Tax Hike Drives Millionaires Away From California

leaving-californiaAccording to new research released by Charles Varner, associate director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, California lost an estimated 138 high-income individuals following passage of the Proposition 30 income tax increase championed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and approved by Golden State voters in 2012.

This new research by Varner updates a previous paper released six years ago that looked at domestic migration to and from California following a 2004 income tax hike.

“One reason we wanted to update our previous paper is that this tax change in 2012 is the largest state tax change that we have seen in the U.S. for the last three decades,” Varner said.

Prop. 30 raised the state’s top income tax rate by more than 29%, increasing it three percentage points from 10.3% to 13.3%, which is now the highest state income tax rate in the nation. Prop. 30 also hiked the tax rate on income between $300,000 and $500,000 by two percentage points (a 21.5% rate increase), and raised the rate on income between $500,000 and $1,000,000 by three percentage points (a more than 32% rate hike).

In 2016, California voters extended the Prop. 30 income tax increases, which were originally scheduled to expire in 2019, until 2030. There will be an effort to extend those income tax hikes yet again prior to their expiration in 2030; book it now.

Varner’s new research examined taxpayers who were and were not hit by the Prop. 30 rate hikes. He found that in the two years before the Prop. 30 tax hike was imposed (2011 and 2012), net in-migration for both groups “was positive and roughly constant.” Yet following 2012 and the passage of Prop. 30, net in-migration dropped for households that were facing an effective tax increase of 0.5 percent or more. The reduction was greatest for households facing the highest effective tax hike, according to Varner and his coauthors.

This isn’t surprising for those who are familiar with other attempts to soak the rich with punitive state income tax hikes on high earners. Take what happened in Maryland after Martin O’Malley, the former Democratic presidential candidate and governor, imposed a millionaires tax hike a decade ago. …

Click here to read the full article from Forbes.com

Patrick Gleason is vice president of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform, and a senior fellow at the Beacon Center of Tennessee. Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PatrickMGleason

Beware of the ‘Woke’ Tech Oligarchs

Mark ZuckerbergOnce the rich protected themselves by aligning with Republicans who would protect their property from high taxes and their firms from regulation.

Some still do — notably the Koch brothers — but this breed of right-winger is gradually losing out to more progressive tilted plutocrats. In 2016, according to Open Secrets, three of the four largest billionaire political donors — hedge fund manager James Simon and his wife Marilyn, Michael Bloomberg, and currency speculator George Soros — titled progressive. This reflects a broader social trend.

Overall the GOP continues to slightly outpace Democrats among the ultra rich, but most of the big conservative donors such as Charles and David Koch, Sheldon Adelson, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, Rupert Murdoch, and Irvine Chairman Don Bren are well into their seventies or in their eighties. The trend belongs, clearly, to the progressives. Between 1980 to 2016, support for Democrats from the 0.1 percent has tripled, and donors in the nation’s wealthiest ZIP codes overall now give more to Democrats than Republicans.

Take Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican of convenience who last week announced he would invest $80 million into Democratic campaigns this fall before teasing, yet again, a possible presidential run of his own. Bloomberg’s usual causes are not those of traditional social democracy — after all this is the guy who proclaimed what New York really needed was more billionaires, and who beta-tested in New York City the businessman-as-better-political-leader pitch he then watched with dismay Donald Trump take all the way to the White House — but issues less threatening to the plutocracy, such as climate change and gun control.

The buyout of mainstream progressivism has changed its nature. Big donor-driven candidates — who still dominate the party’s leadership ranks, even as small-donor powered insurgents like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez test that arrangement, at least in low-turnout elections — are less concerned with the fate of auto or communication workers than they are with issues of environmental regulation, identity, and culture.

Facebook President Sean Parker, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Salesforce.com Chairman Marc Benioff, Mark Zuckerberg, and the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, are all relatively young men devoted to the progressive cause — at least those parts of it that don’t threaten their bottom lines.

The Trump Effect

With his horrendous comments and awful actions, Trump has accelerated wokeism among the wealthy and their minions. This oligarchic drift has been building for years, as wealth has shifted from traditional resource and manufacturing industries to software, media, finance, and entertainment. In sharp contrast to energy firms, home-builders, and farmers, the regulatory state does not threaten the bottom lines of these industries, as long as it refrains from breaking up their virtual monopolies.

Indeed, as researcher Greg Ferenstein suggests, the new oligarchs favor an active state that will subsidize worker housing or even a guaranteed minimum income, and keep their businesses off the hook for providing decent benefits to their ever expanding cadre of gig-economy serfs. He points out that the former head of Uber, Travis Kalanick, was a strong supporter of Obamacare and that many top tech executives — including Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk — favor a government-provided guaranteed annual wage to help, in part, allay fears about what happens to most of the workforce as their industries and jobs are “disrupted.”

