Tag Archives: California

CA Gives Licenses to Illegals, Bans “Gay Therapy”

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Today the state of California continued it’s march toward insanity with the passage of several controversial bills. Governor Jerry Brown signed AB2189, which “will let the Department of Motor Vehicles issue licenses to illegal immigrants eligible for work permits under a new Obama administration policy. The bill requires the department to accept as proof of legal residence whatever document the federal government provides to participants in its deferred action program,” according to CBS News. No more worrying about those pesky laws against illegal immigration. One needs only to head to their local DMV to obtain a valid state i.d. and avail themselves of all the privileges of being a citizen of this country without having to go through the process of actually becoming a citizen. As a friend of mine said today, has anyone told Jerry Brown yet i.d.’s are racist?

Brown also signed SB-1172, billed as Sexual Change Efforts. This bill “prohibits a mental health provider, as defined, from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts, as defined, with a patient under 18 years of age. The bill would provide that any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject the provider to discipline by the provider’s licensing entity.” Although the bill specifically addresses mental health providers, a more in depth reading of the bill reveals language that basically makes the concept of reparative therapy for same sex attraction illegal under any circumstances, including in the religious sphere. The bill claims reparative therapies add to an air of intolerance, causing those who identify as homosexual to suffer rejection from family and society and adding to suicide rates. The Pacific Justice Institute has already launched a challenge to the bill, claiming it violates parental rights, freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

Cathy is a California mother who’s son Jack (names have been changed to protect privacy) has struggled with same sex attraction. Cathy and Jack sought out therapy to help him deal with his feelings and the arising consequences. Although Cathy says her son’s therapy was not focused on “conversion” it did lead to better understanding of his feelings and seemingly healthy opposite-sex relationships. Though Cathy’s son identifies as a bisexual she says, “if one assumes sexuality is on a scale and not binary then many bisexuals can choose. Some may choose straight, some may choose gay.” She goes on to say parents know what is best for their children and any anti-reparitive legislation isn’t going to change how a family accepts their gay child. In the end, Cathy echoes what many Americans believe: it should be up the individual whether or not they want to partake in such therapies, not the state.

I contacted Exodus International, which is a Christian ex-gay ministry. A representative told me they “are not a therapy organization” but declined further comment, saying an official response would be posted on their website shortly.

These bills are indicative of California’s downward slide: restricting the freedom of law-abiding citizens while granting more freedoms to those here illegally. Regardless of your feelings about homosexuality the idea of the state limiting how any one individual chooses to deal with the issue is a direct violation of our freedoms of speech and religion; and issuing valid state i.d. to illegal immigrants (essentially making them legal residents) is an insult to every immigrant waiting in line to gain the privileges of American citizenship the right way.

But if you’re a gay illegal alien, your life just got a whole lot easier.

SENATOR YEE AMENDS SB 249 INTO A MASSIVE, UNCONSTITUTIONAL GUN BAN

SAN CARLOS, CA, AND MADERA, CA – In an egregious and deliberate move to ban hundreds of thousands of legal firearms and harm law-abiding California gun owners, California Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) has amended his bill SB 249 to make possession of all Bullet Button, or “maglocked”, firearms a criminal act as of July 1, 2013. Sen. Yee’s chief-of-staff, Adam Keigwin, has said that California should ban all guns, even bolt-action hunting rifles.

Joining Senator Yee in his effort to take away hundreds of millions of dollars of currently-legal guns are co-authors Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrence), Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), and Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles).

Explaining his support for the gun ban, Senator Steinberg told the Sacramento Bee that “no one will convince me it’s anything other than a joke to say that having multiple clips and semi-automatic weapons that can shoot 100 or more bullets at a time is necessary in this state or in this country. It’s ridiculous.”

Also on record as supporting SB 249, the Los Angeles Times reports Attorney General Kamala Harris as saying, “I applaud the Legislature’s interest in addressing this problem and support efforts to pass legislation needed to” [ban Bullet Button firearms].

SB 249, if it were to become law, would categorically ban all “maglocked” semi-automatic firearms that are in common use, such as those which use the Bullet Button device. SB 249 does not provide for any grandfathering of existing firearms nor does it have a method of compensating gun owners for the firearms the proposed law would require to be destroyed or removed from California. The net effect would be what is perhaps the single largest unconstitutional government taking in California history.

More, SB 249 would subject gun owners to criminal liability as of July 1, 2013, for the mere possession of firearms that Senator Yee and Attorney General Harris have both said are legal under current law. Ex post facto laws, such as SB 249 would create if passed, are expressly unconstitutional.

Interestingly, however, SB 249 would create a de facto requirement that gun owners , hunters, and competitors in California use only “featureless” firearms, such as AR and AK-style guns employing compliance parts like the Solar Tactical KYDEX Grip Wraps, MonsterMan Grips, or Exile Machine’s Hammerhead Grip, which not only allow for the lawful use of factory magazine releases but large-capacity magazines as well. California does not ban the possession of large-capacity magazines. Wes Morris, owner of Ten Percent Firearms, demonstrates this is an excellent YouTube video you can view at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhC8LpHPbRQ.

Senator Yee’s bill is currently before the Assembly Appropriations Committee and is expected to be heard on August 15, though it could be heard as soon as August 8. The bill must pass both the Assembly and the Senate by August 31.

