Why California is doomed in 12 figures

May 9, 2014
The new flag of California

The new flag of California

Per this KFI article, the state’s total debt –that is, our debt— is $340,000,000,000. $340 billion. Three-hundred and forty billion dollars:

California faces $340 billion in debts, or more than $8,500 for each of its 38 million residents, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said Wednesday in recommending that the state set priorities for paying down its key long-term liabilities.

The state should first address the $73.7 billion shortfall in the teachers’ retirement system, a debt that could cost the state, teachers and school districts a combined $5 billion a year to resolve over 30 years. Without changes, the system serving 868,000 members is projected to run out of money by 2046.

Paying down the $64.6 billion shortfall in health benefits for 277,000 retired state employees and their dependents should come next. That could cost the state $1.8 billion a year over 30 years, the analyst said, but getting started sooner would dramatically reduce costs over the long run.

The report comes a month before the state’s budget is due and feeds legislative debates over whether the state should spend or save its budget surplus and how to create a rainy day fund that would go before voters in November for their approval. It was released a week before Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his revised budget recommendations.

“I think it underscores what the governor has said for quite some time, which is that we have significant liabilities that we need to address,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance.

There’s the understatement of the year. And I’ll bet dollars to donuts that doesn’t include local government debt.

This is insanity. If California were a normal family or business, we’d have been forced into bankruptcy court for liquidation, and the marshal would be holding a sale.

The article goes on to talk vaguely about Governor Brown’s plans for paying down this debt and for reestablishing a “rainy day fund,” but I would take that talk more seriously, if it weren’t coming from a man still wedded to his high-speed rail boondoggle and his plan to dig giant tunnels to move water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta. No one can talk fiscal responsibility and back those rolling fiascoes.

And the state’s budget surplus? Please. As the article correctly notes, this is from transient factors. Capital gains taxes are a one-time revenue source, and the Prop 30 tax increase will bring in more revenue only until the gouged high-income earners move to Florida or Texas. That surplus is as ephemeral as the state’s good credit.

Three-hundred and forty billion dollars. The mind just boggles that our so-called betters in Sacramento could have been so irresponsible. How’d we get here? I can think of a few reasons:

  • Creating a full-time legislature with professional legislators who will pander to the right donor groups to keep their cushy jobs, instead of acting in the interests of the broad public. Allowing both houses to be elected by population, thus assuring domination by the urban megalopolises at the expense of other regions.
  • Allowing public employee unions. Even FDR knew those were against the public interest. Eventually, and inevitably, they fell into a corrupt kickback arrangement with the professional legislators, an arrangement that has helped lead us to our massive debt.
  • Allowing ourselves to slip into a one-party state in which the governing spectrum ranges from liberal left to loony left. There’s no real opposition to put more than an occasional check on the worst tendencies of the Democratic majority, or its corruption.
  • And finally, We The People, ourselves. Far too few of us pay any attention to what goes on in Sacramento or on the many boards that operate (supposedly) in our name, far too many of us take at their word what the pols and their backers say without exercising the responsibilities of citizenship and examining them critically — and firing them when needed.

Until the day comes when we find ourselves stuck with a $340 billion bill.

To paraphrase Andrew Breitbart, how do you screw up paradise?

It will take decades to clean this mess up and, even if we can find the right people to do it, can we convince the voters to take the needed bitter medicine?

I just don’t know.


Detecting life in the CA economy, state senate moves to kill it

April 26, 2014

BearFlag

Well, at least California’s legislative Democrats are consistent: if it works, regulate it, and if it makes money, tax it. In the latest example, Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) has authored a bill to slap a nearly ten-percent tax on oil extraction:

The Senate Education Committee voted 5-2 — the minimum number of votes needed — to advance a bill that would levy a 9.5% tax on oil pumped from the ground in California. The aim is to raise $2 billion annually to be divided among state universities and colleges, state parks, and human service programs, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The controversial SB 1017, which was authored by Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), has been dubbed a “job killer” by the California Chamber of Commerce, as it would most likely decrease oil production and drive oil companies out of California, costing thousands of jobs. One such company, Occidental Petroleum, is leaving California for Houston, Texas — dubbed “the energy capital of the world” — after being in Los Angeles for nearly a century.

