Posts Tagged ‘Regulation’

Brexit Update for July 5, 2016

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

While the reverberations from the Brexit vote are still being heard, here are a few interesting pieces you might have missed:

  • Nigel Farage resigns as head of UKIP. Hey, he fulfilled his victory conditions! What else has he got left to prove?
  • The elites still haven’t gotten over their defeat:

    As several commentators, from Megan McArdle in The Atlantic to Rupert Darwall in National Review, have noticed, many liberal journalists, representing elites throughout the advanced world, have reacted with indignation to the fact that 52 percent of U.K. voters (many without degrees) have rejected the EU system of supranational government of which the elites approve. Naturally, these journalistic spokesmen argue, the common people could not possibly have good reasons for such an act of multinational vandalism. So they must be inspired by, er, racism, xenophobia, fear of globalization, and related other thought-crimes.

    That account doubtless condenses and oversimplifies the elites’ response to the Brexit shock, which is just one small skirmish in a new class war in advanced societies between geographically mobile, liberal, skilled, high-earning professionals and more rooted, communitarian, particularist, and patriotic citizens (or what British journalist David Goodhart calls “nowhere” people and “somewhere” people). “Nowhere” people simply didn’t grasp the outlook of “somewhere people” in the referendum, not seeing that many decent people who voted for Brexit had such respectable anxieties as loss of community or, one step up, the transformation of their country as motives for casting their votes. So the elites thought the worst. They were still making the same mistake in their television and columnar explanations of the result on Friday morning. But what was remarkable was the Darwall-McArdle thesis that in other countries the elites reacted to the Brexit shock as if personally or spiritually affronted in their own lives. Alarmed, they asked: Why weren’t we told that they might vote for Brexit?

    It’s a hard question to answer.

    One aspect of it, however, is ideologically fascinating. Among the central arguments of those favoring Brexit was that the Brussels system was dangerously undemocratic and that British voters and MPs had lost the power to propose, amend, or repeal failed or oppressive laws. This was a passionate concern among English people who had grown up in a self-governing democracy, who may have fought for it in wars, and who simply couldn’t understand why the loss of their democratic rights didn’t worry their opponents. Yet again and again liberal journalists treated this passionate belief as either abstract or a cover for more primitive emotions and bigotries. Democracy as such was rarely given weight in Remain or liberal debates on the cost/benefit analysis of Brexit. They treat multinational political institutions as such unalloyed goods that it would be impolite to raise questions about such defects as a democratic deficit. Has the knowledge class/meritocracy/cognitive elite/nowhere people/etc., etc. developed not only an intellectual snobbery towards the rest of society, but even an impatient, dismissive contempt for democracy that cannot be openly avowed but that does influence its other political attitudes?

  • “Bigotry! Nativism! Racism! That’s what elites in Britain, Europe and here have been howling, explanations for why 52 percent of a higher-than-general-election turnout of British voters voted for their nation to leave the European Union. But there is plenty of bigotry, condescension and snobbery in the accusations and the people making them. And it’s incoherent to claim, as some do, that it’s undemocratic for voters to decide. That amounts to saying that ordinary people should be content to be ruled by their betters.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “I think it’s shocking and appalling to assume because I voted to leave the EU that I’m racist.”
  • Even countries that aren’t contemplating leaving the EU (like France) are demanding changes to EU policies…and threatening to simply stop obeying them. There’s also this tidbit: “Italy’s banks are saddled with 360 billion euros ($401.18 billion) in bad loans.”
  • More on the same subject. “In Italy, 17% of banks’ loans are sour. That is nearly 10 times the level in the U.S., where, even at the worst of the 2008-09 financial crisis, it was only 5%. Among publicly traded banks in the eurozone, Italian lenders account for nearly half of total bad loans.”
  • If the UK can leave the EU. why can’t we leave the UN?
  • London Banker Bonuses Set to Shrivel as Brexit Hits Dealmaking.” My heart bleeds…
  • And what is the UK leaving behind? “EU bans claim that water can prevent dehydration.” Finally someone with the guts to stand up to Big Dihydrogen Monoxide! (Hat tip: Daddy Warpig’s Twitter feed.)
  • Labour, Brexit, and the Left-Wing Revolt Against Global Elites