In Deep with Michelle Ray – 7/12

delaware to consider banning high capacity magazines

When: Thursday, July 12th, 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific

Where: In Deep with Michelle Ray on Blog Talk Radio

What: Join Social Media Director of ConservativeDailyNews.com, Michelle Ray (@GaltsGirl) as she discusses the issues that impact America.

Tonight: 33 votes to repeal Obamacare, the NAACP Shootout between Biden and Romney, and guest Brandon Combs (@combs_brandon on Twitter) of CAL-FFL(http://www.calffl.org/), Calguns Foundation (http://www.calgunsfoundation.org/) and CRPA ( https://twitter.com/CRPAnews) joins me to discuss campus concealed carry.

No Smoking. . .In Your Home

smoker

Are you a smoker and a renter? If so, you might want to skip moving to Santa Monica. The town wants to make renters healthier and has enacted a No Smoking ordinance for all new apartment renters.

You don’t need to be a smoker to be concerned about an individual’s rights inside his home.

Stockton, California as an Example of a Flourishing City

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Stockton, CA – This city may be the first in California to declare bankruptcy. The city, in spite of cutting police, fire, and anything else it could think of, is still running in the red, and cannot make its bills. Why? Pensions and benefits for retirees have literally taken over the budget to the point where the city has been cutting back on services to residents to meet those bills. And the first ones to scream if Stockton does declare bankruptcy will be the unions. The following clip explains at least in part which city bills will take priority in the case of bankruptcy.

While many businesses have gone down the drain because of pensions and retiree benefits draining their assets, it is not as common as it once was. That probably has something to do with the fact that there aren’t as many unions in the private sector anymore. What we are seeing in Stockton is the future for many cities across the country, primarily because of contracts negotiated by public sector unions. While this is a very basic statement about the impending problem, it isn’t extremely difficult to understand. It is yet another economic issue that is at least an indirect result of the Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement age. But, unlike Social Security, this problem is theoretically negotiable, especially when cities make the decision to declare bankruptcy.

At that point, all contracts with the unions are nullified, and cities are in a position to re-negotiate terms with public sector unions. But, would we have been in this situation in the first place if city leaders had started thinking like business owners years ago? Probably not. Conservatives have been saying for years that spending money without serious plans to repay debts in the future is a mistake. In Stockton, even the leaders have admitted that they spent too much when times were good, and failed to “save for a rainy day.” But, they’re politicians, not business people.

Matt Edelstein, otherwise known as Shoq on Twitter, decided to weigh in on this. Well, he decided it was a good idea to pose what he obviously thought was a difficult question for me. I didn’t respond via Twitter, so maybe he’s deluded into thinking that he stumped me.

If municipalities were run more like big businesses, it is less likely that they would end up like Stockton. As for businesses making the laws of the land, gieven our current economic woes, that is exactly what we need. It has been made abundantly obvious that every level of government in this country is either ill-equipped, or unwilling to do what needs to be done to kick start our economy. More often than not, the fact is that government doesn’t need to do a damn thing – it needs to stop what it’s doing, and get the hell out of the way.

WTF – High Speed Rail to Nowhere

Construction nears completion on Phase I of the Dulles rail project

Winning The Future, anyone remember that one? That was President Obama’s scheme to rebuild the American economy on among other things, high speed rail.

In his 2011 State of the Union address he said, “This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. … The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information — from high-speed rail to high-speed Internet.”

President Obama assured us that we would connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail within 25 years.

Governors like Rick Scott of Florida and Scott Walker of Wisconsin saw this for the boondoggle it was and refused the government money for high speed rail.

California, however, never a state to pass up an opportunity to waste taxpayer dollars, signed on to the project right away, receiving 3.5 billion dollars from the federal government, and borrowing another 10 billion dollars in a bond issue. The money is to build a high speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The estimated cost for the project is 68 billion dollars. Since Congress cut off 2012 funds for such projects, California is the only U.S. state working to lay tracks for 220 mph trains. The project remains about $54 billion short of what is required for completion

Public support among Californians is waning, however. A recent USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found that 59 percent would now oppose the rail project given another chance to vote even though it was previously approved by a 53% majority.

Even with a budget deficit of 15.7 billion dollars, Governor Jerry Brown seems undeterred. He has allocated some of the 9.95 billion dollars in bond issues for the rail project in fiscal year 2012, while he asks voters to increase sales and income taxes and cut the school year by three weeks.

Sen. Barbara Boxer Ignores Liberal Hypocrisy on PFA

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California)

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer’s interview with Chuck Todd on The Daily Rundown was the typical liberal jargon that is commonly seen on MSNBC.  However, this time the political opportunism amongst Senate Democrats was palpable, especially with this “fair pay” business.  We’ve all heard the statistics that women make only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, but when this so-called Paycheck Fairness Act failed was pushed added to the agenda, I was floored.

First of all, as Chuck Todd reiterated this morning, the bill was never going to get the sixty votes needed to proceed to a vote for approval.  Therefore, this willful campaign of self-martydom by liberals was a ploy to make Republicans look evil and continue the war on “women narrative.”  However, what is fascinating is the fact that Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s female staffers earn 27.6% less than their male counterparts.  According to the Washington Free Beacon:

Pelosi’s female employees earned an average annual salary of $96,394 in fiscal year 2011. Male employees earned $123,000 on average, a difference of 27.6 percent.

