Environmentalists Destroyed California’s Forests

Millions of acres of California forest have been blackened by wildfires this summer, leading to the usual angry denunciations from the usual quarters about climate change. But in 1999, the Associated Press reported that forestry experts had long agreed that “clearing undergrowth would save trees,” and that “years of aggressive firefighting have allowed brush to flourish that would have been cleared away by wildfires.” But very little was done. And now fires of unprecedented size are raging across the Western United States.

“Sen. Feinstein blames Sierra Club for blocking wildfire bill,” reads the provocative headline on a 2002 story in California’s Napa Valley Register. Feinstein had brokered a congressional consensus on legislation to thin “overstocked” forests close to homes and communities, but could not overcome the environmental lobby’s disagreement over expediting the permit process to thin forests everywhere else.

Year after year, environmentalists litigated and lobbied to stop efforts to clear the forests through timber harvesting, underbrush removal, and controlled burns. Meanwhile, natural fires were suppressed and the forests became more and more overgrown. The excessive biomass competed for the same water, soil, and light a healthier forest would have used, rendering all of the trees and underbrush unhealthy. It wasn’t just excess biomass that accumulated, but dried out and dead biomass.

What happened among California’s tall stands of Redwood and Ponderosa Pine also happened in its extensive chaparral. Fire suppression along with too many environmentalist-inspired bureaucratic barriers to controlled burns and undergrowth removal turned the hillsides and canyons of Southern California into tinderboxes.

In 2009, after huge blazes wiped out homes and forced thousands to evacuate, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich observed: “The environmentalists have gone to the extreme to prevent controlled burns, and as a result we have this catastrophe today.”

In 2014, Republican members of Congress tried again to reduce the bureaucracy associated with “hazardous fuel projects” that thin out overgrown forests. True to form, the bill got nowhere thanks to environmental lobbyists who worried it would undermine the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the law that requires thorough impact assessments ahead of government decisions on public lands.

In a blistering report published in the California Globe on how environmentalists have destroyed California’s forests, investigative journalist Katy Grimes interviewed Representative Tom McClintock, a Republican who represents communities in and around the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California. McClintock has worked for years to reform NEPA and other barriers to responsible forest management.

“The U.S. Forest Service used to be a profitable federal agency,” McClintock told Grimes. “Up until the mid-1970s, we managed our national forests according to well-established and time-tested forest management practices. But 40 years ago, we replaced these sound management practices with what can only be described as a doctrine of benign neglect. Ponderous, Byzantine laws and regulations administered by a growing cadre of ideological zealots in our land management agencies promised to save the environment. The advocates of this doctrine have dominated our law, our policies, our courts and our federal agencies ever since.”

But these zealots have not protected the forests. They have destroyed them. The consequences are far-reaching.

Decimating the Timber Industry, Disrupting the Ecosystem

Few people, including the experts, bother to point out how overgrown forests reduce the water supply. But when watersheds are choked with dense underbrush competing for moisture, precipitation and runoff cannot replenish groundwater aquifers or fill up reservoirs. Instead, it’s immediately soaked up by the trees and brush. Without clearing and controlled burns, the overgrown foliage dies anyway.

A new activist organization in California, the “California Water for Food and People Movement,” created a Facebook group for people living in the hellscape created by misguided environmentalist zealotry. Comments and posts from long-time residents of the Sierra foothills, where fires have exploded in recent years, yield eyewitness testimony to how environmentalist restrictions on forest management have gone horribly wrong. Examples:

“I’m 70, and I remember controlled burns, logging, and open grazing.”

“With the rainy season just ahead, the aftermath of the Creek Fire will challenge our water systems for years to come. Erosion will send toxic debris and sediment cascading into streams, rivers, and reservoirs, reducing their capacity to carry and hold water. Dirty air, dirty water, and the opposite of environmentalism are on full display right now, brought to us by the environmental posers who will no doubt use this crisis to unleash a barrage of ‘climate change did it’ articles.”

“Many thanks to Sierra Club and other environmental groups. You shut down logging/brush removal and had a ‘don’t touch’ approach to our forests. You shut down access roads and let them get overgrown, so now they can’t be used for fire suppression and emergency equipment. You fought ranchers for grazing, which helped keep the forest floors clean. You made fun of Trump when he said we need to rake the forest. Trust me these forest rakes and logging would have prevented the devastating fires we see now.”

