Life “In Place”: The Bay Area shuts down to preempt a Covid-19 outbreak

On March 15, officials in six of the nine Bay Area counties issued a health order directing citizens to shelter in place as a response to the Covid-19 epidemic. This order closed most businesses and activities, except for those deemed essential, and directed people to stay in their homes for the most part. Over the next few days, the remaining Bay Area counties joined the order, placing the entire region and its 8 million people into an economic freeze. California governor Gavin Newsom has now extended the order statewide. The coming weeks will show which is worse: the near-term toll of Covid-19 or the longer-term economic impact of the fight against it.

The Bay Area was the first major region to issue such a health order, though the Covid-19 outbreak is larger in New York and Washington State. It was characterized in the media as a form of lockdown, though the actual order is a far cry from house arrest. The list of essential businesses or services permitted to continue is long, running from the obvious—grocery stores, sanitation, and emergency medical services—to the convenient (such as hardware stores) to the unexpected (such as dry cleaners and even accounting firms, when necessary for legal compliance). Reflecting Silicon Valley’s status as the world’s tech capital, operations to support global Internet and telecommunications got an exemption. Recognizing California’s continuing housing crisis, all residential construction was deemed essential, too.

On the first full day of the new regime, CNN commentators criticized San Franciscans for going out on the street, but the order was never intended to confine people in their homes—it made clear that they could still go to the supermarket or drug store, walk their dogs, or exercise, as long as they didn’t congregate in groups. The authorities are imposing no restrictions on freedom of movement, though most people are staying close to home anyway.

Life in the Bay Area is not quite at a standstill, but it’s crawling: all offices and most businesses are closed. On Tuesday, parking officers were out ticketing cars parked in street-cleaning zones. This led to such an outcry (moving your car is not an “essential activity”) that the city not only voided the parking tickets but suspended all parking enforcement, except for parking meters and offenses such as blocking fire hydrants.

Otherwise, San Francisco has been taking it in stride. Immediately after the order was announced, lines stretched out the door at most stores. The wait was often fruitless, as toilet paper and other essentials were already gone after people stocked up over the weekend, expecting some sort of restriction. The line at the meat market was longer than the one at the grocery store; the line at the marijuana dispensary was the longest of all, stretching around the corner. Pot dispensaries were reclassified as an essential business the next day. Marijuana is considered a medical treatment in California, but with recent legalization, many people stopped getting medical-marijuana prescriptions. Closing the dispensaries was considered akin to closing a pharmacy.

At one grocery store, all canned goods were gone, except for one brand that remained on the shelf. Nearby, jars of fruit or peanut butter, just as long-lasting as canned food, were untouched. Sweet potatoes were gone, but regular potatoes and yams were plentiful. Many grocery carts were full of bottles of wine and liquor, reflecting a different concern about being homebound for weeks. Others were full of bottled water, though there is no reason to expect the health crisis to affect tap-water supplies. Wags have noted that if a big earthquake were to strike now, the city has never been better prepared.

Anxieties have largely been kept private. Some people deliberately cross the street or stand aside on the sidewalk to avoid passing within six feet of another person. Others walk by and say “Hello” as normal. In tech-savvy San Francisco, digital communication is more central than ever. Children talk to their friends on FaceTime instead of meeting for play dates. Preschool teachers send out video “circle time” with activities to keep children occupied. Friends meet up in Zoom chat rooms for “Quarantini hour” to discuss the day’s events, instead of gathering at a bar.

What’s not much discussed is whether the juice will be worth the squeeze. A local recession, to say nothing of a national and global one, looks unavoidable. Small retail will be hard-hit. Already under pressure from online delivery, local businesses now face an impossible situation. Delivery services were classified as essential businesses, giving Amazon a de facto monopoly on most retail within the region. Restaurants and bars are in trouble. Since delivery and takeout are permitted, a few restaurants quickly pivoted from onsite service to taking orders over the phone. Still, almost every food-and-drink establishment in the city is laying off workers.

The shelter-in-place order is often described as “work at home,” but that arrangement is available only to an elite segment of the workforce. Remote-working across time zones and continents is familiar to professionals at big tech companies, but store clerks and bartenders can’t do their jobs by logging into a Virtual Private Network. Once laid off, they can claim unemployment insurance, but this just shifts the burden to a state budget about to get hammered through loss of sales taxes and other revenue.