The gap is even larger if calculated using the median salaries for men and women. For Pelosi’s female employees, the median annual salary was $93,320 in 2011, compared to $130,455 for male employees—a difference of $37,135, or 40 percent.

Pelosi’s entire staff—men and women—earned an average annual salary of $108,150 and a median salary of $114,662. By both measures, women made considerably less.

 In the Senate:

Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.)—three pay their female staff members significantly less than male staffers.

Murray, who has repeatedly accused Republicans of waging a “war a women,” is one of the worst offenders. Female members of Murray’s staff made about $21,000 less per year than male staffers in 2011, a difference of 35.2 percent.

That is well above the 23 percent gap that Democrats claim exists between male and female workers nationwide. The figure is based on a 2010 U.S. Census Bureau report, and is technically accurate. However, as CNN’s Lisa Sylvester has reported, when factors such as area of employment, hours of work, and time in the workplace are taken into account, the gap shrinks to about 5 percent.

A significant “gender gap” exists in Feinstein’s office, where women also made about $21,000 less than men in 2011, but the percentage difference—41 percent—was even higher than Murray’s.

Barbara Boxer stated on the senate floor that “Senator Mikulski’s bill says you can’t be reprimanded or punished because you’re trying to find out if you’re being paid fairly. That’s why we have to pass this law and anyone voting against it– is taking a stand against women, is taking a stand against fairness, is taking a stand against justice — is taking a stand against our families.”  Yet, her female staffers made $5,000 less than male staffers last year.

CA, WI Join the Common Sense Brigade:Election Wrap-up

Voting

June 6, 2012   Today seems brighter. It was a big election night last night. Governor Scott Walker becomes the first governor in history to survive a recall effort. It wasn’t even close. In one of the most heated and important political battles in recent history, voters overwhelmingly approved of Walker’s reform efforts, handing a big loss to the heavily funded unions. Not to sound overdramatic (oh who am I kidding? I’m an actress; it’s my thing) but Walker’s victory has now become the official battle-cry of a spending-weary American electorate. The message has been sent. Voters can no longer tolerate being the sole support for bloated public pensions and Cadillac healthcare plans when they themselves are out of work and cutting back in all areas of daily life. Have no doubt, union bosses around the country are shaking in their boots. The bell cannot be unrung. The people mean business. The tea party is not dead – it’s just come to mean something else. It’s come to mean…Americans.

If you need more proof that the tidal wave against big government is gaining momentum, look no further than the biggest of big government states, California. Two cities – San Jose and San Diego- had pension reform on their ballots last night. They both won big. Also, new taxes were pretty much uniformly voted down across the state, including Prop 29, which imposed a new $1 per pack tax on cigarettes. It was a very close vote, but in the end voters decided they just couldn’t tolerate another tax, especially one that projected to raise $750 million without any of the revenue being allocated to pay down the state’s massive debt and pension liability.

As Jon Fleischman at the flashreport.org coined it, Tuesday night was V.U. Day – Victory Over Unions!

Other important ballots I was watching in California were:

Los Angeles District Attorney: In an unexpected upset, perceived frontrunner Carmen Trutanich was denied a spot in the top two. The heavily funded L.A. City Attorney was beat out by Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey (endorsed by outgoing D.A.Steve Cooley) and Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson (endorsed by law enforcement). Lacey and Jackson will head to the runoff.

Three Fullerton City Council members were successfully recalled in response to their handling of the beating death of Kelly Thomas at the hands of Fullerton police. Fullerton residents charged that the members covered for police during the investigation.

Todd Spitzer handily won the race for Orange County Supervisor, marshaling 68% of the vote over tea party favorite Deb Pauly. The controversy surrounding the race seems over for now.

Senator Diane Feinstein will run off against Republican Elizabeth Emken. Feinstein receive 50% of the vote, while Emken reached only 13%. Emken has seen weak fundraising compared to Feinstein – hundreds of thousands as compared to Feinstein’s millions. This will be a key race to watch in the coming months. Emken could get closer if the GOP decides to throw some money and support behind her.

Proposition 29 would levy another $1 per pack tax on cigarettes to “support cancer research”. This horribly flawed proposition is projected to raise $750 million in revenue with no provision for the money to be spent within the borders of California. As of this post the vote is still being declared to close to call, even with 100% of districts reporting. The “No” vote has edged out the approval vote so far by 65,000 votes out of more than 3 million cast and with absentee ballots still arriving. This verdict could stretch out for days or weeks. I’ll update as I receive information.

Proposition 28 is a stellar example of how the wording of a proposition on the ballot and in advertising is so absolutely vital. The proposition was billed as term limits, and it asked voters to reduce the number of years lawmakers could serve in legislature from 14 years to 12 years. Currently a lawmaker can serve two 3 year terms in the House and two 4 year terms in the Senate. Prop 28 shortens the total time one can serve, but allows lawmakers to serve those 12 years in either of the houses. This leaves our capitol at even greater risk for even more entrenched, corrupt politicians. Californians instinctively know they can’t trust their representation. Most people are in favor of term limits. Who would vote against them? The wording of the Prop on the ballot was such that anyone who had not properly done their research beforehand would have most likely been inclined to vote in favor. Prop 28 passed overwhelmingly and now it will be even harder to prevent entrenched cronyism.

