender.  More likely they will leave.

Yes, the 1994 Prop 187 effort drove a big wedge between Hispanics and Republicans, but remember that a California Republican President (Reagan) already signed a 'comprehensive' bill establishing both amnesty and border security (lol) in 1986.  If those kinds of policies worked, why would there be a serious issue with illegals using too many public services in 1994?

The article keeps making R's sound extreme yet they keep offering up moderates for office as I see it.  Whitman and Fiorina the latest, but look at that fiscal wuss Arnold.  Didn't he cave on every fiscal and reform issue like a good moderate while he already agreed with liberals on every social issue?  What good did that do for the state or the party?

California needs pro-growth policies that they aren't about to vote for.

This isn't unique to California, all the large decaying cities have the same political problem, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis come to mind.  How are the Republican parties doing within those city limits?  Mpls city council has 12 Dem and 1 green.  There were no Republican candidates for either Mayor or any City Council post in a recent election, with one Republican running for Library Board, according to Wikipedia.  Minneapolis has shrunk 25% from its peak down to its size of 90 years ago; fewer than 1 in 8 in the metro choose Minneapolis.  It would be bankrupt if not held up by an otherwise prosperous county and state.  Detroit lost 25% in a decade.  About that loss , Detroit's Republican Mayor said ....  just kidding, Dems have run Detroit since the (other) Great depression.  HuffPost says Obama won Detroit by 97-3%?! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/michigan-primary-unlikely-detroit-voters_n_1294624.html  Now the 'real' unemployment rate is around 45%.  But the unemployed make good Dem voters - if they stay - and if someone else will pay for the services.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #302 on: July 23, 2012, 11:35:41 AM »

Doug:

POTH is my humour insult of a name for the NYT -- Pravda on the Hudson.  Also, the first line of the post says "NY Times".

Anyway, I think your answer quite good and on the mark.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #303 on: July 30, 2012, 11:12:14 AM »

California: The Road Warrior Is Here
July 29, 2012 - 10:56 pm - by Victor Davis Hanson      Where’s Mel Gibson When You Need Him?

George Miller’s 1981 post-apocalyptic film The Road Warrior envisioned an impoverished world of the future. Tribal groups fought over what remained of a destroyed Western world of law, technology, and mass production. Survival went to the fittest — or at least those who could best scrounge together the artifacts of a long gone society somewhat resembling the present West.

In the case of the Australian film, the culprit for the detribalization of the Outback was some sort of global war or perhaps nuclear holocaust that had destroyed the social fabric. Survivors were left with a memory of modern appetites but without the ability to reproduce the means to satisfy them:  in short, a sort of Procopius’s description of Gothic Italy circa AD 540.

Sometimes, and in some places, in California I think we have nearly descended into Miller’s dark vision — especially the juxtaposition of occasional high technology with premodern notions of law and security. The state deficit is at $16 billion. Stockton went bankrupt; Fresno is rumored to be next. Unemployment stays over 10% and in the Central Valley is more like 15%. Seven out of the last eleven new Californians went on Medicaid, which is about broke. A third of the nation’s welfare recipients are in California. In many areas, 40% of Central Valley high school students do not graduate — and do not work, if the latest crisis in finding $10 an hour agricultural workers is any indication. And so on.

Our culprit out here was not the Bomb (and remember, Hiroshima looks a lot better today than does Detroit, despite the inverse in 1945). The condition is instead brought on by a perfect storm of events that have shred the veneer of sophisticated civilization. Add up the causes. One was the destruction of the California rural middle class. Manufacturing jobs, small family farms, and new businesses disappeared due to globalization, high taxes, and new regulations. A pyramidal society followed of a few absentee land barons and corporate grandees, and a mass of those on entitlements or working for government or employed at low-skilled service jobs. The guy with a viable 60 acres of almonds ceased to exist.

Illegal immigration did its share. No society can successfully absorb some 6-7 million illegal aliens, in less than two decades, the vast majority without English, legality, or education from the poorer provinces of Mexico, the arrivals subsidized by state entitlements while sending billions in remittances back to Mexico — all in a politicized climate where dissent is demonized as racism. This state of affairs is especially true when the host has given up on assimilation, integration, the melting pot, and basic requirements of lawful citizenship.

Terrible governance was also a culprit, in the sense that the state worked like a lottery: those lucky enough by hook or by crook to get a state job thereby landed a bonanza of high wages, good benefits, no accountability, and rich pensions that eventually almost broke the larger and less well-compensated general society. When I see hordes of Highway Patrolmen writing tickets in a way they did not before 2008, I assume that these are revenue-based, not safety-based, protocols — a little added fiscal insurance that pensions and benefits will not be cut.

A coarsening of popular culture — a nationwide phenomenon — was intensified, as it always is, in California. The internet, video games, and modern pop culture translated into a generation of youth that did not know the value of hard work or a weekend hike in the Sierra. They didn’t learn  how to open a good history book or poem, much less acquire even basic skills such as mowing the law or hammering a nail. But California’s Generation X did know that they were “somebody” whom teachers and officials dared not reprimand, punish, prosecute, or otherwise pass judgment on for their anti-social behavior. Add all that up with a whiny, pampered, influential elite on the coast that was more worried about wind power, gay marriage, ending plastic bags in the grocery stores — and, well, you get the present-day Road Warrior culture of California.

Pre- and Post-Modern

I am writing tonight in Palo Alto after walking among nondescript 1,500 square-foot cottages of seventy-year vintage that sell for about $1.5-2 million and would go in a similar tree-shaded district in Fresno or Merced for about $100,000. Apparently, these coastal Californians want to be near Stanford and big money in Silicon Valley. They also must like the fact that they are safe to jog or ride bikes in skimpy attire and the general notion that there is “culture” here amid mild weather.  I suppose when a car pulls out in front of you and hits your bumper on University Avenue, the driver has a license, registration, and insurance — and this is worth the extra million to live here. My young fellow apartment residents like to jog in swimming suits; they would last one nanosecond doing that on De Wolf Avenue outside Selma.

Survival?

Meanwhile, 200 miles and a world away, here are some of the concerns recently in the Valley. There is now an epidemic of theft from tarped homes undergoing fumigation. Apparently as professionals tent over homes infested with termites, gangs move into the temporarily abandoned houses to burrow under the tarps and loot the premises — convinced that the dangers of lingering poisonous gas are outweighed by the chance of easy loot.  Who sues whom when the gangbanger prying into the closet is found gassed ? When I get termites, I spot treat myself with drill and canisters; even the professional services warn that they can kill off natural pests, but not keep out human ones.

No one in the Central Valley believes that they can stop the epidemic of looting copper wire. I know the local Masonic Hall is not the Parthenon, but you get the picture of our modern Turks prying off the lead seals of the building clamps of classical temples.

Protection is found only in self-help. To stop the Road Warriors from stripping the copper cable from your pump or the community’s street lights, civilization is encouraged to put in a video camera, more lighting, more encasement, a wire protective mesh — all based on the premise that the authorities cannot stop the thieves and your livelihood is predicated on the ingenuity of your own counter-terrorism protocols. But the thief is always the wiser: he calculates the cost of anti-theft measures, as well as the state’s bill in arresting, trying, and rehabilitating him, and so wagers that it is cheaper for all of us to let him be and just clean up his mess.

Reactionary Dreaming

In around 1960, rural California embraced modern civilization. By that I mean both in the trivial and fundamental sense. Rural dogs were usually vaccinated and licensed — and so monitored. Homes were subject to building codes and zoning laws; gone were the privies and lean-tos. Streets were not just paved, but well-paved. My own avenue was in far better shape in 1965 than it is now. Mosquito abatement districts regularly sprayed stagnant water ponds to ensure infectious disease remained a thing of our early-20th-century past. Now they merely warn us with West Nile Virus alerts. Ubiquitous “dumps” dotted the landscape, some of them private, ensuring, along with the general code of shame, that city-dwellers did not cast out their old mattresses or baby carriages along the side of the road. It seems the more environmental regulations, the scarcer the dumps and the more trash that litters roads and private property.

I walk each night around the farm. What is the weirdest find? A nearby alleyway has become a dumping place for the rotting corpses of fighting dogs. Each evening or so, a dead dog (pit bulls, Queensland terriers) with a rope and plenty of wounds is thrown up on the high bank. The coyotes make short work of the remains. Scattered about are several skeletons with ropes still around their necks. I suppose that at about 2 a.m. the organizers of dog fights drive in and cast out the evenings’ losers. I have never seen such a thing in 58 years (although finding plastic bags with dead kittens in the trash outside my vineyard was a close second). Where is PETA when you need them? Is not the epidemic of dog- and cock-fighting in central California a concern of theirs? (Is berating in Berkeley a corporation over meat-packing a bit more glamorous than running an education awareness program about animal fights in Parlier?)

Education, Education, Education…

The public schools were once the key to California’s ascendance. Universal education turned out well-prepared citizens who were responsible for California’s rosy future — one based on an excellent tripartite higher education system of junior colleges, state colleges, and universities; sophisticated dams and irrigation systems; and a network of modern freeways and roads. In the private sphere, the culture of shame still prevailed, at least in the sense that no one wanted his 16-year-old son identified in the papers (with his home address no less) as arrested for breaking and entering. And such crime was rare. Rural California was a checkerboard of 40- and 80-acre farms, with families that were viable economic units and with children who worked until dark after school. It is hard to steal when you must disc ten acres after baseball practice.

I think it is a fair assessment to say that all of the above is long past. Since about 1992, on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing, California ranks between 41 and 48 in math and science, depending on the year and the particular grade that is assessed. About half of the incoming freshmen at the California State University system — the largest public university in the world — are not qualified to take college courses, and must first complete “remediation” to attain a level of competence that was assumed forty years ago in the senior year of high school. The students I taught at CSU Fresno were far better prepared in 1984 than those in 2004 are; the more money, administrators, “learning centers,” and counselors, the worse became the class work.

I finally threw out my old syllabi last month: the 1985 Greek Literature in Translation course at CSU Fresno seemed to read like a Harvard class in comparison to my 2003 version with half the reading, half the writing, and all sorts of directions on how to make up missed work and flunked exams. It wasn’t just that I lost my standards, but that I lost my students who could read.

Life in the Whatever Lane

Does any of that matter? Well, yes. Those who are not educated soon inherit the reins of public responsibility. In practical terms, the symptoms are everywhere. I now expect that my county property tax returns will have common errors, from the spelling of my name or address to the particular acreage assessed.

When entering the bank, I expect people not just to not speak English, but occasionally not to write any language, and thus put a mark down, in Old West fashion, to cash their checks.

When I deal with a public agency, I assume the person on the opposite end of the counter or phone will not to be able to transact the requested service, or at least not be able to transact any other service other than the narrow one trained for. Calling any public agency is to receive a recording and then an incoherent order to press numerous buttons that lead to more recordings. Woe to the poor fool who walks into a Department of Motor Vehicles office on an average day, seeking to obtain a copy of his pink slip or find a registration form. The response is “get a number,” “make an appointment,” “get in line,” “wait,” or “see a supervisor.”

Cocooning

I quit not just riding a bike on the rural avenues where I grew up, but walking upon them as well. Why? There is a good chance (twice now) of being bitten not just by a loose dog without vaccination, but by one whose owner is either unable to communicate or vanishes when hunted down. And then there are the official agencies whose de facto policy is that our ancestors did such a good job eradicating rabies that we can more or less coast on their fumes.

Forty years ago I assumed rightly that cars parked along the side of the road were out of gas or needed repair. Now? I expect that the cars are much more reliable, but the owner of any car parked outside my house is either stealing fruit, casing the joint, using drugs, or inebriated. Last week I explained to a passer-by why he could not steal the peaches from my trees; he honestly thought not only that he could, but that he almost was obligated to.

What makes The Road Warrior so chilling a metaphor is the combination of the premodern and postmodern. While utter chaos reigns in rural California, utter absurdity reigns inside the barricades, so to speak, on the coast. So, for example, San Franciscans will vote on whether to blow up the brilliantly engineered Hetch Hetchy water project (I bet they won’t vote yes), more or less the sole source of water for the San Francisco Bay Area. The National Park Service debates blowing up historic stone bridges over the Merced River in Yosemite Valley — as hyper-environmentalists assume that they have so much readily available power and water from prior generations at their fingertips that they have the luxury of dreaming of returning to a preindustrial California. Of course, they have no clue that their romance is already reified outside Madera, Fresno, or Bakersfield.

High-Speed Madness

Take the new high-speed rail project, whose first link is designated to zoom not far from my house. An empiricist would note there is already an Amtrak (money-losing) line from Fresno to Corcoran (home of Charles Manson). There is now no demand to use another lateral (getting nowhere more quickly?). There is no proof that California public agencies — from universities to the DMV — can fulfill their present responsibilities in such a way that we would have confidence that new unionized state workers could run such a dangerous thing as high-speed rail (e.g., if we can’t keep sofas and washing machines out of the local irrigation ponds, why do we think we could keep them off high-speed rail tracks? Do we think we are French?).

If one were to drive on the 99, the main interior north-south “highway” from the Grapevine to Sacramento, one would find places, like south of Kingsburg, where two poorly paved, potholed, and crowded lanes ensure lots of weekly accidents. Can a state that has not improved its ancestors’ highway in 50 years be entrusted to build high-speed mass transit? Can a state presently $16 billion in arrears be expected to finance a $100 billion new project? Can a state that ranks 48th in math field the necessary personnel to build and operate such a postmodern link?

We Are Scary

One of the strangest things about Road Warrior was the ubiquity of tattooed, skin-pierced tribal people with shaved heads and strange clothes. At least the cast and sets seemed shocking some thirty years ago. If I now sound like a reactionary then so be it: but when I go to the store, I expect to see not just the clientele, but often some of the workers, with “sleeves” — a sort of throwback to red-figure Athenian vase painting where the ink provides the background and the few patches of natural skin denote the silhouetted image. And stranger still is the aging Road Warrior: these are folks in their forties who years ago got pierced and tattooed and aged with their sagging tribal insignia, some of them now denoting defunct gangs and obsolete popular icons.

I am not naïve enough (as Horace’s laudator temporis acti ) to wish to return to the world of my grandfather (my aunt was crippled for life with polio, my grandmother hobbled with the scars and adhesions from an unoperated-on, ruptured appendix, my grandfather battled glaucoma each morning with vials of eye drops), when around 1960, in tie and straw hat, he escorted me to the barber. The latter trimmed my hair in his white smock and bowtie, calling me at eight years old Mr. Hanson.

Like Road Warrior, again, what frightens is this mish-mash of violence with foppish culture, of official platitudes and real-life chaos: the illiterate and supposedly impoverished nonetheless fishing through the discounted video game barrel at Wal-Mart; the much-heralded free public transit bus zooming around on electrical or natural gas power absolutely empty of riders, as the impoverished prefer their Camrys and Civics; ads encouraging new food stamp users as local fast-food franchises have lines of cars blocking traffic on the days when government cards are electronically recharged; the politician assuring us that California is preeminent as he hurries home to his Bay Area cocoon.

On the Frontier

I find myself insidiously adopting the Road Warrior survival code. Without any systematic design, I notice that in the last two years I have put a hand pump on my grandfather’s abandoned well in the yard and can pump fresh water without electricity. I put in an outdoor kitchen, tied into a 300-gallon propane tank, that can fuel a year of cooking. I am getting more dogs (all vaccinated and caged); for the first time in my life I inventoried all my ancestors’ guns in all the closets and found shotguns, deer rifles, .22s etc.

I have an extra used pickup I chose not to sell always gassed in the garage. For all sorts of scrapes and minor injuries, sprains, simple finger fractures, etc., I self-treat — anything to avoid going into the local emergency room (reader, you will too, when Obamacare kicks in). And the more I talk to neighbors, the more I notice that those who stayed around are sort of ready for our Road Warrior world. At night if I happen to hear Barack Obama on the news or read the latest communiqué from Jerry Brown, the world they pontificate about in no way resembles the world I see: not the freeways, not the medical system, not the educational establishment, not law enforcement, not the “diversity,” not anything.

Hope and Change

Yet I am confident of better days to come. Sometimes I dream of the booming agricultural export market. Sometimes hopes arise with reports of gargantuan new finds of gas and oil in California. At other times, it is news of closing borders, and some progress in the assimilation of our various tribes. Sometimes a lone brave teacher makes the news for insisting that her students read Shakespeare. On occasion, I think the people silently seethe and resent their kingdom of lies, and so may prove their anger at the polls, perhaps this November.

One looks for hope where one can find it.



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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #304 on: August 03, 2012, 08:19:21 PM »

http://pjmedia.com/zombie/2012/08/02/a-typical-day-in-berkeley/?singlepage=true
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DougMacG
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« Reply #305 on: August 16, 2012, 09:21:12 AM »

"2,000 upper-income Californians are leaving per week" ??!!

There Is No California

By Victor Davis Hanson - August 16, 2012

Driving across California is like going from Mississippi to Massachusetts without ever crossing a state line.

Consider the disconnects: California's combined income and sales taxes are among the nation's highest, but the state's deficit is still about $16 billion. It's estimated that more than 2,000 upper-income Californians are leaving per week to flee high taxes and costly regulations, yet California wants to raise taxes even higher; its business climate already ranks near the bottom of most surveys. Its teachers are among the highest paid on average in the nation, but its public school students consistently test near the bottom of the nation in both math and science.

The state's public employees enjoy some of the nation's most generous pensions and benefits, but California's retirement systems are underfunded by about $300 billion. The state's gas taxes -- at over 49 cents per gallon -- are among the highest in the nation, but its once unmatched freeways, like 101 and 99, for long stretches have degenerated into potholed, clogged nightmares unchanged since the early 1960s.

The state wishes to borrow billions of dollars to develop high-speed rail, beginning with a little-traveled link between Fresno and Corcoran -- a corridor already served by money-losing Amtrak. Apparently, coastal residents like the idea of European high-speed rail -- as long as noisy and dirty construction does not begin in their backyards.

As gasoline prices soar, California chooses not to develop millions of barrels of untapped oil and even more natural gas off its shores and beneath its interior. Home to bankrupt green companies like Solyndra, California has mandated that a third of all the energy provided by state utilities soon must come from renewable energy sources -- largely wind and solar, which presently provide about 11 percent of its electricity and almost none of its transportation fuel.

