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Posts Tagged ‘California’

California Scheming: The Progressive Leadership’s New Plan to Impose High-Cost, Low-Quality Medical Care

Posted by M. C. on June 16, 2022

California progressives have turned their largest showplace cities into sewers of homelessness and crime, and their mismanagement of water resources has become a thing of legend. One only can wait with dread as those same progressives move to do with medical resources what they have done with everything else that has been good in this state.

https://mises.org/wire/california-scheming-progressive-leaderships-new-plan-impose-high-cost-low-quality-medical-care

William L. Anderson

With a budget surplus of more than $200 million, the California legislature is thinking big, really big, and that means one thing: single-payer government healthcare, which recently was introduced as AB 1400. Notes the Los Angeles Times:

This measure … would completely change healthcare coverage for Californians. Insurance companies would be shoved aside. People would be switched from their current coverage—whether private, federal Medicare or Medi-Cal for the poor—to a new state-run plan called CalCare.

The purpose is to cover everyone and reduce healthcare costs by eliminating private insurance overhead and profit—and negotiating lower provider fees and drug prices. There’d be no premiums, co-pays or deductibles. And many services would be added, including dental, vision, hearing and long-term care for Medicare beneficiaries.

Of course, there are costs, and the projected cost of such a venture always is going to be front and center. When the California state legislature first began to debate single-payer in 2017, Vox came out with an analysis that set the price tag of this proposed venture at $400 billion a year, or twice the entire state budget at that time. While citing possible costs in the form of dollar outlays can be present, nonetheless, such an analysis creates its own set of problems and tells a very incomplete story, economically speaking. When government policies are enacted or proposed, the discussion forms around the proposed monetary outlays, as though the entire thing were “doable” provided governments can come up with the necessary funds.

Once projected or anticipated monetary outlays become the subject of the political debate, the questions shift to whether or not governments can take in the money necessary to make the project work, without looking at the much bigger picture of what costs really mean. In the case of completely turning all medical care in California over to a government agency, proponents of single-payer in general attempt to tout alleged cost savings, which are framed in terms of what is currently spent in the present system overall.

The legislative newsletter CalMatters recently reported:

A legislative analysis released Thursday estimated single-payer could cost California between $314 billion and $391 billion annually, financed by a series of tax hikes on businesses, workers and high earnersSingle-payer supporters, however, say that sum is smaller than what Californians pay for private insurance. (emphasis mine)

Supporters’ implication is that nothing would change in the creation and sale of healthcare services except that the manner of payment would be taxation and everyone would have all the services they need with no price. All that is needed is “political courage” to vote “yes” and then to enable the California bureaucracies to install the new system.

See the rest here

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Who’s Going to Fix What’s Broken?

Posted by M. C. on June 3, 2022

5. Nobody in the system or in the political hierarchy has any interest in the deep overhaul required to actually restore these systems’ reliability, efficiency and ability to fix problems.

Who’s going to fix what’s broken? No one. When the systems we rely on–the postal service, the vehicle registration system, the tax payment system–no longer function reliably or effectively, where does that take us as a society? 

https://www.oftwominds.com/blogjun22/who-fixes6-22.html

By Charles Hugh Smith

OfTwoMinds.com

When nobody cares that systems have broken down and there is no will or interest in fixing essential systems, there is no happy ending.

Who fixes systems when they break down? The answer appears to be: nobody. Here are three everyday examples from my own life, breakdowns which may be random and rare but which the odds suggest are systemic. Let’s assume I’m not an unlucky one in a million but just another recipient of systemic breakdown.

1. U.S. Mail forwarding six month late. Millions of Americans move every year, and the US Postal Service, like other large-scale systems serving the public, has a system that automates change of address forms online. My previous experience is that mail forwarding might be a week or two late but it’s been reliable.

In 2021–not so much. We left a car in storage in California in the Covid lockdown and family obligations made it necessary to deal with it at a later date. It’s old and not worth much, and since we’d filed a Planned Non-Operation registration with the DMV, the registration fee was $23 a year.

If I’d anticipated USPS mail forwarding to completely break down, I would have signed up online for CA-DMV email notices, but I assumed mail forwarding was functional. Alas, we received our 2021 auto registration notices sent in May 2021 in late November–long after the renewal deadline in early June. The mail wasn’t a week or two late, it was six months late. That’s a breakdown.

That’s when the breakdown of California DMV’s system revealed itself rather ingloriously.

2. Your non-operational car in storage must be insured and pass a smog certification test. I’ve noticed many local government agencies are no longer satisfied to simply charge a late fee for tardy payment–their responses are designed to punish the tardy public far beyond the “sin” of missing a deadline for payment/filing a form.

