View Full Version : Economics Moonbattery does California in

06-02-2009, 03:55 PM

California is fast going down the shitter!


Sacramento, Calif. - California lawmakers just got a Henry Paulson-like ultimatum from state officials: If they don't act, the state could be forced to suspend road, bridge, and other public-works projects as early as next week. Come March, California will be out of cash for even day-to-day operations.

A confluence of the national recession and years of legislative budget games is squeezing the Golden State as never before. Although it's not the largest budget gap the state has ever faced, this time it will be harder for California to get help from private lenders. Standard & Poor's now ranks it lower than any other state except Louisiana, which shares the same rating.

The question is: Will lawmakers finally make the tough budget decisions they've put off for so long?

"Because California does have a perennial budget crisis, it's very easy to fall into the 'boy who cried wolf' syndrome," says Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. "This time the sky is really falling."

The state faces a $28 billion budget shortfall over the next two years. If nothing is done, nearly $5 billion in public-works projects could be halted in little more than a week for lack of bond sales – everything from bridge replacements to a new highway tunnel and billions of dollars' worth of school construction, according to state Treasurer Bill Lockyer.

Already, the state failed to attract enough buyers three weeks ago to sell all of the bonds it had floated, he told state lawmakers Monday. "Expecting investors to purchase our bonds now, when we can't agree on a budget that lenders can rely on, is like expecting someone to buy a stock when they know it's losing value," said Mr. Lockyer.

He and three other state finance officials testified Monday in a rare joint session of the legislature.

The picture worsens next spring if legislators don't pass some plan to increase revenues or cut spending or both. California will run out of operating cash in March, state controller John Chiang told the lawmakers. The recession has severely squeezed state tax revenues.

Normally, the state would borrow to cover any shortfall. But internal revenue sources have already been depleted and outside lenders are less accommodating.

"It's not because of [California's] economy, because it's deep and diverse," says David Hitchcock, primary credit analyst for California with Standard & Poor's. "It's because, financially, they've had budgets that have not proved realistic. They've had large deficits and they've only been able to pay for their budgets through borrowing for the last couple years."

Mr. Chiang said the state may be forced to seek special loans at exorbitant rates or issue IOUs to state workers and vendors, further damaging the California economy.

"Failure is not an option here," said Chiang, referring to the need to align state spending and revenues. "It would take years to recover ... deepening and prolonging the recession."

Bringing the budget back in line will require drastic cuts, significant tax raises, or both. Those options will harm the economy in the short run and cost the state jobs – but so would any delay in taking action, said legislative analyst Mac Taylor.

Not fixing the budget would worsen the state's credit rating, making infrastructure projects even harder to fund.

"It means that the stimulus that we all want won't occur," Lockyer said. "Millions of dollars that would have gone to thousands of private-sector businesses, creating tens of thousands of jobs, will be cut off."

Other states are stuck in similar positions of budget duress, making federal money key to jump-starting their economies, says Stephen Levy, director and senior economist at the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy.

Washington could also help California by backstopping state and local bonds with a federal guarantee. That would reassure investors, preventing the freeze-up in infrastructure projects. It would almost certainly cost the federal government nothing, says Mr. Levy. President-elect Obama hasn't advocated this yet, he adds, but his advisers are discussing the option.

Even with federal guarantees for bonds, lawmakers in Sacramento would still have to tackle the budget deficit, notes Levy.

During the joint session, members listened attentively, but their questions and statements afterward didn't reveal much softening of positions. Republicans signaled continued opposition to tax raises, while Democrats stressed they had already countenanced "devastating spending cuts" and some new revenue was needed. Democrats are a few seats shy of a full two-thirds majority needed to pass a budget on their own.

"It's not clear what my colleagues on the other side of the aisle want," said Karen Bass (D), speaker of the state Assembly, who helped organize Monday's joint session.

"I didn't hear anything that was new today," says Sen. Jeff Denham (R). "People around the state would expect us to deal with all of the waste first, get rid of all the bells and whistles."

To that end, he's proposing eliminating a $2 million waste-management board and supports selling state property, like San Quentin prison. He would close tax loopholes but wouldn't name any taxes he thought Republicans would be willing to raise.

"My guess is you can find a small number of Republican votes for additional taxes if there is a trade-off for some job and business incentives," says Mr. Schnur. Possible incentives include scrapping stringent 40-hour workweek regulations and scaling back on the state's ambitious greenhouse-gas targets, he says.

06-02-2009, 03:57 PM
Freedom at last! They should rejoice. The state has to close down.

06-02-2009, 04:23 PM
California is the 8th largest economy in the world, they say. It's not an economy that can print fiat.... they're screwed. Oh, they'll beg at the trough of fiat printers, but who knows?

06-02-2009, 04:28 PM
An article from last December from The Christian Science Monitor?

OK then....

06-02-2009, 04:44 PM
California did it to themselves. Thank the likes of Boxer, Pelosi and Feinstein for pushing things like "free" social services for illegals who pay dick in return.

06-02-2009, 05:31 PM
An article from last December from The Christian Science Monitor?

OK then....

2 hrs ago AP Alrighty then!

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California's worsening budget crisis holds both pain and promise, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told lawmakers Tuesday as he urged them to quickly solve the state's fiscal mess.

The state faces deep cuts to education and other core programs to plug a $24.3 billion deficit, while a steep decline in tax revenue has created a looming cash crisis that jeopardizes its ability to pay its day-to-day bills.

