The Venice Beach “Monster on the Median” is Corruption Incarnate

AUDIO: To solve the homeless crisis we first have to recognize that laws and court rulings have been exploited to allow everyone involved – nonprofits, developers, consultants, and government agencies – to charge far, far too much. Homeless shelters should cost 1/10th what they cost. In some cases even 1/100th what they currently cost. Stop building them on the priciest real estate on earth. Stop building palaces when tents would get the job done. The planned homeless housing and homeless shelter in Venice Beach, California, provides a perfect example of this amazing waste of money – 12 minutes on KABC Los Angeles – Edward Ring on the Dr. Pinsky and Leeann Tweeden Show.

http://civfi.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019-09-19-Edward-Ring-on-Dr-Pinsky-w-Leeann-Tweeden-12-minutes-KABC-Los-Angeles.mp3

Local and State Initiatives – The Future of Policy in California?

Grassroots activists in California point to the initiative process as a potent and underutilized last resort, capable of ushering in sweeping reforms. They’re right, but the initiative process is equally available to California’s progressives, backed by powerful special interests. And while the activist reformers talk, the progressives act.

How else to explain the hundreds of local ballot initiatives that are marketed to voters in California’s cities and counties every time there’s an election, which in aggregate soak taxpayers for billions in new taxes every year? In November 2016, out of 224 local tax proposals, voters approved over 70 percent, adding $2.9 billion in new taxes. In November 2018, out of 259 local tax measures, voters approved another estimated $1.6 billion per year in new taxes.

The vast majority of these tax measures are sponsored by special interests who stand to gain from their passage. In fact, many if not most local tax measures are supported by elected officials representing city and county governments, and they utilize the resources of their agencies to promote these measures. As California Policy Center President Will Swaim wrote in 2016, “Despite multiple legal decisions limiting the practice, municipal officials in California may be paying outside consultants to run the campaign to sell you on your local tax measure.”

The way public agencies get away with this is under the guise of “educating” the voters about the impact of new taxes. “Education,” of course, is a word with a broad range of defensible […] Read More

Venice Beach’s Monster on the Median

When President Trump arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday, he had a few words to say about the city’s homeless problem. “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” the president told reporters. “In many cases [building tenants] came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And the people of San Francisco are fed up, and the people of Los Angeles are fed up.”

In response, Mayor Eric Garcetti posted a video on social media in which he stated: “It is time for us to pause politics and not to demonize Americans who are on the street.”

Garcetti also warned the president that it’s not possible for authorities to “arrest their way out of the issue.” Instead, Garcetti would like “federal government aid to L.A. with surplus property or money to create additional shelters.”

But Trump better not release a dime of federal money until there’s a federal investigation that exposes how Los Angeles has wasted hundreds of millions on housing for the homeless in one of the most outrageous misuses of funds in American history.

Paradise Lost

To see just how ineffective homeless policy in Los Angeles has been to-date, and how Garcetti’s schemes will only destroy neighborhoods, wasting hundreds of […] Read More

Politicians Who Accept Government Union Money Betray the Public

Public sector unions should be illegal. They have very little in common with private sector unions, which, properly regulated, play a vital role in society. The differences between public sector and private sector unions are significant. For example:

1 – Private sector unions cannot be unreasonable in the demands they bring to negotiations with management, because if they ask for too much, they will bankrupt the company. Public sector unions, on the other hand, know that government agencies can simply raise taxes to fund their demands.

2 – Private sector unions negotiate with management that is either elected by shareholders or represents private owners of the company. Public sector unions negotiate with politicians who are often elected using campaign contributions that came from those unions. Politicians know that if they reject union demands, the unions will fight their reelection and replace them with a politician who will do what they want.

3 – Private sector unions are not generally pushing a political agenda that goes beyond their pay and benefits, their work conditions, and the practices specific to their industry. Public sector unions are unified in their drive for higher taxes, and more tax revenues allocated to pay and benefits for public employees. Increasingly, equally significant, and unlike private sector unions, public sector unions share an ideological agenda that favors bigger government.