Apparently it never occurred to Senator Evans or the Education Committee that a regime of low taxes and moderate regulation would generate more revenue through the jobs created both directly and through supporting businesses. Maybe she should visit Texas and take notes. Oh, and the heartland of that oil production would be in areas with the worst unemployment, our Central Valley. Why does she hate the jobless? (Or, perhaps more accurately, why does she hate the prospect of them not needing state aid?)

Instead, she and her fellow Democrats must think that being in California is so wonderful that no one would ever go elsewhere, regardless of how many burdens and barriers Sacramento creates. If so, this former California businesswoman has a message for her.

California has had an amazing economy and has an incredible potential future, but even it can be killed with enough mismanagement.  Senator Evans and her colleagues really need to review the fable of the goose that laid the golden eggs: its owner, not satisfied with the eggs the goose was laying at a steady rate, killed it to get all the eggs he thought were inside. Instead, he wound up with no more eggs and a dead goose.

Golden eggs, golden state.

PS: With the Democrats’ two-thirds super-majority broken in the Senate for now, thanks to three corrupt Democrat senators getting caught, there’s no chance this bill will make it to the governor’s desk. For now. But expect them to have it ready, if and when they regain that majority.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California Screamin’: cartoon version

April 22, 2011

California’s history and California’s present:

via Ed Driscoll, who provides some depressing context for the future.


“The Venezuela of North America”

December 28, 2010

Okay, now that hurts!

Sadly, at least in terms of economics, it’s also not far off the mark. In the following video from Americans For Prosperity California, Business Relocation Coach Joe Vranich gives ten top reasons why California companies are calling the moving company:

via Vox

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Oligarchy has its privileges

September 10, 2010

Such as turning a tiny town’s treasury into your personal bank account:

Top managers for the city of Vernon, Calif., enjoyed pay and perks that outpaced some of the nation’s top leaders.

It is one of a growing number of California municipalities confronting questionable practices by municipal employees.

Vernon has only 90 residents, but top city managers were earning an astounding $1.6 million per year with some fancy perks, including first-class air travel around the world and $800-a-night hotel rooms.

“For these city officials to be receiving salaries larger than the governor, larger than the president of the United States is absolutely unjustifiable,” said Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies.

The city’s small homeowners association is outraged that their city leaders were living the high life, particularly in a town that recently laid off workers and cut health insurance because of budget problems.

At one angry council meeting, residents shouted, “Shame on you!”

Read the rest for other small California towns whose “leaders” live the high life while unemployment skyrockets and the state faces financial insolvency.

Maybe those pitchforks-and-torches mobs in the old movies had the right idea.

(via Gabriel Malor)


Jerry Brown is either a fool or a swine

August 21, 2010

I’m old enough to remember when Jerry Brown was last governor of California. I can’t say much about his term of office, though, because I was in college and not paying much attention to state politics at the time. My impression, though, was that, his personal eccentricities aside, he was mostly a standard issue California liberal: support for government solutions in preference to the private sector, a strong alliance with labor unions, and a willingness to hike taxes. On the plus side, though he opposed Proposition 13, which limited property taxes, once it passed, he worked within its limits and actually cut state spending. So, a generally center-left record, albeit pragmatic.

As Mayor of Oakland he continued to chart a pragmatic course, seeking to lure businesses to the city and trying to revitalize the downtown area. He even invited the Marines to hold wargames at the closed US Army base in Oakland. You can imagine how that was greeted by the local Lefties.

Leaving Oakland, he ran for and won election as Attorney General, though everyone knew this was just a stepping stone back to the governor’s office. And, indeed, his policies drifted more and more back toward those that would please the Left. For example, he tried desperately to ignore the scandals surrounding ACORN. When that was impossible, his investigation found they had broken no laws. On the other hand, he was eager to investigate Sarah Palin’s appearance at Cal State Stanislaus. That, too, turned up no law-breaking. Overall, the Competitive Enterprise Institute rated Brown as one of the worst state attorney generals in the nation (PDF)

Now it appears that transformation from the pragmatic Center-Left to full-blown tool is complete. Fearful that he hasn’t the money to compete with Republican nominee Meg Whitman, Brown has sunk to prostituting and prostrating himself before the most vile hard-Left, anti-American groups in the state. Tonight, just a couple of miles from Public Secrets Global HQ, Jerry is the guest of honor at a fundraiser at the home of Jodie Evans, one of the heads of Code Pink:

Brown fan Jodie Evans between Cindy Sheehan and Hugo Chavez

Many of the Los Angeles glitterati will be there, too, at the home of a Hamas supporter. Evans and her crew even once told a mother whose Navy son was killed in Iraq that her boy deserved to die “for being stupid enough to go there.”