Even in such dire circumstances, Schwarzenegger said California can emerge more efficient and fiscally stable if lawmakers take steps to restructure government and rethink the services it provides with the revenue it has.

"We can only spend what we have. That is the harsh but simple reality," he said in the rare midyear appearance before a joint Legislature session. "Our wallet is empty, our bank is closed and our credit is dried up."

The governor spoke just four months after he and lawmakers agreed to a two-year budget package that was intended to close a deficit of $42 billion through mid-2010. Declining tax revenue and overly optimistic assumptions about the tax increases they approved in February reopened the state's deficit.

Schwarzenegger said state tax revenue has dropped 27 percent from last year and has returned to 2003 levels.

Controller John Chiang warned legislative leaders last week that California will run out of money to pay its bills on July 29. He called for a balanced budget by the June 15 constitutional deadline so the state can access short-term loans in a tight credit market.

Its new fiscal year begins July 1. "California's day of reckoning is here," Schwarzenegger said.

He has outlined a series of cuts that include an additional $5.2 billion reduction in funding for public schools, laying off 5,000 state workers and further cutting the pay of 200,000 others. He has proposed eliminating welfare for 500,000 families, terminating health coverage for nearly 1 million low-income children and closing 220 state parks.

"People come up to me all the time, pleading 'Governor, please don't cut my program.' They tell me how the cuts will affect them and their loved ones," Schwarzenegger said. "I see the pain in their eyes and hear the fear in their voice. It's an awful feeling. But we have no choice."

The Republican governor and legislators of his own party say they will not raise taxes, after agreeing to $12.8 billion in higher sales, personal income and vehicles taxes earlier this year.

The Democratic leaders of the Assembly and Senate pledged to work quickly to resolve the deficit but said they would resist cuts that would wipe out vital programs, particularly those for children and the poor.

"This is going to be traumatic to a lot of programs and a lot of people, but we are committed to avoiding the wholesale elimination of major investments that matter to the people of California," said Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

In the May special election, voters rejected all five budget-related measures placed on the ballot by Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders. Revenue has continued to plummet as residents have reduced spending and unemployment has soared to 11 percent.

Democratic lawmakers and the Schwarzenegger administration have even inquired about having the federal government give California a loan guarantee, an unprecedented step that is seen as way for the state to lower its borrowing costs.

Chiang, the state controller, said Tuesday that such a guarantee appears unlikely but said U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has indicated the administration wants to help.

He also advised anyone who thinks Schwarzenegger is bluffing about the severity of the crisis to think again.

"They ought to stop denying it," Chiang said. "This is the worst economic cash situation here in California since the Great Depression."


06-02-2009, 09:43 PM
California did it to themselves. Thank the likes of Boxer, Pelosi and Feinstein for pushing things like "free" social services for illegals who pay dick in return.

those are federal officials, as much as I dont care for them, they had nothing to do with this.

California has 3 very unique problems that have combined to devastate their economy.

1) Their constitution requires a 2/3 majority to pass a budget, which means a deadlock every year, and no real reform is ever accomplished from either side. Some people may like gridlock, but it just doesnt work, one party or the other needs to rule.

2) Their constitution makes it very easy for any stupid group of people to punch out an insane ballot measure to go around the legislature to pass laws directly from the people. In practice, this usually means every election a whole lot of new spending is proposed.

3) The idiots of California keep voting Yes on those stupid feel-good "lets build X" ballot initiatives without seemingly the slightest concern for cost, taxes that might be necessary, or if its really needed. Last election they voted to tell the state to sell $10B in bonds (estimated to cost $40 billion, they are hoping to raise $30B from federal govt grants and private investors) to build an 800-mile high-speed train from Sacramento to San Diego. During a year when they had a huge budget deficit.

That last part should be repeated.

During a year when the state faced a massive budget deficit, some people who wanted to build a high-speed train from Sacramento to San Diego managed to put it on the ballot, and the voters who were obviously stoned out of their minds (a train, man... cool) voted for it at a cost that will likely break 40 freaking billion dollars.

The main problem in California is not the politicians. It is, in order, their insane constitution, and the voters. We cant do anything about the people, but if there were a way for a state to be forced into bankruptcy, CA should be forced to scrap their constitution and start over. With all the ballot measures, California has the most complex constitution in the world, stretching over 1,000 pages.

06-02-2009, 09:51 PM
The main problem in California is not the politicians. It is, in order, their insane constitution, and the voters. We cant do anything about the people, but if there were a way for a state to be forced into bankruptcy, CA should be forced to scrap their constitution and start over. With all the ballot measures, California has the most complex constitution in the world, stretching over 1,000 pages.

Another example of why democracy doesn't work. As Madison said the people ultimately vote themselves largesse and have more contention. This is where our national govt and country are headed.

06-02-2009, 10:04 PM
Wikipedia has a great opening paragraph on the California constitution

The Constitution of the State of California is the document that establishes and describes the duties, powers, structure and function of the government of the U.S. state of California. The original constitution, adopted in November 1849 in advance of California attaining U.S. statehood in 1850, was superseded by the current constitution, which was ratified on May 7, 1879.[1] The result of Progressive mistrust of elected officials, the 1879 constitution is the third longest in the world (behind those of Alabama and India),[2] and has been described as "the perfect example of what a constitution ought not to be".[3]

06-03-2009, 06:12 AM
Wikipedia has a great opening paragraph on the California constitution

Sounds like the EU Constitution ...I think it's longer than Cali's.
More evidence that progressivism is a control ideology....all those rules for micromanagement.