The economics of responsible forest management, given the immensity of America’s western forests, requires profitable timber harvesting to play a role. But California has no commercial timber operations on state-owned land. And since 1990, when the environmentalist assault on California’s timber industry began in earnest, its timber industry has shrunk to half its former size. Reviving California’s timber industry, so the collective rate of harvest equals the collective rate of growth, would go a long way towards solving the problem of catastrophic fires.

Instead, California’s environmentalists only redouble their nonsense arguments. Expect these fires to justify even more “climate change” legislation that does nothing to clear the forests of overgrown tinder, and everything to clear the forests, and the chaparral, of people and towns.

Expect these fires to fuel a new round of legislation containing urban growth while mandating suburban densification, with increased rationing of energy and water.

Expect the “climate emergency” to accelerate in synergistic lockstep with the pandemic emergency and the anti-racism emergency. Expect all three of these emergencies to become issues of public health, thereby eliminating inconvenient constitutional roadblocks to swift action.

Misdirected Union Priorities

Meanwhile, tragically, expect California’s politically powerful firefighters’ union to do little or nothing to support the timber industry or rural inhabitants who don’t want to move into urban condos.

As Steve Greenhut explained in a recent column in the Orange County Register: “Frankly, union power drives state and local firefighting policies. The median compensation package for firefighters has topped $240,000 a year in some locales. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighters earn less, but their packages still total nearly $150,000 a year. The number of California firefighters who receive compensation packages above $500,000 a year is mind-blowing.”

No wonder firefighters are overwhelmed during California’s wildfire season. The state can’t afford to hire enough of them.

And when these firefighter unions could have been pushing for legislation to clear the forests back in 2019, where instead did their leftist leadership direct their activist efforts? They marched in solidarity with the striking United Teachers of Los Angeles. The teachers’ unions have done to California’s public schools what environmentalists have done to California’s forests.

If an honest history of California in the early 21st century is ever written, the verdict will be unequivocal. Forests that thrived in California for over 20 million years were allowed to become overgrown tinderboxes. And then, with stupefying ferocity, within the span of a few decades, they burned to the ground. Many of them never recovered.

This epic tragedy was the direct result of policies put in place by misguided environmentalist zealots, misinformed suckers who sent them money, and the litigators and lobbyists they hired, who laughed all the way to the bank.

This article originally appeared in American Greatness.

L.A. schools won’t reopen till November

No campus in Los Angeles County will be allowed to reopen to all K-12 students until at least November, although schools can begin to offer small in-person classes for children with special needs at no more than 10% of capacity at one time, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday.

The news will be a blow to students, parents and educators who have been hoping that progress against the coronavirus might allow for campuses to reopen on a faster tract. However, the small in-person classes for children who need special services, announced last week, could allow at least 200,000 students back to campus across the county.

No districts are currently required to offer in-person services to students — and officials with both the L.A. Unified School District and the district’s teachersunion have said they are opposed to any full campus reopenings at this time, citing safety concerns.

Some smaller school districts and private schools had hoped to open elementary campuses through a state-permitted waiver process, but Ferrer said that the county would not grant waivers. State guidelines allow for such waivers to help young students who have particular difficulties with online learning. …

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

Sacramento’s Misguided Attacks on Single-Family Housing

“Honest question,” a housing activist wrote to me on Twitter, “since you mention the ‘impacts to all’ of housing policy, what do you say to someone who wants to live in Pasadena but can’t afford $875K to live here (or $3K/month in rent)?”

The topic of discussion was Senate Bill 1120, a housing bill that was awaiting a vote in the Assembly while the clock ticked toward the constitutionally mandated deadline for the end of the legislative session on Aug. 31.

SB1120 was controversial. As the phones were ringing off the hook in lawmakers’ offices at the Capitol, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, an author of the bill, tweeted, “I’ve seen lots of drama over density bills. Never have I seen the bizarro reaction we’re seeing against SB 1120, which legalizes DUPLEXES. Yes, apocalyptic predictions over letting folks build TWO HOMES INSTEAD OF ONE.”

Here’s a tip for gamblers. The war on the suburbs will be won by the suburbs. Don’t bet against the house.

Let’s begin with the question from Pasadena. What do you say to someone who wants to live in Pasadena but can’t afford it?

The answer is: Someone who can’t afford Pasadena will have to live somewhere else, or earn enough money to live in Pasadena, or share the costs of living in Pasadena with roommates.

