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.

Raisin Cain

Often the federal government is just as crazy as California’s – especially the stuff that happens when a Progressive president is in power. Here’s a case in point.

Back in 1937, during FDR’s Progressive presidency, government manipulation of everything was robust, to put it mildly. One of the experiments of the day was to create the National Raisin Reserve, out of a belief that government planning led to healthier markets than the free market could ever hope to achieve. The Reserve’s “business” was to tax, or confiscate, a percentage of each raisin farmer’s crop every year and keep those raisins off the U.S. market in order to ensure that stupid, greedy farmers wouldn’t flood the market, thereby voluntarily lowering their income.

(As a not-to-curious aside, the Washington Post, which very curiously broke this story, attributed the National Raisin Reserve to Pres. Truman, but in 1937, FDR was president.)

Marvin HorneEnter Fresno raisin farmer Marvin Horne, the frightened looking fellow there on the right.  Until 2002, Horne dutifully put up with this authoritarian silliness, then stopped rendering his raisins unto Caesar as a protest. Here’s how the Washington Post put it:

In the world of dried fruit, America has no greater outlaw than Marvin Horne, 68.

Horne, a raisin farmer, has been breaking the law for 11 solid years. He now owes the U.S. government at least $650,000 in unpaid fines. And 1.2 million pounds of unpaid raisins, roughly equal to his entire harvest for four years.

His crime? Horne defied one of the strangest arms of the federal bureaucracy — a farm program created to solve a problem during the Truman administration, and never turned off.

He said no to the national raisin reserve.

“I believe in America. And I believe in our Constitution. And I believe that eventually we will be proved right,” Horne said recently, sitting in an office next to 20 acres of ripening Thompson grapes. “They took our raisins and didn’t pay us for them.”

The U.S. Supreme Court recently sided partially with Horne, sending his case back down the ladder for reconsideration. If he wins, it’s a great victory for America. If he loses,

“If we lose, we’re bankrupt. We won’t have a pot to piss in,” Horne said. He thinks he would be liable for about $3 million, including fines and the cash value of those raisins. “No. I don’t want to even think about it. Would you?”

I agree. If Horne loses, I don’t even want to think about it. It would just be one more piece of evidence that America, like California, is still going full-bore towards oblivion.

(I’ve simplified the story somewhat, leaving out details about how the National Raisin Reserve has morphed over the years. Read the Post story if you want the whole picture – but that’s really just footnote stuff, and doesn’t change the basic story one iota.)

Thanks to Crazifornia fan and long-time friend Lou Franson for the tip!

California Ranks 50th in Freedom

California Freedom Rank

Thanks to The Blaze, which asked, “Is your state among the most free or least free?” we now know what we’ve suspected all along – California tramples hard on the personal freedoms of its citizens.

So found the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, in Freedom in the 50 States, which analyzes the impact of states’ fiscal policies, regulatory policies and personal freedom measures on the lives of its residents. And as it has since 2009, California came in next to last – only the similarly “progressive” New York is more repressive.

Under-my-thumbFrom the study, here are some of the ways California keeps its citizens under its thumb:

  • Government interference in the land market is rife, as California’s zoning laws are among the toughest in the country, and the state is one of just four to authorize rent control, while eminent domain abuse has seen only token reform.
  • Labor laws impose many costs on employers, from the minimum wage and a universal workers’ compensation mandate to short-term disability insurance and paid family leave.
  • Health insurance mandates add about 49.5 percent to the cost of a premium of a policy without any of the mandated benefits.
  • The state’s liability system is one of the poorest in the nation and has gradually worsened over time.
  • The life and property/casualty insurance markets are among the most regulated in the nation.
  • Occupational licensing is rampant, and the nursing professions are tightly regulated.

On the last point, the regulation of nursing, when researching Crazifornia, I talked to the Director of Nursing at one prominent hospital who explained to me how the nursing unions are complicit in this. They know if they keep the number of licensed nurses down, it will keep nursing salaries up. One of their tricks is to impose nearly impossible burdens on anyone who wants to open a new nursing school while sharply limiting the allowable class size at existing schools.