How to explain the seemingly inexplicable? There is no California, which is a misnomer. There is no such state. Instead there are two radically different cultures and landscapes with little in common, each equally dysfunctional in quite different ways. Apart they are unworldly, together a disaster.

A postmodern narrow coastal corridor runs from San Diego to Berkeley, where the weather is ideal, the gentrified affluent make good money, and values are green and left-wing. This Shangri-La is juxtaposed to a vast impoverished interior, from the southern desert to the northern Central Valley, where life is becoming premodern.

On the coast, blue-chip universities like Cal Tech, Berkeley, Stanford and UCLA in pastoral landscapes train the world's doctors, lawyers, engineers and businesspeople. In the hot interior of blue-collar Sacramento, Turlock, Fresno and Bakersfield, well over half the incoming freshman in the California State University system must take remedial math and science classes.

In postmodern Palo Alto or Santa Monica, a small cottage costs more than $1 million. Two hours away, in premodern and now-bankrupt Stockton, a bungalow the same size goes for less than $100,000.

In the interior, unemployment in many areas peaks at over 15 percent. The theft of copper wire is reaching epidemic proportions. Thousands of the shrinking middle class flee the interior for the coast or nearby no-income-tax states. To fathom the state's nearly unbelievable statistics -- as the state population grew by 10 million from the mid-1980s to 2005, its number of Medicaid recipients increased by 7 million during that period; one-third of the nation's welfare recipients now reside in California -- visit the state's hinterlands.

But in the Never-Never Land of Apple, Facebook, Google, Hollywood and the wine country, millions live in an idyllic paradise. Coastal Californians can afford to worry about the state's trivia -- as their legislators seek to outlaw foie gras, shut down irrigation projects to save the 3-inch delta smelt, and allow children to have legally recognized multiple parents.

But in the less feel-good interior, crippling regulations curb timber, gas and oil, and farm production. For the most part, the rules are mandated by coastal utopians who have little idea where the gas for their imported cars comes from, or how the redwood is cut for their decks, or who grows the ingredients for their Mediterranean lunches of arugula, olive oil and pasta.

On the coast, it's politically incorrect to talk of illegal immigration. In the interior, residents see first-hand the bankrupting effects on schools, courts and health care when millions arrive illegally without English-language fluency or a high school diploma -- and send back billions of dollars in remittances to Mexico and other Latin American countries.

The drive from Fresno to Palo Alto takes three hours, but you might as well be rocketing from Earth to the moon.
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/08/16/there_is_no_california_115128.html
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DougMacG
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« Reply #306 on: August 16, 2012, 10:55:14 AM »

Searching around to find out why Victor Hanson wrote this:

"2,000 upper-income Californians are leaving per week"

I found this story below from Bloomberg Jan 2012 with a different measurement covering the years 2007-2009.

Previously in the thread I argued that to raise revenues with higher marginal rates on the rich you would first have to lock the exits.  Even that of course would not work because the phenomenon of income mobility is not limited to people improving their also applies high earners and achievers choosing not to continue their medical practices or pursuing new business enterprises and just move their assets into less productive uses.  For answer on another thread I pose this question on income inequality, are the rest of us really better off when the rich are in decline?
--------------------

http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-11/california-s-top-earners-dwindling-as-brown-counts-on-their-higher-taxes

Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to balance the state budget in part with higher taxes on the wealthy depends on a group of top earners that shrank by one-third from 2007 to 2009.

Tax returns with adjusted gross incomes topping $500,000 fell to 98,610 in 2009, the latest year available, from a recent peak of 146,221 two years earlier, according to data from the Franchise Tax Board, the state agency that collects income and corporate taxes.
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« Reply #307 on: August 16, 2012, 12:10:39 PM »

Doug, actually it's mostly the poor and lower middle class who move out; the rich stay; they love California.

If the poor want to leave; well, good riddance. 

http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/jtf/JTF_LeavingCAJTF.pdf

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« Reply #308 on: August 16, 2012, 03:33:23 PM »

The statistic I posted wasn't about the poor leaving and expletive to you for not caring about them.  What the two posts demonstrated is that wealth is leaving and therefore so is leaving your ability to tax it.  Do you have a Plan B?
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« Reply #309 on: August 16, 2012, 04:14:11 PM »

Doug, many on this forum post that Social Welfare Programs should be cut and cut again; now you are indignant that I suggest a few welfare recipients move to another state if they are not happy?

My post is hard numbers versus broad generalizations clearly points out that it is NOT the rich leaving in droves; rather it's the poor; the ones who ar a drain on the CA system.  The rich love it here; they are happy to pay another 3% for the pleasure of living here.  It's not coincidence that many most of the brilliant new startups are in CA.  Yes, many live near the coast; why not?  I bet up state New Yorker's average income is a lot less as is their property worth less than Manhattan residents.

There are over 750,000 millionaires in CA.  We are number one in having the number of millionaires among all states; or perhaps New York.  And they are not leaving; rather Hanson is right; they love it here along the high tech cosmopolitan coasts.  More come to start a high tech business everyday.  Many are successful and they pay a lot of taxes.  Immigration gets put down here, but frankly there are a lot of Asian millionaires coming with cash to LA and CA in general as well.  As Hanson also points out, there is no real real estate disaster in the affluent areas of the state.  In a lot of areas, a million dollars won't buy you a 2000 sq. ft. home.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pf_article_113718.html

So yeah, Plan B is to raise taxes on millionaires, but make CA an even more exciting, clean, and desirable place to live.  Then even more millionaires will come.  And if a few lower income, uneducated groups want to move; well that's ok too.  Maybe to MN?
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« Reply #310 on: August 17, 2012, 11:56:34 AM »

Once you admitted you're a liberal it's okay to say "good riddance" to the poor because people know you care.  The real

My 2012 story is from 2009 data, the latest available.  More important is that it is after more tax increases.  Your 2009 story is from pre-crash 2007 data.  One point overlooked is that income disappearing does not mean the people moved, just changed course in terms of career, business or investments, either by choice or by consequence.  Weren't you the one worried about offshore and a Swiss bank account for Romney?  Why? Because it might escape taxation and not create jobs here, whether it would be Massachusetts or California. 

A third of high income earners vanished since your data was collected, if that does not concern you then you are not the intended recipient of that post.  (Is there an emoticon for hands over eyes and ears like the see no evil guy?)

No question California was the best place on earth.  No question Texas for one is kicking their ass in terms of economic growth and has worse weather and fewer idle millionaires.

The poke at MN means nothing; we try to fly under the radar.  MN was the number one state on Gallup's latest ranking on economic confidence and no one is moving their business here.  Native Minnesotans have a work ethic that overcomes high taxes.  The Twin Cities unemployment rate before Pelosi-Reid-Obama was about 2%.  Our incoming poor come from failing midwest cities like Detroit and Chicago; they like the shorter welfare lines and better customer service.  Property values on Lake Minnetonka are just like you described for good areas there.  Summers are glorious and winters are survivable with more indoor tennis courts and hockey arenas per capita than anywhere in the world.  It is easier to work or study late when it is dark and cold.  One of the yellowest states nationally (DBMA banned the red-blue designation) but the people don't trust the DFL (Dem machine) with anything more than divided state government, even tried rule by a wrestler.  The budget is balanced and the streets get plowed before you wake up.  Sky-blue freshwater everywhere you can see. 
------
On a conciliatory note, we will be investigating the regional differences more thoroughly when my daughter comes out to visit the distressed coastal area of Santa Barbara this coming week.  If you want to tell a midwesterner all the greatness of Calif maybe you can drive her there from LAX on Monday, but not on your motorcycle!   )
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« Reply #311 on: August 17, 2012, 04:26:21 PM »

Doug, my poke at MN was done tongue in cheek.  I've only heard good things about MN and the Twin Cities.  My father when he lived there loved it,
as did my former girlfriend (her father was president of Target).  I too remember the state fondly, although it's been a long time since I have been there.

As for CA, as Mr. Hanson siad, the coast is NOT distressed.  Rather, Santa Barbara is like visiting MN in the fall; it defies criticism.  It is truly a lovely area.  While UCSB is an excellent school (a very good friend of mine's daughter goes there) I thought your daughter had decided on a local MN college?  As for me providing transportation for your daughter from LAX to SB on Monday, at least one way, it might be possible, depending upon the time.  I'll need to rearrange a few things. Another suggestion might be the train.  It's a nice trip.  At minimum, I would be happy to pick her up and take her back (both ways) to the airport from the Train Station which is downtown LA (30-40 minutes away).  Or maybe I could drive her up and she could take the train back to LA when she is done visiting? 

The time together would give me an opportunity to fill her head with liberal propaganda.   smiley

If you are serious, sent me personal email.
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« Reply #312 on: August 31, 2012, 06:05:33 PM »

http://reason.com/archives/2012/08/31/police-unions-cross-line-while-bullying
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« Reply #313 on: September 11, 2012, 07:34:37 AM »


LOS ANGELES — First came a competing save-our-schools ballot initiative, backed by a wealthy lawyer who proved more persistent than Gov. Jerry Brown had hoped. Then came a summer of minor financial embarrassments that handed Mr. Brown’s opponents a narrative to use against him.


 
Molly Munger, a civil rights lawyer, supports Proposition 38, which would increase income taxes for nearly all wage earners.


Now comes a nagging question: Against that backdrop, is Mr. Brown’s $8-billion-a-year proposed tax increase in trouble?

On Nov. 6, California voters will face their usual thicket of ballot measures, 11 in all this time around, ranging from a further crackdown on human trafficking to the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food. But the most prominent by far is a budget-easing measure being pushed by Mr. Brown, who wants voters to approve tax increases to head off even more cuts to the state’s already decimated education system — a loss would automatically set off about $5.5 billion in cuts from public schools and $500 million from the state’s public colleges.

Proposition 30, as the measure is called, would increase statewide sales taxes by one-fourth of a cent and impose an income tax surcharge on Californians who earn more than $250,000 annually. The sales tax increase would expire after four years, and the income tax component would last for seven years. Some of the new money would go to public safety programs, like the supervision of parolees.

Stepping up his campaign for the initiative on Aug. 15, Mr. Brown, 74, framed his argument in biblical terms, telling a crowd gathered at a Sacramento high school, “To those who much has been given, much will be required,” a reference to the Gospel of Luke. The week before last, campaigning in San Diego, he said that students would see “real suffering” if voters rejected the plan.

A defeat could have consequences for the state and for Mr. Brown even beyond forcing deeper cuts in a school system that already ranks 47th in the nation in per-pupil spending. So strenuously has the governor pushed the measure, and so closely has he become linked to it, that a defeat would most likely curb his influence, and might even invite a primary challenge from a younger generation of Democrats. As Mr. Brown approaches the end of his career, his broader legacy is also in play.

“This initiative has been defined as seminal to his governorship,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.

But Proposition 30, supported by California’s teachers’ unions, has run into two snags, both of which are out of Mr. Brown’s control.

One is a rival education measure, Proposition 38, which is backed by Molly Munger, a civil rights lawyer who is the daughter of Charles Munger, the billionaire vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Ms. Munger’s initiative would raise income taxes on nearly all wage earners, although wealthy Californians would bear most of the burden.

Her measure would raise about $10 billion a year, with the bulk going to schools and some going to pay down state debt. It would expire after 12 years and is supported by the California State PTA.

Mr. Brown made various attempts to eliminate competing ballot measures; some political experts say multiple tax-related measures could confuse voters, or at least make them weary of tax issues. But Ms. Munger refused to back off, and she has so far poured $19 million into her campaign. “There’s room for more than one idea about how to fix our schools, and on a topic this important, voters deserve a chance to choose,” Ms. Munger said in an e-mail.

Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for Proposition 38, added, “Our TV campaign, focused on making sure voters know Prop 38 is the only one that sends money directly to schools, will now start rolling out aggressively.”

Ace Smith, the campaign manager for Mr. Brown’s proposition, said Ms. Munger’s tax initiative was of little consequence to the governor’s plan, calling the theory that voters shut down when presented with multiple tax measures “stale conventional wisdom.” If anything, Mr. Smith contended, Ms. Munger’s ads will give Mr. Brown’s measure a lift. (If both measures pass, the California Constitution stipulates that the one with the greatest number of votes takes effect.)

Mr. Brown’s tax increase may also be threatened by a series of minor spending scandals that undermine his carefully devised message that voters can trust Sacramento with more of their money.

Recent months have brought the disclosure of pay raises to hundreds of legislative staff members, many already making six figures. In a bigger setback, state parks administrators acknowledged that employees kept a budget surplus of nearly $54 million hidden even as the park system faced cutbacks and dozens of closings. Such missteps — along with Mr. Brown’s support of a $68 billion high-speed rail project at a time when the state supposedly does not have money for schools — have invigorated opponents like the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

“What else are they keeping from us?” Jon Coupal, the president of the taxpayers’ group, says in a radio ad that has been running lately.

Mr. Brown had no comment, but Mr. Smith said support for Proposition 30 showed “a real steady progression” over the summer in various polls, which indicated support at about 54 percent. “I just don’t see any evidence for the supposition that these things are hurting Prop 30,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Still, Mr. Schnur said Mr. Brown’s tax increase, which once seemed to have a good chance of winning despite California’s antitax history (voters have rejected the last eight tax increases on the ballot), is now “very vulnerable.”

“The poll numbers show it passing, but with a level of support in the low 50s, which is considered shaky ground,” Mr. Schnur said.

Mr. Brown has a few things going his way. Polls show that voter support for Ms. Munger’s initiative is weaker, and Mr. Brown won a legal battle in July for his proposition to appear first on the ballot.

Ms. Munger may have a fat checkbook, but Mr. Brown has done all right himself, with supporters raising about $11 million. Support has been particularly strong from businesses — Indian casinos, soft drink companies, oil — worried that they could become targets for additional taxes if Proposition 30 fails. Meanwhile, opponents have struggled to raise money.

Two weeks ago, the Legislature gave Mr. Brown some help, pushing through an overhaul of state workers’ pensions that will save taxpayers billions and giving the governor a way to prove to voters wary of a tax increase that he is working to reduce government spending.

A potential pitfall remains that expensive high-speed rail project that Mr. Brown has championed. But some political analysts say it might give him a card to play. If the campaign is a close one, “his best chance for getting Prop 30 across the finish line is by announcing that he’s postponing action on the rail project,” Mr. Schnur said. “At some point over the coming weeks, Jerry Brown may have to decide what he wants most, the ballot measure or the train.”


Ian Lovett contributed reporting.
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« Reply #314 on: September 20, 2012, 08:25:06 AM »



http://www.kcet.org/news/ballotbrief/ballot-measures/california-propositions-guide-2012-cheat-sheet.html
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« Reply #315 on: September 24, 2012, 08:04:44 PM »



SB 1476 is on the Governor's desk. This bill allows a child to have more than two legal parents. The proponents of this bill are aiming to extend parental rights to a child's biological parent's same-sex partner. This is yet another attempt to break down the traditional definition of the family and normalize same-sex unions. This is very harmful to children.
 
SB 1172 limits counselors on how they are legally allowed to counsel those struggling with sexuality, especially minors. "The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill because we don't want to let parents harm their children," Senator Ted Lieu told the Orange County Registrar. Senator Lieu just admitted what we all knew to be true, that this was nothing more than a bold attack on parental rights. We must stop the legislature from stripping parents of their right to seek the help they think appropriate for their children.
 
AB 1856 requires foster parents to be trained in cultural competency and sensitivity related to LGBT lifestyles. Foster parents do not need to attend training on LGBT lifestyles to be able to provide adequate care and love for foster children. This bill is another way for legislators to force their radical agenda.
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« Reply #316 on: September 28, 2012, 08:46:34 AM »

A Message From the City That Went Bankrupt
Creditors seem not to realize that in Stockton, Calif., we can't simply dissolve ourselves and sell off assets. .
By BOB DEIS
Stockton, Calif.

How did the city of Stockton, Calif. (pop. 300,000) go bankrupt in June? It's not the simplistic story that so many pundits claim. And I'd know: I'm Stockton's city manager—effectively a CEO who reports to the City Council.

Bankruptcy is a costly, undesirable process, but sometimes it's the only way to keep a city viable and continue providing for public health and safety. This was the case in Stockton after California's Central Valley was hit hard by the recession. Over the past four years, the city's property values have fallen 70%, unemployment has been as high as 22% (now 17.2%), and household income is 20% below the state average.

All the while, payments for debt issued from 2003-09 started increasing—so much so that in fiscal year 2012 we owed 600% of what we paid in 2007, before the recession. This is because debt had been "back-loaded" on the mistaken assumption that revenues would increase over time—a risky fiscal structure, but one the financial markets blessed as they extended credit to the city.

Stockton's reform-minded City Council hired me in July 2010 to get the city's fiscal house in order. Since 2009, the council has cut police officers by 25%, fire staffing by 30% and other "General Fund" workers by 43%, while cutting employee pay by 9%-23%. It added unpaid furlough days and required the city's 1,420 employees to contribute more toward their health care. Such changes were unprecedented but still not enough.

By early 2012, it was clear that Stockton was insolvent and needed to pursue drastic action. In February, pursuant to state law, the city initiated mediation with its largest creditors to try to avoid bankruptcy. It identified three main areas for potential cost-cutting: retiree health benefits, debt service and labor. Simply dissolving the city and selling all assets to pay creditors isn't an option, since we have to continue providing services to residents. Ultimately we renegotiated contracts with eight out of nine labor groups. But there were no changes with our capital-market creditors and the overall savings were inadequate, so bankruptcy became necessary to force restructuring.

This set off much uninformed commentary. Moody's opined in July that Stockton's "willingness to pay may be eroding," yet the rating agency still hasn't responded substantively to my request that it back up this assertion. Bond insurer Assured Guaranty, which is obligated to protect certain Stockton bondholders against various risks (including bankruptcy), has offered no counteroffer in response to our restructuring proposal—only two press releases and the assertion that the "City Council had failed to make politically tough decisions."