The answer isn’t: Everyone who wishes to live in a desirable place has a right to live there, and it is the job of the government to pass laws that do whatever is necessary to make it possible for everyone to live wherever they choose at whatever price they can afford to pay.

A wish is not a right.

Now let’s look at Sen. Wiener’s complaint that the opposition to his bill was “bizarro.”

SB1120 abolished single-family zoning in the state of California.

There, did you feel that?

Would you describe your reaction as “bizarro”?

Let me quickly tell you, before you reach for the nitroglycerin pills, that SB1120 did not pass. In a late-night drama, the Assembly stalled the vote until roughly 11:45 p.m. The bill fell three votes short, but the vote was held and they tried again at 11:57. The last few votes magically appeared and pushed SB1120 across the finish line — that is, in the Assembly.

However, it was too late for the bill to be voted on in the Senate, a last step needed for passage. At the stroke of midnight, the bill was dead.

Feel better? Don’t put away the nitroglycerin pills just yet; the proposal is virtually certain to return when the Legislature does.

Judging from their Twitter posts, bewildered and angry housing activists are having a hard time understanding why their dream of abolishing single-family zoning is never going to happen, not in the United States, not even in the “nation state” of California.

Many of these activists seem to base their views on a false premise that every homeowner is a wealthy, privileged, randomly lucky beneficiary of centuries of wrongful actions, as if every owner of a three-bedroom, 1,600-square-foot house is an heir to a fortune that was stolen from somebody else in an era when Columbus was not yet a statue.

The truth is that homeowners of all races and ethnicities have worked, saved, gone into debt and worked some more to afford to own a house. Homeowners pay taxes, lots of them, year after year. Homeowners bought homes in single-family neighborhoods because they didn’t want to live in highly dense communities where people have to drive around the block looking for parking spaces.

SB1120 would have created a right to build four residences for four separate households on any single-family lot in the state of California. Where there was one house, there could be two houses, and each house could have an accessory dwelling unit that could be rented out.

The bill would have prohibited cities from requiring off-street parking or imposing any approval process at all, even if the extra density would have a substantial impact on water, sewer and power infrastructure, trash pick-up, police and fire services or the need for new taxes.

Overnight, someone who bought a single-family home on any residential street in California could find the homes next door or across the street turning into construction sites and quadrupling in density.

That would take away what the homeowner worked and saved and went into debt to have: a home on a quiet street where people don’t have to live on top of each other and fight for parking spaces.

California needs more housing, but the answer isn’t to take away what people have worked all their lives to own. The answer is to tear down the fabricated “urban boundary” that prevents development of new communities in new areas.

We need what former Vice President Al Gore denounced as “sprawl.” California law has made “sprawl” virtually impossible by declaring “vehicle miles traveled” to be an environmental “impact.”

But quadrupling the density of every residential street in California is an “impact,” too. Sacramento wouldn’t do this to a spotted owl. Refusing to build more housing unless it’s on top of somebody else’s housing is a policy choice that California has made.

Frustrated housing activists want the state or federal government to use force against cities that won’t go along with increased density. Gov. Gavin Newsom has already sued Huntington Beach over housing decisions.

It would be a major mistake to believe this is a minor skirmish. Local control over zoning is one of those things that falls under the general heading of “the consent of the governed.” Anybody who thinks it’s no big deal is in for a surprise.

Originally published in the Orange County Register

Susan Shelley is a columnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, “How Trump Won.”

If the Texas Economic Miracle Can’t Figure Out Renewables – Neither Can California

Any electrical grid relying on renewables (mainly wind turbines and solar panels) electricity prices can rise as much as 40,000% in Texas, and blackouts are inevitable. From New York to Great Britain – and now California – blackouts happen over heavy renewable usage.  

California’s conundrum is hardly prescient nor is Texas a fossil fuel powerhouse since approximately 20 percent of its electrical generation comes from wind turbines. Texas in 2018 had the massive spike in prices, and their entire reserve margin of generating capacity went away during a heat wave. California now suffers the same problems. More importantly for both, and likely California more than Texas is the push to electrify homes and entire sectors of the economy. Cost considerations alone should make California pause in this rush for decarbonization via the electrical grid.