Some who hold conventional views of liberalism may be shocked to learn how much California limits personal freedoms. But those who understand the meddlesome ways of Progressives realize that those who think they know better than you do how you should live are more than happy to impose laws, rules and regulations to force you to do things their way. Just look at how California’s long and strong Progressive tradition curtails personal freedoms in California:

  • The state has the strictest gun control laws in the country, prohibiting open carry and making concealed carry almost impossible, banning several types of weapons, imposing waiting periods on all firearms purchases, and onerously regulating dealers and ammunition.
  • After Alaska, it has the most relaxed marijuana laws, but it nevertheless has a high incarceration rate, and its drug enforcement rate is only average.
  • California was the first state to enact a smoking ban in restaurants and bars,.
  • Little gambling is allowed, outside the Indian casinos (which make exceedingly generous political campaign contributions).
  • And “travel freedom” is low (something that’s all right with me) due to a primary seat belt law, motorcycle and bicycle helmet laws, a statewide primary-enforcement cell phone driving ban, an open-container law, and sobriety checkpoints.

The study includes some recommendations for making California more respectful of personal freedoms. You can read them here, but their chance of passage is so remote I won’t waste electrons cutting and pasting them.

If you want more freedom, consider moving to North Dakota, the most free state, followed by South Dakota, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Oklahoma.

 

Rewarding Incompetence

You just have to wonder what makes activists like Ben Davis, Jr. so blind and stupid.

Davis, who in the 1980s led a failed campaign to shut down the Rancho Seco nuclear power station near Sacramento, now has a new idea – and you may be voting on it soon. Davis got authority  yesterday to start gathering signatures for a ballot proposition that would turn control of the state’s big private electric utilities over to the state. Your new power company would then be the newly formed “California Electrical Utility District.”

ChavezDavis is apparently OK with the state channeling Cesar Chavez and seizing control of Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric from the investors who own them. And he’s apparently loony enough to think that California’s bureaucrats will be able to lower bills and will treat customers better. Can he point to anything the state is running more efficiently than the private sector – or even other states, for that matter? I can sure point to plenty of examples where California proves its incompetence:

  • California spends $44,563 to incarcerate a prisoner for a year, compared to a U.S. average of $28,817. For what we spend, we could send the prisoner to Harvard for a year, with room and board. (source)
  • After its new computerized case management system came in $1.6 billion over estimate ($1.9 billion instead of the estimated $300 million), then didn’t work anyway, the entire project was cancelled – money down the tubes.
  • EdFund, part of the California Student Aid Commission, paid $2.6 million to lease an office building for two years, without ever actually moving into it.  A TV news crew that wanted to shoot some film of the building was met by a state attorney who threatened to call the police if they didn’t leave.

Should we need another example of why Davis is a blind fool, we need not look any further than this morning’s news. CalTrans, the Sacramento Bee reported, has released a report, a year in the making, that found the state’s bridges are sound even though the department’s employees fabricated test results and used incorrect testing procedures.

Not only that, but the study’s authors admitted their study was incomplete because:

Deficiencies in how Caltrans organized and archived its test data made file identification challenging, according to the report. Thousands of data files could not be located, in part because an archival computer server crashed, destroying all data. It had not been backed up. Duane Wiles, a technician who confessed to falsifying data, retained unrestricted access to data archives long after his fraud was discovered, according to Caltrans internal memos The Bee obtained.

Consequently, an unknown number of data problems might have gone undetected.

Great. Let’s give these guys the keys to the state’s three nuclear power plants, along with responsibility to run the state’s entire electrical system.

ErnestineProgressives like Davis are blinded to the state’s failures and incompetence because they are so focused on corporate profits, which they find inherently and absolutely evil. Should he gather the 504,670 signatures required by July 1, a great many like-minded Californians will vote along with him.

Should the measure pass, who thinks, based on the state’s track record, that electric bills will go down and customer service will improve?

I see one guy raising his hand and nodding yes … oh, it’s just Ben Davis.

 

Not To Depress You, But …

It’s hard not to drive people into woeful depression when using phrases like “death spiral,” so apologies in advance for the dark tone of this post.

It’s just that it’s increasingly evident that a classic European Social Democratic Death Spiral – think Greece – is in store for the Tarnished State. Just as in the Euro-zone, California’s birth rate is dropping and our seniors are living longer. Here’s more from Investor’s Business Daily:

In 1970, children made up 33% of California’s population, a number that’s expected to shrink to just over a fifth by 2030, a report by the University of Southern California and the Lucile Packard Foundation shows.