The Bay Area shelter-in-place order is preemptive: no health crisis exists in the region—yet—and the order is intended to prevent one, if possible. We have no reliable figures for the number of people infected, but as of Thursday, a few dozen are hospitalized. In Italy, doctors are facing decisions of which patients to let die because of scarce ventilators; at San Francisco General Hospital, more than 80 percent of the ventilators on hand are still available. A YouTube video of Italians saying what they wish they had done a few weeks ago—in particular, taking social distancing and isolation seriously—has been widely shared.

If Covid-19 cases don’t spread throughout the Bay Area, an unanswerable debate will begin between those arguing “the health order worked” and those claiming that “the health order was unnecessary and caused economic harm.” If cases do spread, a similar debate will start between “this proves the order was necessary” and “the order came too late and caused economic harm for no reason.” Italy, of course, is enduring both the health crisis and the economic harm of a stricter quarantine than San Francisco. For now, San Franciscans wave to friends on the street or talk to them through open windows — but most won’t open the door.

Phillip Sprincin is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.

Coronavirus: The state had 21 million N95 masks stockpiled. All are expired.

As the coronavirus pandemic slammed into California and doctors and nurses sounded the alarm on a dire shortage of masks, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the release of the state’s emergency stockpile of 21 million N95 respirators.

What he didn’t mention then: They are all expired.

Every one of the masks stored in the state’s climate-controlled warehouse in a secret location has surpassed its wear-by date. A California Department of Public Health news release this month indicated that only “some” masks are expired, but after repeated inquiries from The Chronicle, the agency acknowledged that the whole supply is outdated. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

COVID-19 and the Coming Rent Control Initiative

A move to prevent evictions from rental apartment units during the coronavirus crisis could gather steam now that the governor has pledges from some of the biggest banks to give victims of the coronavirus a reprieve on mortgage payments. Landlords, with an eye on a coming rent control ballot measure, would find it in their long-term interests to avoid evictions of tenants and implement other protective measures for those affected by the economic consequences of the virus. 

While the election is months away, the rent control measure has qualified for the ballot and any missteps by landlords during a time of the current national emergency surely would become campaign fodder in the Fall. 

A rent control initiative, Proposition 10, was defeated handily two years ago. The newly qualified initiative that would override current state law and give local governments more power to implement rent control, is sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the same group that was behind Proposition 10. 

Reasons for defeating the former initiative and the new version are still valid. Basically, it boils down to rent control would freeze construction of housing units. A greater housing supply would limit rents. 

But if pictures are captured now of landlords evicting tenants who through no fault of their own lost jobs and cannot pay the rent, those pictures will be displayed prominently in the Fall campaign. 

Landlords have financial obligations of their own and they are counting on rents to pay for needed services and repairs to their property or to take care of their own needs from groceries to mortgage payments. 

Yet, the California Apartment Association understands the long-term consequences of how actions taken today could well play into the politics of tomorrow. The organization offered advice to members that includes: freezing rents, halting evictions and waiving late fees. 

The government subsidies should help some of the small business landlords; and with luck and Californians following medical advice guidelines, the virus situation will dissipate, and lost payments will be made up. 

While following the CAA recommendations is a threat to many people who are just trying to conduct a fair business, they are being reminded that another big threat is coming at them in November. This might fall under the old formula that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Bay Area Coronavirus Cases Climb as Testing Grows: 26% Test Positive

More than a quarter of the people tested for coronavirus at a Hayward site that opened this week turned up positive, city officials said Thursday, as confirmed cases climbed in the Bay Area, topping 1,400, with at least 32 deaths.

At the city-run site, 26% — 54 out of 207 tested Monday, its first day — were positive, as new sites open daily in the Bay Area and confirmed cases of the illness caused by the coronavirus rise.

