Budget

California Roundup: PG&E—Friend of the Environment

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Rich business moguls who don't want to pay their fair share in taxes.

* Bell once again worse than you can imagine. Remember all those residents of the city of Bell who griped to Reason TV about shady tax hikes? California Controller John Chiang says residents of the town (where annual earnings average around $30,000) overpaid by $3 million on their property taxes over the last three years.

* The new book California Crack-Up by Joe Mathews and Mark Paul gets a thumb-sideways review from Loren Kaye at Fox & Hounds, who questions the need for a new constitutional convention, disputes the belief that Prop. 13 is responsible for the state's troubles, and chides the authors for going too easy on the state's abominable legislature.

* Regulate us harder; we love it! Calbuzz says yes to new online disclosure requirements by California's Fair Political Practices Commission.

* Global warming bogosity: Dan Walters suspects Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is holding off on enforcing the state global-warming law until after Prop. 23 (a moratorium on that law) goes down to its expected defeat.

* Son of Enron? Speaking of Prop. 23, the notion that the initiative is backed only by "out-of-state oil interests" is pretty popular. Jon Coupal says if you think the people supporting Prop. 23 are bad, get a load of the opponents—including irrepressible nature bunny PG&E and politically connected plutocrat Thomas Steyer.

NEXT: Reason Writers on the Bloggingheads: Matt Welch Talks With Jane Hamsher About Robert Gibbs, Journolist, Marijuana Legalization, Immigration, White House Mendacity, and More

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  1. I’m expecting to see the State of California on A&E’s “Intervention” any week now. What a completely hosed-up place.

  2. Please be kind to my state.

  3. I was going to look up which party these people from Bell were registered to, but considering almost no news stories mention which party, it is safe to assume they are TEAM BLUE, because if they were TEAM RED, it would lead every article.

    How much more do they need to pin on these assholes before there is enough for criminal charges or civil penalties?

    1. Yup… The Orange County Register finally admits it.

  4. These people have no shame. It makes you wonder how many thousands of other places this is happening. Just goes to show that the government will rob anybody.

  5. Supposedly someone wrote their utility check made out to “Pigs, Extortion & Greed”. PG&E returned the check asking, “Could you please make this out to “Pigs, Greed & Extortion”? Thanks.

    It was in Playboy so it must be true.

    … Hobbit

  6. I don’t know why libertarians support Prop 13. It is a terrible law that results in otherwise very similar people paying wildly different taxes. Frankly, I wouldn’t even consider it Constitutional.

    Are libertarians so anti-tax that they would support a policy of “tax cuts, randomly for some people but not others, based on criteria that have nothing to do with ability to pay or services consumed”?

    1. Chad,

      Are you so anti-crime that you would support police stopping some thefts randomly even though they can’t systematically stop them all?

      Let’s be frank, if taxes were levied based on services consumed, property taxes would go away in favor of user fees.

      Moreover, Prop 13 does not prevent property taxes from shrinking, only from growing. Therefore if taxes are being levied that are greater than the people’s ability to pay, the problem lies with the legislature jacking up spending, not the proposition itself.

        1. I think responding to Chad’s more intelligent (or is it less stupid?) questions helps sharpen our wits and strengthen our arguments.

          Will it convince him? Probably not. But it’s still a good mental exercise. Fun too.

          1. I heart Chad, he proves over and over that not everybody can know anything.

            1. Yeah, but sometimes you can be arguing with him for a long time and then realize that the entire premise of his argument is just completely fucked up and that you’re totally wasting your time trying to have a rational discussion.

              It’s not that he has a wrong opinion necessarily, it’s that he doesn’t even understand the facts of the situation or the question being discussed. Very depressing and demoralizing when that happens, let me tell you.

              1. My comment was intended at Tarran.

              2. WTB: Half the time, you guys just foam at the mouth and refuse to answer my question.

                Now, please make an honest effort to explain why Bob, who purchased his $500,000 house in LA last year, should pay substantially more property tax than Joe, who purchased the $500,000 house next door twenty years ago. Please assume that they are equal in all other manners.

                The answer is that there IS NO GOOD REASON, and you damned well know it. You guys sit around and insult me WITHOUT HAVING THE CAJONES TO ADDRESS WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT.

                Why should two otherwise equal people pay different taxes based on arbitrary criteria?

                Btw, I understand your ideology inside and out. I was one of you, once. You rarely ever post anything that I haven’t heard a million times before, often from my own mouth.

                1. Now, please make an honest effort to explain why Bob, who purchased his $500,000 house in LA last year, should pay substantially more property tax than Joe, who purchased the $500,000 house next door twenty years ago. Please assume that they are equal in all other manners.