The “top-two” system seemed just fine. We’ll have to wait to see the real effects in the coming months. I heard few complaints about it while I was out and about talking to voters.

In all, it was a great day for America. Wisconsin showed up big time and public sector unions across the country are looking over their shoulders at the fed up tax payers. With San Diego and San Jose also voting to reform their pension systems, could it be that common sense is making a comeback in California? I won’t hold my breath for that, but it’s a start.

UPDATE: June 7, 2012 It looks like Prop 29 has been narrowly defeated. No new cigarette taxes in California.

 crossposted at kiradavis.net

Californians Face Primary Voting Today: Races to Watch

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Tuesday, June 5

Californians head to the polls today to vote in primary elections and the ballots will be longer than voters have seen in the past. That is because new ballot rules goes into effect this election cycle. Under the new “top-two” system, party affiliations are removed from candidates and voters will have the opportunity to choose from any candidate from any party. The top two winners will then square off in the November elections. This applies to all races except the Presidential race.

There are only two propositions on the ballot this cycle:

Prop 28 has been billed as “term limits” legislation but technically lengthens the amount of time legislators can serve. Currently legislators are limited to two 3-year terms in the Assembly and two 4-year terms in the Senate. That’s a total of 14 years a politician can serve in the legislature. Prop 28 reduces that limit to 12 years but allows lawmakers to serve that 12 years in either house.

Prop 29 levies a new $1 per pack cigarette tax to raise money for “cancer” research. Opponents say it creates a new bureaucracy and doesn’t allocate taxes to be spent within the borders California. So far polling on the measures shows Californians in favor of passing both.

A couple of other races to watch in California today:

In Orange County the heated, controversial race for County Supervisor between “establishment” Republican Todd Spitzer and “Tea Party” candidate Deb Pauly will come to a head. Both Spitzer and Pauly have thrown out contentious, serious allegations of misconduct against each other. Pauly was ousted as vice-chair of the OC Republican Party just days ago and Spitzer has been running from a record in which he increased pensions.

The Senate race, where Republican Elizabeth Emken will join 23 other candidates to take on the heavily funded Diane Feinstein

The race for District Attorney in Los Angeles, where Republican Alan Jackson will try to force a run-off against Carmen Trutanich. Trutanich (D) has faced accusations of corruption and bullying, but has raised twice the funds of Jackson.

Two local elections are mirroring what is happening in Wisconsin today. In San Diego and San Jose voters will be asked to decide on pension reforms in order to reign in the city budgets. Predictably, unions have been fighting the measures in both cities. The results will have a ripple effect throughout the rest of the state, as California faces an $85 billion unfunded pension liability in the coming years.

California currently does not have any of those pesky, racist voter identification laws so vote early, vote often.

You can follow election results live at the Orange County Register . I’ll also be doing a live, remote show from a special location to be disclosed at showtime, so tune into the Dark Side with Kira Davis at 7:00 p.m. Pacific.

California’s High Speed Folly

Your Tax Dollars!

More news of the stimulus’s failure emerged this week with CBO’s report citing how it may have cost $4.1 million per job, but the story that should be on everyone’s minds concerning the Obama’s agenda is California’s high speed rail project.  Calls for a high speed rail system by the Obama administration have been enhanced given China’s successful completion of their system last summer.  However, if you look at the current California project, the scale of failure is epical and our tax dollars are being poured into it.

In a rare instance, CNN gave a rather insightful report on how this proposed high speed rail is actually three times more than its estimated cost. The railroad project itself seemed sound.  A line from Los Angeles to San Francisco spanning 2oo miles was a palatable initiative for Californians, which is why they voted for a $10 billion dollar bond measure back in 2008.  However, the original estimate was in the ball park of about $34 billion dollars. It is now  projected to cost a monstrous $198 billion dollars.  Additionally, Drew Griffin, CNN Investigative Correspondent, reported that not a single rail has been laid in the four years since the initiative was passed.

This marks another stinging failure of the domestic agenda of the Obama administration.  First clean energy, now high speed rail networks.  It fits nicely into the description George Will aptly made about American liberalism on Charlie Rose last August as”an amalgamation of appetites of parochial interests.”   The project is now revised under the new Chairman of California’s Railway Authority, Dan Richard, but it’s very different original high speed blueprint. Griffin stated:

It turns out, the latest plan could be for a much slower train, not actually the high- speed futuristic cartoon California voters approved four years ago. More of a hybrid that goes slower, makes a few more stops and doesn’t quite deliver the L.A. to San Francisco promise of just a few hours.

And that’s not the half of it. This is about to become really political. California’s high-speed rail has one huge backer — President Barack Obama — and that is where you come in. The administration has pledged $3.5 billion in stimulus money, also known as federal tax dollars, and that’s just so far. Now, California admits it will need even more, tens of billions of dollars more from federal taxpayers to finish it.