That year California averaged about 21 seniors per 100 working age adults. By 2030, that number is predicted to rise to 36% of working age adults. This birth dearth means there will be fewer people pulling the wagon that state government is inviting more people to ride.

“These trends are not yet widely recognized, but they should be a wake-up call for policymakers,” said Dowell Myers, lead author of “California’s Diminishing Resource: Children,” and a demographer at the University of Southern California.

If we added up all the wake-up calls for California’s policymakers, we would have a symphony of cacophony, as clocks, cell phones, kitchen timers and the bell that tolls over the very Gates of Hell would be buzzing, ringing, chirping, chiming and clanging in unison.

So you think the Progressive legislature in Sacramento will leap out of bed and confront demographic doom with meaningful reform? Right. No, they’ll simply hit the snooze button and keep pushing more generous benefits onto the needy, exploited, unfortunate and  unlucky. Also known as the mooches.

Just as in Obama’s America, in the Progressive’s California, it will be the future generations that get stuck with the bill for today’s unrestricted and unsustainable  largesse. Explain to me again why the youth vote goes to the Democrats.

 

“… 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.

 

 

The Crazifornia Propositions Voter Guide

Uglies, Goodies and Don’t Bother Me’s make the Crazifornia Proposition Voter Guide a Must!

When I was interviewed by The Weekly Standard for an upcoming article about this November’s flock of Crazifornia ballot initiatives, that’s how I categorized them: “Five uglies, four goodies and two don’t bother me’s.” (I’m still not sure how to spell that last one!) Coming up with that summary took hours of research, which you can save yourself with The Crazifornia Propositions Voter Guide.

Here are my recommendations, in ballot order, with those in red being the most critical:

Prop 30 – Ugly

It’s hard to even get by the name of this one – Temporary  Taxes to Fund Education, Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding – without uttering that most common of election season bromides, “How stupid do they think we are?”

This proposition’s position at the top of the ballot is the result of Gov. Jerry Brown’s strong-arming of the system to gain advantage, and that pretty much sums up this initiative. Its advertising campaign is basically strong-arming, too; picture an image of a sweet classroom teacher with a gun to her head and the slogan, “Pay up or the teacher dies!” Brown could have linked passage of his tax  hike to the jobs of bureaucrats, regulators and tax-collectors instead of teachers, but we know how that would turn out.

If Proposition 30 passes, California will have the highest income taxes of all 50 states, and its already secure ranking as the state with the highest sales tax will become more secure.  California spends three times more per capita on social welfare programs than it should, based on national per capita averages. It doesn’t need more revenue, it needs more disciplined spending. Vote NO.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Closing steadily at 50.8 yes, 39.9 no. We might still defeat this one!

Prop 31 -  Goodie

If the LA Times is against it, we must be for it. This latest effort from California Forward would create a two-year budget cycle for the state in order to reduce end-of-the-session craziness (I doubt the craziness would disappear, but still like the idea of taking more time with budgeting), require the legislature to find off-setting cuts for any new expenditure of $25 million or more, require performance reviews of all state programs, plus a few other good ideas.

The LA Times doesn’t like it because “it could only be revised by another vote of the people.” Exactly! Leave it to the legislature and they’ll be back to their old tricks in no time.  Vote YES, but note that OC Supervisor John Moorlach, a leader in the fight for fiscal responsibility let me know he’s voting no because it “forecloses on the Laffer curve” by limiting the legislature’s ability to enact tax decreases. Like all things from California Forward, 31 is a mixed bag.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: About one-third are still undecided so this one could still flip. Yes: 30.7, no 37.8

Prop 32: Goodie

Here’s another run at “paycheck protection” or curtailing the power of unions (and corporations) to mandate paycheck deductions used for campaigning and lobbying. Of course, corporations don’t do mandatory payroll deductions for lobbying, so clarity demands saying that this is an effort to curtail union power.

And it needs to be curtailed if California is every going to gain the fiscal sensibility it must gain to become healthy once again. Public employee unions own Sacramento now, as just the two biggest public union funders of lobbying in Sacramento spend more than the pharmaceutical industry, PG&E, Chevron and ATT&T combined.