    Monday, June 27th, 2016

    Among the more interesting storylines to emerge after the Brexit vote was how Labour blew it. Despite having a leadership far more Europhilic and in favor of transnational statist government than even Tory insiders, Labour’s support of Remain was markedly tepid, starting right at the top with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn:

    Less than a month before the historic EU referendum, the team assembled by Cameron to keep Britain in the European Union was worried about wavering Labour voters and frustrated by the opposition leader’s lukewarm support. Remain campaign operatives floated a plan to convince Corbyn to make a public gesture of cross-party unity by appearing in public with the prime minister. Polling showed this would be the “number one” play to reach Labour voters.

    Senior staff from the campaign “begged” Corbyn to do a rally with the prime minister, according to a senior source who was close to the Remain campaign. Corbyn wanted nothing to do with the Tory leader, no matter what was at stake. Gordon Brown, the Labour prime minister whom Cameron vanquished in 2010, was sent to plead with Corbyn to change his mind. Corbyn wouldn’t. Senior figures in the Remain camp, who included Cameron’s trusted communications chief Craig Oliver and Jim Messina, President Obama’s campaign guru, were furious.

    So to Corbyn, a vote many in Labour leadership regarded as the most important in their lifetime took a backseat to his bitter hatred of even appearing with the Tories. “An old school socialist, the Labour leader had in the past attacked the EU as an undemocratic, corporatist conspiracy that threatened workers’ rights. He never looked the part to save Cameron in a referendum the Conservative leader brought on himself.”

    From the same piece:

    Hardened by close-run contests in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum and last year’s general election, the strategists running Stronger In decided to follow the playbook that worked in those campaigns, particularly the 2015 Conservative sweep, and focus mainly on economic security.

    It failed spectacularly. The depth of public anger over the influx of workers from other EU countries, and more broadly the rejection of political and business elites, was more significant than they had anticipated.

    Also this:

    Internal polling found just weeks before June 23 one in five Labour voters did not know the party’s position in the referendum. As party aides canvassed voters around the country, they discovered a deep well of concern about immigration.

    Labour leadership no doubt found it quite shocking that so many traditional Labour strongholds voted in favor of Brexit. There were also a small but notable number of Labour MPs who supported Brexit. Some hail from those same hinterland locales that voted for Brexit, and thus could be said to actually represent the wishes of their constituents (try to contain your shock).

    But Labour MP Kate Hoey represents a constituency smack dab against the south bank of the Themes in central London, an area that voted heavily to Remain. Yet Hoey was an early and notable voice for Brexit:

    I’m tired of people thinking that only those on the right of politics are Eurosceptic. This is far from true.

    The reputation of the EU has fallen sharply among many on the Left. The sight of the EU establishment imposing unprecedented levels of austerity on Greece was a real wake-up call. This was not a benign political institution guaranteeing social protection and international solidarity, but an unaccountable force bringing crippling pain on a people who cannot hope to repay the loans that are recapitalising their banks.

    Meanwhile, the EU is willing to require ever-greater sacrifice to living standards in order to keep the Euro and the wider European “Project” moving forwards. Ever closer Union is what is on the tin – and even if the words are removed to satisfy the Prime Minister, the contents will still be the same.

    The Labour Party has traditionally had a sceptical view of the European institutions. From Attlee to Foot, and until the late 1980s, Labour was predominantly Eurosceptic – but then, following three Thatcher victories, many on the Left looked desperately to Europe to block her policies. Wise Labour voices like Peter Shore and Tony Benn, however, argued that democratic faith in the wisdom of the public was a better guarantor than the benevolence of transitory political elites. They have been proved right as the EU is no longer motivated by Jacques Delors’ ‘Social Europe’, but is increasingly out of touch with the needs of its people.

    Familiar voices try to scare us into believing that leaving the EU would ruin the UK, but these are the same people who told us that we had to join the Euro or face disaster. We stayed out of the Euro and have therefore been spared much of the chaos of that unsustainable currency – but we still give £7.3 billion net a year of our money to the EU.