06-03-2009, 09:37 AM
Has anyone checked with Mexico to see if they still want California back?

06-03-2009, 09:47 AM
Has anyone checked with Mexico to see if they still want California back?Pretty sure, they've already taken it.;)

06-03-2009, 09:59 AM
California has 3 very unique problems that have combined to devastate their economy.

During a year when the state faced a massive budget deficit, some people who wanted to build a high-speed train from Sacramento to San Diego managed to put it on the ballot, and the voters who were obviously stoned out of their minds (a train, man... cool) voted for it at a cost that will likely break 40 freaking billion dollars.

The main problem in California is not the politicians. It is, in order, their insane constitution, and the voters. We cant do anything about the people, but if there were a way for a state to be forced into bankruptcy, CA should be forced to scrap their constitution and start over. With all the ballot measures, California has the most complex constitution in the world, stretching over 1,000 pages.

You're right....for the record, I'm a CA voter....and voted against this measure....

For those that read the fine print of the bill - the bill states that there is no guarantee that the rail will be built all the way to San Diego (where I live). So what that means is - IF the project ever gets underway....construction could stop, let's say Los Angeles (or maybe a bit further south in Irvine) - then the state can hit up the city of San Diego for additional funding if San Diegans want the rail to reach their city.

It was a horrible bill....but it is the land of loons out here when it comes to politics!

06-03-2009, 11:13 AM
California did it to themselves. Thank the likes of Boxer, Pelosi and Feinstein for pushing things like "free" social services for illegals who pay dick in return.This.

06-03-2009, 11:15 AM
Has anyone checked with Mexico to see if they still want California back?2 things: One, they already got us back, ?Hablas Espanol? Two, Why do you think things are so fugged up?

06-03-2009, 11:16 AM
It all started with Leave it to Beaver and the false hope of a TV mde up lifestyle. California watched too much TV in the 50's and 60's.

06-03-2009, 11:24 AM
an experiment in socialism is what california is, but a state can't print money to cover their expenses, so they're screwed.

the problem with socialism is that eventually you will run out of other people's money.

06-03-2009, 11:28 AM
Swastikanegger couldn't wait for the federal government to implement climate change legislation. He's so smart.

06-03-2009, 11:31 AM
an experiment in socialism is what california is, but a state can't print money to cover their expenses, so they're screwed.

the problem with socialism is that eventually you will run out of other people's money.Neither can the federal government.

Rich people move, and when the can't move, they quit investing and trying to make marginal dollars. Marginal dollars invested for marginal profits is what leads to employment.

If you have a strong bus model once you pair back employees(Like GM is doing) you are very hesitant to add new employees at that point. You want to be sure that the ground rules(Obama's change) don't screw your investments over before you invest that money in new plant and equipment.

This all goes back to the definition of what money is in the first place. You cannot expect people to operate in a vacuum, bend over and just take your tax increases.

06-03-2009, 11:46 AM
Another example of why democracy doesn't work. As Madison said the people ultimately vote themselves largesse and have more contention. This is where our national govt and country are headed.I remember when we put in the lottery back in the 80's, "The kids win too" was the slogan.

So WTF happened to the money from the lottery? Our kids haven't won squat, our education is somewhere below 40 out of 50 states.

I am sure, that more money, is all that they need. If they just got rid of Prop 13, that would fix everything.

The first things they did, was have the schools send home letters telling us all the things that they wouldn't be able to do anymore because of the crises.

06-03-2009, 03:39 PM
It won't be long before Hopey Change™ spreads to the rest of the country.


Garcia Bronco
06-03-2009, 03:40 PM
Another example of why democracy doesn't work. As Madison said the people ultimately vote themselves largesse and have more contention. This is where our national govt and country are headed.

"Democracy is two wolves and lamb voting on what to have for lunch."

-Ben Franklin

06-03-2009, 06:20 PM
Freedom at last! They should rejoice. The state has to close down.

Closing it down for a few months will give them real perspective.

This is the ONLY tool for any Governor or President dealing with cancerous spending representatives who vote themselves largesse.

06-04-2009, 12:28 PM
Faced with a more than $24 billion dollar budget deficit the state is facing the prospect of catastrophic cuts that could eliminate entire social welfare programs and make deep cuts in other safety-net programs, ones that serve the poorest and most vulnerable Californians.

“Support services to help the homeless are already under tremendous strain,” says Judith Klain, Executive Director of Project Homeless Connect™ (PHC). “The thought of more cuts in essential social welfare programs that could result in tens of thousands more people ending up on the streets or on the verge of homelessness is extremely worrying. Particularly if many of those are families with young children. There simply isn’t the shelter capacity to cope with that kind of influx, nor the money to help provide alternative accommodations for them.”

Klain says that over the past year they have been seeing a steadily increasing rise in the number of homeless or near-homeless people coming to Project Homeless Connect events seeking help. It’s a trend she doesn’t expect to end any time soon. “The economy is in trouble, more and more people are losing their jobs, their homes, and their healthcare. Combine that with the fact that so many cities are having to cut back on their support services and it’s no surprise that we see the end result on our streets, and in particular on the streets of San Francisco.”

Klain and her team are bracing for a larger than usual turnout for the next PHC event on Friday, June 5th at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove Street in San Francisco, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

They are appealing to people to volunteer to help them meet that increased demand.

