The Night of the Slap Drones

Some of them, the big ones, will intrude the old fashioned way, beating down the door. Maybe others will look like insects, crawling innocuously across your property to come inside through your drains and A/C ducts. Or they’ll find an open window.

Across America, they’ll come by the millions, having manufactured themselves. They’ll be several generations smarter than the smartest smart phone in existence today. They’ll know everything about you, and at 4:30 a.m., on a hot night in late June, all at once they’ll come for you and everyone like you. Some of you will die, deemed to dangerous to live, but most of you will just be humanely incapacitated. Against all this technology, your AR 15 rifles are pathetically inadequate. Remember that. When it comes to protecting yourself from a tyrannical government, your guns are obsolete.

This may be a hypothetical scenario, but it isn’t a fantasy. It’s less than a decade from being technically feasible, if it isn’t already.

The Virtual Panopticon is Already Here

High technology has already transformed our military and law enforcement. Autonomous warfare is a new reality, relegating inhabited ships and planes to irrelevance in a transformation of stupefying velocity and consequences. Robots now patrol shopping malls and parking lots. Police drones watch us from above. Cameras (with blinking lights) now surveil even residential neighborhoods. […] Read More

How Much California Water Bond Money is for Storage?

Californians have approved two water bonds in recent years, with another facing voters this November. In 2014 voters approved Prop. 1, allocating $7.1 billion for water projects. This June, voters approved Prop. 68, allocating another $4.0 billion for water projects. And this November, voters are being asked to approve Prop. 3, allocating another $8.9 billion for water projects. This totals $20.0 billion in just four years. But how much of that $20.0 billion is to be invested in water infrastructure and water storage?

Summaries of how these funds are spent, or will be spent, can be found on Ballotpedia for Prop. 1, 2014, Prop. 68, 2018 (June), and the upcoming Prop. 3, 2018 (November). Reviewing the line items for each of these bonds and compiling them into five categories is necessarily subjective. There are several line items that don’t fit into a single category. But overall, the following chart offers a useful view of where the money has gone, or where it is proposed to go. To review the assumptions made, the Excel worksheet used to compile this data can be downloaded here. The five categories are (1) Habitat Restoration, (2) Water Infrastructure, (3) Park Maintenance, (4) Reservoir Storage, and (5) Other Supply/Storage.

California Water Bonds, 2014-2018 – Use of Funds ($=millions)

The Case for More Water Storage

It isn’t hard to endorse the projects funded by these water bonds. If you review the line items, there is a case for […] Read More

Libertarian God Kings Throw in With With Democratic Socialists

The well-heeled, much-feared Koch network announced from its biannual meeting in Colorado Springs this week that it would withhold support from Republican candidates in three of the eight closest races for U.S. Senate. The news, reported in Politico and elsewhere, probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Libertarians, who value their utopian principles more than they value saving the political culture that indulges their fantasies, are very likely going to be the voting bloc that turns control of Congress over to Democrats in November. Why should the über Libertarian God-Kings, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, fail to act in accordance with these same fantasies?

And it is fantasy. You can’t shrink government if “free trade” has gutted the nation of jobs at the same time as “open borders” has flooded the nation with destitute immigrants.

That’s the logic that libertarians, funded by the Koch organizations, refuse to admit.

Enemy of Your Enemy is Not Your Friend

Instead, America’s libertarians trumpet a classical liberal dogma, repeating the same phrases almost mindlessly, their vacuity only matched by their certainty. Like glassy-eyed cult members, they seem to think the ideas they regurgitate constitute the only true path. Contrary opinions and cold facts, no matter how supported by evidence and reason, bounce off them like balloons on Mars.

In the case of the Kochs, maybe the agenda of free trade and open borders doesn’t have to connect […] Read More

California’s Transportation Future, Part Four – The Common Road

With light rail, high speed rail, and possibly passenger drones and hyperloop pods just around the corner, it’s easy to forget that the most versatile mode of transportation remains the common road. Able to accommodate anything with wheels, from bicycles and wheelchairs to articulated buses and 80 ton trucks, and ranging from dirt tracks to super highways, roads still deliver the vast majority of passenger miles.

