Archives for January 2012

Mitt v. Newt

California Teachers Association backs Brown’s tax plan

From Sac Bee:

The California Teachers Association officially agreed Sunday to back Gov. Jerry Brown’s multibillion-dollar tax plan, which should provide the governor hefty financial support for his fall campaign.

The union represents 325,000 teachers and education workers, and it is a heavy hitter in state politics. Brown is gathering signatures for a November initiative to raise sales taxes by a half-cent and income taxes on high-income earners. He has structured his budget so schools would face a $2.4 billion program cut in 2012-13 if voters reject his proposal, which he says is equal to three weeks off the school year.

The Democratic governor now has support from the state’s two most powerful public employee unions, the CTA and the Service Employees International Union State Council. The SEIU has not made its support public, but CTA President Dean E. Vogel told his members on Saturday that the “SEIU State Council has already taken a support position,” according to a text of his speech.

(Read Full Article)

Oakland, Occupy Protesters Clash Over Weekend Results in 400 Arrests

From PublicCEO:

Police, City Leaders, and Occupy protesters were at it again over the weekend, as protesters marched to a vacant city property in an attempt to re-establish their camp. This time, the protesters set their sights on the city’s convention center. However, the protests, which had mostly been peaceful, were far from it this time.

Using a crow bar, protesters broke into City Hall, vandalized the property, destroying a 100 year old model of City Hall, stealing state and US flags, and burning them on the front steps of the building. Police, who had been alerted of the protest and their intent to re-take a building, moved in to end the protest. That’s when the situation escalated.

Only after three police officers were injured, including one who was struck in the face by a bicycle, and more than 400 protesters were arrested. Several protesters also sustained minor injuries.

(Read Full Article)

CA redevelopment agencies take plea to governor

From Bay Area News:

The California Redevelopment Association and League of California Cities have sent Gov. Jerry Brown an eight-page letter outlining all the ways the pending Wednesday dissolution of redevelopment agencies is a bad idea.

Read the full letter here.

Among the critical issues they spell out:

  • Possible bond defaults
  • Loss of taxpayer funds
  • Possible violations of federal law
  • Stranded public infrastructure projects
  • Loss of critical staff to implement the law

“Both organizations want to collaborate with the governor and Legislature in order to prevent harm to the public interest and to keep California on track in its economic recovery,” the league wrote on  CA Cities Advocate.

(Read Full Article)

Brown Gets Closer to Pulling a Budget Coup

From NBC LA:

The great philosopher (and sometimes baseball player) Yogi Berra once said, “It’s not over until it’s over.”

Certainly, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown must be thinking as much with respect to the latest poll numbers regarding his temporary tax ballot measure scheduled for a November vote. The statewide survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) now finds that 68 percent of those surveyed support the governor’s proposal, up from 60 percent just a few weeks ago.

(Read Full Article)

Photo courtesy of ohad*, flickr

America’s Demographic Future

From New Geography:

Perhaps nothing has more defined America and its promise than immigration. In the future, immigration and the consequent development of what Walt Whitman (1855: iv) called “a race of races” will remain one of the country’s greatest assets in the decades to come.

At a time when anti-immigrant fervor has been building, a number of states—including Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama—have enacted draconian laws aimed at apprehending undocumented immigrants. Those laws are widely seen even among legal immigrants and long-term residents as hostile to immigrants. Indeed, newcomers are already leaving those states. This Latino exodus has been happening in once-thriving neighborhoods in Gwinnett and Cobb counties in Georgia—as shown in business closures, arrest statistics, and declining church attendance—caused both by the economy and the increased immigration enforcement (Simmons 2010). Nationwide, there has been a declining number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, a decrease of 1 million from 2007 (Hoefer, Rytina, and Baker 2011).

(Read Full Article)

Photo courtesy Fabi Fliervoet, flickr

Costa Mesa outsourcing legal costs: $400,000 and rising

From OC Register:

The legal battle over the City Council’s outsourcing plan has cost the city more than $400,000 – almost doubling the total legal fees so far this fiscal year – and there’s no end in sight.

High-level attorney firm Jones Day has charged the city $390,701 at $495 an hour to handle a lawsuit from the Costa Mesa City Employees Association that seeks to stop the City Council’s plan to lay off more than 200 of its workers. Employees allege that the council acted illegally in its pursuit to explore the viability of outsourcing city services.

(Read Full Article)

Calif. Gov. Brown rejects $100 billion high-speed rail estimate

From McClatchy:

California’s high-speed rail project will cost far less than the state’s current estimate of nearly $100 billion and environmental fees paid by carbon producers will be a source of funding, Gov. Jerry Brown said in an interview aired in Los Angeles on Sunday.

