Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:
Posts Tagged ‘environmentalism’
In California, I would say that March Madness is ignoring the looming pension crisis, except that madness extends to every other month as well…
Perhaps no place is inequality more evident than in the rural reaches of California, the nation’s richest agricultural state. The Golden State is now home to 111 billionaires, by far the most of any state; California billionaires personally hold assets worth $485 billion, more than the entire GDP of all but 24 countries in the world. Yet the state also suffers the highest poverty rate in the country (adjusted for housing costs), above 23%, and a leviathan welfare state. As of 2012, with roughly 12% of the population, California accounted for roughly one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients.
With the farm economy increasingly mechanized and industrial growth stifled largely by regulation, many rural Californians particularly Latinos, are downwardly mobile, and doing worse than their parents; native-born Latinos actually have shorter lifespans than their parents, according to a 2011 report. Although unemployment remains high in many of the state’s largest urban counties, the highest unemployment is concentrated in the rural counties of the interior. Fresno was found in one study to have the least well-off Congressional district.
The vast expanse of economic decline in the midst of unprecedented, but very narrow urban luxury has been characterized as “liberal apartheid.” The well-heeled, largely white and Asian coastal denizens live in an economically inaccessible bubble insulated from the largely poor, working-class, heavily Latino communities in the eastern interior of the state.
California also has the nation’s highest poverty rate and the most food stamp recipients, and policymakers have done little to address profligate spending, unfunded pensions, and ever-growing retiree health-care obligations.”
Inland California, from Imperial in the south to Modoc in the north, remains one of the poorest regions in the nation. Though the state unemployment rate fell in February to 8.1 percent, inland unemployment ranges from 9.5 percent in Riverside to 25.9 percent in Colusa. Of the 20 counties in the United States with the largest unemployment rates, 11 are in California.
Via Borepatch comes news of some super geniuses in Greenpeace who can’t understand why they’re sitting in a Russian jail. They illegally boarded a state-owned oilrig as part of a protest and were promptly arrested for piracy.
“They had never expected that they would face such consequences for their peaceful protest in a democratic state.”
There are two tiny little problems with that statement:
- Illegally trespassing on someone else’s property is not exactly “peaceful.”
- Russia is not a democratic state, it’s dictatorial state with a thin veneer of democratic trappings. Did they not notice all the people that Putin has had bumped off over the years?
Now they’re sitting in jail awaiting trail, wonder why they haven’t received the slap on the wrist they regularly get from other countries.
Real activists should expect to do time in jail. Vaclav Havel spent plenty of time in jail, as did Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King. And they were pushing for real social change, not pie-in-the-sky trust fund environmentalism.
Actions have consequences. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time…
Naturally the day after I post my usual Texas vs. California update, I see this five part California in Crisis series by Conn Carroll in The Examiner.
The first part is a general overview.
In his state of the state speech, Brown claimed, “California lost 1.3 million jobs in the Great Recession, but we are coming back at a faster pace than the national average.” The first half of Brown’s statement is true, but the second half is not. California has only gained back 556,000 jobs since the recession ended, or 42 percent of those lost — well below the national average of 60 percent regained. As a result, California’s unemployment rate is still near double-digits at 9.8 percent. By comparison, Texas, which lost 427,000 jobs during the recession, has gained them all back and created an additional 265,000.
California is no longer a model that other states want to or should emulate. It currently has the nation’s third highest unemployment rate, its highest poverty rate and more than one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients.
To make a long story short, the same political constituencies that have made Brown’s Democratic Party invincible at the ballot box have also made the state unable to compete economically. California public employees, who are represented by the nation’s most politically powerful government unions, benefit from some of the nation’s most generous compensation packages. These unions have made it nearly impossible to keep spending down, thus making debt and higher taxes inevitable.
These unions also make it impossible to improve how government services are delivered to taxpayers. As a result, while California once had the most admired education system in the nation, it now ranks near the bottom in almost every measured educational category.
The state’s powerful environmental lobby has secured a slew of green energy regulations, including strict clean air rules, the nation’s first carbon cap-and-trade program and an ambitious renewable energy mandate. As a result, energy prices have shot up, consumers now have less to spend on everything else they need to survive, and many manufacturers can’t stay profitable in the state.
Finally, wealthy urban environmentalists have completely inverted the infrastructure spending priorities that once made California an engine of economic and population growth. Endangered species of wildlife are now favored over farmers and food. Highways and suburbs are losing out to mass transit and urban centers. The emerging result is a disappearing middle class, and what’s left of the state is split between a highly educated, landed, wealthy and elderly elite, and a poor, government-dependent, uneducated lower class.