The California DMV strips away the option to register a car as non-operational once you’re 90 days late in registering the vehicle. This doesn’t mean your non-operational car magically becomes operational and can be driven to a smog certification station. It just means you have entered DMV No-Exit Purgatory: your car can’t be smog certified, therefore it can’t be registered, and so it drops completely out of the DMV online system.

Not only is the car non-operational, we weren’t there to deal with it. California has tens of millions of residents (around 39 million) and millions of registered vehicles. 675,000 people moved out of California in 2021 and some percentage probably left cars in storage, what with the 2020 Covid travel restrictions and other issues.

I find it difficult to believe I am the only individual who missed the deadline to register my non-operational vehicle as non-operational, but the DMV has no system response other than demanding a $214 late fee (heh) and that you register the vehicle as operational.

Trying to get the DMV to acknowledge a DMV change of address form is an epic in itself. Submit a paper form or an online form, neither one can be relied on.

Sending correspondence to the DMV asking for help in fixing this problem is like sending letters to the dead-letter dumpster. Some DMV staffer decided to get my case off their desk by arbitrarily declaring the car had been “registered in another state.” This led to the absurdity of the DMV demanding a document from the Hawaii DMV proving the car which I’d repeated stated was non-operational in California storage hadn’t been transported to Hawaii. In other words, it became my job to fix the absurd errors of DMV staff.

When the public has to go through endless hoops to fix problems created solely by the public agency itself, this is a Kafkaesque breakdown in “public service.”

I finally located an online DMV portal which accelerated the 7-month back-and-forth-going-nowhere to a week of endless emails and submittals of documents. (Could the DMV have pointed me to this portal in the previous 7 months? One would think so, but the answer is “apparently not.”)

After 7+ months of completely needless churn– a waste of my time and the time of DMV staffers–the DMV decided to issue us a non-operational registration for the non-operational car.

What difference does it make to the DMV if the non-operational car in storage is registered 91 days late, or 209 days late? As long as the outrageous late fee is paid, what benefit to the public interest is served by creating a no-exit Purgatory where the owner can neither register the non-operational car as non-operational or get the car running and get the smog certification? None. The DMV just wasted its own staff on a completely useless 7+-month travesty of a mockery of a sham of “public service.”

Read the Whole Article

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California Looks To Stab Rooftop Solar Customers In The Back With Massive Incentive Rollback, New Fees | ZeroHedge

Posted by M. C. on December 14, 2021

You have to pay for all those illegal aliens somehow.

https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/california-looks-stab-rooftop-solar-customers-back-massive-incentive-rollback

Tyler Durden's Photoby Tyler DurdenTuesday, Dec 14, 2021 – 03:05 AM

California regulators are eyeing sharp reductions in subsidies for residential solar systems in  what would be the first major reform to a program that helped jump-start the rooftop solar industry, according to Bloomberg.As part of a proposed series of changes issued on Monday by a judge at the California Public Utilities Commission, residential solar customers would receive a much lower credit  for excess energy sent to the grid – with credits ranging from around 30 cents per killowatt-hour, to less than 10 cents depending on time of day.

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Watch: California Town Declares Independence From “Dictatorship Powers” Of State, Federal COVID Mandates | ZeroHedge

Posted by M. C. on November 27, 2021

https://www.zerohedge.com/political/watch-california-town-declares-independence-dictatorship-powers-state-federal-covid

Tyler Durden's Photoby Tyler Durden

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

A town in California has declared itself a “constitutional republic,” independent of executive orders issued by the federal or state governments, in protest of lockdowns, mask mandates and compulsory vaccinations.

Appearing on Fox News, Oroville California’s vice-mayor Scott Thomson outlined the move, noting “I was sitting at City Hall, and the mandates continue to come. As you know it started with ‘two weeks to stop the—slow the curve,’ and it just seems like a carrot keeps being dangled in front of our faces of just a little more… and it seems like every mandate that comes down, it is a loss of freedom.”Thomson compared Oroville’s move to that of San Francisco declaring itself a ‘sanctuary city’.

“We’re a constitutional republic, and wanna declare that,” Thompson urged, clarifying “We’re not separating from California, but we’re just reminding the higher-ups in other cities we need to stand up for our rights. We still are a constitutional republic, which means we have rights endowed by our ‘creator,’ and our founders created a republic, which was genius, to separate powers.”

