Budget Deficit

California Roundup: A Poor But Wise? Proud? Virtuous? Bankrupt State

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Less income, but no humidity!

* Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that in 2009, for the first time since World War II, Californians made less than they did the year before.

* Pro-government think tank Center for American Progress publishes a 15-page takedown [pdf] of Republican candidate for governor Meg Whitman's plan to revive the state's dead economy. Filled with comical claims like, "California remains the economic powerhouse of the United States" whose "economic woes result primarily from the national economic downturn," and, "The deficit is chiefly caused by severely reduced revenues due to the Great Recession," the report makes no mention of the rate at which businesses and people are leaving the state, which was increasing long before the recession. Nor does it dwell on the chronic budget deficits that long preceded the recession and in fact propelled the current governor into office back in 2003. (If you're keeping score at home, the 2003 deficit was actually larger than this year's.) In a related broadside, a bunch of people have penned an open letter to Californians repeating the study's airy claims. Joel Fox provides one of many debunkings of the debunking.

* Far out and groovy L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca is reconsidering his earlier decision to withhold records on the 1970 homicide of journalist Ruben Salazar by a sheriff's deputy. It's unclear what information or how much the Sheriff's Department intends to cough up.

* State workers do not have time to answer phones, but do have time to protest movie houses showing The Expendables.

* Our Daily Bell from the L.A. Times: Town searches for new police chief as Sacramento lawmakers introduce legislation that will definitely solve the problem. City councilman/religious pastor Luis A. Artiga insists he lives in a crapola apartment in Bell, not the swank house he owns in Chino. State Attorney General Jerry Brown and L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley coordinate their Bell investigation; meanwhile Brown, in his Democratic candidate-for-governor cap, takes heat from opponent Whitman. (As I make a general point of not saying anything nice about the L.A. Times, I should applaud the paper on its Bell coverage and note that this is one of the handful of times I've been impressed by and grateful for the paper's ability to throw resources at a local story.)

* Special bonus item! San Francisco public employees sue to block Proposition B, which would require them to contribute more to their pension plans.

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  1. Schwarzenegger has been a huge disappointment. For some reason I thought he might actually be better than Davis. I thought he might apply some of what he learned as a businessman to his new career as governor.

    He deserves to be recalled just like his predecessor. He is just a socialist like most of the rest of the state’s leadership.

    1. I think that every governor of California should be recalled during their second term. It should be written into law.

  2. “Special bonus item! San Francisco public employees sue to block Proposition B, which would require them to contribute more to their pension plans.”

    And the local daily rag ran an article headlined something like:
    “Study Shows Prop B Will Cost Workers”
    Which, of course, is the *point* of the prop, bozo headline writer!

    1. Why do you hate the workers?

  3. Califonria is hopeless. All that is left is the parasite class, those too poor to escape and those too rich and too stupid to care.

    1. I might add, those who live here, have jobs and businesses here, have family here, like the weather, are entrenched here with their lives… and, something I didn’t realize until the liquor thread earlier, like to be able to buy scotch, beer, microbrew at Safeway and Costco.

      It’s so easy to look somewhere and say it’s all fucked up, but people still live here, have lives and have no reason to leave (yet).

      1. And which utopian state would you suggest I move to?

        1. Found your own. All you need is a monopoly on violence in an area.

          1. Who run Bartertown?

        2. A lot of you kids were movin’ up here to Washington, the immediately proceeded to make Washington legislatively like California. As a result, we’re about 10 to 15 years behind whatever dumb thing California does.

      2. California is paradise. But it has been totally fucked up by its government. Every year there are fewer and fewer people like you. And it si harder and harder for them to stay. The parasite is killing the host.

  4. On the union’s website, more than 300 people had already signed up by noon today for the protest at Sacramento’s Cinemark Stadium 14 theater on Ethan Way to “Tell Arnold that we’re not expendable.”

    Yeah, the best way to prove how vital you are to society is to take time off to hang out at a movie theater.