But first, you have to start. And that’s where it really gets dicey. The foundational segment, the first stretch of track, will cost at least $6 billion alone and, under the new plan, will connect Fresno to Burbank. It won’t go anywhere near San Francisco. And in the process, will dissect generations-old dairy farms, nut orchards and towns that don’t want it.

That’s not the worst of it.  Apparently, Barack Obama, who continues to be a staunch proponent of this project:

 has pledged $3.5 billion in stimulus money, also known as federal tax dollars, and that’s just so far. Now, California admits it will need even more, tens of billions of dollars more from federal taxpayers to finish it.

But first, you have to start. And that’s where it really gets dicey. The foundational segment, the first stretch of track, will cost at least $6 billion alone and, under the new plan, will connect Fresno to Burbank. It won’t go anywhere near San Francisco. And in the process, will dissect generations-old dairy farms, nut orchards and towns that don’t want it.

However, even with the inflated costs and objections by local farmers, Dan Richard and the rest at the Railroad Authority aren’t giving up.  After all, as Griffin reported, “they’ve already got the promised $3 billion of your tax dollars in federal stimulus. California may not get another dime from President Obama, but it has no intention of giving back the $3 billion already promised or the billions more from California voters.”  This Rube Goldberg project is expected to take ten years to finish.  Who’s lining up to get their first ticket?

California “Money-Grab” Causing Layoffs

LOS ANGELES, May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — You’d think that California would be fostering small businesses, especially ones that clean the environment and enhance public safety. Instead, a group of California District Attorneys have cost one 26 year old California small business their largest customer and forced layoffs for 12 employees.

It all goes back to 2009 when California made it illegal to employ the word “biodegradable” on packaging. Many companies hadn’t even heard of the law due to poor communication on the part of the state. And, because the bill never addressed a practical means of enforcement it has become ripe-picking for the cash strapped state which is exploiting the opportunity to carry-out a “money-grab” on par with their $45 parking meter fines.

That’s the experience of Petpro Products, a South El Monte producer of dog waste scoops when they received an URGENT DEMAND from the Solano County District Attorney (representing eight CA districts and Santa Monica) to “IMMEDIATELY” remove their products from sale throughout the state.

In their strongly worded “NOTICE OF IMPENDING LEGAL ACTION BY LAW ENFORCEMENT”  District Attorneys claim that because the scoop package contained the words “99% biodegradable” and called the scoop “A Step to a Greener World” – it was illegal to be sold in the state and subject to hefty fines and retroactive penalties.

In an unusual move, the District Attorneys sent the same notice to Petpro’s customers. Immediately over 1,200 stores stopped doing business with the company — including 1,000 stores outside of California. Former customers are now IMPORTING MILLIONS OF POOP SCOOPS FROM CHINA. Due to this, the company has had to lay off loyal staff and reduce orders with California suppliers.

Bart Greenhut, owner of Petpro states: “It doesn’t make sense for enforcement to use severe tactics reserved for dangerous drugs and hazardous materials and apply them to a poop scoop. The District Attorneys actions have substantially destroyed our 26 year old California environmental business and the livelihoods of 22 California families.”

“In my 40 years of experience, it is always customary practice for agencies to provide notice of potential infractions and allow an opportunity to resolve the issue without suffering unnecessary hardship, cost or disruption of business.”

Greenhut continues, “In this case there was no notice, no due process, no investigation, and there was certainly no justification for intimidation and strong-arm tactics. We would have voluntarily changed any aspect of our package if anyone would have asked! Something is seriously amiss when the Attorney General has District Attorneys occupying their time shaking-down small businesses and putting good Californians out of work.”

Cradle to Grave Suicide

Alexis Tsipras, head of Greece’s Radical Left Coalition, declared that country’s commitment to austerity is over because voters have rejected those deals. “There is no way we will sneak back in again what the Greek people threw out”, Tsipras said. “This is an historic moment for the Left and the popular movement and a great responsibility for me,” he added, saying he would try to form a left-wing government that will “end the agreements of subservience” with Greece’s bailout creditors. “The pro-bail-out parties no longer have a majority in parliament to vote in destructive measures for the Greek people,” he added. “This is a very important victory for our society.”

In France, Socialist François Hollande said he will move quickly to implement traditionally Socialist tax-and-spend programs, which call for boosting taxes on the rich, increasing state spending, raising the minimum wage, hiring some 60,000 teachers and lowering the retirement age from 62 to 60.

Meanwhile, in California, Gov. Jerry Brown is calling for more social services cuts to help eliminate $15.7 billion deficit. Brown revealed a revised budget that calls for higher income and sales taxes to avoid deep cuts to K-12 and higher education. Rather than canceling an ill advised bullet train to nowhere that will cost the state at least $6 billion to build, Gov. Brown chose to scare Californians into voting for tax hikes by threatening cuts to education.

What do these three states have in common? They’re either already broke or will be soon due to government spending money it doesn’t have on socialist welfare programs, characterized within institutionalized “progressive” leftist circles as “entitlements”.

Greece, where the population is already suffering from 20% unemployment, describes austerity measures they’re expected to follow in order to receive additional bailout money from the EU as “barbaric”. With an economy so weak that it can’t employ one fifth of its own citizens, where does Greece expect to find the money necessary to become financially solvent?

