Will China’s new recycling standards mean higher taxes in California?

RecyclingDo you know where your recyclables go when they leave your blue bin?

Would you believe China?

But that’s about to change. In July, China notified the World Trade Organization that on Jan. 1 it will impose much stricter quality standards and will turn away shipments that don’t make the grade. In recycling, quality refers to how much non-recyclable material is mixed in with the recyclables. Anything non-recyclable is a “contaminant” that has to be removed in a sorting process. The stricter the standard, the slower and more costly the processing.

Recyclables are sold like any other commodity. Prices fluctuate according to demand. In order for recycling to be financially sustainable, the value of the recyclables has to exceed the cost of picking up the stuff, sorting it, shipping it, and recycling it into something that can be sold and shipped to someone who can use it.

In 2016, California shipped recyclables with a value of $21 million by air to Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany. Trash worth $108 million went by rail or truck to Mexico. But $4.6 billion worth of recyclables, 15 million tons, were shipped out from California’s ports. By far the greatest share of our recyclables, 62 percent, went to China.

Seaborne exports of all commodities from California ports in 2016 totaled 63 million tons, with a vessel value of more than $89 billion. Recyclable material accounted for 24 percent of the commodities exports by weight, 5 percent by value.

Some garbage is worth more than other garbage. Mixed paper, cardboard and paperboard made up 59 percent of the weight, but ferrous and non-ferrous metals accounted for 62 percent of the value.

CalRecycle, the state agency in charge of tracking these things, doesn’t know exactly how much of the garbage on the ships originated in California, and it doesn’t have precise numbers for local jurisdictions – reporting is supposed to start in 2019 – but Californians generated an estimated 76.5 million tons of waste material in 2016. The agency says 42.7 million tons were “disposed,” meaning buried in landfills, and the remaining 33.8 million tons were “source reduced, recycled or composted.” At least a third of the 33.8 million tons was exported to overseas markets.

Last year, according to CalRecycle, the overseas shipping of recyclables created 2.1 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.

In 2011, California adopted a law that set a statewide goal of 75 percent recycling by 2020. But it’s not happening. CalRecycle reported in August that California’s overall disposal—garbage that goes to landfills—increased in 2016 for the fourth consecutive year.

Why? Some of the factors cited by CalRecycle include “relatively low disposal costs, declines in global scrap values for recyclable commodities, and limited in-state infrastructure.” The agency also blamed “increased consumption” resulting from an improving economy.

That should be good news, but CalRecycle isn’t happy.

“Even as California continues to push towards new and more aggressive recycling targets, CalRecycle has not seen a meaningful decrease in the total amount of disposal since 2009,” the agency lamented.

California’s recycling rate has fallen from 50 percent in 2014 to 47 percent in 2015 to 44 percent in 2016. That’s the lowest rate since the 75 percent goal was established in 2011.

CalRecycle says the only way we’re going to hit the 75 percent target is if more than half of the solid waste that is currently disposed is “source reduced, recycled or composted.”

But how?

In its August report, CalRecycle suggests …

Click here to read the full article by the L.A. Daily News

olumnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, “How Trump Won.”

The #NeverTrump Crowd Owes President Donald Trump An Apology

donald-trump-3Before launching into this piece I know wonderful conservatives who are part of the #NeverTrump ideologues. I also have close, personal friends – even mentors – who are still part of this movement; but now for the good of the country, California and professional reputations I implore all of you to let prudence be your guide. Stop your continued misguided, ridiculous and frankly embarrassing behavior and admit he is a great, conservative president who actually stands up and fights for what is best for the United States and California.

Let’s review what President Trump accomplished in one week. He got Judge (now Associate Justice) Neil Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court, and according to Senator Tom Cotton (a former member of the 101st Airborne, served in Iraq and Afghanistan), “Restored America’s credibility in the world,” after striking Syria over their chemical weapons attack. Senator Cotton further remarks:

“It’s also telling that the strikes in Syria occurred while President Trump dined with President Xi Jingping of China since the president has repeatedly expressed his concerned about North Korea and expects China to restrain Pyongyang.”

No fan of President Trump, Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, echoed the same sentiments as Sen. Cotton, that Trump understands the rough and tumble world of international diplomacy. He one-upped President Xi by making him wait an hour for his arrival at their recent summit the same way Ronald Reagan first greeted Gorbachev on a cold winter day wearing only a suit while Gorbachev was bundled in a heavy top coat and scarf. Trump understands what Obama didn’t, and the Chinese have begun changing their behavior after the summit, when it was reported by Reuters that China is turning back North Korean coal (North Korea’s main export) from their docks.

“But wait,” the #NeverTrump crowd will say, “Donald Trump is an ally of Putin and aligned himself with his crude behavior against American interests by wanting normalized relations with Russia.”

Sen. Cotton takes issue with that line of reasoning from the #NeverTrump crowd when he further stated in an op-ed for the New York Times (not the biggest President Trump fans by the way):

“Russia’s geopolitical standing has taken a severe blow. Mr. Putin was powerless to protect his client in Damascus. Moscow now faces a Hobson’s choice of empty words of condemnation or escalation on behalf of a global pariah, which risks further American action. After years of Russian aggression being met by empty American words, now Mr. Putin finds his credibility at stake.”

Or, as my former graduate school professor Victor Davis Hanson recently opined about “redline threats” in a brilliant article titled, “Ancient Laws, Modern Wars,” when smaller nations (Russia, China, North Korea, Iran) believe deterrence is nothing more than hollow words – which the former administration gave the U.S. and the world – then wars such as World War I are the outcome. Words need forcible actions and this president and his secretary of state are proving that on a daily basis.

Even a former high-ranking Obama administration official despaired over the moral depravity and ineptitude of her former colleagues and boss who knew chemical weapons were still in Syria, lied about it anyway, and did nothing to stop this latest chemical attack – except having the Treasury Department:

“Quietly introduce last minute treasury sanctions against Syrian officials involved in chemical warfare. Assad in particular.”

