The Twelve Days of Crazifornia

“On the twelfth day of Crazifornia,
Gov. Moonbeam gave to me twelve months of craziness,
Eleven propositions
Ten UC tuition hikes,
Nine “high-speed rail links,”
Eight states’ worth of takers,
Seven-ty percent underfunded pensions,
Six billion in debt
Five fleeing comp’nies,
Four bankrupt cities,
Three falling bridges,
Two super-majorities
And a tax hike on millionaires.”

California was even crazier than this in 2012.

It looks like Guv Moonbeam re-gifted us this year. After all, we got twelve months of craziness last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year ….

I am one day late posting the twelfth of the twelve days because my wife and I are in Arizona visiting our oldest daughter, who fled California because of one of its major crazy features: unaffordable housing. In California, the cost of over-regulation adds 30 percent or more to the cost of housing, which explains why all ten of the nation’s top ten cities for regulations’ burden on housing costs are in California.

Legislators are well aware of the impact their regulations are having on the housing industry, and they know how important new home sales are to the state’s economy.  As recently as 2007, new home sales – not resale homes, just new ones – generated more dollars in sales than any other industry in the state, even more sales than all the retail sales combined.

If they would dial back the regulations, it would help they state. The Democrats in Sacramento know this. So what did they do in this crazy year? They increased the energy efficiency standards for new homes, which will add at least $1,500 to the cost of even the most modest home  – and even more in the most hard-hit parts of the state.

Crazily, California already has the nation’s most demanding home energy efficiency standards. We’re doing a great job. We can rest on our laurels and still be the best in the nation. But no, recession or not, the Legislature ratcheted up what the state demands of homebuilders.

Why? To save the world from global warming of course. Will a small incremental gain in the energy efficiency of homes in a state where new homes already are extremely energy-efficient cause global temperatures to drop? No, of course not. It will do nothing but make the state less attractive.

Here’s some more California craziness from 2012:

One-third of the nanny-state laws passed in the nation were passed by California legislators, including most famously one that would make it illegal to try to turn around gender confusion issues in children.

California became the #! Judicial Hellhole in the nation, the #1 state for outrageous pay to state workers, topped by a state psychiatrists’ “earnings” of $822,000, and the #1 state for the number of people in poverty.

During the year, school districts all over the state started obligating themselves to expensive bonds to meet their outrageous pension obligations. Schools in Poway (San Diego County), for example, took on bond debt that will cost $1 billion in order to meet pension obligations of $100 million. A school district having pension obligations of $100 million? That’s almost as crazy!

Speaking of San Diego County, San Diego sued itself over a bridge that cost twice its estimated cost.

The year also saw the state’s first carbon credits auction under its first-in-the-nation state carbon cap-and-trade program. (Less crazy states aren’t considering such a program, or have delayed them because of the recession.)  Moonbeam wanted $1 billion  from the auction but only got $289 million. Do you sense the whole campaign against carbon is more about raising state revenue than saving planets?

On and on it goes. Obviously, the craziest thing that happened all year occurred in November, when voters sized up the Democrats who are so responsible for much of the state’s crazinesses and decided to award them with a legislative super-majority.

Expect things to be even crazier in 2013.

 

The Second Day of the Twelve Days of Crazifornia

“On the second day of Crazifornia,
Moonbeam gave to me two super-majorities
And a tax hike on millionaires.”

I finished writing Crazifornia immediately after the June 2012 primary election, so it ended a bit more up-beat than I thought it would. After all, voters in San Diego and San Jose had just voted overwhelmingly to aggressively address those cities’ public employee pension programs.  What could go wrong?

November could go wrong – and boy, did it!

California voters passed two tax hikes and rejected a much-needed end to public employee unions’ ability to mandate political contributions from their members, which was bad enough. Then they made things infinitely worse by granting the Democrats – who are most responsible for the state’s sad condition – super-majorities in both the Senate and Assembly.

Their new super-majorities mean the Democrats will no longer have to look for a Republican or two who will join them in voting for tax increases. With two-thirds of the votes in both houses in the Democrats’ hands, they will now be free to raise taxes whenever, on whomever and however much they want to.

Do you think the wealthy and successful will stand for this? Or will they pack their bags?

And it gets worse. Two super-majorities mean Democrats can impose new legislation retroactively, rush legislation through the process and increase the amount of high jinx they can pull off during marathon end-of-session legislation orgies.