France, if it enacts Hollande’s pledge to mimic Greece’s socialist welfare spending, will soon experience similar fiscal troubles. By following Greece down the road to fiscal insolvency, France will ensure that Germany stands alone in continental Europe as the sole, fiscally responsible, productive society.

California has been on a similar, European style path for decades, which is why California is closer to a fiscal cliff that most of the United States. The legislature in California continuously acts on the belief that it can spend the state into prosperity. California has taxed the rich, spent money on socialist programs, established sanctuary cities that fund the lives of millions of illegal aliens and spent huge amounts of money on education. Much of the cost of that education goes for the children of unlawful residents.

On the list of most business friendly states, California is currently ranked fiftieth. California has held that rank for the last eight years. Meanwhile, businesses are fleeing California in droves, seeking residence in states like Texas, where tax and regulatory policies are friendlier to business. The California tax base is fleeing along with those businesses.

In Sacramento California, government employee unions are running the show. Not only do “progressive” politicians vote overvalued salaries and perks for themselves, they also obediently kowtow to union demands for ever escalating salaries, benefits and pensions. This occurs because those politicians depend on union money, muscle and turnout for their own re-election. Rather than choosing to run the state responsibly, self interested career politicians continuously submit to demands from “civil servants” who are too often far from civil. The looming, unfunded costs of union benefits and pensions are among the largest liabilities contributing to the state’s $15.7 billion deficit.

These are precisely the results all Americans can expect for future generations if the cradle to grave mentality continues to be legislated by “progressive” me first career politicians. These results are predictable if the cradle to grave lie remains propagandized in schools, promoted in television programs, glorified in the movies and dutifully drubbed into the minds of sound bite voters by the news media.

If America is to be saved, these combined forces of the institutionalized “progressive” left must be stopped; starting with voting “progressive” politicians out of office. That’s the first order of business. When a patient arrives in an emergency room, stopping the bleeding receives top priority. The detailed surgery needed to excise the root problem, while still necessary, comes later. It took years for “progressives” to infiltrate and infect academia, Hollywood, the media and political class with their cancerous agenda. And while delay is not an option, it will take years to repair those institutions.

Unless that happens, today’s Americans will spend their declining years describing to young people who’ll listen, how the United States was once the place where the world’s people came for otherwise unavailable opportunity. How the land of the free and the home of the brave was more than just a line in a song.

In America, for an increasingly limited amount of time, cradle to grave suicide is still an option.

http://mjfellright.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/cradle-to-grave-suicide/

From Athens to Sacramento: Austerity Coming to America

As the Greek people have painfully experienced, you cannot “austere” yourself out of a budget crisis. It only makes the crisis worse: higher taxes destroy the tax base and spending cuts increase government’s net drain of resources out of the economy. The result is that fewer people work, more people qualify for welfare programs – and government spending ends up growing while tax revenues go down.

The only way to solve the budget crisis created by a welfare state is – surprise – to do away with the welfare state. This can be done; it takes hard work and dedication on behalf of us and our elected officials, but it can be done. So far, though, not a single welfare state in Europe, and not a single U.S. state, has been willing to step up to the plate and be the first to reform away the welfare state. Instead, Europe’s political leadership is going deeper and deeper into panic mode, relying as they are on budget cuts and tax increases to save their morbidly obese, fiscally unsustainable welfare states.

So far America has been saved from the austerity flu. But don’t bet your job on us being able to keep it that way. Some states are already resorting to policies reminiscent of austerity, and one of them has already entered the downward spiral that hurled Greece into full-fledged fiscal and political turmoil.

That state is California. The Golden State has wrestled with budget problems for many years, and Governor Brown was elected on promises to finally solve the problems. However, his strategy was the same old, same old: modest spending cuts and modest increases in some taxes. (He even accepted microscopic tax “cuts” by allowing a minor, temporary sales tax increase to expire.) Predictably, his strategy has not worked. As shown by an article in The Washington Post, The Golden State is now in even deeper budget trouble than it was before Jerry Brown got (back) into the gubernatorial mansion:

California’s budget deficit has swelled to a projected $16 billion — much larger than had been predicted just months ago — and will force severe cuts to schools and public safety if voters fail to approve tax increases in November, Gov. Jerry Brown said Saturday. The Democratic governor said the shortfall grew from $9.2 billion in January in part because tax collections have not come in as high as expected and the economy isn’t growing as fast as hoped for.

Part of the reason for this problem is of course that the governor and his staff joined the Democrats in the state legislature in an overly joyous forecast of how the Obama administration’s policies – including the nonsensical and totally wasteful stimulus bill – would put the economy back on a growth path. But part of the problem is also that the Democrats in California will try to save the welfare state at any and all cost. Thereby they allow themselves to completely ignore the very problem that caused the crisis in the first place: the welfare state.

But even worse is the fact that the solution they are applying – a very mild version of austerity – is now driving the state budget deeper into the deficit ditch.

In short: the medicine is killing the patient.

The austerity policies applied in California are supposed to increase tax revenues through higher taxes and cut government spending through – yes – spending cuts. But what austerity-minded politicians like Governor Brown do not understand is that the economy responds to austerity policies just like it responds to all kinds of economic policies. Tax increases discourage productive, private-sector economic activity; in combination with spending cuts, the tax hikes actually increase the government’s drainage of resources from the economy.