Increased testing reveals more cases. But providers are still having trouble keeping up with the need.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said this week the state needs more tests, “smarter and more targeted testing, and more community surveillance,” noting that the state’s testing capacity is still not good enough. …

Click here to read the full article by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Time for California’s Unions to Get Serious About Pension Reform

There was a time, long long ago, when California’s pension systems were responsibly managed. They made conservative investments, they paid modest but fair benefits to retirees, and they didn’t place an unreasonable financial burden on taxpayers. But a series of decisions and circumstances over the past thirty years put these pension systems on a collision course with financial disaster. And like hybrid war, or creeping fascism, or a progressive, initially asymptomatic disease, it is impossible to say exactly when these pension systems crossed the line from health to sickness.

An excellent history of how California’s public employee pension systems moved inexorably towards the predicament they’re now in can be found in a City Journal article entitled “The Pension Fund That Ate California.” Written in 2013, when California’s pension systems were still coping with the impact of the Great Recession, author Steven Malanga identifies key milestones: The power of public sector unions that began to make itself felt starting in the late 1960s. The pension benefit enhancements that began in the 1970s. The growing power of the union representatives on the pension fund boards. Prop. 21, passed in 1984, which allowed the pension systems to invest in riskier asset classes.

The biggest milestone on the road to sickness, however, began in 1999, as Malanga writes, “when union-backed Gray Davis became governor and union-backed Phil Angelides became state treasurer, and the CalPERS board was wearing a union label.” The state legislation that followed, mimicked by local measures across California, dramatically increased pension benefit formulas. Not only were benefits increased, but they were increased retroactively, meaning that even state and local employees nearing retirement would receive the increased pension as if these higher benefit formulas had been in effect for their entire career. And as the internet bubble blew deliriously bigger, the experts said the cost for all these enhancements would be negligible.

In the aftermath of the internet bubble’s inevitable pop in 2000, pension systems engaged in accounting gimmicks and deceptive proposals to assist the unions to roll out these benefit increases to nearly every city and county in California.

This would be an early example of how government unions and financial special interests saw an alignment of their political agendas, but it wouldn’t be the last. As payments to the pension plans inexorably increased, year after year, unions found common cause with the financial sector to market tax increases and bond measures. Every election, in lockstep, they would fight to convince the taxpayer to pay more and borrow more – and it was always for the children, for the elderly, but in reality, it was usually for the pensions.

The Burden of Public Sector Pensions on California’s Taxpayers

The complexity of pension finance makes it relatively easy to obfuscate the problem with creative accounting and emotional arguments. But certain facts can help to put the issue in perspective. Before the current financial crisis began, California’s state and local public sector pensions were estimated to rise from approximately $30 billion per year to $60 billion per year by 2025. Currently, California’s total state and local government general revenues are around $500 billion per year, meaning that pension payments are already set to consume over 10 percent of ALL state and local government revenue.

This ten percent doesn’t include the cost of retirement health insurance benefits, nor the cost for Social Security which many of California’s public employees also enjoy. It also doesn’t include the tens of billions spent every year by taxpayers to pay overtime, based on the fact that paying overtime is actually less expensive than paying for another government employee who will require another pension benefit package.

The pension burden, however, is about to get much bigger.

With most pension reform stopped in its tracks by relentless litigation, perhaps the only way pensions can ever be reformed will be through economic necessity. If so, now would be a good time. A perfect storm has struck. Here are highlights:

1 – The stock market has crashed. Interest rates are at zero, meaning it is unlikely investments in bonds will see continued appreciation. Real estate may also be at a peak, and in any case, real estate investment appreciation cannot make up for losses in stocks and bonds.

2 – Government revenues are going down for various reasons. California’s state government relies heavily on receipts from high income individuals, and those individuals rely on stock appreciation. These revenues always fall in a downturn, and this effect will ripple into every California city and county. Also, sales tax revenues, which local governments rely on, will dramatically fall over the coming few months.

3 – Californians for the first time in several election cycles have rejected local measures to fund taxes and bonds. Normally, at least two out of three new local tax or bond are measures are approved by California voters. This time, in March 2020, those proportions were surprisingly reversed, with about two out of three failing to get voter approval. This means new revenues these localities were counting on will not materialize.

A closer look at CalPERS will reveal just how dramatic the problem has finally become:

In their 6/30/2019 financial statements, CalPERS, the largest pension system in the U.S., reported themselves to be only 70.2 percent funded. To cope, the system was requiring its participating agencies to nearly double their annual payments by 2025. Needless to say, these increases were going to create havoc on civic budgets that already can barely afford to pay for their pensions.