Geography plays a role here as well. With the biggest concentrations of wealth now in the most “progressive” regions — the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and Seattle — moguls must operate in an environment dominated by fervent anti-Trump social-justice and green advocacy. Many big tech employees — nearly 40 percent in the Bay Area, by some estimates — are noncitizens, with little reason to be concerned about how the wealth in these corners is, or is not, spread across the nation.

So it’s no surprise that woke employees at Microsoft, horrified by the brutalism of Trump’s immigration policies, have decided not to cooperate with ICE. Not to be outdone, Amazon workers compare their company’s cooperation with immigration authorities to IBM’s collaboration with Nazi Germany. Similarly Google workers are refusing to help with drones used to combat terrorists, while Apple is actively working to make it difficult for police to break into phones used in committing crimes, including in the aftermath of the San Bernardino terrorist massacre.

So powerful, and self-referential, are these companies — and their highly compensated workers — that they are increasingly willing to deny even the idea of national interest when that does not suit their political notions. Unlike businesses that worry about competition or mass opinion, these oligarchic companies can demonize half of the country with impunity. At the end of the day, even Trumpians depend on these systems unless they want to look at Chinese alternatives.

The New Controllers

Since Trump’s election, many progressives have pushed the idea that we are on the cusp of a return to traditional authoritarianism, as portrayed in books like George Orwell’s 1984 or Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Yet the real model for future tyranny may be more that of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which portrays a society run by a biologically conditioned scientific and technological elite.

In Brave New World, the masters are not hoary Stalinoids or angry right-wing fundamentalists, but gentle, reasoned executives. The Controllers preside over a society where social classes are well-defined, and only those at the top — the Alphas — live in comfort. Families have been abolished except on reservations for misfits, and people widely enjoy access to pleasurable pharmaceuticals and unconstrained, commitment-free sex in the city.

Huxley’s future eerily resembles the one favored by the oligarchs, who are now paying women workers to freeze their eggs as they aim to create an elite Alpha class without children or property, to be serviced by the low-wage Deltas, Gammas, and Epsilons of Huxley’s world — bused in from the suburban fringes.

The Controller’s power, first and foremost, depends on implanting information. In Brave New World contrary ideas are dismissed not as breaking the party line but as simply absurd or even pornographic. Today’s woke oligarchs do much the same by controlling both information and culture. Bloomberg is a prime example but he’s a pauper compared to Bezos, the world’s richest man owning one of the nation’s most influential newspapers.

Tech sofa change in recent years also helped Mark Zuckerberg’s college roommate buy The New Republic, and run it into the ground before selling it. More recently Laurene Powell, the left-leaning widow of the late Steve Jobs (net worth $20 billion), scooped up The Atlantic for a nonprofit that will compete with more traditional competitors who still, sadly, have to make money.

Meanwhile, Google is promoting journalism by robots while also planning to invest $300 million in favored outlets. What could go wrong?

The Agenda

In the emerging regime, here’s what’s not important: personal autonomy and privacy. A controlled and woke society starts with access to people’s thoughts, something critical to the advertising-driven businesses of Google and Facebook and, increasingly, also to Apple and Microsoft. It’s important to remember what Google’s former Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt once told CNBC: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

The digital revolution, which had so much promise for democratizing information, appears to be hyper-concentrating media both geographically, on the coasts, and through pipelines controlled overwhelmingly by firms like Facebook, so that a change in policy there can undermine even established media, and Google, which controls over a thirdof all on-line advertising and a remarkable 90 percent of global search. As The Guardian recently put it: “If ExxonMobil attempted to insert itself into every element of our lives like this, there might be a concerted grassroots movement to curb its influence.”

These patterns are reinforced by students shaped by our ideologically homogeneous education system. The censorious instinct now intrinsic to universities, particularly the elite ones, shapes the thoughts of the highly educated workers critical to these companies. Controllers like those at Facebook increasingly seek to “curate” views, largely conservative, they don’t like, according to former employees. Often this censorship is being carried out under guidance developed by largely progressive groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has too often labeled anyone outside its ideological “safe space” as racist bigots. Over 70 percent of Americans, notes a recent Pew study, believe social media platforms “censor political views.”

Ultimately the oligarchs, reacting to their woke workers and constituency, seek a control over basic behavior in ways even the snoop-crazy Chinese would admire. Facebook already admits to having patented technology that would allow them to snoop on their users, although they deny using it. Netflix, the oligarchical company that by some estimates is now worth more than any of the movie studios, recently imposed controls over what people do on sets of movies they finance. That includes rules that ban asking for phone numbers of co-workers or even looking at people for more than five seconds, an innovation even more intrusive than those of Huxley’s Controllers.