The inherent political agenda of public sector unions is more pay and benefits for public employees, work rules that result in more government employees than might actually be […] Read More

Public Sector Unions Buy Another “Republican” Politician

As a force in state politics, California’s Republican party is, for all practical purposes, dead. Republicans hold only 11 of 40 seats in the State Senate, and just 18 of 80 seats in the State Assembly. Not one statewide office is in Republican hands.

California’s Republican party is so ridiculously tainted that even the respected, undeniably capable Steve Poizner, a life-long Republican, running for state insurance commissioner in 2018 as an independent, could not get elected. He was beaten by the scandal plagued Ricardo Lara, whose stellar qualifications as insurance commissioner include an undergraduate degree in Chicano Studies, followed by years as an Assembly staffer.

Apparently, California’s voters prefer to elect anyone, so long as they are not now, and never have been, a Republican. How it came to this is a long story, but the outcome can be summarized in one fairly short sentence: Democrats have successfully stigmatized California’s Republicans as racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic bigots, who, as if that weren’t enough, want to destroy the planet in order to please their evil capitalist donors.

In response to what is, to put it mildly, a despicable lie, Republicans in California have tried desperately to prove they’re not racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic bigots who want to destroy the planet in order to please their evil capitalist donors. But it’s hard to prove a negative.

When they’re not busy denying that they’re bad people, California’s Republicans play defense, opposing an ongoing torrent of Democrat sponsored legislation guaranteed to make California […] Read More

The Enemies of American Infrastructure

Between 2008 and 2019, China opened up 33 high speed rail routes, connecting 39 major cities along four north-south and four east-west main lines. The 18,000 mile network runs trains at an average speed of around 200 miles per hour. By 2030, the Chinese expect to double the mileage of their high speed rail network by expanding to eight north-south and eight east-west main lines. In less than 20 years, the Chinese have completely transformed their rail transportation network.

This is typical for the Chinese. China is also building three new airports – offshore. Dalian, along the north coast opposite the Korean peninsula, Xiang’an, on the central coast facing Taiwan, and Sanya, off the coast of Hainan Island in the strategic South China Sea. All three airports are to be built to the highest international levels, with 12,000 foot runways able to accommodate the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger airliner. All three are built on “reclaimed land,” i.e., the Chinese intend to bulldoze a few mountains into the ocean and flatten them into runways. And all three, from start to finish, will be built in under ten years.

China’s ability to construct big infrastructure, fast, is beyond debate. The Three Gorges Project, the largest dam in the world, created a deep water reservoir an astonishing 1,400 miles long. Its hydroelectric capacity of 22.5 gigawatts is the largest in the world. This massive construction project was done, from start to finish, in 12 years.

While […] Read More

Inflation vs Deflation – Only One Choice

Critics of government deficit spending correctly point out that perpetual debt accumulation is not sustainable. They’re right. But before they criticize an economic policy that aims to use inflation to whittle away the real value – and hence the actual burden – of accumulated debt, they’d be wise to consider the alternatives. Because there aren’t any.

Deficit spending has been touted as a potential driver of inflation, because only with devalued (inflated) currency can Americans hope to erode the real value of mounting levels of government debt. Continuing to print U.S. dollars, it is claimed, can only lead to too many dollars in the system, and hence a devalued dollar. We should be so lucky.

When American households join the Federal Government in spending more than they make, the only way to keep this up is to lower interest rates and increase the value of the underlying collateral. This second factor, the value of collateral, is particularly important for the American consumer, who has relied on home equity appreciation to enable ongoing borrowing which in-turn enabled ongoing spending beyond their means. The so-called financialization of the American economy over the past few decades has been specifically aimed at increasing the value of assets in order to stimulate more borrowing and spending.

