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I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. - Thomas Jefferson
Sunday, January 23, 2011
The Cesspool Fights Back
Jerry Brown surprised me a bit by moving to end California’s redevelopment agencies. These agencies are a cesspool that has left destroyed businesses and vacant lots all over California. The move could save Californians billions of dollars while dramatically improving the business environment.
Well, when you turn the lights on, the cockroaches will scurry:
The media is marching in lock-step with the local government, of course. But Cavanaugh’s post has a rundown of the disaster that has been redevelopment in California.
The way to create jobs is not for governments to give sweethearts deals to favored corporations and certainly not politically-controlled spending, whether it’s called “redevelopment” or “stimulus”. That way to create jobs is to create an environment in which all businesses can flourish in fair and even competition. It’s even better if you can keep the taxes low and the regulations sensible.
This lesson is being driven home even further in Illinois, where a lame duck legislature enacted a gigantic tax increase (personal income taxes go from 3 to 5 percent; business taxes from 4.8 to 7 percent). Illinois is a fiscal basket case, the Greece of the Midwest. And with their taxes skyrocketing, states like Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan and even New Jersey are openly enticing businesses to move. Some are probably offering sweetheart deals. But most are offering lower taxes. Indiana, their neighbor, has weathered the economic storm well and currently has half the per capita spending as Illinois. Missouri is talking of completely eliminating their corporate income tax.
In the modern age, businesses can move anywhere. Sweetheart deals and “redevelopment” don’t work—reasonable taxes and competent governance do. Even as Illinois falls into darkness, there’s now a slight hope that California—under Jerry fucking Brown of all people—may be seeing the light. Here’s hoping he wins his war with the media, the cities and, most likely, his own party. California can’t afford this shit anymore. None of us can.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
What Did the Five Fingers Say to Jerry Brown’s Face?
From the LA Times via Mish. The best part of the whole article bolds by me:
Talk is cheap, of course, but to see Governor Moonbeam talk like this is just so satisfying on so many levels.
A remark from “beecnul8r” in the comments section jumped out at me, because I think it’s a classic example why California is in the shape that it’s in now:
As most inquisitive readers know, California’s pension system is a ticking time bomb that threatens to make the state’s budget go completely pear-shaped. It’s not just the generous, gold-plated benefits a lot of these government workers recieve--it’s the fact that the state political machine THEY helped create, in many cases, isn’t even being supported by them in their retirement. They cash out, move to a lower-populated state with a lower cost of living and friendlier tax structure, and proceed to disproportionately bend the cost of living upward in their new areas of residence. So California (and others, like New York) doesn’t even get the “kiss from your sister” benefit of having these people stay in-state and put some of those taxpayer dollars back into the state and their communities.
Now, I don’t blame these people one bit for getting the hell out of Cali. One of my ex-girlfriends and I split up in large part because I absolutely refused to move out there after she finished law school; I know damn well how fucked the state is right now, and you could not pay me enough to settle out there. I don’t give a shit how nice the weather is. What does bug me is when they move to these low-tax havens, and immediately begin agitating to turn their new communities in the high-tax, high-regulation, PC-hellhole that they just left, primarily because their very presence threw the previously sustainable economic scale these places had enjoyed completely out of whack--a phenomenon that’s seems to have been a trend in throughout the American West for the last 25 years. If they loved that environment so much, why the fuck did they leave?
All that aside, I’ll be interested to see how this plays out in the coming weeks. The SEIU and AFSCME goons aren’t going to be happy at all if Moonbeam actually follows through on those spending cuts.
Posted by on 12/16/10 at 05:28 PM in Cullyforneah Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The Threat of Prop 19
The possibility that California will legalize pot is driving people not just to ill-informed op-eds but now to outright threat of arbitrary law:
As Balko points out, Holder has no issue enforcing and supporting state laws that restrict freedom—such as the gay marriage bans, greenhouse gas restrictions, etc. But let a state legalize the wacky weed and—despite Obama’s campaign pledge—all bets are off.
(The one outlier here is Arizona’s immigration law. I suspect Holder would let that stand if he weren’t so terrified of losing Latino votes.)