Hypocritical Oaths

Stanley Bing’s recently released Immortal Life gives a riveting version of a near-future society shaped by our tech oligarchs. In his not-so-distant future, government has largely been replaced by a cabal of superannuated tech moguls — effectively Global Controllers — who shape societal views, implant devices in human brains, and dominate every aspect of the economy. Democracy hasn’t just been constrained; it’s been excised.

Right now the rising power of the Controllers has been obscured by the Trumpian counterrevolution, a peasant rebellion supported by a less than charming alliance of old economy moguls, angry white males, and more than few xenophobic racists. But over the long term, history is bending toward the woke oligarchy—particularly as the old generation conveniently dies off.

If these well-heeled progressives have a vulnerability, it’s their extreme hypocrisy. In California, the epicenter of the resistance and elite wokefulness, Silicon Valley oligarchs and their shrieky Hollywood counterparts are fervent in their embrace of progressive values. But, as a new report from Chapman University shows, the prevailing oligarch-friendly California economic agenda — hostile to suburbs, fossil-fuel energy, and manufacturing — has proven unequal and particularly damaging to minorities.

Not without reason has the maverick environmentalist Mike Shellenberger called California “the most racist” state in the union. Far from Malibu and swanky haunts of the cultural elites, the bulk of Los Angeles suffers among the highest poverty rates of any metropolitan areas. Cost-adjusted wages for middle-class workers, Latinos, and African Americans in Silicon Valley have actually dropped during the recent economic boom there.

Perhaps there’s no better illustration of hypocrisy than the Disney company. The once conservative bastion-turned-promoter of woke values has been led by Robert Iger, a fantastically well-compensated self-defined “progressive,” who has made much of denouncing President Trump’s immigration policy as “cruel and misguided ” and taking standard progressive positions on guns and the Paris accords. Yet, as Bernie Sanders has pointed out recently, Disney workers are generally poorly paid, many on the verge of poverty. Even middle-class workers have been given the shiv: The company infamously replaced its IT workers with outside contractors shipped in from India.

Against the Oligarchs

This unprecedented agglomeration of wealth and power needs to be opposed both by conservatives and traditional progressives. It won’t be easy. In the presidential run, The Washington Post took hard aim at Bernie Sanders before turning, albeit less successfully, against Trump. More recently Amazon and its minions forced Seattle’s progressives to back down from a plan to make the company pay more taxes. Majority Leader Charles Schumer opposes higher capital-gains rates, warming the cockles of venture capitalists and the new economic royalists, some of whom are his contributors.

Even on green issues, the famously pious oligarchs demonstrate remarkable levels of hypocrisy. These firms have bought enough allowances and built solar or wind facilities to claim “carbon neutrality.” But such offsets, as the new Chapman report reveals, mostly shuffle greenhouse gases around and don’t actually reduce global emissions. Apple keeps its California carbon footprint down by making all its products abroad, mostly in China — which ends up spewing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than if they built them here.

Ultimately the only way to stop the new Controllers and challenge their hypocrisy will be to meet them head on. Companies like Google need to be broken up, as many on both right and left agree. This position has even been adopted by the generally liberal Boston Globe which warned that, “Never ever in the history of the world has a single company had so much control over what people know and think.”

But it’s not just Google — which spends more on lobbying than any other private company—or Amazon, which has quadrupled its government spending since 2014. This relatively new focus on inside Washington influence-peddling, combined with their oversized influence on critical technologies, our media, and overall economic system makes these firms a threat to the pluralism essential to democracy, unlike any we have seen in the last century. Their vision presages a society where few work and a handful control the nation’s riches. To avoid a rebellion, the “redundant” are supposed to be paid off with some sort of government allowance.

Americans need to oppose this evolution and fight for the flourishing of a grassroots and more dispersed economy now, before the oligarchs brave new world is fully and finally here.

ditor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

This piece originally appeared on The Daily Beast.

Cross-posted at New Geography.

Taxpayer Victories in an Anti-Taxpayer California Legislature

CA-legislatureRonald Reagan once said, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” With a record $130 billion budget, we know that California state legislators are adept at all three practices, but none more so than taxes.

Democrats in Sacramento spent 2017 jamming three separate tax and fuel-cost hikes into law. They renewed the cap-and-trade program, continuing a multi-billion-dollar increase in fuel costs that brings in state revenue to fund high-speed rail. They invented a new tax on recorded documents that is supposed to fund affordable housing. And of course the SB 1 gas and car tax increase was said to be needed to fund road repair, even though billions of dollars have been diverted away from maintenance over the last decade. In the midst of an $8 billion surplus, Sacramento was steadily increasing taxes.