Anyone who thinks that should view the emotional video of the June 26 meeting when the council slashed funding for retiree health care. Over the next two years, city-paid retiree health benefits will be completely eliminated, wiping out this inherited $540 million unfunded liability.

Also painful is our public safety situation. We are the 10th-most violent city in America. Rates of violence are increasing by double digits, with our murder rate on track to surpass last year's record of 58 murders. We have the second-lowest police staffing levels in the country for a large city, and often Stockton Police can respond only to "in-progress" crimes. Oakland, a nearby city with similar crime challenges, has 44% more police officers per capita. With high poverty rates and gang activity, we cannot turn our back on public safety due to creditor pressure.

Nor can we leave the CalPERS state pension system. CalPERS should be reformed, but if Stockton didn't offer an industry-standard pension plan, we simply would not be able to staff an already challenged police department.

It is unrealistic for creditors to posit that Stockton reject existing pension obligations. The city is fiercely competing for qualified individuals, particularly police officers and senior management, and since reducing our compensation we have already lost 45 officers to other cities. We cannot just pluck people from the unemployment lines—the requirements to be a police officer are demanding and 99% of applicants do not qualify or, if hired, wash out.

Stockton's restructuring proposal doesn't single out any creditors disproportionately. Considering the city's cost-cutting actions, citizens, employees and retirees have endured far more cuts—and created far more savings—than the capital-market creditors.

Our City Council has shown courage and developed a plan, unlike other levels of government. It has reduced services and employee compensation and has faced retiree health-care costs head on. We are trying to be responsible in dealing with our creditors, but in the process we cannot destroy a community and its hope for the future.

Instead of challenging this bankruptcy from corporate offices, our creditors should stay in Stockton for a hot summer week with their windows wide open.

Mr. Deis is city manager of Stockton, Calif.
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« Reply #317 on: September 28, 2012, 01:50:26 PM »



http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/09/27/crazifornia-how-california-is-committing-suicide/?singlepage=true
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« Reply #318 on: October 02, 2012, 06:12:23 PM »


The Quiet Californians

October 1, 2012 - 7:51 pm - by Victor Davis Hanson

No state has suffered the last four years as much as has California — given that its progressive governor and legislative majorities serve as force multipliers for the Obama national agenda. We live in a 2X Obama state. And it is desirous for twelve or sixteen, not just four, more years in Washington.
 
The bluest state is polling at a 20 to 24 point lead for Barack Obama. Who cares that it is struggling with nearly 11% unemployment and facing a $16 billion budget shortfall? What does it matter that its public schools rated variously from 45th to 49th in the nation and that it is home to one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients, forty percent of the nation’s illegal aliens, and the largest prison population in the country? If Ohio supposedly has a million Obama-phones, I shudder to wonder how many are in California.

 


Bleak? But such stats do not necessarily translate into the bad life for those Californians who vote — a least in comparison, I suppose, to Minnesota’s winters, Mississippi’s rate of welfare payouts, Baltimore’s streets, or Mexico’s police. We are living on the fumes of natural wealth and a century of prior investment by some pretty hard-working and far-sighted long dead Californians; and it takes a long time to screw all that up.
 
Indeed, the state’s voting population accepts the status quo: the growing underclass expects entitlements always to grow even greater; state employees are more than happy with in-the-future-unsustainable benefits and packages; and the coastal elite have enough money that they do not care whether they have to pay a bit more to subsidize others and create tranquility in their anointed souls. Meanwhile, California is clear and 78 degrees without humidity — in late September.
 
Fiddling While…
 
In other words, we are a happy-go-lucky, sunny Greece around 2004 before the fall — a Mykonos or Rhodes with a German ATM machine. Those sourpusses in the private sector who are not happy and not rich either have left or contemplate leaving — or hide and hope the scanning, red-eye gaze of Sauron in the dark tower at Sacramento passes them over, at least on this latest sweep. As one of my local critics told me, “Get over it!” and “You’re just jealous” — and, my favorite, “Why not leave, then?”
 
Two miles away someone found a corpse a while back in a small Selma park that was once lovely; in high school I once helped to plant trees there. The murdered? No biography, no name, no details of the deceased. I suppose someone brought him to the morgue, and some next of kin went to the coroner’s office. End of story. Forty years ago it would have been front-page news; today it is not even a footnote. The anonymous and unknown killer? I suppose I pass him often on the way into town.  The point is that corpses now just show up out here, cars are found abandoned in vineyards, and dogs wander around without owners, all as the new normal. The quietist tiptoes around it — given that those who caused the conditions who spawned the chaos are usually far away in the Berkeley Hills or Newport Beach.
 
More Money
 
This November the California voting public is poised to raise state income taxes on the top earners to over 12%, ensuring that the state’s rates top both Hawaii’s and Oregon’s. With sky-high sales and gas taxes, Californians are already the highest-taxed in the nation. The state’s schools and infrastructure are among the very worst. In the old days, one might write, “Despite high taxes, California public schools are poor.” But we are getting to the point in California where quietists say, “Because of high taxes, schools are.…” Or: “Due to high taxes, schools are….” More money, not reform, is always the answer and therefore there is never reform.
 
When the UC chancellor writes alumni that without a new tax hike “higher education itself is imperiled,” don’t assume that he means the UC diversity czar and his horde of $100,000 per year assistants are slated for lay-offs. He means instead that students will pay more fees and the French or classics department may be shut down. (And no, reader, there is no irony here: the targeted French professor never makes the connection that his job is in the cross-hairs because there is a new bureaucracy to figure out how Berkeley is racist by having Asians “overrepresented” four-fold, whites slightly underrepresented, and Latinos in much smaller numbers on campus than their percentages of the state population.) 
 
Failure Is Very Much an Option
 
We know what would save the state’s public schools — a return to grammar and syntax, reading, history, math, science, and the elimination of the entire therapeutic, multicultural, and politically correct curriculum. But we, the quiet ones, also know that to reset schools would evoke such outcry that it is not worth the effort — take the Wisconsin mess and treble it here. The rich who designed and hence ruined the K-12 public schools avoid them; the middle class seeks to staff and run them; the poor both suffer in them and do their own smaller part to make things worse. (Cannot we also blame the gang-banger who sneers at the teacher while he uses his cell phone in class, or the 15-year-old girl who needs prenatal counseling, or the graffiti artist who destroys the bathroom?)
 
Why the disconnect between abject political failure and overwhelming public support for what is destroying the state? Silicon Valley is booming. Apple may become the wealthiest company in history. Google, Sun Microsystems, Intel, Yahoo, eBay, and Hewlett-Packard rack up billions in worldwide revenue. Chevron still has lots of oil and gas wells, and is redeveloping them at record prices. The California Rule: Liberals are quite conservative in the way they make money. Apple cuts costs. Google lays off employees. Intel demands results. In an odd Obama-way, California businesses have an advantage: because they vote so liberally, they can do almost anything they please.
 
As long as someone wants an iPhone in Lima, and another in Mumbai sprinkles almonds on his rice, or a cash-flush Chinese provincial governor sends his only son to Caltech, things in California can go on for some time.
 
Quietism
 
How do sane people, without great wealth that might provide exemption from all this, cope? They tune out. They psychologically drop out, in the manner of the ancient quietists of Athens in the 4th-century B.C. (the apragmones in search of hesuchia) who learned that one cannot fight the mob, but only seek to escape it. I bump into and talk with these latter-day quietists quite often. They are generally happy folk but have developed a certain psychological protocol by which to survive. The quietist trusts more the ancient wisdom in hallowed texts that warns democracy implodes when the masses finally assume absolute control and vote themselves entitlements that even the shrinking rich can no longer sustain.  So they don’t get in the way between the mob and their entitlements.
 
Look on the Bright Side
 
If the state idles farm land, puts drilling off limits, and drives out business, the quietist accepts that those who do such things do them because they never affect the authors directly, and when in the future they do, they will cease and desist — and it will be mostly too late. He assumes that the whiners at the $4 a gallon gas pump never make the equation that there may be 30 billion barrels in untapped oil 150 miles away, right off the California shore. (Instead, “they” rigged the prices.) The quietist assumes that few connect the horrific highways to an incompetent state whose highest gasoline taxes in the nation have translated into some of the country’s worse roads, or to the drivers who customarily lose brush, limbs, and mattresses from their trucks, shutting down lanes for hours.
 
No matter  – the quietist adjusts and drives at weird hours, as if he were some owl or nocturnal beast; it is not that hard to live a life pretty much opposite of what the majority does. There are plenty of quietists who can advise you. They are experts on how to navigate in a beautiful but otherwise insane state. Ask a tree-cutter, small garage owner, custom tractor driver, or self-employed tile setter — they all have advice on how to survive. Usually, however, they end with something like, “Of course my kids should get a state job.” In 1960, rare state employees were noble folk who were willing to make less for job security and a sense of public service; today they are lotto winners who hit the jackpot.
 
Empty States within a State
 
The Coast Ranges and the vast Sierra — outside a Yosemite or Tahoe — are as empty as Alaska. For all the Sierra Club protestations, few Marin County lawyers visit the upper San Joaquin River. They just wish no one else would as well. Although the mountain beauty is within an hour of greater Fresno’s million, apparently the Hondas and Camrys of the deprived poor can’t make up the grade, so the Sierra remains a haven for the quietist. In fact, one can drive to Cayucos on the coast, or Florence Lake in the High Sierra, or anywhere above Sacramento, and see almost no one. And to prevent insanity, the quietist keeps reminding himself, “Is such beauty, such weather, such solitude not worth a 12% premium on your income, or an hour a night to teach your child what she did not learn in school, or a little vigilance to mostly avoid what Los Angeles has become?” I am currently computing the cost of losing copper wire in all my pumps versus seeing the sun all of October. In California, one comes at the expense of the other.
 
The quiet Californian assumes that each year a new regulation, a new tax, a new something will seek him out. I read the “State Franchise Tax Board” print as I do the hate letters or emails I receive — incoherent, threatening. This year I got a letter from the state explaining that based on my income they “estimated” that I must have used the Internet to buy x-amount of things and therefore did not pay state sales taxes. Thus, they suggested that I should pay them around, say, $600.
 
Another such letter came from the Ministry of Revenue yesterday. The state says I have a house in the mountains and therefore may some day require auxiliary state fire protection and therefore should send them, say, $150 — or else!
 
Note that I pay local taxes to fund county and municipal police and fire. I give generously to the local volunteer fire department. (Would the state send someone in East L.A. some such letter, saying that because they live in an area that often requires the intervention of state law enforcement and SWAT teams, they should send in $150 protection money?) There is never any contract, warning, law — only a need for cash that justifies such confiscation.
 
So quietist Californians expect about every six months a new fee, dreamed up by a government employee who is paranoid that the state retirement system is broke, and with it his pension. The state employee is now entrepreneurial: without  a certain number of traffic tickets written, without  a certain number of new fees dreamed up, salaries and benefits dry up. I touch my rural mailbox as I do metal after skidding on a new carpet — a sort of static feeling of anxiety about what new state directive is inside.
 
I pick up the local paper: it has become a litany of rapes, murders, gang shootings, and molestations, peppered with drunk-driving fatalities and the uninsured and unlicensed who maim and kill routinely. The lurid tales of crime seem almost as if they come from a Sao Paulo suburb or the outskirts of Johannesburg. Yet the more violence, the more worry about insensitivity. So there is a general rule: the name of the driver, the killer, the robber, or the rapist arrested is rarely initially disclosed, much less his biography or photo — as if these are just random stats that can offer no higher wisdom. No worry — there is an answer to our world of Mad Max. Governor Brown will borrow $200 million for high-speed rail.
 
I note that an exception in California is the marquee universities.
 
A Stanford, for example, is home to elites and therefore it must be crime-free, so they often send out life-saving “alerts” that pop up in your email when a male has groped, attacked, or threatened a co-ed on campus. Oddly, the descriptions are graphically explicit: even though we are dealing with suspects — not the arrested. And so the appearance, size, and ethnic profile of the supposed attacker are provided in great, politically incorrect detail. One thing about liberalism: it takes care of its own.
 
Quietists of the State, Unite!
 
The quietist assumes that his vote for president does not matter and won’t in the state for the next century. He assumes that whom he votes against for governor will win, and that his legislator will either be opposed to everything he believes or, if he is not, will be equally as irrelevant — and yet in homage to the state, he keeps voting religiously and laughing about it with other quietists.
 
Quietists have become bystanders, now marginalized to be sure, but also convinced that the relevant ones are, in history’s cruel calculus, quite unhinged. I have a confession: I like the quietists of California. I see them every day. They keep chugging away — and their spirits keep me going.
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« Reply #319 on: October 29, 2012, 02:13:32 PM »



http://www.dailybreeze.com/opinions/ci_21853879/opinion-so-california-lawmakers-are-sneaky-and-incompetent

Opinion: So California lawmakers are sneaky AND incompetent
Posted:   10/25/2012 11:34:27 AM PDT
October 25, 2012 6:49 PM GMTUpdated:   10/25/2012 11:47:24 AM PDT


California learned a couple of things about its state legislators this week. One, they make a shockingly frequent practice of changing their votes in the official record after bills have passed or failed. And two, they'd rather be seen as incompetent, lazy and spineless than seen as conniving.

All of this came out in research by the Associated Press, which reports finding about 5,000 examples this year of members of the state Assembly making changes or additions to their votes.


This is permitted as long as a change doesn't alter whether a bill advances or dies.


It could be assumed lawmakers do this purely for political advantage, to make their voting records more attractive to voters or to avoid angering party leaders. Most of the time, this presumably is the reason.


One example: AP quotes Santa Clarita Assemblyman Cameron Smyth saying he and other Republicans are hesitant to raise the ire of GOP hardliners by voting for "something that even looks like a tax increase" unless they're certain the bill will pass. So they vote no, and then change to yes only after they're certain they aren't standing out from the crowd.


This is disturbing enough to suggest the practice of vote-switching should be abolished.


As bad is the other excuse that lawmakers give for doing it -- the excuse they seem to prefer constituents hear. As AP puts it: "Some lawmakers say the vote changing is a sign of absentmindedness, such as when they accidentally vote the wrong way, follow others in their party without carefully examining legislation or misunderstand the intent of a bill. Others note that they are sometimes unable to be on the floor when legislation comes up for a vote and want to add their voice for or against it later."

Absentmindedness? Accidentally voting the wrong way? Blindly following their party mates instead of doing their homework?


Burbank Democrat Mike Gatto, who changed 59 votes this year (a lot, but far behind Norwalk Democrat Tony Mendoza's Assembly-leading 223), talks about a time when four absent Republican members of the Assembly asked a colleague to push their voting buttons -- but the colleague pushed the wrong buttons.


We'd almost prefer to think our lawmakers are sneaky than think they don't know how to push a button.


Here's a list of the Assembly members who changed or added the most votes this year. Leading offenders from the Los Angeles area include Mendoza, Chris Norby, Isadore Hall III, Felipe Fuentes, Gil Cedillo and Smyth.


-- Opinion page staff

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« Reply #320 on: November 01, 2012, 10:29:30 AM »

Jerry Brown's Tax Cliff
The second most important election next Tuesday. .
 
The most important single vote in America next Tuesday, after the Presidential race, is Governor Jerry Brown's attempt to stick Californians with another giant tax increase. Mr. Brown and his labor allies say Proposition 30 will fix the state's budget deficit and ward off education cuts. But the real choice before voters is whether to issue Sacramento's incorrigible spendthrifts another blank check.

Two years ago the Governor staged a bow to democracy by pledging that he wouldn't raise taxes without a vote of the people. The truth is he couldn't pick off enough Republicans in the legislature for a tax increase without delivering significant pension reforms, which government unions won't allow. Thus the last-ditch resort to the ballot box.

The Brown-union plan includes a "millionaire's tax" that kicks in at $250,000, three new income brackets for high earners and an increase in the top rate to 13.3% from 10.3% for individuals and many small business owners making more than $1 million. This would give California the highest income tax in the country, leaping over Hawaii's 11%. Oh, and by the way, these higher rates would be retroactive to this year.

Mr. Brown's initiative would also increase the state sales tax by a quarter-of-a-cent to 7.5%, though this is principally to foster the illusion of "balance," to quote the Zen-master Governor. The sales tax would generate only about $1 billion of the $6 billion in new revenue that the Legislative Analyst's Office projects for the tax increase.

As the Analyst cautions, due to huge swings in the investment incomes of top earners and "the uncertainty of their responses to the rate increases, the revenues raised by this measure are difficult to estimate."

No kidding.

Nearly everyone who has examined California's chronically unbalanced budget has recommended flattening its steeply progressive tax code to create a more stable revenue stream. Mr. Brown himself campaigned for President in 1992 as a flat-taxer. But Democrats in the legislature won't lower tax rates because they love the revenue windfalls they get when times are good and they can boost spending.

Then when markets crash, they can cry havoc and lobby for still-higher taxes. That's what the teachers unions did as recently as 2008, claiming that cuts that would have merely returned education spending to pre-bubble levels would cripple schools. Caving to the union pressure, a handful of Republican legislators in 2009 walked Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's plank and voted for a $13 billion sales and income tax increase. Schools received less money over the next two years anyway—while spending on entitlements and union retirement benefits grew.

Democrats are now back at the same stand. Mr. Brown has threatened to "trigger" $5.9 billion in education cuts if his initiative fails, but he'd make less than $100 million in other trims. How's that for balance?

Such "trigger cuts" could easily be re-configured with a modicum of political will in Sacramento. Instead of slashing $500 million from higher education, Democrats could kill their quixotic bullet train, which will cost about $360 million this year alone in debt service, and chop $100 million in tax credits to their Hollywood friends (who are bankrolling the tax campaign).

Or they could restructure retirement benefits, which cost $6.5 billion this year—up from about $1.4 billion in 1999. There's millions more to be found in modifying current workers' pensions and retirees' cost-of-living adjustments as nearly a dozen states have done. In Rhode Island such reforms have cut the state's pension liability by half.

Barring such reforms, pension costs will continue to balloon and eat up all new revenues. The California State Teachers' Retirement System has projected that it will need between $3.5 billion to $10 billion annually over the next 30 years to stay solvent. So any money allocated to schools will merely backfill the teachers' pension fund.

