How “Release Time” Causes Taxpayers to Fund Government Unions

Based on an estimated total membership of 1.1 million and average dues per member of around $700, California’s public sector unions collect and spend approximately $800 million per year. The impact of the June 2018 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Janus vs AFSCME may have chopped around $50 million off that annual total, by eliminating the union’s ability to collect agency fees from non-members. Nonetheless, California’s public sector unions still collect a stupefying amount of money every year, and remain one of the most powerful special interests in the state.

The long-term impact of the Janus decision has yet to be felt. Will California’s public sector unions slowly lose membership? Or will they retain or even grow their membership by being more accountable to their members, or, equally likely, by continuing to make quitting the union an exercise in bureaucratic futility so daunting that few try, and even fewer succeed?

The Janus case, and union dues, however, are not the only areas where reformers should direct their attention. While union dues account for the vast majority of total union revenue, another way that taxpayers support public sector unions is through so called “release time.” The total value to California’s public sector unions of the release time subsidy statewide is surprisingly high – just for California’s K-12 public schools, the value of this subsidy could be estimated as high as $100 million per year.

Release time is the practice whereby government employees take time off […] Read More

The American Left is Racist, NOT President Trump

Here we go again. Politicians and pundits are falling all over each other trying to condemn President Trump yet again for some insensitive, allegedly racist Tweets.

As Hong Kong teeters on the brink of mass insurgency against the fascist mainland government, and Iran’s brutal theocracy accelerates their nuclear weapons program, the top story this week is “Trump is a racist.”

How do the news anchors and commentators who spew this Trump-bashing pablum, day after day, year after year, do so with a straight face?

If we must obsess over race and identity, and apparently we must, it is the American Left where you will find the racists, not the White House.

First of all, since the Tweets were deleted, here is their exact text:

“So interesting to see how ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose government are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly…

…and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how…

…it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

Three Tweets, posted at […] Read More

New Legislation Will Mandate CalState Students Take Ethnic Studies Class

The axis of public sector unions and the identity politics industry has come up with a new way to increase their power and profits – force college students to take a class in “ethnic studies” if they want to graduate.

To do this, AB 1460 was introduced earlier this year by California State Assembly Member Dr. Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat who, prior to being elected to the Assembly in 2012, was a Professor of African-American Studies at San Diego State University. The bill has passed the assembly and is currently being considered in the state senate.

An outspoken critic of this bill is Dr. Tony Lima, who taught economics at CSU East Bay for 37 years. Lima has posted online a six page takedown of AB 1460. He writes:

“Cal State University (CSU) is today graduating students who cannot do basic algebra, supposedly a requirement for admission to the university. They also cannot compose a paragraph, much less an entire research paper. Once the CSU has figured out how to teach those two R’s, they can take the time to guarantee full employment for ethnic studies faculty.”

He backs up this assertion with sobering data on the performance of California’s K-12 public schools. Referencing the U.S. Dept. of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, Lima recounts how California’s ranking vs other states has fallen steadily in recent decades. For example, eighth grader performance in math went from 29th among states in 1992 to 44th place […] Read More

The South China Sea of the Moon

If you want to control maritime traffic between the most populous nations on earth, you have to control the South China Sea. Over one-third of all global shipping passes through the South China Sea, transporting raw materials, fuel, and manufactured goods to and from the great economies of Asia, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan. The South China Sea is also resource rich, with abundant fisheries and vast reserves of oil and gas waiting to be tapped beneath its shallow waters.

On the surface of the New World of the 21st century, the Eighth Continent, otherwise known as the Moon, there is another area of even greater strategic significance than the South China Sea – the water-rich polar regions of the moon. Controlling this portion of the Lunar surface could be a prerequisite to more quickly establishing a permanent presence in space. Confirmed less than a year ago, these water resources are frozen in the shadows of the craters, especially around the lunar south pole.