In other words, President Obama’s administration, led by former Secretary of State John Kerry (Kerry said, “100 percent of chemical weapons are out of Syria”), knew Putin and Russia had done nothing about Assad’s chemical weapons, continued the myth, or are such gross incompetents they had no idea that Putin’s government didn’t keep their promises to remove Assad’s chemical weapons.

That would mean the 16 U.S. government intelligence agencies, “that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and the nationals security of the United States,” never spoke with, wrote a memo of, or even had an underling relay that information (chemical weapons still exist in Syria) to President Obama, his national security team (led by Susan Rice), or former Secretary Kerry.

But the Republican purists and #NeverTrump crowd will still argue and debate President Trump’s merit as a leader, policymaker and how he isn’t presidential enough for their liking. As Dennis Prager articulates in a recent column: “Purists Kill Whatever They Believe In,” whether health care reform (Obamacare is still law costing hundreds of billions in taxes, wages and premiums), no hope of tax reform (also costing hundreds of billions), or not having the ability, reasonable level of competency and skill to actually govern, which purist Republican are demonstrating right now in California and the U.S. Congress.

Why wouldn’t he go to Twitter to bash his own party and the press? Given the above example does any reasonable person believe he will receive fair coverage by the press and his own party at this time?

Ironically, his tweets of Sweden being overrun by terrorist-immigrants and President Obama spying on him have more truth than falsehoods to them. Read Eli Lake’s piece in Bloomberg on Obama officials spying on Trump transition team members where NSA Susan Rice was behind breaking the law and high-ranking national security officials (Deputy Defense Secretary Evelyn Farkas) admitted to spying on the incoming administration along with high-ranking officials from the National Security Council, Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA.

But Trump is a buffoon and un-presidential, correct? Now the Swedish Prime Minster has said, “His country will never go back to the days of mass immigration,” after the failed asylum seeker (who launched the recent Swedish terrorist attack) was let in Sweden without being vetted. The #NeverTrump crowd and Republican purists owe President Trump their deepest gratitude for their safety, because he doesn’t seem so wrong after all – now does he? And whom do you trust – the eloquent, former law school professor or the rough and tumble real estate developer?

Yet Republican policymakers are still blaming President Obama while not working with Trump for their inability to pass any of the above changes. This was confirmed by Congressman Frank Lucas (R-Ok.) to Politico when he said, “Clearly President Obama gave us a common focus. Now that he’s gone, we have to govern.”

Congressman Lucas and his ilk should be voted out of office. Either govern or at least support the president, because members like Congressman Lucas and California State Republican Senator Anthony Cannella are killing the Republican Party while making the case for the continuation of leftism perpetuated by the Democratic Party.

Using the reasoning that the enemy of the good is the perfect, here are a few questions for the #NeverTrump crowd: Who else was going to beat Secretary Clinton? I voted for Cruz and supported Rubio wholeheartedly until he dropped out of the race, but if it weren’t for Trump in Florida, Rubio loses, to the detriment of Florida and the country. Were Drs. Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson wrong for supporting Trump? Are they stupid, unwise, without domestic or international knowledge or simply non-prudent bumpkins? Not hardly.

Final question for The National Review and The Weekly Standard folks and California policymakers who didn’t support Trump, and still lost: After your high-priced and overpaid columns, speeches, lectures, luncheons, dinners, conferences, radio and television appearance along with week long cruises around the world, where you are all speak and no action, what would you have done if Hillary Clinton had won and the Democrats were in control?

Because for 99.9 percent of the world under assault from the U.S. and California Democratic Party over social issues (abortion, gay marriage – support it or else – transgender rights – also support it or else, and global warming – unfortunately, support it or else) not to mention the disaster that is taking place around the world echoed by Victor Davis Hanson and for California, written extensively by Joel Kotkin over its forthcoming financial and societal meltdown there are few options over our intrusive, leviathan government. What are your answers? As opposed to we hate Trump’s tweets and he isn’t Reagan?

Trump is confronting Russia, China, North Korea and Iran the way Reagan confronted Russia. Secretary Tillerson is exactly what is needed to deal with those four bastard countries. The day of niceties red-reset buttons with Russia are over.

Here’s what today’s Democrats are giving us: Higher taxes, horrible racist, crime-infested cities, poor infrastructure, failing universities and public education, higher taxes, global warming policies costing trillions and most Republicans go right along with it like lambs to the slaughter. Is it any wonder the country elected Trump? Paradoxically, these same Republicans and the #NeverTrump crowd still haven’t repealed Obamacare, cut taxes or begun rebuilding the military – it’s been Trump – and it’s why you owe him an apology. Begin working with him, and start preparing for the foreign policy disaster that is coming our way when California implodes and China/North Korea, Russia or Iran attacks us.

Todd Royal is a geopolitical risk and energy consultant based in Los Angeles.

The Unintended Geopolitical Consequences of Abortion

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 24: Tens of thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators march along Constitution Avenue toward the Supreme Court during the March for Life January 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. The annual march marks the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by the court that made abortion legal in the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Using moderate counts of worldwide abortions there have been over 1.2 billion babies aborted since 1980. This works out to approximately one death by abortion for each second of the year. Seemingly there’s no comparison to the efficiency of ending human life than abortion. Murderous regimes, plagues and even the HIV-AIDS virus, which has ravaged mankind, all pale in comparison to abortion. Nothing equals abortion for having the geopolitical and social ramifications for nations and regimes. The extreme impact is now being seen globally.

As an example, take the low birth rates in countries such as Germany, Japan and Russia. These countries are below the replacement level, and their diminished birth levels, not counting abortion into the mix, are 1.5 babies or lower. These developed nations, and the United States, have older citizens retiring at rapid rates in places like Southern California and other affluent areas worldwide. California isn’t having babies anymore, and that is a direct affect of polices popularizing abortion. No American state is more pro-abortion than California, and the results are disastrous for the United States, and its geopolitical standing in the world.