    How can we protect civil liberties when the EU forces on us unaccountable extraditions through the European Arrest Warrant? How can we ensure the jobs and growth that we need when vital contracts for work go to preferred bidders on the continent and not to British firms? How can we preserve and improve our public services when the Services Directives help force the privatisation of the Royal Mail and EU rules against state aid will make it almost impossible to renationalise the railways? TTIP is a gift to the multi-national corporations. I don’t trust the EU to negotiate on our behalf, and I certainly don’t trust it to be on the side of small businesses or Trade Unions.

    The Labour Party is looking at radical policies to tackle the problems in our country. We need to take back real control from the unelected and unaccountable European Commission if we are to have a chance of implementing any of these.

    My politics are very far indeed from those of Hoey, but she’s not wrong. Greece’s government may have brought upon the crisis by spending radically more money than they took in even after it became apparent they were going broke, but the EU responded in exactly the way described. It was born as an undemocratic organization, a fact the Euro crisis finally made apparent even to the those on the left, with the decisions of democratically elected officials overruled by unelected bureaucratic elites. And the self-serving agendas of those elites tend to be at odds with the goals of both left and right.

    The question isn’t why Hoey supported Brexit, but why so many Labour MPs didn’t.

    Other Brexit News:

  • Eight Labour shadow ministers quit.
  • You know who had a good day after the Brexit vote? Nigel Farage. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “In the end, it came down to the issue of immigration. The British people wanted to reclaim their nation. They wanted their nation to be their nation. They did not want it to turn into Germany. They wanted the hordes of immigrants camped out in Calais to stay in Calais. They had had had enough with British girls being ‘groomed’ by Muslim men.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Instapundit on the Brexit: “A lot of people felt powerless, and the political system not only didn’t address that, but seemed to glory in it.”
  • David Stockman sees Brexit not only as a revolt against the EU, but against the entire world financial elite’s low interest rate regime. “The ECB will soon be embroiled in an existential crisis as the centrifugal forces unleashed by Brexit tear apart the fragile consensus on which Draghi’s lunatic monetary experiments depended.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • As soon as the Brexit vote was announced, the EU announced that they were coming after people’s toasters and tea kettles. (Ditto.)
  • The previous Megan McArdle piece on Brexit was good. This one is even better:

    The inability of those elites to grapple with the rich world’s populist moment was in full display on social media last night. Journalists and academics seemed to feel that they had not made it sufficiently clear that people who oppose open borders are a bunch of racist rubes who couldn’t count to 20 with their shoes on, and hence will believe any daft thing they’re told. Given how badly this strategy had just failed, this seemed a strange time to be doubling down. But perhaps, like the fellow I once saw lose a packet by betting on 17 for 20 straight turns of the roulette wheel, they reasoned that the recent loss actually makes a subsequent victory more likely, since the number has to come up sometime.

    Or perhaps they were just unable to grasp what I noted in a column last week: that nationalism and place still matter, and that elites forget this at their peril. A lot people do not view their country the way some elites do: as though the nation were something like a rental apartment — a nice place to live, but if there are problems, or you just fancy a change, you’ll happily swap it for a new one.

    In many ways, members of the global professional class have started to identify more with each other than they have with the fellow residents of their own countries. Witness the emotional meltdown many American journalists have been having over Brexit….

    A lot of my professional colleagues seemed to, and the dominant tone framed this as a blow against the enlightened “us” and the beautiful world we are building, struck by a plague of morlocks who had crawled out of their hellish subterranean world to attack our impending utopia.

  • I’m always up for a good Morlock reference. And if you haven’t read H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine (which you should, because it’s a great novel), that analogy is more apt than you know. In Wells’ novel, the Morlocks were the underground race that actually ran things, the ones that maintain the machinery the Eloi depended on to live. Just like those inbred redneck freaks from JesusLand (or, to use a UK analogy, those Northern monkeys), the Morlocks are the essential population that keep things running, not the beautiful, useless Eloi.

    Shotgun Brexit Megapost

    Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

    Imagine that there’s a thoughtful, in-depth introduction here that explains the pros and cons of the Leave and Stay positions.

