California Can’t Build Office Towers, Either

As the already-crumbling new segment Oakland Bay Bridge nears its grand-reopening – a scant quarter-century after the existing span was damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake – and doubts compound on the state’s ability to build a high speed rail system, an office tower in Sacramento stands as a cautionary warning of the state’s inability to build stuff right.

Plywood marks where windows have fallen out of the troubled BOE tower.

Plywood marks where windows have fallen out of the troubled BOE tower.

The 20-year-old, 500,000 square foot Board of Equalization Tower in Sacramento has corroding pipes, extensive mold problems, and windows that insist on falling out and crashing to the sidewalks below. The roof leaks and – only in California! – it recently suffered a bat infestation.

In 2012, a pane of glass fell out of the building as the State Board of Equalization was meeting to discuss their building’s many structural problems. It was not known if the pane that fell was an original one or one that was replaced in an earlier $15 million repair job. A subsequent $4 million repair job tried once again to repair the chronic problem, with less than stellar results.

The Sacramento Bee recently referred to the tower as “a multi-million dollar money pit” that the state is still paying for, as we California taxpayers are still paying off the bonds used to build it.

Not surprisingly to anyone who understands California’s aggressive tax policies, there’s one more problem: California needs so many tax collectors now that the the Board of Equalization has outgrown its headquarters. (“Board of Equalization” is the state’s clever disguise for its version of the IRS, as in the Progressive ideal of wealth transfer via taxes on the wealthy as a means of social equalization.)

With the tax collectors preparing to move to another location – hopefully something built by the private sector – a number of state agencies are nervously watching, dreading the possibility that they will be picked as the building’s new tenants.

15 Signs of the (Depressing) Times

Depression soup line

I stumbled upon a new blog that’s appropriate for a chronicler of downfalls like yours truly: The Economic Collapse. It’s written by an Idahoan with a finance degree and a law degree, Michael Snyder, who isn’t a doomsayer in any immediate sense, but focuses on a sort-of rolling, momentum-building doom that will play out over “a number of  years.”

Snyder came up with a list of 15 signs that the American economy is “going downhill really fast.” As I read the post last night, a well-worn phrase kept jumping into my mind: “As California goes, so goes the nation.”  It seems many of these U.S. stats have a solid foundation in California, a state that can really lead – as long as the direction is downward.

Here are Snyder’s 15 points:

#1 The number of part-time workers in the United States has just hit a brand new all-time high, but the number of full-time workers is still nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.

#2 In America today, only 47 percent of adults have a full-time job.

#3 Even though the U.S. economy created nearly 200,000 jobs in June, the number of full-time jobs actually decreased.

#4 There are now 2.7 million temp workers in the United States – a new all-time high.

#5 One out of every ten jobs in the United States is now filled through a temp agency.

#6 The U.S. economy has actually lost manufacturing jobs for four consecutive months.

#7 The official unemployment rate has been at 7.5 percent or higher for 54 months in a row.  That is the longest stretch in U.S. history.

#8 According to one recent survey, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

#9 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

#10 High paying manufacturing jobs continue to be shipped overseas.  Sadly, there are fewer Americans employed in manufacturing now than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then.

#11 Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

#12 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#13 Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#14 At this point, an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

#15 According to a study that was released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, only 24.6 percent of all jobs in the United States qualify as “good jobs” at this point. (In this definition, a good job pays at least $18.50 an hour, provides access to health insurance that’s partially employer-funded, and access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.)

Progressives don’t take this kind of thing lying down. You can find – if you’re so inclined – a response for each of these points and a companion list of 15 signs that everything just keeps getting better and better under the California/Obama model. Maybe if they spent less time rebutting and more time getting their heads out of their butts, we could avoid an economic collapse.

How to Read Crazifornia If You’re a Liberal

The rumors are true. Crazifornia’s author is a small government conservative. Does that mean the book will be no fun for big government liberals?

Not at all!

A lot of what ails California is non-partisan. Even if you like big government, chances are pretty good you don’t like incompetent big government, or big government that is clumsily or dangerously over-reaching its authority. That’s why liberals can enjoy Crazifornia, too.

