Manhattan Beach Firefighter’s Earn Over $300,000 Per Year

There is now a $300,000 club for California’s firefighters. In the City of Manhattan Beach during 2018, the average pay and benefits for a full time firefighter were $300,242. While the Manhattan Beach firefighters, at least through 2018, belong to an exclusive club, twelve California cities pay their firefighters over $250,000 per year, and 69 California cities pay their firefighters over $200,000 per year. Are these levels of firefighter pay appropriate? Are they affordable?

Its perfectly understandable that nearly everyone, in a perfect world, would not consider any amount of compensation too high for a firefighter, given the work they do. On the other hand, we don’t live in a perfect world. Ordinary Californians face unprecedented financial challenges, nearly all of them caused by public policies that have raised the costs for everything – housing utilities, gasoline, and taxes. It costs twice as much to live in California as it costs to live in most states in America. Why should firefighters in particular, and public employees in general, be exempt from the misery the politicians they elect are inflicting on everyone else?

These policies are the product of California’s long standing one-party regime controlled by oligarchs and public sector unions, buttressed by the politically useful fanaticism of social justice warriors and environmentalist extremists. Just in California, public sector unions collect and spend over $800 million dollars per year, and there is no political special interest, anywhere, that has the slightest interest, much less the ability, to ever seriously […] Read More

“Density Ideology” Will Destroy America

If you’re searching for an organizing principle that unites the Left, density ideology should be at or near the top of your list. Far from being a sideshow, density ideology is behind the leftist drive to cram America’s rising population into the footprint of existing cities. It fulfills the agenda of every big player on the Left. Environmentalists get to preserve open space. Social justice warriors get to experiment with forced ethnic and economic integration via mandatory “inclusionary zoning,” and investors—and this, above all, is critical—get to make a killing as the price of real estate skyrockets inside the areas where building is still allowed.

Every premise that the densification gang advocates is flawed. In particular, as argued in “The Density Delusion,” there is no shortage of open land available to host new suburbs, and there is no compelling argument that suburbs cause more per capita greenhouse gas emissions than crowded cities do. And the consequences, unaffordable housing through politically contrived scarcity, rolls its way across the nation as the density advocates fly under the radar, and convert city after city.

As might be expected, ground zero for density ideology is California. Hiding behind innocuous labels such as “smart growth,” “infill,” “greenbelts,” and “new urbanism,” this process of urban containment is one of the primary reasons housing in California is beyond the reach of middle-income families.

Urban geographer Joel Kotkin recently offered a chilling summary of how everything California’s legislature is doing to “solve” the state’s housing crisis […] Read More

The Obligations of Compassion

A recent column in the New York Times entitled “Trump Wants Law and Order Front and Center,” seems to imply that the policy focus that “Trump and his allies” have placed on America’s “petty crime and homelessness” is a manufactured crisis. According to the author, Thomas Edsall, “Donald Trump and his Republican allies are reviving law-and-order themes similar to those used effectively by Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew in the late 1960s and early 1970s to demonize racial minorities.”

Edsall goes on to accuse Trump and fellow Republicans of attempting to discredit “liberalized law enforcement initiatives” that, for example, decriminalize vagrancy and eliminate cash bail. In his lengthy column, Edsall attempts to paint any objection to progressive criminal reforms as pure political demagoguery and veiled racism. He writes, “Many of the crimes progressive prosecutors are declining to press charges on are linked to homelessness, vagrancy, drug possession, disorderly conduct, breaking into vacant property, and so forth — which, from a strategic point of view, enables Trump and his allies to link homelessness with progressive Democratic law enforcement policies.”

Being an academic as well as a journalist, however, to buttress his arguments Edsall deployed quotes from Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, who theorizes that people whose neighborhoods and work environments are being disrupted if not destroyed by homeless encampments only have “second order” rights to be upset. In Tribe’s own words, “One needn’t be a libertarian to recognize that there is a difference in kind between someone’s […] Read More

Black Conservatives in America

Mainstream liberal Democrats and their allies in the media have made clear that “demographics is destiny,” and that destiny favors Democrats. It’s easy enough to see why they believe this: nonwhites constituted 15 percent of the population in 1960, by 2050 that will have risen to 53 percent, and nonwhites vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.

The answer mainstream conservatives have to this challenge is to try harder. Convince nonwhites to vote for conservative candidates, even if that means giving up all the entitlements that Democrats have used for decades to purchase votes and create dependency. It’s a tough sell.

Not-so-mainstream conservatives are as likely to give up as to try harder. Consider this comment made in rebuttal to a recent article “Race and Realignment in the Anglosphere” which had made the case for trying harder:

“More pandering, compromise and continual hope that the invaders, who are relentlessly beating us politically, will suddenly draw back and change orientations is foolish. It is just more of the same old “conservative” born-to-lose mentality, no matter how nicely presented. We already know the result of the experiment you suggest, we lose everything, America becomes Brazil, and the multi-generational white majority, ‘Americans’ as we think of ourselves, we will become a minority, in our only nation. And a targeted and hated one, at that… Let’s start seriously talking about the separation.”

The problem with this comment, however well argued, is that it argues for something even more impossible. There will be no CalExit, […] Read More

Newsom’s 2020-21 Budget – A Big Pie, But Empty Calories

Governor Newsom has unveiled his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2020-21, and it comes in at a whopping $222 billion. That’s up from $209 billion last year, and sharply up from a few years ago. Backing up a decade, the 2010-11 budget totaled $130 billion. What on earth could justify a 70 percent increase in spending in just ten years?

Shown below is the shocking growth in California’s state budget over the past forty years. The chart includes not only general fund spending, along with special funds and bonds, but also federal funds which are not included in the $222 billion total, but which are administered by the state and spent in California.