    You’ll have to imagine it, because I have no time to write it and the vote’s tomorrow. Instead, have a quick-and-dirty shotgun scatter of Brexit links.

  • The economic case for Brexit. “The European project is controlled by statists and the one good thing it provides (free trade between members) is easily overwhelmed by the negative things it imposes (protectionism against outsiders, tax harmonization, horrible agriculture subsidies, bad fisheries policy, etc).” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Britain Doesn’t Need the EU to Thrive. (Hat tip: Zero Hedge.)
  • “The fight over Brexit is symptomatic of a much larger crisis facing out-of-touch elites on both sides of the Atlantic.” More:

    The European Union’s bureaucracy and paper-parliament were set up to be as insulated as possible from the concerns of actual voters. Representatives to the European Parliament are selected by party elites as a kind of highbrow patronage. They invariably defer to the permanent bureaucracy, which acts like a transnational cartel, one that happens to be composed of governments. As Daniel Hannan, the rare Euroskeptic skunk to infiltrate the garden party that is the EU parliament, put it, “faced with a choice between democracy and supra-nationalism, the EU will always choose supra-nationalism.”

  • Elites ignore the populist revolt against them at their peril.
  • “A substantial portion of the Leave campaign views the referendum as a rigged process and the EU as conspiring behind the backs of the British people to launch a new round of integration.”
  • Everyone knows the Brexit vote is a sham.
  • A generally good piece about the myths of both sides of the Brexit debate, but when he tags Geert Wilders as a “genuine fascist,” he’s talking out his ass.
  • Brits buying gold.
  • Here’s a debate between UK Tory PM David Cameron and UKIP head Nigel Farage on the subject:

  • Finally, here’s Brexit: The Movie, a 71 minute film that lays out the case for the UK leaving the EU. Haven’t watched any but a tiny bit of either of these videos, but offer them up here as a public service.

  • Texas vs. California Update for February 25, 2016

    Thursday, February 25th, 2016

    Been too long since I did a Texas vs. California roundup, so here it is:

  • Dark Age California:

    There are large areas of Central California that resemble life in rural Mexico. Within a radius of five miles I can go to stores and restaurants where English is rarely spoken and there is no racial or cultural diversity—a far cry from Jeb Bush’s notion of an “act of love” landscape.

    With unemployment at 10% or more in the interior of the state, with the public schools near the bottom in the nation, and with generous entitlements, it is no accident that one in six in the nation who receive public assistance now live in California, where about a fifth of the population lives below the poverty line.

    One in four Californians also were not born in the United States; more than one in four who enter the hospital for any cause are found upon admittance to suffer from Type II diabetes. The unspoken responsibility of California state government is to bring state-sponsored parity to new arrivals from Oaxaca, and to do so in ideological fashion that ensures open borders and more government. It is the work of a sort of secular church, and questioning its premises is career-ending blasphemy.

  • “California has come a long way to dig itself out of budget deficits, but the state remains on shaky ground due to nearly $400 billion in unfunded liabilities and debt from public pensions, retiree health care and bonds.” More: “It’s California’s debt and liabilities that are concerning financial analysts, particularly the state’s rapidly growing unfunded retiree health care costs, which grew more than 80 percent over the past decade. California has promised $74 billion more in health and dental benefits to current and retired state workers than the state has put aside.” (Hat tip: CalWatchdog.)
  • And new accounting rules make those unfunded liabilities harder to ignore.
  • The problem might not be quite as bad as it is did not CalPERS and CalSTARS insist on politically correct investments. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • San Francisco political officials indicted:

    A retired city employee and a former city commissioner who are at the center of bribery allegations involving Mayor Ed Lee were charged with multiple felonies including bribery and money laundering, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced at a news conference Friday afternoon.

    Also charged Friday was political consultant and former San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education President Keith Jackson, who pleaded guilty last year to racketeering charges.

    The district attorney’s office charged recently retired Human Rights Commission employee Zula Jones, ex-HRC commissioner Nazly Mohajer and former political consultant Keith Jackson.

    Remember that Zula Jones and Nazly Mohajer were fingered by Leeland Yee’s attorneys as being the go-betweens for bribing Lee. This brings up the question (yet again): Why hasn’t Lee himself been indicted?