                  Chad, I believe that both men should pay the same tax: $0.00.

                  Of course, you believe that both men should be on the hook for the same amount of money, an amount they have no control over, that varies wildly depending on their neighbors’ voting habits, and can’t come up with a good reason why…

                  And before you claim you are arguing differently, Bob is paying more than Joe merely because Joe is insulated from the wildly varying amounts charged by the legislature and Joe is not…

                  There is nothing preventing the legislature from bringing Bob’s taxes in line with Joe’s. Thus, the problem is not with those of us who think that Prop 13 is useful as a rearguard action for protecting people on a fixed income from the growth of the state. Rather the problem is with guys like you who have an insatiable appetite for plundering your neighbors.

                  1. Tarran, you are an anarchist, eh? No cops, no courts, no nuttin’! If you disagree, what sort of fufu dust were you planning on paying for them with?

                    And actually, there is no way that Bob’s taxes could be aligned with Joe’s, unless the government was able to distinguish price increases related to improvements from general price increases accurately for every home in the state.

                    1. Tarran, you are an anarchist, eh? No cops, no courts, no nuttin’

                      No, courts and cops would be paid for their services by people who wanted to benefit from them.

                      Here, educate yourself.

                    2. Yes, let’s go back to medieval times! Duke Tarran and his private army comes marching to the rescue of all the wretched and poor….

                2. Btw, I understand your ideology inside and out. I was one of you, once. You rarely ever post anything that I haven’t heard a million times before, often from my own mouth.

                  You can make your point without telling such bald faced lies.

                  1. Obviously, a million is hyperbole. Ten thousand is probably closer to the truth.

                3. Half the time, you guys just foam at the mouth and refuse to answer my question.

                  No Chad. Every time it is you running away with your ass in hand.

                4. Chad, I was referring to the conversation we had over the weekend about your preference for the forced socialization of medicine insurance mandates.

                  I happen to be closer to your opinion on this particular topic, (but I haven’t really thought this one through). Hence my use of the phrase that “sometimes” I think your arguments are overly screwy.

                  That said, my lack of passion on the issue of property taxes may stem from the fact that I’d much rather pay higher property taxes, which can ultimately be avoided, than a state income tax, which, like the federal income tax, is essentially a tax on an individual’s personal independence.

    2. That you can say this after the recent explosion and implosion in California real estate prices is mind boggling.

      Is it right for an people living on a fixed income to be forced out of their owned home because real estate speculation drove neighboring prices (and therefore their property taxes) sky high? That is punishing people who properly planned their investments and budgeted their property tax expenditures in order to accommodate municipalities who can’t plan anything.

      1. Uhhh, if their property shot up in value, they can move, cash out, and live like a king somewhere else, perhaps? How about you libertarians take some responsibility?

        Of course, people would also be motivated to push for lower tax rates on their newly inflated assets as well.

        1. How about you libertarians take some responsibility?

          Dude, are you brain damaged? We’re not the ones arguing that other people should be compelled by force to finance things we want but are unwilling to pay for.

          So because you want a high speed rail line that is uneconomical, some old widow has to move away from the home her husband built for her?

          Wow… just wow…

    3. Property taxes, like all taxes, are inherently unfair.

      This was especially true in the 1970s when inflation drove the value of homes up. This meant that property taxes, which were based on the assessed value prior to Proposition 13, were extremely hard on those on lower or fixed incomes who had owned their houses for many years.

      I would agree that it is ‘unfair’ that two families with identical incomes should pay vastly different amounts of tax on properties with the same value, based solely on the fact that one family bought in 1978 and the other bought in 2008.

      However, the real aim of Proposition 13 was to limit the growth of government. In the case of California, this failed spectacularly, in that people seem willing to vote for both tax breaks and increased spending. The heavily gerrymandered legislature disregarded all warnings and continued to play interest group politics when it came to budgetary matters.

      Now it is crunch time. The businesses that were paying the taxes are voting with their feet and relocating out of state (or not locating in California to begin with), the up-up-and-away real estate bubble has popped and the massive giveaways to the Public Service Unions are snowballing.

      Proposition 13 was, at the most, a marginal contributor to the current crisis in California and any attempts to push tax rates higher to make up the shortfall will have diminishing, if not negative, impact.

    4. I don’t know why libertarians support Prop 13. It is a terrible law that results in otherwise very similar people paying wildly different taxes. Frankly, I wouldn’t even consider it Constitutional.

      Actually Chad,
      it is the most equitable way to tax property. With prop 13 everyone knows what their property tax will be, in perpetuity, when they buy the property.

      What could be “fairer”.

      1. Just like the negro could know, in perpetuity, that his tax rate would be 100% for life. What could be fairer, eh?

        *facepalm*

        Do you seriously believe that certain unfairness is ok because of the certainty?