That was then.

As of March 20th, the market value of all investments managed by CalPERS had fallen to $333.8 billion, after topping a record $400 billion just one month earlier. The most recent officially reported estimate of the total liability carried by the CalPERS system is $505 billion as of 6/30/208 (ref. most recent CalPERS CAFr, page 122). If you review the trends over the past decade, this figure has never gone down. This means, best case, as of today, CalPERS is 66.9 percent funded. The real number is almost certainly lower.

As of March 20, for example, the Dow Jones Index closed at 19,161. At close on 3/23, the Dow is down to 18,591, down another 3.1 percent. At this time, the only thing that is certain is uncertainty.

Pension Solvency Will Require Union Cooperation

If there’s one thing that history has shown, it’s that nothing gets done in California without the blessing of the public sector unions. One may argue on principle that unionized government is an abomination, having little or nothing in common with private sector unions which – properly regulated – have a vital role to play in American life.

But so what? California’s state and local governments have been taken over by these unions, who operate as senior partners to leftist billionaires, trial lawyers, race-baiting rent seekers, and environmentalist fanatics. For the most part, financial and corporate special interests are complete sell-outs to these all powerful unions, or survive via precarious detente.

Fixing pensions in California, with union cooperation, would be relatively easy. With union cooperation, politicians would have a chance to enact reforms that would not get mired in endless litigation. With union cooperation, government workers – and the public – would be able to learn about the extent of the problem instead of getting dosed with emotional propaganda. Possible solutions could be far reaching and inspiring. Here are some ideas:

1 – Reduce all pension benefit accruals to pre-1999 levels for all future work. Leave intact benefits earned to-date.

2 – Lower the long-term rate of return projection for pension assets to 6 percent.

3 – Lower the inflation stop-loss for retirees from the current 70-80 percent to 50-60 percent – provide for COLA reductions if economy encounters deflation.

4 – Raise the age of eligibility to 62 for all employees, with full benefits only available to miscellaneous employees at age 67 (same as Social Security).

5 – Implement additional “triggers” that take effect if funding falls below 80 percent, including suspension of COLA, prospective further lowering of the annual multiplier for active workers, retroactive lowering of the annual multiplier for active workers, reduction of the retiree pension payment, increase the required payment to the pension plan by active workers via withholding.

The pension systems themselves could assist this process greatly if they simply provided analysis of what measures 1 and 2 would accomplish. Lowering the rate of pension benefit accruals for future work will permit lowering the long term rate of return projection without increasing the total liability. If the pension system analysts could provide a table expressing that curve, it would greatly assist policymakers and reformers, including the union leadership.

Unfortunately, pension actuaries and fund managers do not have an illustrious track record in these exercises, so, again, it would be useful if the union leadership itself would insist on a quick turnaround and an honest, depoliticized assessment.

And what if, from now on, public employees earned lower pension benefits? First of all, it would take an awful lot before those benefits descended to the level of what the rest of California’s workforce can expect from Social Security.

An independent contractor in California has 12.4 percent withheld by the Social Security Trust Fund, and for that, they may expect a maximum of $36,132 after over 40 years of work; the average is $18,036. In 2015, the average pension for a California public employee after only 30 years of work was $68,673, not including any benefits. It is surely higher now.

What public sector union leadership might contemplate is how can the prospects for all workers in California improve. Now, with the economy grinding nearly to a halt, it is an especially good time for this sort of contemplation. Why not require CalPERS to invest 50 percent of their assets in “California based companies and projects” instead of the current 9.1 percent (ref. CalPERS CAFR, intro page 4)?

The idea that CalPERS and other pension funds were ever helping California’s economy is a blatant falsehood. The numbers are irrefutable. In 2018 CalPERS collected $28.7 billion, but only paid out 26.9 billion (CalPERS CAFR, pages 42 and 43). Since $3.5 billion of those payments were made to retirees living out of state, only $23.4 billion stayed in California. This means that Californians gave CalPERS $5.3 billion more than retirees living in California received in pension benefits. Meanwhile, over 90 percent of CalPERS investments are made outside of California.