Popular entitlement programs, such as the U.S. Social Security system, are in danger of insolvency, as populations shrink via lower birth rates and abortions. The issue becomes having less people working and paying taxes into these programs, and abortion is a major factor towards these issues.

European nations have to let in immigrants – they don’t have a choice – Europe is literally withering away. Immigration in Germany and Japan is needed to boost productivity, maintain the current size of the population, and provide youthful infusion into their societies. If wealthy nations want to compete in global economics, they have to let in all sorts of immigrants, refugees and anyone who will work, no matter the circumstances. Germany in 2015 let in one million immigrants, while Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the U.K., also need more, not less immigration. Europe’s largest economy, Germany is projected to shrink by over 6 million workers by 2030. Europe is looking at a direct threat to economic growth, pension stability, single-payer healthcare and basic social services.

Add abortion into the mix with low replacement rates, and the makings of a geopolitical disaster looms on the horizon. Nowhere has abortion affected world economies and geopolitical rumblings more than China’s one-child policy, which it has finally renounced. Though the disastrous, emotional trauma still lingers, a policy that supposedly made sense at one time, has now proven an albatross around the Chinese and world economy’s neck.

Deng Xiaping’s move to limit population growth allowed China to focus more on industrialization, or so the theory went, but according to the United Nations, China has one of the slowest population growths in the world while aging exponentially. China doesn’t have enough youth, and young adults to overcome the amount of aging and infirmed in China, which is causing their economic expansion to rapidly halt. And that means trouble for the developed and developing world economies that rely on China being a fully integrated economic partner. Not an interloper of old age stagnation.

China has averaged over 13 million forced abortions a year since the one-child policy began in 1978 and now has over 30 million more male bachelors than women. The geopolitical question to answer is what does China do with disgruntled men who will have a hard time finding wives, starting families and living under a slower economy? If China even has a portion of the Middle East’s problems associated with male disgruntlement, then the world could be looking at disasters it hasn’t grappled with since World War II. China will have 60 million fewer people under the age of 15, because of their one-child policy. That’s the size of Italy – just one portion of abortions in China – has lessened the population more than a major European country.

Russia is another problem for the world. Their high ranking of abortions versus live births could have something to do with their foreign and domestic policy now being a global geopolitical headache. In 2008, Russia had equal number of births to abortions, and their demographic replacement rate is also dropping to insufficient levels according to the Russian Health Ministry. It can be argued that Russia is invading neighbors, because they are a dying country that needs the people and resources; by whatever means necessary.

Bolshevik rule implemented a public abortion culture the devalued human life, and it is now costing Russia dearly. Birth control can cost more than abortion procedures in Russia, and the ripple of Bolshevik population control policies have come to fruition. A 2013 U.N. report revealed Russia had 37.4 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44. This was the highest figure of any country in the report.

A failed U.S. policy of resetting with Russia against the backdrop of NATO leaders recently meeting about a galvanized Cold War adversary should cause the world to take action against abortion. As Russia continues to arm itself with updated nuclear weapons and weaponry this should also give pause to anyone who cares about world stability and peace. But when your population is dying from an atheistic, birth-control policy, then Russia has to do something; invade neighboring sovereign nations, put Russian warships and fighter jets in close proximity to NATO military hardware, or attack a U.S. diplomatic official at the door of the American embassy in Moscow. Nothing is out of the question when you are aborting your future citizens at alarming, irreplaceable rates.

World leaders question why Putin is building up his nuclear triad, and armed forces, instead of working with the world community for greater economic gain and integration. Neocons would see weakness on the part of the U.S. as the issue, whereas western, social democrats find the root cause residing from the fact that Putin lives in a non-civilized existence.

While both reasons are correct, could it not be argued that abortion ravaging a population has caused the Russian leader to look elsewhere for the next generation of Russians? If abortion continues its destructive path among Russian women, then we could only be witnessing the beginning of Russia’s geopolitical adventures across the globe.

The most serious problem that overtakes Europe, Russia and China is the United States where the U.S. has aborted over 59 million babies since Roe v. Wade. The world’s largest economy and traditional defender of freedom now has a declining fertility rate, even with a stronger economy. Traditional U.S. people-groups who have usually had larger replacement rate (defined as 2.1 children per woman for population stability), Hispanic women are no longer true. No group’s fertility has fallen faster in a particular demographic group in the past 25 years. The U.S. should be producing babies at a faster rate than during the recession, but according to the University of New Hampshire, 3.4 million fewer births have taken place since 2008. Fifteen percent fewer children have been born since 2007 in the U.S., and that is a catastrophe.

The United States is now becoming Germany, and other low-birth rate European countries, as we are opening the floodgates to immigration that has never taken place in American history. Opening the U.S. to unstable areas such as Central America, drug-lord-ruled Mexico, the Middle East, East Asia and Africa for new immigrants, because of high abortion rates and low replacement rates will change the United States’ geography, politics, military preparedness and economic future.

Things are becoming so dire that according to ASPCA there are now 43 million households with dogs whereas in 2014 there are only 33 million American households with their own children.

Syndicated columnist Joel Kotkin puts it best about the future of American society when he writes:

“Without a strong familial structure the United States will be facing a rather grim future, as an expanding older population grows ever more dependent on a shrinking base of young working-age people. In the 1980s the Reagan boom benefited from demographics that had more workers than retirees – no such expansion may even be possible today.”

Now imagine if the U.S. had even half of the 59 million aborted? Would the same things about our economic future and demographics be contemplated – probably not – because more than likely – the numbers wouldn’t be so grim. Abortion will be the geopolitical game-changer in the coming decades, because of the United States. Yet greens and environmentalists such as Bill McKibbon believe in smaller families and more, not less abortion, as a way to save the planet.

This small, even childless future is their ideal-shibboleth, because these unwanted children only represent themselves as carbon emitters. Kotkin also calls men like, McKibbon, and Gov. Jerry Brown, “the green clergy, or clerisy,” in their attempts to limits families and do away with single family homes; which are best suited for raising children, in favor of high-density apartments for the masses. Believers in this doctrine (the U.S. Democratic Party’s platform – see page 19), Al Gore, and most left-leaning environmental organizations should be discredited and thrown out into the dustbin of history for their policies that favor killing helpless babies.

