Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

Texas vs. California Update for October 19, 2016

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Time for another Texas vs. California update! Included here are several links from City Journal’s special “Texas Rising” issue.

  • Texas cities continue to kick ass economically:

    Texas’s spectacular growth is largely a story of its cities—especially of Austin, Dallas–Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. These Big Four metropolitan areas, arranged in a layout known as the “Texas Triangle,” contain two-thirds of the state’s population and an even higher share of its jobs. Nationally, the four metros, which combined make up less than 6 percent of the American population, posted job growth equivalent to 30 percent of the United States’ total since the financial crash in 2007. Within Texas, they’ve accounted for almost 80 percent of the state’s population growth since 2000 and over 75 percent of its job growth. Meantime, a third of Texas counties, mostly rural, have actually been losing population.

    Texas is sometimes described as the new California, an apt parallel in terms of the states’ respective urban geographies. Neither state is dominated by a single large city; each has four urban areas of more than 1 million people, with two of these among the largest regions in the United States. In both states, these major regions are demographically and economically distinct.

    But unlike California, whose cities have refocused on elite priorities at the expense of middle-class occupations, Texas offers a complete spectrum of economic activities in its metros. Another key difference is that Texas cities have mostly embraced pro-development policies that have kept them affordable by allowing housing supply to expand with population, while California’s housing prices blasted into the stratosphere due to severe development restrictions. Texas cities also benefit from favorable state policies, such as the absence of a state income tax and a reasonable regulatory and litigation environment. These factors make Texas cities today what California’s used to be: places to go in search of the American dream.

  • More on how Texas cities are growing:

    Though some east/west coastal cities—notably, San Francisco—have enjoyed vigorous growth of late, none has been nearly as proficient in creating jobs in the new millennium as Texas’s four leading metros. Overall, Dallas–Fort Worth and Houston have emerged as the nation’s fastest-expanding big-city economies. Between 2000 and 2015, Dallas–Fort Worth boosted its net job numbers by 22.7 percent, and Houston expanded them by an even better 31.2 percent. Smaller Austin (38.2 percent job-base increase) and once-sleepy San Antonio (31.4 percent) have done just as well. New York, by way of comparison, increased its number of jobs in those years by just 10 percent, Los Angeles by 6.5 percent, and San Francisco by 5.2 percent, while Chicago actually lost net employment. And the Texas jobs are not just low-wage employment. Middle-class positions—those paying between 80 percent and 200 percent of the national median wage—have expanded 39 percent in Austin, 26 percent in Houston, and 21 percent in Dallas since 2001. These percentages far outpace the rate of middle-class job creation in San Francisco (6 percent), New York and Los Angeles (little progress), and Chicago (down 3 percent) over the same period.


    Among 52 American metropolitan areas with more than 1 million residents, San Antonio had the largest gain in its share of middle- and upper-income households—that is, the percentage of households in the lower-income category in the city actually dropped—from 2000 to 2014. Houston ranked sixth, Austin 13th, and Dallas–Fort Worth 25th in the Pew survey.


    In 2015, unemployment among Texas’s Hispanic population reached just 4.9 percent, the lowest for Latinos in the country—California’s rate tops 7 percent—and below the national average of 5.3 percent.

    Texas Latinos show an entrepreneurial streak. In a recent survey of the 150 best cities for Latino business owners, Texas accounted for 17 of the top 50 locations; Boston, New York, L.A., and San Francisco were all in the bottom third of the ranking. In a census measurement, San Antonio and Houston boasted far larger shares of Latino-owned firms than did heavily Hispanic L.A.

    In Texas, Hispanics are becoming homeowners, a traditional means of entering the middle class. In New York, barely a quarter of Latino households own their own homes, while in Los Angeles, 38 percent do. In Houston, by contrast, 52 percent of Hispanic households own homes, and in San Antonio, it’s 57 percent—matching the Latino homeownership rate for Texas as a whole. That’s well above the 46 percent national rate for Hispanics—and above the rate for all California households. (The same encouraging pattern exists for Texas’s African-Americans.)

    California and Texas, the nation’s most populous states, are often compared. Both have large Latino populations, for instance, but make no mistake: Texas’s, especially in large urban areas, is doing much better, and not just economically. Texas public schools could certainly be improved, but according to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress—a high-quality assessment—Texas fourth- and eighth-graders scored equal to or better than California kids, including Hispanics, in math and reading. In Texas, the educational gap between Hispanics and white non-Hispanics was equal to or lower than it was in California in all cases.

    Though California, with 12 percent of the American population, has more than 35 percent of the nation’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare caseload—with Latinos constituting nearly half the adult rolls in the state—Texas, with under 9 percent of the country’s population, has less than 1 percent of the national welfare caseload. Further, according to the 2014 American Community Survey, Texas Hispanics had a significantly lower rate of out-of-wedlock births and a higher marriage rate than California Hispanics.

    In California, Latino politics increasingly revolves around ethnic identity and lobbying for government subsidies and benefits. In Texas, the goal is upward mobility through work. “There is more of an accommodationist spirit here,” says Rodrigo Saenz, an expert on Latino demographics and politics at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where the student body is 50 percent Hispanic. It’s obvious which model best encourages economic opportunity.

  • Chuck DeVore explains how SB1234, a bill that establishes the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Trust, a state-run retirement fund for 7.5 million Californians, is actually a mechanism for forcing taxpayers to bail out public pensions:

    Per section 100004 (c) of the new law: Moneys in the program fund may be invested or reinvested by the treasurer or may be invested in whole or in part under contract with the Board of Administration of the Public Employees’ Retirement System or private money managers, or both, as determined by the board. What is the California Public Employees’ Retirement System or CalPERS for short? It’s America’s largest public pension fund with some 1.8 million current and retired government employees.