The second part goes into how Jerry Brown’s budget surplus is illusory: “Since the recession began, governors’ budget projections have overestimated revenue by an average of 5.5 percent. Apply that average to Brown’s 2013 projections, and California’s budget would suddenly go from $1 billion in the black to $3.9 billion in the red.”
California is controlled by the Democratic Party, and the California Democratic Party is controlled by the state’s government employee unions. You can’t win a statewide election there without at least the tacit approval of those unions. And for decades, the cost of their friendship has been protection from spending cuts in lean times and generous retirement package increases in good times.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, government unions at the state level won huge increases in retirement benefits, including a lowered retirement age and more favorable benefit formulas. As a result, the state’s two biggest retirement funds, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS, and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, are both underfunded by $64 billion and $52 billion respectively. According to a recent report, Brown would need to spend an additional $4.5 billion per year just to make CalSTRS solvent.
The third part focuses on California’s expensive-yet-failing education system, while the fourth and fifth parts deal with green delusions. Including this gem: “fewer than 2,500 green jobs have been created in California since 2010.”
There’s not a whole lot that will be unfamiliar if you’ve been following my Texas vs. California updates, but it’s a very solid overview series. And yes, Texas gets a mention.
Read the whole thing.
Busy day! Here’s a quick Texas vs. California roundup:
It’s late August, and California’s slide toward insolvency continues apace.
Yesterday I noticed a large number of search hits for Anson Chi Plano Bomber, and various combinations thereof. And today a little bird told me that Chi is indeed the hospitalized bombing suspect. So let me post a little bit more about him.
I’ve been following up on this story because I had initially guessed that the then-unknown bombing suspect might be part of Occupy Wall Street. When news outlets have revealed enough information to deduce that Anson Chi was the likely suspect, and it turned out he’s a Ron Paul supporter, then it seemed only fair to post that, since one of the guiding rules of blogging is to correct your own errors, even if it may temporarily hurt your “side.” The first side you should be on is the truth.
Now that I’ve been able to round up more information about Chi, my initial guess that he might be part of Occupy is, if not right, somewhat less wrong than it appeared at first. Indeed, he’s posted some pictures from various Occupy encampments around the world. While he’s not a fan of Obama or the IRS, he’s also not a fan of Christianity, genetically modified food or corporations. Chi seems one of those people both deeply interested in, and deeply disenchanted with, contemporary politics:
That, along with the other images in this post, are taken from Anson Chi’s Facebook page. If Chi is indeed the Plano bomber, he deserves to go to prison from a long time. But his web pages don’t give off the screaming capital letter fanaticism of some nuts; Chi actually comes across as a normal, intelligent, and ironic guy with issues about his own Asian heritage and a disenchantment with politics that, were it not for the bombing angle, would seem pretty normal.
So here are a few pieces of information on Anson Chi, gleaned from his various web pages (and some of which are NSFW).
IBM – Dallas, Texas 2005 – 2006
Web Middleware Engineer
Ameriquest Mortgage Company – Orange, California 2005
System Engineer II
Atos Origin – Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan 2004 – 2005
Heartland Payment Systems – Frisco, TX 2002 – 2003
UNIX System Operator
Loudcloud – Sunnyvale, CA 2001
Alcatel – Plano, TX 2000 – 2001
UNIX System Administrator
The political section of that resume shows “Travis County District 149 Precinct Chairman” and “Ron Paul 2008 Grassroots Campaign – Austin, TX 2007-2008 Campaign Director.”
The thing that strikes me most about spending an hour wading through Chi’s Facebook page (which was last updated June 16) is how perfectly normal everything he put there was, except for the fact that, as far as I can tell, there’s no description of personal interactions at all (maybe they’re there but set to private so his only friends can see them). But Chi strikes me as someone believing in some ideas on the middle of the far left and the middle of the far right, but not as someone who would blow up a gas pipeline.
Texas wins another skirmish in the war the EPA is waging against the state’s prosperity, this one over “minor pollutants.” The EPA was suppose to file any objection to the state’s plans within 18 months, but instead, displaying the lightning speed the federal government is known for, they waited four and a half years to object. The actual 6th court ruling is here.
As far as I can tell, this doesn’t affect the Cross-Border Rules (i.e., the one EPA ruling most likely to kill Texans in a heat wave, since it requires closing down power plants), which are (last time I checked) currently stayed.
You may remember my mention of EarthQuest, the projected Montgomery County “environmental theme park” that was going to be partially financed with public money.
Well, now comes word from Dwight that it is officially kaput. “No construction is planned; investors are nowhere to be found. Funding to EarthQuest consultants has stopped.”
Who could have possibly predicted that? Well, beside the blogger who wrote “the entire project has “money-losing rathole” written all over it,” that is…