City Journal Winter 2016

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Winter 2016
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Steven Greenhut
Impervious California « Back to Story

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Kalifornians are in denial and the entire country will pay the bill when it comes due.
Sometimes you just can't help some people. This latest election will mean more businesses and people will flee the Golden State. All I can say at this point is, when your state goes under don't come runnin' to the US taxpayer to bail you out! You're on your own!
Case in point, Lillian Kawasaki, who won (re?)election to the Water Replenishment District, pulls down a $181K pension from the city of LA.

As a comparison, a retired 4-star General with 35 years service gets $154,104. The more numerous enlisted soldiers with 20 years retiring as a Master Sergeant (E-7) gets $22,224.
With regard to Prop 22: It was sold as requiring lawmakers to spend funds collected for local projects on those local projects rather than throwing them into the general fund.

I am certain that very few people voted for Prop 22 because they wanted to give local governments a green light to exploit the recent Kelo decision.

If it turns out we got hookwinked then it wouldn't be the first time. It would be just one more data point to suggest that the proposition process in California has become utterly and irreversibly corrupted.

With regard to Prop 25: Maybe I'm crazy, but I believe that in the long run it is better for the Republican Party if all legislation requires only a simple majority to pass.

Up until now Californians only had to be certain that 1/3 of each state house was Republican in order to keep the brakes on taxing and spending. Now they will have to see that at least 1/2 of each house is so populated.

Now everything that is not a tax or budget proposal sails through the legislature creating mandates that are either paid for with higher taxes or are added to the ever-increasing deficit.

I believe that it would be better to have more Republicans there to stifle the mandates, or if Californians continue to support large Democrat majorities, then those Democrats will have no excuses when they bust the budget or, through exhorbitant taxes, encourage all the productive folks to "Go east!"

With regard to Prop 13: as a certified rightwing nutjob I was long a supporter of Prop 13, but have since come to loathe it.

It has shifted so much power to the state and away from localities. It causes major distortions in the marketplace. It results in the typical sort of crony capitalist maneuvering one would expect in a distorted marketplace, as when property sales are magically converted into complicated transactions to escape the reassessment.

The vast majority of the benefits of Prop 13 is now enjoyed by corporations rather than the common citizens who voted it in. I guess its good that some companies are able to pay lower property taxes, but now those companies don't have to fight so hard against workers' comp expansion, increased environmental restrictions, etc. because of their property tax boon.

The state now gets some of its money from locally collected taxes and fees, and localities now get some of their budgets from state collected taxes and fees. Its a gordian knot where every government official has one hand in the pocket of a taxpayer and the other in the pocket of another government official.

Thank you Howard Jarvis.


Obviously, legislators around the country are not quite as sophisticated as their counterparts in Colorado. It has never occurred to them that they could just pass a bill stating “Oh, by the way, we are no longer bound by our contractual pension obligations.”

Under the Colorado pension “contract breachin’ plan”. . . . . you simply seize vested, accrued, earned, contracted benefits from retirees and pension members (incredibly, with the help of your local union lobbyists . . . . toss those retired union brothers under the bus) until your unfunded pension liabilities are sufficiently reduced to raise your funded ratio.

To be fair, credit for finding this solution should go to the bright administrators at Colorado PERA. You can imagine how difficult it is psychologically to advocate a course of action that you yourself have earlier declared illegal, (see this excellent Denver Post article.)

Meeting contractual obligations? Performing your fiduciary duty? Acting in a moral fashion? No need to fret about these things. We’ve looked into it in Colorado and dang if these things haven’t been optional all along. Hello state and local governments . . . round up those rascally debt problems and herd ‘em out west to us in Colorado, we’ll fix ‘em right good fer ya!
(Visit for more info.)
California could well turn out to be our "Greece".
The top of the Republican ticket in California may have reflected Conservative contempt for the electorate--and for politics as a whole. Who in their right mind would run someone for the Senate--in a recession--who outsourced jobs? Who thought Meg Whitman was an attractive candidate? The recurring myth that excellent business people make effective political leaders has become a Republican personality disorder. Suggest Republicans try polling the people who work at the country club. California might have been pulled back from the brink if California Republicans took more interest in actually winning elections.
Pretty impressive political “hat-trick”, beating a Republican tide and a well-funded opponent to get elected Governor! But can he stand up to a major supporter and save billions by opening 50,000 contract facilities to house technical violators and “wobblers”? All that is needed to save billions is for the Governor to tell the Director of Corrections to put out Requests for Proposals for more contract beds. Opening 50,000 contract beds to house the technical violators and “wobblers” would save $1,124,800 in annual prison operating costs and avoid spending $15 billion in construction costs. California has only 3% of its inmates in contract facilities compared to 13% in Texas and 17% in the federal prison system. What do you think he will do?
However, what is left unsaid and or assumed ,is that Cal. has an out in offloading its problems on the rest of the nation . We should anticipate that Obama will discover or fabricate some executive authority to underwrite Cal.'s lunacy .Therefore it is vitally important that Ryan Boehner and Mc Connell steal a march on that with a Ford to NYC " Drop Dead " ultimatum .Let Cal deal or not with its own problems , but if Cal and Ill and NJ and NY can federalize their madness than the Republic is indeed lost .
So what policies exactly did Meg offer to remedy our problems? And Carly... outsource everything to minimum wage earners? Were two woman basically trying to buy their way in really the best candidates the righties could come up with?
Californians may very well have looked at what conservative policies have done to our country for the last 30 years, and I include the centrist Clinton in that period. Its called a depression. Here in San Diego we are one blink away from bankruptcy ( I wish) because Republican leaders sold out to union demands and underfunded pensions... some leadership there! Seriously, California is a in a way a nation itself, and until we have leaders with policies that create demand for products, economic growth that will rescue the state won't be there.
Even more amusing is how the two major parties have moved so far to the right in the last 30 years. Think about it... the great icon Ronald Reagan wouldn't even be a factor in rightie politics today. Indeed we may very well now have elected moderate leaders, at least by party standards most of us grew up with.
Yikes, they must be smoking the weed they didn't manage to legalize yesterday.
I used to live in L.A. until Latino gangs and their criminal acts (many linked to Mexican drug cartels and prison gangs) forced me to leave my home in 1980). I have many friends and family in California and they are disgusted and alarmed at what happened. I have seen progressively get worse over the years and now conclude that this State is a graphic natural experiment in applied socialism and liberal (communistic) ideology in America.

Latinos, Blacks, Unions, movie stars and welfare state mentals... You deserve you sorry State!

BYE Bye Califas.
A disgusted Latino observer
Hey Steven,

Great we live in a bazaar state or race is still to close to call...thanks again for your clear logic...kind regards, Barbara