    1. They don’t call it Guatamala with a film industry for nothing.

  5. Yeah, for the love of God, just move to another state already and cut your losses.

    1. We’ll be happy to take all the venture capital guys from Silicon Valley, but the hippies can fuck right off.

    2. We’ll be happy to take all the venture capital guys from Silicon Valley, but the hippies can fuck right off.

  6. Folks, I direct your attention to the lower left.
    Right now, the click-ad is for (I’m not making this up):
    “Lbertopia 2010”
    “Oct 15-17, Hollywood, CA”
    “A Festival for Sovereign Individuals”
    With all due respect for John’s comment directly above, you have to remember that there are folk in CA who are not part of the CA government (or the SF government), and see them both as failed experiments.

    1. I have often thought that we should treat California as a failed state and offer it aid in return for chaning its laws the way we do with the IMF.

      1. Yes, please. Give me enough to bail me out and I promise never to do it again.

      2. Problem is I’m not sure who “we” is. I mean, I *live* here and “we” sure doesn’t include me.

        1. I mean the coming FED bailout. We can’t have California turn into Guatamala. it si just too embarassing. So we give them a bailout on the condition they massively cut spending and change their insane environmental laws.

          1. I’m all for it, we need rational and national CCW laws, and eliminate all the cronyism of the Air Resources Board and the Coastal Commission, and eliminate the 1978 Dill Act which legalized collective bargaining with the Public Emplooyees union (Thanks Jerry Brown!/sarc), and move the Capital out of Sacramento to somewhere less corrupt – like Modesto.

          2. I’m all for it, we need rational and national CCW laws, and eliminate all the cronyism of the Air Resources Board and the Coastal Commission, and eliminate the 1978 Dill Act which legalized collective bargaining with the Public Emplooyees union (Thanks Jerry Brown!/sarc), and move the Capital out of Sacramento to somewhere less corrupt – like Modesto.

  7. http://www.slate.com/id/2216238

    It’s pretty obvious where this recession began. California, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and parts of New England all experienced significant job losses first, oh yeah,and michigan, but they pretty much always experience job losses. California’s per capita income growth was sluggish compared to comparable states, such as Texas, even through the boom years. California has experienced the biggest unemployment rate since the recession began, excluding much smaller states(population wise). California is further away from recovery than states that entered the recession later. I like how Californians still cling to any positive metric that they can find,such as technology investment or venture capital. Yes, there is a small minority of californians who are receiving investment capital thanks to their high education, but that doesn’t translate into a better quality of life for everyone else.

    1. “California, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and parts of New England all experienced significant job losses first, oh yeah,and michigan, but they pretty much always experience job losses.”

      Florida is largely a tourist driven state. Our job losses are a direct result of job losses in states that send us tourist’s and snowbirds: Midwestern states (i.e. Michigan) New England States etc. Hawaii is also suffering for the same reason.

      1. Didn’t Florida play a part in the housing bubble, though?

        1. Many of the houses are lived in only six months or fewer (by snow-birds) others are shared by various families. These are some of the same people I am talking about. When you have a real-estate economy made up of people who can only use the home if they have disposable income it is, of course, going to be a bubble that will burst whenever those people can no longer visit.

        2. Yes, because it was partly driven by growth, but also by retirees from northern states buying winter houses.

    2. I also love the argument that “of course the recession hit California and other blue states first, because that is where the economic action is.” These people are so arrogant as to assume that the entire country is driven by states such as California and New York. Yes, everyone in the flyover states is just along for the ride apparently. Of course, that is ignoring the fact that states like Texas experienced higher per capita income growth and higher population growth during the boom years, and are handling the recession better with lower unemployment and a faster recovery. If their narrative were true, you’d expect to see WORSE conditions evolving in states such as Texas than in California after the initial shock took California’s economy down. However, there seems to be a recovery occurring outside of California while no such recovery is occurring inside of California.

  8. Re: the LAT’s coverage of Bell & related, the paper’s Hector Becerra has been doing a bang-up job on effed up South L.A. municipalities like Vernon and Maywood and Bell for the past half-decade. One of the strongest pulses in the building, and a lovely writer to boot.

  9. Wow, the comments on the movie protest story are very telling of the problem.

    [Whitman] is just more of Schwarzenegger, just as incompetent and private interests and big business driven, willing to destroy the state to get her own personal agenda accomplished.