    But, as with many public retirement systems around the nation, CalPERS is grossly underfunded. Including the California teacher retirement system and smaller local government systems, the unfunded liability for future retirement payouts is about $991 billion, according to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research’s Pension Tracker run by Joe Nation, Ph.D., a former Democratic member of the California State Assembly.

    Since cash is amazingly fungible in government hands, dragooning some 7.5 million Californians into a retirement system that supports 1.8 million state government workers by levying what amounts to a 3 percent payroll tax is going to go a long way towards ensuring CalPERS’ short-term solvency while, perhaps more importantly, building public support for bailing out CalPERS’ looming trillion-dollar shortfall.

    7.5 million Californians will be made to care about CalPERS fiscal health.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • California wants to offer ObamaCare to illegal aliens. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Governor Bush’s education reforms were a lot more successful than President Bush’s. “Educational outcomes overall have continued to improve in Texas.” A long article that points out the need for more reform.
  • Meanwhile, California’s teacher’s unions are trying to destroy charter schools.
  • “The Redding Police Department’s net personnel costs in fiscal 2007-08 were $21 million for 173 employees; in fiscal 2015-16 the costs were $22 million for 131 total employees. In fiscal 2015-16, the Redding Police Department is paying $47,500 per employee more than in fiscal 2007-08. The increase is to pay its unfunded pension liability.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • San Jose voters to vote on compromise pension reform that rolls back real pension reform passed four years ago. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Former [Orange County] Public Works administrator and convicted felon Carlos Bustamante, who served jail time this year for his sex crimes against county workers, lost a chunk of his pension benefits Monday after he was stripped of credit for the years he worked while committing the crimes.” But he’ll still get a pension. Also: “The board’s decision also means Bustamante is owed the nearly $56,000 he paid into the system during the 2 1/2 years he was committing crimes – meaning he’ll be refunded nearly $32,000 but will collect lower pension payments moving forward.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Los Angeles is suffering from a housing shortage. So naturally there’s a ballot initiative to make housing construction more expensive through requiring union kickbacks.
  • Here’s a long piece in City Journal by’s Jon Cassidy. It’s a very balanced assessment of both the strengths and weaknesses of Texas’ governmental structure.

    The good news is that the benefits of the Texas model, overseen by its part-time legislature, are impossible to ignore. From 2000 to 2014, Texas created some 2.5 million nonfarm jobs, more than a quarter of the U.S. total for the period. In 2015, amid free-falling oil prices, Texas still managed to finish third among states in job growth, thanks to booming health care, education, professional services, manufacturing, hospitality, warehousing, and light industrial sectors. Construction is doing well, too. Wondrously cheap housing and pro-growth land-use policies draw people and business to the state. None of this diversification was centrally planned. It’s the product of an economy that’s wide open to foreign trade and immigration. Immigration has boosted native Texans’ income by an aggregate $3.4 billion to $6.6 billion a year. Income inequality is up, too—but that’s just another way of saying that high-paying jobs are growing fastest.

    To a large degree, the Texas model has worked because the Austin governing establishment is penned in, limited in the damage that it can inflict by a state constitution that not only keeps lawmakers from enacting new laws for one out of every two years but also severely restricts taxation and imposes budget caps. Texas has no state income tax, and instituting one would require voter approval. The legislature makes do with a sales tax, a handful of excise taxes, and an onerous gross-receipts tax that penalizes high-volume businesses. The Texas state government simply never has the money for bold new expansions of government. So it stays small, just as the original Texans wanted it. It’s not perfect and never will be, but the state is flourishing.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Texas state government has done a good job controlling debt. Local governments? Not so much. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Police are under fire in Sacramento and Los Angeles.
  • The high speed rail project is uniting Californians! In opposition to it:

    The rest of the story is the astonishingly widespread political opposition to the train by California voters these days, even though 53 percent of them approved the idea when it was on the state ballot in the November 2008 election. The opposition spans ideological left and right and demographic rich, poor, and middle-class: from wealthy Silicon Valley technocrats horrified that the ultra-fast rail lines, with overpasses only every 10 miles or so, would wreck their leafy, bicycle-friendly upscale-suburban neighborhoods, to Latino-majority working-class towns in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley that would be split in half by the train corridors, to equestrians in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills who would see their horse trails destroyed and environmentalists concerned about wetlands destruction in Northern California and threats to wildlife and endangered plant species in Southern California’s Angeles National Forest, through which several of the proposed train routes would plow.

  • Hat tip for the above to Amy Alkon, who also notes:

    The analyzed per mile rate would make a one-way SF to LA ticket cost about $190.5 Therefore, if the CHSRA’s assumed private operator must charge enough to break even, four tickets for a LA/SF round trip would cost at least $1,520. Conclusions: California’s 2009 median household income was $42,548.6. For a middle class household to ride the train LA-SF once would cost them about 4% of their annual pre-tax income.

  • San Francisco to city of Brisbane: “Build housing in your city so San Franciscans can enjoy it…or else!”
  • CalPERS tries to stick 700 person town of Loyalton with a $1.6 million bill as punishment for dropping out of the system…for four retirees. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • The Bay Area Air Quality Management District needs more money so employees can enjoy more expensive junkets to New Orleans.
  • Want to sell signed books in California? A newly passed law requires you to issue a certificate of authenticity for any item over $5, including your name and address, even if it came from the publisher pre-signed. No COA? “You can be liable for TEN TIMES damages, plus attorneys fees. Call it a cool half mill, because you didn’t know you were supposed to issue a COA.” Word is they’re planning to change this idiocy, but that doesn’t excuse passing it in the first place.
  • Another California idiot law: A man can’t display historical Civil War paintings at the state fair because they have confederate flags in them. More here.
  • Did California just legalize child prostitution? Snopes says no, but I’ve seen California impose more tendentious readings on other laws. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Jerry Brown Just Signed a Tough-on-Rape Bill That’s So Bad, Even Feminists Hate It.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Voters in Apple Valley, California push for initiative to force voter approval on debt spending. Naturally the City Council puts their own initiative on the ballot to continue “eminent domain acquisition efforts unencumbered by another election.” Plus they illegally spent taxpayer money advertising in favor of their own initiative. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Harrison County in east Texas has been enjoying industrial gains.
  • Dallas has become a big hub for philanthropy. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California passes a hide an actor’s age upon request law. I sincerely doubt this will pass constitutional muster on first amendment and equal protection clause grounds. Plus, IMDB’s servers are in Washington state…
  • Verengo Inc, the largest installer of residential solar systems in southern California, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday as it seeks to sell itself after defaulting on a bank loan.”
  • “The San Diego-based Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., which owns the Souplantation chain, has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection…Court papers show that Garden Fresh pins its troubles on declining sales, higher minimum wages, and higher employee benefit costs.”
  • DentalOne is relocating its headquarters from Ohio to Plano.
  • LinkSwarm for October 7, 2016