  • And speaking of California government officials being indicted: “Retired Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca pleaded guilty Wednesday to lying to federal investigators, a stunning reversal for the longtime law enforcement leader who for years insisted he played no role in the misconduct that tarnished his agency.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Jerry Brown vetoes kangaroo court minimums for college sexual assault cases.
  • “Brown pushed for the giant pension fund CalPERS to lower its assumed investment return from 7.5% to 6.5%. Given that the world is headed towards deflation and that CalPERS earned only 2.4% for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015, Brown’s request seemed entirely reasonable. Instead, the board approved a staff proposal to move to the 6.5% target over 10 years.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • CalPERS board President Rob Feckner, serving his twelfth term, casts deciding vote against proposal for term limits for board members. “Feckner was president of the California School Employees Association for four years and executive vice president of the California Labor Federation for five. Such a conflict of interest wouldn’t be tolerated with the president of other boards of directors. But with CalPERS, it’s par for the course.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • San Diego voters: We want pension reform! Union-stacked Public Employment Relations Board (PERB): Get stuffed, peasants! Result: Lawsuit. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • The middle class is fleeing California. “In 2006, 38 percent of middle-class households in California used more than 30 percent of their income to cover rent. Today, that figure is over 53 percent.”
  • California tech industries continue their exodus to Texas:

    The tech industry in the Bay Area has become a victim of its own success – and state policies. Like many other California businesses, tech firms are relocating or expanding operations in others states – particularly Texas – at an alarming rate.

    Some companies spend significant amounts of time and money finding and training the right workers, only to see them poached by a flashy startup within a number of months. The need for a more stable workforce was one of the main reasons cloud-computing company LiveOps Cloud moved from Silicon Valley to a suburb of Austin, Texas, CEO Vasili Triant told the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Other reasons to move or expand out-of-state are government-created: high taxes, burdensome regulations, unaffordable housing due to excessive development fees and restrictive land-use policies. California’s highly-educated workforce is not so unique anymore, and its quality of life has been tarnished by regulatory and affordability issues. Texas, by contrast, has no personal income tax and no corporate income tax (though it does have a less-onerous gross margins tax), and is universally hailed for having one of the friendliest business climates in the nation.

    Google, Facebook, Apple, Dropbox, Oracle and nearly two dozen other Bay Area tech companies have all built or expanded facilities in Texas just since 2014, the Chronicle reported. There have been more than 1,500 publicly reported California “disinvestment events” across all industries over the past seven years, according to a November report from Spectrum Location Solutions, an Irvine-based business relocation consulting firm, although it estimated the actual tally at as high as 9,000. A California business “can save 20 percent to 32 percent of labor costs by relocating a facility out of state,” Spectrum president Joe Vranich told us last year.

  • More on the theme:

    Between 1997 and 2000, during the peak of the dot-com boom, the Bay Area was a net importer of Texans: About 1,500 more households moved into the region from Texas than vice versa, bringing an additional $191 million (2015 dollars) in taxable income into the region, according to IRS data, which tracks the movement of taxpaying residents.

    The trend changed in the early 2000s, and Texas has been a net importer of Bay Area households ever since. Between 2009 and 2012, as the recession was winding down and the second tech boom was revving up, the region lost about 1,430 households to Texas, and nearly $390 million in taxable income.

    Snip.

    I had a guy working for me (in the Bay Area) making $200,000 a year, struggling to pay his bills,” company CEO Triant said. “In lots of places in the country you’re living high on the hog on $200,000. … As far as work life balance and employee morale, we have absolutely seen a remarkable increase since moving here; it’s night and day.”

    The firm still keeps a small Bay Area office, and Triant speaks fondly of his hometown of San Diego and California in general.

    But when it comes to building a company and running a business, he has found a new home in Texas. “I want my employees to be able to have a good quality of life, live in a city with low crime rates, good schools,” he said. “And that’s what we’re doing here.”

