Archive for the ‘Budget’ 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 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.
  • Texas vs. California Update for July 25, 2016

    Monday, July 25th, 2016

    Enjoy another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • June marked the 114th month that Texas was at or below the national unemployment average. Texas also created 246,600 jobs in the service sector.
  • Once again Texas ranks as the best state for business, and California ranks worst. (Hat tip: Fox and Hounds via Pension Tsunami.)
  • Elites watch while California crumbles:

    The basket of California state taxes — sales, income, and gasoline — rates among the highest in the U.S. Yet California roads and K-12 education rank near the bottom.

    California depends on a tiny elite class for about half of its income-tax revenue. Yet many of these wealthy taxpayers are fleeing the 40-million-person state, angry over paying 12 percent of their income for lousy public services.

    Excessive state regulations and expanding government, massive illegal immigration from impoverished nations, and the rise of unimaginable wealth in the tech industry and coastal retirement communities created two antithetical Californias.

    One is an elite, out-of-touch caste along the fashionable Pacific Ocean corridor that runs the state and has the money to escape the real-life consequences of its own unworkable agendas.

    The other is a huge underclass in central, rural, and foothill California that cannot flee to the coast and suffers the bulk of the fallout from Byzantine state regulations, poor schools, and the failure to assimilate recent immigrants from some of the poorest areas in the world.

    The result is Connecticut and Alabama combined in one state. A house in Menlo Park may sell for more than $1,000 a square foot. In Madera, three hours away, the cost is about one-tenth of that.

  • CalPERS suffers $30.8 billion annual loss. “CalPERS has notoriously minimized the annual pension contribution for its 3,007 government entities by fantasizing that its superior investments expertise will allow its investments to compound every year without loss for the next three decades at an annual rate of 7.5 percent.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • CalSTRS isn’t doing much better: “The California State Teachers’ Retirement System [earned] 1.4% for the fiscal year ended June 30.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Record tax revenues, yet somehow California is still broke:

    California taxpayers are getting taken to the cleaners, but most of them are completely in the dark about how and why.

    I will pose a quick question: Does it seem strange that California has recorded record revenue increases, yet we also see a record number of tax increases and bond issuances on the ballot?

    In other words, the state’s tax system is collecting massive amounts of revenues, record amounts, yet politicians are still asking for a record number of new tax increases. For taxpayer advocates, it just doesn’t seem fair and seems very strange at first glance as to how this can even occur.

    The truth of the matter is that California’s system of public finance is a complete train wreck and is set up such that no amount of tax revenues collected will ever be enough to satisfy “spending needs.” The so-called baseline expenditure increases are on autopilot and deficit projections are generated despite record revenue increases, a trend projected in the Governor’s May Revise.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • “As we roll toward the November ballot, I’m reminded of H.L. Mencken’s quip that “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” We always get it “good and hard” in California given the ever-expanding one-party rule. The worse it gets, the more voters from the GOP high-tail it to Nevada and Texas — and the worse it gets as political competition evaporates. It’s the political equivalent of a death spiral.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Lots of tax hikes are on the California ballot this November, for a variety of different ostensible reasons, but actually for a single reason: Pensions. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Beaumont, California: “Seven former officials were arrested and charged with stealing nearly $43 million during the city’s development boom. Now, residents are learning that the town’s problems go much deeper than the criminal case.” (Hat tip: Gregory Benford’s Facebook page.)
  • “California’s high-speed rail project increasingly looks like an expensive social science experiment to test just how long interest groups can keep money flowing to a doomed endeavor before elected officials finally decide to cancel it.” $68 billion and rising. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Teachers union writes a $10-million check for income tax ballot measure.”
  • “Oakland police officer Malcolm Miller more than quadrupled his $107,627 salary to $489,662 with overtime, benefits and other specialty pays last year — making him Oakland’s highest paid employee for the third year in a row.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “C.C. Myers Inc., one of California’s highest-profile freeway builders, has filed for bankruptcy.”
  • Also filing for bankruptcy: California-based developer Criswell-Radovan, which owns the Tahoe Cal Neva casino Frank Sinatra used to own.
  • One tiny bit of dubious good news for the Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California: Now they’re only the second in bankruptcy filings in the nation at 45,000, having been overtaken by the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois at 47,535 filings.
  • Nissan and Toyota battle over Texas. “Both automakers are zeroing in on Texas as a key growth opportunity.”
  • California’s Democratic State Controller Betty Yee fined $2,082 for violations during her 2014 campaign.
  • Rent a security robot for $7 an hour. How many human security guards will be left at California’s $15 an hour?
  • Old and Busted: Participation trophies. The New Hotness: California’s Democratic officials giving awards to their own family members.
  • “Judge throws out ex-L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca’s plea deal, saying six months in prison not enough.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Texas vs. California Update for June 2, 2016

    Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • Once again, Texas is ranked as the best state for business by CEO Magazine, while California is ranked the worst. (Hat tip: Rider Rants via Pension Tsunami.)
  • This OC Register piece offers an good restatement of the general problem:

    California has earned quite a reputation for being openly hostile to business, as confirmed by numerous studies and surveys. Its plethora of taxes and regulations are driving away legions of entrepreneurs and workers, but they are doing wonders for one segment of the economy: the moving industry. It is almost as though that industry is secretly lobbying the state Legislature for its anti-business policies.

    Joe Vranich, as president of Spectrum Location Solutions, an Irvine business relocation consulting firm, knows all about what drives businesses’ decisions to give up and leave for greener pastures. According to his research, in just the past seven years, approximately 9,000 businesses have decided to leave California or expand their operations out of state. Companies leaving California typically save between 20 percent and 35 percent of operating costs, he concluded.

    Texas has been the biggest beneficiary of California’s business exodus.


    California’s litigious climate has become a common complaint of business owners. No wonder the American Tort Reform Foundation once again named California the No. 1 “Judicial Hellhole” in the nation last year, based on the state’s excessive laws and regulations and a flood of disability access, asbestos and food advertising and labeling lawsuits, frequently more opportunistic attempts at extortion than legitimate attempts to seek justice for victims who have been truly harmed.

    California has proven to be a particularly harsh climate for manufacturing businesses. “Even if California were to eliminate the state income taxes tomorrow, that still would not be enough,” CellPoint Corp. CEO Ehsan Gharatappeh told the Dallas Business Journal of the Costa Mesa company’s move to Forth Worth.

    General Magnaplate Corp., which has made reinforced parts for the aerospace, transportation, medical, oil and other industries for 36 years, decided to shut down its California facility in Ventura altogether. “This is a very sad day for our employees and for my family, who have a long history of job creation in this area, but the simple fact is that the state of California does not provide a business-friendly environment,” CEO Candida Aversenti said in a press release. “Increases in workers’ compensation costs and government regulations, combined with predatory citizens groups and law firms that make their living entirely by preying on small businesses, have left us with no other choice but to shut down our California facility. This is in stark contrast to our New Jersey and Texas facilities, which are flourishing in small business-friendly environments created by the respective local governments and environmental agencies.”

  • Tech layoffs double in the Bay area:

    Yahoo’s 279 workers let go this year contributed to the 3,135 tech jobs lost in the four-county region of Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and San Francisco counties from January through April, as did the 50 workers axed at Toshiba America in Livermore and the 71 at Autodesk in San Francisco. In the first four months of last year, just 1,515 Bay Area tech workers were laid off, according to mandatory filings under California’s WARN Act. For that period in 2014, the region’s tech layoffs numbered 1,330.

  • How did the California city of Irwindale rack up the largest per household market pension debt in the state, at $134,907 per household?
  • Low and negative interest rates means that CalPERS must make risky investments to even come close to hitting their yield targets:

    The nation’s largest public pension fund, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, has one-fifth of its assets in bonds and is down 1.3% since July 1, according to public documents. The system, known by its abbreviation Calpers, also has 53.1% of its assets in stocks, 9% in real estate and 9.4% in private equity. In 2015, Calpers posted a return of 2.4%, below its target rate of 7.5%.

    Nor is CalSTARS doing much better:

    The nation’s second-largest public pension plan, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, has shifted a significant amount of money away from some stocks and bonds to protect against a downturn. It moved assets into U.S. Treasurys and so-called liquid-alternative funds, which mimic hedge-fund strategies. Calstrs, as the pension is called, reported gains of 1.5% during a choppy 2015, with returns on its fixed-income investments up just 0.6%.

    (Note: WSJ link, so you may need to do the Google thing.)