Illinois's laboratory of kleptocracy provides an instructive lesson. In January 2011 Democrats in Springfield raised the state's income tax by 67% and corporate rate by 46%. Over the next eight months unemployment surged to 10.2% from 9.4%. So in December lawmakers handed out tax breaks to their corporate friends who were threatening to flee to more business-friendly states.

Springfield last year spent all $7 billion in new revenues on retirement benefits and closed out the last fiscal year with another $8 billion deficit. Lawmakers increased the cigarette tax in May to raise an additional $400 million for Medicaid. Meanwhile, Governor Pat Quinn is wondering why lawmakers haven't moved on his pension reform plan.

The only way California can escape its recurring fiscal Frankenstorms is through reform and economic growth. The former would stimulate the latter while the Governor's tax initiative would squelch both. Raising taxes on small business owners when one in five Californians is out of work or employed part-time because he can't find a full-time job is the definition of insanity.

Once more cash starts flowing to Sacramento, taxpayers can forget about budget and regulatory reforms that the Governor has suggested are on his agenda after the election. The only thing Democrats in Sacramento have planned after November is more spending.
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« Reply #321 on: November 04, 2012, 10:09:43 AM »



Victor Davis Hanson

California, Here We Stay

Reasons not to flee an imploding state

 

PHIL KLEIN/CORBIS
 
Thanks to a uniquely temperate climate, California’s agricultural abundance is boundless.
 
California’s multidimensional decline—fiscal, commercial, social, and political—sometimes seems endless. The state’s fiscal problems were especially evident this past May, when Governor Jerry Brown announced an “unexpected” $16 billion annual budget shortfall. Two months later, he signed a $92 billion budget that appears balanced only if voters approve an $8.5 billion tax increase in November. According to a study published by a public policy group at Stanford University, California’s various retirement systems have amassed $500 billion in unfunded liabilities. To honor the pension and benefit contracts of current and retired public employees, state and local governments have already started to lay off workers and slash services.

Not just in its finances but almost wherever you look, the state’s vital signs are dipping. The average unemployment rate hovers above 10 percent. In the reading and math tests administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, California students rank near the bottom of the country, though their teachers earn far more than the average American teacher does. California’s penal system is the largest in the United States, with more than 165,000 inmates. Some studies estimate that the state prisons and county jails house more than 30,000 illegal aliens at a cost of $1 billion or more each year. Speaking of which: California has the nation’s largest population of illegal aliens, on whom it spends an estimated $10 billion annually in entitlements. The illegals also deprive the Golden State’s economy of billions of dollars every year by sending remittances to Latin America.

Meanwhile, business surveys perennially rank California among the most hostile states to private enterprise, largely because of overregulation, stifling coastal zoning laws, inflated housing costs, and high tax rates. Environmental extremism has cost the state dearly: oil production has plunged 45 percent over the last 25 years, even though California’s Monterey Shale formation has an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Geologists estimate that 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas sit untapped as well. Those numbers could soar with revolutionary new methods of exploration (see “California Needs a Crude Awakening,” Summer 2012).

Between the mid-1980s and 2005, the state’s aggregate population increased by 10 million Californians, including immigrants. But that isn’t the good economic news that you might think. For one thing, 7 million of the new Californians were low-income Medicaid recipients. Further, as economist Arthur Laffer recently noted in Investor’s Business Daily, between 1992 and 2008, the number of tax-paying Californians entering California was smaller than the number leaving—3.5 million versus 4.4 million, for a net loss of 869,000 tax filers. Those who left were wealthier than those who arrived, with average adjusted gross incomes of $44,700, versus $38,600. Losing those 869,000 filers cost California $44 billion in tax revenue over two decades, Laffer calculated.

Worst of all is that neither the legislature nor the governor has offered a serious plan to address any of these problems. Soaring public-employee costs, unfunded pensions, foundering schools, millions of illegal aliens, regulations that prevent wealth creation, an onerous tax code: the story of all the ways in which today’s Californians have squandered a rich natural and human inheritance is infuriating.

So why, you might ask, would anyone stay here?

For some of us, family heritage explains a lot. Sometime in the 1870s, my maternal great-great-grandmother homesteaded our farm and built the farmhouse in which I currently live, near what is now the town of Selma. I grew up working alongside her grandson—my grandfather, who was born in the same farmhouse in 1890 and died there in 1976. He worshiped California. Even in his eighties, he still marveled at the state’s unique combination of rich soil, lengthy growing season, huge aquifer, and water flowing down from the Sierra Nevada mountains. He planted most of the fruit and nut trees growing in my yard today. On my father’s side, my great-grandfather helped found the nearby Swedish colony of Kingsburg, where a plaque in a municipal park—thankfully not stolen during a recent wave of bronze thefts—marks Hanson Corner, the site of the ancestral family farmhouse.

My mother, a 1946 Stanford law graduate, was one of the state’s first female appellate court justices and would lecture me about the brilliance of California’s four-level court system. My father—a Pat Brown Democrat convinced that technical training was in short supply for the influx of Southeast Asian and Hispanic immigrants—helped found a vocational junior-college campus in the 1970s. Countless Californians are like me: determined to hold on to the heritage of our ancestors, as well as our memories of better times and the property on which we grew up. We feel that we played no part in our state’s current problems, and we’re reluctant to surrender to those who did.

Another draw to California is its culture. The California way, casual and even flaky, can sometimes become crass and self-indulgent; for evidence of that, just visit Venice Beach or Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue. But at its best, California still creates a ’49er bustle of self-invention that makes little allowance for class, titles, or hierarchy. As someone who established a classics program with mostly minority students at California State University’s Fresno campus, I can attest that real talent is often found unfettered by hierarchy. In a state with no majority culture, where it is almost impossible to determine a person’s income by race, dress, accent, or bearing, performance tends to trump reputation or appearance. The proverbial “millionaires and billionaires” whom I see drinking coffee on University Avenue in Palo Alto on Monday are dressed no differently from the loggers I talk with in the Huntington Lake bar in the Sierra on Friday. Some of the wealthiest farmers in the world are indistinguishable from their tractor drivers. In California, one earns respect more from what one does than from what one has done.

Some of the reasons that people began migrating to California haven’t changed, even in the twenty-first century: dysfunctional politics cannot so easily mar what nature has so abundantly bestowed. California will always be warm, dry, and beautiful, and it boasts an unparalleled diversity of climate and terrain. This past winter, I could leave my Sierra cabin (altitude 7,200 feet, with 20 feet of snow piled nearly to the roof) in the morning, drive down to 70-degree afternoons on my farm in the Central Valley, and arrive in the evening at the Stanford University campus, with its cool bay breezes. What’s most striking about California isn’t its rugged mountains, gorgeous beaches, and vast plains, but their proximity to one another. That nearness is an obvious incentive for Californians to stay put. In the winter, when midwestern sunbirds fly to Arizona and New Yorkers go to Florida, Californians are never farther than a few hours’ drive from the coast.

This beauty is economically profitable as well. Thanks to its climate, California can grow three crops a year, while most states struggle with one or two. The long growing season—plus great soil, plenty of irrigation, vast agribusiness economies of scale, and technological support from nearby universities—means that California’s farms can produce almost twice the usual tonnage of fruits and vegetables per acre. Not only are California’s cotton, wine, fruit, and dairy industries more productive than any in the world; hundreds of millions of affluent Asian consumers translate into skyrocketing export-commodity prices for the state’s farmers. This year, beleaguered California farms—fighting water cutoffs, new regulations, and encroaching suburbanization—will nonetheless export over $17 billion worth of food overseas (see “California’s Water Wars,” Summer 2011). In so mild a climate, moreover, outdoor construction is an all-year enterprise. It’s hard to believe that the world’s most productive farmers and most innovative builders would pack up and leave without a fight.

California also possesses enormous natural wealth in oil, gas, minerals, and timber. With commodity prices high and new technologies for energy exploration emerging all the time, the dollar wealth below California’s surface is greater than ever. The existential stuff of any civilization remains food and fuel, and California has more of both than any other state. So we wait for sanity to return to our officials, as our natural untapped wealth grows ever more valuable.

And no explanation of California’s appeal would be complete without mentioning how many top universities it hosts. In most rankings of the world’s universities, Stanford, Caltech, UC Berkeley, and UCLA make the top 20. The industries that best explain why California is still the world’s eighth- or ninth-largest economy—Silicon Valley, the Los Angeles aerospace industry, Napa Valley wineries, and Central California agriculture—originated in the research and development programs of the state’s vast public university system.

True, that system faces considerable budget pressure and has increasingly adopted a highly politicized and therapeutic curriculum. California State University, in particular, has lowered its standards, admitting students who don’t meet traditional GPA and test-score thresholds, so that over half of entering freshmen must enroll in remediation courses. But the state’s 50-year-old master plan for higher education—which instituted a tripartite arrangement of junior colleges, the California State University system, and the elite ten-campus University of California—remains viable. The schools still draw top scholars from around the world. And students come as well, especially engineering and computer students from China, India, South Korea, and Japan. Many end up settling here. Even in these bad times, it’s difficult to destroy such an inspired system.

Another reason to feel hopeful about California is that it’s reaching the theoretical limits of statism. To pay for current pensioners, the state simply can’t continue to bestow comparable defined-benefit pension packages on new workers, no matter how stridently the public-sector unions claim otherwise. And as public insolvencies mount—with Stockton, Mammoth Lakes, and San Bernardino seeking bankruptcy protection a year after Vallejo emerged from it—public blame is finally shifting from supposedly heartless state taxpayers to the unions. The liberal unionism of an aging generation is proving untenable, as we saw in recent ballot referenda in which voters in San Diego and San Jose demanded that public-worker compensation plans be renegotiated.

Though the fiscal situation is dire, Californians can take comfort from the fact that their budget, unlike the federal government’s, is smaller than at any time since 2006. The state constitution currently requires two-thirds of the legislature to approve any tax hike (though Governor Brown’s ballot initiative in the November election would raise taxes without the legislature’s approval). Since Democrats lack the supermajority necessary to raise taxes, and since California cannot print its own money, the legislature has been forced to shrink budgets.

Californians are also fickle and can turn on a dime. For all its loud liberal credentials, the state is as likely to cut government as to raise taxes. Over the years, Golden State voters have passed ballot propositions limiting property taxes, outlawing free public services for illegal aliens, ending racial preferences, demanding “three-strikes” incarceration for repeat felons, and abolishing bilingual education programs in public schools. Two statewide propositions at the ballot box in November would limit public unions’ prerogatives and require balanced budgets. The state and federal courts and Sacramento bureaucracies overturn most resolutions of this kind or try to avoid enforcing them, but the referenda demonstrate how California can explode into conservative anger at any moment. No wonder the Democratic state legislature regularly tries to change the ballot process.

At some point, the state’s southern border will finally be closed, and with it the unchecked yearly flow of illegal immigrants. The economic downturn in the United States, globalized new industry in Mexico, and increased border enforcement have already resulted in lower numbers of illegals. No national support exists for wholesale amnesty or for open borders. And with an enforced border, California will see not only decreased remittances to Mexico and Latin America and a reduced draw on state services but also, perhaps, a change in attitude within the state’s largest ethnic group. After all, illegal immigration warps the politics of the Mexican-American community, which constitutes more than 40 percent of the state’s population. The unlawful entry of Mexican nationals into California not only ensures statistically that Mexican-Americans as a group suffer from disproportionate poverty rates; it also means that affluent third- and fourth-generation Mexican-Americans become part of a minority receiving disproportionate state help. As one of my middle-class, third-generation college students once put it: “Without the illegal aliens in this school, I wouldn’t get special treatment.”

Without influxes of massive numbers of illegal immigrants, California Latinos could soon resemble California Armenians, Japanese, and Portuguese—whose integrated, assimilated, and intermarried ethnics usually earn more than the state’s average per-capita income. With controlled borders, Chicano Studies departments should eventually go the way of Asian Studies and Armenian Studies—that is, they would become small, literary, and historical, rather than large, activist, and partisan. Indeed, the great fear of the liberal Hispanic hierarchy in government, media, and academia is that without illegal immigration, the conservative tendencies of the Hispanic middle class would cost the elites their positions as self-appointed spokespeople for the statistically underachieving.

To grasp a final reason for optimism about California’s future, you need to understand that many of the state’s political problems result from a bifurcation between the populous coastal strip from San Diego to San Francisco, where the affluent make state policy, and the vast, much poorer interior, from Sacramento to San Bernardino, where policy dreams about immigration, agriculture, public education, and resource use become nightmares in practice. But this weird juxtaposition of such different societies within one state is starting to change. Hispanic Redwood City, nestled next to tony Atherton and Palo Alto, now has as many illegal aliens per capita as do distant Madera and Tulare. Living in high-priced Bel Air, Brentwood, or old Pasadena no longer shields one from crime or from the decay of the California transportation system.

On the congested coastal strip, building regulations, zoning absurdities, and environmentalist prohibitions on new construction prohibit almost anyone under 40 from acquiring a house without a sizable inheritance or an income in the upper six figures. Elites in Santa Monica and Menlo Park are starting to notice that their once-premier public schools don’t perform at the level that one might expect from the astronomical sales, income, and gas taxes. Shutting down thousands of acres of irrigated farmland in the state’s interior, at a time when foreign buyers are lining up to buy California produce, translates into higher prices at the Santa Barbara food co-op. Soon, even the Stanford professor and the La Jolla administrator may learn that illegal immigration, cumbersome regulations, and terrible elementary schools affect them as well.

The four-part solution for California is clear: don’t raise the state’s crushing taxes any higher; reform public-employee compensation; make use of ample natural resources; and stop the flow of illegal aliens. Just focus on those four areas—as California did so well in the past—and in time, the state will return to its bounty of a few decades ago. Many of us intend to stay and see that it does.

Victor Davis Hanson is a contributing editor of City Journal and a senior fellow in classics and military history at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
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« Reply #322 on: November 14, 2012, 09:45:29 PM »

The Other California Tax Grab
Politicians are already spending cap-and-trade auction revenue..
 
Amid so much other good news—13.3% tax rate, liberal supermajority—Californians will also be overjoyed to know that this week the state's new cap-and-trade tax gets underway. Liberals are counting on this to raise billions in new revenue, as if it won't drive more jobs out of the state.

In the Al Gore-global warming frenzy of 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law instructing the California Air Resources Board to design a Zynga-like market to limit carbon emissions. The state's 350 largest industrial operators will bid for the government-invented "rights" to emit carbon. Revenue from these auctions flow to the state. These permits can then be traded as virtual commodities, which over time will increase in value as businesses comply with an ever-tighter carbon-emissions cap.

This year the state plans to give away 90% of the permits for free to mitigate the compliance costs for covered businesses, which include refineries, steel plants, food processors and cement makers. The rest will be auctioned off with a floor price of $10 per metric ton of carbon. While the smallest operators can expect to pay at least $25,000, larger manufacturers will be dunned millions.

But this semi-free lunch isn't forever. Over the next eight years, the state will ratchet down the number of free permits, thereby driving up their price at auction and on the secondary market.

As a footnote: Utilities will receive their permits for free. But they'll be required to auction off their allowances and use the profits to fund solar and wind projects and control electricity rates, which are soaring thanks to the state's mandate that 33% of all electricity produced by 2020 must be renewables.

The state Legislative Analyst's Office predicts the auctions will raise between $660 million and $3 billion this year and up to $14 billion in 2015 as the emissions cap tightens and prices soar. That's a big pot of change if you're broke. Although the 2006 law requires that auction proceeds be spent on reducing greenhouse gases, liberals are saying Democrats should use their new supermajority to treat the cash as general tax revenue.

The state budget this year already siphons off $500 million of the cap-and-trade revenue for such things as "efficient public transportation" and "sustainable infrastructure" that are paid for out of the general fund. Last year Governor Jerry Brown suggested using the gusher to finance his bullet train, which is a mere $50 billion to $90 billion short.

This assumes the money ever materializes. A study for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association this year estimates the new law will cost state and local governments between $21 billion and $39 billion in revenue due to job losses in the hundreds of thousands and 5.6% slower economic growth by 2020. California has lost about a third of its industrial base over the last decade.

This is the same policy that President Obama wanted to impose at the national level before West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin literally put a bullet in it. Cap and tax has been sold as a way to end global warming, which it has no chance of doing. As California shows, its real purpose is to subject even more of the private economy to political direction and grab more revenue to spend.
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« Reply #323 on: November 14, 2012, 09:57:29 PM »

Don't worry, it will get much worse.


The Other California Tax Grab
Politicians are already spending cap-and-trade auction revenue..
 
Amid so much other good news—13.3% tax rate, liberal supermajority—Californians will also be overjoyed to know that this week the state's new cap-and-trade tax gets underway. Liberals are counting on this to raise billions in new revenue, as if it won't drive more jobs out of the state.

In the Al Gore-global warming frenzy of 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law instructing the California Air Resources Board to design a Zynga-like market to limit carbon emissions. The state's 350 largest industrial operators will bid for the government-invented "rights" to emit carbon. Revenue from these auctions flow to the state. These permits can then be traded as virtual commodities, which over time will increase in value as businesses comply with an ever-tighter carbon-emissions cap.

This year the state plans to give away 90% of the permits for free to mitigate the compliance costs for covered businesses, which include refineries, steel plants, food processors and cement makers. The rest will be auctioned off with a floor price of $10 per metric ton of carbon. While the smallest operators can expect to pay at least $25,000, larger manufacturers will be dunned millions.

But this semi-free lunch isn't forever. Over the next eight years, the state will ratchet down the number of free permits, thereby driving up their price at auction and on the secondary market.

As a footnote: Utilities will receive their permits for free. But they'll be required to auction off their allowances and use the profits to fund solar and wind projects and control electricity rates, which are soaring thanks to the state's mandate that 33% of all electricity produced by 2020 must be renewables.

The state Legislative Analyst's Office predicts the auctions will raise between $660 million and $3 billion this year and up to $14 billion in 2015 as the emissions cap tightens and prices soar. That's a big pot of change if you're broke. Although the 2006 law requires that auction proceeds be spent on reducing greenhouse gases, liberals are saying Democrats should use their new supermajority to treat the cash as general tax revenue.