Federal data show a $900 a year price differential between homes that rely on natural gas for appliances, heat during the winter, and hot/warm water versus only electricity. The rush for renewables in California and Texas will lead to higher costs in coming years. Approvals for new oil and gas wells in California are up over unstable electrical grids. The Texas economic miracle could be fading if state doesn’t understand the “turmoil and true staggering costs of wind and solar” are having on consumers with limited transparency.

Renewables are intermittent, chaotic in their production of energy to electricity, and mathematically unstable, but California and Texas both keep rushing headlong into collapsing their grids for reliable electricity. California is rapidly becoming a failed state over green energy policies. To Governor Newsome’s credit he says:

“The transition away from fossil fuels has left California with a gap in reliability of its energy system. He says the state must examine its reliance on solar power and how that fits into its broader energy portfolio, report the San Francisco Chronicle’s Alexei Koseff.”

In 2018 the California legislature passed a bill requiring the state electrical grid have “100% climate-friendly electricity by 2045.” During a recent August heat wave the state’s grid was at least 4,400 MW short of the energy to electricity needed for minimum electrical generation standards. The early summer documentary movie, “Juice” highlights how if a country doesn’t have reliable and stable electricity, they are a failed state. California is meeting that definition, and Texas is following that same standard.  

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) is responsible for California’s grid and demand to ensure constant electrical generation. Western states are no longer exporting energy to CAISO during hot summer months, which facilitates CAISO ordering utilities to institute blackouts. Texas will follow California into blackouts, and the economic renaissance will end.

Texas is the largest source of wind generation in the U.S., attracting firms like Spanish energy conglomerate Iberdrola claiming 100% Texas wind to meet reliable electricity for the Lone Star State. Iberdrola has received over $2.7 billion in U.S tax credits without producing anything of electrical value through the Production Tax Credit program.

Utilities in California and Texas are pushing to rid themselves of fossil fuels in favor of renewables, but a recent study from the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment found:

“Among more than 3,000 utilities, only about 14% prioritized growth in renewable energy over gas or coal-fired power plants, while 10% and 2% had their highest growth in gas and coal, respectively. And even among companies betting on green energy, more than half continued to grow their fossil fuel capacities at the same time.”

California has world-class universities and is the 5th largest economy in the world – yet cannot figure out how to stabilize their electrical grid using renewables. This is why utilities are betting heavily on fossil fuels for decades ahead. Supposedly the “future is bright, emissions-free, and electric,” when actually the International Energy Agency’s Key World Energy Statistics 2020 overwhelmingly reveals a world reliant on fossil fuels for electricity and the over 6,000 products that originate from a barrel of crude oil. California is reaping what it sows for grid blackouts, and Texas isn’t far behind.

California’s “60 per cent renewable supply by 2030,” is at 33 per cent currently; 27 GW of California’s renewable supply is solar, and 7 GW is wind. Both stop working when the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing. The State’s consumers have electricity prices “60 per cent above the US average.”

Grid reliability is so bad for California, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Sunday, September 6th  issued a Section 202 (c) “emergency order to help prevent California’s already-faltering power grid from being completely overwhelmed.” This order was in response to a record-breaking heat wave over much of Southern California.

The DOE’s order “authorizes the emergency use of stationary and portable generators, as well as auxiliary engines onboard ocean-going vessels berthed in California’s port.” All laws, regulations and permits limiting the use of emission-belching generators are suspended to meet grid requirements for the CAISO.

According to Joel Kotkin of Chapman University electrical grid blackouts and fires are the new California norm unless voters decide to break with the one-party super majority. Then why doesn’t the Legislature address grid breakdown instead of passing a bill lowering criminal penalties for adults who have sex with minors. Heterosexual and homosexual men and women – need on-demand electricity – over meddling in their private affairs.

Economic forecasters whether in California or Texas have assumed that Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI) for renewables would be used within a fossil fuel-based system since they are heavily subsidized due to intermittent output; a “green reset based on green energy isn’t possible.” My own book “Just Green Electricity” brings clarity to a world without fossil fuels. Just the math alone of new transmission lines, amount of new renewable installations, land-use requirements, physics and engineering all spotlight the hidden cost of renewables.

Green energy is also one of the dirtiest forms of energy over mining concerns. Michael Moore’s anti-renewables documentary, Planet of the Humans highlights ecological concerns. Texas and especially California need to ditch green recovery plans in a post-COVID world, and finally admit that all forms of energy to electricity based on renewables have never powered a modern society.