By creating a one-stop-shopping model, PHC makes it possible for people experiencing homelessness to access services like medical care, mental health and substance abuse treatment, benefits, legal support, dental care, shelter, eyeglasses, food, and more. At the most recent PHC event in April, the first one focusing just on families and children, on one single day more than 1,074 people – including 516 children - came to seek services provided by over 1,000 volunteers.

The event is the 27th Project Homeless Connect event. Since October 2004 more than 12,600 volunteers helped provide services to more than 27,000 homeless and poor San Franciscans. In that time almost 6,000 people were screened for benefits, more than 3,000 were given help finding a job, and almost 5,000 were provided medical care.

PHC has proven so effective that it is serving as the model for similar programs in more than 200 cities across the U.S. as well as in Australia and Canada.

For more information contact Kevin McCormack or go to www.projecthomelessconnect.com


The Mad Crapper
07-13-2010, 08:37 PM
Suffer These Crimes in Oakland? Don't Call the Cops

Dozens of layoffs effective at midnight, barring last minute deal

Oakland's police chief is making some dire claims about what his force will and will not respond to if layoffs go as planned.
Chief Anthony Batts listed exactly 44 situations that his officers will no longer respond to and they include grand theft, burglary, car wrecks, identity theft and vandalism. He says if you live and Oakland and one of the above happens to you, you need to let police know on-line.
Some 80 officers were to be let go at midnight last night if a last-minute deal was not reached. That's about ten percent of the work force.
"I came her e to build an organization, not downsize one," said Batts, who was given the top job in October.

That deadline has been extended to 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Here's a partial list:

grand theft
grand theft:dog
identity theft
false information to peace officer
required to register as sex or arson offender
dump waste or offensive matter
discard appliance with lock
loud music
possess forged notes
pass fictitious check
obtain money by false voucher
fraudulent use of access cards
stolen license plate
embezzlement by an employee (over $ 400)
attempted extortion
false personification of other
injure telephone/ power line
interfere with power line
unauthorized cable tv connection
administer/expose poison to another's


The Mad Crapper
10-06-2010, 01:41 PM
The moonbattery is having a snowball effect--- it just gets exponentially worse every day ROFL

Cities often give short shrift to affordable housing

At least 120 municipalities spent a combined $700 million in housing funds from 2000 to 2008 without constructing a single new unit, a Times analysis of state data shows. Nor did most of them add to the housing stock by rehabilitating existing units.


We just need to raise taxes on the rich, that will solve the problem! /moonbat off

The Mad Crapper
01-12-2011, 10:30 AM
Parking cops told: more tickets
Rachel Gordon, Carl Nolte

San Francisco Chronicle January 12, 2011 04:00 AM Copyright San Francisco Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

With parking ticket revenue falling about $7 million below the projected $99 million for the current fiscal year, city transportation officials are redeploying their parking cops to issue more citations and bring in more money.

Joy Houlihan, deputy director of enforcement for the Municipal Transportation Agency, laid out some of the plans Tuesday. Already, parking control officers are concentrating more on writing tickets for residential parking permits, yellow zone and time-limit violations. Officials next may take aim at "block the box" violations. That's when drivers don't fully cross an intersection on a green light and end up stuck blocking cross traffic, causing tie-ups.

In addition, the agency has quietly changed the grace period for drivers who park in tow-away zones. In the past, Houlihan said, drivers could get away with an extra 10 minutes under the unofficial policy. Now, however, the ticket writers have carved five minutes off the grace period.

Houlihan, speaking to the Policy and Governance Committee of the Municipal Transportation Agency board, laid out a number of challenges her division faces. Chief among them: the 265-member squad of parking control officers is down 20 bodies, meaning that enforcement is being skipped or cut back in some areas.

When more parking cops are on board, Houlihan would like to beef up enforcement on Saturdays and Mondays. She's also pushing for 24 supervisors in the division to write more tickets.

Another revenue-generating measure is attaching cameras to the front of mechanical street-sweeping trucks to photograph the license plates of cars and trucks parked illegally in street-cleaning zones. The fine is $55.

In other parking matters, agency staff wants to limit parking at broken meters. Generally, motorists could park for free at broken meters for the duration of the posted time limits. However, the free parking allowance would be capped at two hours before a ticket could be issued. Fines are either $55 or $65, depending on the neighborhood.

The agency also is considering launching a program to allow households with children ages 12 and younger to obtain a residential parking permit for their child care providers.

Finally, the agency is looking at eliminating early-bird parking discounts at all garages in the city. One goal behind the idea is to remove an incentive for driving, as part of the city's transit-first policy. Another is to generate more revenue. Drivers, however, may be offered price breaks if they enter or exit parking garages at off-peak hours to reduce traffic congestion.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/11/MN9V1H70US.DTL#ixzz1AqpVTRYW

01-12-2011, 05:19 PM
All what this will do is drive up SF's legal costs when the individuals receiving the tickets decide to fight them.

01-12-2011, 05:36 PM
All what this will do is drive up SF's legal costs when the individuals receiving the tickets decide to fight them.

Or not pay them at all....

01-13-2011, 03:08 AM
Failure of democracy - allowing people to vote themselves cash.

They are not going to cut anything.

Tax payers have the answer right in front of them but they're too cowardly to use the greatest tool to equalize all of this - money!

A complete tax boycott till they can make cuts. Weak-kneed repubs wont do it. Afraid of the state threats.