The vice-mayor further explained, “I believe that worldwide, but especially in California, that the very fabric of our nation is at a crossroads of how much authority we’ll let the government have,” comparing the struggle to a war.“I don’t believe that anybody wins when the government has more authority,” Thompson emphasised, adding and “every time that you lose freedom, usually it takes bloodshed to get it back.”“We’re getting threats of loss of money for our city, but for us, and especially for me, they can have their money; we want freedom in California, we want freedom in Oroville, and so that’s what we’re standing up for,” Thompson further urged.

See the rest here

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Empty Christmas stockings? Don’t blame COVID; blame California – American Thinker

Posted by M. C. on October 17, 2021

Empty Christmas stockings? Don’t blame COVID; blame California

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2021/10/empty_christmas_stockings_dont_blame_covid_blame_california.html

By Andrea Widburg

The conventional wisdom from the left is that COVID is the reason that shipping containers are in the waters off California with no stevedores or truckers available to take care of them.  The implication is that if people would stop being selfish and take the vaccines, the whole problem would magically vanish.  That’s nonsense.  As a couple of astute articles explain, the problem is that California has passed two laws — one for “climate change” and the other as a sop to the unions — that destroyed much of California’s trucking industry.  Add in woes unique to the industry and COVID payments that discourage people from working and…voilà!…empty Christmas stockings.

Stephen Green, at PJ Media, explains some of what’s going on.  As a preliminary matter, truckers are aging out of the job, and new ones aren’t coming along.  Because federal law requires that truckers be at least 21, kids who leave school at 17 or 18 get involved in other careers, leaving trucker shortfalls.  Women don’t offset this problem because, as is typical for most physically difficult jobs, it’s not their thing.  Those are long-term problems.

The short-term problem, though, is that California has passed laws taking trucks off the road:

Twitter user Jerry Oakley reminds us that “Carriers domiciled in California with trucks older than 2011 model, or using engines manufactured before 2010, will need to meet the Board’s new Truck and Bus Regulation beginning in 2020.” Otherwise, “Their vehicles will be blocked from registration with the state’s DMV,” according to California law.

“The requirement is to purchase electric trucks which do not exist.”

Top Articles By American Thinker

The Left’s Psychiatric Weapon

Sundance, at Conservative Treehouse, expands on this, explaining that the EPA reached an agreement with the California Air Resource Board

to shut down semi tractor rigs that were non-compliant with new California emission standards. [snip] In effect, what this 2020 determination and settlement created was an inability of half the nation’s truckers from picking up anything from the Port of LA or Port of Long Beach. Virtually all private owner operator trucks and half of the fleet trucks that are used for moving containers across the nation were shut out.

In an effort to offset the problem, transportation companies started using compliant trucks (low emission) to take the products to the California state line, where they could be transferred to non-compliant trucks who cannot enter California.   However, the scale of the problem creates an immediate bottleneck that builds over time. It doesn’t matter if the ports start working 24/7, they are only going to end up with even more containers waiting on a limited amount of available trucks.

That’s Problem No. 1.

Problem No. 2, again according to Green, is California’s infamous AB-5, the law that, as a sop to the Democrats’ beloved unions, killed the gig economy:

“Traditionally the ports have been served by Owner Operators,” Oakley says, who are non-union. But under AB-5, “California has now banned Owner Operators.”

Just like the union longshoremen, union truckers work under a whole host of work rules that simply can’t accommodate crisis conditions like the ones in Los Angeles.

(Incidentally, Green says AB-5’s language is included in the “Build Back Better” bill in Congress.)

All of this means that Biden’s grandstanding about having the ports operate 24/7 won’t make a difference.  The greenies and the unions killed the infrastructure to unload those ships, with COVID restrictions, trucking restrictions, and free money landing the coup de grâce that led to this situation.  Biden does have the emergency power to order those California laws in abeyance, but you know he’s not going to do so.

But the more serious underlying problem is that, in a distant, wonderful past, America didn’t need to rely on containers from Asia to fill her store shelves and Christmas stockings.  America was a manufacturing dynamo that fulfilled American needs and still had enough left over for the rest of the world.  Those things were well made, too.

Thanks to our Devil’s bargain with communist China, we have no manufacturing sector and are utterly dependent on China, both for things we like and things we need.  Biden’s inflationary politics and crackdown on fossil fuels mean that it will be virtually impossible for a renaissance in American manufacturing.  Trump tried to stop this situation, but China owns so much of America’s political and industrial class that the pushback shackled his presidency and pushed him straight out of the White House.

It’s a depressing scenario, but the rosy side is that China’s got a problem if America can’t open the door to its products.  Add to this the disastrous collapse in China’s real property sector, and China may be hurting as badly as we are.