  • News: Former CalPERS chief executive Fred Buenrostro convicted of bribery. California: Buenrostro will continue to receive his CalPERS pension while in prison. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Overview of the Texas budget.
  • UnitedHealth exits California’s Obamacare exchanges.
  • Despite that, California wants to offer ObamaCare subsidies to illegal aliens.
  • California also wants to spend more money to send illegal aliens to college.
  • And those illegal aliens with California driver’s licenses still aren’t purchasing liability insurance.
  • Hate California traffic? Tough:

    The newest outrage comes from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research in the form of a proposed “road diet.” This would essentially halt attempts to expand or improve our roads, even when improvements have been approved by voters. This strategy can only make life worse for most Californians, since nearly 85 percent of us use a car to get to work. This in a state that already has among the worst-maintained roads in the country, with two-thirds of them in poor or mediocre condition.


    In essence, the notion animating the “road diet” is to make congestion so terrible that people will be forced out of their cars and onto transit. It’s not planning for how to make the ways people live today more sustainable. It has, in fact, more in common with Soviet-style social engineering, which was based similarly on a particular notion of “science” and progressive values.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Toyota’s Plano headquarters takes shape.
  • The UAW is making a big push to unionize Tesla’s Fremont plant.
  • Speaking of Tesla, they’re approaching the grand opening of their giant battery factory…in Nevada.
  • McDonald’s CEO says a $15 minimum wage will make his restaurants shift to using robots. But what would McDonald’s know about minimum wage workers?
  • In the same vein, it’s no wonder that Whole Foods opened it’s first semi-automated Whole Foods 365 store in Los Angeles. “Promoted as a ‘chain for millennials,’ the new ‘365’ stores use about one-third less square footage than the company’s traditional 41,000-square-foot Whole Foods stores, but they also slash almost two-thirds of workers with robots and computerized kiosks.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Schedule for California high speed rail boondoggle pushed back four more years. Latest obstacle: wealthy equestrians. “Hey, this study says horses won’t mind a super-fast, super loud train zipping along right next to them.” “You mean the study from the institute that two bullet train authority members sit on? Get stuffed!”
  • “The State Assembly Subcommittee on Education voted Tuesday to delay funding to the UC system because of concerns with the UC Retirement Plan, proposed by UC President Janet Napolitano in March, which would cause the university to incur significant costs. The delay was announced after an actuarial report was released earlier that day by Pension Trustees Advisors, or PTA, which showed that the retirement plan would cost the university $500 million in savings, or $34 million a year, over the next 15 years.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Maywood, California (which had previously outsourced services to the corrupt city of Bell) is on the brink of bankruptcy. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • “Two L.A. sheriff’s deputies convicted of beating mentally ill inmate.”
  • San Francisco liberals versus the city’s police union
  • “Another aviation company has decided to move its corporate headquarters to Fort Worth to take advantage of the Lone Star state’s business friendly environment and the city’s longtime history in the aerospace industry. The move is historic for Burbank, California-based C&S Propeller — an FAA and EASA certified repair station for propeller and airplane maintenance — which has been in California for nearly five decades.”
  • This one’s a wash: XCOR lays off employees in both California and Texas.
  • Venezuela: Socialism Is Death

    Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

    When socialists run out of other people’s money, everything falls apart. In Venezuela, socialism is killing babies:

    By morning, three newborns were already dead.

    The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting down the respirators in the maternity ward.

    Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died.

    “The death of a baby is our daily bread,” said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in the nation’s capital, Caracas, referring to the toll from Venezuela’s collapsing hospitals.

    Also this: “At the University of the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Mérida, there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table.” With a picture to match.

    (Hat tip: Althouse.)

    Is this the point where the bankrupt socialist regime changes course and implements economic reform? Of course not. “Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a sweeping crackdown Saturday under a new emergency decree, ordering the seizure of paralyzed factories, the arrest of their owners and military exercises to counter alleged foreign threats.”

    Naturally the democratically elected opposition refuses to knuckle under to Maduro’s unconstitutional decrees.

    “Opposition leader Henrique Capriles also said the army must decide whether it is ‘with the constitution or with Maduro,’ a day before nationwide protests demanding the president’s ouster through a referendum.”