A serious candidate for Governor of the State of California is taking money from these pigs? Bear in mind that the “once and future” Governor Brown would be commander in chief of California’s National Guard and that, to date, 599 Californians, Guardsmen and regulars, have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And you’re letting a group that admires dictators and terrorists and spits on grieving mothers host a party for you, Mr. Attorney General?

So, which is it, Jerry? Fool or swine? Or is it that we know what you are and, after tonight, we’ll know the price?

RELATED: If you’re as appalled as I am, how about making a small contribution to Jerry’s opponent, Meg Whitman?

LINKS: More from Power Line, which reminds us of Jerry’s double-dipping scandal. Moe Lane has several questions for Jerry.

UPDATE: Code Pink got a taste of its own medicine last night. Hah!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California dreaming: “Let’s tax the internet!”

August 17, 2010

I want what these guys are smoking.

Desperate for revenue and unwilling to cut spending for fear of alienating their union donors, the progressives who control my beloved state’s legislature have revived a dumb idea thought dead: taxing Internet commerce. In this case, by requiring Internet merchants who advertise through California-based businesses to collect sales tax on all transactions made within the state.

It takes a special kind of dumb to come up with this, friends:

Nonetheless, those tracking the debate say that Democrats in the legislature could attempt to push it through in the coming weeks and months, playing off of widespread concern about the state’s fiscal mess and inability to cover its financial obligations.

Just this month, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) issued a letter to California legislators noting that a vote in favor of the plan, which was rejected by Gov. Schwarzenegger last year, would be scored by the organization “as a tax increase.”

Other opponents meanwhile are speaking out against the proposal, noting that California is unlikely to in fact collect additional tax revenue, should the plan move forward.  In North Carolina, where such legislation was recently instituted, opponents say online retailers stopped advertising with in-state marketing affiliates, such as blogs and websites, rather than collecting and remitting the tax.  That example has marketing affiliates themselves arguing that were this tax increase pushed through, not only would it damage their businesses, but it would actually have a negative, as opposed to neutral or positive, impact on the state budget.

Mattias Larsson of Marina Del Rey, California, who runs the website DefinitiveDeals.com, opposes the plan, arguing that his business “will be devastated by the sales/use tax nexus bill,” and adding that he paid “well over $50,000 in California personal income tax last year”—a tax bill that could be lower in future were retailers to yank ads from his site, as has occurred in North Carolina.

Ryan Owen of Santa Monica and Savings.com meanwhile believes that in addition to threatening California’s existing revenue stream from him business, were the proposal to move forward, it would threaten jobs.  “Not only will the major merchants not collect the use tax for California, but 25,000 small businesses will suffer, hire less people and pay less income tax,” he said in a statement.

There’s also a constitutional question based on a court decision holding that a business has to have a physical presence in the state, which is the reason Dell, for example, collects tax on its Internet sales – they’re also available at the local Best Buy.

But, constitutional questions aside, this is just bad policy that will make a bad situation worse. As the examples above make clear, e-merchants who advertise through California companies will have a great incentive to switch their businesses to states that don’t force them to collect sales tax (which, don’t forget, is an added expense for the business). I’m sure low-tax Nevada, for example, which is suffering from some of the highest unemployment in the nation, would love to have the jobs.

And, back here in the Golden State, how much sense does it make to give businesses further incentives to flee the state? It’s not as if we’re flush with jobs as it is.

Californians and California businesses are taxed enough already, and there are only three real solutions to the state’s budget crisis:

  • Raise revenue by exploiting the vast resources we have. Assemblyman Chuck Devore has proposed renewed licensing for offshore drilling using safe slant-drilling technology. With over $120 billion in proven resources off the coast, royalty fees could generate tens of billions in new revenue without raising taxes.
  • Cut taxes on businesses and cut back on the bureaucratic impediments to business expansion in the permitting and environmental review processes. This would give businesses an incentive to come here, instead of leave, and to hire more people.
  • Cut spending. I know, with our legislature, it’s like asking a wino to put down the bottle. But it has to be done, absent new revenues. And, thanks to the profligate ways of the legislature and, yes, the People, who approved bond issue after bond issue, the necessary cuts will be painful. But they’re also very much needed, if this problem is ever to be fixed.

