Archive for the ‘Waste and Fraud’ Category

Texas vs. California Update for January 19, 2016

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Been a while since I did a Texas vs. California update, due to Reasons, so here’s one:

  • Texas ranks as the third freest state in the union, behind New Hampshire and South Dakota. California ranks second to last, just ahead of Massachusetts.
  • Texas added 16,300 Jobs in November.
  • How’s this for heavy-handed symbolism? California’s legislature plans to close one of its doors to the public, but continue to allow access to lobbyists. Because you’ve always got to see your real boss when he comes around…
  • California’s unfunded liabilities for CalPERS and CalSTARS spiked by $24 billion is fiscal 2014/2015. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • The much ballyhooed pension reform plan won’t make it on the ballot this year. Supporters are now aiming for 2018. Who knows how broke California will be by then… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • That’s probably because the game is rigged against pension reform. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Jerry Brown unveils a budget in California. The budget increases are relatively modest, by California standards, but $2 billion into the rainy day fund isn’t even remotely going to cover California’s huge unfunded pension gap, and most of the structural bloat in the budget remains.
  • More on the same theme:

    While all the numbers are constantly in flux, in 2014-15, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System saw its status fall from 76.3 percent funded to 73.3 percent, likely due to the fact that investment returns fell far below expectations. The long-neglected California State Teachers’ Retirement System, as of June 30, 2014, was 69 percent funded. Combined, the systems report unfunded pension promises of more than $160 billion.

    The current budget shows steep and consistent increases in state funding to the two systems. Whereas CalPERS is set to receive $4.3 billion in state contributions in the 2015-16 fiscal year, which ends June 30, it could receive $4.8 billion the following year. CalSTRS is to receive $1.9 billion this year and about $2.47 billion next year.

    In comparison, CalPERS and CalSTRS received $3.1 billion and $1.26 billion, respectively, in 2011-2012.

    While it is perfectly reasonable for costs to rise over time, the rate that costs have risen for the two giant pension funds is mainly a consequence of California trying to play catch-up for years of inadequate forecasting and planning, aggravated by investment losses. But because the pension systems are run for public employees – CalPERS’ board is full of former public employee union leaders – the necessary changes and adjustments have been made far too late to avoid calamity.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • On the actual mechanics of pension reform, and the impossibility implementing them at the state level in California. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Part 2, examining the possibility of reform at the local level. (Ditto.)
  • “California government, however, serves one purpose. It always reminds America what not to do.” Also:

    California has given us three new truths about government.

    One, the higher that taxes rise, the worse state services become.

    Two, the worse a natural disaster hits, the more the state contributes to its havoc.

    And three, the more existential the problem, the more the state ignores it.

    California somehow has managed to have the fourth-highest gas taxes in the nation, yet its roads are rated 44th among the 50 states. Nearly 70 percent of California roads are considered to be in poor or mediocre condition by the state senate. In response, the state legislature naturally wants to raise gas taxes, with one proposal calling for an increase of 12 cents per gallon, which would give California the highest gas taxes in the nation.

  • Federal judge rejects San Bernardino’s bankruptcy proposal, saying it doesn’t contain enough information.
  • Sacramento continues to ignore the needs of rural residents. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Half of California’s driver’s licenses are issued to illegal aliens.
  • After years at the top of the relocation list, Texas was only the 9th biggest relocation destination in 2015.
  • On the other hand, Texas was still the top destination according to Allied Van Lines.
  • But businesses continue to flee California:

    In California, costs to run a business are higher than in other states and nations largely due to the states tax and regulatory policies and the business climate shows little chance of improving. It is understandable that from 2008 through 2015, at least 1,687 California disinvestment events occurred, a count that reflects only those that became public knowledge. Experts in site selection generally agree that at least five events fail to become public knowledge for every one that does. Thus it is reasonable to conclude that a minimum of 10,000 California disinvestment events have occurred during that period….For about 40 years California has been viewed as a state in which it is difficult to do business. Gov. Jerry Brown’s Administration’s less than candid approach regarding the business climate has misled the Legislature, the news media and the public about the flight of capital, facilities and jobs to other states and nations.

    The study also shows that Texas had the most new facilities opening up in the nation in 2014, with 689. California, despite being the most populous state, tied for 12th with 170.