The state budget this year already siphons off $500 million of the cap-and-trade revenue for such things as "efficient public transportation" and "sustainable infrastructure" that are paid for out of the general fund. Last year Governor Jerry Brown suggested using the gusher to finance his bullet train, which is a mere $50 billion to $90 billion short.

This assumes the money ever materializes. A study for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association this year estimates the new law will cost state and local governments between $21 billion and $39 billion in revenue due to job losses in the hundreds of thousands and 5.6% slower economic growth by 2020. California has lost about a third of its industrial base over the last decade.

This is the same policy that President Obama wanted to impose at the national level before West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin literally put a bullet in it. Cap and tax has been sold as a way to end global warming, which it has no chance of doing. As California shows, its real purpose is to subject even more of the private economy to political direction and grab more revenue to spend.

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« Reply #324 on: November 15, 2012, 06:10:34 PM »


Tax hikes, improving economy bode well for state budget

California will see a much smaller deficit next year, thanks in part to the passage of Prop. 30, the nonpartisan legislative analyst says.  Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor says: “We still have a lot of catching up to do.” (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press / November 14, 2012)
 

 
November 14, 2012, 8:52 p.m.
SACRAMENTO — Although a modest deficit will linger into next year, California's finances are poised for marked improvement as the state reaps the benefits of newly approved taxes and the economy continues to recover, the Legislature's top budget advisor said Wednesday.

Schools can expect more money eventually, and the state may even start to see surpluses, according to Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, who provides nonpartisan counsel to lawmakers. He said a healthier budget should then allow officials to turn their attention to California's other chronic financial issues, such as an unstable tax base and an expensive debt burden.

In a report released Wednesday, his office estimates that state officials will need to close a $1.9-billion budget gap in the spending plan they pass next summer, about one-eighth of the problem they faced this year. The gap is smaller than it might have been because state officials, as part of a regular process, recalculated how much tax revenue arrived in recent years, resulting in a $1.4-billion boost.

A big chunk of the remaining deficit is due to the lagging stock price of Facebook, which went public this year. The analyst's office said there would be $626 million less in tax revenue than expected from the initial public offering. The state also is saving far less from closing redevelopment agencies than officials had projected.

Nonetheless, Gov. Jerry Brown hailed the analyst's forecast.

"This report validates the hard work the state has done to cut its deficit and balance its budget over the long term," he said in a statement. "California is now on the path for a fair and sustainable budget as long as we continue to exercise fiscal discipline and pay down debt."

Chipping away at California's most intractable budget problems has been Brown's primary goal since beginning his second tour of duty in Sacramento in 2010.

On election day last week, voters approved Proposition 30, the governor's plan to temporarily raise the sales tax and income taxes on high earners, providing an estimated $6 billion annually for state coffers. Voters also passed Proposition 39, which changes the corporate tax code to raise an estimated $1 billion a year for the general fund and clean energy projects.

Within six years, the report said, California could find itself with a $9-billion surplus, a stark turnaround after many years of severe budget deficits. But continuing financial challenges could quickly eat up any extra money.

Taylor said surplus dollars may be used to shore up the underfunded public pension system or pay back more debt. "We still have a lot of catching up to do," he said.

There will also be intense pressure from activists to restore funding to social services cut during many budget crises.

"We're turning the corner," said Chris Hoene, executive director of the California Budget Project in Sacramento, a think tank that advocates for low-income families. "We should approach the budget with some cautious optimism."

Despite the improved financial outlook, Taylor said the state will probably burn through its existing reserve of nearly $1 billion and end up with a nearly $1-billion deficit by the end of the current fiscal year.

Most of the problem, he said, is the lack of savings from dissolving redevelopment agencies. The state may reap only $1.4 billion, he said, less than half of the Brown administration's estimate.

Facebook, once expected to provide California with a tax windfall, has also been a disappointment. Brown administration officials expected to reap $1.9 billion in taxes by the end of the current fiscal year from the company's initial public offering, but the report issued Wednesday said they should count on only $1.25 billion.

Kim Rueben, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington, D.C., said California needs to be more careful when dealing with potential tax windfalls like Facebook, perhaps routing the money to a separate reserve fund.

"You don't want it to be in your day-to-day budget," she said.
==========================

OTOH POTB is also reporting this:

By Andrew Blankstein and Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times
 
November 14, 2012, 11:11 p.m.

Los Angeles County court officials announced sweeping cuts in the judicial system Wednesday, including the closure of all courtrooms in 10 regional courthouses. 

The cuts are expected to delay some trials, cause longer lines and result in more layoffs, but officials said it was the only option for closing a shortfall of $50 million to $80 million in the court budget.

Courtrooms will be shuttered in such landmark courthouses as Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Malibu, Avalon, Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona and San Pedro. The courthouses will continue to handle some administrative matters, such as ticket payments, but will no longer hear cases.

The Beverly Hills and Malibu courthouses have been the sites of numerous celebrity proceedings over the years, including cases involving Zsa Zsa Gabor, Robert Downey Jr., Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan.

The criminal and civil cases from those locations will be reassigned to courts that could be anywhere from seven to 35 miles away, leading to longer commutes for jurors, witnesses, litigants and law enforcement officials. 

The closures are expected to occur over the next eight months.

"It's devastating to the court system, and it's going to be a sea change in how we do our business," said Lee Smalley Edmon, presiding judge of the L.A. County Superior Court. "Unfortunately, there are going to be longer lines in each of our courthouses and great delays throughout the system."

Officials said civil courts will be particularly hard hit, with many civil courtrooms operating with only one court clerk and without any full-time court reporters.  It's unclear how many court workers will lose their jobs. The Los Angeles County courts have already laid off hundreds of employees and left more positions unfilled, resulting in longer lines to file paperwork and cases that plod along at a snail's pace.

In the last fiscal year, the court system shaved $70 million from its budget, in part by freezing wages and forcing staff members to take furlough days.  Plans also call for the creation of "trial hubs," which would handle certain classifications of cases, including small claims, landlord-tenant disputes, collections and personal injury. Those hubs would be spread at remaining courthouses throughout the county.

Antonio Bestard, a veteran civil trial attorney from Pomona, said that even before Wednesday's announcement, the effects of previous cuts were hard to miss.

"It's going to be an unfathomable burden that's going to deny the general public basic judicial remedies, from the smallest traffic infractions to the most complicated civil lawsuits," Bestard said.

David Sapp, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, worried that low-income litigants could be disproportionately affected.

"Some people are in immediate need of judicial relief and may not even be able to get in front of a judge, which is really scary in terms of access to justice," Sapp said. "This is going to make existing disparities even worse."

Richard J. Burdge Jr. president of the Los Angeles County Bar Assn., said that as devastating as the cuts may be, he believes they won't cripple the court system.

"It's not going to be easy, but there is going to be some civil justice system," Burdge said. "It's going to be incredibly burdensome for a claimant to travel halfway across the county to get to a courthouse and in some communities."

LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said that the same would be true for police officers and that their increased travel time could potentially reduce their ranks in the field.  But Smith said that his "real concern" is for the victims and witnesses who already may have difficulty getting to court.

"It'll be even more difficult to get people to testify if they have to drive or be transported a long distance."
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 06:13:29 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
DougMacG
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« Reply #325 on: November 15, 2012, 06:33:46 PM »

If tax rate hikes bring prosperity, why not raise them further, and on everyone?

The forum (search function) is a time machine.  Soon enough we will know who was right, the LA Times or our poster GM.
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« Reply #326 on: November 15, 2012, 07:26:28 PM »

If tax rate hikes bring prosperity, why not raise them further, and on everyone?

The forum (search function) is a time machine.  Soon enough we will know who was right, the LA Times or our poster GM.

I wish I could put money on this in Vegas.
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« Reply #327 on: November 15, 2012, 08:14:11 PM »

In lieu of Vegas there is Wall Street.  OTOH as the saying goes "The market can be wrong longer than you can stay solvent."
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« Reply #328 on: November 15, 2012, 08:31:09 PM »

I'm already investing in the metals. Picked up a Remington700 heavy bbl in .308 yesterday with a scope for 450, new in box.
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« Reply #329 on: November 28, 2012, 08:24:41 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/us/california-shows-signs-of-resurgence.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121128
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DougMacG
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« Reply #330 on: December 05, 2012, 08:42:49 PM »

The top federal rate with all the surcharges will be 44.6%.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324001104578161013055340282.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

Under prop 30, the top Calif rate will be 12.3%.
http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_Proposition_30,_Sales_and_Income_Tax_Increase_%282012%29

Add those two:  56.9%
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2176526

Whoops, that income may have already been double taxed at the corporate level, 35% federal and 8.84% Calif  http://www.caltax.org/research/calrank.html, roughly the highest in the world. http://money.cnn.com/2012/03/27/pf/taxes/corporate-taxes/index.htm

If you buy anything, add up to 10% for 2013 sales tax, state and local.
http://www.taxrates.com/blog/2012/11/19/california-sales-tax-rate-changes-january-2013/

If you invest any of it, don't forget the new investment dividend surtaxes - on what was already taxed twice at the corporate level:  44.8+12.3% +35+8.8% http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204880404577225493025537660.html

Previous post in the Calif thread: POTH says California shows signs of resurgence.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/us/california-shows-signs-of-resurgence.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121128

Good luck with that.  What could possibly go wrong?

In one year, Britain lost 2/3rds of its millionaires with smaller tax increases.  Even with a moat.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9707029/Two-thirds-of-millionaires-left-Britain-to-avoid-50p-tax-rate.html

California has freeways going out, not an English Channel.

"Latest U-Haul Index Shows Californians Leaving for Texas"
http://www.thenewamerican.com/economy/economics/item/13723-latest-u-haul-index-shows-californians-leaving-for-texas

Who knew?  Pretty soon you won't need a truck to haul what is left.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 08:45:11 PM by DougMacG » Logged
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« Reply #331 on: December 05, 2012, 09:07:44 PM »

I want the PRK to move rates to 95 percent!
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« Reply #332 on: December 13, 2012, 08:58:27 PM »



http://patdollard.com/2012/12/400000-california-illegal-aliens-to-begin-receiving-unemployment-checks-other-benefits/
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« Reply #333 on: December 17, 2012, 12:05:59 PM »


55 Reasons Why California Is The Worst State In America And The Entire State Is Rapidly Becoming A Bright, Shining Example Of Everything That Is Wrong With America
December 12th, 2012
Share62 Tweet8 +11 Share0113

by Michael



Why in the world would anyone want to live in the state of California at this point?  The entire state is rapidly becoming a bright, shining example of everything that is wrong with America.  It is so sad to watch our most populated state implode right in front of our eyes.  Like millions of Americans, I was quite enamored with the state of California when I was younger.  The warm weather, the beaches, the great natural beauty of the state and the mystique of Hollywood all really appealed to me.  At one point I even thought that I wanted to move there.  But today, hordes of Californians are racing to get out of the state because it has become a total nightmare.  It is the worst state in the country in which to do business, taxes were just raised even higher, unemployment is more than 20 percent higher than the national average and the state government is drowning in debt.  Meanwhile, poverty, gang activity and crime just seem to get worse with each passing year.  On top of everything else, the insane politicians in Sacramento just keep on passing more laws that make the problems that the state is facing even worse.  Unfortunately, what is happening in California may be a preview of what is coming to the entire nation.  The old adage, “as California goes, so goes the nation”, has been proven to be true way too many times.

In dozens of different ways, the state of California is showing the rest of us what not to do.  Will we learn from their mistakes, or will we follow them into oblivion?  Please share the list below with as many people as you can.  In addition to a large amount of new research, this list also pulled heavily from one of my previous articles and from outstanding research done by Richard Rider.  The following are 55 reasons why California is the worst state in America…

1. One survey of business executives has ranked California as the worst state in America to do business for 8 years in a row.

2. In 2011, the state of California ranked 50th out of all 50 states in new business creation.

3. According to one recent study, California is the worst-governed state in the entire country.

4. Thanks to Proposition 30, California now boasts the highest state income tax rate in the nation.

5. Even though California just raised taxes dramatically on the wealthy, state revenues are falling like a rock.  State revenue for November 2012 was 10.8 percent below projections.

6. California has the highest sales tax rate in the United States.

7. California has the 8th highest corporate income tax rate in the country.

8. California has the highest “minimum corporate tax” in the country.  Each corporation must pay at least $800 to the state even if a corporation does not make a single dollar of profit.

9. California is tied with New York for the highest gasoline tax rate in the country.

10. California is the only state in America that taxes carbon emissions.

11. The state of California issues some of the most expensive traffic tickets in the nation.  This is another form of taxation.

12. As of October, only Nevada and Rhode Island had higher unemployment rates than California.

13. The unemployment rate in California is more than 20 percent higher than the overall unemployment rate for the rest of the nation.

14. The state of California requires licenses for 177 different occupations (the most in the nation).  The national average is only 92.

15. California teachers are the highest paid in the nation, but California students rank 48th in math and 49th in reading.

16. California accounts for 12 percent of the U.S. population, but a whopping 33 percent of Americans that receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) live there.

17. Only the state of Illinois has a lower bond rating than the state of California does.

18. Including unfunded pension liabilities, the state of California has more than twice as much debt as any other state does.

19. Average pay for California state workers has risen by more than 100 percent since 2005.  That is good news for those state employees, but it is bad news for the taxpayers that have to pay their salaries.

20. More than 5,000 California state troopers made more than $100,000 last year.

.
Read more at http://investmentwatchblog.com/55-reasons-why-california-is-the-worst-state-in-america-and-the-entire-state-is-rapidly-becoming-a-bright-shining-example-of-everything-that-is-wrong-with-america/
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« Reply #334 on: December 17, 2012, 01:13:19 PM »

 shocked shocked shocked
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« Reply #335 on: January 03, 2013, 04:51:27 PM »

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/01/03/neighbors-poach-jobs-from-california/
January 3, 2013
Neighboring States Poach California Jobs

There’s nothing new about governors competing to bring jobs to their state, but rarely has it been this brazen. The Wall Street Journal reports that neighboring states, as well as some states as far flung as Georgia and Tennessee, are stationing official “business recruiters” in California to convince businesses to move their operations out of state.

It’s no accident that California is the main target. The Golden State has the nation’s largest economy, but it is also one of the least business-friendly: A recent CNBC study reported that California has the third-highest cost of doing business in America due to its high taxes and endless bureaucratic red tape. Combine this with a dysfunctional state government, and it’s not hard to see why some companies might want out. And with the voters electing a new Democratic supermajority that many expect will increase the burden on state businesses, the job sharks think they have an attractive pitch:

Last year, Californians voted to raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents. They also voted to close a tax loophole that had allowed multistate corporations to avoid paying tax based on their California sales. Meanwhile, auctions got under way in November for California’s cap-and-trade program for emissions, forcing businesses to start paying for the rights to release more than a certain amount of greenhouse gases. This year, California companies will be held responsible if the warehouses they contract with underpay employees.

It’s still too early to know whether the sales pitch is working, but the mere fact that other states are investing so much in luring businesses away suggests that some are detecting a distinct hint of blood in the water. They may be proven wrong, but California will have to play good defense to keep businesses from packing their bags and heading out.
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« Reply #336 on: January 04, 2013, 05:24:23 PM »



By VAUHINI VARA
SANTA ROSA, Calif.—Property crime has been rising in California, and some law-enforcement officials blame the state's October 2011 sentencing overhaul that has kept thousands of low-level criminals out of prison.

California saw a year-over-year increase of 4.5% in property crime in the fourth quarter of 2011, immediately after the overhaul, marking the first rise since 2004, according to a report from the state attorney general this fall. In contrast, property crime, which includes burglary, auto theft and larceny, fell 2.4% in the nine months before the sentencing changes stemming from a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

While the attorney general doesn't release 2012 data until late this year, localities ranging in size from Sacramento to Santa Rosa in Sonoma County saw property crimes rise last year. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which hasn't reported 2012 crime data, says property crimes fell 0.5% nationally in 2011 from a year earlier.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the overhaul into law in 2011 to ease state-prison crowding. The law put low-level criminals in the custody of county sheriffs instead of state prisons. Many counties have chosen not to lock up some of those criminals at all, or to lock them up for shorter periods, instead monitoring them with electronic ankle bracelets, meetings with probation officers or home detention.

Known as realignment, the changes are "causing more of these people to be out in society rather than locked up," said Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Michael Lazzarini, and that could be a "pretty good reason" for the rise in property crimes. "Not only is it continued workload for the investigators, but it's also a quality-of-life issue for the citizens," he said.

Santa Rosa saw property crime rise 5% last year through November to 3,568 crimes, while violent crimes declined 7% to 585 crimes. Sgt. Lazzarini, the head of the property-crimes-investigation team, said detectives have been stretched thin since the new state law, which he neither supported nor opposed. He said he has struggled to decide which crimes to investigate.

There aren't enough data yet to back up Sgt. Lazzarini's hunch on a statewide basis. Gil Duran, a spokesman for Mr. Brown, said it is impossible to make claims about the reason for the crime increase with limited data. "Any respectable criminologist will tell you that [they] don't determine overall trends in a year or two," he said in an email. "Attempts to tie any increases to realignment are purely political."

But local numbers and anecdotal evidence have convinced some leaders in the law-enforcement community.

"Our members do believe that the increase that they are seeing in property crime has some relationship to the change in how offenders are either supervised or are present in their communities as a result of public-safety realignment," said Scott Seaman, president of the California Police Chiefs Association.

Mr. Seaman, police chief in the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos, added: "We acknowledge that additional study must be done to better determine what that linkage is." The association supported realignment "in principle" but worries that police haven't been given enough funding to handle the increased workload, he said.

Realignment was an answer to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2011 that California state-prison overcrowding constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" that allowed the state to avoid building costly new prisons. The law didn't free existing prisoners but steered newly convicted low-level criminals to counties.

The change helped shrink the statewide prison population 10% to 132,941 in December 2012 from a year earlier and has attracted some plaudits from criminal-justice experts who say that rehabilitating low-level criminals in communities is more effective than prison in preventing new offenses.

Joan Petersilia, co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, a nonpartisan think tank at Stanford University, said it would be difficult to prove a link with higher property crime so soon after the overhaul. But the police chiefs "may well turn out to be right," she added.