But, I don’t hold my breath in hope that Assembly and Senate Democrats will come to their senses; they’re professional legislators who see the enactment of patronage programs and the donations they get in return as their whole reason for being. Recovery will be a long, slow process of legislative and fiscal reform, unless a crash forces their hands.

Until then, California keeps doing it’s best impression of Thelma and Louise:

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


A perfect contrary indicator

June 9, 2010

Oh, my. Judging by the results in last night’s elections, my record as a kiss-of-death endorser from 2008 continues. Of five races in California and one in Nevada, I’m a perfect… 0-6.

Forget bellweather states; this is a “for whom the bell tolls” blog.  Blushing

Wait, I’ve got it! The Obama administration should offer me a federal job in return for not endorsing any Democrat in November! I think US Consul in Bermuda would do just fine – for starters.  Big Grin

Oh, well. Commiserations to the losers and congratulations to the winners. It’s on to November. Remember:

Vote Whitman.

Vote Fiorina.

Vote Fein.

Oh God! What have I done?? Nailbiting


California: US Senate race debate

May 9, 2010

Thursday night a debate was held at the Museum of Tolerance among the three candidates for the Republican nomination for US senator: Chuck DeVore, Carly Fiorina, and Tom Campbell. I wasn’t able to attend, but the debate will be broadcast this morning at 11AM on KABC. In the meanwhile, Meredith Turney of Flash Report provides her analysis of the debate:

Unsurprisingly, all three camps have claimed victory for their candidates’ performance. I think each candidate was able to deliver on their respective strengths. However, each performance should be analyzed based on each candidate’s ability to win not only the primary, but the general election.

I would never support Tom Campbell in a Republican primary if I had a choice of someone more conservative, which both DeVore and Fiorina obviously are. This was most clearly elucidated when the candidates were asked whether they support someone listed on the no-fly list being allowed to purchase a firearm. Campbell immediately responded, “No.” While DeVore and Fiornia affirmed their belief in the Second Amendment right to bear arms and the due process of law (those on the no-fly list haven’t been convicted of a crime). Taken aback by his peers’ response, Campbell retorted, “It seems somewhat unusual to take that position, except perhaps in a Republican primary.” Republican primary voters won’t miss this slap at their conservative, Second-Amendment-supporting reputation.

(…)

With the election less than a month away, voters are just now beginning to pay attention to candidates. The senate race has been overshadowed by the far more expensive governor race. Polling numbers show Campbell neck-and-neck with Fiorina, and DeVore trailing both. But there is still a large group of undecided voters. As conservatives begin to examine the positions of each candidate, they will immediately rule out Campbell and begin focusing on the other two candidates. When it comes to conservative positions on major issues, DeVore and Fiorina are both appealing. It then becomes a matter of who can beat Barbara Boxer in November. Based on Democrats’ attacks on Fiorina during the primary season, it looks like Boxer would rather not face Fiorina this November.

Carly may have the edge based on the “Whom does Boxer tell us she fears most?” factor, but it’s not as if she is without weaknesses, such as her un-conservative fondness for representation by gender, her prior lack of interest in that most basic of a citizen’s duties – voting, or her controversial record while head of Hewlett-Packard. I can’t get rid of this nagging feeling that she’s a dilettante running for the nomination because she has nothing else to do, and that as a senator she’ll lack conviction to the principles she’s professed.

She has, however, picked up the endorsement of major conservative groups, as Sarah Palin pointed out in her endorsement.

As I’ve said before, my choice is Mr. DeVore; he has both the positions and the consistent track record. I’ll vote for him in the primary, and I think he has as good a chance as any of beating Senator Boxer (D-Moron). I’ll be interested to see the debate to get a better handle on all three candidates and to gauge my own comfort at voting for any of them in November.

RELATED: Following up on yesterday’s post about the Palin endorsement, I note Erick Erickson of Red State voices thoughts similar to my own: luv ya, guv, but I’m staying with Chuck.