  • 85% of Marin County’s special district workers collected over $100,000.” Bonus: Their pensions are underfunded too. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Troubled California Wine Retailer Files for Bankruptcy. Premier Cru owes customers almost $70 million for wines it never delivered.”
  • This county-by-county breakdown of recession recovery is full of (very slow loading) data, and I haven’t come close to digesting it yet.
  • Texas vs. California Update for December 7, 2015

    Monday, December 7th, 2015

    Finally, some news from California that doesn’t involve radical islamic jihadis killing innocent people…

  • California lost 9,000 business HQs and expansions, mostly to Texas, 7-year study says. “It’s typical for companies leaving California to experience operating cost savings of 20 up to 35 percent.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Remember those “temporary taxes” that made California’s state income taxes the highest in the country? Well, to the all-devouring maw of a broke welfare state, no tax is temporary.
  • Los Angeles County: center of American poverty:

    The Census Bureau’s 2012 decision to begin releasing an alternative measure of poverty that included cost of living has appeared to have far-reaching effects in California as politicians, community leaders and residents react to the new measure’s depiction of the Golden State as the most impoverished place in America.

    The fact that about 23 percent of state residents are barely getting by has helped fuel the push for a much higher minimum wage and prompted renewed interest in affordable housing programs. It’s also put the focus on regional economic disparities, especially the fact that Silicon Valley and San Francisco are the primary engine of state prosperity.

    While the tech boom and the vast increase in housing prices it has triggered in the Bay Area are national news, prompting think pieces and thoughtful analyses, the poverty picture in the state’s largest population center isn’t covered nearly as fully. Although the fact is plain in Census Bureau data, it’s not commonly understood that Los Angeles County is the capital of U.S. poverty. A 2013 study by the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality based on 2011 data found 27 percent of the county’s 10 million residents were impoverished, the highest figure in the state and the highest of any large metro area in the U.S.

  • Why California’s cities are in trouble: “The problems here, as the bankruptcies of San Bernardino and other cities have shown, are mismanagement and high costs incurred as a result of the state’s public-employee unions.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How CalPERS created a ticking time bomb. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • CalPERS also paid $3.4 billion in private equity firm fees since 1990, despite returns that were not that great. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • And CalPERS also has a huge problem with self-dealing and conflicts of interest. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Texas’ largest employer is Wal-Mart. California’s largest employer is the University of California system.
  • But I doubt Wal-Mart has 35,065 employees who make more than $100,000 a year…
  • What good is California’s open meetings law if officials still feel free to ignore it? “Six decades after Brown Act passage, elected leaders still hold illegal meetings.” (Note: The Brown Act is named after Assemblyman Ralph M. Brown, D-Modesto, not either Jerry Brown.) (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Though Texas is doing much better at fiscal restraint than California, TPPF notes that Texas’ could still use additional spending restraint:

    “Though Texas legislators did an excellent job by holding the total budget below population growth plus inflation during the last session, the state’s weak spending limit remains a primary cause of excessive budget growth during the last decade,” said Heflin. “Legislators can strengthen the limit by capping the total budget, basing the growth on the lowest of three metrics, and requiring a supermajority vote to exceed it. These reforms would have helped keep more money in Texans pockets where it belongs.”

  • All segments of Texas housing market show strong gains in 2015.”
  • Mojave solar project operator files for bankruptcy.
  • “Fresh off of a major expansion, iconic San Francisco craft brewery Magnolia Brewing Co. filed voluntarily for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.” So a brewery that opened in 1997 is “iconic”?
  • “Fuhu Holdings Inc, a maker of kid-friendly computer tablets, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to a court filing on Monday.” Eh, included for completeness. That sounds like a bad business model for a startup no matter what state it was in…
  • Fresno Democratic assemblyman resigns to make more money in the private sector. Evidently a year to wait until his term expires was just too long to avoid climbing aboard the revolving door gravy train…
  • This Week in Democratic Party Corruption

    Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

    It’s been a big week for Democratic Party corruption.

    First, Democratic Speaker of New York’s Sheldon Silver was convicted of all the corruption charges against him:

    “The Democratic speaker of the state Assembly for more than 20 years, Mr. Silver was found guilty by a 12-person federal jury in Manhattan of four counts of honest-services fraud, two counts of extortion and one count of money laundering.”