But nowhere has abortion killed an entire generation of people the way it has black Americans. This group of Americans is being slaughtered by abortion when you consider they make up only 12 percent of the U.S. population while accounting for almost a third of total abortions. One out of two black women choose an abortion over keeping the baby, and “a black baby is five times more likely to be killed in the womb than a white baby.” There have been over 16 million abortions since Roe v. Wade, which has caused a 36 percent reduction of the black population. In places such as New York City, and other large metropolitan areas, black babies are being aborted at a faster pace than being born.

Putting this into perspective there have been roughly 1,100 blacks killed by police officers in the last 10 years, yet abortions kill over 2,000 black babies every week. In 2015, police killed 300 black people, yet abortions wipe out that many black babies in one day. Certain African-American inspired political movements continue to stay silent about abortion, and even support the process vehemently, when enough black babies have been killed to fill over 200 football stadiums across America. But somehow law enforcement is evil, and the problem in black communities, yet the facts tell another story.

We have wiped out decades of Booker T. Washingtons, Michael Jordans and Robert L. Johnsons while black men and women overwhelmingly support the U.S. Democratic Party that advocates for the wholesale destruction of babies that America, and the world needs.

This abortion crisis, which has merged into a low-birthrate-immigrant-catastrophe will haunt and eventually overrun some of the world’s greatest cultures unless countries such as the United States, Russia, China and all of Europe begin to outlaw abortion and value children. Syria and North Africa immigrants alone will change Europe into something Saladin dreamed of, but never achieved without ever firing a shot. Abortion has changed everything for the worse.

It has become fashionable to ignore problems, and believe they will go away, but abortion is changing demographics and cultures in unimaginable ways. But it has to be remembered that the U.S., and Europe in particular, need low-skill, low-income, immigrants and migrants from the developing world to replace our weakened Christian foundations that has allowed abortion to flourish. Despite widespread opposition by electorates across the globe from unfettered immigration, it doesn’t matter what they say or vote, because the developed world needs the people, even if they come from the daily chaos of their developing nations.

Economic engines in Europe (Germany in particular), the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia and even Singapore will grind to a halt without immigrants and migrants from countries that produce children and have lower abortion rates. If abortion continues under current projections then 99 percent of the world’s growth will take place in despondent countries, which leaves the future of the developing world bleak at best. This crisis of abortion is a clarion call to save black babies, save babies worldwide, and save storied countries who are literally dying as each day passes, because of abortion.

The Type of Prosperity California Ought to Show the World

As reported earlier this month in the Los Angeles Times, California policymakers are expanding their war on “climate change” at the same time as the rest of the nation appears poised to re-evaluate these priorities. In particular, California’s Legislature has reaffirmed the commitment originally set forth in the 2006 “Global Warming Solutions Act” (AB 32) to reduce the state’s CO2 emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Just exactly how California policymakers intend to do this merits intense discussion and debate. As the Los Angeles Times reporter put it, “The ambitious new goals will require complex regulations on an unprecedented scale, but were approved in Sacramento without a study of possible economic repercussions.”

At the risk of providing actual quantitative facts that may be extraordinarily challenging for members of California’s Legislature, most of whom have little or no formal training in finance or economics (ref. California’s Economically Illiterate Legislature, 4/05/2016), the following chart depicts data that helps explain the futility of what California’s citizens are about to endure:

CALIFORNIA ENERGY CONSUMPTION, POPULATION, GDP, AND CO2 EMISSIONS
Comparisons to the rest of the USA, China, India, and the world

california-energy-consumption

(For links to all sources for this compilation, scroll down to “FOOTNOTES”)

The first row of data in the above table is “Carbon emissions,” column one shows California’s total annual CO2 emissions including “CO2 equivalents” – bovine flatulence, for example, is included in this number – expressed in millions of metric tons (MMT). As shown, in 2014 (the most recent year with complete data available) California’s CO2 emissions were down to 358 MMT. That’s 73 MMT lower than 1990, when they were 431 MMT. While this is a significant reduction, it is not nearly enough according to California’s state legislature. To hit the 40 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2030, CO2 emissions still need to be reduced by another 100 MMT, to 258 MMT. That’s another 28 percent lower than they’ve already fallen. But California is already way ahead of the rest of the world.

As shown on row 8 of the above table, California’s “carbon intensity” – the amount of CO2 emissions generated per dollar of gross domestic product – is already twice as efficient as the rest of the U.S., twice as efficient as the rest of the world, more than three times as efficient as China, and nearly twice as efficient as India. We’re going to do even more? How?

A few more data observations are necessary. As shown, California’s population is 0.5 percent of world population. California’s GDP is 2 percent of the world GDP. California’s total energy consumption is 1.4 percent of world energy consumption, and California’s CO2 emissions are 1 percent of the world’s total CO2 emissions.

These stark facts prove that nothing Californians do will matter. If Californians eliminated 100 percent of their CO2 emissions, it would not matter. On row 1 above, observe the population of China – 1.4 billion; the population of India – 1.3 billion. Together, just these two developing nations have 70 times as many people as California. The per capita income of a Californian is four times that of someone living in China; nine times that of someone living in India. These nations are going to develop as much energy as they can, as fast as they can, at the lowest possible cost. They have no choice. The same is true for all emerging nations.

So what is really going on here?

If California truly wanted to set an example for the rest of the world, they would be developing clean, safe, exportable technologies for nuclear power and clean fossil fuel. Maybe some of California’s legislators should take a trip to Beijing, where burning coal generated electricity and poorly formulated gasoline creates killer fogs that rival those of London in the 1900’s. Maybe they should go to New Delhi, where diesel generators supplement unreliable central power sources and raise particulate matter to 800 PPM or worse. Maybe they should go to Kuala Lampur, to choke on air filled with smoke from forests being incinerated to grow palm oil diesel (a “carbon neutral” fuel).