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California bans gas-powered lawn equipment and other ‘small off-road engines’

Posted by M. C. on October 13, 2021

The law will apply not only to gas-powered lawn equipment, but also to generators and emergency response equipment and other assorted categories

Jameson Dow

California will ban “small off-road engines” (SORE) primarily used in gas-powered lawn equipment, such as leaf blowers and lawnmowers, in a law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom this weekend.

The bill, AB 1346, directs California’s Air Resources Board to draw up regulations that will go into place by 2024. It bans the sale of new SOREs, but does not seem to ban their operation.

The law will apply not only to gas-powered lawn equipment, but also to generators and emergency response equipment and other assorted categories. The bill does give regulators some leeway with the regulations based on what is found to be “technologically feasible,” so some portions of the regulation may be pushed back beyond 2024.

California’s reasoning for the ban is because gas-powered lawn equipment produces surprisingly high levels of pollution, but these devices have not been subject to nearly as much regulation as vehicle engines allowing them to pollute with impunity. The small engines in this equipment don’t fully combust the gasoline used to run them, which means they emit high levels of particulate exhaust. This exhaust forms smog, which contributes to poor air quality and harms health.

In fact, they’re so dirty that according to California regulators, SOREs in California contribute more total nitrous oxide (NOx) and reactive organic gases (ROG) pollution than passenger cars do statewide. Operating a gas leaf blower for one hour can produce as many NOx+ROG emissions as driving 1,100 miles in a new passenger car.

Passenger cars still produce more global warming emissions than SOREs do, but the health effects of these small engines are much heavier than you’d think. And they’re annoyingly noisy, too (and noise pollution also kills).

The bill underlines that there are perfectly good zero-emission replacements for these engines, and these are available at low cost. Some regulators already have rebate programs to reduce the cost of shifting to electric lawn mowers, for both residential and commercial users. These programs have been in place for a long time because lawn equipment is comparatively cheap and very polluting, so regulators can get a lot of bang for their buck by incentivizing retirement of SOREs. AB 1346 directs state agencies to increase funding to these programs to support the transition to zero-emission equipment.

If you’re in California (or anywhere else that has air), check out Electrek’s “Green Deals” section where we periodically post green tech deals. You’ll find deals on electric lawn equipment quite often, so save yourself a few bucks while helping to save the lungs and ears of your neighborhood, too. And check with your state clean air regulator to see if any rebates are available – here’s California’s page, with links to regional incentives for various parts of California.

People who’ve made the switch to electric lawn equipment also seem to love them. I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from owners. In particular, our publisher, Seth Weintraub, loves his (and he won’t stop talking about it in our Slack channel either):

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Gavin Newsom Named U-Haul Salesperson Of The Year

Posted by M. C. on September 21, 2021

https://babylonbee.com/news/gavin-newsom-named-u-haul-salesperson-of-the-year

SACRAMENTO, CA—U-Haul has named Governor Gavin Newsom its Salesperson of the Year for the third year in a row after a record-setting sales quarter.

“We are astounded by the growth we’ve seen in California,” said U-Haul’s Western Regional Director Fennick Buggstein. “Thanks to Gavin Newsom, literally every middle-class family has moved out of the state! It’s been impossible to keep up with demand! Also, most of our workers left the state too, which kind of stinks.” 

In their second-quarter earnings statement, U-Haul revealed their sales on the West Coast have increased over 37,000% as every human with a pulse and marginal desire for a better life has packed up all their worldly belongings and chosen to leave for greener pastures in a giant U-Haul truck. 

“We are deeply grateful to Gavin for our success in 2021,” said Buggstein. “The only problem now is that we’re all out of trucks. And no one is willing to drive a U-Haul back to California. And I’m leaving with my family as well. So I guess this is it! Bye everyone!” Buggstein then jumped in the last U-Haul with his family and took off for Texas. 

Congrats to Gavin Newsom!

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Change Is Coming to California — Recall Election or Not – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on September 15, 2021

Welcome to the new American revolution. Cultural and spiritual revival is breaking out all over California, home-by-home, person-by-person. It is not going away. Quite to the contrary, it is going to spread from California across this country.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/09/allan-stevo/change-is-coming-to-california-recall-election-or-not/

By Allan Stevo

It is Recall Day, September 14, 2021, and ballots are everywhere, as freely as syringes on the streets of San Francisco.

People all over the state are showing up to vote and being told they have already voted.

Police in California pulled over a guy with a back seat full of blank recall ballots and drugs.

This will be the crookedest election since whatever election was the last one to take place in some third world banana republic.

There is only a year and some months left for whoever wins the recall, and that period in office may be significantly shortened by the inability to determine results any time soon.

One of the system’s plans is to lengthen the counting process considerably and leave Newsom in his seat.