    The Atlantic offers up a photo essay on how little food Venezuelans have to eat. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

    And all this has come to pass thanks to The Magic Power of Socialism™:

    The government doesn’t just control the oil industry, imposing windfall taxes as high as 50 percent on the few private sector projects that remain. The government has nationalized rice mills, large producers of agricultural products, and expropriated millions of acres of farmland; it has acquired some banks and shut down others; nationalized the cement sector; tried to nationalize gold miners; nationalized the country’s largest steel mill and the country’s largest telecommunications company; expropriated the nation’s largest power producer (remember those rolling blackouts?), and more.

    People close to the regime have benefited from many of those deals. Corruption has skyrocketed since the beginning of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian revolution.” According to the Cato Institute, $22.5 billion in public funds have been transferred from Venezuela to foreign accounts with no plausible explanation. Relatives of President Nicolas Maduro have been implicated in drug trafficking, with suspicions of drug money used to finance his campaign.

    Oh, and Venezuela’s capital has earned the distinction of being the murder capital of the world.

    All of these tragedies were avoidable. They are all the result of a mentality that sees only nails for the hammer of government control. Chavez and Maduro kept saying that everything that was wrong with Venezuela was the fault of markets and that if the government either eliminated or regulated those markets, things would get better. They implemented their agenda and it has been a disaster. This socialist brand of economic authoritarianism had the predictable consequence of political authoritarianism, corruption, and a breakdown of the rule of law.

    How many more babies have to die before Venezuela abandons its failed socialist experiment?

    Texas vs. California Update for May 10, 2016

    Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • In a fiscal test of which states are best prepared for the next recession, Texas ranked best and California ranked worst. (Hat tip: Jack Dean of Pension Tsunami.)
  • And California didn’t just flunk the test, it flunked it badly. (Ditto)
  • A big reason is the top-heavy nature of income tax receipts. “Nearly half of the state’s personal income tax revenue comes from the top 1 percent of earners — 150,000 individual tax returns. And personal income tax revenue is 65 percent of total revenue, which means the One Percent provides 33 percent of the state’s total revenue.”
  • Here’s a handy comparison of Texas vs. California debt ratios using a number of different metrics. You can also look at several different metrics with the general pension tracker tool, put together by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • The same source tells us that California has the third highest market/pension debt ratio in the country, while Texas ranks 34th.
  • “During the Great Recession and since, Texas has been America’s jobs engine, creating 34 percent of all U.S. civilian jobs during the last eight years in a state with less than 10 percent of the nation’s population.”
  • Moody’s downgrades bond ratings for the Pasadena Unified School District right when the district passes a 6% salary increase.
  • Reno is increasingly benefiting from companies relocating from California.
  • Texas company wants to store California’s nuclear waste.
  • “In 2014, a study by the conservative American Enterprise Institute found that full-career state workers in five states — California, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and West Virginia — earned more in retirement income than in their final salary.” I’m pretty sure Texas salaries on average were significantly lower than California’s, and that there were less of them…
  • Court strikes down California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s unconstitutional attempt to compel conservative nonprofits to reveal their donors. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ. )
  • Bay area law enforcement offices have “lost” over 500 guns since 2010.
  • The headquarters for Jamba Juice is relocating from Emeryville, California to Frisco, Texas. (Hat tip: Jack Dean of Pension Tsunami.)
  • The U.S. headquarters for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries relocated from New York to Houston.
  • Venezuela’s So Poor Soldiers Steal Goats To Survive

    Thursday, May 5th, 2016

    For all the depression over an ascendant Donald Trump, let’s remember remember that a lot of other countries, much further down the road to serfdom than we are, have it much worse.

    Take, for example, Venezuela, where The Magic Power of Socialism™ has so wrecked the economy that soldiers are stealing goats to survive:

    Over the weekend, six members of the Venezuelan military were detained by local authorities for stealing goats, the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional reported Sunday. It said the soldiers confessed to stealing the goats and said they did it to feed themselves, since they had no food left in their barracks.

    “It’s not a good sign when your military doesn’t have enough food, and when the military has been relegated to guarding and protecting food lines,” said Jason Marczak, director of the Latin America Economic Growth Initiative at the Atlantic Council. “This is endemic of the problems going on across the country.”

    A military without enough food to eat. Boy, that’s a swell recipe for happiness in Latin America. (Hat tip: Instapundit.) As the Washington Post‘s Wonkblog put it: “It’s a grim race between anarchy and civil war.”