The unions are spending really big to stop Prop 32, contributing nearly $60 million thus far. Until Charles Munger responded with a $23 million contribution in support, opponents had outraised supporters five to one. They’re still up by about $13 million.Vote YES

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: A long-running dead heat, with 44.4% yes and 43.8% no.  The 11.5% undecided are going to be barraged with ads from both sides.

Prop 33: Don’t bother me

This is Mercury Insurance CEO George Joseph’s second run at insurance regulation tweaking via the ballot box. Last time around (Prop. 17, 2010), Mercury spent about what they’ve spent this time – $17 million – trying to accomplish the same thing, which is to blah, blah, blah, zzzzz.  I figure they figure they’ll make more than $17 million off higher premiums if it passes.

One reason to vote for it is that Harvey Rosenfield is against it. This is a guy who has milked propositions for millions in personal gain, so I lean toward supporting what he opposes. But this kind of junk shouldn’t be clogging our ballots, so Don’t Vote.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Holding at 54.8% yes, 33.6% no.

Prop 34: Ugly

Propositions, as you’ll learn in Chapter 1 of Crazifornia, were the Progressive’s wet dream of the early 1900s. Prop 34 shows why, as it would take capital punishment off the table in California, thereby moving the state closer to Europe.

Arguments fly on both sides of this longstanding and controversial issue, but here’s one that works for me: If the death penalty is no longer in a prosecutor’s bag of tricks, the number of plea bargains and confessions will drop dramatically. Even with delays that are far too long before sentencing and execution, the chance of taking up residence on death row remains the penultimate bargaining chip. I don’t want it taken away, and neither should anyone else who puts victims and justice ahead of criminals and legal technicalities. Vote No.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Steady and unbelievably tight at 43.9 yes, 44.9 no.

Prop. 35: Don’t bother me

Don’t bother me, but don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan of human trafficking, a subject I wrote passionately about quite frequently in my Cheat-Seeking Missiles days. It’s the sinful side of the human nature played large and its perpetrators will need Christ’s forgiveness; they’re certainly not getting mine.

But why is it on the ballot? Even the inept California legislature has done enough law-passing to discourage the practice and incarcerate the perpetrators. Since it won’t make any difference in the results, Don’t Vote.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Yes 79.7%, no 12.3%.

Prop. 36: Goodie

I was all for the first three-strikes proposition, but it turns out that it had unintended consequences, as so many propositions do. Prop 36 corrects this while keeping the intent of the original proposition intact.

Basically, it separates truly heinous offenders from run of the mill bad guys, with the former still subject to life in prison without parole on their third strike and the others not. California spends way too much on prisons for a lot of reasons, one of which is that we simply have too many prisoners. Let’s save some money by letting some bad but not too bad guys do their crime and serve their time. Vote Yes.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Yes 71.5%, no 17.3%. It looks like even Californians can agree on this one.

Prop. 37: Ugly

If California’s recent voting trend holds, Prop. 37 will pass because it has a lot of corporate money against it. Yes, a big majority of Californians are anti-business and it shows on proposition votes (and when rich Republicans run for state office, right Meg?). And this one has a lot of corporate money flooding the opposition.

But the current Around the Capital Polling Average indicates that might not happen this time. The yes vote is strong at 56.2%, but the no vote is climbing at 32.7%, and a lot of money will be spent on NO ads in the next two weeks.

It made my ugly list because Prop. 37 is the new Prop. 65.  In other words, it was written by trial lawyers for trial lawyers. Like 1986′s Prop. 65, it has a seed of a good idea. Then it was that people shouldn’t be exposed to carcinogenic chemicals without knowing it; now it’s that they shouldn’t be exposed to genetically engineered foods without knowing it. But like 65 was an elaborate ploy to funnel millions of dollars to trial lawyers (almost $500 million to date, in fact), so is Prop 37.

Don’t be fooled. Prop 37 is not about informative labels for you. It’s about label regulations that are so complex that farmers, processors, manufacturers and retailers are bound to make mistakes. And when they do, they’ll be sued by a pack of legal mutants. Vote NO.

Prop. 38: Ugly

Prop. 38 is another tax increase, but with this one the money is earmarked for schools. Why, if 1988′s Prop. 98 guarantees they’ll get over 40% of the general fund anyway? And why, since all that money has done nothing to lift our schools out of the cellar?