    More on Silver from Steve Malanga of City Journal:

    For years, New York State has ranked among the most litigation-friendly places in America. (Those unlucky enough to get caught up in the state’s civil justice system call it “Sue” York.) Lawsuit reform has bypassed New York largely because one of the state’s most powerful politicians, former assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, was himself a plaintiff’s attorney who benefited from the system he helped create. Over the years, Silver not only blocked attempts to change unique features of New York’s civil justice system, but he also appointed other trial lawyers to key legislative positions, including on the crucial Assembly Judiciary Committee. So it’s not shocking that when Silver himself finally fell from grace, the case revolved around state grants Silver arranged to a cancer researcher, who then referred mesothelioma patients back to the former speaker’s law firm so that they could become clients in the lucrative asbestos-litigation business.

    Snip.

    Silver thought the people’s money was his money. For years, he helped lead a regime in which legislators from both parties received millions of dollars to distribute as “earmarks”—money handed out directly by elected officials to favored organizations outside of the state’s regular contracting or granting process. The New York Times dubbed Silver the “king of earmarks” because he used them as a way of exercising power over members of his political caucus. In doing so, Silver was accountable to no one. He handed out millions of dollars of state money, for instance, to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, an organization run by William Rapfogel, the husband of Silver’s longtime chief of staff. Judy Rapfogel sat in on meetings about funding for her husband’s group, according to press accounts. In 2013, William pled guilty to stealing some $3 million over a nearly 20-year period from the largely government-funded Met Council. He served 14 months of a 3- to 10-year sentence in an upstate prison and recently entered a supervised work-release program.

    In New York, the earmark process is so corrupt that politicians can create their own nonprofits and then finance them with taxpayer money—a remarkably blatant display of conflict-of-interest.

    Meanwhile, in Rahm Emmanual’s Chicago:

    THERE’S been a cover-up in Chicago. The city’s leaders have now brought charges against a police officer, Jason Van Dyke, for the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. But for more than a year, Chicago officials delayed the criminal process, and might well have postponed prosecution indefinitely, had it not been for a state court forcing their hand.

    They prevented the public from viewing crucial incriminating evidence — first one police car’s dashboard camera video; now, we learn, five such videos in total. And these senior officials turned a blind eye to the fact that 86 minutes of other video surveillance footage of the crime scene was unaccountably missing.

    Snip.

    The video of a police shooting like this in Chicago could have buried Mr. Emanuel’s chances for re-election. And it would likely have ended the career of the police superintendent, Garry F. McCarthy.

    And so the wheels of justice virtually ground to a halt. Mayor Emanuel refused to make the dash-cam video public, going to court to prevent its release. The city argued that releasing the video would taint the investigation of the case, but even the attorney general of Illinois urged the city to make it available.

    Then the city waited until April 15 — one week after Mr. Emanuel was re-elected — to get final approval of a pre-emptive $5 million settlement with Mr. McDonald’s family, a settlement that had been substantially agreed upon weeks earlier. Still, the city’s lawyers made sure to include a clause that kept the dash-cam video confidential.

    Compared to those scandals, allegations of garden variety marital infidelity with a lobbyist by Texas Democratic State Senator Carlos Uresti is relatively small peanuts… (Hat tip: Push Junction.)

    Three Texas Planned Parenthood Clinics Raided Over Medicaid Fraud

    Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

    “Health investigators with the state of Texas went into Planned Parenthood’s clinic in San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas Thursday morning, but declined to say why.”

    Snip.

    “Earlier this week, the [Texas Health and Human Services Commission] alleged that Planned Parenthood “committed and condoned numerous acts of misconduct captured on video that reveal repeated program violations and breach the minimum standards of care required of a Medicaid enrollee.”

    I’m sure Planned Parenthood’s backers will soon tell us why abortion is such an important and fundamental right that the organization should be allowed to commit Medicaid fraud at will…

    Texas vs. California Update for October 14, 2015

    Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • Texas is the best state for small businesses.
  • Supreme Court to hold hearing on mandatory union dues in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.
  • “Transparent California, a watchdog website provided by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, revealed 19,728 former government retirees across California received monthly stipends of $8,333.34 or more — adding up to at least a $100,000 a year for each person.”
  • [Orange County] government workers receive an “average full-career pension of $81,372 for miscellaneous [employees], which includes all nonsafety retirees, and $99,366 for safety [mostly police and fire] retirees of all Orange County cities enrolled in CalPERS.”
  • Republicans manage to defeat California tax hikes.
  • California politicians excel at corruption and self-dealing. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “If money and household wealth follow people, then Texas is doing better than any other state in nearly every way.”
  • San Francisco drives last existing gun store out of the city with burdensome regulations.
  • Judge strikes down law requiring landlords to pay up to $50,000 in relocation fees to evicted tenants.
  • Texas continues to earn the highest possible credit ratings.
  • New law mandates that CalPERS and CalSTARS must stop investing in coal. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Stockton update: “After only one full budget year, the city has already broken three fundamental promises and is destined to return to insolvency within four years.”
  • Bankrupt supermarket chain Haggen has found buyers for some of its California stores.
  • This story is so strange I suspect it could only happen in California. (Playboy link, so it may be blocked at your place of work.) Despite the large number of guns. ($5 million for 1,200 guns? I call BS. That would mean each gun was slightly more expensive than the list price for a bolt-action Barrett .50 BMG sniper rifle. The photos mostly show pretty common hunting rifles.)
  • Texas vs. California Update for October 1, 2015:

    Thursday, October 1st, 2015

    Ah, that October chill…is not evident yet here in Austin. It’s supposed to hit 94° today.

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • The joys of working in Los Angeles: a $30,000 tax bill on $500 worth of freelance income.
  • California nears passage of another trial lawyer full employment act.
  • Texas had five of the ten fastest growing metropolitan areas in 2014. Austin isn’t on this list, but Midland and San Angelo are numbers one and two. (San Jose, California’s lone entry, checks in at eight.)
  • 72% of Californians polled thinks the state has a pension crisis. Too bad this thinking doesn’t seem to influence their voting patterns yet… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • And yet a new bill would exempt some new hires from paying their fair share of pension costs. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • New pension accounting rules are about to show that a lot more California municipalities are insolvent.
  • “Instead of building freeways, expanding ports, restoring bridges and aqueducts, and constructing dams, desalination plants, and power stations, California’s taxpayers are pouring tens of billions each year into public sector pension funds.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Stockton’s bankruptcy didn’t solve it’s pension crisis.
  • Texas had a net gain of 103,465 people in 2014, the largest number of which came from California.
  • San Francisco wants to keep housing affordable…by restricting supply. Looks like somebody failed Economics 101…
  • Pension reform initiative to be refiled?
  • Unions are trying to undo San Diego’s voter-approved pension reforms. Because of course they are.
  • Texas is like Australia with the handbrake off. There is no individual income tax and no corporate income tax, which explains the state’s rapid economic and population growth. A recent downturn has sparked some concern, however. Apparently Texas will only create another 150,000 jobs during 2015 – about the same number as Australia, from a population only a few million larger. In a good year, that number of jobs is easily generated by a single Texan city.” Also: IowaHawk’s illegal human organ trafficking!
  • Texas ranks 13th in budget transparency. California? Dead last.
  • Even some California Democrats balked at increasing the state’s already high gas prices.
  • As part of the bankruptcy of northwest supermarket chain Haggen (which bought a bunch of Albertson’s stores just six months ago), they’ll be closing all their California stores. And if you guessed that Haggen is unionized, you would be correct.
  • Jerry Brown revives the state’s redevelopment agency…and its potential for eminent domain abuse.
  • Reminder: Texas is enormous.
  • A scourge spreads out upon California. Crack gangs? Illegal aliens? Try “short term rentals.”
  • Historical note: 105 years ago today, three union guys bombed the Los Angeles Times, killing 21 people.
  • ObamaCare: The Fail That Keeps Failing

    Monday, September 28th, 2015

    The opaque, dishonest nature by which ObamaCare was passed ensured that the full brunt of many provisions wouldn’t be felt before Obama’s 2012 reelection bid. While that stratagem worked for Obama, it also ensured that ObamaCare would turn into an unending supply of timebomb policies with unpleasant consequences which would continue to plague Democrats (and America) long after the bill’s passage.

    And those bombs continue continue to explode:

  • “The more time Americans have had to experience the health care reform legislation first-hand, the more obvious it has become that, like virtually all government-controlled social experiments, Obamacare’s waste of taxpayers’ money has grown to epic levels. And there’s no sign the poorly managed program is improving.”
  • ObamaCare deductibles are now rising seven times faster than inflation. “Premiums have risen nearly $5,000 since Obama promised to cut them.”
  • Even Democrat’s own direct-mail advertising admits that “fewer than half of all U.S. doctors accept Medicaid,” a direct consequence of ObamaCare’s “cost control” features while dumping millions more patients into Medicaid.
  • All of which explains why ObamaCare remains deeply unpopular with voters, with 52% viewing it unfavorably, and 36% very unfavorably.
  • All of which explains why American consumers are still staying away from ObamaCare in droves.
  • Despite all that, Hillary Clinton is vigorously defending ObamaCare. In fact, what Hillary is actually doing is propising ObamaCare 2.0:

    The solution is obvious: Reduce federal coverage mandates to reduce premiums and deductibles. Instead, Mrs. Clinton wants even more mandates that are guaranteed to make premiums and deductibles rise even higher.