    Wouldn’t want any big businesses coming to town and hiring people, now would we? There are a few about how the state workers deserve all the money for their years of service and such.

  10. goddamn, this state really is going down the shitter

  11. I know it has been said before but where the fuck is Lex Luthor when you need him?

  12. I live in CA. It is like watching a horror movie in slow motion.

    I remember watching the televised debate between the gubernatorial candidates after Gray Davis was recalled. A question along the lines of, “how did we get into such a deplorable fiscal situation?” was posed by the moderator. Cruz Bustamente, then the Lt. Governor, answered, “well we spent too much”. After listening to his answer, and trust me, it was much dumber coming out of his mouth than it is in my written retelling. My thought was, “this guy is one or our state’s leaders, we are utterly fucking doomed.” It turns out I was right.

    1. What did he say that was so dumb? “We spent too much” is true.

    2. I would call that succinct, not dumb. But insufficient, as he didn’t say “we were and are spending too much”.

    3. “My thought was, “this guy is one or our state’s leaders, we are utterly fucking doomed.” It turns out I was right.”

      Just for the record, people don’t go into politics because they’re smart.

      Most of them have some education and are fairly smart about some things…

      I should watch it, I guess, but if you’re ever in a position to be in a room with a politician talking to a bunch of executives who get paid for their performance? You’ll probably never walk out thinkin’ the politician was the smartest guy in the room.

      One guy gravitated to getting paid by making quantifiable, measurable things happen in the real world, and the other fools most of the people some of the time.

      That being said, I’ve met some really well intentioned, hard working people in government.

      1. “That being said, I’ve met some really well intentioned, hard working people in government.”

        Yeah and without them most of this shit would have went down the tubes 20 years ago. In a way, they are part of the problem. In other words, we can’t come out the other side until we slog through the fiery molten hellish core and that would much easier if some of the bureaucrats weren’t fighting the gravity of incompetance.

  13. Re the SF proposition:
    Jeff Adachi, the Public Defender who has no official interest in the matter and who has historically been a lefty-whacko allied with even more lefty-whacko Matt Gonzales (failed mayoral candidate, now making dough as a ‘fixer’), has put Prop B on the SF ballot to require city (union) workers to pay more into their retirement package. And is now taking heat (that lawsuit) from the unions for his efforts.
    Someone might belive the two have come to their senses; the more likely interpretation is they both are sufficiently cynical to blow off their former base in the hopes of finding support among those even further to the left.
    Starchild probably has some info on this, right?

  14. Wait ’til they elect Governor Moonbeam–the man that sued San Bernardino County to force developers to account for global warming in their Environmental Impact Report…

    This all really would be funny if it wasn’t for all the suffering…it might get a lot worse before it gets better…

    It almost reminds me of Detroit. Like the whole state is like a great big Detroit, except the people who are running the state into the ground aren’t in any industry, like the UAW had. The union killing everything is our own government. Nothing ever got better because it got worse, sometimes it just seems like it does…

    I’m an environmentalist type. I’m also an open borders guy… You can’t run a state for the benefit of illegal aliens and environmentalists… The Wall Street Journal is reporting tonight that 1 in 12 people born in this country in 2008 were born to illegal aliens… I suspect a disproportionate share of them were born in California…

    They’re running the whole freakin’ state like it’s a welfare program for illegal aliens and government employees. …neither of which are the backbone of any healthy economy. …all run for the sake of environmentalists up north? That’s a recipe for disaster.

    And there’s no way Governor Moonbeam or Meg Whitman are about to make any bit of difference, either way…

    You know how the UAW still hasn’t figured it out? Detroit’s had 30 years to figure it out–our problems are worse than Detroit’s in some ways.

    We need deep, deep tax cuts and whole sectors of regulation chucked out the window, tens of thousands of government layoffs–and it’s just not gonna happen. Nobody’s even suggesting it.

    We need bureaucrats who will propose and support their own dismantlement–it’s not about to happen.

  15. That Artiga guy is up the creek. He’s either guilty of voter fraud for registering in Bell, or tax fraud for the exemption on the Chino house.

  16. “The deficit is chiefly caused by severely reduced revenues due to the Great Recession[…]”

    Interesting notion.