Ms. Petersilia and other scholars and law-enforcement officials also say there could be other reasons for any crime increase, such as police staffing shortages or economic woes. They also say incarceration can be worse at deterring some low-level crimes than methods like electronic monitoring paired with drug and mental-health treatment.

Police chiefs like Ed Medrano of Gardena, Calif., express frustration that there aren't enough data to examine the reasons for the property-crime increase.

"How can we directly attribute this to realignment?" he said. "The reality is that we can't at this point. This was implemented too fast, and there was no mechanism for monitoring the progress of realignment and studying it."

Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel said property crime is up in his city, and he believes that could be due partly to realignment. "Is it the lack of cops, is it realignment, or is it a combination of factors?" he said. "I think it's the latter." Mr. Braziel, who is president of the California Peace Officers' Association, added that he warns members to be "real cautious" in drawing conclusions about realignment and crime this soon.

Dean Flippo, district attorney in Monterey County, said he saw an upswing in overall property crime in 2012 in his county. "Is it due to realignment?" he said. "I don't think anyone can say with any certainty at all—but there is some circumstantial evidence."
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DougMacG
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« Reply #337 on: January 09, 2013, 08:51:20 AM »

My favorite alleged Democrat pundit and at least one-time Obama voter has been critical of the blue social model (red/yellow/orange - we don't accept the msm red-blue designations here).

"California is a few years ahead of America as a whole; those who think it is on the wrong road need to think very hard about what is happening and why, because unless something changes, this is where we could all be headed in the not so distant future."
--------------------
California: Living the Turquoise (Yellow/Red) Dream - by Walter Russell Mead

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/01/06/california-tumbles-deeper-into-economic-abyss/

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about California’s return to fiscal solvency thanks to a round of tax hikes; the ‘one percent’ of Californians are, we have been told, happy to pay their fair share and to participate in the rescue of the Golden State.

That’s what the politicians say; some of the actual taxpayers dissent. As Robert Cristiano laments over at the New Geography website, when the new taxes, the old taxes and the ever-increasing regulatory barrage all come together, life in California loses its charm:


    "What is my fair share? Under existing Federal and State income tax rates, I will pay 50% of my income in taxes. In California alone, my “fair share” on a million dollars of income is $133,000 each year. In exchange for my taxes, I receive little from the state. In addition, I pay gasoline taxes that pay for the upkeep of the highways. I pay airline taxes that maintain the airports I use. I pay among the highest in the nation sales tax on what I consume. I pay property taxes for the schools my grown children no longer use (they have already left California). I pay utility taxes for the upgrade of infrastructure. I pay higher health insurance rates. I already pay more than my own way.

    I used to develop new homes in California and paid development fees, school fees, park fees, bridge & thoroughfare fees, endangered species fees, utility hook up fees, and processing fees to employ the city workers who reviewed my plans. Such fees totaled $40,000 to $75,000 for each new home built in California. I more than paid my own way. Such new homes are no longer feasible in California considering that home prices have fallen between 20-40% since 2008. And with the new regulations to be imposed in 2013 with the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, housing and energy will cost even more making new houses even less attractive than they are now."


Mr. Cristiano’s problem is that he is a target for all three pillars of California’s progressive coalition. To the Democrats who represent lower income people and to those who represent state and city workers, he is a source of revenue to be milked. To the anti-development greens, he is an enemy to be destroyed—the human equivalent of crabgrass. People who become rich by developing suburban housing tracts were the heroes of post World War Two California; for progressives they have become villains who get rich by destroying the earth.

If he made movies or computer software, Mr. Cristiano would only be sheared; that is, California’s blue coalition would treat him like a sheep, stripping him of wool but otherwise leaving him to go about his business. But because he makes real stuff, they treat him like a mink: they want the whole pelt. In the same way they go after construction, California’s greens heavily tax and regulate manufacturing—again, a mainstay of the post World War Two boom in the state.

The conceptual one percenters in California (Hollywood and Silicon Valley) may well stick around. They can—and do—outsource increasing amounts of their production to escape the state’s cost structure, but an increase in state income taxes is more like a mosquito bite than a visit from Count Dracula for information tycoons in both places.  But for one percenters whose wealth is based on production and construction in the state itself, the picture is much darker. As Cristiano puts it:

  
 “So many of the 1% are quietly leaving. The exodus has already begun. Spectrum Location Solutions reported that 254 companies left California in 2011. Despite claims of an upturn, a press release by the State Controller’s office last week revealed tax revenues from both personal income taxes and corporate taxes fell during the month of this November. Revenue from personal income dropped 19 percent below projections while corporate tax revenue was down a whopping 213.4 percent. Such declines will continue unabated for years to come as the California brain drain proceeds.”


It’s unclear what Governor Jerry Brown and his fellow policy-makers are thinking. California is the sixth most expensive state to live in, with a top individual tax rate that is the second highest in the nation. One would think that with all this incoming revenue the state’s public services would be sparkling with quality, yet the opposite is true. California public schools rate as some of the most expensive and poorest performing in the country.  In 2011 the Supreme Court ordered that California release 30,000 inmates, deeming the prisons so overcrowded that their conditions qualify as “cruel and unusual punishment.” This shocking move reflects two vital points. First, that with all its wealth, California doesn’t have the funds necessary to build more prisons. Second, that the state is producing too many prisoners—another failure of California civil institutions. Even with its enormous taxes and public institutions that show no sign of benefiting from them, the Golden State still boasts one of the largest budget deficits in the nation.

As regular readers know, Via Meadia doesn’t have a lot of confidence in California’s political and economic management. The confluence of union power with a green hatred of construction forces the state into such cockamamie boondoggles as a $60 billion plus high speed rail. (Unions want jobs, but greens block any kind of construction that doesn’t fit their vision of a low carbon economy.) Call it a turquoise governing philosophy: the mix of green and blue that wants to carry forward 20th century policies like a large civil service and a mass welfare state even as it manages the shift to a post-industrial, low carbon economy.

This strategic vision blends the priorities of three constituencies that are essential for the contemporary Democratic Party in California: rich greens (strong in Hollywood and Silicon Valley), public sector unions (vital statewide political organizations that Democratic candidates can’t win without), and low income Californians (a growing number) who depend on public services.

This is the coalition that nationally the Democratic Party is increasingly coming to resemble as well. The danger to the state and the country is that while this can be a short term majority coalition, it leads to incoherent policy that in the end frustrates at least one of the groups and crimps growth overall.

In California, the bulk of the sacrifices are falling on the low income people who need state and local government services. First, because the green-driven opposition to everything from real estate development to manufacturing kills the blue collar jobs that would facilitate the rise of immigrants and other low income Californians into the middle class. Second, because in order to preserve the position of union workers and retirees, the public sector is so expensive and unwieldy that the interests of consumers of government services are systematically sacrificed in the interests of the producers. Bad schools, tenured teachers. Crowded prisons, happy guards. Cities and counties cutting back on necessary services from trash collection to law enforcement; civil servants doing well.

Via Meadia‘s quarrel with California isn’t really about the goal.  We are as turquoise as Jerry Brown in our own way: we think that a low carbon, post-industrial economy can ultimately provide an abundance that will help everyone. When the turquoise tide rolls in, it really will lift all the boats in the harbor.

But how do you get from Point A to Point B? The California path seems unrealistic in two ways. In the first place, it insists on trying to do all this with the methods and cost structure of the Prussian bureaucratic government model. A big, low-productivity, life-tenured civil service workforce cannot meet the needs of the 21st century, and the more you want this kind of government to do, the less will it will do it and the more it will cost.

Then, partly to raise the revenue for this outsized and unwieldy behemoth, California is both crushing the old economy before the new one is really ready to take its place and it is inhibiting the growth of the new service oriented businesses that could provide jobs for its army of unemployed and unskilled workers. The transition between a manufacturing economy and an information one is going to be tough, especially on blue collar and unskilled workers. California hasn’t really thought through the problem of transitional employment and in California’s case the high local population of unskilled immigrants makes the issue more urgent. California needs to be encouraging manufacturing and real estate development rather than squashing them, and it needs to develop tax, regulatory and zoning policies that favor small business start ups rather than entangling them in red tape.

California and its governor are right to be hopeful about the future. They are right to believe that the 21st century can offer people at all income levels a richer, more dignified life than was ever seen in the past. But the interlocking requirements of their governing coalition lock them into a set of policies that doom them to frustration.

It’s easy for those who worry about the future of America’s most important state (the biggest population, the largest economy, the leader in both the information and entertainment industries) to blame a bunch of misguided Democrats for the state’s predicament. There is some truth to that, but it would be very wrong to let the GOP off the hook. If the governing party is making such a mess, why hasn’t the opposition been able to come up with a coherent and popular counter-plan?

California’s failure is the result of failures of leadership on both sides of the aisle. The GOP needs to study its long running decline and current collapse in California if it is to have any hope of being relevant long term across the country. California is a few years ahead of America as a whole; those who think it is on the wrong road need to think very hard about what is happening and why, because unless something changes, this is where we could all be headed in the not so distant future.

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« Reply #338 on: January 11, 2013, 03:42:31 PM »

Brown's Breakthrough Budget
California's Democratic supermajority gets to work. Let the spending begin..
By ALLYSIA FINLEY

California Gov. Jerry Brown is touting his new "breakthrough" budget that provides $2.7 billion in additional funding for schools, $500 million for universities and a $1 billion reserve fund. For only the second time in the past decade, California has a balanced budget. But can the state's new Democratic supermajority keep it?

Mr. Brown is promising to be a good steward of the cash cow voters gave him on election day, when they approved a ballot initiative (Prop. 30) increasing the state sales tax and rates on top earners. They also okayed a measure (Prop. 39) requiring corporations to pay taxes based on their sales in the state, which will raise $2 billion in new revenues from out-of-state businesses that were using an alternative, more favorable formula. Thanks to these tax hikes, there will be an additional $8 billion to $11 billion flowing into Sacramento each year.

That is, if the projections are correct and lawmakers don't spend themselves into a hole.

The state has borrowed nearly $25 billion over the past decade from special funds, schools, and local governments; $10 billion from the feds for unemployment benefits; and $73 billion from capital markets for infrastructure improvements. Meanwhile, local governments want Mr. Brown to pay billions in reparations to redevelopment agencies, which the governor looted to balance his budget a couple of years ago.

The California State Teachers' Retirement System has requested a $3.5 billion annual infusion to keep the teachers' pension fund solvent. State universities and colleges are clamoring for an additional $600 million. Labor unions aim to renegotiate their relatively austere contracts, and Democrats plan to stuff their budget with sundry provisions such as middle-class college scholarships and dental benefits for low-income individuals.

Meanwhile, Medicaid providers have sued the state for slashing their payments by 20% in the last four years and will want to be re-compensated now that the state has cash to spare (at least in theory) and a Democratic supermajority. The budget proposes $670 million in taxes and fees on hospitals and Medicaid managed-care plans to help fund the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion, which will cost an estimated $350 million this year and grow over time. Note, though, that $350 million is merely a "placeholder for the costs" until a more "refined estimate can be developed" once Washington provides more guidance on rules.

A bank-breaking budget is more like it.
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« Reply #339 on: January 23, 2013, 03:49:39 PM »

Thanks to Brown, Kali-fornia has turned the corner (says the Economist).  Now what kind of accounting tricks could account for this?

See!  Things are getting better. wink rolleyes

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21569723-laughing-stock-america-gets-serious-about-its-budget-back-black
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« Reply #340 on: January 29, 2013, 12:20:24 PM »



We keep trying to understand the enigma of California, mostly why it still breathes for a while longer, given the efforts to destroy the sources of its success. Let’s try to navigate through its sociology and politics to grasp why something that should not survive is surviving quite well — at least in some places.
 
Conservati delendi sunt

 


The old blue/red war for California is over. Conservatives lost. Liberals won — by a combination of flooding the state with government-supplied stuff, and welcoming millions in while showing the exit to others. The only mystery is how Carthaginian will be the victor’s peace, e.g., how high will taxes go, how many will leave, how happy will the majority be at their departure?
 
The state of Pat Brown, Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson, and George Deukmejian is long dead due to the most radical demographic shifts of any one state in recent American history — as far away as Cicero was to Nero. One minor, but telling example: Salinas, in Monterey County where the murder rate is the highest in the state, just — at least I think the news story is not a prank — named its new middle school after Tiburcio Vasquez.
 
A convicted murderer.
 
He was the legendary 19th-century robber and murderer who was hanged for his crimes. But who is to say that Vasquez is a killer, and Henry Huntington a visionary?
 
The New Demography
 
California has changed not due to race but due to culture, most prominently because the recent generation of immigrants from Latin America did not — as in the past, for the most part — come legally in manageable numbers and integrate under the host’s assimilationist paradigm. Instead, in the last three decades huge arrivals of illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America saw Democrats as the party of multiculturalism, separatism, entitlements, open borders, non-enforcement of immigration laws, and eventually plentiful state employment.
 
Given the numbers, the multicultural paradigm of the salad bowl that focused on “diversity” rather than unity, and the massive new government assistance, how could the old American tonic of assimilation, intermarriage, and integration keep up with the new influxes? It could not.
 
Finally, we live in an era of untruth and Orwellian censorship. It is absolutely taboo to write about the above, or to talk about the ever more weird artifacts of illegal immigration — the war now on black families in demographically changing areas of Los Angeles, the statistics behind DUI arrests, or the burgeoning profile of Medi-Cal recipients. I recall of the serial dissimulation in California my high school memorization of Sir Walter Raleigh:
 

Tell potentates, they live/Acting by others’ action/Not loved unless they give; Not strong but by affection; If potentates reply/Give potentates the lie.
 
There were, of course, other parallel demographic developments. Hundreds of thousands of the working and upper-middle class, mostly from the interior of the state, have fled — maybe four million in all over the last thirty years, taking with them $1 trillion in capital and income-producing education and expertise. Apparently, they tired of high taxes, poor schools, crime, and the culture of serial blame-gaming and victimhood. In this reverse Dust Bowl migration, a barren no-tax Nevada or humid Texas was a bargain.
 
Their California is long gone (“Lo, all our pomp and of yesterday/Is one with Nineveh and Tyre”), and a Stockton, Fresno, or Visalia misses their presence, because they had skills, education, and were net pluses to the California economy.
 
Add in a hip, youth, and gay influx to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and coastal Los Angeles that saw California as a sort of upscale, metrosexual lifestyle (rule of thumb: conservatives always find better restaurants in liberal locales), and California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families. Without the lifetime obligation to raise $1 million in capital to pay for bringing up and educating two kids from birth to 21 (if you’re lucky), the non-traditional classes have plenty of disposable income for entertainment, housing, and high taxes. For examples, read Petronius, especially the visit to Croton.
 
Finally, there is our huge affluent public work force. It is the new aristocracy; landing a job with the state is like hitting the lottery. Californians have discovered that, in today’s low/non-interest economy, a $70,000 salary with defined benefit public pension for life is far better than having the income from a lifetime savings of $3 million.
 
Or, look at it another way: with passbooks paying 0.5-1%, the successful private accountant or lawyer could put away $10,000 a month for thirty years of his productive career and still not match the monthly retirement income of the Caltrans worker who quit at 60 with modest contributions to PERS.
 
And with money came political clout. To freeze the pension contribution of a highway patrolman is a mortal sin; but no one worries much about the private security’s guard minimum wage and zero retirement, whose nightly duties are often just as dangerous. The former is sacrosanct; the latter a mere loser.
 
The result of 30 years of illegal immigration, the reigning culture of the coastal childless households, the exodus of the overtaxed, and the rule of public employees is not just Democratic, but hyper-liberal supermajorities in the legislature. In the most naturally wealthy state in the union with a rich endowment from prior generations, California is serially broke — the master now of its own fate. It has the highest menu of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, and about the worst infrastructure, business climate, and public education. Is the latter fact despite or because of the former?
 
How, then, does California continue? Read on, but in a nutshell, natural and inherited wealth are so great on the coast that a destructive state government must work overtime to ruin what others wrought.
 
Also, when you say, “My God, one of every three welfare recipients lives in California,” or “California schools are terrible,” you mean really, “Not in Newport or Carmel. So who cares about Fresno, or Tulare — they might as well be in Alabama for all the times I have been there.”
 
So Much Taxation, So Little in Return
 
Thank God for Mississippi and Alabama, or California schools would test dead last.
 
Somehow, in just thirty years we created obstacles to public learning that produce results approaching the two-century horrific legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. About half the resources of the California State University system are devoted to remedial schooling for underperforming high school students (well over half who enter take remediation courses; half don’t graduate even in six years; and well over half have sizable financial aid). The point of CSU’s general education requirement is not so much any more to offer broad learning (who is to say what is “general education?”), but rather to enter a sort of race, class, and gender boot camp that allows some time off to become familiar with how the culture and politics of the state should continue.
 
The majority of the once-vaunted upper-tier University of California campuses now resemble second-tier CSU of old. Yet I think a Fresno State graduate of 1965 was far better educated than a UC Irvine or UC Santa Cruz student of today.
 
The state’s wealthiest and best-prepared students are perhaps only well-taught at its elite schools — the two UC campuses at Berkeley and UCLA, Stanford, Caltech, USC, Pepperdine, or Santa Clara — while the poorer but still serious students increasingly enroll in the new private online and tech schools that sprout up around failed CSU campuses. Why pay for the farce of GE, when you can just get the nuts-and-bolts job skills cheaper and quicker at a tech school?
 
Stagecoach Trails
 
Little need be said about infrastructure other than it is fossilized. The lunacy of high-speed rail is not just the cost, but that a few miles from its proposed route are at present a parallel but underused Amtrak track and the 99 Highway, where thousands each day risk their lives in crowded two lanes, often unchanged since the 1960s.
 
The 99, I-5, and 101 are potholed two-lane highways with narrow ramps, and a few vestigial cross-traffic death zones. But we, Californian drivers, are not just double the numbers of those 30 years ago, but — despite far safer autos and traffic science — far less careful as well. There are thousands of drivers without licenses, insurance, registration, and elementary knowledge of road courtesy. Half of all accidents in Los Angeles are hit-and-runs.
 