    First, on Tuesday in Iowa, Mrs. Clinton released her plan to make prescription drugs more “affordable.” (Sound familiar?) She proposes capping patients’ monthly out-of-pocket prescription costs at $250. Making insurers pay more toward retail drug costs ensures those costs will be passed on to employers and policy holders through premium increases, forcing the young and healthy to further subsidize the old and the sick. And Mrs. Clinton wants to stick it to drug makers by prohibiting them from deducting the cost of advertising on their taxes (as other kinds of businesses can) and shortening their patents, which will give them shorter horizons to recover their sizable investments. Making it more expensive for pharmaceutical companies to do business will either increase the costs of drugs or prevent their development in the first place.

    Then, on Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton said she wants to expand the “free” services mandated under Obamacare to include three doctor visits per year, on top of preventive care such as vaccines and screenings. When Democrats were selling Obamacare to taxpayers, they said fully covered preventive care would help reduce overall health care spending by giving Americans an incentive to take better care of themselves and not avoid seeking care because of cost concerns. But the law of supply and demand can’t be suspended by Congress; increasing demand for health care increases costs. Now Mrs. Clinton wants sick care to be fully covered as well, which will — wait for it — increase demand for a limited supply of doctors and providers, and increase costs through higher premiums and deductibles. She also wants to deny insurers the ability to charge higher out-of-network costs for hospital care when those very networks help insurers keep costs down.

    And there’s plenty more time for more ObamaCare-fueled rate and deductible explosions between now and the 2016 election…

    Texas vs. California: Cali Goes Batshit Insane Edition

    Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

    California has long had a tenuous grasp of what the rest of us regard as consensus reality. But two new pieces of legislation suggest they’ve gone off the deep end into full Victimhood Identity Politics land:

  • First, they decided that police shootings wouldn’t be subject to the grand jury process, because what’s a little things like two centuries of due process and the fifth amendment to the Constitution when there are policemen to be railroaded to satisfy black protesters?
  • They also decided to purge the words “illegal alien” from state statutes, because what’s mere law when there’s political correctness to be pandered to?
  • Of course, that’s not all that’s new on the Texas vs. California front:

  • “California taxpayers paid out big bucks to state workers in 2014. How much? More than the Gross Domestic Product of 100 countries, according to new data published by the State Controller’s office. In 2014, more than 650,000 state employees earned a total of $32 billion in wages and benefits.” It gets better: “Nine hundred sixty-nine state employees earned more than the President of the United States.” Added irony:

    The lowest paid average workers represented agencies focused on the environment, women and people with disabilities. According to the state’s 2014 payroll data, the average salary for the 11 state employees at the California Commission on Disability Access was just $15,213 per year, slightly more than the $14,494 average salary paid to the four employees at the Commission on the Status of Women.

  • There is no California. Only Zuul…
  • Texas unemployment rate: 4.2%. California unemployment rate: 6.2%. (Hat tip: WILLism’s Twitter feed.)
  • Los Angeles’ new minimum wage has wrecked hotel employment. Or maybe just non-illegal alien employment… (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Why Public Services in California Decline Even As Revenues Rise. “Until California’s leaders address the three elephants – retirement, healthcare and corrections costs — that are crowding out public services and causing unproductive tax and fee increases, citizens will continue to suffer and inequality will continue to grow.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Chuck Devore on what makes Texas friendly to business: less red tape and lower taxes.
  • Voters to San Jose City Council: We want pension reform! San Jose City Council to voters: Get stuffed! (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • TV’s CHiPS never seemed to be involved in ethics scandals the way the current administration is, including no-bid contracts to European companies. (Bonus: it’s also suitable for Dwight’s Art Acevedo watch.)
  • California’s “Green Jobs Initiative” spent $297 million to create 1,700 jobs.
  • More on the same theme, and Tom Steyer wasting $29.6 million of his own money pushing it, from City Journal.
  • California’s SFX: from billion dollar company to bankruptcy.
  • Ding Dong, the ExIm Bank is Dead!

    Friday, July 3rd, 2015

    One bit of good news this week: The charter for one of crony capitalism’s favorite boondoggles, the Export/Import Bank, expired at Midnight June 30.