And it gets even worse. Gov. Brown is now our only defense against Dems Gone Wild – how scary is that? – but with super-majorities, the Assembly and Senate can override the governor’s vetoes.

Happy New Year … not.

“… And Why It Matters To America”

I added “and Why It Matters to America” to the subtitle of Crazifornia because California’s self-destruction does indeed matter to the rest of the country. As I note in the book’s first chapter, the state has a very big fan in an oval office 3,000 miles to the east:

President Obama certainly thinks [“As California goes, so goes the nation” ] is true. In a speech given shortly after his election, he warned America what he had in mind, saying, “Consistently, California has hit the bar and then the rest of the country has followed.” In other speeches, the president has held up California’s environmental regulations and its approach to providing healthcare to the poor as models for the rest of the nation. But he holds his highest praise for California’s aggressive push to save the planet from global warming, and he makes no bones about how much he wants other states to follow California into the happy green economy. In a campaign speech, he said, “In states like New Hampshire and California, people are taking the lead on producing fuels that use less carbon. It’s time we made this a national commitment ….”

His commitment to following California’s lead is one of the rare campaign promises he has kept. Shortly after his [2008] election, the new Obama EPA announced an about-face from the position it held during the Bush years and dropped its opposition to California’s efforts to impose automotive fuel economy standards that are much more stringent than their federal counterparts. In return, California agreed to adhere to the national standard – as long as the national standard was basically its standard. This change in policy allowed California to go ahead with its technocrats’ demand that new cars and trucks in the state must achieve 40 percent better fuel economy by 2016 – a fleet average of 35.5 mpg. When the announcement was made, 13 other states and the District of Columbia were cued up to follow – even though the standards are predicted to raise the price of a car by $1,300 and, in the opinion of many experts, would lead to more highway driving deaths because cars would be lighter, and therefore less safe. [Emphasis added]

Imagine how much better the president will feel about California now that it gave him a 20 percent margin over Mitt Romney – 10  times his margin elsewhere!

California critic and ace demographer Joel Kotkin sees just that, writing that the 2012 election will lead to “a massive bear hug” with Obama and California’s Progressive super-majority wrapped tightly in each others arms:

These results assure that California will serve as the prime testing ground for President Obama’s form of post-economic liberalism. Every dream program that the Administration embraces — cap and trade, massive taxes on the rich, high-speed rail — is either in place or on the drawing boards. In Sacramento, blue staters don’t even have to worry about over-reach because the Republicans here have dried into a withered husk. They have about as much influence on what happens here as our family’s dog Roxy, and she’s much cuter.

Read the whole piece. It’s a beaut.

What happens in love affairs when the suitor is loaded and the suitee is hurting for money? A shower of gifts, of course. Obama will see to it that federal money pours into California for the next four years, which may sound good, but it’s not.  Federal largesse will only help to solidify even further the Democrats’ hold on the state, and will make California more dependent on the federal government.

As California follows the path Progressives want all to follow – towards an ever more complete dependence on the central government – California will be transformed from the Golden State to the unwed teenage mother state. She will be dependent on government for sustenance, and she will know another baby – another costly program Obama will jump to support – will bring more money. So the “babies,” crying for government’s comforting nipple, will come, and come, and come.

It’s not a pretty picture for such a pretty place.

 

 

Brown Wants California to Lead U.S. to New Taxes

Are Californians shooting themselves in the head with Prop. 30?

Despite a continuing economic malaise that keeps his state behind most others in recovering from the recession, California governor Jerry Brown thinks the state is ready to lead the nation again. No, not in being the the envy of the national economy, but into a new era of hefty taxes on the wealthy.

He wants to take his successful ballot measure, Proposition 30, national.

It imposes a series of progressively higher tax increases on individuals in higher income brackets, starting at a jump from 9.3 to 10.3 percent for those making between $250,000 and $299,999 and stepping up to an increase from 10.3 to 13.3 percent for those making over $1 million a year. (If you are one of the “lucky” ones with a $10 million annual income, your state tax bill will go up $300,000 to $1,330,000.) The measure also pumped up the state’s sales tax from 7.25 to 7.75 percent.

Following Prop. 30′s passage by 54/46 margin, backed by $80 million in public employee union contributions, Brown said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program Sunday morning he hoped the vote marked the start of a sweeping national change toward tax increases.