Well, it turns out the state legislature routinely steals Prop. 98 money from schools and rarely pays it back. In Crazifornia, I put the current IOU at $3.6 billion. Surprised?

But what good would even $3.6 billion do? At a luncheon yesterday, political mastermind Dan  Schnur quoted a Harvard study that found it would take $1 trillion a year to raise California schools to mere mediocrity if nothing is done beyond money to improve the system.

So let’s force the schools and the legislature to fix education by not giving the schools more money. Let’s force Sacramento to drop regulations that cost school districts $400 million a year to keep up with. Let’s let classrooms get bigger again because we’ve learned that all we’ve gotten from small classrooms is more mediocre teachers. Vote NO.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Yes 42.1%, No 47.0%

Prop. 39: Ugly

This one will pass for sure because it taxes the other guy, and Californians don’t mind taxing the other guy, as they do regularly with smokers, drinkers and millionaires. (Hm, strange company there!)

Be that as it may, there are two things wrong with Prop. 39 that definitely make it ugly. First, it taxes business. Yes, they’re out of state businesses, but Californians are more addicted to taxing business than smokers are to cigarettes, drinkers are to booze and millionaires are to … success. They’ve hit bottom. It’s time for an intervention, not another hit.

Second, about half the money raised – a stunning $500 million a year – will go to “create energy efficiency and green energy jobs” in California. Haven’t we had enough Solyndras and A123′s? Vote NO.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: No surprise at 54.2% yes and 30.7% no.

Prop. 40: Goodie

Here’s something more rare than a California gnatcatcher eating an elderberry beetle: A GOP-sponsored proposition that’s polling very favorably. But that may be because it’s just the precursor to the really big vote that will follow.

Prop. 40 would subject the California senate district lines drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to a vote of the people, with interim boundaries for the next state-wide election set by court-appointed officials. California Democrats smartly and unethically took over the Citizens Redistricting Commission so the boundaries need to be redrawn. This proposition will make that vote possible. Vote YES.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: 44.2% yes and 25.8% no. It should win, but with 30% undecided, it could still go south.

Journalists Join Anti-Prop 32 Fight

When news broke Friday afternoon that a group tied to the Koch Brothers donated $4 million to the effort to pass Proposition 32 this November, key California political reporters were quick to pass along the story to their readers. Well, part of the story, anyway.

The Los Angeles “Gropinator” Times, keeping its long history for left-biased political reporting solidly intact, was typical.  Its Sacramento-based PolitiCal reporter Anthony York made the tie to the Koch brothers the top of his story, leading with this:  “A group with ties to the conservative billionaire Koch brothers has dropped $4 million to pass a ballot measure that would severely limit the political activity of labor unions.”

Quickly establishing that the Koch brothers are billionaires (the terrible 1%) and conservatives (aren’t all greedy capitalists?), York also noted the proposition’s potential impact on labor unions, while failing to mention it imposes on corporations similar restrictions against soliciting funds and spending them on political purposes.

But those are not the worst aspects of York’s story.  Rather, it’s that he made no effort to put the Koch contribution into perspective. The $4 million contribution to the California Future Fund for Free Markets (not to the Yes on 32 Committee itself) increased total contributions in support of Prop 32 to $7.2 million. Opponents have raised five times that, $35.8 million as of September 12.  The California Teachers Association alone has contributed $16 million to defeat the measure.

CTA collects $1,000 a year from each of its 340,000 members to fund its political efforts.  That’s enough to earn the union the #1 rank in the California Fair Political Practices Commission’s study, “Big Money Talks,” which ranked California’s special interest organizations by their total campaign contributions and lobbying expenses from January 2000 to December 2009. The $211.8 million CTA spent during that period was nearly twice the amount of the second-place contributor, the California State Council of Service Employees, and nearly five-and-a-half times greater than what the top-spending pro-business group, the California Chamber of Commerce, spent.

So, wouldn’t CTA’s $16 million contribution to the No on 32 side merit a mention by York? Apparently not. Nor did it appear in a story on the Koch contribution by Joe Ortiz, author of the State Worker blog at the Sacramento Bee. Ortiz’ failure to mention the “no” side of the Prop 32 story follows a September 12 story in which he did acknowledge the funding discrepancy, but included a detailed list of only the Yes on 32 contributors, depriving his readers of a similar list of the proposition’s opponents.