  • “It’s no coincidence that Texas and Florida have thrived while New York and California have not. High levels of taxes, spending, and regulations make it more difficult for entrepreneurs to be successful. When entrepreneurs cannot expand their businesses and hire new workers, everyone is hurt, not just the rich.”
  • In the course of verifying a Rep. Joe Straus campaign ad, Polifact confirms that Texas has grown twice as fast as the rest of the country.
  • The University of California, Berkeley, is running a $150 million deficit this year. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • UC Academic Senate rejects task force’s proposed retirement benefits plan that, keeping with Jerry Brown’s modest pension reforms, would pay them a measly $117,020 pension benefit. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “What’s more important: High-speed rail or water? Proponents of a proposed ballot measure would force voters to choose just that. The measure would redirect $8 billion in unsold high-speed rail bonds and $2.7 billion from the 2014 water bond to fund new water storage projects.”
  • Speaking of water restrictions, looks like Californians will get to enjoy them for another year.
  • Sure, Covered California (California’s ObamaCare) may be incompetent. But it’s also corrupt. The state auditor “criticized the exchange for not sufficiently justifying its decision to award a number of large contracts without subjecting the contractors to competitive bidding.”
  • California is releasing many felons as part of a “mass forgiveness” program. Including a murderer who tied up a husband and wife and beat them to death with a pipe.
  • California adds Aloe Vera to list of cancer-causing substances. “The problem is that the 800+ chemicals listed in Proposition 65 are not devised to protect consumers, but rather serve as a cash cow for private trial lawyers to sue small business and reap the hefty settlement payout. Since 1986, nearly 20,000 lawsuits have been filed, adding up to over half a billion dollars in settlement payments by business owners.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • San Francisco’s planning process is designed for gridlock.
  • Bankrupt San Bernardino has reached a settlement with its firefighters union.
  • Heh. “The movement to emblazon state legislators with the logos of their donors has collected tens of thousands of signatures for its would-be ballot initiative.The measure, formally called the ‘Name All Sponsors California Accountability Reform (or NASCAR. Get it?) Initiative,’ would require all state legislators to wear the emblems or names of their 10 top donors every time they attend an official function.” The ballot initiative has already collected 40,000 signatures…
  • Huge soda pop collection is coming to the Dr Pepper museum in Waco.
  • TPPF: Why the Texas Model Supports Prosperity

    Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

    I could roll this up into the next California vs. Texas update, but I thought this Texas Public Policy Foundation paper by Vance Ginn on why Texas’ low tax, low regulation model generates prosperity was meaty enough to be worth a separate post.

    The Texas model has been touted as an approach to governance that other states and Washington, D.C. would be wise to follow. This approach promotes individual freedom through lower taxes and spending, less regulation, fewer frivolous lawsuits, and reduced federal government interference. Does this Texas restatement of the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” actually promote freedom, prosperity, and jobs when compared to the largest states and U.S. averages?

    To answer this question, this paper (in most cases) compares various measures in California, Texas, New York, and Florida—the states with the largest populations and economic output—and U.S. averages during the last 15 years. Five fiscal measures of economic freedom and government intervention for these states show that Texas generally leads the pack as the most free with the least government intrusion. Eight measures of the labor market indicate that Texas provides the best opportunities to find a job. Five measures of income distribution and poverty show that Texas leads in most categories with a more equal income distribution and less poverty despite fewer redistributionary policies than these large states, particularly California and New York.

    Though a mere 15 pages, the paper offers up an in-depth survey of various economic metrics and studies, where Texas repeatedly comes out on top, and New York and California repeatedly come in last and second-to-last.

    A few more tidbits:

  • In a “Soft Tyranny Index” (measuring state government bureaucracy, state spending, income tax, and tax burden) “Texas ranks first with the least government intrusion, Florida 17th, California 49th, and New York 50th.”
  • “Texas outpaces the rest of the U.S. in nonfarm job creation since December 2007.”
  • “Texas’ distribution of income is more equal compared with other large states.”
  • Read the whole thing.

    Tenth Planned Parenthood Video Drops

    Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

    Is it 10? I may have missed one or two along the way.

    Funny how Planned Parenthood’s defenders always speak as though it is a sacred charity, but when Planned Parenthood personnel don’t know they’re on camera, it’s “an industry.”