My favorite is the ubiquitous semi-truck and trailer swerving in and out of the far left lane with a 20-something Phaethon behind the wheel — texting away as he barrels along at 70 mph with a fishtailing 20 tons. The right lane used to be for trucks; now all lanes are open range for trucking — no law in the arena! The dotted lane lines are recommendations, not regulations. (Will young truck drivers be hired to become our new high-speed rail state employee engineers?)
 
When I drive over the Grapevine, I play a sick game of counting the number of mattresses I’ll spot in the road over the next 100 miles into L.A. (usually three to four). Lumber, yard clippings, tools, and junk — all that is thrown into the back of trucks without tarps. To paraphrase Hillary: what does it matter whether we are killed by a mattress or a 2 x 4? In places like Visalia or Madera, almost daily debris ends up shutting down one of the only two lanes on the 99.
 
Wrecks so far? It is not the number, but rather the scary pattern that counts. I’ve had three in the last 10 years: a would-be hit-and-run driver (the three “no”s: no license, no registration, no insurance) went through a stop sign in Selma, collided with my truck, and tried to take off on foot, leaving behind his ruined Civic; a speeder (80 m.p.h.) in L.A. hit a huge box-spring on the 101 near the 405, slammed on his brakes, skidded into a U-turn in the middle lane, reversed direction, and hit me going 40 m.p.h. head-on (saved by Honda Accord’s front and side air-bags and passive restraint seat harnesses; the injured perpetrator’s first call was to family, not 911); and a young woman last year, while texting, rear-ended me at 50 m.p.h. while I was at a complete stop in stalled traffic in Fresno (thank God for a dual-cab Tundra with a long trailer hitch). She too first called her family to try to help her flee the scene of her wrecked car, but my call apparently reached the Highway Patrol first.
 
Drive enough in California, and you too, reader, will have a ‘”rendezvous with Death, at some disputed barricade.”
 
West and East Californias
 
The coastal elites unite politically with the interior poor, in the fashion of the Caesarians and the turba. I suppose that their common adversary is, as was true of Rome, the disappearing middle class. Along the coast, elites have harvested well California’s natural and acquired wealth. I’ll again just toss out a few brands; you can imagine the lucre and jobs that are generated from Santa Rosa to San Diego: Apple, Chevron, Disney, DreamWorks, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Hollywood, Napa Valley, Oracle, PG&E, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Wells Fargo, the ports of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Oakland.
 
So let us not speak of California decline, but of California’s decline and another California boom — one of 6% unemployment and another of 16%, one of $100,000 per capita income and another of $15,000, one of cottages sold on the first day on the market in Newport and another of vacant McMansions molding away in Stockton.
 
Success continues on the coast and is managed by very wealthy and mostly liberal residents of the sprawl that surrounds Los Angeles and San Francisco. For the five million or so who are enriched in enterprise zones like these — and there are thousands more spin-off and smaller such companies — life is pretty good if you keep your household small, inherited a house, or make enough money to buy something at about $500 to $1,000 dollars a square foot. In Selma, new 1800 sq. foot homes sell for $140,000; in Palo Alto, dollhouses go for $1.5 million. So who is the prince, and who the fool? Are opera tickets and a street light that still has its wire worth it?
 
The Cost of Doing Business
 
Coastal folk seem to view high taxes like Mafia protection money, but in the sense of psychological satisfaction and freedom from guilt. For now, sales, gas, and income taxes are not so high as to matter to those who voted for them, at least in view of the social and political advantages of coastal living: the beautiful weather, the Pacific panorama, the hip culture of recreational light drug use, neat restaurants, sports, fine wines, solar and wind romance, foreign cars, and general repugnance at religion, guns, conservatives, and traditional anything.
 
To the extent that “they” (i.e. you, reader) exist, the distant others are nebulous, rarely thought-about souls. Perhaps they really do enjoy polluting the planet as they generate the electricity, pipe in the natural gas and oil, refine the fuels, grow the food, and cut and haul the lumber that gives a Palo Alto or Santa Barbara the stuff to go on one more day.
 
Vote For Me Not To Represent You?
 
I still can’t figure out politics and culture of our vast interior, both the enormous and mostly empty state above Sacramento, and the huge Central Valley and Sierra. As my neighbors put it, life would have to get pretty awful here to be worse than in Oaxaca. I once asked a neighbor why he was hauling wrecked trailers onto his small parcel. He smiled and told me California was “heaven.” From my few trips to Mexico, I could not argue.
 
One of the questions I always hear from strangers: “Why doesn’t everyone leave?” The answer is simple: for the coastal overdogs there is nowhere else where the money is as good and the weather and scenery are as enjoyable. How much would you pay to walk in cut-offs in February and not in three jackets in Montana? And for the interior underclass, California’s entitlements and poor-paying service jobs are paradise compared to Honduras, Jalisco, or Southeast Asia. And, yes, the middle-class small farmers, hardware-store owners, company retirees, and electricians are leaving in droves.
 
Weird Politics
 
The Latino population, I would imagine, would be in revolt over the elitist nature of California politics. Of course, thousands of second-generation Latinos have become public employees, from teachers to DMV clerks, and understandably so vote a straight Democrat-public union ticket. But millions are not working for the state, and they suffer dramatically from the ruling Bay Area left-wing political agenda of regulations, green quackery, and legal gymnastics. It is not just that the foreign national illegally entered the U.S. from Oaxaca, but entered the most complex, over-regulated, over-taxed, and over-lawyered state in the nation — hence the disconnects.
 
Take energy. California may have reserves of 35 billion barrels of oil in its newly discovered shale formations, and even more natural gas — the best way to provide clean electricity and, perhaps soon, transportation energy for the state. Tens of thousands of young Latino immigrants — given that agriculture is increasingly mechanizing, construction is flat, and the state is broke — could be making high wages from Salinas to Paso Robles, and along the I-5 corridor, if fracking and horizontal drilling took off. Even more jobs could accrue in subsidiary construction and trucking. And for a cynic, billions of dollars in state energy taxes from gas and oil revenue would ensure that the state’s generous handouts would be funded for a generation. Did someone forget that the California boom of the 1930s and 1940s was fueled by cheap, in-state oil?
 
More importantly, our power companies have the highest energy bills in the nation, given all sorts of green and redistributionist mandates. The costs fall most heavily on the cold winter/hot summer interior residents, who are the poorest in the state. Those who insist that the utilities invest in costly alternate energy and other green fantasies live mostly in 65-70 degree coastal weather year-round and enjoy low power bills.
 
Yet the liberal coastal political lock-hold on the state continues.
 
No one in San Joaquin or Tranquility cares about a baitfish in the delta, but they do vote nonetheless for the elites who divert water from farms, put the poor farm worker out of work, and feel good about saving the smelt in the process. Go figure.
 Soft Apartheid
 
How then does the California coalition work, and in some sense work so well?
 
The coastal elite offers an agenda for more welfare funding, scholarships, class warfare, public unions, diversity, affirmative action, open borders, and amnesty, and in response the interior voter signs off on everything from gay marriage, solar and wind subsidies, gun restrictions, mass transit schemes, and the entire progressive tax-and-spend agenda. Most of this coalition never much sees one another.
 
The young Mountain View programmer keeps clear of Woodlake. He even has only a vague idea of what life is like for those who live in nearby Redwood City and make his arugula salad at the hip pasta bar in Palo Alto. In turn, the Redwood City dishwasher has an equally murky sense that the wealthy kid who works at Google does not wish to deport his uncle — and so the two become unspoken political partners of sorts. One of the state’s wealthiest cities, a gated Atherton, is juxtaposed to one of its most Latinate communities, Redwood City. But they might as well be Mercury and Pluto. Or should we applaud that the owner of the manor and his grass cutter vote identically — and against the interests of the guy who sold and serviced the Honda lawn mower?
 
In the flesh, the energetic people I associate with during the week in Silicon Valley and see on the Stanford campus and on University Avenue are, it must be said, innovative folk, but soft apartheidists: where they live, where their kids go to schools, where they eat, and whom they associate with are governed by a class, and de facto racial, sensibility that would make Afrikaners of old proud.
 
The liberal aristocracy is as class-bound as the old Republican blue-stockings, but saved from populist ostracism by what I have called the “hip” exemption — liberalism’s new veneer that allows one to be both consumer and critic of the Westernized good life, to praise the people and to stay as far away from them as possible. Mitt Romney is an outsourcer; Google’s offshore holdings are cool.
 
Hope?
 


“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair!”
 Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
 Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
 The lone and level sands stretch far away.
 
Is there hope? Can there be honesty about our crises and courage to address them? If there is not to be assimilation and integration at the rate as in the past, then I sometime fantasize that a new conservative movement of second- and third-generation upper middle-class, over-taxed Mexican-Americans will demand competitive schools for their children without the fantasies of Chicano studies and coastal global warming indoctrination.
 
They will push for energy development, beefed-up law enforcement, and reasonable taxes and power rates, and so lock horns with the coastal elites, well apart from abortion, the death penalty, and the constant alternative lifestyle agenda. Some already are heading that way; more would if the borders were closed and the old forces of the melting pot were not impeded.
 
Or maybe change will come from the other end of the surreal coalition. I talk to young, high-end yupster couples and wonder how they can vote for 40% federal income taxes, 11% state income taxes, Obamacare, and payroll and Medicare surcharges on their hefty incomes when increasingly they don’t use the public schools. Or if they have children, they pay exorbitant prices for private schooling and coastal housing that anywhere else would be laughable. I don’t think Menlo-Atherton High School, or the average paving on any residential street in Palo Alto, or the security on Willow Avenue, or the square footage of the typical Menlo Park bungalow is all such a great deal for losing 55% of your income to the local, state, and federal redistributionists.
 
Will Howard Jarvis return, with Birkenstocks and ponytail?
 
Would some young visionary see that just a few ecologically correct new dams, and a well-run development of the Monterey shale formation, would enable vast new increases in California energy and agriculture — food and fuel are what sustains mankind — and launch another Gold Rush?
 
Then I wake up and accept that contemporary California is a quirk, one governed by a secular religion, a non-empirical belief system that postulates that natural gas is bad because it produces heat and that dams that store precious water are unnatural. So far the consequences of such thinking rarely boomerang on the cocooned fantasists.
 
We are like the proverbial spoiled third-generation progeny of the immigrant farmer: the first-generation toiler lived in a hovel until he bought his 80 acres with paid cash. The second remodeled the old house, had a nicer car than a tractor, doubled the acreage, but took the weekend off and had less money in the bank than did his dad. The third fantasized and puttered about in his hiking boots, went through the inheritance, mortgaged the land — and was as glib and mellifluous as he was broke.
 
California is a tired idea.
 

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #341 on: January 29, 2013, 06:09:47 PM »

VDH knows Calif! 

"Are opera tickets and a street light that still has its wire worth it?"

I am a little slow but now they are stealing the wires out of the street lights.
http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/local&id=8589144

What can go wrong when people have no skin in the game?  Everything.
 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #342 on: February 07, 2013, 02:05:52 PM »



Two-Tax Rise Tests Wealthy in California
 
By ADAM NAGOURNEY
 
Published: February 6, 2013

PALO ALTO, Calif. — It is getting awfully expensive to be a millionaire in California.


With the new year, big earners are confronting a 51.9 percent federal-state income tax hit on earnings over $1 million, the result of a confluence of new tax-the-rich levies imposed by California and Congress in the closing days of 2012. That is officially the highest in the nation. And at 13.3 percent, the top-tier California income tax is, in addition to being higher than any other state, the steepest it has been since World War II.

Though no one expects traffic jams at 30,000 feet as panicked millionaires make for the state line, the wealthy are once again grumbling about abandoning California for less punishing tax climates. Phil Mickelson, the golfer who collects purses in excess of $1 million, suggested that he might become the latest in a line of athletes and entertainment figures, among them Tiger Woods, who left California for states like Florida, which has no personal income tax.

The Republican governor of Texas, Rick Perry, firing a new shot in an old interstate war, began putting radio advertisements on the air in California this week summoning burdened businesses his way. “I have a message for California business: Come check out Texas,” Mr. Perry said.

Blood, it seems, is in the water.

“Are you looking to leave California because of the recent tax increase?” a CNN Money correspondent posted online in an inquiry this week. “You could be profiled in an upcoming story.”

For all its many attributes, California has long been a state defined by high taxes and the people who hate them; conservatives here were successfully organizing against taxes before anyone heard of the Tea Party. Yet this milestone — or perhaps millstone — has sneaked up as an unpleasant surprise for the rich, a cloud in the sky at a time when the state budget has come back into balance (in no small part because of the aforementioned tax increase) and the state economy seems to be snapping back to life.

Mr. Mickelson later apologized for discussing the topic, though that did not prevent Mr. Perry from sending him a message on Twitter: “Hey Phil ... Texas is home to liberty and low taxes ... we would love to have you as well!!” Conservatives and antitax activists have cited Mr. Mickelson’s remarks as evidence of what they have long argued are the costs California pays for having such a high tax burden.

“It’s definitely the highest in the United States,” said David Kline, a vice president of the California Taxpayers Association, a taxpayers’ advocacy organization. “What we like to point out to people is that there are states with absolutely no personal income tax — so if you moved from California to Florida, and you are in a high-income bracket, you are automatically giving yourself a 13.3 percent raise.”

For what it is worth, California’s big earners can deduct their state taxes from their federal returns, or at least for the time being: were Congress to repeal that deduction, which is now under discussion, the actual tax burden would be 52.9 percent. The top rate in California has been as high as 15 percent and as low as 6 percent, and the combined rate has been higher at times, like when federal income taxes spiked to pay for wars.

Gov.Jerry Brown, a Democrat who urged voters to approve the latest state income tax surcharge, dismissed Mr. Perry’s poaching as political trickery, suggesting that high earners consider other factors in deciding where to locate. “People invest their money where these big things have occurred,” he told reporters. “The ideas, the structures, the climate, the opportunity is right here on the Pacific Rim.”

Some of those earners seem at least resigned to the tax burden as a cost of being able to live in California rather than, say, Texas.

“I am happy to pay my taxes, whatever they are: no problem with me,” said David Geffen, the entertainment mogul, who owns estates on the oceanfront in Malibu and on the hedge-lined streets of Beverly Hills. He said he thought it could hurt the business climate, but added, “I don’t think anybody of means is really going to move because of it.”

Cristobal Young, an assistant professor of sociology with the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Stanford, conducted a study last fall that concluded that tax rates had little effect on where millionaires choose to live.

Mr. Young said he suspected that few, if any, millionaires would leave or stay away because of the tax increase. More likely, he said, they would find ways of reducing their tax burden, with loopholes or income avoidance, or simply reduce their work.
======================


“I suspect the accountants are busier this year, but I don’t think the moving companies are getting a boost,” Mr. Young said. “Moving out of state is actually one of the most costly responses they could make. California’s high-income earners are clustered in coastal cities far from state borders. Moving to Nevada or Texas or Florida is a very big life change, and means leaving behind family, friends, colleagues and business connections.”


 

The burden represents a political reality both here and in Washington: while there might be a new willingness to raise taxes to deal with governmental shortfalls, the target of those new taxes is the wealthy.

In December, Congress agreed to increase federal income taxes on income over $400,000 a year. In November, California voters approved the temporary state income tax surcharge, establishing the top marginal tax rate at 12.3 percent. There is also is a 1 percent millionaire surcharge for mental health programs.

The median rate paid by average taxpayers is significantly lower. Still, this new round of upper-income taxes lifted California to the top of the tax mountain, said Gerald Prante, an economist at Lynchburg College in Virginia, who published a report on marginal tax rates across the country. Right behind California is New York City, which has a 51.7 percent marginal rate. (The rest of New York State has a slightly lower rate because the city imposes a personal income tax.)

Hawaii ranks third, and seven states do not have a personal income tax at all.

Mr. Prante also said there was little evidence that the high taxes he charted had chased anyone out of California. “Has one person ever moved?” he said. “Obviously, yes. But how big an effect is it? Taxes aren’t the only thing that matters when people move.”

But Bradley R. Schiller, a professor of economics at the University of Nevada, Reno, said the argument that high taxes were not pushing people defied the obvious. The French actor Gerard Depardieu recently left his home country to avoid what he described as a severe increase in income taxes, drawing criticism from France and his fellow citizens. Accordingly, Mr. Schiller said, high-profile millionaires are unlikely to want to draw attention to decisions to leave for states with lower taxes, thus making the migration harder to track.

“Taxes have to be a very important part of the equation,” Mr. Schiller said. “If you are talking about an income tax of 13 percent on a millionaire in California and an income tax rate of zero percent on a millionaire in Nevada, to argue that it doesn’t affect a millionaire’s locations decision is to say all millionaires must be stupid.”

Mr. Schiller, who was born in California, now lives in Nevada.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #343 on: February 08, 2013, 02:35:51 PM »

Senate Democrats, Law Enforcement, Mayors Announce Bills to Reduce Gun Violence
February 07, 2013
 
Yee legislation will prohibit easily changeable magazines on assault weapons and require safe storage of all guns
 
SACRAMENTO – Today, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) along with several of his colleagues, law enforcement, gun safety advocates, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a series of bills to help prevent gun violence.
 
The legislative package is designed to close loopholes in the existing regulations, keep the circulation of firearms and ammunition out of the hands of dangerous persons, and strengthen education relating to firearms and gun ownership.
 
Among the bills is Yee’s SB 47 to prohibit the use of the bullet button and other devices that allow for changeable magazines on all military-style assault weapons, such as AR-15s. Under SB 47, featured weapons would only be allowed to have low capacity (10-round) ammunition magazines that could not be changed without dissembling the firearm action. Essentially, bullets could only be loaded one-by-one from the top of the gun.
 
“While we cannot stop every senseless act of gun violence, the significant rise of mass shootings across the country demonstrates that we must take steps to close the loopholes that currently exist in California,” said Yee. “These bills will lower the likelihood of a mass shooting and limit the casualties when such an incident occurs.”
 
In addition to SB 47, Yee is authoring SB 108 to require all guns to be properly stored when not in the possession of the owner.  Current law only requires that gun owners own a trigger lock or safety lock box for their weapon, but doesn’t require the safety device to be used on an idle firearm. Yee’s bill will specifically require that all guns be properly stored with a trigger lock or in a lock box at a residence when the owner is not present.
 