As a result, private-sector business activity is reduced or its growth rate is significantly reduced. Fewer people pay taxes and more people apply for the entitlements that the welfare state provides. Predictably, this is exactly what is happening in California. As shown by data provided by state controller John Chiang, tax revenues are lower while welfare-state spending is considerably higher this year than California’s politicians foresaw last year when they enacted the first round of Governor Brown’s austerity policies.

An analysis of the controller report for the period July 2011 to April 2012 shows a rise in two of the best short-term indicators of welfare-state spending:

  • Medical Assistance Programs spending has increased almost a quarter of a billion dollars more than even the Brown administration predicted it would under the recession; and
  • Social Services spending was hit hard by spending cuts and predicted to fall by $346 million; in reality, spending is almost $200 million above the budget target.

At the same time, tax revenues are coming in below target. During the period July 2011-April 2012 the state of California took in $73.5 billion in tax revenues. The forecast for the same period this year was $69.1 billion; the actual number is $65.6 billion. In other words, the state’s tax revenues are more than five percent below what the governor and his Democrat fellows in the state legislature needed in order to protect their welfare state from further cuts.

As is evident from these numbers and from the article in the Washington Post, the Sacramento statists have failed. The reason is not that they did not cut spending and raise taxes enough – the reason is that they combined spending cuts with tax increases. With this combination government takes more from the economy each year and gives less and less back. It is like government is trying to sell a new 2011 car at 2013 prices one year and a new 2010 car at 2014 prices the next year.

One of the most obvious reasons why austerity won’t work in California is that the state has a small and, relatively speaking, shrinking tax base. From the peak of the business cycle in 2007 to the 2011 California lost 1,028,000 private sector jobs. This was partly due to the national recession, partly due to California’s business-unfriendly policies. As of March 2012 The Golden State had fewer private sector jobs than it had in March of 2003, when the state was still suffering from the Millennium Recession.

During the same period, the state has increased its spending paid for with in-state tax revenues by 40 percent. In other words, the state is expecting each privately employed Californian to be able to pay $140 in 2012 for every $100 he paid in taxes in 2003. Yet his income has increased by far less: for every $100 a private-sector employee earned in 2003 he earns approximately $120 in 2012.

Where does the state government expect to get the remaining $20 from?

Looking again at California’s employment numbers, we find that there are fewer people working in Californa’s private sector in March of ’12 than even in March of 2000. Yet the state legislature has not downsized its government to 2000 levels. The state has 12 percent more employees now than it had in 2000; in fact, the state government had as many employees in March 2012 as it had in March of 2007.

It is unlikely that Governor Brown will realize what he is doing to his state in time to save it. To do so, he would have to abandon his policies of combining spending cuts with tax increases. Instead, he would have to:

  • Combine spending cuts with tax cuts;
  • Make the spending cuts structural so that they phase out, and eventually eliminate, entitlement programs; and
  • Cut taxes in such a way that people can take care of themselves instead of relying on government.

It is very unlikely that he will do this. More likely, Governor Brown will press on with his austerity policies: higher taxes and less spending. The result will be a continued erosion of the tax base. Not only will businesses refrain from expanding, but there will be close-downs and an escalating migration of productive citizens and businesses out of the state.

In 2009 California had a net migration loss to the other states of 87,000 people. The largest destinations for outbound Californians were states with notably lower taxes. Among the most attractive were no-income-tax states like Texas, Washington and Nevada. These numbers, which are the latest available, are likely to be significantly higher for more recent years.

California still has the chance to get out of the austerity spiral. But time is running out. If Governor Brown does not take the right steps and put his state on the right track, his austerity policies will put the entire nation’s economy in jeopardy. The consequences for all of us would be devastating.

California: From Golden State to Welfare State

While we are witnessing the unfolding fiscal disaster that the welfare state has brought upon Europe, we have our own version of this crisis in progress in the United States. The gaping hole in the federal budget is the best known element of the American version of the welfare state crisis, but the situation is almost as bad in many states.

The most notorious among the troubled states is California. Its budget problems go back many years and include such absurd practices as “paying” bills, and even tax refunds, with IOUs. But even though it is a serious enough matter when a state government cannot pay its bills, the worst part of the California mess is that no one seems to dare speak out about what is truly behind the Golden State’s chronic fiscal trouble.

The welfare state.

California’s budget mess is as simple as anything can be. The state government has made spending promises – handed out entitlements – which it is now notoriously unable to keep up with. From health care to welfare; from public union benefits to education; the lawmakers in Sacramento have piled on promises up and above what taxpayers can keep up with.

Over the past 25 years the California state government has increased its total spending (including General, Federal and Other Funds) by 6.8 percent per year, on average. During that same time the state GDP grew by 5.5 percent per year (both numbers adjusted for inflation).

Let us stop and ponder for a moment what these bone-dry numbers actually mean. GDP is the source of all tax revenues a government can get their hands on. It is the sum total of all our incomes and therefore the base for income taxes, sales taxes, user taxes, gasoline taxes, payroll taxes… Even property taxes are paid out of current income. Since your current income is part of GDP, this means that property taxes are paid out of GDP as well.