California Businesses to Get COVID-19 Tax Cuts

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a trio of laws on Wednesday intended to bolster struggling small businesses in California and encourage their owners to hire more workers, each of which received bipartisan support but only light scrutiny by the Legislature before its adjournment last week.

The governor, who used a delicatessen in Sacramento as the backdrop for a bill-signing ceremony, touted the three laws as important help for businesses that are “the lifeblood of California and its economy.”

“Small businesses are feeling vulnerable to the pressures of this pandemic — so much so that they believe they are likely to close in the not too distant future, ” Newsom said, citing a survey that he said found 44% of businesses were considering closure. “That is a jaw-dropping percentage of small businesses that are looking at the prospect of a financial cliff.” …

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

Trump nominated for Nobel Peace Prize following Israel-UAE accord

President Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for helping broker a peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, according to a report.

Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a member of the Norwegian Parliament and chairman of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, submitted the nomination, Fox News reported.

“For his merit, I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other Peace Prize nominees,” Tybring-Gjedde told Fox News.

In his letter to the Nobel Committee, Tybring-Gjedde wrote that the Trump administration has played a key role in the establishment of relations between the two nations. …

Click here to read the full article from the NY Post

Prop. 15 Empowers Big Business, Destroys Small Business

California’s state and local governments, and the public sector unions that exercise nearly absolute control over the politicians who supposedly oversee them, have always had an insatiable desire for higher taxes. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has added even more urgency to their insatiable quest for more money from taxpayers, but through the years their basic game plan and goals have been remarkably consistent.

For example, the so-called “Split Roll” property tax increase which has finally made it onto the November 2020 state ballot in the form of Prop. 15, is something that has been proposed for years by California’s government unions and their supporters. This new tax is designed to undermine the historic 1978 Prop. 13, which limits property reassessments to when there is a change in ownership, and from that baseline keeps increases to maximum of two percent per year. Prop. 13 also freezes the property tax rate at one percent, although countless local “fees” have elevated the actual amount owners have to pay.

The way Prop. 15 is being sold to voters is based on its impact being restricted to commercial properties. Because residential properties are unaffected by Prop. 15, at least initially, proponents expect voters who own homes to not feel threatened by the measure. The airwaves are already saturated with ads in support of Prop. 15. To paraphrase, the themes are “make the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share,” “relieve the crowded classrooms,” “help local communities respond to the impact of COVID,” “put schools and communities first.”

It should come as no surprise that the top two donors in support of Prop. 15,  are the California Teachers Association PAC, so far contributing $6 million, and the SEIU California State Council, so far contributing $3.5 million. Taking into account the fact that once the pandemic slowdown has come and gone, this tax increase – if approved by voters – will still be in effect, do California’s state and local agencies really need more tax revenue?

Historical Trends Do Not Justify Higher Taxes

Since the CTA is a top supporter of Prop. 15, what are the enrollment and spending trends that have convinced them that California’s system of public education requires even more money?

If all that is taken into account is enrollment, there is no basis whatsoever for more spending. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2000 there were 6.1 million students enrolled in California’s K-12 public schools. According to the California Dept. of Education, in 2020 there are only 6.1 million students. If the student population is stable, why does the system need more money?

Meanwhile, when taking into account all spending on education – teacher and staff salaries, classroom spending, administrative overhead, debt service on school bonds, and the state’s annual CalSTRS contribution – California’s K-12 traditional public schools are currently funded at just over $20,000 per pupil. Public charter schools, by the way, survive on much less, but that’s another story. With that much money to work with, why can’t the system adapt to the present slowdown, instead of trying to raise taxes? Indeed, according to California’s Office of Legislative Analyst, successful adjustments have already been made.

Public education is only on part of California’s state and local spending. An examination of spending trends over the past twenty years, adjusting for population growth and inflation, shows a relentless march upwards. The following graph, the result of an analysis conducted earlier this year by the California Policy Center, shows that per capita state government spending in constant dollars has nearly doubled in the last forty years, and is up 50 percent over the last twenty years. Why?