The Mad Crapper
01-14-2011, 09:52 AM

December 16, 2010
Two Californias
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

The last three weeks I have traveled about, taking the pulse of the more forgotten areas of central California. I wanted to witness, even if superficially, what is happening to a state that has the highest sales and income taxes, the most lavish entitlements, the near-worst public schools (based on federal test scores), and the largest number of illegal aliens in the nation, along with an overregulated private sector, a stagnant and shrinking manufacturing base, and an elite environmental ethos that restricts commerce and productivity without curbing consumption.

During this unscientific experiment, three times a week I rode a bike on a 20-mile trip over various rural roads in southwestern Fresno County. I also drove my car over to the coast to work, on various routes through towns like San Joaquin, Mendota, and Firebaugh. And near my home I have been driving, shopping, and touring by intent the rather segregated and impoverished areas of Caruthers, Fowler, Laton, Orange Cove, Parlier, and Selma. My own farmhouse is now in an area of abject poverty and almost no ethnic diversity; the closest elementary school (my alma mater, two miles away) is 94 percent Hispanic and 1 percent white, and well below federal testing norms in math and English.

Here are some general observations about what I saw (other than that the rural roads of California are fast turning into rubble, poorly maintained and reverting to what I remember seeing long ago in the rural South). First, remember that these areas are the ground zero, so to speak, of 20 years of illegal immigration. There has been a general depression in farming — to such an extent that the 20- to-100-acre tree and vine farmer, the erstwhile backbone of the old rural California, for all practical purposes has ceased to exist.

On the western side of the Central Valley, the effects of arbitrary cutoffs in federal irrigation water have idled tens of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land, leaving thousands unemployed. Manufacturing plants in the towns in these areas — which used to make harvesters, hydraulic lifts, trailers, food-processing equipment — have largely shut down; their production has been shipped off overseas or south of the border. Agriculture itself — from almonds to raisins — has increasingly become corporatized and mechanized, cutting by half the number of farm workers needed. So unemployment runs somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.

Many of the rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to the naked eye no different from what I have seen in the Third World. There is a Caribbean look to the junked cars, electric wires crisscrossing between various outbuildings, plastic tarps substituting for replacement shingles, lean-tos cobbled together as auxiliary housing, pit bulls unleashed, and geese, goats, and chickens roaming around the yards. The public hears about all sorts of tough California regulations that stymie business — rigid zoning laws, strict building codes, constant inspections — but apparently none of that applies out here.

It is almost as if the more California regulates, the more it does not regulate. Its public employees prefer to go after misdemeanors in the upscale areas to justify our expensive oversight industry, while ignoring the felonies in the downtrodden areas, which are becoming feral and beyond the ability of any inspector to do anything but feel irrelevant. But in the regulators’ defense, where would one get the money to redo an ad hoc trailer park with a spider web of illegal bare wires?

Many of the rented-out rural shacks and stationary Winnebagos are on former small farms — the vineyards overgrown with weeds, or torn out with the ground lying fallow. I pass on the cultural consequences to communities from the loss of thousands of small farming families. I don’t think I can remember another time when so many acres in the eastern part of the valley have gone out of production, even though farm prices have recently rebounded. Apparently it is simply not worth the gamble of investing $7,000 to $10,000 an acre in a new orchard or vineyard. What an anomaly — with suddenly soaring farm prices, still we have thousands of acres in the world’s richest agricultural belt, with available water on the east side of the valley and plentiful labor, gone idle or in disuse. Is credit frozen? Are there simply no more farmers? Are the schools so bad as to scare away potential agricultural entrepreneurs? Or are we all terrified by the national debt and uncertain future?

California coastal elites may worry about the oxygen content of water available to a three-inch smelt in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, but they seem to have no interest in the epidemic dumping of trash, furniture, and often toxic substances throughout California’s rural hinterland. Yesterday, for example, I rode my bike by a stopped van just as the occupants tossed seven plastic bags of raw refuse onto the side of the road. I rode up near their bumper and said in my broken Spanish not to throw garbage onto the public road. But there were three of them, and one of me. So I was lucky to be sworn at only. I note in passing that I would not drive into Mexico and, as a guest, dare to pull over and throw seven bags of trash into the environment of my host.

In fact, trash piles are commonplace out here — composed of everything from half-empty paint cans and children’s plastic toys to diapers and moldy food. I have never seen a rural sheriff cite a litterer, or witnessed state EPA workers cleaning up these unauthorized wastelands. So I would suggest to Bay Area scientists that the environment is taking a much harder beating down here in central California than it is in the Delta. Perhaps before we cut off more irrigation water to the west side of the valley, we might invest some green dollars into cleaning up the unsightly and sometimes dangerous garbage that now litters the outskirts of our rural communities.

We hear about the tough small-business regulations that have driven residents out of the state, at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a week. But from my unscientific observations these past weeks, it seems rather easy to open a small business in California without any oversight at all, or at least what I might call a “counter business.” I counted eleven mobile hot-kitchen trucks that simply park by the side of the road, spread about some plastic chairs, pull down a tarp canopy, and, presto, become mini-restaurants. There are no “facilities” such as toilets or washrooms. But I do frequently see lard trails on the isolated roads I bike on, where trucks apparently have simply opened their draining tanks and sped on, leaving a slick of cooking fats and oils. Crows and ground squirrels love them; they can be seen from a distance mysteriously occupied in the middle of the road.