As vehicles continue to evolve, roads will need to evolve apace. Roads of the future will need to be able to accommodate high speed autonomous vehicles. They will also need to be smart, interacting with individual vehicles to safely enable higher traffic densities at higher speeds. But can California build roads competitively? How expensive are road construction and maintenance costs in California compared with other states in the U.S.? How can California make the most efficient use of its public transportation funds?

PHYSICAL VARIABLES AFFECTING CONSTRUCTION COSTS

The Federal Highway Administration maintains a cost/benefit model called “HERS” (Highway Economic Requirements System) which they use to evaluate highway construction and highway improvement projects. One of the products of HERS is the FHWA’s most recent summary of road construction costs, updated in 2015. Its findings reveal both the complexity facing any cost analysis as well as the wide range of results for similar projects.

For example, on the FHWA website’s HERS summary page, Exhibit A-1 “Typical Costs per Lane Mile Assumed in HERS by Type of Improvement” data is presented in nine columns, each representing […] Read More

Government Union Power in California and the Janus Ruling

AUDIO: A discussion of how government unions exercise nearly absolute power in California and speculation as to whether the Janus ruling will have any impact – 45 minutes on AM 870 Los Angeles “The Answer” – Ed Ring on Radio Free Los Angeles.

http://civfi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2018-07-01-Ed-Ring-on-Radio-Free-Los-Angeles-40-minutes.mp3

Gavin Newsom’s California Dream Team – the Oligarchs and the Agitators

If one were to distill the essence of California’s Democratic party into a one page document, it would be hard to beat a recent mail piece showing the SEIU’s candidate endorsements for California’s top jobs. According to their website, the Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, commonly referred to as the SEIU, “is a united front of 96,000 working people employed by the State of California, making Local 1000 the largest public sector union in California and one of the largest in the country.”

Occupying the entire upper right segment of the obverse side of this mailer is a portrait photo of Gavin Newsom – a beatific smile revealing perfect teeth, coiffed hair swept back in an elegant pompadour, eyes shining with courage, equanimity, love. Gavin Newsom, the visionary leader, who will lead California into an even more enlightened future. And joining Gavin Newsom, the woke white puppet of the Getty oligarchy, arrayed in a row of eight portraits beneath his beneficent gaze, are his hardscrabble minions, the SEIU’s preferred candidates for California’s other state offices.

Gavin Newsom and his SEIU endorsed dream team of running mates

Unlike their debonair white male overlord, Newsom, these candidates were born woke, and virtuous by virtue of their genetics. Five Latino males, two Asian females, and a Black male constitute Gavin Newsom’s electoral coterie. And with that prerequisite established, only one additional virtue is required to please the SEIU, a commitment to hard left identity politics. And […] Read More

How Libertarian Candidates Could Hand Control of the U.S. Congress to Democrats

With control of the U.S. Congress to be decided in less than five months, many factors have been identified that could affect the outcome. Will voters in California flip five congressional seats from GOP to Democrat? Will the “blue wave” wash across America, emanating from the coasts and inundating flyover country? Will Trump’s gambles on trade and foreign affairs turn out to be triumphs or setbacks? With the America’s future hanging in the balance, one perennial (and growing) threat to GOP control does not receive nearly enough attention: Libertarian candidates.

America is a two party system. That’s reality. When a third party candidate runs an effective campaign, with rare exceptions, they siphon votes predominately away from one major party’s candidate. In 1968 George Wallace took votes away from Richard Nixon, who won anyway. In 2000 Ralph Nadar took votes away from Al Gore, who would have otherwise won. In 2016, pothead Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson received 4.5 million votes, and nearly handed victory to Hillary Clinton.