Whoever wins the recall will have a massive government working against him or her to deal with. This will make change hard. Unless, of course, it is Newsom or a Democrat who wins, in which case government will work for them and no change will take place.

Nonetheless, Newsom is sweating. French Laundry, where he dined with lobbyists with no mask, is dragging him down. His son going to camp with no mask, is dragging him down. Rules for thee, but not for me, is dragging him down. The leader of his party, is even dragging him down, even during the honeymoon period of his time in the Oval Office.

The leader of the party is more popular than even Barack Obama, with the current leader of the party having revived 81 million votes. The highest vote winner of any presidential candidate ever, somehow doesn’t have the polling numbers to support that theory. In some jurisdictions, he was so popular among the people that he even got more votes than there are voters. The narrative is falling apart.

Yes, Newsom is sweating. He is begging his base for help by claiming that candidates running against him are far right extremists. These are candidates that are about as politically centric, flexible, and uniparty-friendly as Marco Rubio or John Kerry. Extreme is simply not the word to describe them.

See the rest here

Allan Stevo [send him mail] writes about international politics and culture from a free market perspective at 52 Weeks in Slovakia (www.52inSk.com). He is the author of How to Win America, The Bitcoin Manifesto, and numerous other books.

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The ABC’s of PRO | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 22, 2021

California’s bill to regulate the gig economy of freelance contractors… regulate out of existence. Unless, your freelance job is protected by a powerful, well-funded Union, like the truckers union, who have received exemptions. A judge has ruled that truck drivers in California are not subject to Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), a new gig economy law that seeks to reclassify many contractors as employees. 

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/the-abcs-of-pro/

by Bob Fiedler

Just when you thought our wise overlords in government couldn’t make our economic situation any worse, Joe Biden dares to dream the impossible dream, and endorses legislation to stick it to freelance contractors called: The PRO Act. This is nearly identical to the legislation California’s democratic super-majority pushed through on a State level.

I covered that bill’s causes and effects in both an article and podcast episode called “California Reaming.”

That may be helpful to watch or re-watch, to compare California’s Assembly Bill 5 (or AB5) with Biden’s current PRO act legislation.

As we all know, there’s nothing Democrats care more about than looking out for “the little guy.” It’s precisely that selfless compassion that makes them a better person than the rest of us. But their genuine belief that the important thing is to do something to feel like you are helping, instead of judging their success by a real-world assessment of this kind of legislation’s effects has already proved ruinous to California businesses. There is no reason to expect any difference on a national level, should the PRO Act pass.

In this article, I want to discuss what is known as the ABC test that has been used to apply to judicial scrutiny in places like CA where this law is in effect and is a central feature of the PRO Act as well. This will be followed by a deep dive into the Constitution’s “Contracts Clause” to discuss what this clause means and the myriad ways it relates to modern legislation like AB5 or Pro Act.

California’s bill to regulate the gig economy of freelance contractors… regulate out of existence. Unless, your freelance job is protected by a powerful, well-funded Union, like the truckers union, who have received exemptions. A judge has ruled that truck drivers in California are not subject to Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), a new gig economy law that seeks to reclassify many contractors as employees. 

The regulations, which went into effect January 1 of 2020, were drafted in response to the case of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. Filed by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, the landmark court case established a three-pronged “ABC test” to determine if an individual is properly labeled as an employee versus a contractor.

What Is ABC Test

The PRO Act uses an identical ABC test to delineate employers and contractors and is crucial to understand. So precisely what does it entail and how does it function

  1. A contractor must control their workload,
  2. Not perform work within the business’s primary scope of operations,
  3. And be “customarily engaged” in the occupation.

This test constitutes the level of judicial scrutiny applied when a law is challenged. In this case it is done so as a matter of rational basis review. Rational basis review seeks to determine whether a law is “rationally related” to a “legitimate” government interest, whether real or hypothetical.

Companies are trying their level best to circumvent that standard, which would unravel large portions of the gig economy. 

See the rest here

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: California Is Worse Than You Think

Posted by M. C. on January 14, 2021

For example, the California legislature in its progressive wisdom effectively decriminalized theft as long as thieves take less than $950 worth of merchandise, officially reducing such theft to a misdemeanor but in effect making it legal, since progressive California prosecutors don’t like to be bothered by petty criminals.

Democrats also have the immigrant vote in their back pockets, and California has seen a wave of immigrants help turn it into a one-party state. For now, the numbers are just overwhelming, and we can expect California to move even further to the left as its housing and poverty problems become worse and Democrats successfully convince voters that free markets are cause.