At crossroads, peddlers in a counter-California economy sell almost anything. Here is what I noticed at an intersection on the west side last week: shovels, rakes, hoes, gas pumps, lawnmowers, edgers, blowers, jackets, gloves, and caps. The merchandise was all new. I doubt whether in high-tax California sales taxes or income taxes were paid on any of these stop-and-go transactions.

In two supermarkets 50 miles apart, I was the only one in line who did not pay with a social-service plastic card (gone are the days when “food stamps” were embarrassing bulky coupons). But I did not see any relationship between the use of the card and poverty as we once knew it: The electrical appurtenances owned by the user and the car into which the groceries were loaded were indistinguishable from those of the upper middle class.

By that I mean that most consumers drove late-model Camrys, Accords, or Tauruses, had iPhones, Bluetooths, or BlackBerries, and bought everything in the store with public-assistance credit. This seemed a world apart from the trailers I had just ridden by the day before. I don’t editorialize here on the logic or morality of any of this, but I note only that there are vast numbers of people who apparently are not working, are on public food assistance, and enjoy the technological veneer of the middle class. California has a consumer market surely, but often no apparent source of income. Does the $40 million a day supplement to unemployment benefits from Washington explain some of this?

Do diversity concerns, as in lack of diversity, work both ways? Over a hundred-mile stretch, when I stopped in San Joaquin for a bottled water, or drove through Orange Cove, or got gas in Parlier, or went to a corner market in southwestern Selma, my home town, I was the only non-Hispanic — there were no Asians, no blacks, no other whites. We may speak of the richness of “diversity,” but those who cherish that ideal simply have no idea that there are now countless inland communities that have become near-apartheid societies, where Spanish is the first language, the schools are not at all diverse, and the federal and state governments are either the main employers or at least the chief sources of income — whether through emergency rooms, rural health clinics, public schools, or social-service offices. An observer from Mars might conclude that our elites and masses have given up on the ideal of integration and assimilation, perhaps in the wake of the arrival of 11 to 15 million illegal aliens.

Again, I do not editorialize, but I note these vast transformations over the last 20 years that are the paradoxical wages of unchecked illegal immigration from Mexico, a vast expansion of California’s entitlements and taxes, the flight of the upper middle class out of state, the deliberate effort not to tap natural resources, the downsizing in manufacturing and agriculture, and the departure of whites, blacks, and Asians from many of these small towns to more racially diverse and upscale areas of California.

Fresno’s California State University campus is embroiled in controversy over the student body president’s announcing that he is an illegal alien, with all the requisite protests in favor of the DREAM Act. I won’t comment on the legislation per se, but again only note the anomaly. I taught at CSUF for 21 years. I think it fair to say that the predominant theme of the Chicano and Latin American Studies program’s sizable curriculum was a fuzzy American culpability. By that I mean that students in those classes heard of the sins of America more often than its attractions. In my home town, Mexican flag decals on car windows are far more common than their American counterparts.

I note this because hundreds of students here illegally are now terrified of being deported to Mexico. I can understand that, given the chaos in Mexico and their own long residency in the United States. But here is what still confuses me: If one were to consider the classes that deal with Mexico at the university, or the visible displays of national chauvinism, then one might conclude that Mexico is a far more attractive and moral place than the United States.

So there is a surreal nature to these protests: something like, “Please do not send me back to the culture I nostalgically praise; please let me stay in the culture that I ignore or deprecate.” I think the DREAM Act protestors might have been far more successful in winning public opinion had they stopped blaming the U.S. for suggesting that they might have to leave at some point, and instead explained why, in fact, they want to stay. What it is about America that makes a youth of 21 go on a hunger strike or demonstrate to be allowed to remain in this country rather than return to the place of his birth?

I think I know the answer to this paradox. Missing entirely in the above description is the attitude of the host, which by any historical standard can only be termed “indifferent.” California does not care whether one broke the law to arrive here or continues to break it by staying. It asks nothing of the illegal immigrant — no proficiency in English, no acquaintance with American history and values, no proof of income, no record of education or skills. It does provide all the public assistance that it can afford (and more that it borrows for), and apparently waives enforcement of most of California’s burdensome regulations and civic statutes that increasingly have plagued productive citizens to the point of driving them out. How odd that we over regulate those who are citizens and have capital to the point of banishing them from the state, but do not regulate those who are aliens and without capital to the point of encouraging millions more to follow in their footsteps. How odd — to paraphrase what Critics once said of ancient Sparta — that California is at once both the nation’s most unfree and most free state, the most repressed and the wildest.

Hundreds of thousands sense all that and vote accordingly with their feet, both into and out of California — and the result is a sort of social, cultural, economic, and political time-bomb, whose ticks are getting louder.
©2010 Victor Davis Hanson

The Mad Crapper
03-06-2011, 10:43 AM
Published: March 5, 2011
Updated: March 6, 2011 1:47 a.m.
Mark Landsbaum: California's triple whammy

The latest Golden State gift to America might be called the California triple whammy. It's an ongoing, ever-growing fiscal perfect storm that may be coming to a state near you.

For Californians what follows is an explanation of how you've turned gold into dust. For out-of-staters, it's how to avoid triple whammy fever where you live.

The first stage of the California triple whammy required spendaholics at government's helm running up perpetual double-digit, billion-dollar annual budget deficits papered over in the current year, to be fretted over in the next. Following close behind was an addictive need to issue billions in government bonds, which are nothing more than drawing cash on a promise to pay it back.