What if public sector union leadership decided to fight for all California workers, by supporting reform of the California Environmental Quality Act, which would permit cities and suburbs to expand their borders onto open land again, greatly lowering housing costs? What if these unions supported pension fund investments in revenue bonds and equity positions to build new freeways, water storage projects, and cheap energy infrastructure? Imagine how much could be built if literally hundreds of billions of pension fund assets were invested right here in California!

There is a new consensus that could form in California, excluding the libertarian fanatics who think the only criteria for a pension fund investment is the return, even if it requires investing in Chinese slave shops. This new consensus could also exclude the identity-politics demagogues whose only criteria for a proper investment is the “diversity” of the workforce, the directorships, and the communities affected.

Who knows, maybe a new consensus could even knock the environmentalist fanatics – along with their trial lawyer and crony “capitalist” allies – down to size, allowing “green” investment criteria to resume its appropriate place within a kaleidoscope of worthy considerations.

If all these things were done, California’s cost-of-living would go down, meaning public sector retirees could enjoy the same standard of living as before, even if they retired with somewhat lower pensions. Moreover, the economy would be sizzling again, pouring record tax revenues into a solvent public sector.

The win-win envisioned here is no more preposterous than the notion of 7.25 percent pension fund returns for the next thirty years, and far more beneficial for everyone living in California instead of just beneficial for public servants.

This could be a time for a consensus that wipes away extremes, which might make CalPERS and the other pension systems a benefit to California’s economy instead of a terrifying drain. Public sector unions; the ball is in your court.

This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.

Relief coming for Californians with lost paychecks, looming mortgage bills

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that four of the nation’s five largest banks have agreed to suspend mortgage payments for 90 days for California homeowners affected by the coronavirus.

Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and U.S. Bank, along with about 200 state-chartered banks and credit unions, agreed to the 90-day grace period, he said.

Congress, meanwhile, was struggling to pass a stimulus bill that would provide most Americans with direct payments of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child younger than 17. The bill also would provide expanded unemployment benefits, even to those who are not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits because they are self-employed, haven’t worked long enough or ran out of benefits. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

As Coronavirus Spreads, Private Sector Offers Hope — And Treatments

Optimism is in short supply as the coronavirus pandemic grows deadlier by the day. COVID-19 has taken thousands of lives around the world and upended nearly every aspect of daily life.

But there is at least one bright spot in this global public health emergency. That’s the astounding speed with which private firms have begun tackling the problem. While federal regulators have exacerbated the crisis at seemingly every turn, private firms have rolled out promising new therapies and technologies that could help mitigate the pandemic — and save lives.

The stats are grim. In less than three months, the virus has surged from Wuhan, China, to infect more than 430,000 people across 168 countries worldwide, according to official counts as of the morning of March 25. Many more people may have the virus and not know it. More than 18,000 people have died.

Here in the United States, the first coronavirus case appeared north of Seattle on January 21. Just over two months later, more than 53,000 cases — and 728 deaths — have been reported.

The federal government’s efforts to combat the pandemic have been — less than stellar. Early test kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were flawed and unusable. Federal regulators initially refused to use tests from the World Health Organization and other foreign countries. And the Food and Drug Administration has been slow — slow to review and approve new tests developed by private labs, slow to relax regulations on the production of new ventilators, and downright hostile to potential at-home tests for COVID-19.

Private firms, by contrast, have provided a rare source of hope in the midst of the pandemic.

Just last week, Massachusetts-based biotech firm Moderna launched clinical trials for the first-ever COVID-19 vaccine. The company managed to identify the trial compound in just 42 days. Other firms — including Inovio, Sanofi, Vaxart, GlaxoSmithKline, and Johnson & Johnson — are also working on potential vaccines.

Other firms are testing potential treatments. Gilead Sciences is investigating whether remdesivir, an antiviral that has previously shown promise against SARS and MERS, could be effective against the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Regeneron is conducting trials to see if its arthritis treatment kevzara can fight COVID-19. Abbvie, another biopharmaceutical firm, is doing the same with its HIV drug Kaletra.