    Friday, October 7th, 2016

    It’s been one of those weeks. Enjoy a Friday LinkSwarm:

  • This just in: The eight years of the Obama Administration have been a miserable failure.
  • Some ObamaCare patients are losing their plans, others are facing huge rate hikes. In Tennessee, they’re getting both. (Hat tip: Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt.)
  • More on the same theme:

    ObamaCare’s unraveling shows the danger of a one-size-fits-all federal program. What’s happening in Tennessee is only a nationwide harbinger. Every single neighboring state will have less competition on its ObamaCare exchanges next year. The entire state of Alabama will have only one insurer. Almost all are facing double-digit premium increases: in Mississippi a weighted average of 16%; in Kentucky 25%; in Georgia 33%.

    These problems aren’t confined to the Southeast. ObamaCare exchange buyers will have only one option in nearly a third of American counties, according to an August report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s a 300% increase in single-option counties from last year. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have approved rates leading to average premium increases next year of over 26%.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Indiana police raid offices in nine county voting fraud case. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • And speaking of voting fraud, the 86 non-citizens registered to vote in Philadelphia are just the tip of the iceberg. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • There’s even a huge voting fraud investigation going on in Tarrant County, with “a vote harvesting scheme involving as many as 20,000 ballots.”
  • Michael Moore: “I don’t think people do trust the Democrats.”
  • Even MSNBC panelists nail the media for obvious left-wing bias.
  • Race relations have gotten worse under Obama. That’s what happens when you have George Soros spending millions to poison race relations, and let Social Justice Warriors go rampaging through your institutions…
  • Both Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte and Donald Trump are gaining in New Hampshire. Remember that until very recently New Hampshire was considered a solidly Republican state.
  • Mayor de Blasio is thin-skinned and unable to handle even the slightest criticism.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • NFL ratings are down across the, and one-third of people surveyed says its because of the Black Lives Matter pandering. (Hat tip: Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt.)
  • Followup: Dawanna Dukes seeks a plea deal. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • So even Canada has giant brawls in its McDonalds? Bonus: Baby raccoon.
  • Peak Florida? (Hat tip: Bill Crider.)
  • LinkSwarm for September 30, 2016

    Friday, September 30th, 2016

    Another Friday, another LinkSwarm. On a personal note, I am once again looking for a Senior Technical Writing position in the greater Austin area. If you have any leads in that direction, please let me know.

  • Polls show Hillary losing ground after debate.
  • Likewise, LA Times poll shows a slight bump for Trump.
  • Professor says there are 13 keys for an incumbent to lose the White House. By my count, Democrats suffer from just about all of them.
  • Minnesota, the only state to vote for Walter Mondale in 1984, is now a battleground state. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Democrats give up on Ohio. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Nineteen dead people registered to vote in Virginia. Yet more of that voting fraud Democrats swear up and down doesn’t exist… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Republicans cave on everything and leave town. But somehow it’s Trump that’s going to sully the spotless reputation of the Grand Old Party…
  • But at least congress overrode Obama’s veto of bill allowing 9/11 survivors to sue the Saudis 97-1. One wonders why Obama even bothered vetoing the bill, given how he had already stabbed the Saudis in the back with the Iran deal.
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield drops out of ObamaCare exchange in Nebraska.
  • More illegal aliens on the way. (Hat tip: Praire Pundit.)
  • Two Maryland Democrats fight over which is more responsible over making Baltimore burn.
  • Chicago schools are boned. (Hat tip: The American Interest.)
  • Taxis vs. Uber.
  • Will Franklin of WILLisms put a lot of work into this school choice video:

  • Texas among four states to sue to stop the transfer of ICANN to an international governing body.
  • “Target Corporation’s transgender bathroom pander costing its shareholders billions.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Scott Adams think that the Middle East is just building a wall around the Islamic State.
  • Ace of Spades declares war on the Republican leadership:

    Apparently, some in this party really do think they’re going to hand the election to Hillary, and, bizarrely, they think this will bully the rest of us into knuckling under to their agenda in 2020.

    Rather than simply getting payback and tanking their candidate in return.

    This party is on the verge of self-destructing. The upper class of the party is upset that the lower class has finally had its say, and they’re determined that should never be permitted to happen again.

    Why then would anyone of the lower class ever vote for the GOP again? Are they required to sign a piece of paper confirming that they are Lessers who should know their place in order to have the privilege of voting against their own interests?

    He’s also turns his fire on #NeverTrump:

    we have a hundred people who claim to be #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary but, strangely enough, never talk about the downsides of a Hillary presidency. Oh, they’ll talk up how much of an authoritarian Trump is, but not Hillary’s sense of entitlement, grievance, vengeance, and her own history of authoritarianism and lawlessness in covering up her crimes.

    They talk all day about “Principles,” but discard the most basic principles — such as keeping a proven lawbreaker out of the White House, or just honestly admitting which candidate they’re actually supporting to their readers — as convenience may recommend.