You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in economics to figure out that when the ultimate tax base, GDP, grows at 5.5 percent per year, and total government spending grows at 6.8 percent per year, government will run eventually run out of taxpayers’ money. This is precisely what the state lawmakers in California have allowed to happen. For some time, they have put off going to taxpayers for more money by asking instead that Uncle Sam sends more cash to Sacramento. But now that the federal government is in deep fiscal trouble and can be expected to turn off the cash faucet, California’s budget problems are about to go from bad to worse.

Predictably, the legislators in Sacramento are now in budget panic mode, scrambling to rein in a budget they have allowed to run amok for more than two decades.

Half of all state spending in California goes to three items in the budget: Medicaid (or MediCal), cash assistance (or “welfare”) and public education. Since 1985 two of these items have, on average, grown faster than the state GDP: Medicaid has increased at 10.7 percent per year and public education has gone up at 6.5 percent per year.

Each time legislators in Sacramento passed a budget that expanded welfare-state spending faster than the state’s economy was growing, they knowingly contributed to the fiscal problems that are now haunting taxpayers in California. The compounded effect of this decades-long streak of spendoholism is now coming back to haunt them. This year’s legislative battle to piece together a budget for The Golden State is tougher than it has been in many years. For the first time since California’s classis Proposition 13 tax reform, the state’s elected officials are facing resistance to higher taxes. They now have to learn how to restrain spending.

The problem with that is, of course, that 25+ years of lavish government spending has allowed the people of California to take effort-free entitlements for granted. The welfare state has created a large tenderfoot population who cries foul at the sight of even the smallest aberration in state spending.

Some of the tenderfeet do not think twice about using children in their protests:

Students at Elk Grove Elementary School joined kids from San Francisco to Los Angeles to blow bubbles Thursday in protest of state budget cuts to education. The “This Budget Blows” protest, organized by the parent organization Educate Our State, coincided with the March 15 deadline for school districts to issue preliminary layoff notices to educators. Nine empty chairs at Elk Grove Elementary represented the nine teachers at that school that were given pink slips.

To the defense of Governor Brown, he has been tough on the budget from the day he got (back) into the Governor’s mansion in 2010. He has actually been able to put brakes on the General Fund:

Largely through spending cuts, Brown and the Legislature have reduced the state’s structural deficit by roughly two thirds, to an estimated $9.2 billion at the start of the year. General fund spending as a percentage of the state’s economy, according to the governor, has dropped to levels last seen in the 1972-73 fiscal year. More than 15,000 positions have been eliminated from state government.

It is important to keep in mind, though, that these spending “cuts” for the most part consist of deferred increases in spending. They put a lid on expansions of government spending programs – but they do not do anything about the underlying problem.

The welfare state.

Each entitlement program that the government spends money on, comes with a formula that defines:

  • Who is eligible;
  • How much money (such as cash assistance) or in-kind services (health care or education) each eligible person should get; and
  • Under what conditions a person is no longer eligible.

When people become eligible they adjust their lives to that eligibility. A cash assistance recipient, or someone who is eligible for food stamps, expects to get a certain amount of money each month from government. A family who is entitled to public education for their children (i.e., all of us who have school-age kids) will expect government to continue to deliver that service as promised.

Being dependent on a tax-paid, work-free entitlement is comfortable. The longer people are dependent, the more comfortable they get with consuming the entitlement. Every prospect of a cut becomes an imminent threat to that comfort. When government starts cutting entitlement spending, the first reaction among entitlement consumers is to demand that government continues to deliver as promised.

This is particularly obvious when it comes to public education. Taxpayers who consume public education for their children still pay the same taxes as they did before the budget cuts went into effect. After the cuts, government delivers a reduced-quality product for the same price.

As much as it is wrong that people demand to be allowed to continue to consume entitlements, there is a point in the protests against panic-driven budget cuts. If government makes a promise, the right thing to do is to keep that promise.

The legislative error is not in the budget cuts, but in the very existence of the welfare state and its entitlements. These entitlements have given California chronic fiscal bronchitis – perpetual budget problems – against which the state legislators are prescribing marginal, annual budget cuts. But that medicine won’t work: it does not treat the underlying problem, namely the very existence of the welfare state. On the contrary, the budget cuts that are planned and have gone into effect in California are in fact designed to save the welfare state. After 25 years of growing entitlement spending faster than the state’s tax base, the lawmakers in Sacramento have teamed up with the governor to try to rein in the welfare state and make it fit what taxpayers can be expected to keep up with.

This is a losing strategy. The cost of an entitlement program is, again, defined by eligibility rules that are independent of what taxpayers are able to pay. Nowhere in Medicaid does it say that people can enroll and get services provided that taxpayers can afford to pay for them. Naturally so: the very definition of the welfare state is to give people what ideologues and politicians say that people have the right to, period.

California’s decline from the Golden State to the Entitlement State was a long, slow process. Ideologically charged politicians are fighting a panic-driven battle against the very behemoth that caused the state’s decline in the first place. They are going to lose that battle. California is heading for a Greek situation.

Unless, of course, Californians wake up and realize that the only solution is to eliminate the welfare state. If they do, the Entitlement State can once again become the Golden State.

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