Much has been made of the potential for humans to colonize Mars. With abundant water, a thin atmosphere, a 25 hour day, and mineral resources, it certainly is feasible to eventually colonize Mars. But in our enthusiasm to launch a Mars mission, we risk overlooking the strategic imperative to establish bases that can access water resources on the moon. Here are benefits of such a moon base:

Only four days from Earth vs a minimum of 90 days to […] Read More

California’s Regulatory Hostility Prevents More New Homes

The median home price in Los Angeles County is $618,000. In Santa Clara County it’s $1.2 million. In the entire state of California, including the somewhat more “affordable” inland counties, the median home price is $548,000.

The national median home price? $227,000.

There’s a reason for this. For decades, California’s state and local governments have made it harder and more expensive for any builder to construct new housing. In most other states, the governing agencies want more housing and they try to make it easier for builders. In California, the exact opposite is the case.

The consequences of this hostile shake-down of builders by California’s state and local governments are a housing shortage, unaffordable homes, an exacerbated homeless crisis, and increased calls for rent control (which will create even more disincentives for home builders).

The response of California’s policymakers to the housing shortage they created is not to address the punitive fees and permitting delays, but to try to cram high density housing projects down the throats of local communities, accusing them of nimbyism – the “not in my backyard” syndrome. The problem with this accusation is that no sane person wants an apartment building plopped next door to them in a neighborhood that used to be single family dwellings. If “nimbyism” means stop destroying well established and tranquil low density neighborhoods with mandated high density projects, then California needs more nimbyism, not less.

Along with punitive fees and permitting delays is a bias against any […] Read More

The Triggering Tongue of the Conquistador

The first debate, in two installments, of the Democratic candidates for president has come and gone. On night one, a memorable takeaway was the prolific use of Spanish by three of the candidates, along with one of the moderators. Entire minutes passed without a word of English being heard. No, the tongue of the Conquistador filled the air.

Talk about feeling unsafe! Talk about being “triggered”! America’s Democratic Left fumes endlessly about European crimes against the benevolent “others,” the invariably peaceful, harmonious peoples of the world, then their presidential candidates impose the language of the European Conquistador upon our passive populace.

Yeah, that’s right. Spanish speakers don’t get a pass. Latin America’s heritage is as soaked in blood as anything that ever happened in El Norte. Not only the rapacious slaughter imposed upon those indigenous “first peoples” by the Spaniards. No, the indigenous Americans (or is it the “Aztlanx”?) also have to answer for the slaughter and slavery and endless warfare that defined life in this hemisphere prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. The genocidal wars of the Aztecs, the human sacrifices of the Mayans.

The truth may hurt, but it will also set you free. Look backward through antiquity and all the world was the same—life was nasty, brutish, and short.

None of that stopped “Beto” O’Rourke from launching his opening statement in Spanish. There’s a way to differentiate yourself if you’re not a member of some “protected status group.” Good job, Beto. Not to be outdone, […] Read More

How Does a California Family Survive?

It’s common enough to discuss the high cost-of-living in California. It’s become a serious topic, at last. But for Californians who are used to paying ridiculous prices for everything, it may be helpful to present a comparison in the form of an annual family budget. How much does it cost to take care of a family of four in Los Angeles compared to Houston?

The choice of Los Angeles is logical enough. One in four Californians live there. And while Los Angeles County may be more expensive than most of California’s inland counties, it is not cheaper than Orange, San Diego, or any of the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Area. Altogether there are over 25 million Californians living in expensive coastal counties. Two out of three Californians endure the types of prices depicted here.

The choice of Houston is also logical, not simply as a representative of cheaper Texas, but as a proxy for nearly all of the United States, with the only exceptions being those high-tax (usually coastal) metropolitan areas located in states ran by progressive Democrats. In terms of the cost-of-living, Houston is an authentic stand in for most of America.