According to the BP Statistical Review of Global Energy, in 2015, renewables provided 2.4 percent of total energy. Hydroelectric power provided 6.8 percent, and nuclear power provided 4.4 percent. Everything else, 86 percent of all energy, came from fossil fuel. In the real world, people living in cities in emerging nations need clean fossil fuel. So they can breathe. Clean fossil fuel technology is very good and getting better all the time. That is where investment is required. Right now.

Instead, purportedly to help the world, California’s policymakers exhort their citizens to accept a future of rationing enforced through punitive rates for energy and water consumption that exceed approved limits. They exhort their citizens to submit to remotely monitored, algorithmic management of their household appliances to “help” them save money on their utility bills. Because supposedly this too averts “climate change,” they restrict land development and exhort their citizens to accept home prices that now routinely exceed $1,000 per square foot anywhere within 50 miles of the Pacific coast, on lots too small to even put a swing set in the yard for the kids. They expect their citizens to avoid watering their lawns, or even grow lawns. And they will enforce all indoor restrictions with internet enabled appliances, all outdoor restrictions with surveillance drones.

This crackdown is a tremendous opportunity for a handful of high-technology billionaires operating in the Silicon Valley, along with an accompanying handful of California’s elites who benefit financially from politically contrived, artificial resource scarcity. For the rest of us, and for the rest of the world, at best, it’s a misanthropic con job.

The alternative is tantalizing. Develop clean fossil fuel and safe nuclear power, desalination plants, sewage recycling and reservoirs to capture storm runoff. Loosen restrictions on land development and invest in road and freeway upgrades. Show the world how to cost-effectively create clean abundance, and export that culture and the associated enabling technologies to the world. Then take credit as emerging nations achieve undreamed of prosperity. With prosperity comes literacy and voluntarily reduced birthrates. With fewer people comes far less pressure on the great wildernesses and wildlife populations that remain, as well as fisheries and farmland. And eventually, perhaps in 25 years or so, renewables we can only imagine today, such as nuclear fusion, shall come to practical fruition.

That is the example California should be showing to the world. That is the dream they should be selling.

Ed Ring is the vice president of policy research for the California Policy Center.

FOOTNOTES

Population
World Population Clock:
http://www.worldometers.info/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependencies_by_population
Directorate-General of the European Commission:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurostat
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_Union_member_states_by_population
US Census Bureau – California:
http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/06

Carbon Emissions
U.S. Energy Information Administration:
http://www.eia.gov/state/rankings/?sid=CA#series/226
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:
http://unfccc.int/ghg_data/ghg_data_unfccc/items/4146.php
http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=CO2ts1990-2014&sort=des9
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

Total Energy Consumption
BP Statistical Review of World Energy:
http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/en/corporate/pdf/bp-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2015-full-report.pdf
California per capita energy consumption:
http://www.eia.gov/state/rankings/?sid=CA#series/12

GDP
World Bank:
http://databank.worldbank.org/data/download/GDP_PPP.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)
US Dept of Commerce – Bureau of Economic Analysis:
https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/gsp_newsrelease.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_GDP

Note: There are only minor differences between the nominal US GDP and PPP (purchasing power parity) US GDP:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal). With other nations, such as China and India, however, the differences are significant. Using purchasing power parity GDP figures for comparisons yields ratios that more accurately reflect energy intensity and carbon intensity among nations. 

Paris Climate Conference a Chance for Jerry and Arnold to Blow Hot Air

It is axiomatic that California’s liberal political leaders would gather in Paris at this sensitive time – to discuss climate change.   And their assertions in Paris about their actual achievements in climate change in California will surely border on bombast.

News reports being put out by the governor’s office tout that California’s “hot” emissions have dropped 7 percent in the last 11 years. But that has nothing to do with Jerry and Arnold’s costly pee-wee war on climate change. The improvement has much more to do with increases in numbers of vehicles on the road that are meeting ever higher federal auto clean air standards, coupled with California’s decades-long stringent requirements on vehicle and fuel emissions. The fact is the air in Los Angeles today is 99 percent cleaner than it was in 1990 and there hasn’t been a smog alert in over 20 years. (The cleaner air today logically even calls into question whether California should continue to regulate the smell of baking bread, for example, under its current and dated clean air regulations.)

Yet none of the accomplishment in the Los Angeles basin will be touted, or has much of anything to do with the additional costly regulations that Jerry Brown will be talking about in Paris on the climate change issue. Jerry and Arnold and the other liberal California politicians will push their climate change policies as “taking a firehose” to the problem. The truth is more like a phrase attributed to William F. Buckley – California’s efforts here are like an “ant farting into a windstorm.” If there is a windstorm.

th-3If there is global carbon to be reduced, it comes from China, not so much California, and the Paris conferees would do a lot better for themselves to browbeat the Chinese communist leaders during the entire event, to adopt significant industrial pollution standards, than listen to what Jerry and Arnold have to say about California’s tiny contribution to the world global carbon “footprint” in comparison to China. It is hard to get reliable statistics about Chinese pollution, however, in 2007, the New York Times wrote, “Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party.” The article asserted that according to the Chinese Ministry of Health, industrial pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, that 500 million people in China were without safe and clean drinking water, and that only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union, because all of its major cities are constantly covered in a “toxic gray shroud.”

The Chinese pollution, according to the article, has spread internationally: sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides fall as acid rain on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo; and according to the Journal of Geophysical Research, the pollution even reaches Los Angeles. But even with the Chinese pollution coming our way, California’s environment has greatly improved over the last decades and it has little to do with Jerry Brown’s new intentions to levy even more consumption taxes on working and poor families, raising their cost of living, their utility bills, and the cost of basic necessities, for some sketchy sort of de minimus attack on global carbon. In the meantime Chinese pollution has certainly gotten worse.