However, Holder’s statement doesn’t really bother me, despite the furor it has created in libertarian circles. He has federal law and the Raich SCOTUS decision to back him up. What he’s doing is wrong, in my opinion, since AG’s have discretion in what crimes their offices emphasize. But his position is neither illegal nor unconstitutional. The only thing that can stop him is if Congress passes a law protecting state marijuana legalization—medical or otherwise. That won’t happen no matter who is in office, of course. But at least Holder isn’t completely out to lunch. In fact, I would almost argue that he’s right, given the Raich precedent.
But what Sheriff Baca said is beyond the pale. He’s essentially saying that he will be judge and jury on the constitutionality of Prop 19. In his opinion, it’s not constitutional, so he’s going to keep busting potheads. I’m curious what he will do if a Court issues a stay on pot enforcement until the constitutional issues are resolved. That has to be the pot busters’ biggest fear—that if Prop 19 passes (by no means a certain thing), an intractable legal marijuana infrastructure will be in place by the time SCOTUS rules on it. Essentially, he’s promising pre-emptive strikes to make sure that doesn’t happen.
It’s one thing for a law enforcement officer to refuse to enforce a law because he thinks it violates Constitutional rights such as freedom of speech or religion. Federal officials, at least, are sworn to uphold the Constitution—hence the Oath Keepers. But it’s quite different for a Sheriff to keep enforcing a law that no longer exists, to essentially start outlawing things on his own and enforcing his own brand of law.
Here’s the thing: everyone who knows what’s best for us is against Prop 19. Almost all the politicians, all the newspapers, all the drug czars and all the law enforcement officials. I have never see such a unanimity of opinion on an issue. Only amongst the general public—the stupid general public—is the idea popular.
Why is that? Are our cops, politicos and newsmen so much wiser than the rest of us? No. Our cops, politicos and newsmen have an interest in continuing the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs lets politicians look tough on crime and gives them an issue with which to beat guys like Rand Paul. The War on Drugs has expanded police departments and prisons, given them the power to seize money and property without trial to pad their budgets, given them high arrest and conviction rates. And the newspapers? Well, the newspapers are just full of shit. But they also want to cozy up to the powerful.
Me? I’m dubious that Prop 19 will pass. And I’m even more dubious that it will be allowed to stand. Of the Supreme Court justices who dissented in Raich, O’Conner and Rhenquist are gone, replaced by Alito and Roberts, both of whom have a clear history of deferring to government power. Kagan and Sotomayor are two more Nanny State liberals who will almost certainly vote the same way Stevens and Souter did. It’s very likely Prop 19 will get an 8-1 shellacking in the Supreme Court, assuming they even bother to hear it.
And what then? Open revolt? De facto disobedience of the law? Secession? What I’m hoping is that the “what then” is that the American people wake up and tell the Federal government to stop bullying the states around. I’m hoping the “what then” is that other states join the rebellion. I’m hoping the “what then” is that Congress has no choice but to do what they should have fucking done ten years ago—pass a law letting the states decide their own God-damned drug laws. Help them enforce the ones they have, but keep the Feds the hell out of the decision-making process.
That may seem like a fat chance with the Tea Party’s current leaning toward social cons (although Rand Paul is a drug dissenter). But if the movement cresting now is really a return to constitutional restraint, one can hope.
That is why I support Prop 19. The scaling back of the Drug War can not and will not start at the top, with the politicians. The War on Drugs is too vital to them, gives them too much power and too strong an issue to pound the table on. The only way we are going to scale this monstrosity back is from the ground up, from the American people saying they’ve enough of this. They’ve had enough of the SWAT raids and the dead dogs and the gang empowerment and the ruined lives that the Drug War entails. We’ve spent four awful decades of breaking eggs for this War and do not have a single omelet to show for it. All we have is smashed crockery, a kitchen in flames and egg white all over the ceiling.
Enough. It’s time to end this nonsense. And it seems like the voters of California—fucking crazed-out whack-job blue state California—might be the ones to begin the end of the War on Drugs.
PS: It’s really worth linking up Lee’s reaction to the Raich decision ("Federalism Has Gone To Pot"). It’s pure Angry Lee and it’s beautiful:
Man, I miss his voice. He would be cleaning up on Prop 19.