UPDATE: I just noticed this was the 3,000 post on this blog. What a windbag I am. 🙂


Of Palin, DeVore, Fiorina, and endorsements

May 8, 2010

Like many on the Right, I was taken by surprise by former Governor Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Carly Fiorina for the Republican nomination for Senator from California. As a supporter of both Palin and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who’s also running for the nomination and who shares many of the Governor’s beliefs, I had expected her to endorse him, should she choose to get involved at all. Not surprisingly, her announcement set off a minor storm on the Right, both in California and nationally. This post, then, is about two things: the endorsement itself and how the Right should take it.

SHE DID WHAT??

Governor Palin issued her endorsement on Thursday; you can read it on her Facebook page, including the update she added after receiving a lot of criticism.

Why’d she do it?

Not being a party to the inner workings of either the Palin, Fiorina, or DeVore camps, I’m not going to speculate about “real” motives. (Then why are you blogging, dude? I thought that was the whole point! -Tito I’m trying to be reasonable for a change?) All I have to work with are the Governor’s own words, so, out of courtesy to her and lacking contrary evidence, I’ll take them mostly at face value.

“Mostly?”

Yeah, there are a couple of things that bother me. Well, three actually. In no particular order:

First, Governor Palin lists several reasons for supporting Carly Fiorina in the pre-update portion of her post, all meant to show Fiorina’s a genuine conservative whom the conservative-libertarian Right can support. Okay, but almost all those also apply to Assemblyman DeVore, who also seems to have been more consistent in his beliefs than Ms. Fiorina. So, what’s the difference that tells me I should give my vote to Carly? Sarah doesn’t say, largely ignoring Mr. DeVore in her post.

Second, Palin refers to Carly’s growing up “…in a modest home with a school teacher dad…” Huh? Pardon me, Governor, but Carly Fiorina is the daughter of Joseph Sneed III, who was an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Texas since graduating from UT in 1947. Subsequently, he taught at Cornell and Stanford law schools, was the Dean of Duke’s law school, and served from 1973 until his death in 2008 on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Fiorina was born in 1954, when Judge Sneed was made a full professor at UT, and three when he took up his position at Cornell. I would not call this a “modest upbringing” in the way most people understand it, certainly not like Governor Palin’s own youth. Not wanting to believe the Governor was being deliberately misleading in that statement, I can only assume she took biographical information from the Fiorina campaign and ran with it. This speaks of sloppy, superficial research at best, and calls the rest of her endorsement into question.

Third, when Palin referred to Fiorina in her endorsement as a “commonsense conservative,” I had to ask how it was conservative for Carly Fiorina to endorse legislative apportionment on the basis of gender, rather than individual merit. That’s corporatist, not conservative. And it’s something I find antithetical to everything American politics should be.

I’ve yet to receive a good answer to any of these.

Of the aftereffects of the endorsement itself, there’s no doubt that it was good for Fiorina and a body-blow to DeVore, who actively sought Governor Palin’s  blessing. And there’s no doubt that it sent shock waves through the conservative populist (“Tea Party”) movement here in the Golden State and nationwide. And this leads to the next section.

HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THIS??

To paint with a bit of a broad brush, there have been three general reactions to Palin’s announcement:

Puzzled, but willing to give the governor a break: “Now why would she do that? It doesn’t make sense, but I’ve admired her to this point, so I’ll have to think about this for a bit.” I fall into this group, along with quite a few Righty bloggers.

Hurt, betrayed, and ticked off: “OMG?? WTF?? Sarah Palin endorsed that RINO McCain toady? Then she’s not a Tea-Party, grassroots conservative! She’s just a… a… she’s just a Republican politician!” Followed by wailing, gnashing of teeth, and the tossing of souvenir caribou jerky into the garbage. Seen mostly on Twitter. (Including from some DeVore aides. Joshua Trevino, you need to walk back that “sheepdog” comment. It’s insulting both to Governor Palin and conservatives in California, and you make Mr. DeVore look bad by reflection.)

Ticked off at those who criticize Sarah Palin: “How dare you? The Governor is perfect! She’s one of us! She shakes things up! YOU’RE THE REAL RINO!!” Seen mostly at dedicated pro-Palin blogs, such as Conservatives for Palin. And before anyone comes after me with a 10-gauge, C4P does a great job defending the governor from the lies and slanders that have been thrown at her by the Left, the mainstream media (but I repeat myself), and the establishment Right. However, they have a bad habit of reacting to even legitimate criticism or questioning of Sarah Palin like a bunch of coked-up wolverines. (Adrienne Ross, your implication that DeVore is using state-paid staff to subsidize his campaign is definitely tendentious, as anyone can see who reads the article you linked.)