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2021/01/california-is-worse-than-you-think.html

By William L. Anderson

My colleague from the philosophy department was becoming increasingly angry. He was trying to be polite, but it was clear that he was raging inside. After a few minutes, he smiled a very strained smile and excused himself.

Our conversation was about California, or to be more specific, California governance. As readers can imagine, he was bullish on how the Democratic Party governs the state, California being perhaps the most one-party state in the USA. Every statewide election has gone to a Democrat in the last decade, and Democrats have a supermajority in the state legislature, which means that there is no meaningful Republican opposition and whatever the Democrats want, they get.

Not surprisingly, California governance is squarely progressive. The unions representing government employees effectively run the legislature, and as a result, pay, benefits, and pensions for those workers increasingly are straining the state budgets. (Steven Greenhut, a libertarian journalist based in California has documented the unsustainable growth of government in that state for nearly two decades.) Yet, the state continues to march politically and economically in the progressive direction as though the laws of economics didn’t matter.

For the most part, I have observed progressive California from far away, but my life took a different turn a few years ago, and the state is becoming my new home. I married a retired nurse from Sacramento in 2018, and because of health issues with her adult daughter, she has had to remain in that city, something not in our original plans. Because our campus either has been closed or severely restricted during the covid-19 lockdowns, I have spent most of the past year working from my wife’s home.

Living and working in California has offered me the opportunity to observe California progressivism up close, and it has been an interesting experience. Yes, the state where I officially reside, Maryland, is famously one-party and progressive, but the progressivism of California makes Maryland’s legislature look almost red state by comparison and surreally so in some ways.

For example, the California legislature in its progressive wisdom effectively decriminalized theft as long as thieves take less than $950 worth of merchandise, officially reducing such theft to a misdemeanor but in effect making it legal, since progressive California prosecutors don’t like to be bothered by petty criminals. In practice, that means consumer goods are much harder to find in California stores than one might experience elsewhere. For me, the difference was quite revealing, as I recently returned to Maryland after spending close to nine months in Sacramento.

When I go to the Walmart near my wife’s home, I find that many things that openly are on display in Maryland are behind locked cases in California. Furthermore, California’s draconian labor laws mean Walmart has fewer employees, so if I wish to purchase something I easily could buy in Maryland, I have to wait for a long time and often I just walk away because no one is available to open the glass case. Yet, even with these provisions, shoplifting losses for California retailers are enormous, and the state’s protheft laws have encouraged organized grab-and-run rings.

My progressive colleagues, like my philosophy professor friend, see no problem with such developments. To them, the real thieves are the capitalists, the retailers like Walmart that refuse to pay “living wages” to their employees, and, according to Senator Bernie Sanders, the capitalists have “been looting” Americans for years. Thus, the wave of theft in that state is a positive development, according to progressives.

I can go on, but it isn’t difficult to expose the vast array of sins (economic and otherwise) committed by the California political classes, and I liken this kind of punditry to swinging a bat in a room full of pinatas—one simply cannot miss. Steven Greenhut has been exposing California’s follies for years. However, perhaps the best recent commentary I have read on the progressive mentality that governs the state comes from blogger Mike Solana, who deftly skewers progressive politicians from the Golden State who now are accusing the tech industry of having “extracted wealth” from California and then left for the greener pastures of lower-tax havens such as Texas and Florida.

Solana’s rip is worth the read if for no other reason than that he exposes the cluelessness of progressive politicians and pundits, and one can be assured that progressive politicians will fit Tallyrand’s description of the Bourbons: “They had learned nothing, and had forgotten nothing.” Yet, Solana also is puzzled as to why Bay Area politicians who fail spectacularly also win landslide elections:

Nothing in San Francisco can be set on a path to slow correction until at least six of the eleven district board seats along with the mayorship belong to sane, goal-oriented leaders cognizant of our city’s many problems, and single-mindedly focused on solving them. These politicians will likewise need to be extremely well-funded. This is to say we need a political class, funded by a political machine, neither of which currently exist. Even were both the class and the funding apparatus to rapidly emerge, and even were the new political coalition to win an undefeated string of miracle elections, it would take four years to seize meaningful political power from the resident psychotics in charge, who, as per the last election, appear to be very popular among close to ninety percent of voters (a curiosity for another wire). This is to say nothing of the broader Bay Area political toxicity, nor the state political dynamics, which are poised to exacerbate every one of our problems. It is a multi-front political catastrophe.

During the covid-19 pandemic, which California politicians—and especially Governor Gavin Newsom—mismanaged spectacularly, California voters overwhelmingly chose the progressive status quo. While writers go on and on about the mind-boggling politics of California, the voters continue to send the left-wing progressives into office at all levels of government. While some might believe that “education” is the key to the so-called self-governance of democracy, voters in California clearly are choosing their candidates for reasons other than demonstrating wisdom in office. Indeed, why voters insist on putting the worst on top is perhaps the most intriguing question one asks about California politics.