Monday, October 04, 2010
Is Harrisburg the Straw?
Oh man---here we go....
Yes, that’s the state capital of Pennsylvania asking for a bailout from the state, because it is broke.
Last year, I predicted shit like this was going to end up happening this year. The stimulus, contrary to the propoganda coming out of the White House, did nothing more than paper over a bunch of underwater state and municipal budgets that had lost a shitload of revenue due to the housing bubble popping and a plunge in both income and sales tax revenues. By playing “extend and pretend,” and refusing to acknowledge the actual rot in the economic system--which is crushing debt and entitlement/pension liabilities that need to be either scaled back or cleared away--we’re now looking at a potential snowball effect where cities start asking for bailouts from the states, followed by the states to the feds.
And the Obama administration actually added further to the problem by forcing government recipients of all this interest-bearing, taxpayer-burdening debt to keep their budgets at Housing Bubble-era levels. The result? 46-48 out of the 50 states are facing budget shortfalls, some of them so severe that default may be a real probability. Illinois is about 6 months behind on its payments to vendors. California is $19 billion in the hole, and what are they going to do to try and dig out of it? Borrow $10 billion and keep their fingers crossed that the rest will magically fall out of the sky.
This may be just the tip of the iceberg, as municipal bonds, long considered one of the safest havens for investors, are now being effectively shorted on the market, according to Meredith Whitney, via this link at National Review. That indicates confidence in the prospect of the Feds turning into “Bailout Central” is pretty low.
This has the potential to get really, really ugly, as the government cheese is effectively gone and capital formation has been effectively nuetered by Bernanke’s ZIRP policies. The efforts to keep the housing market bubblicious have failed. And now that the stimulus has been shown by time and simple math to have not stimulated jack shit, given what was sunk into the program, Obama’s got no more bullets left in the gun to fire. Another round of “stimulus” and he can kiss his re-election chances goodbye, while going after the banks and mortgage lenders that committed fraud during the housing bubble could potentially trigger a stock market free-fall that made last spring’s flash crash look like a small blip, effectively strangling the “recovery” meme that’s been nursed along by the media the last 6 months or so.
No wonder the man’s so cranky these days.
Karl Denninger summed it up best a few days ago:
Posted by on 10/04/10 at 07:55 PM in Cullyforneah Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Saturday, October 02, 2010
I have no idea if California’s Prop 19, which would legalize marijuana, will pass. I do know that all the newspapers, law enforcement agencies, federal hacks and politicians are against it, so it must be a fantastic idea.
In any case, the Governator has already taken a big step in the right direction:
The War on Drugs is going to take a while to roll back. There is a tremendous industry that has arisen to prosecute it. But it is slowly giving way for the reason that a lot of stupid policies are going to give way—we can’t afford it anymore.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The Pensions Are On Fire
You know, it’s good thing the California State Assembly is not responsible for fighting fires. They’d almost certainly do it by pouring gasoline on:
Pension spiking works like so. Most state pensions are some fraction of your pay, usually 3% times the number of years you work times your peak salary. So if you work 30 years and your maximum salary is $100,000, you get $90,000 a year plus cost of living. That alone is dangerous enough—I know a schoolteacher who has been living on her pension for 30 years now. But if you load up your final year—work lots of overtime, take out our unused vacation, etc.—you can massively increase your pension to 125% or more of your peak salary. That’s to say nothing of the double-dipping allowed in some states—where you start work again and build up a second pension while still collecting the first.
Republicans in California are trying to stop this. But the worthless Democratic party refuses to do so. They’ve written the bill so that it will allow the state to negotiate with the unions how much they get to spike their pensions. Given the tendency of the state to give the unions everything they want and more, this is basically allowing the taxpayers to determine whether they’re going to get really fucked or really really fucked.
California Democrats just don’t get it. Democrats in general just don’t get it. In fact, I’m not even sure the Republicans quite get it. But at least the GOP doesn’t like unions, so they’re somewhat useful idiots on this subject.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
“Public Unions! Huh! Good God! What Are They Good For?”
According to a couple of links posted by Mish at Global Economic Analysis, “absolutely nothing.”
