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

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

Big Tech Censors Strike Again

Earlier this week YouTube banned three more independent commentators. James Allsup, “The Iconoclast,” and “Way of the World.” Their crime? Outspoken defense of Western Culture, which apparently is now considered “hate speech.” Taken together, the videos posted by these three commentators had been watched over 100 million times.

The most prominent of these newly banished, James Allsup, had over 450,000 subscribers. Thanks to this latest move by YouTube, America’s defacto Ministry of Truth, nearly a half-million Americans now have less reason than ever to believe their first amendment rights will be protected, and, by extension, any of their constitutional rights. Do the Lords of YouTube fear “right wing extremism?” Then they need to stop taking extreme measures that provoke extreme resentment. They need to stop engaging in fascist censorship.

For those of us who have never considered ourselves extremists, and who don’t necessarily agree with everything that James Allsup and these other banished commentators ever did or said, this is nonetheless a matter of principle. It is intolerable to allow private business interests to lobotomize our collective consciousness in pursuit of their personal political agenda. That should not be happening here, in a nation that considers freedom of speech to be one of its founding principles.

One independent commentator who hasn’t yet had his tongue ripped out by the YouTube overlords, Vincent James, posted a scathing reaction to this latest act of censorship. Quote:

“The CEO of YouTube recently came out and talked about how they have an […] Read More

Countering Progressive Nihilism

America’s homeless epidemic, along with a shocking rise in deaths from drug overdoses, stem from the same root cause: liberal progressive ideology. The seductive power of this ideology, which brims in equal measure with overwrought compassion for the less fortunate alongside fuming resentment towards the “privileged,” has earned it a dominant position in American culture.

Armed with the rhetorical equivalent of nuclear weaponry, but devoid of common sense or acceptance of hard truths, liberal progressive ideology defines the message and the agenda in public K-12 and higher education, entertainment, conventional media, social media, multinational corporations, powerful nonprofit organizations, and establishment politics. But the consequences of liberal progressive ideology are often nihilistic.

While countless critical issues are being ignored or made worse thanks to the influence of progressives, two of them, homelessness and drug related deaths, stand out. In these two cases, the failure of progressive policies are increasingly obvious, to the point where even liberals are beginning to demand a return to polices that worked in previous decades but were abandoned in recent years.

Progressive Policies Have Lost the War on Drugs

Two important recent articles explain not only how these two crises became so acute, but offer solutions. The first of these articles, published in American Greatness, was written by John Little, a prosecutor operating in a rural county in Ohio. Little has observed first hand the worsening opioid epidemic. He describes how the price of drugs has plummeted in recent years, claiming that just four years ago, […] Read More

California’s Mandatory Ethnic Indoctrination

California’s state legislature is on the verge of mandating an “ethnic studies” course in order for a student to graduate from high school. Why not? Today in California, K-12 public school student enrollment is only 23 percent “White not Hispanic.” Based on current immigration and fertility statistics, California’s demographics will eventually become America’s demographics.

If America were the melting pot it used to be, this would not be a concern. If America engaged in color-blind but merit-based immigration policies, this would not be a concern. But America is not screening immigrants for job skills and education, and America today is, at least as the American Left would have it, no longer a melting pot, but a “salad bowl.”

It should come as no surprise that the “salad bowl” philosophy informs every word of the California Dept. of Education’s proposed curriculum guidelines for ethnic studies classes, . Unlike carrots that absorb the juice of the beef and the aroma of the garlic in a fine pot of stew, California’s salad bowl vision is a strictly separatist entree, with lettuce and tomatoes and artichoke hearts all mixed, but not the least bit blended.

Even promoting a salad bowl model of American culture instead of a melting pot might seem like not such a big deal, but that really depends how the ingredients are described in the cookbook, and what sort of dressing is poured over the ingredients. According to California’s proposed ethnic studies curriculum, the ingredients are either […] Read More