    In fact, right now they’re howling about Ted Cruz’ “calculations” in endorsing Trump, while not admitting their own pose of “Being Against Both Equally” is in fact a completely contrived lie they’ve calculated will permit them to agitate for their candidate (Hillary) while not compromising their career prospects within Conservatism, Inc. too much.

    How much can I agitate for Hillary while still retaining plausible deniability?

    How much can I agitate for Hillary to appease my anti-Trump donors while still keeping enough pro-Trump readers that my anti-Trump donors will feel they’re getting enough eyeballs per dollar of their patronage?

    The party — not just the party;the writers who are supposed to have telling the truth as their first mission, but instead of become nonstop liars all the time decrying Trump as a liar himself — has declared war on all of the Lessers beneath their station, those not in The Media and who should, therefore, not have quite as much of a say in things as they themselves have.

    They’ve made themselves into exactly what they pretend to oppose — and exactly what I do in fact oppose.

  • Canada launches prescription smack. Part of me wants to see how the experiment turns out. And part of me wants to start offering junkies one-way bus tickets to the Great (China) White North.
  • Other Canadian craziness: Montreal to euthanize all non-owned pit bulls. Way to jerk those knees, French Canadians.
  • Navy changes the way it categorizes sailors.
  • Burning Man camp vandalized.
  • More of that vaunted liberal tolerance we hear so much about these days. “Kill yourself bitch.” (Hat tip: Will Shetterly.)
  • There’s a proper and an improper way to turn down an orgy. Proper: “No thank you.” Improper: Getting stabby. Don’t they teach kids basic manners these days?
  • I picked up some signed William F. Buckley, Jr. books cheap.
  • Democratic Rep. Dawnna Dukes To Become More Officially Absent

    Thursday, September 29th, 2016

    Austin Democratic state Rep. Dawnna Dukes announced she’s stepping down from the legislature.

    Her ostensible reason for leaving is health issues, stemming from a serious car crash she suffered in 2013. (“State Rep. Ruth McClendon-Jones, D-San Antonio, said Dukes is resting at home now after being hospitalized for several hours after the incident. She said Dukes’ vehicle was rear-ended by a large truck while stuck in traffic.” While it does sound serious, I do note that “serious injuries” from a car crash usually require more than “a few hours” in the hospital.)

    But her “health-related” retirement “comes as the Travis County District Attorney’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into her alleged misuse of staff and government funds”:

    Former staff members accused Dukes of seeking reimbursement from the state for travel payments she was not entitled to. In February, The Texas Tribune reported that the state auditor’s office was investigating her use of state workers on a personal project Dukes oversaw, the African American Heritage Festival. The auditors referred the case to Travis County prosecutors.

    Then, in April, state officials said the Texas Rangers had joined the Travis County District Attorney’s office criminal probe. A spokesman for the Rangers, Tom Vinger, said Monday their investigation is complete and has been presented to the Travis County District Attorney’s office.

    “In her resignation statement, [Dukes] said she was ‘content that two signature community programs I initiated enriched my beloved District 46 and Austin community.’ It does sound like there was some sort of enrichment going on.

    Chanman’s Musings has some thoughts on her resignation pay bump.

    While Dukes is stepping down and has been absent from the legislature for more than a year, her name will still be on the ballot in November, which means that Gov. Greg Abbott will have to call a special election next year unless Republican challenger Gabriel Nila beats her in November. Which may be difficult, as the district is so heavily Democratic. If he loses, at least three Democrats (Austin Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Joe Deshotel (son of state Rep. Joe Deshotel), and Travis County Democratic Party Chairman Vincent Harding) have said they’re considering running.

    Random Observations from the Round Rock Gun Show

    Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

    I attended the Austin Gun Show-Round Rock (to use the full appellation) on Sunday, and here are a few random observations:

  • The venue, the Round Rock Sports Center, is much bigger and better suited to a gun show than the Austin and Cedar Park venues. There’s room for more vendors in the central space, there’s none of that inner ring/outer ring/multilevel nonsense, and it’s a nice modern building.
  • You had the weird Russian guy selling the one Nazi flag, WWII stuff…and bedsheets.
  • He wasn’t the only bedsheet dealer.
  • There was also a Tupperware dealer. Evidently non-gun vendors have figure out that gun shows get lots of foot traffic.
  • When it comes to guns, prices seemed up roughly 10% over the show I attended last year.
  • Some manufacturers (including Kimber) are going into custom colored grips and such in a big way. I understand the reasoning (more money from the growing female shooter demographic), but they don’t do much for me.
  • Ditto what I call Ruger’s “Logan’s Run .22”:

  • One dealer did make a strong pitch for us to buy the Barrett .50 BMG we were ogling, but it was a tad out of our price range.
  • I’m looking for an AR-pattern rifle in 5.56 NATO/.223, probably a Smith & Wesson M&P, but they’re still a little more than I want to spend.
  • There was a Trump swag guy at the show. He didn’t seem to be as busy as the people selling “Hillary for Prison” shirts.
  • Speaking of Hillary, actual announcement at the show: “Building management has asked that you refrain from putting Hillary Clinton pictures in the urinals.”
  • LinkSwarm for September 16, 2016

    Friday, September 16th, 2016

    It’s Friday! Something to be thankful for!