        1. Once again, Chad, you have your head so far up your head your nose is poking out of the esophagus.

          I’ll explain. There is nothing in Prop 13 preventing taxes from going down. It merely prevents them from going up.

          The proper analogy would be that a man who is free would be certain that he would never be enslaved.

          Under such an analogy, you are arguing that it should be OK to increase the hours that a man is enslaved or indentured as arbitrarily highly as the electorate desires.

          I strongly encourage you to come up with a different argument, because you are not going to make converts by supporting slavery.

          1. They only go up in real terms if the homeowner receives a windfall (or adds onto their home, but then they deserve the tax).

            If they receive a windfall, at CA rates, they would need only monetize about quarter of it, invest that money cautiously, and would then generate a revenue stream that would pay any additional taxes.

            Boo frickin’ hoo. The lucky would have to give up 1/4th of their unearned loot? Cry me a river, man.

            1. So basically, you are arguing that if the market price of their property goes up – meaning that other people are buying and selling simmilar properties at a higher price than the property’s most recent sale price, people should be forced to take out a mortgage to pay additional taxes?

              Fuck you slaver! 🙂

    5. Growls can be obtained with various voice effects, but the effects are usually used to enhance rather than create, if they are used at all. Voice teachers teach different techniques, but long-term use will still take its toll – these techniques are designed to reduce rather than eliminate harm. The Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in The Netherlands reported in June 2007 that, due to the increased popularity of growling in the region, it was treating several patients for edema and polyps on the vocal folds.

      Most “correct” growls use either a variation of vocal fry or false vocal cords. Death growls are often referred to as an overtone style of screaming, and while tonally very different, the majority of “good” growling techniques apply the same principles that are witnessed in “clean” vocals. These principles include timing and cues, holding a note (or gurgle) for a certain amount of time without it fraying, and being able to scream rhythmically underneath the growl while alternating between different pitches if necessary. The changes in pitch are more prevalent in the less guttural styles. Some notable examples of vocalists who use alternating pitches in their vocalisation are Mikael ?kerfeldt of Opeth, Mille Petrozza of Kreator, Chuck Billy of Testament, Jason Mendonca of Akercocke and Chuck Schuldiner of Death.

    6. Proposition 13 is a little weird, and it is a valid criticism that it sometimes has lead to next-door neighbors paying different property tax rates. Not necessarily a damning criticism, but a valid one.

      However, the more serious criticism that is usually made about Proposition 13 (which you did not make) is that it has “ruined our schools” or robbed them of revenue. This has been thoroughly debunked. Revenues under 13 have grown faster than inflation. The problem is that government spending has grown even faster.

    7. Those who don’t like Prop 13 are in favor of throwing 87-year old blind women onto the streets because they can’t afford their increased property taxes anymore.

  7. I think you should call these posts “In the Late Great Golden State”

    1. As a former resident, I now refer to it as the Golden Shower State.

  8. Defeating Proposition 23 is clearly Schwarzenegger’s highest priority during the remaining months of his governorship.

    Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/08/…..z0wous21JB

    He wants to ensure that he has completely killed the state economy before he leaves office. If it is so fucking great and important Arnold why not get to it now?

    1. I’m saddened by the way humans keep getting taken it by these millenial cults.

  9. I saw a woman at Union Station in LA a couple of weeks with t-shirt that read
    “Stop Transit Racism, Billion$ for Buses and Trains”.

    A young woman rang my front door bell last week and asked me to sign a petition to stop the “special interests” from spending money on road construction and redirect it to trains.

    The AB 32 legislation that Prop 23 would suspend is driven by an “environmental justice committee”.

    The weather is still very nice here.

    1. See Tarran’s comment above. The whole state is gripped by a millenial cult.

      1. I overheard a funny/sad conversation a few weeks ago between a teenage couple.

        The boy was obviously an engineering geek. The girl was an artsy type. She was talking about how cars were ruining the planet & speculating how much better off we would be if they’d never been invented.

        I cracked up when the boy said something to the effect that a 300 horsepower car creates far less pollution and greenhouse gases than 300 pooping horses. He actually said that, “300 pooping horses”.

        The girl looked absolutely poleaxed as a paradigm shifted without a clutch.

        It’s always good to see someone stick to their principles even when it hurts their chances of scoring.

        1. good for him. But he still put in the part about “greenhouse gases”. so he probably still scored.

        2. I’m working in Santa Barbara this week, staying at a $90/nite Motel 6. When I pulled into the parking lot I got stuck behind a vintage Volkswagen microbus adorned with flower power and Obama stickers. I could smell the exhaust. The dredlocked driver was dumpster diving for recyclables.