The final, maybe in more ways than one, stage of the triple whammy is to amass a monumental debt dwarfing the first two obligations, as more government employees qualify for more grossly inflated pension and retirement health benefits without enough money to pay them. All of this has been experienced in lesser degrees around the nation, prompting what columnist Michael Barone says is "anger at those unfairly getting rich – at the taxpayers' expense... . It allows well-positioned insiders to game the system for private gain. It bails out the improvident and sticks those who made prudent decisions with the bill."

It may be widespread, but California sets the pace. Its annual budget deficit is far larger than other states'. California's is $25.4 billion, almost as much as runners-up Illinois' $15 billion and Texas' $13 billion combined. Its substantially lower bond ratings than comparably sized states mean it must pay more interest to sell bonds to raise money to spend. The unfunded liabilities for public pensions and retiree health care benefits are greater than all other states, vastly greater than most. California's is $121 billion compared to New Jersey's $102 billion and Illinois' $94 billion, according to the Pew Center on the States.

These grotesque realities contribute substantially to California's limping economy. Money squandered by government cannot be used to start up businesses, to give private workers pay raises or by families to save for down payments on home purchases.

Consequently, California workers saw no net improvement in job creation last year, making it the nation's third worst state for employment growth, according to a Gallup Job Creation Index. California has made Gallup's notorious worst job creation list three years running.

It's likely that distinction has something to do with this distinction: compensation for California public employees at all levels has soared since the year 2000, despite huge state budget deficits in recent years. California public employees' pay and benefits average $7,977 more than private workers', according to a USA Today analysis.

How can this be? The Los Angeles Times reported recently that "after a 10-year borrowing binge, the upcoming [state] budget is expected to spend more on debt than [on] public universities or parks."

Even though unable to pay its ongoing bills, the state continued to borrow to get more money to spend. Consequently, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer reported in December 2009 that California's bond ratings had hit bottom, the lowest of all 50 states, which he said results in paying a "significant penalty" in interest to bond buyers, costing 21 percent more than states with top ratings.

That sad condition was when California had $83.5 billion in outstanding long-term debt to pay off. There is about another $58 billion in voter-authorized and Legislature-approved bonds that can yet be sold.

"What's the big deal about running up the credit cards?" one might ask. State government's annual debt service increased 143 percent from 1999 through 2009 – almost seven times greater than the increase in revenue. The payment on California's credit cards was nearly 7 percent of budget expenditures in December 2009, compared to only 3 percent in 1999, on its way to a projected 10.98 percent by 2013, and even higher if revenue doesn't increase.

California is about to use a dime of every dollar it spends just to pay its credit cards – money that can't pay for core government services.
It takes a long time to run a state the size of California into a ditch. But California's been working on its triple whammy a long time. In 1979 the state's bond rating was AAA, as high as ratings go. Today, it's A1, about as close to non-investment grade as it is to the top.

Perfecting the California triple whammy required the help of weightlifting movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who may have brought to the governor's office all the fiscal acuity that can be gleaned on movie sets and in gymnasiums. Schwarzenegger promised to "cut up the credit cards." Under his stewardship, California instead added another $42 billion of bonded debt, and extended operating deficits to the end of his term and beyond.
Will his successor, Jerry Brown, do better? Ask Willie Brown, arguably one of California's most notorious tax-and-spend Democrats during his 30 years in the Assembly, including 15 years as its speaker.

"No one knows the power of [public] unions in California better than Gov. Jerry Brown," the former assemblyman recently wrote. "He knows good and well what the California Teachers Association can do for him – or against him – in an election. And this year, he needs the union's help to pass his tax extensions."

Why are more taxes needed? "Brown, in a previous incarnation as governor, signed legislation granting government workers collective bargaining rights," explained Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. How did collective bargaining contribute to the California triple whammy? According to Brown, the former assembly speaker, it's because he and others in government agreed through collective bargaining with government worker unions to provide them "guaranteed fixed-amount pensions and health care packages without take-backs that would have been triggered if the economy went bad."

The economy has gone bad, helped along a lot by the developing fiscal perfect storm. Now rather than taking back, taxpayers are asked to pay much more – five more years of the highest tax increase ever imposed on Californians. That's Gov. Brown's solution. He wants to put tax increases on the June ballot. Gov. Brown has bills to pay, and more coming due. His proposed budget would like to spend $86 billion. Unfortunately, that's about $25 billion more than can be expected from those who pay the bill, when including the previous year's deficit. Meanwhile, a growing portion of the budget for years into the future must include credit card payments on what already has been borrowed and will yet be borrowed. Those payments amount to about as much as the governor's entire hoped-for budget, and take priority under the state constitution.

Then there's the monumental time bomb of unfunded liabilities to cover retirees' benefits. Estimates vary, but responsible projections put the total at several times the total annual general fund operating budget.

Most California families know it's difficult to make do when a large chunk of family income goes to credit card debt. But most families discipline themselves to stop running up more debts so they can pay for the groceries.
That's not how California's triple whammy works. Entrenched interest groups, many created by government enacting contrived tax-funded programs that never before existed, demand the state spend more, borrow more and become more indebted.

Other states can avoid their own triple whammy by keeping government on a pay-as-you-go basis, limiting borrowing to small amounts that can be repaid quickly and not empowering government workers as virtual monopolies by collective bargaining.


03-06-2011, 01:33 PM
ROFL California owes somewhere between a third and a half a trillion dollars in unfunded pensions for state government workers.