    Here’s the unedited version of the main talk for comparison:

    Texas vs. California Update for September 8, 2015

    Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Why Texas is awesome:

    First, there is no state income tax in Texas. Some people know this and some don’t—few really grasp what it means practically. It means that if you make decent money and decide to move here and rent something affordable, it’s essentially free to live in Texas. If you make $150,000 a year, your state income taxes in California are roughly $12,000 per year (in NYC it’s closer to $15,000). Or, you can put a thousand bucks a month toward your rent here. If you decide to buy, property taxes are high—but what you get for the money more than makes up for it. My editor at the Observer recently tried to cajole me into coming back to New York. Our house now—which has its own lake and is 29 minutes from the airport which never has lines—costs less than the rent we were paying for our lofted studio apartment in Midtown. Are you kidding?

    Also note the mention of walk-in gun safes…

    (Hat tip: Borepatch.)

  • 600,000 Californians have moved to Texas since 2009.
  • Another take on that data: “5 Million People Left California Over the Past Decade. Many Went to Texas.”
  • Austin and Houston are the top two relocation destinations in the country.
  • $15 billion for a fish tunnel?
  • “The average full-career California teacher receives a pension benefit equal to 105% of their final earnings. CalSTRS CEO says the plan isn’t generous enough.”
  • In 2012, Los Angeles passed some modest pension reforms for newly hired employees. Surprise! A new union contract undoes those reforms. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California, like Texas, has a homestead exemption built into their bankruptcy laws. Unlike Texas, California’s exemption doesn’t actually protect debtors.
  • The FBI raided Palm Springs’ city hall as part of a corruption probe.
  • Mining company suspends operations at California mine because rare earths aren’t.
  • Chief of tiny California fire district to have his $241,000 pension cut. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Enviornmental idiocy and California’s drought.
  • Texas’ 2016 Fiscal Year started September 1st. “Several taxes that were eliminated on September 1 include the Inheritance Tax, Oil Regulation Tax, Sulphur Regulation Tax, Fireworks Tax, Controlled Substance Tax Certificates, and the Airline/Passenger Train Beverage Tax.”
  • Meanwhile, California’s legislature is trying to raise gas and tobacco taxes.
  • Elderly poverty in California.
  • Evidently California’s Democratic politicians stay up late at night devising ways they can make the state go broke even faster. The answer: Host the Olympics again.
  • Korean-owned businesses in LA consider relocating to El Paso. “Kim makes the case that El Paso, once home to plants for denim companies including Levi’s and Wrangler, has abundant skilled laborers, fewer regulations, much cheaper rent and direct flights from Los Angeles.”
  • A cartoon via IowaHawk’s twitter feed. That is all.
  • Let the Texas Racing Commission Die

    Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

    The Texas Racing Commission is tasked with overseeing and regulating horse and greyhound racing in Texas. In 2014, the commission decided to legalize “historical racing”.

    What’s historical racing, you ask? That’s where bettors use a machine to wager on already-run races whose distinguishing characteristics have been stripped out. In other words, betting real money on imaginary digitized horses, the horses on which they have are theoretically based being, in most likelihood, long dead.

    So what law passed by the legislature enabled them to legalize this entirely new form of gambling in Texas?

    None. They just made it up after the gambling lobby asked them to. Race tracks say that without historical racing they’ll have to close up shop.

    One tiny little problem: Not only has the legislature not approved historical racing machines, they say that the machines violate Texas laws against gambling machines. “‘These rules appear to be an attempt by the Racing Commission to circumvent the Legislature’s authority to decide what types of gambling are and are not legal,’ stated a letter sent at the time by [Texas Sen. Jane] Nelson, [Texas Sen. Craig] Estes and others in the Senate GOP Caucus. ‘This is not an appropriate decision for the Racing Commission.'”

    Indeed, they stripped funding from the Texas Racing Commission until such time as they were willing to obey the law.

    And the Legislative Budget Board is enforcing that decision.

    So how did the Texas Racing Commission respond to being told to obey the law? “Screw you, we’re legalizing historical racing anyway.”