The deflationary risk caused by debt accumulation becomes most acute if and when this asset-price bubble bursts. When the market value of the collateral suddenly becomes worth less than the amount of the loans outstanding, banks cannot extend new […] Read More

Deficits Are Secondary to WHAT You’re Paying For

“I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.” – Ronald Reagan

If you pay attention to the libertarian purists, President Reagan earns mixed reviews on his economic policies. After all, in 1983, the federal budget deficit exceeded 6 percent of GDP. But Reagan was untroubled by federal budget deficits for at least two reasons, and in both cases he has been vindicated by history.

Reagan’s priorities were to unleash the American economy, which he accomplished through deregulation, and to invest in American military supremacy. As the federal budget surpluses of the 1990s and the collapse of the Soviet Union can attest, Reagan had his priorities straight, and got the results he sought.

When it comes to deficit spending and the military challenges facing an American president, Reagan and Trump have a lot in common. Mostly through executive orders, and to some extent through legislation, Trump has deregulated the American economy. He has also successfully reinvested in America’s military.

To put this in perspective, Trump’s projected 2019 federal budget deficit of $960 billion is 4.5 percent the 2019 GDP projection of $21.2 trillion. And Trump’s projected 2019 defense budget of $716 billion is 3.3 percent of GDP. Military spending during most of the Reagan years was around 6 percent of GDP, and during his presidency the federal budget deficits averaged 4.3 percent.

Like Reagan, Trump took office having to clean up after a predecessor whose foreign policy […] Read More

Defining Nationalist Environmentalism

Earlier this year, an opinion columnist writing for the extreme leftist publication The Guardian, made the claim that “eco-fascism is undergoing a revival in the fetid culture of the extreme right.” His observations were in reaction to the New Zealand massacre, where the alleged shooter identified himself as an “eco-fascist.”

This accusation, that the “fetid culture of the extreme right” includes a significant cohort of genocidal eco-fascists, is gaining traction. Mother Jones just published a report entitled “Anti-Immigration White Supremacy Has Deep Roots in the Environmental Movement” that “highlights far-right extremists’ budding revival of eco-fascism.” That report reprises a New Yorker article from 2015 entitled “Environmentalism’s Racist History.”

Expect more of this from the establishment media: Right wing equals white supremacist equals genocidal eco-fascist. But where are they going with this new narrative? If their goal is simply to underscore the alleged danger presented by anyone right-of-center, is this truly the best approach? Because it doesn’t stand up to logic, and it risks exposing the illogic of most conventional environmentalist policies.

An interesting online commentator with over 450,000 subscribers on YouTube is 23 year old James Allsup. In only two years, his videos have been watched over 73 million times, and along with attracting nearly a half-million followers, he’s managed to get himself stamped as a right wing extremist and “white nationalist” by the usual suspects, the SPLC, the ADL, Media Matters, and others.

Without watching all of Allsup’s more than 200 videos […] Read More

The Real Reason Behind the Drive to Unionize Charter Schools

Want to know another reason California’s teachers unions are desperate to unionize charter schools? They want the leverage to force these schools to participate in CalSTRS, because CalSTRS charges all its participants the same pension contribution rates.

This is a truly amazing, grotesquely unfair, astonishing scam. It means that new schools have to pay for the every financial mistake that CalSTRS ever made, and they’ve made plenty. CalSTRS is only 64 percent funded. CalSTRS is $107 billion in debt – that’s $238,000 per active member. Better get more active members!

Even CalPERS, the largest public employee pension system in the U.S., and one that has engaged in its own share of accounting gimmicks, doesn’t make its financially responsible participants pay for the negligence of its financially irresponsible participants. Every agency that relies on CalPERS has its funded ratio individually calculated. If a local governing board managed to negotiate financially sustainable benefits, or increased their contributions, or otherwise managed to do something right, they have a higher funded ratio, a lower liability, and make lower payments.

Not so with CalSTRS.

A grim gallop through the latest financial reports for CalSTRS will vividly illustrate just how royally CalSTRS will abuse any newcomer to their system, and you don’t have to look very far. Page two of the report for 6/30/2018 has a table displaying the 38.7 percent contribution rate – expressed as a percentage of pension eligible payroll – that participants pay. Employers pay 18.13 percent, the […] Read More