Right Thinking From The Left Coast
No legacy is so rich as honesty - William Shakespeare

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:

On Monday the city government of Fremont voted to lock in $121 million in redevelopment funds before the state budget gets approved. San Jose is also trying to pocket $58 million in redevelopment funds.

And last week the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) responded to Brown’s proposal—which is expected to realize between $5 billion and $6 billion in savings for the state and local governments—by trying to thwart it in a meeting that was called in violation of state law and may have resulted in an illegal business deal.

....

California law requires 72 hours’ notice of public meetings, specifically to prevent public agencies from doing what the CRA/LA did at this meeting, which was called with less than 24 hours’ notice and ended in a transfer of about a billion dollars in funding to the city of L.A. and the creation of a new city-run non-profit that will maintain the agency’s existing projects and hire its existing staff.

That non-profit deal has an even more dubious legal basis. In private business an attempt to transfer assets in this way would most likely be considered a fraudulent conveyance under civil law. While fraudulent conveyance does not necessarily require malice aforethought, in this case the CRA’s action is also in violation of the governor’s clear intent.

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.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 01/23/11 at 01:07 PM in Cullyforneah  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Did the Five Fingers Say to Jerry Brown’s Face?
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Slap!

From the LA Times via Mish.  The best part of the whole article bolds by me:

“We’ll present a budget on Jan. 10. It will be a very tough budget, but it will be transparent,” he said. “We’ll lay it out as best I can. We’ve been living in fantasy land. It is much worse than I thought. I’m shocked.”

More deliciousness:

Brown has refused to publicly discuss his budget plans, but he has met privately with lawmakers and interest groups. People involved in the meetings expect him to enact an austerity budget in the spring, then hold a special election in which voters can decide whether to raise taxes or other revenues in order to restore services. He pledged during the campaign not to increase taxes without voter approval.

“This is really a huge challenge, unprecedented in my lifetime,” Brown told hundreds of educators, union representatives and parents who had gathered at UCLA. “I can’t promise you there won’t be more cuts, because there will be.”

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:

Cool part of all this hubbub is that retirees like me can get the heck out of CA and enjoy much less costly living elsewhere.  It is a huge problem that so many folks don’t pay one red cent in state income taxes.  Nice to tell OTHERS how to spend THEIR tax money as long as YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY ANYTHING.  We need a radical change so everyone pays something....then maybe they will realize how out beloved jokers in Sacramento blow it all on stupid programs.  Brown won’t make a dent in the shortfall because HE is PART of the PROBLEM, not the SOLUTION.  It was his programs that got us here in the first place.

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) TrackbacksPermalink

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:

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said on Friday that the voters don’t matter. His deputies’ enforcement of marijuana laws would not change even if voters approved Proposition 19, which would legalize cannabis in California, on November 2, according to the Sheriff.

“Proposition 19 is not going to pass, even if it passes,” Baca said in a news conference Friday at sheriff’s headquarters in Monterey Park, reports Robert Faturechi in The Los Angeles Times.

The department run by Sheriff Baca polices 75 percent of Los Angeles County. His staunch opposition to marijuana—even if it is legalized—was echoed Friday by an announcement from Attorney General Eric Holder that federal officials would continue to “vigorously enforce” cannabis laws in California, even if state voters pass the measure.

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:

Hey, Stevens, you dick.  I agree with you in principle, that the best solution to issues is usually through the democratic process.  But the court system exists for a reason, and it’s to restrain government power over the rights of the individual.  In this case, ten states have, through the democratic process you think is so neato, chosen to permit sick people to use marijuana to alleviate their pain, yet you decided to crap all over that by ruling that a guy who grows a plant in his house for his own personal use is somehow covered by Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce.

Basically this is a huge green light for Congress to basically do whatever the fuck it likes if it can somehow, in some way, sorta, kinda tie it in to interstate commerce.  Our highest court just sold us out.  And Scalia, fucking Scalia, the one true federalist on the court, actually sided with the majority in this idiocy.  I’m just disgusted by the whole thing.

All you social conservatives, remember this the next time you piss and moan about some liberal activist court.  This decision is the LITERAL DEFINITION of judicial activism.

Update: In Federalist No. 45, James Madison wrote, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” Unless, of course, it’s for something that’s politically expedient for the president and his administration.  They argued for the right to prosecute offenders, and they got it, Constitution be damned.

Man, I miss his voice.  He would be cleaning up on Prop 19.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 10/20/10 at 06:11 AM in Cullyforneah  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, October 04, 2010

Is Harrisburg the Straw?
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Oh man---here we go....