As can be seen, the growth hasn’t been uniformly up. There was a drop during the mild recession in the mid 1990s, another one in 2004-2005, and a plunge during the great recession that affected 2011 through 2014. But overall, spending growth over the past 40 years looks a bit like the proverbial hockey stick.

To have a fair discussion of spending growth in California, however, it is necessary to adjust for population growth and the impact of inflation. That is not a problem, since population data, CPI trends, and historical budgets are all easily found online. Back in 1977 California’s population was 21.9 million, and the CPI was 56.9. For the last five years, California’s population has hovered just under 40 million, growing by only a half million in […] Read More

Environmentalists Caused Australia’s Fires, Not “Climate Change”

“These greenies and the government don’t want to burn s— off. We’re going to lose all our houses and properties because of you useless pieces of garbage will not burn off when its supposed to, through the winter time like we used to do years ago out in the farms up in the mountains; burn all the undergrowth off so everything was safe. But you p—–, you want to have a really good look at this, look at the state you’ve caused here. You are the biggest bunch of useless loser pieces of garbage God ever had the misfortune to blow life into.” – Australian resident of New South Wales, January 7, 2020

This is the reason for this year’s devastating wildfires in Australia. Environmentalist regulations prevented landowners from burning off dry brush. For decades, every year during the Australian winter, across the continent, brushfires were deliberately set to safely burn the undergrowth. Even in pre-colonial times, the aborigines set brushfires to prevent tinder from accumulating.

If you want to watch an authentic, eyewitness account of what really happened – quoted above – you’ll find it 2:56 minutes into “The Truth About the Australian Bushfires,” a video posted on January 7th by the inimitable Paul Joseph Watson. But watch out. Most of the profanity is edited out of the above transcription.

Profanity is appropriate, however, given the frustration that level headed people have to feel when they confront the fanatics who want to micromanage every aspect of our lives […] Read More

Realignment and Race in the Anglosphere

Two national elections, one decisive and the other a cliffhanger, have shaken the politics of the West to its core. In the United Kingdom, just last month, Conservative candidate Boris Johnson won a decisive victory for himself and his party. In the United States, barely three years ago, Republican candidate Donald Trump won the presidential election in a stunning upset where he narrowly lost the popular vote but logged a decisive victory in the electoral college.

The voters that supported these candidates represent a movement that has been building for several years but was not expected to result in a political realignment so disruptive and polarizing. Both candidates prevailed in the face of almost universal condemnation from the establishment media, the entertainment glitterati, most major political donors, and even members of their own party.

The reasons for their success are no secret, the only surprise was the level of support they were able to attract. To repeat what everyone acknowledges – whether or not they agree or disagree – Boris Johnson and Donald Trump owe their political success to a populist reassertion of national sovereignty. They represent renegotiating bad trade deals, reconsidering mass immigration, restructuring tax laws to discourage exporting jobs, repealing crippling regulations, and rethinking foreign policy to replace nation building with principled realism.

There’s much more to this picture, however, something harder to recognize, obscured by Johnson’s bombast and Trump’s bellicosity. While both of these politicians are channeling resurgent nationalism, they are also common sense centrists. While common […] Read More

West Contra Costa School District Putting a Half-Billion Bond Before Voters in March

One of the most financially mismanaged school districts in California has found a solution to their financial challenges – borrow more money, and let the voters pay more in property taxes.

Scheduled to appear on the March 2020 local ballot for voters living within the West Contra Costa Unified School District, Measure R, a “classroom modernization and safety update measure,” will seek approval to “issue $575 million of bonds, at legal rates, averaging $34.48 million annually while bonds are outstanding, at 6¢ per $100 assessed value, with strict citizens’ oversight, annual audits and all money for local schools.”

In case you’re wondering, school bond measures almost always pass. In 2018, for example, data compiled by CalTax indicates that over 90 percent of school bonds were approved by voters. A California Policy Center analysis conducted at the time estimated the total of these local school bond measures set California voters back another $15.5 billion. This sum is typical per election cycle, and doesn’t include statewide school bond measures, such as the $13 billion state bond for school construction planned for the 2020 California ballot.

That state bond proposal for $13 billion will “supplement” the billions, or possibly tens of billions, offered via hundreds of local school construction bonds proposals, set to appear on local ballots in March 2020, with more to come in November.

Not An Exemplary Candidate for More Construction Borrowing

West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) faces declining enrollment, but to-date has been […] Read More

Public Employee Strike Looms in Santa Clara County

With 2020 upon us, it appears likely that two unions representing Santa Clara County employees will be going on strike. Unless agreements can be reached, 3,000 members of the Registered Nurses Professional Association will strike, along with over 11,000 members of the SEIU.

When one considers the political leanings of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, which tilt overwhelmingly pro-labor in one of the most liberal strongholds in the world, it seems inexplicable that negotiations have reached an impasse. Inexplicable, that is, until you review the financial situation confronting Santa Clara County.

To get started, have a look at the most recent publicly available consolidated balance sheet for Santa Clara County, showing the change in their assets and liabilities between their fiscal years ending 6/30/2017 and 6/30/2018.

As can be seen from this table (found on page 7 of Santa Clara County’s most recent CAFR), the county’s total assets increased by an impressive $891 million between 2017 and 2018. But the county’s total liabilities increased by an even more impressive $2.1 billion over the same period, nearly three times as much.

Digging in, it isn’t hard to see what happened. Santa Clara County’s finance department finally decided to accurately represent the size of their unfunded retirement obligations. They increased their net pension liability by $545 million, and they increased their OPEB (“other post employment benefits,” typically retirement health insurance coverage) liability by $1.0 billion.

Anyone whose dug around financials long enough knows that the […] Read More