    “Well, sure I over drafted the account but only because you did not deposit enough to cover MY expenses, shnookums!”

    1. Has the “Great Recession” just become the “Great Excuse”?

  17. Schwarzeneggar took an honest stab at trying, modestly, to bring back some common sense, but the interest groups that run the state just tore him to shreds for it. A similar thing happened when Paterson found himself governor in my own New York. At the beginning he did a complete 180 from his old boss and said all the right things about what needs to be done to fix Albany – and the machine utterly crushed him for it. With a little help from the media, he has wound up with record low approval ratings – all because he dared to talk some sense. It’s insane.

    1. I would suggest that the only way for a governor/president/mayor to overcome the machine is to absolutely vilify the machine’s biggest players, and wage a media war to get the public to hate them. If I recall Reagan did this to some degree as did Gingrich in ’94.

      Right now, someone who wants to actually make some progress has to come out swinging against the public sector unions (those would be the primary targets as they are the primary problem and are so unbelievably fucking greedy and egregious), massive spending, incumbents, and every decision made in the last few years.

      They’ll have to be dirty, because reasonable will just get steamrollered.

      1. I knew somebody who used to work for the Treasury Department. He said that the President had ordered a study, and the functions of the INS, the Customs Department, the Border Patrol and some aspects of the Coast Guard were all overlapping, and given the state of the economy at the time, the President decided that they could save a ton of money by merging all of those functions into one entity…

        That President was Richard M. Nixon, and every president since then at some time or other tried to merge those functions–but it wasn’t until one of those agencies issued temporary work visas to the 9/11 hijackers–months and months after 9/11–that they were actually able to get that accomplished some 30 years after it was initially proposed.

        Short of another 9/11 (’cause I’ll bet FEMA and the Army Corps still don’t play nice despite something as horrible as Katrina), I don’t remember seeing any bureaucracy in the history of the United States or anywhere else willfully bowing out of existence.

        If anybody can think of one, I’d love to hear about it. I’ll look it up. I want to know what they got rid of and why. We should study it. Learn everything about it. There should be like a Gene Sharp handbook on it.

        A “From Dictatorship to Democracy” for getting rid of bureaucracy. Although it’s probably easier to overthrow a would be dictator in Eastern Europe than to get rid of a bureaucracy in the United States of America.

        There are 145,000 people working at the Commerce Department.

        California has more than 20,000 people working for CalTrans…

        If anybody can think of any practical way to make all those people unemployed, I’d love to hear about it. …’cause representative democracy doesn’t even seem to address the problem. I’d really like to hear about it if anyone can name a bureaucracy that winked out of existence in American history too.

        1. I’m not sure how practical it is, but if enough people stopped paying taxes altogether, it would be hard to fund said bureaucracies. I’d be the first one on this bandwagon bu then again, I do prefer not being raped in our slaughterhouse prisons.

        2. Ken. FEMA doesn’t play nice with anyone. And the customs people hate the immigration people and they both hate the border patrol and everyone hates the immigration benefits people. It is a mess. You just can’t people to work together.

          1. I appreciate that. I happen to know that FEMA doesn’t necessarily update their flood maps just because the Army Corps digs a flood control channel, which means, among other things, that just because your property is in a floodway–doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in a floodway.

            The bigger point is about the observation of any bureaucracy disappearing or getting smaller. If California’s problems have to do with bureaucracy out of control (and not just the regulation, but the sheer number of unproductive people on government payrolls sucking up the proceeds of the productive activity of working people)–and I have reason to believe that is California’s (and the Federal government’s problem)–then you’d think it would be important to understand when and if bureaucracies like that in the past ever shrank or disappeared!

            Have any of them ever disappeared?

            When in the past have any of them ever shrank?

            What made them disappear or shrink?

            I don’t remember anyone running on a platform plank of “If you elect me, I will lay off 20% of our government employees.”, but if representative democracy is the solution here, that’s what I’d expect to see. Are there typically huge layoffs in government workers during and after recessions? Is that typically sufficient to get the economy moving again after they fatten up government payrolls when times are good?

            I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I’d sure like to know.