    Venezuela’s opposition evidently has enough votes to recall idiot socialist President Nicolas Maduro:

    Venezuela’s right-wing opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), turned over 1.8 million signatures in support of a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro to the National Electoral Council (CNE) on Monday.

    As part of the initial requirement to solicit a recall, the MUD was given 30 days to collect signatures from 1 percent of the electorate in each of the 23 states– 197,721 total signatures nationwide– a target which the coalition managed to surpass in a matter of days, accruing as many as 2.5 million overall.

    There are still considerable barriers to a recall election even if the government doesn’t cheat (and what are the odds of that?).

    Also, beer production has stopped. Just an all-around recipe for for happiness.

    So cheer up, America! We have to face the horror of a Clinton-Trump presidential race, but at least we’ll do so with food, water, electricity and beer…

    Venezuela Runs Out of Money to Print Money

    Thursday, April 28th, 2016

    The Magic Power of Socialism™ has finally dragged Venezuela far enough down the slope that the economy is going to hell at an ever accelerating rate.

    First and foremost, the country is so boned that they can’t even afford to print money anymore.

    In a tale that highlights the chaos of unbridled inflation, Venezuela is scrambling to print new bills fast enough to keep up with the torrid pace of price increases. Most of the cash, like nearly everything else in the oil-exporting country, is imported. And with hard currency reserves sinking to critically low levels, the central bank is doling out payments so slowly to foreign providers that they are foregoing further business.

    Venezuela, in other words, is now so broke that it may not have enough money to pay for its money.


    Last month, De La Rue, the world’s largest currency maker, sent a letter to the central bank complaining that it was owed $71 million and would inform its shareholders if the money were not forthcoming. The letter was leaked to a Venezuelan news website and confirmed by Bloomberg News.

    “It’s an unprecedented case in history that a country with such high inflation cannot get new bills,” said Jose Guerra, an opposition law maker and former director of economic research at the central bank. Late last year, the central bank ordered more than 10 billion bank notes, surpassing the 7.6 billion the U.S. Federal Reserve requested this year for an economy many times the size of Venezuela’s.

    When you run out of money to print money, perhaps you should take that as a sign the express train to you socialist paradise has permanently derailed.

    As part of its ongoing economic collapse, Venezuela’s government is now going from a four-day workweek to a two day workweek. Given the bang-up job the socialists have done running the economy, I suspect that will hurt less than the shortages of food and toilet paper.

    No wonder the people are flocking to sign a recall petition to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro. But that’s not an easy road either:

    His adversaries first need to collect nearly 200,000 signatures, representing 1% of the nation’s more than 19 million voters. The National Electoral Council, which is closely allied with the government, has 20 days to authenticate them. If that drive is successful, the opposition must then collect nearly four million signatures over three days before the end of the year to trigger an actual recall vote. To win that new election, they would have to garner more votes than the 7.5 million Mr. Maduro got in the 2013 election.

    Typically this is the point (or long past it) where a third world nation’s military would declare “enough!” and depose El Presidente themselves. So far neither armed forces leader Vladimir Padrino Lopez nor National Guard leader Nestor Reverol have shown any signs of doing so…

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

    “Greece, EU/IMF lenders resume talks over bailout reforms”

    Monday, April 25th, 2016

    That’s an actual headline today. I throw in “today” because that same headline could have been run just about any time over the past five years, because Greece is endlessly willing to talk as long as they keep getting bailout money.

    The one thing they have proven absolutely unwilling to do is actually implement reforms, at least any reforms that would involve the government spending less money than it takes in. Instead they’ll ask for more debt write-downs, write-offs and haircuts for lenders rather than stop spending other people’s money.

    And I could have written the preceding paragraph any time over the last five years or so as well…

    Texas vs. California Update for April 18, 2016

    Monday, April 18th, 2016

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup, with the top news being California’s hastening their economic demise with a suicidal minimum wage hike:

  • Jerry Brown admits the minimum wage hike doesn’t make economic sense, then signs it anyway. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Who is really behind the minimum wage hike? The SEIU:

    California’s drive to hike the minimum wage has little to do with average workers and everything to do with the Golden State’s all-powerful government employee unions.