Typical wisdom says that voters “vote for their pocketbooks,” but the progressives whom the lower-income voters overwhelmingly choose to elect are responsible for California having the nation’s highest poverty rates. Furthermore, for all the antiwealth rhetoric that California’s progressive candidates spew out, the very poor and the very rich voters in California tend to choose and support the same candidates, and the Democratic Party is the party of choice of the state’s large number of billionaires.

There is little or nothing that the current progressive state government has done that promotes the promotion of real wealth in California, yet even as state authorities actively destroy economic opportunities, the voters respond by demanding more of the same. That would seem to be a mystery, but maybe not. Let me explain.

In the past few years, wildfires have ravaged huge tracts of mostly public land in California (and in much of the West, although California has been hit the hardest). There are many reasons for the fires, the most obvious being that most of California receives little rainfall and many fires occur in mountainous terrain, where it is difficult to fight them. But there is much more, and most of it has to do with progressive policies. Even the George Soros–funded Pro Publica recognizes the role of fire suppression-based land management practices in making the fires worse:

The pattern is a form of insanity: We keep doing overzealous fire suppression across California landscapes where the fire poses little risk to people and structures. As a result, wildland fuels keep building up. At the same time, the climate grows hotter and drier. Then, boom: the inevitable. The wind blows down a power line, or lightning strikes dry grass, and an inferno ensues. This week we’ve seen both the second- and third-largest fires in California history. “The fire community, the progressives, are almost in a state of panic,” (Tim) Ingalsbee said. There’s only one solution, the one we know yet still avoid. “We need to get good fire on the ground and whittle down some of that fuel load.”

Yet, the progressivist religion that defines the Democratic Party in California cannot acknowledge that the leave-nature-alone policies could have anything to do with the scope and intensity of the wildfires. Instead, the powers that be have decided that climate change—and only climate change—is responsible, and the way to deal with the problem is to impose draconian rules that make life difficult for most people living there, from outlawing new natural gas residential hookups to its infamous “road diets” imposed to discourage people from driving cars. Despite the fact that California politicians, such as Gov. Gavin Newsom, claim that these policies will significantly reduce global temperatures and make wildfires less intense, the reality is quite different, as California accounts for less than 1 percent of so-called greenhouse gases in the world.

Perhaps the most symbolic action by California’s government of progressive arrogance is the continued development of the “bullet train,” an ambitious (to be charitable) project to build high-speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Under urging from then governor Jerry Brown, voters in the Golden State in 2008 agreed to permit a bond issue to begin funding what Brown claimed would require a maximum of $33 billion. California’s mountainous terrain forced design and route changes, turning the LA-SF “dream” into a train that would run between Bakersfield and Merced, two cities in the flat Central Valley. To make matters even worse, passenger rail service via Amtrak already exists in the valley, and even if everything were to go to plan (a heroic assumption, one might add), the bullet train would save only forty-five minutes in travel from the existing route.

As the proposed length of the bullet train becomes shorter, the costs continue to skyrocket. The original $33 billion estimate now has ballooned to more than $100 billion—if the project even is completed. Yet the project continues to live. Last year I spoke to a former coworker of my wife who enthusiastically supports the rail project. When I asked her about the cost and the fact that there really is no demand for this service, her response was instructive: “But we NEED trains!” Never mind that this is a boondoggle that dwarfs almost anything else we know as government waste; never mind that California taxpayers are being forced to fund a massive wealth transfer to politically connected contractors in which there are all costs and no benefits. The state “needs” trains.

My faculty colleague also became angry at my panning the California bullet train, and I have wondered why progressives are so defensive about this project. There is no doubt that it is a huge waste of money and that the passenger-mile costs are well above anything else that exists in public transportation, but that doesn’t seem to matter. One would think that “good government” progressives would see the disconnect here.

One possible explanation comes from Murray Rothbard, who recognized that progressives ultimately are at “war with nature.” While Rothbard was writing about egalitarianism, nonetheless one can argue that progressive policies are aimed at producing very different outcomes than what would happen if people were free to make their own choices, and especially choices with their own money.

Because of the rise of the tech industry, California has seen an increase in wealth that probably is unprecedented in the history of this country—and maybe the world. Not surprisingly, the state’s tax take has massively increased in the past two decades, with the percentage of income tax revenues rising dramatically as tech entrepreneurship has created a new billionaire class. While one can think of these new billionaires as a new class of wealthy, in many ways their outlooks (at least after they become wealthy) often reflect the outlooks of the wave of entrepreneurs such as Andrew Carnegie who developed new technologies, put them to economic use, created vast amounts of wealth, and then created the foundations that ultimately would be governed by a wealth-destroying philosophy of progressivism.