    Hopefully it will stay dead after congress returns from recess, despite attempts to revive it.

    If you can’t kill corporate welfare giveaways to Fortune 100 companies, what can you cut?

    Texas vs. California Update for June 24, 2015

    Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

    It’s been a while since I did a Texas vs. California update, so this is going to be a meaty one:

  • The Texas Comptroller has released a 50 state overview of how Texas stacks up to other states. There’s a lot of information to mine there. A few nuggets”
    • Texas ranks first as the best state for business, while California ranks 50th.

    • Texas ranks as the best state for net migration; California ranks 49th.
    • There are area in need of improvement. Texas ranks 49th in states whose residents over 25 hold high school diplomas. California? 50th.
  • Texas has enjoyed 100 straight months of unemployment below the national average. (Now it’s 101 months, but I can’ find a link right at the moment.)
  • The previously mentioned California pension reform ballot initiative has been filed.
  • Can it help California voters avoid pension armageddon?
  • “Low Taxes And Economic Opportunity In Texas Lead To Youth Population Boom.”
  • I was unaware that CalPERS owns its own planned community in Mountain House, California, and which it’s invested more than $1 billion in. A community that in 2008 was the most underwater in terms of mortgages in the entire country, and which was estimated to be worth only $200 million at some point. And now their water is being cut off due to the drought. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Speaking of the drought, California is running on empty:

    We suffer in California from a particular form of progressive immorality predicated on insular selfishness. The water supplies of Los Angeles and the Bay Area are still for a year longer in good shape, despite the four-year drought. Neither area is self-sufficient in water; their aquifers are marginal and only supply a fraction of their daily needs. Instead these megalopolises depend on intricate and expensive water transfer systems — from Northern California, from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and from the Colorado River — that bring water and life to quite unnatural habitats and thereby allow a MGM or Facebook to thrive in an arid landscape that otherwise would not support such commerce and population. Without them, Atherton would look like Porterville.

    Quiet engineers in the shadows make it all work; the loud activists in the media seek to make it unwind. These transfers have sterling legal authority and first claims on mountain and northern state water. If Latinos in Lemon Cove are going without household water, Pyramid Lake on I-5 or Crystal Springs Reservoir on 280 are still full to the brim.

    Why then do those who have access to water delivered in a most unnatural way seek to curtail supplies to others? In a word, because they are either ignorant of where their own water comes from or they have not a shred of concern for others less blessed, or both. We will confirm this ethical schizophrenia should a fifth year of drought ensue. Then even the most sacrosanct rights of transferred water will not be sufficient to accommodate the San Francisco and Los Angeles basins. Mass panic and outrage will probably follow, and no one will care a bit about the delta smelt, or a few hundred salmon artificially planted into the San Joaquin River watershed, or a spotted toad that holds up construction of an urgently needed reservoir.

    The greens who pontificate about the need to return the San Joaquin watershed to its 19th-century ecosystem will become pariahs. When the taps run dry in Hillsborough and Bel-Air, very powerful people will demand water for their desert environs, which will in fact begin to return to the deserts that they always were as the thin veneer of civilization is scraped away.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Hey, remember how California’s are always saying “Sure, Texas has lower taxes, lower cost of living, and better job growth, but California’s awesomely moderate weather beats Texas’ summer heat hands down!”?

    Yeah, not so much this year… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • California legislature votes to reinstate Kelo-like seizure of private property for private development use. Shamefully, 12 Republicans joined Democrats to vote for eminent domain abuse.
  • “Pension payments are starving basic city services.”
  • A Marin County grand jury wants more openness about government employee salaries and pensions. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Of the four “minority majority” states, minorities in Texas are doing best.
  • California farm workers are suing to get the United Farm Workers out of their lives and pockets.
  • Among cities with high prices and stagnant wage growth, California has the nine worst, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Jose.
  • Because California homes just didn’t cost enough already, new energy regulations are going to make them even more expensive.
  • The San Bernardino sheriff’s department has used a “stingray” to capture cell phone communication over 300 times in the past year or so without a warrant.
  • Apple continues expanding in Austin.
  • Texas is one of the states General Electric might leave Connecticut for.
  • California-based retailer Anna’s Linens files for Chapter 11.
  • California holding company Premier Ventures uses yet another bankruptcy filing to prevent an Akron, Ohio mall from being sold at auction. (Previously.)
  • Not news: California bankruptcy filing. Still not news: From a fraud judgment. News: For a lawsuit first filed in 1989.