    Nationally, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is known for representing lower skilled workers. But, of the SEIU’s 2.1 million dues-paying members, half work for the government. In California, that translates to clout with much of the $50 million SEIU spent in the U.S. on political activities and lobbying spent in California. In fact, out of the 12 “yes” votes for the minimum wage bill in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations on March 30, the SEIU had contributed almost $100,000 out of the three-quarters of a million contributed by public employee unions—yielding a far higher return on investment than anything Wall Street could produce.

    Unions represent about 59 percent of all government workers in California. Many union contracts are tied to the minimum wage — boost the minimum wage and government union workers reap a huge windfall, courtesy of the overworked California taxpayer.

  • “The impacts of the increase in minimum wage on workers at the very bottom of the pay scales might be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ramifications of the minimum wage increase.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Indeed, that hike will push government employee wages up all up the ladder.
  • “California minimum wage hike hits L.A. apparel industry: ‘The exodus has begun.'” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Texas’ job creation has helped keep the unemployment rate low at 4.3 percent, which has now been at or below the U.S. average rate for a remarkable 111 straight months.”
  • “Number of Californians Moving to Texas Hits Highest Level in Nearly a Decade”:

    “California’s taxes and regulations are crushing businesses, and there are more opportunities in Texas for people to start new companies, get good jobs, and create better lives for their families,” said Nathan Nascimento, the director of state initiatives at Freedom Partners. “When tax and regulatory climates are bad, people will move to better economic environments—this phenomenon isn’t a mystery, it’s how marketplaces work. Not only should other state governments take note of this, but so should the federal government.”

    According to Tom Gray of the Manhattan Institute, people may be leaving California for the employment opportunities, tax breaks, or less crowded living arrangements that other states offer.

    “States with low unemployment rates, such as Texas, are drawing people from California, whose rate is above the national average,” Gray wrote. “Taxation also appears to be a factor, especially as it contributes to the business climate and, in turn, jobs.”

    “Most of the destination states favored by Californians have lower taxes,” Gray wrote. “States that have gained the most at California’s expense are rated as having better business climates. The data suggest that may cost drivers—taxes, regulations, the high price of housing and commercial real estate, costly electricity, union power, and high labor costs—are prompting businesses to locate outside California, thus helping to drive the exodus.”

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • More on the same theme. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • It’s not just pensions: “The state paid $458 million in 2001 (0.6 percent of the general fund) for state worker retiree health care and is expected to pay $2 billion (1.7 percent of the general fund) next fiscal year — up 80 percent in just the last decade.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Texas border control succeeds where the Obama Administration fails. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • California and New York still lead Texas in billionaires. But for how long?
  • “The housing bubble may have collapsed, but the public-employee pension fund managers are still with us. If anything they’re bigger than ever, still insatiably seeking high returns just over the horizon line of another economic bubble.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How to fix San Francisco’s dysfunctional housing market. “Failed public policy and political leadership has resulted in a massive imbalance between how much the city’s population has grown this century versus how much housing has been built. The last thirteen years worth of new housing units built is approximately equal to the population growth of the last two years.” Also: “The city is forcing people out. Only the rich can live here because of the policies created by so-called progressives and so-called housing advocates.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • UC Berkley to cut 500 jobs over two years.
  • What does BART do faced with a $400 million projected deficit over the next decade? Dig deeper. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Stanton, California, is the latest California municipality facing bankruptcy. “One of the main reasons the city can’t pay its bills without the sales tax is that it gives outlandish salaries and benefits to its government workers.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Yesterday was Tax Freedom Day in Texas.
  • Politically correct investing has already cost CalPERS $3 billion. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “A federal jury on Wednesday convicted former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka of deliberately impeding an FBI investigation, capping a jail abuse and obstruction scandal that reached to the top echelons of the Sheriff’s Department.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Top California Democratic assemblyman Roger Hernandez accused of domestic violence.
  • Calls for UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi to resign, she of the supergenius “pay $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative postings about the pepper-spraying of students in 2011” plan.
  • California beachwear retailer Pacific Sunwear files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • California retailer Sport Chalet is also shutting down.
  • 75% of current Toyota employees are willing to move to Texas to work at Toyota’s new U.S. headquarters.
  • California isn’t the only place delusional politicians are pushing a “railroad to nowhere.” The Lone Star Rail District wants to keep getting and spending money despite the fact that Union Pacific said they couldn’t use their freight lines for a commuter train between Austin and San Antonio. The tiny little problem being that the Union Pacific line was the only one under consideration…