The Associated Press story on the contribution, which was picked up by multiple media outlets throughout the state, parroted Ortiz’ story so it also failed to report who’s funding the No on 32 effort.

With California’s primary media outlets conducting journalistic misconduct, the No on 32 side ended up faring very well on the Koch contribution story. This reinforces the theory I espouse in my book “Crazifornia, Tales from the Tarnished State” that the PEER Axis – Progressives, Environmentalists, Educators and Reporters – have worked together very effectively for more than a century to keep California firmly in the Progressives’ grip.

In this case, Progressives in and out of the Legislature created the mess Prop 32 seeks to mend, and are funding the campaign to oppose it, with educators leading the way. Reporters, which I define more broadly as all aspects of the media from newspapers to Hollywood, are doing what they can to defeat the measure by slanting their coverage. The environmentalists are largely on the sidelines in this particular battle, but will assuredly vote as a block against Prop 32.

Ironically, in California’s most Progressive-dominated major city, San Francisco, the Chronicle’s Politics Blog writer Joe Garofoli broke the PEER mold, responsibly reporting the vast contributions gulf between the two sides. (He pegged No on 32 contributions at $28 million instead of $35.8 million, however.)

No matter. Look for San Franciscans to follow their long PEER tradition as their vote on Prop 32 this November will no doubt lead all California counties in the percentage of votes cast against responsible reform.

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.

Something California Leads In – Leading Hitler

I handed my Crazifornia manuscript over to John Seiler, editor of CalWatchdog, today for editing.  Just an hour before giving him the thumb drive with three years of my work on it, I learned of another insane California story that should be in the book.  Such is the perilous nature of writing current event books about something as dynamic and ridiculous as California.

The new revelation came from this CNN story on California’s leadership in the early 20th century Eugenics movement. Eugenicists got laws passed that allowed – and even forced – the sterilization of “degenerates” and the “feeble-minded” in the name of race betterment. Ironically, the sort of folks California subjected to involuntary sterilizations back then would be deluged with state benefits today.

The CNN story quotes a California sterilization survivor who said he was snipped simply because his parents were alcoholics.  That’s typical of the callous disregard exhibited by California’s Eugenics programs.  Here’s more, from an article in the L.A. Times:

The state director of hospitals in the early 1920s, Dr. Frederick Hatch, sent dozens of “eugenics field workers” into poor neighborhoods, looking for sterilization candidates. One historian wrote of this program: “Individuals were labeled ‘degenerate’ or ‘feeble-minded’ based on dirty clothing or an unkempt appearance. Children were labeled ‘imbecile’ based on a glance from across the room.”

The storied publisher of the L.A. Times, Harry Chandler, was one of the foremost advocates of the state’s mandatory sterilization campaign. He saw to it that the Times ran a Sunday column, “Social Eugenics,” from 1935 to 1941. The column argued for stronger sterilization laws and railed about how society’s misfits – defined by the perceptions of the Progressive elite of the day – should not be allowed to procreate.

Across America, 27 states legalized sterilization in the name of eugenics, but California was far away the leader in this despicable practice, sterilizing about one-third of the national total of individuals sterilized in the name of betterment of the race.

It’s little wonder then, that as Hitler looked for expertise in Eugenics, he turned to California.  To realize Hitler’s vision of a perfect Aryan race, the Nazis lifted California’s sterilization law, translated it into German and proceeded to deprive 2 million Germans of their ability to have children. The Times’ Eugenics column covered Hitler’s efforts in 1935 under the headline “Why Hitler Says: ‘Sterilize the Unfit!’” stating in part, “Here, perhaps, is an aspect of the new Germany that America, with the rest of the world, can little afford to criticise [sic].”

Way to go, California!

Have we learned from our mistakes? No. Now California is leading the world in blowing money and crushing its economy to stop global warming, and is still advocating radical social programs – expanding abortions as other states cut back, pushing the fight for a fundamental redefinition of marriage, and making it easier for teenage girls to have kids out of wedlock … just 80 years ago after the state would have strapped down a woman who had children out of wedlock and sterilized her!