Similar progress is finally happening in the testing market. Last week, two separate commercial COVID-19 tests won approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Several companies are trying to offer at-home testing for the novel coronavirus. For example, Austin, Texas-based Everlywell is already producing at-home test kits for COVID-19. ScanWell Health, a Los Angeles firm, has promised a direct-to-consumer test kit that takes only 15 minutes to deliver results.

The FDA has made clear that it hasn’t approved any at-home coronavirus tests. They’d be wise to figure out how to do so.

It isn’t just bioscience firms snapping into action. Google recently launched a website with authoritative information about the virus. Amazon will soon provide at-home testing to Seattle residents, with funding from Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Philanthropic groups backed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are also working to boost testing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

At the same time, American automakers have offered to use their facilities to make the ventilators that are crucial to treating COVID-19.

All of this is a testament to the vitality of America’s market-based economic system. Such breakneck innovation and adaptability is a regular occurrence in a dynamic market economy. And as we’re finding out on a seemingly daily basis, government bureaucracies serve as a brake on such innovation.

The breakthroughs coming from the private sector are our best hope for overcoming not just the global health emergency created by COVID-19 but the economic crisis the pandemic has unleashed. It’s reasonable to assume that, once effective treatments and vaccines are available, a return to normalcy won’t be far behind, and our economy will once again open for business.

Even as the number of COVID-19 cases ticks up around the world, the dynamism and ingenuity of the private sector’s response offers some much-needed hope that America—and humanity—will soon end this pandemic.

Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All, Encounter Books, January 2020. Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Researching Institute.

Coronavirus Restart: Trump Wants Return-to-Normal by April, but Gavin Newsom Sees California Danger

President Trump and Gov. Gavin Newsom have been mutually complimentary during the coronavirus crisis, but they are on a collision course when it comes to how long to keep social distancing measures in place to blunt the pandemic.

Californians could find themselves caught in the middle as Trump’s stated desire to start returning to normal by mid-April conflicts with what they hear from Newsom. The governor issued a stay-at-home order last week and said he wouldn’t back off before seeing evidence that the state has begun to “bend the curve” of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, Newsom said an April restart “would be sooner than any of the experts that I talk to believe is possible.”

“It’s going to confuse people,” said Lee Riley, a professor of infectious disease and vaccinology at UC Berkeley. “The only way to make it clear to people is to have a more uniform message.” …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Deadline to File Taxes Extended Until July 15

Tax forms and payments won’t be due to the Internal Revenue Service until July 15 this year, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Friday as the government looks for ways to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15,” Mnuchin said in a tweet. “All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.”

California made a similar move Wednesday regarding state tax returns and payments, which are now also due July 15.

Mnuchin’s announcement follows a decision earlier this week to delay the payment deadline, but not the filing deadline, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tax professionals and lawmakers from both parties have said it could confuse taxpayers to have forms and payments due on separate days. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Protecting Taxpayers in a Time of Crisis

The word “unprecedented” is fitting for the coronavirus crisis that is now savaging both the health of countless Americans as well as our nation’s economy.

Not since September 11th has the United States faced such a challenge.

In reaction to the outbreak, healthcare professionals have emphasized the importance of speed. Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization, who has seen more than his share of epidemics, advised “Be fast, have no regrets. You must be the first mover. The virus will always get you if you don’t move quickly. If you need to be right before you move you will never win. Perfection is the enemy of the good when it comes to emergency management,” he said.

In a few weeks, or perhaps longer, we will be able to assess whether our health care response to the virus, including quarantines, social distances and “sheltering in place,” was overkill or not enough. But everyone, at this point, seems to fully grasp the concept of “better safe than sorry.”

The same philosophy seems to be applicable to the economic crisis as well. The immediate reaction from our political leaders has been to do something – anything – and do it fast. At the federal level, there has already been bipartisan support for a preliminary bailout of $1 trillion. For those of us who are fiscal conservatives, the headlong rush to add to the existing mountain of federal debt is deeply disturbing.

At the state level, Gov. Gavin Newsom has taken aggressive action on the health care front but also has signed into law (or issued executive orders) designed to lessen the economic damage. While some of these policies are understandable under the circumstances, the interests of taxpayers and property owners do not seem to be getting the same level of concern as other interests.

To read the entire column, please click here.