    Its 52 days until the election! At least we can be thankful it isn’t more! (Alternate theory: We’ve all died and gone to Hell, and will be watching this Presidential race for the rest of eternity…)

  • Donald Trump widens lead in LA Times poll. “The poll shows Trump leading Clinton, 47%-41%.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)
  • Another poll puts Trump up by eight in Iowa. Downside: Same poll has Trump up by only seven in Texas. There’s no way in Hell or Terlingua that’s happening, but let’s hope Battleground Texas cons some national Democratic donors into throwing more money down that particular rathole based on that poll… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)
  • Scott Adams on Hillary’s 9/11 collapse: “The optics of a potential commander-in-chief collapsing at that holy place, and on an important anniversary, rendered her unelectable in my opinion.”
  • Hillary Clinton has stage-three Parkinson’s disease and suffers from seizures, according to three sources who have had a personal relationship with the Democratic Party presidential nominee.” Grains of salt, anonymous sources disclaimer, yadda yadda.
  • Did I miss this from 2015? “The charitable foundation run by Hillary Clinton and her family has received as much as $81m from wealthy international donors who were clients of HSBC’s controversial Swiss bank.” Including Frank Giustra. But why would you trust such a notoriously right-wing news outlet as The Guardian? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “It Was Easier To Cure Trump Of His Trumpiness Than Hillary of Her Hillaryness.” “For Hillary, the problem runs deeper. People think she’s corrupt and dishonest. That’s because she’s corrupt and dishonest.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Email leak exposes Democratic Party Pay-for-Play scheme, despite cleverly hiding their intent by actually using the phrase “pay-for-play.” Just think: This would have been a major story dominating the news for months if it were a Republican Administration. In the age of Obama and Hillary, it’s just another selection on a vast buffet of corruption. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • America’s trust in media hits all time low:

    Well, what did they expect when they went all in for Hillary? And now Trump is climbing in the polls — 6 points up in the new L.A. Times poll — and they’ve already squandered their credibility. They can’t help her now. They tried too hard before. Too bad the Democratic Party didn’t give us a democratic experience this time. They foisted a candidate on us, they rigged it, with the assistance of the media. And now the candidate we didn’t want zombie-walks and stumbles to the finish line, and there is nothing the Party or the media can do to stir up our affection. Meanwhile, the man the media loved to hate is powering through to the Presidency, looking only stronger for all the shots he took.

  • More Americans murdered in Chicago since 2001 than U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
  • The European Dream gives way to nightmare:

    Viktor Orbán, together with the prime ministers of the Visegrad countries and the Ukrainian prime minister, took part in a discussion where he highlighted: a whole generation of European politicians had a “secret dream”, that they can use the EU to achieve the weakening of the member states’ national, religious, and historic identities, and that all this would be replaced by a new European identity. But we found out there is no such identity that could replace the old ones, he said. He added: now it is proven that the only successful countries are the ones with strong identities.

    (Hat tip Director Blue.)

  • Someone is learning how to take down the Internet.

    Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services. Who would do this? It doesn’t seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do. Profiling core infrastructure is common practice in espionage and intelligence gathering. It’s not normal for companies to do that. Furthermore, the size and scale of these probes — and especially their persistence — points to state actors. It feels like a nation’s military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar… The data I see suggests China.

  • Former Ohio mayor arrested for raping a 4-year old. Guess which party they were a member of, and guess how deeply the Washington Post buried that information.
  • Have an Android? Enjoy your Big Brother inside.
  • Happy Land Social Club arsonist dies in prison. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • The end of the Euro?
  • Austin to hire an official Social justice Warrior.
  • Local Texas school districts try to reduce or repeal Local Option Homestead Exemptions, get smacked down by Texas Attorney general Ken Paxton.
  • Texas vs. California Update for September 14, 2016

    Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • Vance Ginn makes the case that Texas is still kicking California’s ass:

    After descending into a deep valley during the recession, California’s economy has recently grown at a faster rate than in Texas, where the drop in oil prices and higher value of the dollar have negatively affected the mining and manufacturing sectors. However, during the last decade, the productive, real private sector growth has increased by 13.6 percent in California compared with a robust 29.1 percent in Texas.

    This growth translates into output per person in Texas increasing almost four times more than in California in that period, meaning economic output has far outpaced population growth.

    Although contemporary economic growth in California has led to a higher annual job creation rate than in Texas since April 2015, this only tells part of the story.

    Since December 2007 when the last national recession started, total civilian employment increased in California by 1.2 million while it increased by 1.7 million in Texas, with a labor force two-thirds the size of California’s. This increase in employment in Texas constitutes about one-third of all jobs created nationwide — truly remarkable given recent headwinds!

    This phenomenal job creation contributed to Texas’ unemployment rate (4.6 percent) being at or below California’s rate (5.5 percent) for 121 straight months, or since July 2006. But the official unemployment rate only accounts for those actually looking for work, a better gauge of labor force health would be the share of the population employed, which has been higher in Texas than in California since at least 2000.

    More economic output and job creation over time in Texas has contributed to less poverty. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ supplemental poverty measure, which accounts for the local cost of living, shows that Texas’ rate matches the national average while California has the nation’s highest poverty rate

    Income inequality has also been higher in California than in Texas for years. For example, the average of total income held by the top 10 percent of income earners from 2000 to 2012 was 49.9 percent in California compared with 48.8 percent in Texas.

    The results are pretty clear that California’s progressive policies of having the highest marginal personal income tax rate, cumbersome regulations, huge unfunded pension obligations, an out of control lawsuit environment, and other policies reduce economic opportunity.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • High earners are leaving blue states like California for red states like Texas:

    For generations, the Golden State developed a reputation as the ultimate destination of choice for millions of Americans. No longer. Since 2000 the state has lost 1.75 million net domestic migrants, according to Census Bureau estimates. And even amid an economic recovery, the pattern of outmigration continued in 2014, with a loss of 57,900 people and an attraction ratio of 88.5, placing the Golden State 13th from the bottom, well behind longtime people exporters Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Louisiana. California was a net loser of domestic migrants in all age categories.


    Much of the discussion about millennial migration tends to focus on high-cost, dense urban regions such as those that dominate New York, Massachusetts and, of course, California. Yet the IRS data tells us a very different story about migrants aged 26 to 34. Here it’s Texas in the lead, and by a wide margin, followed by Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Maine, Florida and New Hampshire. Once again New York and Illinois stand out as the biggest losers in this age category.