      2. I’m not gripped by a millennial cult and neither are most Californians. CA just has a very energetic minority of wild-eyed leftists. Their ideas are despicable but I have to give them credit for the effort that put into promoting them.

  10. LOL< that dude is about as corrupt as the day is long.

    Lou
    http://www.be-anonymous.se.tc

  11. After a wonderful weekend in northern CA, I honestly can’t get into the hate that much. And I say that as a former resident. Four days of good times and great people do that for me.

    The biggest fault of Californians is a fatally naive optimism that government can solve problems: they just really, really believe this, despite all evidence to the contrary. In its way, it’s preferable to the soul-crushing cynicism of the Masshole fuckbags I’m surrounded by now. Californians are at least genuinely appalled by corruption, whereas it’s accepted and embraced as an agreeable feature of life in fackin’ Mass.

    1. California’s corruption is systemic. CA public employees honestly believe that the compensation they receive is fair, even though it is 50% to 100% than the equivalent private sector job. That form of corruption seems to be perfectly legal.

      1. CA public employees honestly believe that the compensation they receive is fair,

        No they don’t. Public employees believe their compensation is too low.

    2. No argument. It’s just that that whole demographic of “people earning a living by working” is largely absent in Mass, as opposed to California. You would never see anything like what’s happening in Bell in here; people here wouldn’t concern themselves beyond trying to figure out how they could buy off every douchebag city manager in sight. Government corruption in Mass is a feature, not a bug.

    3. The biggest fault of Libertarians is a fatally naive pessimism that government can’t solve ANY problems. They just really, really, believe this, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

      1. /shakes head/

        Um, yeah. Okay.

      2. No, chad, government can solve many problems quite well – one government did a bang up job finding a final solution to the jewish question, for example.

        The problem we have with it, is that these “solutions” are more expensive and create more violent conflict in a society.

        Remember those old ladies fainting in Florida in the aftermath of the 2000 election when they were told they might have accidentally voted for PAt Buchanan? That’s the type of society you advocate for. One where old women are in fear that if a single election foes against them, they will die.

        I pity you. The level of hatred and anger that motivates people like you to actually pine for a more violent and capricious society must make your days a living hell.

      3. Capitalize the “L” in libertarian is snaky, if that’s what you intended.

      4. I’m rubber! You’re glue!

      5. The biggest fault of Statists is a fatally naive optimism that government can solve ANY problem. They just really, really, believe this, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    4. Pretty accurate assessment.

  12. The problem we have with it, is that these “solutions” are more expensive and create more violent conflict in a society

    Yeah, just LOOK at Sweden. You can’t stop outside there without a shotgun.

    And a libertarian calling people “angry”? lol

    Dear God…do you not realize that you nutjobs are the nastiest, most unhappy bastards out there? Perhaps you will figure out someday that being happy is better than being right…but I am not betting on that one.

    1. Perhaps you will figure out someday that being happy is better than being right…

      There’s something to that. Some North Koreans get overwhelmed when they escape and go to a fully stocked grocery store in South Korea. They get sad. So very sad.

    2. Perhaps you will figure out someday that being happy is better than being right…but I am not betting on that one.

      Glad to see you concede that we are right then… 🙂

      And, cotnrary to your silly assertion, of every political bulletin board I have ever read, the libertarian ones are the happiest hands down. Perhaps its like Buddhism, realistic expectations lead to less disappointment. Of course the people with unrealistic expectations allow us to suckle at the teats of shadenfreude.

      BTW, highnumber, WTF?!? Are you some welfare queen who has no job?

    3. Perhaps you will figure out someday that being happy is better than being right

      I find it difficult to believe that anybody could say that, though you obviously just did. Denying reality is the surest way to misery; if you don’t believe that, just talk to anybody who has been foreclosed on because they bought a home with a mortgage based on a falsified income and expense statement.

    4. Perhaps you will figure out someday that being happy is better than being right

      Boo!

    5. Perhaps you will figure out someday that being happy is better than being right

      I’ve never seen the statism-as-delusion concept so succinctly stated.

      1. How about the final chapter of Nineteen Eighty-Four when Winston Smith learned to love Big Brother?

        That’s what Chad’s post reminded me of.

    6. Sweden is on a march towards capitalism.

      Bad news for Sweden’s big corporations. Good news for Swedish small business and the ordinary Swede.

    7. Perhaps you will figure out someday that being happy is better than being right…but I am not betting on that one.

      If you’re so happy, why are you here? You’ve never successfully converted anyone. Does failure make you happy?

  13. I love this virtual place!

  14. Being single doesn’t mean that you don’t know anything about love.

  15. Before finding the right people, the only need to do is to make yourself good enough.

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