“Revenue means taxes, and certainly those who have been blessed the most, who have disproportionately extracted, by whatever skill, more and more from the national wealth, they’re going to have to share more of that,” Brown told Candy Crowley. (Read more on the comments at the Sacramento Bee.)

A National Model?

Can President Obama and governors in other states look to California’s vote and see an endorsement for hiking taxes on the rich? Perhaps Obama can because he, like Brown, has sequestration to use as a threat. For other states, the election’s tea leaves don’t give much hope to tax hawks.

Everyone but the most honest Progressive commentators agrees with Brown’s statement that deficits are out of control. There’s less agreement, though, on whether “the cutting, the cutting” is out of control. Proposition 30 passed largely because Brown set it up as a counter-measure to what most voters would see as out of control cuts: a $6 billion sequestration-like deficit reduction Brown carefully structured to impact only popular segments of government like education and public safety.

Obama is in a similar catbird seat as the $120 billion looming federal sequestration includes a devastating $60 billion in defense cuts, which most would consider to be out of control cuts – except, again, those Progressive commentators honest enough to say they’re all for stripping America of its military might.

Had Proposition 30 been set up as a counter-measure to $6 billion in cuts to the budgets of anti-business, job-killing regulatory agencies, or $6 billion in cuts to the ever-expanding state payroll and retirement benefits obligations, most would not have thought the cuts to be out of control. The same might be said of hefty cuts to the state’s social welfare spending, which is three times greater per capita than the national average.

Tea Leaves

Without similar sequestration threats, other states are unlikely to succeed in becoming a part of Brown’s vision of California leading the nation towards big tax hikes on the wealthy. After all, other states didn’t share California’s embrace of tax increases this November.

According to a Forbes analysis, only two votes outside California can be seen as an endorsement of giving politicians more money. In Oregon, a phase-out of death taxes was rejected, and in Michigan, a two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases died. But measures reducing states’ tax income overwhelmingly prevailed, with votes on eleven measures going against the tax and spend crowd as proposed new taxes failed and proposed caps on property taxes passed. New Hampshire’s action was the most definitive, with voters approving a constitutional amendment that forbids the state’s Legislature from imposing any new income tax on personal income.

With these results, it seems the odds are with New Hampshire, not California, on which state will be leading the national view on taxes. Californians can only hope that’s true, and that their state will see the light and be a late joiner.

The Great Redistricting Heist

Proposition 20, which passed in 2010, was supposed to set up a nonpartisan redistricting committee that was tasked with sorting out the gerrymandered mess of California political districts in the interest of creating a fairer system. The committee of just plain citizens was supposed to draw new lines based on input from the communities themselves, not the political parties.

As the committee set about doing its work, the California Democratic Party was already primed and ready to illegally (or at least immorally) influence the process.  The Republicans, as they do, respected authority and stood on the sidelines as they were supposed to.

The Democrats of course deny they conspired to corrupt the redistricting process, but Tuesday’s election tells a different, more truthful tale:

  • California Democrats picked up four seats in the US House of Representatives
  • Democrats gained super-majorities (2/3-plus) in the State Assembly and Senate. The exact size of the super-majorities won’t be known until the final ballots are counted and the tight races are decided, but it appears unlikely Dems will fall below 2/3 in either house.

“It Ain’t Me”

ProPublica, the independent, non-profit investigative journalism outfit, proved to me it really is nonpartisan when it broke the story of the Democrat’s shameful success last December. The lengthy expose’s title tells it all: How Democrats Fooled California’s Redistricting Commission. You should read the entire article, but here’s a quick summary of the Democrat’s scam:

Democrats surreptitiously enlisted local voters, elected officials, labor unions and community groups to testify in support of [district] configurations that coincided with the party’s interests.

When they appeared before the commission, those groups identified themselves as ordinary Californians and did not disclose their ties to the party. One woman who purported to represent the Asian community of the San Gabriel Valley was actually a lobbyist who grew up in rural Idaho, and lives in Sacramento.

In one instance, party operatives invented a local group to advocate for the Democrats’ map.

Did it work? ProPublica found a memo that was written as the process was wrapping up that said, ““Every member of the Northern California Democratic Caucus has a ticket back to DC. This is a huge accomplishment that should be celebrated by advocates throughout the region.”