A Reading Plan for Liberals

  • Just tear out the Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. They’ll make you bust a gasket.
  • Start on Chapter 5, “Governing: Excellence in Bureaucratic Ineptitude.” Unless you’re an inept bureaucrat who thinks there’s no reason to improve, you’ll find it funny and frustrating.
  • Definitely read Chapter 6, “Business: Roll Up the Red Carpet and Call the Moving Van.” For starters, it has a section on the pornography business – and it’s sure not conservatives who defend pornographers.  Besides, there’s a cost to being anti-business, and before you support your local anti-business legislator, you might as well understand what it does to California when businesses vote with their feet, taking their money with them.
  • If you’re a dyed in the wool California Teachers Association member forget Chapter 7, “Education: All Children Left Behind.” Everyone else can read it. The section on the self-esteem movement in schools may seem a little un-PC to you, but hey! Liberals put their kids in private schools, too.
  • Chapter 8, “Environmentalism: Being – and Burning – Green,” tells some amazing stories about how wrong-headed much of California’s environmental regulations and regulators are. If you burn incense to Gaea the Earth Mother every morning, then (1) forget reading this chapter, and (2) why aren’t you worried about the carbon footprint of that incense?
  • For now, just skip Chapter 9, “Pensions and the Budget: The High Cost of Progressivism,” and the Conclusion, “A Century of Progressive Politics Comes Home to Roost.”
  • Instead, flip back and read the “Jerry Brown, Oil Baron” section of Chapter 3, “Progressivism’s Legacy: Jerry Brown’s Second Century.” Then pause for a moment and think about Jerry Brown in light of the fundamental hypocrisy he tries so hard to hide.
  • Read Chapter 4 next, “Morality in Play: California’s Cultural Revolution.” This is probably the most non-partisan chapter in the book – and to me, the most interesting. I’ve saved you the best for almost last.
  • Then, try to get through the chapter on pensions and the budget. I hope you can, because it just might change you into a conservative. But if you end up throwing down the book and shouting profanities in my general direction, I understand.
  • When you calm down again, pick Crazifornia up off the floor and read the Conclusion.  By now, you will have read enough to understand just how fragile California’s future is, and the Conclusion lays out very clearly what will happen if we stay on the course we’re on – and what you, even if you’re still a liberal at this point, can do to help save this state.

Bureaucrats Censoring Sea Level Rise

In Crazifornia, I make the point that the state is no longer a democracy, having been converted – without the people’s consent – into a technocracy.  Here’s a bit of that from the manuscript:

Perhaps most to blame for the demise of California is the legislature’s determination to dodge accountability for its Progressive actions.  To do this, it has turned California into a technocracy, transferring the real power from the people and the electeds to technical experts – well, supposedly expert – in the state’s many large and powerful regulatory agencies, commissions and boards. 

It is these technocrats who go about imposing the will of the Legislature through obtrusive and costly regulations and fines that were never approved by any elected body.  It is they who have the power and authority to force California to meet the lofty, idealistic goals of AB 32, the state’s quixotic cure-all for global warming.  Not wanting to be blamed for all the dirty work that necessarily would follow passage of such an unrealistic and idealist bill, the legislature simply followed tradition and assigned the task to unelected technocrats further down the state government hierarchy, resulting in, among other things, California’s recent imposition of the nation’s first state-run carbon cap and trade system, without so much as a motion and second out of the legislature. 

Of course, technocrats live pretty much unaccountable lives, so they’re free to choose whatever “techno” suits their fancy. And in California, that means we’re run by technicians in global warming orthodoxy, radical environmentalism and engineered social change.  If facts get in the way, they can censor them – as they do with anything that runs counter to the Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming and all the AB 32 protocols that it spawns.

Case in point:  SLR.  No, silly, not a single-lens reflex camera – it’s sea level rise.  If the sea isn’t rising, then the planet isn’t warming, so of course the sea level has to be rising.  So state agencies endlessly document sea level rise and project it to go up and up and up – which means they can exert more and more control over the coast.  (By “coast,” we really mean “California,” because that’s where you’ll find most of the state’s people, power and money.)

Here’s an example, courtesy of the California Ocean Protection Council (which is lambasted in Crazifornia) purportedly showing what sea level rise will be in Crescent City:

As you can see, the Ocean Protection Council wants you to believe the sea level on California’s north coast is surging up, and will be as much as two feet higher by the end of the century.  The trouble is, it won’t be.  It will be lower.

It’s got nothing to do with global warming and everything to do with plate techtonics.  The plate Crescent City sits on is rising, so effective sea level is dropping.  This is no secret, as the feds let us know in this counterpoint provided by the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration:

 

Yup.  Sea level is definitely dropping in Crescent City.  But that doesn’t follow the AB 32 dogma and undercuts the technocrats’ grip on power, so in Crazifornia, Crescent City isn’t rising, the ocean is, and the facts are censored so the people can remain blissfully ignorant as the technocrats seize more power and authority.

It’s all just more Progressivism because, you know, the elite technocrats are so much smarter than us and so much better qualified to run our lives, and our government, than we are.  Welcome to Crazifornia.

A tip of the Crazifornia hat to Neil Jordan, who provided the charts.

CA Forward Offers Slate of Phony Fixes

CalWatchdog picked up the op/ed I wrote after sitting disgustedly through two hours of dangerous ideas, mumbo-jumbo and government-speak from the reformers at California Forward – the folks who brought us the insane “budget with a 50% majority” and open primaries propositions.  Here it is:

One of my daughters is an esthetician, and as she studied for her state certification so she could be sanctioned by Sacramento as worthy to give facials and wax eyebrows, she had to learn two completely separate and conflicting approaches to her chosen work. First, she learned how to give facials and wax eyebrows. Then she learned how to pass the California’s esthetician certification exam, which is based on practices no one uses anymore and maybe never did.