            When in the past have government bureaucracies shrunk and what made them shrink–whatever that is, we should all back that.

            1. I know someone who used to work at the patent office back when, I believe, it was under the Treasury Department.

              Now, it’s under the Commerce Department, apparently…

              The Commerce Department has about 145,000 employees.

              For comparison purposes, I understand Starbucks has about 145,000 employees.

              Why does the Commerce Department have 145,000 employees? They do less than Starbucks and they don’t need as many locations!

              Who’s running on a platform of laying off a nice round 50,000 workers at the Commerce Department?

              *crickets*

              It’s the same problem in California.

  18. I’m young and new to the libertarian craft, but I’m seriously wondering: is there any way to improve the quality of state legislatures/local politics through pay increases?

    On the face, the idea is fairly heretical, I’ll admit. But it bugs me that smart, driven, educated people stay out of politics (especially unglamorous local politics) because the pay is poor. Is there a way to incentivize good politics?

    1. Some of those people stay out of politics because they want nothing to do with a machine that routinely ruins lives as a byproduct of its “beneficial” functions.

    2. I think high pay is he problem. We currently have people going into politics to get rich and do nothing but spend other peoples money. We need to make he pay low enough that only people who really want to make sure things run smoothly are there. Also, they will have to have a primary job to pay the bills so they won’t be meeting as often. This will help fight the notion that they have to be passing bills all the time. Well, at least that’s how it works out in my head.

      1. I agree we have a lot of people going into politics to get rich. But they don’t get rich from the pay–they get rich because their friends get them cushy jobs when they leave government, or give them favorable business “opportunities” while they are in office. And that happens because they have so much power to give away others’ money or provide favoritism to their supporters.

      2. Don’t kid yourself, people make a great deal of money in politics, they just don’t make it from their salaries as public servants.

        There have been a lot of studies done over the last few decades showing how elected and appointed officials wealth somehow magically grows while they are in office and then declines (in rate) significantly a few years after they leave.

        There a lot of ways to payoff politicians that are perfectly legal. Moreover, they receive favorable treatment merely by virtue of holding so much power. Even people who have no interest in influencing the politicians votes still want to stay on their good side just in case.

        As long a s few hundred people control trillions in spending and trillions more in regulation, there will always be ways for those few hundred to make themselves millionaires by legally skimming just a tiny percentage of all the wealth they control.

        1. Yes I’m always amazed at the number of politicians who are worth almost nothing when they get elected (because they are an assistant DA or some such) and after a few years in office they are millionaires.

    3. Replace voting with allotment for the House.

  19. There should be a role for the Cal LP here as the “mad as hell and won’t take it any more” party. Stop tippy-toeing around, say the emperor is naked, and stop trying to play nice with people who exclude you from debates or patronize you.

  20. I think high pay is he problem. We currently have people going into politics to get rich and do nothing but spend other peoples money.

    They aren’t getting rich on their government paycheck. They’re getting rich on graft, insider trading, etc.

    Seriously, I’m always amazed that people who make no more than a decent income as a legislator invariably manage to become pretty goddam wealthy while in office. What a conundrum, eh?

    1. Damn these threaded posts. Should have read all the way through before posting at 10:42!

  21. The Latinization of California is its biggest problem. It has 3 million illegal immigrants, plus all their children. It’s education rate is approaching that of Mississippi.

    Whitman is not a culture warrior, she’s a member of the business class, so she won’t do jack shit to fight illegal immigration, and California will continue to slide.

  22. My mother worked at Santa Clara County Valley Medical Center. She once mentioned that in the obstetrics unit, their was a flyer printed in Spanish that said (I paraphrase) “Now that you’ve had your child, you need to go to this office to register his citizenship and to this office to collect welfare.” The flyer included a map, showing the offices were all within walking distance.

    What grinds me is that when my wife, whom I married when I was living overseas, applied for a green card, I had to sign a waiver at the INS stating that she would not be seeking any public assistance for 5 years.

    It really doesn’t pay to immigrate legally…

  23. 1. Make a projection of what the state’s revenues will be for the next fiscal year.
    2. Look up the last state budget where the expenditures were closest to that number.
    3. That is your next fiscal year’s budget

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