Here’s my take: an endorsement should be taken merely as a guide or a suggestion to be considered, not as holy writ to be obeyed blindly. And I don’t think Sarah Palin wants Stepford Wives for followers. We in the Center and the Right, who believe that progressives such as Barbara Boxer are backhanding the Constitution, spitting on the Founders, and running this country off a cliff, have to remember that our real political foes are on the progressive-statist Left, not each other. There is room to reasonably disagree. Or, as the great philosopher Rodney King once put it:

“Can’t we all get along?”

I support Sarah Palin. I like her record; I like what she stands for. And, 95% of the time, I like her judgment. I plan to vote for her and campaign for her should she run for President. But, as a conservative, I recognize that no person is perfect – not even Sarah Palin. I think she made a mistake with this endorsement, picking the second-best candidate. But I see this neither as a betrayal of “true conservatism” nor as a divine revelation. It is the recommendation of one very smart, very savvy politician whom I admire greatly – and with whom I disagree in this particular case. I can take her opinion into account, look at the web sites of all three candidates, and still make my own choice.

Which is to vote for Chuck DeVore.

If Carly wins, or (God forbid) Tom Campbell, I can vote for them, too, with a clear conscience. Any of the three is better than Barbara Boxer.

Any of them.

So let’s put down the long knives, remember what unites us, and aim for the gold ring in November, not the brass one in June.


California leads the nation! Yay?

May 3, 2010

On the list of the 20 most economically stressed counties in the nation, my beloved Golden State boasts an even dozen:

Imperial and Merced counties top the list, with San Benito, Sutter, Yuba, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin all making the top 10. No California counties appeared on the least economically stressed counties list.

We once lead the nation in economic growth and now we’re going to lead it right back down the drain.

Good times!  Party


Carving up California

April 21, 2010

Strange Maps has a good post up about one of the more persistent of the many efforts to divide California into one or more states. In this case, the state of Jefferson would also require dismembering Oregon, the southern counties of which feel as ignored by Salem as the far northern counties of California do by Sacramento. Strange Maps has up one proposed map of the new state, taken from a newspaper of December 6th, 1941. This was perhaps the high point of the “Jefferson movement,” but it was derailed by a little incident that happened the next day….

Anyway, enjoy the article. It’s an interesting story of what-if.


Not just no, but “Hell no!”

April 20, 2010

Barack Obama was in Los Angeles yesterday to foul up traffic and attend a fundraiser for Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Moron). While praising Senator Ma’am, the President said the nation should take inspiration from California and try to be like the (once) Golden State. Reason’s Matt Welch does a spit-take and gives this reply:

While I appreciate any shout-out to my home state, what California’s Democratic elite are “about” is enabling their union backers to drive a once-thriving economy into a bottomless pit of unemployment, perennially busted budgets, and unfunded pension contributions that transcend most human comprehension. This is not a spirit Washington should try to “recapture,” unless the goal is 12.6 percent unemployment (with a bullet!), a credit rating hurtling toward junk-bond status, and a perpetual round of bailouts from a faraway government entity.

And here’s the kicker–Obama in his speech said that “one of the main reasons our economy faltered was because some on Wall Street made irresponsible bets, with no accountability.” The exact same language could be used, with 100 percent accuracy, to describe public officials all over California–including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who just today is unveiling his latest too-little, too-late package of reforms. All of these labor-backed bureaucrats bet irresponsibly that they could more than double pension promises to state employees over the past decade, because the “accountability” moment was deferred to when those payments came due. Well, they’re only beginning to come due now, and it’s a damnable mess

Read the rest for the gory details.

I realize he has to say nice things at a fundraiser, but the rest of the nation shouldn’t emulate California, they should run screaming from us*.

*(And New York and New Jersey, too.)


Is California Too Big To Fail?

April 9, 2010

Jon Fleischman, founder of Flash Report, a site focusing on California politics, sat down with Reason.TV to talk about why my beloved state is in such a bad state and what its prospects are:

Are we doomed? I don’t think so, but progressives have run our finances so far into the ground that digging ourselves out is going to be painful, no matter what.