There are currently thirty races across the country for U.S. Congressional seats that are considered toss-ups. These thirty are all considered toss-ups by three reputable national political analysts, the Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections. It is important to note that if you widen the search to “competitive races” instead of neck and neck toss-ups, that number grows from 30 to around 100. And of just those 30 toss-up congressional races, at least ten of them have viable […] Read More

Water Rationing Law Exemplifies the Malthusian Mentality of California’s Legislators

As reported in the Sacramento Bee and elsewhere, on May 31st Gov. Jerry Brown “signed a pair of bills Thursday to set permanent overall targets for indoor and outdoor water consumption.”

After pressure from the Association of California Water Agencies and others, the final form of these bills, Assembly Bill 1668 by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, and Senate Bill 606 from state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, offers water districts more flexibility in enforcing the new restrictions. But the focus of AB 1668, limiting indoor water use to 50 gallons per resident per day, is a step too far. Way too far.

There’s nothing wrong with conserving water. But urban water consumption in California is already low, and squeezing even more out of Californians will be costly and bothersome without making much difference in the big picture. Here is a table showing California’s overall water consumption by user:

Total Water Supply and Usage in California – 2010

As can be seen, in a state where total human water diversions total around 65 million acre feet (MAF) per year [1], in 2010 residential customers only consumed 3.7 MAF [2, 3]. According to more recent data obtained by the Sacramento Bee from California’s State Water Resources Control Board, by 2017 the average California resident consumed 90 gallons per day, which equates to around 4.0 MAF per year. Slightly more than half of that is for indoor water, which means that on average, Californians are […] Read More

Imminent Janus Court Ruling May Severely Impact Government Unions

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to rule on Janus vs AFSCME, a case that challenges the ability of public sector unions to force government workers to pay union dues. Depending on the scope of the ruling, this case could dramatically affect the political power of big labor in the United States.

The case hinges on the assertion by plaintiff Mark Janus, a public employee in Illinois, that everything a public sector does is inherently political. As a result, Janus argues, even the so-called “agency fees” the union charges – ostensibly to fund nonpolitical activities such as contract negotiations – are a violation of his right to free speech. He’s got a strong case, because nearly everything public sector unions negotiate have a direct impact on public policy.

When a public sector union negotiates for increased pension benefits, for example, every other budget item is affected. In states like California and Illinois, costs for public employee pensions are exceeding 10% of total tax revenuess in some cities and counties, crowding out other public services with no end in sight. And everywhere public sector unions are active, their impact on budgets, along with their negotiated work rules, significantly alter how our elected officials set policy priorities and how they manage our government agencies.

HIGH STAKES

The stakes in the Janus case are epic. Nearly half of all unionized workers in the United States are government workers. Public sector unions collect and spend nearly $6.0 billion per […] Read More

California’s Failure to Store Water Exemplifies its Political Dysfunction

In 2017, when cracks appeared in the Oroville Dam’s spillway, more than 180,000 Californians faced the prospect of floods. The emergency came a few years after Californians had overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, a ballot measure to spend $7.1 billion on water-storage projects. In the drought-stricken Golden State, where runoff from rain and snowmelt races uselessly into the Pacific Ocean, the proposition won wide support, with voters approving it, two-to-one. But four years after passage, the state water commission has yet to assign a dime of funding for storage.

California once performed miracles in building infrastructure to quench the thirst of its residents and agricultural producers. In the 1960s, Governor Pat Brown oversaw construction of the San Luis Reservoir, capacity 2 million acre-feet. Approved for construction in 1963, it was completed by 1968—five years from start to finish. Those days are long gone. Any surface-storage project now faces years of litigation from environmental groups such as the powerful Sierra Club. At every stage in the construction process, delays of months or years ensue to resolve well-funded lawsuits launched under every conceivable pretext, from habitat destruction to inundation of Native American artifacts.

Nevertheless, the California Water Commission has finally announced its plans to fund new projects with the money from Proposition 1. Many Californians were surprised to learn that the proposition’s fine print stipulated that only a third of the money was ever intended to fund water storage. The rest is earmarked for other […] Read More