Reviewing the budget depicted below, the first thing to realize is that most people don’t have a household income of $100,000 per year. The median household income in California is $71,805. That means half of those 25 million people who have to live in places like Los Angeles have a household income that […] Read More

A Strategy to Transform California in One Election

As a statewide political force, California’s conservative voters are disenfranchised. Almost now politicians holding state office speak for conservatives, almost no court rulings favor conservatives, and nearly everywhere, conservative values are discredited or ignored by a hostile press. But California’s political landscape could be poised for dramatic shifts. Even now, after more than a decade of national economic expansion that has especially favored California’s high tech industries, the negative consequences of liberal political dominance are increasingly visible.

By now every voter in California knows that something is wrong. Failing schools. Out of control homelessness. Millions living in poverty. Bad roads. Water shortages. Ridiculously expensive electricity, gasoline, utilities, even food. Overpriced homes. Regressive taxes. Punitive regulations that specifically target small businesses. We’ve heard this litany again and again. It’s true. And there are solutions.

Today Californian voters might reject liberal governance if they were offered candidates offering a new political agenda designed to rescue California’s schools and lower the cost of living. A successful agenda to transform California doesn’t even have to be labeled “conservative.” A new political agenda for California can be presented as nonpartisan, targeting not only conservatives, but independents and disaffected liberals. To fill the big tent, all this agenda has to do is offer big ideas that will have transformative impact.

Proponents of a new political agenda for California will arouse fierce opposition from special interests and ideologues ranging from orthodox libertarians to fanatic leftist “identitarians,” to the environmentalist lobby and their profiteering corporate partners. But the […] Read More

America’s Homeless Industrial Complex – Causes and Solutions

In his final speech from the White House in January 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower warned the nation that the military had joined with the arms industry and had acquired unwarranted influence over American politics. His term for this alliance was the “military industrial complex.”

Since that time, Eisenhower’s term has been co-opted by other critics of special interests pooling their resources to exercise dangerous influence on America’s democracy; one example would be the so-called “homeless industrial complex.”

This label has been around awhile, and has bipartisan origins. In 2012 a guest editorial appeared in the liberal Washington Post entitled “Dismantling the social services industrial complex.” In it, the author explains “an odd mirror image of this huge complex has emerged in the very ‘industry’ that seeks to feed, clothe and otherwise meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable in our society. It’s a social services-industrial complex, if you will, one that could prove even more difficult to subdue than its military counterpart.”

In 2013, writing for Poverty Insights, author John Roberts asked “Is There a Homeless Industrial Complex That Perpetuates Homelessness?” And in January 2017, a former homeless activist published in the ultra-liberal Huffington Post an article entitled “The Homeless Industrial Complex Problem.”

The alliance of special interests that constitutes what has now become the Homeless Industrial Complex are government bureaucracies, homeless advocacy groups operating through nonprofit entities, and large government contractors, especially construction companies and land development firms.

Here’s how the process works: Developers […] Read More

Climate Crusaders Poised to Claim Oregon

A drama playing out in Oregon this week exemplifies, at best, the vast and growing distance between Left and Right in America today.

At worst, it exemplifies the relentless onslaught of corporate leftist tyranny, in all things, and everywhere at once, and the rising fury of an abused population that is slowly awakening. In Oregon’s case, a handful of Republican state senators are fighting an uphill battle to protect the people they represent from yet another attack of the climate crusaders.

While the Left Coast of America may be deep blue, the disenfranchised interior is an equally deep red. Almost invariably, to drive east from Seattle, Portland, the San Francisco Bay Area or Los Angeles, is to drive into a GOP controlled hinterland. A political map depicting Oregon’s 2018 gubernatorial election makes this plain – the entire eastern two-thirds of the state is Republican, along with the entire south coast and rural stretches of the north coast. The Democratic political machines in Portland, Salem, and a handful of college towns deliver enough votes to control the state, effectively denying a voice to everyone else.

Democrats in Oregon hold what Ballotpedia and others refer to in state politics as a “trifecta,” control of the lower house, the upper house, and the governor’s mansion. But in the Oregon State Senate, the Democrats are still one seat short of being able muster a quorum to pass legislation without Republican participation, and last week the Republicans rebelled.

The issue was proposed […] Read More