Half a trillion is a huge number for the Federal government. It is a back-breaking number for CA. If you live in CA, you really should plan out your escape when that ticking time bomb comes closer to blowing the taxpayers up.

03-06-2011, 11:55 PM
Yes, because Texas (the Republican model) is doing soooo much better. Despite all the fuzzy math, Texas is just as bad as California an they don't have much more to cut. Amazes me how you guys are so blinded by political shit you find it humorous to see the states with the biggest economies going towards bankruptcy, despite their political ideology.

03-07-2011, 12:00 AM
Yes, because Texas (the Republican model) is doing soooo much better. Despite all the fuzzy math, Texas is just as bad as California an they don't have much more to cut. Amazes me how you guys are so blinded by political shit you find it humorous to see the states with the biggest economies going towards bankruptcy, despite their political ideology.

Oh, bullcrap.

Stanford university says you are, taking politics out of it and just looking at simple math, completely, objectively screwed. This isn't about democrats vs republicans, or that red states are better than blue states. CA is completely hosed, period.

State's pension liability tops $500 billion, Stanford study finds (http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/states-pension-liability-tops-500-billion-stanford-study-finds-1641)

You are the one who made an implausible unsupported assertion. Support it. Tell me, what kind of crushing debt is towering over the taxpayers in Texas.

03-07-2011, 12:27 AM


The Mad Crapper
03-07-2011, 06:51 AM
Yes, because Texas (the Republican model) is doing soooo much better. Despite all the fuzzy math, Texas is just as bad as California an they don't have much more to cut. Amazes me how you guys are so blinded by political shit you find it humorous to see the states with the biggest economies going towards bankruptcy, despite their political ideology.


The Mad Crapper
03-11-2011, 07:19 PM
Oakland police, firefighter pay devouring budget
Chip Johnson

A database of local government salaries and compensation compiled by state Controller John Chiang's office shows just how out of whack pay for some California police and firefighters has become in the state's largest cities.

-- In San Francisco, a deputy chief earning $250,666 a year collected more than half a million dollars when he retired in 2009.

-- In San Jose, nine of the top 10 earners were Police or Fire Department employees. None made less than $275,000.

-- In Oakland, a police officer whose listed salary ceiling was $98,000 a year was paid $245,432.

The data collected by Chiang's office, from cities large and small, show some police and fire departments devouring local public dollars.

In Oakland, the starting pay for police officers - $70,044.96 - is higher than most other police jobs in the state.

It's no wonder Oakland can no longer afford to keep a minimum force of 832 officers and was forced to lay off 80 officers last year. This year's budget deficit is $46 million.

The case of the Oakland police officer who earned $245,432 isn't an anomaly.

According to the figures in Chiang's database, Oakland police officers and firefighters constituted 440 of the city's 500 highest-paid employees in 2009.

Chiang's public accounting was prompted by the scandal in the Los Angeles County city of Bell last year, where some city officials collected outrageous salaries: The city manager got nearly $800,000 a year, and the police chief was paid $457,000 a year.

"The purpose of this site is to make the information readily available to local taxpayers to let them know what they are paying for services," said Jacob Roper, a spokesman for Chiang's office.

But as handsomely as Oakland police officers are compensated, the city's firefighters have an even sweeter deal.

Oakland firefighters are protected by a contract with the city that ensures no layoffs, minimum staff requirements aboard fire trucks and no station closures.

"We're bad, but they're worse," said one Oakland police officer who would not be identified.

In the Oakland Fire Department, lieutenants and captains whose pay starts around $117,000 and $127,000 respectively can also earn overtime pay, which allows them to bump up their annual salaries - and pensions when they retire.

It's difficult to fault union leaders for negotiating the best deal they can for their membership. That's their job, and in Oakland, they have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.

City officials are expected to negotiate in good faith, manage city finances and represent the public, but instead they have done everything but give away the farm.

Over the years, the elected leadership has not held the line in its labor negotiations. They have virtually handed over precious and limited financial resources not knowing how the city would meet those obligations.

Last Tuesday's council meeting offered a prime example.

The discussion focused on how the city would make a $40 million pension payment for a group of police and firefighter pensioners who retired 35 years ago.

The city had agreed to a retirement plan that provided pensions that amounted to two-thirds of police and firefighters' current salaries.

But rather than attack the spiraling cost of current police and firefighters' salaries, council member Ignacio De La Fuente proposed an annual 2 percent cap on the old system's retiree benefits.

That's backward thinking.

If the council had the gumption to address the lopsided police and firefighters' salaries that have brought the city to the verge of financial ruin, pension payments to retirees would automatically be reduced.

Unfortunately, city officials have chosen once more to come hat in hand to Oakland residents asking for more tax dollars to cover their inability to manage the city's shrinking fiscal resources.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is involved in ongoing discussions with the Oakland Police Officers Association, but union President Dom Arotzarena declined to offer details. If Quan truly wants to engineer a turnaround and secure the city's fiscal future, restructuring the city's public safety pay scale must be a priority.

Federal officials are focused on reducing domestic spending, and Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a major restructuring in state services to save money. It's time for Oakland officials to do the same with its public safety costs because they are unsustainable.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/10/BA8G1I8FPM.DTL#ixzz1GLNwVaOc

03-12-2011, 06:57 PM
You guys know about Raider fans more than most do, how much would it take for you to be a police officer in Oakland?