Most acknowledge the Democrats weren’t as successful in Southern California but there were victories. One involved Orange County’s large Vietnamese community which pleaded to the Redistricting Committee for a district aligned with Little Saigon’s boundaries. That went nowhere. Instead, Little Saigon was split in half to ensure Democrat Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez would have a safe district.

Progressivism at Its Best

The scam is a classic example of negative effects of the grip of the Progressive philosophy on California, which I discuss more fully in Chapter One of Crazifornia: “How the PEER Axis (Progressives, Environmentalists, Educators and Reporters) Turned California into Crazifornia.”

Being secular and therefore fundamentally amoral, Progressives see nothing wrong in bending the rules to achieve ends they believe are better for the greater good of society. And, despite ample evidence to the contrary, Democrats believe having more Democrats in office will lead to a better California, a better America and a better world.

The ends, as Saul Alinsky so strongly postulated, justify the means.

 

 

Up In Smoke

We admit it – we don’t like excessive regulatory burdens  placed on business … but we just can’t seem to get as concerned when the affected businesses are pot growers and sellers. Nevertheless, there was lots of bad news for the budding (heh!) pot business in yesterday’s California election results.

  • In the Humboldt County pot town of Arcata, 69 percent voted for a utility tax targeting indoor marijuana growers. The 45 percent (!) tax will apply to any residential electric bill that is six times or more greater than the state’s baseline level – which is about seven percent of the homes in Arcata, suggesting they are “grow houses.”
  • In Dunsmuir, Siskiyou County, medical marijuana supporters failed by a 53/47 vote to roll back restrictions imposed on medical marijuana growers last year. The ballot measure had lots of provisions including some particularly controversial ones:  It would allow pot plants to be grown in view of the public, in Dunsmuir’s historic district, and in proximity to youth-oriented activities. Death by over-reach, IMHO.
  • In tony Palo Alto, medical marijuana businesses tried to get voters to allow up to three medical marijuana clinics in the town, but were trounced in a 62/38 vote. Even the offer to impose a city four percent tax on their gross receipts didn’t sweeten the pot sufficiently.

Read more in the LA Times.

These negative results show California voters are macro-liberal and micro-conservative. Ironically, as these votes went down, voters in Colorado and Washington voted to legalize recreational marijuana use – something that coughed and sputtered when it was on the California ballot in 2010.

Crazed Greenies Suffer a Defeat

I knew Measure F, the San Francisco ballot measure that would destroy the city’s primary water supply in a massive grovel to the Earth Goddess, would fail.

It was worth watching anyway. If the measure were to get any more than 40 percent of the vote, it would be a clear sign that the looniest of the eco-loons still had a credible power base.

Measure F would have started the process of removing San Francisco’s primary water supply, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite. Deep green environmentalists wanted San Franciscans to surrender one of America’s most reliable and best-tasting water supplies, then spend $10 billion to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley to its primordial splendor and develop conservation and recycling programs to replace the water with cleaned-up urban runoff and sewage.

Even San Franciscans, who went 83.2 percent for Barack Obama yesterday, could see the measure was eco-stupidity, and 77 percent voted against it. After days like yesterday, look for silver linings wherever you can find them.

Voters Give Cali to the Spenders

I expected Californians would look the calamitous condition of their state in the eye on Election Day and vote to stay the disastrous course. But I was surprised at just how disastrous a course they set.

It wasn’t a ballot measure or any particular race that signaled how entrenched bad decision-making is in California’s voters. It was the sum total of the Assembly and Senate races – a total disaster, as Californians gave the Democrats super-majorities in both the Assembly and Senate. (There’s a tiny and shrinking chance the final races could affect this, but most commentators, Crazifornia included, think, as Gavin Newsom famously shouted upon legalization of gay marriage in San Francisco, “It’s gonna happen, whether you like it or not!”)

Despite how poorly they’ve run the state, picked up two state Senate seats and two Assembly seats. Their new super-majorities mean the Democrats will no longer have to look for a Republican or two who will join them in voting for tax increases. With two-thirds of the votes in both houses in the Democrat’s hands, they will now be free to raise taxes whenever, on whomever and however much they want to.

Do you think the wealthy and successful will stand for this? Hint: The accompanying illustration shows them in the foreground, fleeing for more business-friendly states.

The only faint silver lining to this particularly dark cloud is that the California GOP will be blameless for at least the next two years as the state’s fiscal disintegration continues.