    Perhaps more important for the immediate future may be the migration of people at the peak of their careers, those aged 35 to 54. These are also the age cohorts most likely to be raising children. The top four are the same in both cohorts. Among the 35 to 44 age group, it’s Texas, followed by Florida, South Carolina and North Dakota. Among the 45 to 54 cohort, Texas, followed by South Carolina, Florida and North Dakota.

  • California just raised your food costs.
  • And agricultural producers are not happy:

    The Governor signed this ag overtime bill in the same year that minimum wage legislation was also passed that will take California to the highest minimum wage as well as legislation forcing California to adopt additional greenhouse gas regulations for businesses in California.

    California is the only state in the country subject to such regulations. Today’s signing occurred despite numerous requests by the agricultural industry to meet with the Governor to discuss our concerns. The message is clear. California simply doesn’t care.

  • Ca;ifornia companies have a hard time attracting workers:
  • More than two-thirds (70 percent) of organizations in California indicated that they have had difficulty recruiting for full-time regular positions in the last 12 months, similar to 68 percent nationally.

  • California organizations were more likely than organizations nationally to report competition from other employers (56 percent), qualified candidates rejecting compensation packages (28 percent), qualified candidates not being able to move to their local area (21 percent), or a relocation or a relocation package not being competitive or not being offered (12 percent) as top reasons for hiring difficulty.
  • Why California can’t build more housing. “Labor unions—which ostensibly stand for working class interests—will not stand for new construction unless it is accompanied by carve-outs and cronyist regulations that artificially boost their compensation.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “California’s unfunded pension debts may be larger than acknowledged.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “The biggest problem faced by the State of California is not ‘climate change’ or ‘poverty it is the overreaching power of California government itself, namely the California Legislature and Administration, and the threats that this Democrat establishment poses to California’s future, particularly with regard to the economy and individual liberty. California Democrats are celebrating the passage of new climate change legislation that provides California government with broad, sweeping new powers to drastically curb greenhouse gas reductions without regard to economic impact or the basic rights of businesses and individuals.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Palo Alto decides that they hate, hate, hate that golden goose.
  • Maybe that’s why some observers are telling people “If You Own A Home In Palo Alto, CA; Sell It Now.” As the median price of homes has actually started dropping, though from admittedly already insane heights…
  • “Case Study: How Politicians Motivate Companies to Leave California.”
  • Orange County clerk took bribes to make charges disappear.
  • Corrupt Oakland police sentenced. There are all sorts of real winners in this story…
  • LAX Police Assistant Chief Resigns Amid Corruption Allegations.”
  • University of California hires India-based IT outsourcer, lays off tech workers. “The layoffs will happen at the end of February, but before the final day arrives the IT employees expect to train foreign replacements from India-based IT services firm HCL. The firm is working under a university contract valued at $50 million over five years.” This might be a good time to throw in a “How’s that $15 minimum wage working out for you, San Francisco,” but there’s another factor at work: “Joe Bengfort, the CIO for the UCSF campus, said the campus is facing ‘difficult circumstances’ because of declining reimbursement and the impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act, which has increased the volume of patients but limits reimbursement to around 55 cents on the dollar, he said.” So San Franciscans IT workers are losing their jobs thanks to ObamaCare.
  • “Texas has proven it’s possible to have both much lower crime and a lower rate of imprisonment. Indeed, Texas’ FBI index crime rate, which accounts for both violent crime and property crime, has fallen more sharply than it has nationally, posting a 29 percent drop from 2005 to 2014, the latest full year for which official data is available.”
  • “It turns out that the average property tax bill required to support BART’s proposed $3.5 billion bond measure on the November ballot could be as much as four times what the transit agency claimed…That’s because legal language in Measure RR allows BART to issue bonds at up to the state limit of 12 percent interest.” 12%? With 30 year U.S. Treasuries running under 2%? The fact they think they may have to go that high to attract investors suggests how worried bond traders are about the future of California’s economy…
  • Some are less than enthused about BART’s bond proposal:

    BART officials want voters to trust them with another $3.5 billion of taxpayer money. But they’ve done nothing to earn that trust.

    Instead, they have recklessly spent what they have, grossly understated how much their ballot proposal would raise property tax bills and devised plans to use money from the measure, intended for capital projects, to indirectly cover inflated labor costs.

    Voters in Alameda County, Contra Costa and San Francisco should say no — hell no. They should reject Measure RR on the Nov. 8 ballot.

    Despite the problems facing the transit agency, it makes no sense to approve five decades of extra taxes when Measure RR lacks a logical budget, a timeline for service improvements and provisions ensuring taxpayers and riders get what they’re promised.

    The measure would authorize the district to borrow $3.5 billion through bond sales as part of a larger plan to upgrade BART’s infrastructure. The ballot wording conveniently omits that the district would tax property owners for 48 years to pay off the debt.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Speaking of California bonds: Proposition 53 explained.
  • California’s legislature passes extension of sexual assault statue of limitations mainly over Bill Cosby. Combine this with the trend of colleges redefining rape to “any sex a woman later regrets,” and suddenly the state has the ability to prosecute anyone who ever had sex in California…
  • Leprosy Scare in California Elementary School. “There are approximately 6,500 cases of leprosy in the United States, and 90 percent of the cases are immigrants from countries where leprosy is endemic.With the increase in illegal immigrants and refugees in recent years, diseases thought to be eradicated in this country — like tuberculosis, polio, measles and leprosy — have unfortunately reemerged in the United States.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Image Comics to move from Berkeley to Portland.
  • Cow Fart Regulations Approved By California’s Legislature.” No, not an Onion piece.
  • Follow-up: Pacific Sunwear exits bankruptcy.
  • Welcome Empower Texans To The Blogroll

    Thursday, September 8th, 2016

    Here’s another link I’ve been meaning to add to the blogroll for a while: Empower Texans. Michael Quinn Sullivan’s group (a companion organization to Texans for Fiscal Responsibility) does a good job of covering Texas political news and drawing attention to government abuses.