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg)—Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson asked Pennsylvania to determine the city to be in municipal financial distress so it would qualify for help and oversight under the state’s Act 47 program.

The city “stands on the precipice of full-blown financial crisis as a looming cash shortfall threatens its ability to pay vendors and meet payroll,” a statement from the mayor’s office said.

h/t Zerohedge

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:

You can’t fix this through any other path than truth.  The hard, nasty, ugly truth.  The blue line must go under the red line, basically.  That is, the government’s debt must grow more slowly than private GDP does, or you inherently create bubbles which burst, and the people who do so then demand more and more government bailouts and handouts, which simply forces the blue line higher!

(snip)

Folks, exponential growth cannot be continued forever.  The landmass of this rock - and our nation - is finite.  We have run the false belief that we can have 5% growth annually forever.  We can’t.

Posted by on 10/04/10 at 07:55 PM in Cullyforneah   Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, October 02, 2010

California Smoking

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:

Citing the need to reduce spending on prosecution and courts, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a measure that makes marijuana possession an infraction, on par with traffic and littering tickets.

The Republican governor’s unexpected support for the measure comes one month before voters decide whether to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana in California.

“In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting a crime that carries the same punishment as a traffic ticket,” wrote Schwarzenegger, who opposes Proposition 19, the marijuana initiative.

The law, which takes effect immediately, reduces possession of up to an ounce of marijuana - about the amount that will fit in a sandwich-size bag - from a misdemeanor to an infraction. Already, marijuana possession was the only misdemeanor under California law that didn’t allow for jail time.

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.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 10/02/10 at 05:01 PM in Cullyforneah  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

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:

Legislation intended to curb pension spiking has become so watered down that it would now do little to prevent California public employees from boosting their end-of-career paychecks, critics say, prompting reform advocates and bill sponsor state Controller John Chiang to withdraw support.

Assembly Bill 1987 had been touted as an end to the pension boosting that occurs when public employees add unused vacation, sick time and other benefits to their final year’s compensation in order to drive up pensions.

But as debate over public pensions flares in the wake of reports of inflated salaries and pensions in scandal-plagued Bell, reform advocates say that union-backed amendments to the bill have neutered its beneficial effects.

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.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/18/10 at 11:49 PM in Cullyforneah  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, April 24, 2010

“Public Unions! Huh! Good God! What Are They Good For?”
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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:
image

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):

The camera focuses on an official of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), California’s largest public-employee union, sitting in a legislative chamber and speaking into a microphone. “We helped to get you into office, and we got a good memory,” she says matter-of-factly to the elected officials outside the shot. “Come November, if you don’t back our program, we’ll get you out of office.’

The video has become a sensation among California taxpayer groups for its vivid depiction of the audacious power that public-sector unions wield in their state. The unions’ political triumphs have molded a California in which government workers thrive at the expense of a struggling private sector. The state’s public school teachers are the highest-paid in the nation. Its prison guards can easily earn six-figure salaries. State workers routinely retire at 55 with pensions higher than their base pay for most of their working life. Meanwhile, what was once the most prosperous state now suffers from an unemployment rate far steeper than the nation’s and a flood of firms and jobs escaping high taxes and stifling regulations. This toxic combination—high public-sector employee costs and sagging economic fortunes—has produced recurring budget crises in Sacramento and in virtually every municipality in the state.

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) TrackbacksPermalink

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.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/18/10 at 06:06 PM in Cullyforneah  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

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:

If you went searching for the proximate cause of the “Strike and Day of Action to Defend Education,” you wouldn’t find it in any pattern of oppression. You’d find it in a couple of acts of desperation last year. First, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, facing the worst budget crisis in state history, cut about $600 million in overall funding for 10-campus University of California and the 23-campus California State University. Then the U.C. regents and C.S.U. trustees, facing budget crises of their own, reduced programs, furloughed workers, and raised tuition.

...

Despite the budget cuts, California will this year devote $3 billion to the U.C. system. That’s about $13,000 per student—more than the $10,000 per student that Illinois devotes to the University of Illinois and better than double the $6,000 per student that New York devotes to the SUNY system. Yet Mr. Schwarzenegger did not denounce the agitation at Berkeley. He gave in to it.

Robinson takes apart the glib comparisons to the Vietnam protests:

We have here the vocabulary of the peace movement, of the struggle for decent conditions for migrants and other exploited workers, and of the civil-rights movement. Yet what did the protesters demand? Peace? Human rights? No. Money. And for whom? For the downtrodden and oppressed? No. For themselves. At a time when one American in 10 is unemployed and historic deficits burden both the federal government and many of the states, the protesters attempted to game the political system. They engaged in a resource grab.