In part, the wealth created permits foundation-financed “visionaries” to demand that resources be directed in a different way than would be done in a market economy, with “serve the people” and “make a difference” as mantras. We see that time and again in California, where tax-engorged “visionary” progressive politicians seize wealth created by private enterprise in order to pursue their own causes such as environmentalism.

Of course, as we already have pointed out, progressive policies tend to make the original problems worse. Not only have progressives made mass wildfires more likely, but they also have been behind the rise in homelessness in California. In the late 1970s, the San Francisco city government instituted rent controls. Not surprisingly, housing shortages followed, and the real price of housing skyrocketed. As shortages became worse, progressive politicians doubled down on the controls. Today, more than five thousand people live on the streets in San Francisco, and the government—bound by its own progressive ideals—is helpless to do anything but hand out money and defend its policies. And this in the city with the most billionaires per capita in the world.

There are three reasons why California governance will not change even as it heads toward a fiscal cliff. First, and most important, progressive ideology is intractable and does not yield to the laws of economics. Progressive politicians are feted in the mainstream media and in California’s left-wing education institutions, and voters don’t seem to want any alternatives. (After all, California “needs” trains.) Politicians who raise questions as to this model of governance can expect to be demonized in the media and will face violent protests if they show up in public venues—and especially on college campuses.

The second reason is that California voters are drawn to progressive Democrats no matter what disasters these politicians might inflict. The highly educated voters do not support progressive Democrats just on economic issues, but also on the highly contentious social issues, and with the 2020 “revolt of the rich” dominating Democratic Party politics at the present, it is doubtful that this current wave of progressive-favoring voters will change direction.

Democrats also have the immigrant vote in their back pockets, and California has seen a wave of immigrants help turn it into a one-party state. For now, the numbers are just overwhelming, and we can expect California to move even further to the left as its housing and poverty problems become worse and Democrats successfully convince voters that free markets are cause.

The third reason things won’t change in California is that progressive government creates its own sets of monopoly rents that are distributed to politically connected interest groups. In the case of the Golden State, state-employee and municipal labor unions are by far the most powerful political entity, and they control vast blocs of voters. Their power was recently demonstrated by their support of the covid-19 lockdowns in the state—during which public employees continued to draw full pay even as the lockdown policies ravaged the state’s tax base.

Should one doubt the power of California’s government-employee unions, witness the “success” of what was called AB 5, the law that almost killed the “gig” industries in the state, putting thousands of freelance writers and musicians out of work. Written by the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) as a means of ending the Uber and Lyft rideshare services (and protect unionized taxi and public transportation workers), the fallout was so bad that even the legislature had to back off some of the restrictions. Voters did the rest last November when they beat back most of the most onerous provisions of the law. (One doubts that the musicians and writers that lost their jobs changed their progressive voting patterns in the most recent election. Such is the staying power of progressive ideology.)

If one believes that perhaps the wave of progressive voters will become “converted” to a “free minds and free markets” approach (the “left libertarian” position), the experience of New York City should be instructive. In 1975, the economy was in recession, businesses were fleeing the city’s onerous tax rates and antibusiness climate, and city officials were fraudulently selling capital bonds to pay for previously issued capital bonds. (William E. Simon, the US secretary of the Treasury in 1975, laid out the entire scenario in his blockbuster A Time for Truth.)

New York’s problem was obvious—except in the minds of progressives. Where most of us would understand that having unions running away with the budgets while suppressing productive private enterprises is a losing proposition, progressives see a nefarious capitalist plot. That New York City had a relatively brief renaissance in large part because of the deregulation of banking and finance (which was begun by President Jimmy Carter) plays no role in progressive thinking at all.

Unlike New York City, California does not have an economic ace in its pocket. Even though much of the tech industry has prospered during the state’s draconian pandemic shutdowns, the state government (not to mention cities and counties) is facing the worst financial crisis perhaps in its history. Not surprisingly, the progressive response is to increase incendiary rhetoric toward wealth creators and demand even higher taxes and more business regulations.

Progressivism is a utopian philosophy of governance that will never find nor create its utopia. If California voters and politicians do not understand the current crisis and how it came about, they probably never will understand. Instead, we will see the continuous march to perdition as California politicians refuse to acknowledge that they are killing the geese laying the golden eggs.

William L. Anderson is a professor of economics at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland.

The above originally appeared at Mises.org

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