    Well worth checking out.

    Houston Jury Smacks SEIU With $5.3 Million Award

    Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

    Here’s a rare thing: A union actually being held accountable for breaking the law:

    A Harris County jury on Tuesday awarded a Houston commercial cleaning firm $5.3 million in damages, finding that a labor union’s aggressive organizing campaign went too far when it maligned the reputation of the company. It opens the door for more employers to sue unions over hardball tactics often used in membership drives and contract disputes.

    The jury, by a 10-2 vote, found for Professional Janitorial Service in a suit the company brought nine years ago against the Service Employees International Union, which targeted the company as part of its “Justice for Janitors” organizing campaign and wrongly claimed Professional Janitorial Service had violated wage, overtime and other labor laws.

    The case was the first time that a jury has found against a union in a business defamation or disparagement case, according to a search of legal records by the company’s law firm, AZA of Houston.

    “The jury found what PJS and its employees have known for more than a decade,” Brent Southwell, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement. “The SEIU is a corrupt organization that is rotten to its core.”


    The trial, which lasted four weeks, represented the first time the SEIU, which has nearly 2 million members nationwide, has had to defend its tactics in front to a jury. Other cases, including a federal racketeering lawsuit filed by the international food, maintenance and cleaning company Sodexo in 2011, were settled before they ever got before a jury.

    Empower Texans has more background on SEIU tactics:

    One of the tactics many unions use to access potential members is “salting,” and the SEIU is no exception. Salting is the tactic of sending a union-affiliate to a targeted employer to apply for, and then accept a position working for the company. Since unions are often prohibited from contacting employees at work, salts do it for them.

    Two of the salts used against PJS were Adriana Menchu and Eleanor Parada; both have been reoccurring figures during the SEIU trial.

    The union used Menchu’s name in various campaigns, lawsuits, and fliers. In one flier she was quoted saying, “They don’t give us gloves or masks to clean. I know a woman who brings her own cleaning supplies from home just so she can protect her health.” Which PJS refuted with their longstanding policy prohibiting the use of any outside cleaning agents unless supplied by the company.

    SEIU fliers claimed that PJS failed to pay Menchu for hours worked, but internal union emails contradicted that statement saying that PJS was trying to “buy” Menchu off by giving her a raise. More evidence that they knew the information they were releasing was false.

    One press release read, “Mostly immigrant janitors were instructed to work ‘off-the-clock’ and had pay withheld by the city’s largest locally-based cleaning company, Professional Janitorial Service (PJS), according to a new lawsuit filed today.”

    Never revealing that SEIU was the party behind the lawsuit, or that the union planted the “janitors” they were referring to.

    Parada was another salt frequently used in lawsuits, and was quoted in an SEIU press release about the unfair labor practice suit they filed saying, “We work hard, but PJS thinks they can treat us however they want…That’s why PJS janitors are taking a stand today – so we can have some basic protections.”

    It’s worth noting that until the SEIU came to Houston to unionize janitors PJS had never faced labor violation allegations, had not been investigated by the Department of Labor or National Labor Relations Board, and had not had unfair labor practice lawsuits filed against them. Also, out of the 20 ULPs the union filed against PJS, 19 were dismissed with the last being rectified by simply having the employer post safety signs in the workplace.

    Texas vs. California Update for August 30, 2016

    Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
  • A new ranking of Freedom in the 50 states is out. Texas ranked 28th (too low, IMHO) while California ranked 49th:
    • Texas:

      Texas’s fiscal policy is very good. It is a fiscally decentralized state, with local taxes at about 4.5 percent of personal income, above the national average, and state taxes at about 3.6 percent of income, well below the national average. However, Texans don’t have much choice of local government, with only 0.36 jurisdictions per 100 square miles. State and local debt is above average (with the biggest problem being local debt burdens), at 23.1 percent of income, but it has come down slightly since FY 2011. Government subsidies are below average. Public employment has fallen significantly below average, at 11.8 percent of private employment.

      Texas’s land-use freedom keeps housing prices down. It also has a regulatory taking compensation law, but it only applies to state government. The renewable portfolio standard has not been raised in years. Texas is our top state for labor-market freedom. Workers’ compensation coverage is optional for employers; most employees are covered, but not all. The state has a right-to-work law, no minimum wage, and a federally consistent anti-discrimination law. Cable and telecommunications have been liberalized. However, health insurance mandates were quite high as of 2010, the last available date. The extent of occupational licensing is high, but the state recently enacted a sunrise review requirement for new licensure proposals. Time will tell whether it is at all effective. Nurse practitioners enjoy no freedom of independent practice at all. Texas has few cronyist entry and price regulations, but it does have a price-gouging law, and Tesla’s direct sales model is still illegal. The civil liability system used to be terrible, but now it is merely below average. The state abolished joint and several liability in 2003, but it could do more to cap punitive damages and end parties’ role in judicial elections.

    • California:

      Although it has long been significantly freer on personal issues than the national average, California has also long been one of the lowest-scoring states on economic freedom.

      Despite Proposition 13, California is one of the highest-taxed states in the country. Excluding severance and motor fuel taxes, California’s combined state and local tax collections were 10.8 percent of personal income. Moreover, because of the infamous Serrano decision on school funding, California is a fiscally centralized state. Local taxes are about average nationally, while state taxes are well above average. Government debt is high, at 22.8 percent of personal income. The state subsidizes business at a high rate (0.16 percent of the state economy). However, government employment is lower than the national average.