What have Californians gotten in return for all that money? As noted in the earlier analysis:

“Compared to forty years ago, Californians cannot afford to purchase homes, they cannot afford to pay college tuition, they cannot drive on uncongested freeways, and they cannot expect their children to get a good education in public schools. Forty years ago, they could expect all those things. There have been many improvements to our lives over the past forty years – the tech revolution and precision medicine, to state two obvious examples – but apart from cleaner air, the state can’t take much credit for improvements to the quality of life for Californians. The state can take credit, however, nearly exclusive credit, for making California unaffordable, for ruining California’s public schools, for driving up the cost of college tuition and neglecting our highways.”

Add to that litany two additional catastrophes that California’s state government can take credit for: their misguided restrictions on logging and forest clearing are the reason forest fires are now destroying forests forever instead of just burning off underbrush, and their misguided attempt to convert to supposedly renewable energy is the reason residents are paying the highest utility rates in the nation while enduring electricity brownouts and blackouts.

Perhaps it is an oversimplification, but nonetheless worth stating: The primary reason for this incompetence despite record per capita spending is because California’s state and local agencies are ran by public sector unions, for whom higher pay, higher benefits, and higher headcounts are the primary objective, with efficiency and accountability actual impediments to achieving those goals.

How Prop. 15 Will Destroy Small Businesses

Worked into the language of California’s split roll property tax increase proposal is an exemption for commercial properties worth $3.0 million or less. Unfortunately, in California’s commercial real estate market, $3.0 million doesn’t buy very much.

Consider these $3.0M+ commercial listings in Los Angeles:

11,979 SF Industrial Building, Long Beach, $3.6M

13,290 SF Industrial Building, Los Angeles, $3.2M

12,150 SF Industrial Building, El Monte, $3.6M

6,119 SF Retail Building, Burbank, $3.3M

What about San Diego?

2,491 SF Retail Building, San Diego, $3.2M

11,800 SF Industrial Building, San Diego, $3.5M

San Jose?

8,050 SF Industrial Building, Milpitas, $3.7M

5,000 SF Retail Building, San Jose, $3.6M

Sacramento?

8,715 SF Retail Building, Sacramento, $3.1M

2,400 SF Industrial Building, Sacramento, $3.3M

12,000 SF Industrial Building, Sacramento, $3.0M

The point here is these listings are not for operations ran by “the wealthiest corporations.” Nor are these listings in the most expensive parts of the cities surveyed. Industrial sites in California’s major urban areas start at around $250 per square foot, which will buy 12,000 square feet of what is definitely not premium real estate. So who are harmed by Prop. 15?

People who own their own buildings, often multi-generational families, who have eliminated their debt, weathered the COVID shutdown, and operate low-margin manufacturing, retail and restaurant establishments are the people who are going to get killed by Prop. 15.

And what about those “wealthiest corporations?”

These big corporate owners of commercial real estate will pay more in taxes. But they will pass those taxes on to the consumers, including the small businesses that are tenants of many of these larger investor owned properties. Prop. 15 claims it will exempt – only until 2025 – retail centers worth more than $3 million if the “occupants are 50 percent or more small businesses.” Notwithstanding the bureaucratic hoops gaining these exemptions will impose, the relief is only temporary.

Prop. 15 will immediately punish those businesses that are are just above the lowest rung, the owners of commercial property worth anything over $3 million. Imagine a manufacturer of a niche product that manages to compete, thanks to low property taxes and a clean balance sheet, against much larger manufacturers. Imagine small, well managed companies that might eventually emerge to challenge or even displace larger competitors. Prop. 15 will crush them.

Prop. 15 eliminates one of the last, if not the last, competitive advantage available in California to financially responsible, long-standing small businesses that own their property. It is a cruel attack on the hardest working and least privileged among California’s business community, masquerading as the opposite.

This article originally appeared in the California Globe.

Why does California’s power grid keep flirting with disaster?

California was forced to take desperate measures over Labor Day weekend to keep the lights on.

Less than a month after the state experienced its first rolling blackouts in nearly two decades, officials again urged residents to use less electricity during the late afternoon and into the evening as extreme heat, fueled by the climate crisis, baked the West.

California needed all the conservation it could get as out-of-control fires, also worsened by global warming, rendered some power plants useless. Flames knocked out transmission lines and generators from the Sierra Nevada to the San Diego backcountry.