Yee also plans to introduce legislation that will remove unnecessary and cumbersome barriers that have prevented many counties from implementing Laura’s Law, a program that allows enforcement of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) orders for some potentially dangerous mentally ill patients.
 
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence recently released a study that showed the states with the toughest gun laws have the lowest rates of gun-related deaths, while states with weak gun laws have the highest rates of gun deaths.
 
The 6 states with the lowest per capita gun death rates (Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut), all had some of the toughest gun laws in country. In contrast, the top 10 states with the highest per capita gun death rates (Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi) all had weak gun laws.
 
“It is a fact that strong gun laws work and weak laws result in the loss of innocent lives,” said Yee “Clearly, there is a direct correlation between common sense gun laws and fewer gun-related homicides.”
 
###
 
Senate Democrats’ Ten Legislative Actions
 
 REGULATION: Closing loopholes in existing laws
 1.       Fixed magazines (Steinberg): Prohibit the future sale, purchase, manufacture, importation, or transfer in California of semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines. This legislative action decisively closes the loopholes that have allowed the gun industry to flood our communities with rapid-reload battlefield weapons.
 2.       High Capacity magazines (Hancock): Ban possession of large capacity ammunition magazines over 10 rounds. This legislative action decisively closes loopholes that have allowed the gun industry to enable the assembly and home-modification of 10-round magazines into larger capacity magazines.
 3.       Bullet button (Yee): This legislative action closes the loophole that has allowed the gun industry to flood our communities with modification tools to rapidly detach and replace magazines from semi-automatic rifles.
 4.       Shotgun Definition (Jackson):  This legislative action updates the definition of a banned shotgun with a revolving cylinder to include the new technology of a shotgun-rifle combination.
 
CIRCULATION: Keeping weapons and ammunition in the hands of responsible gun owners
 5.       Requires Ownership Record of all Guns (Steinberg): Applies ownership records consistently across-the-board, ensuring all firearms are recorded, and ensuring that no firearms of any classification are legally accessible to prohibited persons or persons without a background check.
 6.       Ammunition Purchase Permit (de Leon): Expanding on what Los Angeles and Sacramento are already doing requiring anyone wishing to purchase ammunition in California to obtain a purchase permit first, by passing a full and complete background check.
 7.       Gun Loans (Block): This legislative action prevents unregulated gun loans, with exceptions, including hunting. To limit legal accessibility of weapons to prohibited persons or persons without a background check.
  8.       APPS Expansion (Leno): This legislative action prohibits individuals on APPS from residing in a home with any weapons. Expand the APPS list by adding more than two DUIs, other crimes.
 9.       APPS Enforcement (Leno/Steinberg): This legislative action authorizes DOJ to use existing DROS funding to eliminate the 19,000 backlog of individuals on APPS.
 
EDUCATION: Fostering a culture of responsible and informed gun ownership
 10.   Fire arm safety certificate (Block): This legislative action will establish a safety certificate for handguns, mirroring the training currently required annually to lawfully carry a concealed weapon (CCW).
 
Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,
 (916) 651-4008

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It gets worse , , ,

http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2013/02/foghorn/list-of-proposed-california-gun-control-measures-500-round-max-no-grandfathering-no-detachable-mags-mandatory-license/
« Last Edit: February 08, 2013, 05:02:17 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #344 on: February 09, 2013, 08:54:26 AM »

California's Anti-Gun Senate Democrats Announce Plans to Further Infringe on the Second Amendment
 
Last week, anti-gun Assembly Democrats announced their plans to eliminate the right of law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.  Yesterday, anti-gun Senate Democrats did the same.  In a press release, Senate Democrats announced several egregious anti-gun bills they are planning to promote and pursue in the 2013 legislative session.
 
According to the Brady Campaign’s national ranking of state gun control laws, California is already THE “best” (most restrictive) state in the nation and has already banned pseudo "assault weapons."  So, even though California is considered the most restrictive state, anti-gun state Senators seem to think more gun laws will reduce their violent crime problem where current gun control laws have failed.  By definition, violent and insane criminals violate laws, especially gun control laws.  They neither obey gun bans, nor register their firearms and absolutely do not comply with any gun control schemes whatsoever.  As a result, innocent law-abiding citizens are the only ones who pay the price and are left defenseless and made victims or criminals.
 
The language in several of these onerous bills have not been finalized or assigned a bill number, but below we have listed the bill explanations according to the press release.
 
Detachable Magazines, introduced by "F" rated state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, prohibits the sale, purchase, manufacture, importation or transfer of all semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines.
 
"High Capacity" Magazines, introduced by "F" rated state Senator Loni Hancock, bans the possession of "high capacity" ammunition magazines over ten rounds.
 
Shotgun Definition, introduced by "F" rated state Senator Hanna-Beth Jackson, redefines a banned shotgun with a revolving cylinder to include the new technology of a shotgun-rifle combination.
 
Ownership Record, also introduced by Senator Steinberg, requires firearm ownership records on ALL firearms.
 
Gun Loans, introduced by "F" rated state Senator Marty Block, bans unregulated gun loans, with exceptions, including hunting.
 
APPS Expansion, introduced by "F" rated state Senator Mark Leno, expands Armed Prohibitive Persons System (APPS) list to include more than two DUIs, among other crimes, and would prohibit those individuals from residing in a home with any firearms.
 
Firearm Safety Certificate, introduced by Senator Block, establishes a safety certificate for handguns, mirroring the training currently required annually to lawfully carry a concealed weapon (CCW).
 
Senate Bill 47, again introduced by "F" rated state Senator Leland Yee, requires the registration of most semi-automatic centerfire rifles with detachable magazines sold between January 2001 to December 2013 and bans tools ("bullet button") used to detach and replace magazines from semi-automatic rifles.
 
Senate Bill 53, introduced by "F" rated state Senator Kevin de Leon, requires ammunition purchasers in California to obtain an ammunition purchase permit first by passing a full and complete background investigation, registration and thumb printing for all ammunition sales and bans the internet/mail order purchase of all ammunition.
 
Senate Bill 108, introduced by Senator Yee, requires a person who is 18 years of age or older, who owns, leases, rents, or is other legal occupant of a residence to store a firearm that he or she owns or has lawful possession of locked in a container or otherwise be disassembled each time the person leaves his or her property.
 
Senate Bill 140, introduced state Senators Leno and Steinberg, authorizes the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to raid existing Dealers' Record of Sales (DROS) funding to eliminate the 19,000 backlog of individuals on the APPS.
 
The NRA will continue to monitor these onerous bills against law-abiding citizens.  In the meantime, call AND e-mail your state Senator urging him or her to protect law-abiding citizens instead of penalizing them for the criminal actions of others.  Contact information for your state Senator can be found here.
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« Reply #345 on: February 12, 2013, 12:22:28 PM »

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/02/11/california-cheating-young-with-toxic-bonds/

February 11, 2013
California: Already Stoking the Next Big Financial Crash?
Walter Russell Mead


The next financial market meltdown may already be brewing: not in the housing market, this time, but in municipal bonds. Greedy bankers, opportunistic politicians and hobbled regulators are putting a time bomb in the muni market that could set off another devastating crash.

California is leading the way.

It is starting out innocently enough. Looking to expand a number of aging school facilities but loath to raise the taxes necessary to pay for it, California cities have opted to fund school construction projects with capital appreciation bonds, which allow school districts to borrow money now while putting off payments for decades. It sounds like a great deal, but it has one major drawback: The interest rates involved push the eventual price tag to many times the original amount—sometimes as much as ten times more. The New York Times has the story:

In San Diego, property owners owe $630 million on a $164 million bond. For theFolsom Cordova Unified School District, a $514,000 bond will cost $9.1 million.

And in the most expensive case yet, the Poway Unified School District borrowed $105 million to finish modernizing older school buildings, which local property owners will be paying off until four decades from now at an eventual cost of nearly $1 billion. Because payments on the bond do not start for 20 years, current school board members faced little risk of resistance from property owners. [...]

In 2009, as the housing market crash drove down tax revenues for schools and state education financing was cut, California lifted its requirement that long-term bonds be paid off at approximately the same rate each year, opening the door for bonds that delay payments for 20 years.

This is irresponsibility on steroids, but it represents a dream come true for crony capitalists and Wall Street I-bankers. Fat fees, enormous interest, and the taxpayers won’t even know what hit them when the whopping bills come due.

But everyone involved should be put on notice: While not all of these bond issues are equally bad, as a class these bonds are toxic and likely to bring serious pain to everyone connected to them. Some of the deals already done will likely blow up in the future; bankruptcy will loom when the pension squeeze and the bond bomb both hit at full force.

But the worst danger is not from the relatively small number of deals already done but in the potential for this kind of finance to spread. Like the bad ideas that started off small but grew until they were big enough to blow up the mortgage market, dangerous practices can become more common and widespread in municipal finance.  More politicians will catch on to the magic of long term bonds that bring benefits now but will savage your town a couple of decades on. Other state legislatures will be pressured to follow California’s rash venture into muni madness as investment banks, construction companies and public sector unions lobby non-stop. Politically managed pension funds will load up on this dangerous paper. Investors hungry for yield will pile on and tell themselves that the market is safe. It will all look brilliant until the roof caves in.

Investment banks who underwrite these bonds should be very careful to police the email traffic of the employees who work on them; the risk that every tiny detail and email message relating to them will one day be made public in court and/or legislative hearings is huge. Massive lawsuits are likely and there is serious reputation risk. The day may well come when we’ll all watch the heads of investment banks squirming in vicious congressional hearings that rip their reputations and the reputations of their banks to shreds when the public wakes up to these Soprano style rip-offs. Figuratively speaking, some of the people involved in these deals will be hanging from street lights when the public figures out what’s been done.

Politicians who approve or recommend these bonds should be braced for a firestorm of public rage when and as voters realize just how badly they’ve been shafted. Nobody has an electoral mandate to saddle future generations in this way. If any politicians associated with this receive campaign contributions from any of the financial institutions involved, expect to have every painful detail exposed to public scrutiny. (And journalists, have at it—there is gold in these hills: crony capitalists bribe conniving politicians to sign one sided debt indentures that mortgage the future of whole communities. This is the 21st century equivalent of selling Manhattan for $24 worth of beads and there’s a Pulitzer in there somewhere for somebody who digs up the sordid details behind this mess.)

Investors should not under price the risks of these bonds. Because they are so one-sided, because in many communities their impact will be so great, and because both the time and money involved are greater than with many other bonds, the risk on them is much, much higher than on less exotic securities. When these come due, you can expect legislators and quite possibly courts to be so filled with outrage that the entire political establishment will be looking for ways to help cities and towns escape the consequences of these foolish agreements. Do not expect sympathetic treatment in bankruptcy court: Exotic in this case is a synonym for toxic. Do not believe the snake oil the I-bankers are peddling with these bonds, and realize that attempting to enforce your rights under them is going to be much, much more difficult than the commission-hungry bond salespeople are telling you. These bonds are not your ordinary muni, and the risks and liabilities they involve need to be scrutinized very carefully on a case by case basis. Remember your experience with CDOs during the last meltdowns; I-bankers lie like rats when they are trying to unload securities and you should not trust all the soothing promises they will make.

And finally, voters need to wake up and take some responsibility. The American muni market is an important and valuable thing; wisely used, it allows cities and towns to spread large capital expenditures over time, and it has been been vital to the development of much of our infrastructure. But just as ‘liar loans’ and other abuses in combination with exotic financial instruments and razzle-dazzle investment strategies paved the way for a serious housing and financial market meltdown, outrageous instruments like these can damage the entire muni market.

Note also that California opened the door to these casino style bonds at a time when its credit ratings were falling and its cities were increasingly cash squeezed. California didn’t legalize these bonds because it was a strong borrower and because its cities were able to finance their operations through normal methods. This was a move of desperation, more like a gambler writing IOUs than like a prudent transaction in the humdrum world of municipal finance.

There are two ways these bonds can be paid. In one scenario, inflation shoots up so far and so fast that by the time the bonds come due, the value of money has fallen so far that they can be easily paid. A billion dollar debt isn’t a problem if it costs $300 million to buy a pair of shoes. Or more optimistically, economic growth could be so strong and the cities and towns who issued these bonds could have gained so much population that the interest rates can be borne without undue strain. That, alas, is unlikely. After all, many of the jurisdictions attracted to this kind of debt have limited credit and resources who don’t have better alternatives. They also presumably have politicians who are not very good at managing city affairs.

Once upon a time, the mortgage market was a safe and staid place where widows and orphans could lend to responsible borrowers paying reasonable prices for sensible housing. But a combination of lax regulation, political opportunism, Wall Street (and Fannie Mae) greed, credulous investors and speculative borrowers turned the mortgage market into a horrible mess that cost this country as much money as a foreign war. Let’s try not to do the same thing with our municipal finance system, shall we?

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« Reply #346 on: February 19, 2013, 11:02:58 AM »

http://offgridsurvival.com/californiatobansemiautomaticguns-confiscatefirearms/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #347 on: February 21, 2013, 11:25:22 AM »



http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/02/21/the-california-tax-that-terrifies-tech/?iid=HP_LN
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« Reply #348 on: March 01, 2013, 11:09:32 AM »

http://washingtonexaminer.com/conn-carroll-californias-green-jobs-bust/article/2522728

California in Crisis: Golden State's green jobs bust

February 27, 2013 | 6:00 pm






Conn Carroll

Senior Editorial Writer
The Washington Examiner
✉ Email AuthorE@conncarroll DConn on FB




Kevork Djansezian/Getty Gas prices in California continue to be the highest in the country in part because of an excess of clean-air rules and environmental regulations.
Fourth of a five-part series. To read the previous day's installment, click here, and to see the entire series, including stories, video and graphics, click here.
 
It was supposed to be the next big thing.
 
California built decades of broad-based prosperity from the Gold Rush, then Hollywood, then aerospace, and later Silicon Valley. At the turn of the century, "green jobs" were supposed to be the wave of the future.
 
"This is not just a challenge, it's an opportunity," then-candidate Barack Obama said during a 2008 presidential debate. "Because if we create a new energy economy, we can create 5 million new jobs, easily, here in the United States."
 

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President Obama, of course, has completely failed to deliver on this promise of 5 million new green-collar jobs. The entire U.S. economy has created only 1.2 million jobs since Obama was sworn into office, many of them in the fossil fuel extraction, production and distribution sector.
 
But in Obama's defense, most of his green jobs agenda was killed. Cap-and-trade and renewable electricity mandates never made it through Congress. High-speed rail was killed off by governors in Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin.
 


CALIFORNIA IN CRISIS
 Monday: What happened to the Golden State?
 Tuesday: The California spending rush
 Wednesday: Big Ed's big fail: How teachers union's are destroying California's schools
 Today: California's green jobs bust
 Tomorrow: Golden Geezers: Thanks to open borders, a generous welfare state, high taxes, land use regulations, failed education system, California is bleeding middle class families
 Read the entire series at this link
 

But where the rest of the nation has rejected all or most of these proposals, California has embraced them all.
 
How is that going for them? For starters, California now has the highest gas prices in the country. As of the third week in February, the price of regular unleaded was 40 cents more ($4.15 per gallon) than the national average ($3.74).
 
There are two main reasons for this. First, California has special clean-air rules that essentially make the state a boutique gasoline market year-round. Second, thanks to other environmental regulations such as the California Environmental Quality Act, only 14 refineries are still operating in the state, down from 27 in 1980. As California's cap-and-trade program kicks in this year, the number of refineries will continue to go down, and the price of gasoline will continue to rise.
 
California already has some of the nation's highest electricity prices -- 39 percent higher than the national average -- and those will continue to rise as the state begins to enforce both its renewable energy mandate and cap-and-trade programs.
 
The cap-and-trade law will at least spare residential consumers and utility companies part of the added pain with rebates and special allowances. But it does so at the expense of businesses and manufacturers, who are simply are out of luck. Cap-and-trade will cost them about $1 billion a year, according to the California Chamber of Commerce.
 
And that comes on top of the renewable energy mandate, which requires all utilities to produce 30 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. It contains no rebates or loopholes. The mandate alone will drive up electricity rates for everyone by more than 13 percent, according to the Pacific Research Institute, as utilities are forced to buy more expensive electricity from renewable sources.
 
The California Public Utilities Commission's Division of Ratepayer Advocates has already estimated that 59 percent of all renewable energy contracts signed by utilities paid above-market prices for their renewable energy.
 
Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that California will once again face rolling blackouts starting in 2015, thanks to the loss of conventional plants and unreliability of wind and solar energy due to weather fluctuations.
 
But all these new green energy programs must at least be creating thousands of new green jobs, right? Wrong. According to the best numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than 2,500 green jobs have been created in California since 2010. Compare that with the more than 556,000 jobs that California has added in total since the recession ended in June 2009.
 
Meanwhile, Texas, which is actively removing obstacles to private-sector development of its fossil fuel resources, has actually lost 928 green jobs since 2010. But the state has also added 612,000 total jobs since the recession ended, including more than 26,000 new jobs in oil and gas extraction alone. That total does not include a slew of other fossil-fuel-related jobs such as oil refining and natural gas distribution, nor does it include jobs that the fossil fuel industries support indirectly.
 
With an unemployment rate 1.8 points below the national average, and 3.7 points below California's, Texans are probably happy they decided to skip the costly "green jobs" craze.
 
Tomorrow: How environmentalists are destroying California's infrastructure.
 
Conn Carroll (ccarroll@washingtonexaminer.com) is a senior editorial writer for The Washington Examiner. Follow him on Twitter at @conncarroll.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #349 on: March 04, 2013, 10:43:06 AM »

"Over the past two decades, a net 3.4 million people have moved out of California for other states."  (The non-rich far outnumber the rich also leaving Calif.)

"Roughly 40% of the people leaving are Hispanic."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324338604578326402863024028.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

My guess looking at these figures and circumstances, generalizing, is that the people wanting to work are the most likely to leave and the people comfortably on programs are the most likely to stay.

What could possibly go wrong?

« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 10:44:58 AM by DougMacG » Logged
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