Finally, it is simply a lie for Jerry and Arnold to say in Paris, as they will, that the new California carbon regulations have been implemented without hurting the state’s economy. In the same period these new carbon taxes have come online, California has seen significant increases in the cost of living, reduction in disposable income for average families, and the highest poverty rate in the nation for what looks to be three years running. California’s carbon taxes are making our poor, poorer. And that deserves much more focus than falsely premised victory laps in Paris.

Chinese Venture Looks to Connect L.A. and Las Vegas Via High-Speed Rail

xpress-west-1 trainFor bemused Californians, there’s another bullet train in town, thanks to the Chinese government.

More specifically, credit — $100 million worth — goes to China Railway International USA, a venture spearheaded by Beijing’s national railroad, China Railway. The consortium has ponied up funds for XpressWest, “the transportation arm of Marnell Companies, a gaming resort development firm,” as the Sacramento Business Journal noted.

Formerly known as DesertXpress, the company has labored to send a high-speed track toward Las Vegas since “at least 2007,” reported the Los Angeles Times.

According to Chinese officials cited by the Times, passengers would travel “a 230-mile route with an additional stop in Palmdale and eventual service throughout the Los Angeles area using some of the same track that would be used by the publicly backed California high-speed rail project.” Past plans envisioned a run of 185 miles alongside I-15.

The logic behind the idea drew from some straightforward numbers. “About one-quarter of Las Vegas’s 41 million visitors in 2014 came from Southern California, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, many via a several hour highway drive,” Quartz noted. Vegas has been without a passenger train since Amtrak shut down its Desert Wind line in 1997.

Logistical doubts

This  train, which would share track with California’s state-funded high-speed rail, has run into its own version of a problem plaguing that track: reaching Los Angeles proper. “The project has the approval to cover about 190 miles from Las Vegas to the California desert city of Victorville, about 100-mile drive northeast of Los Angeles. It hasn’t broken ground. The project still needs government permission to connect with Southern California’s population centers,” Fox News reported.

“The project currently lacks permission to connect with the state of California’s planned high-speed rail project at a station to be built in Palmdale, 50 miles west of Victorville. A mountain range and about 50 more miles separate Palmdale from downtown Los Angeles.”

Skeptics quickly emerged with unflattering questions about the logistical constraints that could be imposed by the train’s pathway and travel times. “Anybody in L.A. keen to drive to Victorville to pay $89 to take an 80 minute ride to Vegas on a high-speed train?” tweeted Bloomberg View’s Adam Minter.

Adding to the speculation, estimates emerged that the train would require far in excess of the $100 million the Chinese have so far made available. “China’s CRRC Corp’s unit along with its peers from China will implement the rail corridor project at an estimated cost of $5 billion,” the Venture Capital Post noted.

Marshaling support

As yet, American officeholders have remained cagey. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said he hadn’t learned any details about the plans. “But in 2009,” according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, “the XpressWest project drew a key supporter: U.S. Sen Harry Reid, D-Nevada. ‘Senator Reid has been a cheerleader on this project for many years,’ Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said Thursday. ‘He’s glad to see this progress and remains committed to assisting as needed.’”

And the Chinese government appears to have a firm interest in seeing the project to completion. Beijing created CRRC with the specific purpose of throwing the country’s considerable industrial weight around in foreign territories. “The merger of China’s two largest state-owned rail equipment makers has created an industry behemoth, second only to General Electric in size, that will be competing aggressively for projects across Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America,” Quartz observed. “China, once a major importer of rail technology, wants to be a world leader in high-speed rail, with projects that span the globe, focusing especially on emerging markets.”

But growth in the U.S. has also been marked as a priority. An employee of the conglomerate told Caixin online that the company “views China Railway International USA an important part of its plan to expand abroad.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

CA Epicenter of National ‘Anchor Baby’ Debate

Anchor BabyRepublican presidential candidates were drawn deeper into the immigration controversies centered on California, as Donald Trump’s leading opponents sought a way to blunt his apparent advantage among voters with his tough talk on birthright citizenship and deportation.

The numbers game

Clarifying his stance, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski recently took to CNN to criticize the current population of so-called anchor babies.

“If you think of the term ‘anchor baby,’ which is those individuals coming to our country and having their children so their children can be U.S. citizens,” he said. “There’s 400,000 of those taking place on a yearly basis. To put this in perspective, that’s equivalent of the population of Tulsa, Okla.”

Those numbers were immediately disputed, but not entirely discounted. According to Politfact, the figure cited by Lewandowski was “slightly exaggerated,” taking into account dipping rates of illegal immigration in recent years, and the difficulty involved in proving intent among unlawful immigrant mothers giving birth on U.S. soil.

So-called birth tourists, who use travel visas with the secret intent to have a baby delivered in the U.S., contribute to a much smaller fraction of ‘anchor babies,’ Politifact added — “around 8,600, or 0.2 percent of all births, in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

A growing problem

Nevertheless, the anchor baby story has gained steam this summer, reaching a broader audience than GOP primary voters. In a significant new report at Rolling Stone, Benjamin Carlson investigated Rowland Heights, a Los Angeles-area community with a reputation as “the center of Chinese birth tourism in southern California, if not the whole United States.” 

Several years ago, Carlson noted, “the county of Los Angeles opened an investigation into maternity hotels after receiving a deluge of public complaints,” although in the end “no new ordinance targeting maternity hotels was passed in the area. The task force decided that ‘complaints beyond the scope of local zoning powers’ would be referred to state and federal agencies.” According to estimates cited by Carlson, California has become the epicenter for many of the 10,000-60,000 Chinese tourist births the U.S. hosts per year. 

Campaign controversy

With the anchor baby story gaining national traction, several of Trump’s leading competitors for the Republican nomination appeared to size up the issue as a way to toughen up on immigration without undermining their credibility with pro-immigration constituents. Asked by Bill O’Reilly whether “the anchor baby law” is “destructive to the country,” Marco Rubiocalled the issue a “legitimate” one, as RealClearPolitics recounted. “I of course have read about how that happens in California, wealthy Chinese people are hedging their bets, in case something goes wrong in China they can come here,” he explained. 