Hal’s video in his most recent post struck a particular chord with me, not just because the same money-grubbing, society-damning attitude by the unions is going on in my own city, but because it’s merely one example of a much broader trend nationwide of how public unions have been increasingly at war with the people who pay their salaries--which shows that unions haven’t really changed all that much in 120 years. Except this time they aren’t at war with some Snidely Whiplash-type “industrialist” Marxist bete-noir, but with everyday taxpayers.
The first one is to this pathetic/hilarious protest sign by teachers and their brainwashed students in Des Moines:
According to the link, the teacher had the students chant, “Show Us the Money!” I can’t think of a better example of the modern entitlement mentality that’s infected society than this, especially the schools--rather than focus on the quality of education, they’re homed in like a laser on the government tit.
For people who think that this won’t come to a head eventually, California, once again shows that it intends to lead the nation (from Steve Malanga at the City Jounral, again, via Mish):
Seriously, read the whole article; if it doesn’t make you want to slap a public sector union worker, you have no soul.
It’s stuff like this that really makes me miss Lee--I can just hear him say “Man, I love being proven right--again!”
Posted by on 04/24/10 at 09:54 AM in Cullyforneah Left Wing Idiocy Life & Culture • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Taxes and Jobs
Reason.tv takes on California. A must-watch.
Probably the most maddening trend of the last couple of years is watching politicians refuse to learn about job creation. They keep borrowing and spending and it keeps not working. And their response is to just keep trying the same old tactics. Keynsians and their sympathizers insist this has to work at some point and, as it doesn’t, fall back on “it would be worse” arguments. But every dollar borrowed by the government is a dollar not borrowed by a business. And businesses aren’t spooked from investment by the economic situation; they’re spooked by the political one.
At some point, maybe somebody will try doing nothing.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Educated Beyond Their Intelligence
Yesterday was a “Day of Action to Defend Education” in California. Students and faculty marched in protest of budget cuts to the California University system. But, as Megan McArdle quipped, they are really protesting reality. Here’s the WSJ:
Robinson takes apart the glib comparisons to the Vietnam protests:
Even Stephen Bainbridge, who, like many faculty, is taking a pay cut, is having none of this. He particularly takes issue with the desperate attempts by the protesters to inject race into it (come on, you saw this coming).
Now, I’ll pause while you re-read the links HL and I posted on the Greek situation, where protests over exploding over cuts in bonuses for government employees.
California education is supposed to be free, but that hasn’t been the case for a while. The students are screaming about fees going up 32%, but that’s only because they were so low to begin with. As noted above, they are getting ten grand a piece from the State. Maybe numbers are different in California. But where I come from, ten grand can buy one hell of an education (to say nothing of grants, scholarships and the Federal government’s open-ended commitment to cheap subsidized loans).
We’re again seeing the entitlement mentality at its worst. Maybe it’s not fair that the State is failing to fulfill its supposed commitment to free higher ed. But that’s the way things are, fair or unfair. If the students want to really vent their frustration, why don’t they go the state employee’s unions who are sucking the state coffers dry?
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
If a private company did..
This, the government would screw them over. What’s the “this” in this case?
I worked in the health insurance industry and such a mistake by a private company could cost them as much as $250K per incident. How are the bureaucrats in Cali reacting to their gross incompetence?
These people will be lucky if they get a free credit report, and considering Cali’s financial situation, I would not be surprised the state tries to make money of this mistake. Of course, the big lesson here is that these are the people that the left wants you to believe will do a better job running our healthcare too. I am sure they can also pawn the blame off on some unamed “vendor” when they hose us over.
Posted by AlexinCT on 02/09/10 at 07:37 AM in Cullyforneah Fun and Humor • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Friday, January 22, 2010
There’s dumb and then there’s California dumb:
My jaw is on the floor here. We have a state that has been bankrupted by spending, that has raised taxes to the point of driving their tax base away to more hospital environment, like 6000 feet under the Pacific and that is still $20 billion in deficit. Now they want to put in place a $210 fucking billion socialized medicine program. And they don’t know how to pay for it. They want a commission to figure that out.
California. You are doomed. Will the last working person in the State please notify the unemployment office?