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).

The UC system was one of the first in the country to adopt affirmative action programs. Granted, Proposition 209 resulted in a decline in black and hispanic enrollment at the UC schools. Yet, the regents and virtually all administrators have consistently opposed 209. Indeed, many suspect that policies like comprehensive admission review were intended to end-run (some would say cheat) Prop 209.

Look. I’m as frustrated as an UC stakeholder with the state of affairs. It would be nice, however, if our students could put their energy to something more useful than unconstructive whining.

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?

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/05/10 at 07:49 PM in Cullyforneah  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

If a private company did..

This, the government would screw them over. What’s the “this” in this case?

The Department of Health Care Services said Monday it has breached the privacy of 49,352 people who receive adult day-care services from the state. The department said that letters it mailed a week ago to 49,352 Medi-Cal beneficiaries wrongly included each patient’s Social Security number on their address labels. The department said the security incident took place Feb. 1, but it was only told about it on Thursday. It started to notify the 49,352 beneficiaries about the problem over the weekend.

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?

“At this point, there is no evidence that unauthorized parties have acquired or accessed beneficiary personal information,” the department said in a prepared statement. DHCS officials said they regretted the breach, which has so far cost the state $50,000. It blamed itself and a private vendor for the problem mailings.

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) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, January 22, 2010

Calibankruptization

There’s dumb and then there’s California dumb:

A key legislative committee in California revived a bill Thursday to create a government-run health care system in the nation’s most populous state, two days after Massachusetts elected a senator who opposes the president’s national health care plan.

The Senate Appropriations Committee released the bill for a vote by the full Senate next week. The legislation had been held over from last year because of the state’s ongoing budget crisis.

Creating a single-payer system would cost California an estimated $210 billion in its first year. That’s roughly double the size of the total state budget, but about what the state and federal government and residents cumulatively spend now on California health care, said Sen. Mark Leno.

Leno, D-San Francisco, introduced the bill after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger twice vetoed similar legislation. The Republican governor negotiated his own $14.7 billion health care reform bill with Democratic leaders two years ago, only to see the measure fail in a Senate committee amid concerns over paying for the measure.

Leno’s bill would create a commission to decide how to pay for the system, at a cost this year of more than $1 million.

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?

Posted by Hal_10000 on 01/22/10 at 07:55 AM in Cullyforneah  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, November 13, 2009

ACORN news

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) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, November 01, 2009

I’ll Take Some Of That

Is this even legal?

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.

....

The extra withholding may seem like a small amount siphoned from each paycheck, but it adds up to a $1.7-billion fix for California’s deficit-riddled books.

From a single taxpayer earning $51,000 a year with no dependents, the state will be grabbing an extra $17.59 each month, according to state tax officials. A married person earning $90,000 with two dependents would receive $24.87 less in monthly pay.

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”.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 11/01/09 at 02:27 PM in Cullyforneah  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

California Hopes for Some Change
by

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)

Please be advised that there has been an unforeseen delay in renewing CDCC’s annual application with the State of California.

Due to this delay, CDCC options may not at this time and until further notice be sold or offered for sale in the state of California and to California residents until the annual application process is completed.

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:

California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer announced that the banking giant is lending the state $1.5 billion to help it pay off IOUs.

The terms are very favorable to California, as the loan carries a 3 percent annual interest rate, lower than the 3.75 percent rate the state is paying on the IOUs. Also, Chase is not charging any fees.

How magnanimous of them!  But that’s not the best part:

The JP Morgan Chase loan matures on October 5, but Treasurer spokesman Tom Dresslar tells me the state hopes to pay it back before then. The Treasurer will begin selling short term revenue notes into the market, possibly by mid-September, and will use some of that money to repay the bank.

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) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, August 03, 2009

California: Doomed

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:

California’s largest state employees’ union voted on Saturday to approve a strike authorization measure to protest furloughs of state workers and pressure state officials to ratify its labor contract.

A spokesman for Service Employees International Union Local 1000 said a strike was not imminent but that the vote authorized union officers to initiate certain job actions, including a strike if necessary.

...

Earlier this week, the Republican governor signed a bill that closed a more than $24 billion budget gap. Under the legislation, furloughs will continue for state workers for three days a month, cutting their pay by 15 percent.

“We feel that he (Schwarzenegger) really undermined any kind of a contract deal by pushing these furloughs on folks,” Zamora said.

The SEIU said the strike authorization was approved by 74 percent of its membership.

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.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/03/09 at 05:55 AM in Cullyforneah  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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