Jeb Bush, meanwhile, allowed the term — seen by many Democrats and others as at least implicitly derogatory — to escape his lips in an interview. “Given Bush’s close connections to the Latino community — his wife is from Mexico, he speaks fluent Spanish, he’s written a book on immigration and he lives in the Miami area — it was surprising to hear Bush use the phrase,” CNN suggested. “But he defended his word choice, telling reporters the following day that he didn’t regret it.”

“‘What I said is that it’s commonly referred to that. I didn’t use it as my own language,’ he said. ‘You want to get to the policy for a second? I think that people born in this country ought to be American citizens.’”

Later, Bush attempted to clarify that his concern was closer to Rubio’s than Trump’s. “Frankly it’s more Asian people,” he suggested, urging critics to “chill out” about his phrasing, according to NBC News.

Choosing agendas

Conservatives have grappled over whether to frame birthright citizenship primarily as a question of immigrants’ potential upward mobility or the potential downward mobility they often believe government dependency fosters. “Inflation-adjusted figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that a child born in 2013 would cost his parents $304,480 from birth to his eighteenth birthday,” as National Review’s Ian Tuttle noted. “Given that illegal-alien households are normally low-income households (three out of five illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children live at or near the poverty line), one would expect that a significant portion of that cost will fall on the government.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Jones Act Ready for Retirement

 

Los Angeles PortNational defense needs have long been such an all-purpose excuse for protectionism that they may be the best illustration of Samuel Johnson’s aphorism that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

The products that have ridden defense coat-tails to special treatment make up a long, and long-standing, list. For example, in the U.S., they have included sugar, peanuts, candles, thumbtacks, gloves, umbrellas and many more common goods. One my particular favorites is mohair. After WWII, when our soldiers wore wool uniforms, assertions that we might be unable to supply enough mohair in future conflicts triggered subsidies beginning in 1954. Apparently we wouldn’t be able to fight effectively if uniforms weren’t itchy enough. Soon after, the military switched to synthetic fibers, displacing wool from the strategic materials list in 1960. But mohair production subsidies continued for thirty-five more years. And even when they were ended in 1995, lobbying brought the subsidies back a few years later.

While many such protectionism gambits are obvious jokes just waiting for economists to tell, there is one that would seem to merit special consideration. That is trying to build up a country’s fleet and its military capabilities by eliminating other countries’ ability to ship goods between domestic ports. One reason for giving that policy, imposed by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly called the Jones Act, more careful consideration, is that it has a pedigree of over three-and-a-half centuries. Perhaps more important is that its English predecessor had the endorsement of Adam Smith, usually known as a free trader, not a protectionist.

The Jones Act traces back to England’s 1660 navigation law “for the increase of shipping … wherein … the wealth, safety and strength of this kingdom is so much concerned.” It required that all shipping between British ports had to go in British-built ships with British owners. Parliament also required a three-quarters British crew. Those rules were a cornerstone of Britain’s mercantilist system whose burdens, along with those imposed by other restrictions, added impetus to the American Revolution.

Despite the policy’s role leading America toward independence, the U.S. Congress’ inaugural session enacted similar restrictions on coastal shipping even before adoption of the Bill of Rights. The restrictions are now codified by the Jones Act. Its rationale and terms — restricting trade between American ports to vessels built, owned and three-quarters manned by Americans — echo Britain’s navigation acts.

In Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith endorsed the British navigation acts, an endorsement that has been deployed since as inoculation against criticism of the Jones Act from backers of free trade and its strictly voluntary arrangements. Smith’s rationale for the exception was that “the defense of Great Britain depends very much upon the number of its sailors and shipping.” Consequently, “The act of navigation, therefore, very properly endeavors to give the sailors and shipping of Great Britain the monopoly of the trade of their own country.” Smith made it clear that it would restrict trade and the wealth it would create, but “As defense, however, is of much more importance than opulence, the act of navigation is, perhaps, the wisest of all the commercial regulations of England.”

Unfortunately, Smith’s high praise does not apply to the Jones Act. The circumstance that justified it does not apply to America now. And despite incredibly high costs, it does not add to American shipping, sailors or capabilities.

If the relevant choice was an all or nothing one between defense and opulence, there is no doubt that defense, when threatened by aggression, is more important than opulence. But it is a marginal choice, not an all-or-nothing choice. Given one’s current level of threats, readiness and consumption possibilities, added shipping restrictions could improve military readiness, but only by taking away from the goods and services citizens can exchange for their productive efforts in peaceful trade. The issue is how much value is added to readiness and how costly is it to achieve?

Smith’s endorsement of a policy to bolster naval defense is sensible only when that defense would be inadequate without such restrictions. If there were already sufficient defensive capability for the threats faced, the marginal value of expansion would be small. Smith argued that in England’s case, the threat faced from the Dutch (“the great carriers of Europe”), Britain’s main naval rival, justified more military strength. In fact, he noted that the navigation acts aimed to undermine the sea-power of the Dutch at least as much as to stimulate British sea-power. As Smith put it, “though England and Holland were not actually at war, the most violent animosity subsisted between the two nations.” In consequence, what justified the policy was warlike “diminution of the naval power of Holland, the only naval power which could endanger the security of England.”

In other words, Smith did not endorse the restrictions of the navigation acts as generally justified, but only justified by a serious, specific war threat. One might have made a case that America’s founding echoed such a situation, given its early weakness. But similar circumstances have not applied during most American’s lifetimes. They did not characterize America in the aftermath of WWII. They have not characterized America as the world’s dominant strongest naval superpower; particularly after Eisenhower’s warning that the military-industrial complex could be dictating far more defense production than can be justified. Yet, even without a plausible case for inadequate naval power, Jones Act restrictions have been retained.

One might consider burgeoning Chinese military sea-power to be a current analog. But restricting America’s coastal trade to American ships does not appreciably restrict Chinese sea-power, military or otherwise, given the tidal wave of goods their ships carry to America and other destinations around the world. Further, concern about potential naval military threats as a rationale for the Jones Act is inconsistent with the sharp drawdown taking place in the Navy fleet.