      Regulatory policy is even more of a problem for the state than fiscal policy. California is one of the worst states on land-use freedom. Some cities have rent control, new housing supply is tightly restricted in the coastal areas, and eminent domain reform has been nugatory. Labor law is anti-employment, with no right-to-work law, high minimum wages, strict workers’ comp mandates, mandated short-term disability insurance, and a stricter-than-federal anti-discrimination law. Occupational licensing is extensive and strict, especially in construction trades. It is tied for worst in nursing practice freedom. The state’s mandatory cancer labeling law (Proposition 65) has significant economic costs. It is one of the worst states for consumer freedom of choice in homeowner’s and automobile insurance.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Texas tops yet another list as the best place to work and live.
  • “This notion of California as a land of outsiders is being turned on its head, our state’s dream repackaged – often with the approval of its ruling hegemons – as something more like a medieval city, expelling the poor and the young, while keeping the state’s blessings to the well-educated, well-heeled and generally older population”:

    California has been bleeding people to other states for more than two decades. Even after the state’s “comeback,” net domestic out-migration since 2010 has exceeded 250,000. Moreover, the latest Internal Revenue Service migration data, for 2013-2014, does not support the view that those who leave are so dominated by the flight of younger and poorer people.

    Of course, younger people tend to move more than older people, and people seeking better job opportunities are more likely to move than those who have made it. But, according to the IRS, nearly 60,000 more Californians left the state than moved in between 2013 and 2014. In each of the seven income categories and each of the five age categories, the IRS found that California lost net domestic migrants.

    Nor, viewed over the long term, is California getting smarter than its rivals. Since 2000, California’s cache of 25- to 34-year-olds with college, postgraduate and professional degrees grew by 36 percent, below the national average of 42 percent, and Texas’ 47 percent. If we look at metropolitan regions, the growth of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees since 2000 has been more than 1.5 to nearly 3 times as fast in Houston and Austin as in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Even New York, with its high costs, is doing better.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit, who also notes “I remember talking to the Investor’s Business Daily folks a few years ago — they were headquartered in Marina Del Rey, a lovely place but one where they were constantly visited by inspectors, tax people, etc., all posing problems. When they opened an office in Texas, the state and local government people were all ‘tell us if we can help you.’ Very different experience.”)

  • “IRS Data: More Americans are relocating to Texas.” Though why an article datelined El Paso, and quoting only El Paso experts, uses a photo of Austin’s skyline to illustrate the story is a mystery…
  • The California Teacher’s Association: the worst union in America:

    Seen as a national leader in the classroom during the 1950s and 1960s, the country’s largest state is today a laggard, competing with the likes of Mississippi and Washington, D.C., at the bottom of national rankings. The Golden State’s education tailspin has been blamed on everything from class sizes to the property-tax restrictions enforced by Proposition 13 to an influx of Spanish-speaking students. But no portrait of the system’s downfall would be complete without a depiction of the CTA, a political behemoth that blocks meaningful education reform, protects failing and even criminal educators, and inflates teacher pay and benefits to unsustainable levels.

    Also this:

    According to figures from the California Fair Political Practices Commission (a public institution) in 2010, the CTA had spent more than $210 million over the previous decade on political campaigning—more than any other donor in the state. In fact, the CTA outspent the pharmaceutical industry, the oil industry, and the tobacco industry combined.

  • California state appeals court rules unanimously that, yes, public employee pension benefits can indeed be reduced. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • The court giveth, the court taketh away, as the Vergara lawsuit ends with a whimper, meaning teachers unions can screw poor kids in California for the immediate future.
  • Meanwhile, California’s Democrat-controlled legislature passes a bill to get their fingers on private retirement funds create a plan to create a pension for private employee who don’t have one. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • No, it’s just to create more opportunities for graft through taxation. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s cap-and-trade program is a colossal failure, and it may take the high speed rail boondoggle down with it:

    California concluded its most recent cap-and-trade program auction last week. Out of 44,268,323 metric tons of carbon dioxide credits offered for sale by the state Air Resources Board, only 660,560 were sold, 1.5 percent of the total, raising a paltry $8.4 million out of a hoped-for $620 million. Last May’s auction was almost as bad, raising $10 million out of an anticipated $500 million.

    California’s carbon dioxide cap-and-trade auction program was expected to bring in more than $2 billion in the current fiscal year that ends June 30, 2017, a quarter of which is earmarked for the high-speed rail project narrowly approved by voters in a 2008 ballot initiative. As a hedge against uncertainty, a $500 million reserve was built into the cap-and-trade budget. But, with the August auction falling 98.5 percent short, the entire reserve was consumed in the first of four auctions for the fiscal year.

    It gets better:

    In the meantime, the High-Speed Rail project, currently promised to cost “only” $68 billion to run from the Bay Area some 400 miles south to Los Angeles may be looking at $50 billion in overruns. To fund the costly train, which was sold to voters as not costing a dime in new taxes, the expected revenue stream from cap-and-trade has been securitized, putting the state on the hook to Wall Street for billions in construction money advanced on the promise of future cap-and-trade revenue.

  • California spends $1.5 billion for Chinook salmon.
  • The corrupt city of Maywood, California hired an engineering firm whose employees were so hard-working they put in 27 hour days.
  • The collapse of high-end California wine merchant Premier Cru, a $45 million wine Ponzi scheme.
  • Three skilled nursing facilities in Humboldt County, California to close because they can’t find enough nurses. Humboldt County is up on the Northern California coast.
  • The Inland Empire in Southern California, still reeling from its foreclosure crisis, saw the biggest jump in income inequality in the state at more than 40 percent. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Toastmasters International to move from Orange County, California to Colorado.
  • And least you think Texas is complete immune from pension worries, the Employees Retirement System of Texas is set to run out of money as well…in 2063. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • If California farmland overvalued?
  • California judge faces recall over being being too lenient to a sex offender. If the recall succeeds, liberals may very well regret setting this precedent…
  • California Governor Jerry Brown may push “green” initiatives, but he’s more than happy to take money for doing regulatory favors for Chevron and Occidental Petroleum. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • From 2010: California’s abandoned wind farms.