    Personally, wearing my libertarian hat, I think more forms of gambling should be legal, regulated and taxed in Texas. However, at this point it’s become clear that the Texas Racing Commission has been captured by the very industry it was created to regulate. At this point it’s better for the LBB to let funding for the Texas Racing Commission lapse entirely. A short special session would be called creating a new agency to regulate horse racing and letting Governor Abbott choose commissioners who serve the interests of Texas citizens rather than the gambling lobby.

    And if Texas race tracks close (either temporarily or permanently), that’s acceptable collateral damage for a marginal industry that captured its own regulatory agency and pushed it into promulgating illegal regulations not authorized by the legislature.

    So focused has the Texas Racing Commission been on imposing historical racing, if I were Attorney General Ken Paxton, I’d take a serious look at investigating the possibility that current commissioners received payoffs from the gambling lobby to do so.

    But you know who would probably profit the most from letting historical racing and slots machines appear at Texas race tracks? Texas speaker Joe Straus, who stands to rake in millions due to his and his family’s connections to gambling interests.

    Edited to Add: Cahnman’s Musings notes that two of the commission members who voted for historical racing are holdovers that Gov. Abbott can replace at moment’s notice. Sounds like that should be the strategy going forward…

    WTO Trade Agreement Reached on IT Products

    Monday, July 27th, 2015

    A new trade agreement was struck at the World Trade Organization.

    A new global trade agreement that eliminates tariffs on more than 200 kinds of IT products should result in lower prices to technology buyers around the world as it is implemented over the next three years.

    The tentative deal, struck on Friday at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva, affects a wide variety of products ranging from smartphones, routers, and ink cartridges to video game consoles and telecommunications satellites. It covers US$1.3 trillion worth of global trade, about 7 percent of total trade today.

    This is one of those pieces of Snooze Inducing News that could very well turn out to be A Great Big Hairy Deal. Free trade is a win-win for the nations involved, so this could potentially help alleviate the real nasty recession that’s careening down the pike at us.

    A complete list of the products covered range from the excessively specific to the frustratingly general (“memories”). But a whole lot of them look related to semiconductors and semiconductor manufacturing equipment, an industry that American and Japanese companies dominate. (Almost makes me wish I hadn’t sold all my Applied Materials stock. Almost.)

    (Hat tip: Slashdot.)

    LinkSwarm for July 24, 2015

    Friday, July 24th, 2015

    Today will be full of Stuff. And Things. So enjoy a LinkSwarm!

  • Barack Obama, the MegaBanker’s friend. “Three top Democrats are accusing the Department of Housing and Urban Development of quietly removing a key clause in its requirements for taxpayer-guaranteed mortgage insurance in order to spare two banks recently convicted of federal crimes from being frozen out of the lucrative market.”
  • Companies that continue to fund Planned Parenthood. I believe the American Cancer Society should come in for a particularly hard time for sponsoring an event called “The Race For Life”…
  • And those same companies are scurrying for cover now that the lights have been flipped on.
  • On the New York Times running interference for Planned Parenthood. Which should surprise no one. Of course one branch of the Democratic Party will always defend another.
  • Five examples of that voting fraud Democrats swear doesn’t exist from 2015.
  • 93% unionized A&P supermarket chain files for bankruptcy. Again. Gee, what could be the cause?
  • Republicans chastise their extremists, Democrats pander to them.
  • Salman Rushdie says the world learned the wrong lesson from his fatwa. Namely to cower down in the face of jihad and really lick boot… (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • Not just Israel: Border walls are going up all across the Middle East to help keep out jihadists. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • How Uber is taking on Bull De Blasio. Man, Democrats hate it when you threaten the profits of their favored entrenched monopolies.
  • Return to the joyous heydays of lesbian feminists collective. “Sitting in endless meetings, unable to reach agreements, and taking days to produce one leaflet because someone objected to the word seminal.” Can’t imagine why they didn’t take the world by storm…
  • All the people who should sue Gawker. It’s a lengthy list. Plus this: “Gawker is the kind of place where they hold up pictures of Sabrina Erdely and say: ‘Now this is how you do it!”
  • Guns don’t kill people, Austin policemen bumping off their 7-month pregnant girlfriends kill people. Allegedly.
  • Sorry Instapundit, but I read this piece and I instantly think Grizzly Man 2.