Just like last month, Californians responded in force, using far less energy than predicted. Electric utilities turned to their Western neighbors for extra power supply. The Trump administration granted an emergency request from state officials to allow three Los Angeles-area gas plants to produce more electricity than federal pollution permits would normally allow. …

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

California’s Worst Bills of the Legislative Session

The final gavel fell last week on the 2020 legislative session.  Cut short by seven weeks due to the coronavirus, lawmakers were forced to take a backseat to Gov. Newsom, who made use of his wide-ranging emergency powers to lock down businesses to stop the spread of the virus and provide financial relief. Meantime, against the backdrop of riots and racial tension, Democrats made the most of advancing their progressive agenda.  Here are just some of the bills that will do Californians more harm than good:

AB 979 Diversity in Corporate Boards

California will be the first state to require racial quotas on corporate boards if Newsom signs this bill into law.  AB 979 mandates that at least one person from an “underrepresented community” is on the board of companies headquartered in California.  This bill, along with Prop. 16 which would bring back racial preferences, is part of the war being waged against meritocracy in so many of America’s institutions.  As I’ve written in Right by the Bay, a system of meritocracy is the only way a melting pot state like California can operate, succeed, and prosper.

SB 852 Health Care: Prescription Drugs

In another first, California will be the first state to get into the pharmaceutical business by negotiating with manufacturers to sell its own label of generic drugs.  This move is supposed to increase competition and reduce prices.  But PRI senior fellow Wayne Winegarden points out that 95 percent of prescriptions for generic drugs cost $25 or less, so there’s not much room for generic drug prices to fall further: “If Newsom’s new drugmaker is going to undercut existing generic prices, it will have to sell its wares at loss-inducing prices. These losses will be compounded by the additional costs the state will incur monitoring its new drug retailing entity.” Any reduction in drug prices will ultimately be subsidized by California taxpayers.

SB 1383 Unlawful Employment Practice: Family Leave

SB 1383 forces very small businesses to hold open a job for up to three months for employees who become new parents or who want to care for a sick family member.  I’ve covered this bill in more detail here.  Requiring small business owners to guarantee jobs will raise their costs and increase their exposure to lawsuits.  One would think that with so many businesses forced by the state to shutter their doors because of the pandemic, lawmakers would give mom and pop business owners a break.

AB 3121 Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans

AB 3121 will create a nine-member task force to look into ways to pay reparations to African Americans despite the fact that California was a free state.  Assemblyman Kevin Kiley’s (R-Rocklin) office said that that these issues are better handled at the federal level.  We would go further and agree with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who believes that it would be hard to figure out who to compensate: “We’ve had waves of immigrants as well come to the country and experience dramatic discrimination of one kind or another so no, I don’t think reparations are a good idea.” Americans have fought a civil war, passed landmark civil rights legislation, and the courts have capably dealt with discrimination.  America’s not perfect, but reparations could cause even more division in this country.

SB 793 Flavored Tobacco Products

This bill, which was already signed into law by Gov. Newsom, would ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products, mostly vaping products that help smokers break the deadly habit.  Keeping these products out of the hands of children makes absolute sense, but education and enforcement is the better way to achieve it.  As Steve Greenhut argues, this bill targets safer products and boosts the market share of the truly dangerous ones. “It’s far better for public health if a smoker relies on lower-risk products than higher-risk ones. That would seem obvious anywhere except the California Legislature.”

AB 1876 Extending Tax Credits to Illegal Immigrants

AB 1876 would allow illegal immigrants who file taxes to receive California’s tax refund for low-income residents. Previously, only taxpayers with a Social Security number could claim the California Earned Income Tax Credit. This bill further blurs the distinction between those who are here legally and those who aren’t and invites more illegal immigrants to settle in the state.  When Newsom laments that there is no money left in the piggy bank to provide pandemic relief for Californians, it’s priorities like these that send Californians fleeing to states with more sensible policies.

Rowena Itchon is senior vice president of the Pacific research Institute.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.

Trump calls John Bolton a ‘jerk,’ blasts Kim Jong Un account

President Trump called John Bolton a “jerk” Monday, saying the former White House national security adviser made the mistake of taking literally his description of exchanging “love letters” with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

“Just heard that Wacko John Bolton was talking of the fact that I discussed ‘love letters from Kim Jong Un’ as though I viewed them as just that. Obviously, was just being sarcastic,” Trump said on Twitter. “Bolton was such a jerk!”

Bolton wrote a scathing memoir — “The Room Where It Happened” — about his time in the White House that accused Trump of cozying up to dictators and described the president as being out of his league when dealing with foreign leaders. …

Click here to read the full article from the NY Post