Carly Fiorina: gender is more important than merit

January 22, 2010

I’m a great admirer of Dr. Martin Luther King, and particularly of one statement of his that crystallizes what politics in America should be:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

And, I think we can all agree, that should include gender, too.

Trouble is, Carly Fiorina doesn’t agree. Listen to this:

In other words, it’s more important that half or more of the elected officials of our government be women, rather than the most qualified person or the person preferred by the electorate regardless of gender. To Carly Fiorina, who has presented herself as a conservative for the Republican nomination for US senator from California, it is more important to represent demographic groups than individual citizens. This is nothing less than identity politics, and it is disturbing to say the least that someone who positions herself as a conservative running for office in a nation founded on the worth of the individual would advocate this. It is the fool’s path to a quota system and corporatism, something I would expect from Obama and the progressives who dominate the Democratic Party, not a Republican.

Tell me, Carly, since California is more than 30% Catholic, will our government be truly representative only when one-third of the legislature is Catholic? If it climbs to 40%, is our government no longer representative, even though those assemblymen and senators were duly elected by the people? And what about overlap between groups? If a legislator is a Black Catholic lesbian, in which group do you put them to determine “true representation?” Or is this the ultimate in efficiency, three groups for one seat?

How about we treat people as individuals, judging them by their deeds and the content of their character, and not by the meaningless accidents of biology?

Thankfully, California Republicans have a much better choice, a candidate who understands our founding principles: Chuck DeVore.

(Source: Red State. There’s a second audio from the same event in which Fiorina praises a observation made by Reverend Jesse Jackson. The post’s author wants us to be outraged by this. Well, I’m not. Don’t get me wrong: I think Jackson is a con artist, a race-baiter, an extortionist, and an overall slime of a human being, but there wasn’t anything particularly appalling in the statement Fiorina quoted. In fact, the real problem is that it was utterly vapid, a banal slogan pretending to be perceptive insight, something that Jackson specializes in. That Fiorina quoted it as wisdom is not evidence of her closet lefty-ism, but of her political shallowness. That’s the problem.)

UPDATE: I missed this earlier, but Sister Toldjah points to an article from the San Jose Mercury News about Carly’s foot-in-mouth moment, including a response from Chuck DeVore. More from Michelle Malkin.


Dear Florida

December 29, 2009

Please elect this man. All will be forgiven*.

You do your part, and we’ll get Chuck DeVore in, okay?

*(C’mon. You know what you did…)

(ht: Erick Erickson.)


I love my hometown…

November 1, 2009

…But there are times I want to nuke Sacramento from orbit. Usually (and in this case) it’s because of some boneheaded move by the State government.  What did they do this time? Oh, nothing, really, except decide to take an extra ten-percent from our paychecks in the middle of a recession:

Starting Sunday, cash-strapped California will dig deeper into the pocketbooks of wage earners — holding back 10% more than it already does in state income taxes just as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks into gear.

Technically, it’s not a tax increase, even though it may feel like one when your next paycheck arrives. As part of a bundle of budget patches adopted in the summer, the state is taking more money now in withholding, even though workers’ annual tax bills won’t change.

Think of it as a forced, interest-free loan: You’ll be repaid any extra withholding in April. Those who would receive a refund anyway will receive a larger one, and those who owe taxes will owe less.

But with rising gas costs, depressed home prices and double-digit unemployment, the state’s added reach into residents’ regular paycheck isn’t sitting well with many.

“The state’s suddenly slapping people upside the head,” said Mack Reed, 50, of Silver Lake. “It’s appalling how brash that is.”

Brittney McKaig, 23, of Santa Ana said she expects the additional withholding to affect her holiday spending.

“Coming into the holidays, we’re getting squeezed anyway,” she said. “We’re not getting Christmas bonuses and other perks we used to get. So it all falls back on spending. The $40 gift will become a $20 gift.”

Sheer genius. We’re now over a year into a severe recession, and this Christmas is when the stores will really feel the pinch. The money the state takes will be unavailable to retailers big and small, who will thus have less money with which to pay for new employees or keep current ones. California’s real unemployment rate tops 17% at least, and many people rely on part-time seasonal retail jobs to help them make it, so every job counts. The last thing you want to do is divert money to non-productive expenses, such as a blueberry commission.

“But at least it’s not a tax!”