I thought of her experience on Friday afternoon as I found myself in a conference room with several other business people, trying as hard as we could to share our point of view about how to fix what ails California with two representatives of California Forward, the outfit that brought us open primaries and new state budgets on a simple majority vote. They’re cooking up some new reforms that made me so frustrated I could have ripped out my eyebrows – if I didn’t have a daughter who knew how to wax them. At the same time in Sacramento, a group of state employees was in another conference room with another group of California Forward representatives, sharing their perspective of the same topic. I have a feeling they had a much easier time of it.

The two meetings were part of California Forward’s current effort to gather input from all over the state so it can by synthesized into a new model for governing California, one that would fix things for good, with consensus support. Or, as the group puts it on its Web site, “We want a government that is small enough to listen, big enough to tackle real problems, smart enough to spend our money wisely, and honest enough to be held accountable for results.” Good luck with that – especially that last bit about honesty and accountability. After all, we live in the state that designed the California esthetician certificate examination.

Read the rest of the piece – and my proposed California reform measure – here.

Did California Become Irrelevant Nov. 2?

As commentators broke down the midterm election results on election night and the next day, you could almost hear them dismiss California as the land of fruits, nuts and irrelevance.  It’s easy to see their point.  The rest of the nation looked at the mess we’re in and did something about it; Californians looked at an even worse mess and voted to make it worse.

You know the talking points: We re-elected every single incompetent, egotistical, out-of-touch politician that contributed to the mess – as of this point in the ballot counting, not a single member of the California congressional and legislative delegations was sent packing.  What a stunning endorsement of idiocy!  But it didn’t end there.  Californians passed Prop 25, giving the Democrats complete control of the state budget, as an award for their effectiveness at destroying the state’s economy.  And they ensured that the California would stay mired in recession when they voted for draconian economic mandates by voting down Prop 23.

So, as voters in nearly every other state set new courses, it’s easy to count out California as a powerful national influence.  But it’s wrong.

Ever since Republican Hiram Johnson became governor of California in 1910 and told voters he spoke for the insurgents, defining insurgency as “opposition to the looting of the people by the unholy alliance between big business and politics,” California has been the nurturer of America’s Progressive movement.  The state’s modeling of Progressive legislation and policies and the sheer number of progressives churned out by its schools and universities has given the movement staying power – so much staying power, in fact, that it’s unlikely Barack Obama would be president today were it not for California’s Progressives, right up to Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Henry Waxman and, once again, Jerry Brown.

Sure, politicians, think tanks and campaign managers will be studying election results everywhere else to see how to capitalize on, or crush, the Tea Party’s influence, but just as surely, Progressives, environmentalists, social justice advocates and union bosses will be studying what happened in California, so they can replicate it in their state next time around.

Besides, California’s influence on government goes much deeper than mere elections.  We kid ourselves if we think our elected politicians control the show. They come and go, but the bureaucrats, regulators and legislative staff are forever, and they’re where the rubber of government really hits the road.  Because California trains so many Progressives and pushes them into government, the state will continue to influence America, even if voters are trying to steer a different course.

This was evident when federal eco-bureaucrats followed Californian’s lead when they started setting the new federal vehicle fuel economy standards, just as it was evident in the eleven states that recently announced they would blindly follow California down the trail to eco-economic lunacy by adopting our Low-Carbon Fuel Standard.  Like California, they will force industry to switch to low-carbon fuels that just aren’t there or just can’t perform – if there were a ready alternative for carbon-rich gasoline, Californians wouldn’t be burning 45 million gallons of it a day.

Don’t count out California.  It may be sinking into economic ruin, but plenty of states and municipalities continue to jump aboard, eager to follow our lead, no matter where it leads them.

Crazifornia, Here I Come!

Even decades after Al Jolson crooned, “Open up those golden gates, California here I come!” California was a dream state, attracting hundreds of thousands of new residents yearly with its promise of great weather, terrific schools, lots of jobs, and a small government in far-away Sacramento that saw its role as supporters and facilitators of the state’s growth.

My, my, my! How nightmarishly things have changed.  The Crazifornia Project documents those changes.  Or more specifically, how the death-spiral trio of liberal Democrats, no-growth environmentalists and public employee unions have come together in a Progressive campaign to tarnish all that was once golden in the Golden State.

You can help! Via the “Contact Crazifornia” button above, or by email to crazifornia @ laer [dot] com, send me your own story about how Crazifornia’s ridiculous regulations, ludicrous legislation or puerile policies are driving you crazy.  If I use your story, you’ll get a mention in the acknowledgments of my upcoming book,Crazifornia – How California Ruined Itself and is Poised to Take the Rest of America with It.

While you wait for the book to be published, enjoy these posts from my old blog, Cheat-Seeking Missiles, that spawned the whole Crazifornia idea.

Crazifornia Update

Crazifornia: Zero Intelligence in Concord Schools

Crazifornia: Regulators Want to Ban Big TVs

Crazifornia: Imperial Imperviousness

And too early to get the “Crazifornia” moniker:

Coastal Commission Attempting to Ban Fourth of July Fireworks