Beyond the question of a sufficient military threat, for the Jones Act to make any sense, it must produce benefits, increasing the number of American ships, sailors and construction capabilities. But it does not.

From 43 percent of global shipping in 1950, the Department of Transportation found in 2009 that “U.S.-flag ships carry only about 1.5 percent of the foreign trade of the United States.” The wider U.S. flag fleet lost half its tonnage capacity between 1975 and 2007.

Vessels meeting Jones Act requirements fell to 90 in 2014 from 193 in 2000. 110 tankers have become 43. Almost five times as many American ships now fly other flags to escape Jones Act burdens, even though it makes them ineligible for domestic shipping.

Even if the Jones Act had a positive effect on American shipping, it could do little for military production potential, as only one shipyard that builds the Navy’s primary vessels also builds commercial shipping vessels.

The Jones Act must also provide services that would be hard to acquire during hostilities and emergencies. But it does not.

The Department of Defense has stated that “Unfortunately, very few commercial ships with high military utility have been constructed in U.S. shipyards in the past 20 years. Consequently … nearly all of the [charter] offers are for foreign-built ships.” Similarly, in the aftermath of both Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, Jones Act restrictions were suspended because they hindered emergency response capabilities.

Despite no evidence that the Jones Act provides any expansion in shipping or defense capabilities, the only reason Adam Smith found justified such restrictions, its costs are substantial.

Ships meeting Jones Act restrictions may cost triple or quadruple those built in Korean or Japanese yards. Crewing expenses can be a similar multiple. Maintenance and repair costs are also far greater. One illustration of the result is that foreign-flagged tankers can transport oil for one-third the cost of American-flagged tankers.

The Jones Act doesn’t add to America’s naval or defense capabilities, rendering Adam Smith’s endorsement void. It has been accompanied by plummeting numbers of American-flagged ships and the trade they carry. It hinders rather than helps in mounting emergency operations. The military services it is supposedly makes possible are already provided more efficiently by foreign ships. And the costs are very high. It is time to end its nothing-for-something trade that only impoverishes us.

Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University.

Obama-China Global Warming Deal Already Running Into Trouble

What was hailed as an “historic” agreement between China and the United States to curb greenhouse gas emissions has broken down less than one month after it was announced.

China is already using its deal to cap greenhouse gas emissions as leverage to strong arm rich countries into spending $100 billion in “climate aid” to poor countries. Rich countries have so far only given $10 billion for climate aid — including $3 billion from the U.S. — which China says is not enough.

The “$10 billion is just one 10th of that objective,” and “we do not have any clear road map of meeting that target for 2020,” said Su Wei, China’s lead climate negotiator, according to Bloomberg. Su Wei added that global warming aid is “a trust-building process.”

“The significance of the China-U.S. announcement is that there’s a general understanding by the leaders of the two countries that climate change is a real threat,” Su Wei said. “A joint announcement does not necessarily blur the distinction between developed and developing countries. They announced their actions but that was in a different manner.”

Su Wei specifically targeted Australia’s conservative government for not giving any money towards international climate aid. So far the biggest givers of climate aid are the U.S. ($3 billion) and Japan ($1.5 billion).

“It is not good news [about] Australia, if it is true that they refuse to provide any money to the GCF,” Su Wei said, according to Reuters.

Last month, the Obama administration announced it had reached a deal with China to curb greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to fight global warming. President Obama promised to drastically speed up its greenhouse gas reduction plans, pledging cuts of 26 to 28 percent by 2025.

China, on the other hand, only promised to peak its emissions by 2030 — something which some energy analysts said was on track to occur even without a government pledge. China also promised to increase its share of non-fossil fuel energy sources to 20 percent of its power supply by 2030 as well.

Republicans criticized the announcement as being a “non-binding charade” that commits the U.S. to economically harsh cuts while China gets to keep emitting.

“In the President’s climate change deal, the United States will be required to more steeply reduce our carbon emissions while China won’t have to reduce anything,” said Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe, who will take control of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee next year.

“It’s hollow and not believable for China to claim it will shift 20 percent of its energy to non-fossil fuels by 2030, and a promise to peak its carbon emissions only allows the world’s largest economy to buy time,” Inhofe added.

China is the world’s largest user and producer of coal and the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter — the U.S. is the second-largest greenhouse gas emitter. But complaints about poor air quality in urban areas of the country have Chinese officials clamping down on some coal use.

Though after the agreement, China released a plan to limit coal use until 2020 and boost its use of natural gas and coalbed methane. Even under this plan, however, coal use will continue to grow.

“The share of natural gas will be raised to above 10 percent and that of coal will be reduced to under 62 percent,” according to China’s State Council. “Production of both shale gas and coalbed methane could reach 30 billion cubic meters by 2020.”

“Annual coal consumption will be held below 4.2 billion tonnes until 2020, 16.3 percent more than the 3.6 billion tonnes burned last year,” the State Council reports.

“China builds a coal-fired power plant every 10 days and is the largest importer of coal in the world. This deal is a non-binding charade,” Inhofe said. “The American people spoke against the President’s climate policies in this last election. They want affordable energy and more economic opportunity, both which are being diminished by overbearing EPA mandates.”

Su Wei did say that China would work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for every dollar of gross domestic product, reports Bloomberg. But his calls for emissions cuts were couched in calls for more climate aid to help developing countries adapt to global warming.

“We would redouble our efforts in terms of taking actions on climate change for the period up to 2020 and we would markedly reduce the carbon intensity,” Su Wei told reporters.

Su Wei’s remarks were made during the United Nation’s climate summit in Lima, Peru. The Lima conference is supposed to help set the stage for the next major summit in Paris, France in 2015 where diplomats will debate a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.

But questions over climate aid have derailed negotiations in the past and it’s unclear if that will be the case in 2015.

This article was originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.