What a farce. In California, all tax increases have to be approved by a two-thirds majority of both chambers of the legislature, something that’s hard to get since the Republicans have just enough votes to hold the line.  We are already one of the most highly-taxed states in the Union, so any increases are very unpopular right now.  So the legislature and the Franchise Tax Board get around this by calling it a “loan.”

When Tiquon and Little Dog take a forced “loan” from a South-Central liquor store, it’s called “robbery” or “extortion.” But when Sacramento does it to the whole state, it’s okay, it’s just a loan.

You can call it what you want, Governor, but a tax is a tax.

But wait,” you say, “they promise to pay it back!”

Would you like to buy the Golden Gate Bridge, too? First, this is an interest-free loan. Whatever money you “loan” to California will be worth less when you get it back, because inflation isn’t accounted for. You are permanently losing money. The state gets the benefit of the current value, you have less when you get it back, ergo that forced exaction of value from our money is a tax.

Oh, and remember those IOUs from earlier this year when the state was running out of money? For years now, the government has not been able to accurately project revenues, consistently overestimating them. What makes anyone think they can get it right this time? How will you feel if (more likely “when”) your involuntary loan is repaid with an interest-free IOU?

Sacramento’s irresponsibility and unwillingness to face reality is appalling. These are people we elected to run the state for the best interests of all, yet they continually mortgage our future and dig an ever deeper fiscal hole, refusing to make the admittedly harsh spending and tax cuts needed to begin to restore California to financial health. Instead they pander to the public employees unions ( the prison guards, for example) and other left-wing single-interest groups that live off the taxpayer and in turn are big donors to legislators’ election campaigns. So they kick the can down the road, pretend that “this time, we’ve fixed the problem” and hope that no one remembers the next time it happens.

California’s political culture is sick, and its public servants instead constitute a ruling class. This is not a democratic republic: thanks to safe seats and special-interest donors, our state government is instead a self-perpetuating oligarchy of professional politicians. This farce with accelerated withholding is just another example of how out of touch with the average Californians the Mandarins of the Golden Dome have become.

If California is to have any Hope, it’s time for a major Change.

(hat tip: Hot Air)

LINKS: Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard calls it outright theft. McQ puts it this way: “California – ‘We Need The Money More Than You.'” Sister Toldjah and Right Wing News.


Shilling for Rubio

October 21, 2009

Marco Rubio is Florida’s answer to California’s Chuck DeVore: a conservative state legislator trying for promotion to the US Senate in the face of opposition from the national Republican establishment, which prefers a more “electable” candidate – in Florida’s case, Governor Charlie Crist, who infamously endorsed Obama’s pork-laden stimulus program. Rubio is a smart, principled conservative with a compelling life story and has all the charisma Governor Crist lacks. I hope he wins the nomination and the general election. I can’t vote for him, but I can at least run his latest commercial. Tito?

You can learn more about Marco Rubio here. If you like what you see, consider contributing. And give Chuck some, too.


Good job, Sacramento!

September 18, 2009

The Los Angeles Times reports today that California’s unemployment rate has reached 12.2%, the highest it’s been in 60 years:

Despite signs an economic recovery has begun in the state, California’s unemployment rate inched up in August, once again setting a new postwar high at 12.2%.

The state is one of 14 in the nation with an unemployment rate in the double digits, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning. Only Michigan, Nevada and Rhode Island, at 15.2%, 13.2% and 12.8%, respectively, have higher unemployment rates than California. The national unemployment rate in August was 9.7%.

California has shed 741,000 jobs in the last year, and the state’s unemployment rate has climbed 4.6 percentage points from August 2008. The state’s July unemployment rate was 11.9%.

Economists predict that jobless figures will continue to rise for the rest of the year.

The highest since World War II. Next stop, the 1930s. That will give the Mandarins of the Golden Dome something to aim for.

Business cycles happen, but there’s no way this was made worse by sky-high state taxes, regulations that drive up the cost of business and then drive away businesses (and the jobs they create), unsupportable spending, and crazed borrowing that sucks money into a black hole of debt repayment, all brought to us by a legislature long-dominated by progressive Democrats.

Nope. Couldn’t be. Nothing to see here. Move along.


See? Not all of us are insane.

September 4, 2009

Video of a woman in Northern California, a small business owner, napalming her congresswoman over her lack of respect for constituents and making it clear exactly what kind of reform we really need:

Preach it, sister!  Applause

(hat tip: Hot Air Pundit)