Friday, November 13, 2009
By now you surely have heard that ACRON is suing the Federal government. They are doing so because they are mad that the feds took away all of its slush funds after their shady dealings and practices were exposed. What about the fact that Jerry Brown was caught admitting that his office’s investigations of ACORN in CA was nothing but a big sham with a forgone conclusion of ACORN’s innocence? The fact is that ACORN is under investigation even by the Feds, and in plenty of other states. What do you mean you have not heard any of this? Why would the MSM ignore such a huge story? This stuff permeates every branch of the current bunch running the country.
I know you know why. I was just making a point again that we are being manipulated for real by a complicit media. Remember the good old days when we were told the Bush government was misinforming us and how hard the MSM members worked at finding proof of that? These same tools are now doing their best to ignore the real and criminal activities of the democrats and their allies. They are even apologizing and covering for the WH which is neck deep in this cesspool. Heck, Obama got elected by the efforts to rig the electoral process, many of them criminal, by ACORN. And with the current record by either the MSM or the donkey controlled Feds of dismissing things that are harmful to the left’s agenda, one has to wonder if these investigations will be as thorough as those in the MSM - the MSM continues to ignore this story, the connection of ACORN to SEIU, and to the democrats all the way up into the WH which has decided it no longer needs to disclose its dealings with the unions – or are simply another bunch of sham investigations like that led by Jerry Brown in CA. Did I mention that even the damned donkeys are wondering about Brown?
Don’t take your eyes of what’s going on with ACORN people. We should not let the democrats save their criminal partners. Talk about silence when we are seeing some real culture of corruption…
Posted by AlexinCT on 11/13/09 at 08:01 AM in Cullyforneah Left Wing Idiocy Politics Law, & Economics The Press Machine • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Sunday, November 01, 2009
I’ll Take Some Of That
Is this even legal?
The principle of the thing bothers me more than the amounts. As much as I would oppose a tax increase, at least that would be legitimate—and permanent (modulo high earners leaving the state). But the way this is being pitched is that this will now be a permanent thing. That, like Prometheus, the taxpayers will regularly have a part of their paycheck ripped out only to have it grow back every April.
This is just a shell game. It’s moving small piles of money around to create the illusion of fiscal solvency. It’s the sort of thing that, if a Wall Street firm did it, would land its CEO’s in jail. Only in California would it be called “leadership”.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
California Hopes for Some Change
Unfortunately, the physical landscape of California is not the only thing going up in flames right now. First, one of Canada’s trading exchanges sent out this delightful notice: (via Zerohedge)
I’m no financial expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s trader-ese for “You’re broke, chumps--don’t call us, we’ll call you!”
And just to add injury to insult, the state needs a loan to pay their IOUs:
How magnanimous of them! But that’s not the best part:
Get that? One of Canada’s largest traders has “delayed” doing business with California or its residents (no doubt one of many to come), and now the state needs a loan from one of Bernanke’s bank brothel madams to cover the financial obligations that it couldn’t cover this summer. A loan that it hopes to pay back.
This is what it’s like to watch a state slowly circle the drain financially.
Posted by on 09/01/09 at 08:51 PM in Cullyforneah Politics Law, & Economics Those Wacky Canadians • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Monday, August 03, 2009
California is facing an unprecedented budget crisis. The taxpayers have been squeezed so much, they’ve got permanent fingermarks on their throats. The Governator is doing almost everything he can to keep the state from going under, including three-day furloughs of state employees.
So what to do? That’s right, call a strike:
Sometimes, I get asked why I hate unions so much. I don’t hate them per se, except in and of the way that I hate the groupthink and mindless loyalty they encourage. What I hate is the intersection of labor and politics—or, more precisely, the utter subservience of the Democratic Party to Big Labor.
SEIU wouldn’t try to pull this crap if they didn’t know that the media, the pundits and the Democrats had their back. You can guarantee that there will be news stories about poor government workers struggling with their pay cut (as there were during the 1995 shutdown of the Federal government). There will be none about California workers’ wages rising at twice the rate of the private sector. You can guarantee impassioned speeches on behalf of workers on the legislative floor; none for the poor taxpayers or the unemployed whose businesses have been destroyed or driven off by taxation.
And so it goes.
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