The Democratic governor’s remarks suggested Brown may make substantial changes to the rail plan before seeking legislative approval this year.

“It’s not going to be $100 billion,” Brown said on ABC 7’s Eyewitness Newsmakers program. “That’s way off.”

Gov. Brown’s plan on shelter law stirs backlash

From SF Chronicle:

Californians love their pets, so it’s no surprise that Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to roll back major portions of a state law aimed at protecting stray and abandoned animals from death has sparked outrage.

The fury spread quickly last week after the animal rights group Dog Park Media posted a video of the law’s author, former state Sen. Tom Hayden, asking Brown to reconsider the repeal of major provisions of SB1785. The law, passed in 1998, requires shelters to hold dogs and cats for four to six days before they can be killed; to post lost-and-found lists so owners can locate lost pets; and, if they are holding an animal for only four days, to stay open some evenings and weekends to allow owners an opportunity to pick up lost pets after business hours. It also extended protections to animals other than dogs and cats, such as rabbits.

(Read Full Article)

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey, flickr

State of the Socialist Union: Talk like Lincoln, Act like Marx

When I was youngster I asked my grandpa if he was a Republican or a Democrat. “I’m a socialist,” he answered. Since this was a term unfamiliar to me I reported my conversation with Grandpa to my parents. They laughed and assured me Grandpa was pulling my leg. As the owner of a small business during the first half of the 20th century he loathed the New Deal policies of Franklin Roosevelt.

In his state of the union address President Obama said, “I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.”

I think the President was pulling our leg. The government does so much for people that they can’t do for themselves anymore. Half of U.S. households pay no federal income tax and at least one member of half of U.S. households receives some kind of government benefit. That pretty much sums up the state of the union. Talk like Abraham Lincoln and act like Karl Marx.

In psychological terms this is known as cognitive dissonance. That’s the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. Something has to change to eliminate the dissonance. We either change our behavior to match what we say we believe or change our beliefs to match our behavior. Or we rationalize our behavior, which is pretty much what the President did throughout his address.

The President said, “It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.” Earlier in his speech he lauded the achievements of General Motors and Chrysler, two failed companies which we bailed out. This is an example of cognitive dissonance.

Nowhere is cognitive dissonance more evident in our country than this — we say we value liberty but in reality we seek security. “Any man who trades liberty for security doesn’t deserve either,” said Benjamin Franklin. And yet that is the trade we are making as a nation. We’re trading capitalism for socialism. We’ve been working at it seriously for about 100 years.

The 16th Amendment was ratified on February 3, 1913: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” This effectively provided a path for income redistribution at the federal level. I’m pretty sure Grandpa must have said, “What the hell are we thinking?”

The price tag for socialism is steep. If you are a taxpayer your share of the national debt is $135,372. The national debt per citizen is $48,860 so you are subsidizing non-taxpayers to the tune of $86,512. Your share is getting bigger every day. The national debt is over $15 trillion and is currently growing at an annual rate of $1.3 trillion. It should easily double in the next 10 years because socialism is winning the battle over capitalism.

From a marketing standpoint the problem with capitalism is it shows no favor. It’s absurd for politicians to talk about crony capitalism. When anyone profits due to preferential treatment from the government it is crony socialism. Bailing out Chrysler and General Motors was crony socialism.

President Obama talked about the need to develop U.S. energy and create jobs. Yet he shot down the Keystone Pipeline which would accomplish both. Railroads such as Burlington Northern, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc., are likely to be the beneficiaries. It costs about $3.00/barrel more to ship oil by rail than to pump it via pipeline. Looks like another case of cognitive dissonance and crony socialism.

From a marketing standpoint the great thing about socialism is that it is not as blatant as communism. It succeeds not by revolution but by incremental encroachment. When the President invoked the Buffett Rule in his speech — everyone making $1 million a year should pay no less than 30 percent in taxes — that’s an easy sell. Now, if he said everyone making over a $100,000 should pay no less than 50 percent in taxes we’d have a revolution on our hands. But based on our current level of spending — which will increase rather than decrease — how many years do you think it will be before we hear that “rule” in a state of the union address?

It’s time we stopped using labels like Democrat, Republican, liberal, progressive, conservative, social conservative or fiscal conservative. Here’s the question we need to ask of anyone who aspires to office, “Are you a capitalist or a socialist?”

Oh, don’t expect a straight answer. They’ll probably quote Lincoln, then act like Marx.

(Jim Whitt is a noted speaker, consultant, author, and unapologetic people provoker.  Visit his blog at Purpose Unlimited.)