But fortunately, 2018 hasn’t been as dreadful for taxpayers as 2017. Here’s a sample of the proposals that, for now, have failed to pass:

Senate Bill 794 would impose a new three percent tax on fireworks at the point of sale. The abuse of illegal fireworks is a matter of statewide concern, and as such, it is totally appropriate to spend existing General Fund revenues on enforcement and safety. Instead, by taxing the sale of fireworks, Sacramento would be hurting all the non-profit organizations that raise a sizable share of their annual revenue from firework stands.

Assembly Bill 2497 would impose an as-yet-undefined tax on guns and ammunition to fund school resource counselors and police officers.

AB 2303 and AB 2560 would create a new tax of up to ten percent on small business vendors who contract out either with private prisons or with the California Department of Corrections.

Senate Bill 623 would establish a precedent-setting tax on residential water use. For now, local water agencies have joined with taxpayer advocates to vigorously fight this levy.

Assembly Bill 2486 would impose a $100 million tax on opioid manufacturers and distributors to fund prevention and treatment programs. Ultimately, this tax will be passed onto consumers, especially to patients who use opioids appropriately to manage pain. As an issue of statewide concern as well as a legitimate public health issue, opioid treatment should also be financed out of the General Fund. …

Click here to read the full article from the Riverside Press-Enterprise

Public-Employee Unions Maintain a Privileged Status

School union protestAs a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, teachers and other public employees in 22 states can no longer be compelled to pay “agency fees”—the money that the union claims it costs to represent them—as a condition of employment. A teacher in newly liberated California can now save $1,100 or $1,200 per year in fees that the union claimed were necessary to cover the cost of representing him in collective bargaining.

Unions are preparing to take a hit. In advance of the decision, which was widely expected, the California Teachers Association projected a loss of 23,000 members. The union also figures to lose revenue from 28,000 non-members who had quit the union but were forced to cough up the agency fees. In order to soften the financial blow, CTA has announced a per-teacher dues hike of $23 a year for the 2018-2019 school year, bringing teachers’ state dues to $700 annually. CTA’s parent, the National Education Association, bracing for a 10 percent loss in membership, is slashing its budget by $50 million and raising its per-teacher share of dues from $189 to $192.

But while teachers and other public employees are off the unions’ hook, the rest of us Californians are still paying. Taxpayers foot the bill for the collection of union dues, which local school districts deduct from a teacher’s monthly paycheck, just like federal and state withholding taxes. The school districts turn the money over to local teachers’ unions, which don’t pay a penny for the transactions. Simply put, the taxpayer is the bagman for the union. Some states are pushing back, however. A proposed bill in Louisiana would allow school boards to charge unions an administrative fee of up to 3 percent of the union dues.

That’s a start, but public unions remain financially formidable. All unions enjoy tax-exempt status with the IRS. The NEA took in $365.8 million in 2015, according to its most recent available tax return—just about all of it coming from taxpayer-supported teachers’ salaries. The CTA’s income was $183.1 million, per its latest return. In total, the NEA and its state affiliates take in about $1.6 billiona year in tax-free money, and that doesn’t include money paid to NEA locals, the American Federation of Teachers and its affiliates, or AFSCME, SEIU, and all the other public-employee unions. The numbers are staggering, and will remain so. The irony is that these unions persistently use their taxpayer-paid, tax-free money to lobby legislators to raise taxes.

To add insult to injury, a new bill in California would make union dues tax-deductible. “Californians, in effect, will collectively subsidize union dues,” reports the Pacific Research Institute. “The bill would cost taxpayers $250 million the first year, $170 million in 2019-20, and $180 million in 2020-21.” The bill has passed muster in the state assembly and is on its way to becoming law. On an ongoing mission to kill off charter schools and voucher programs, the teachers’ unions rail against “privatizers” who seek to profit from public education. But when it comes to a private entity making a killing from public education, the teachers’ unions have the market cornered.

Before, during, and after the Janus proceedings, public unions pumped out a steady stream of clichés, claiming that the court case represented an attempt to “rig the system,” “rig the economy,” and “rig the rules.” But what the Janusdecision really did was to bring a semblance of fairness to a system that the unions have been gaming for years. Now that Janus has freed public employees from union domination, taxpayers in California and elsewhere need emancipation from the same abusive special interest.

LAUSD Questioned Over Positive Reviews for Teachers at Struggling Schools

LAUSD school busA new study raises fresh concerns about the giant Los Angeles Unified School District and whether it shows good faith in its dealings with struggling schools in poor minority communities.

The Los Angeles-based Parent Revolution group, which focuses on improving education and increasing educational opportunities for poor minority students, analyzed 44 LAUSD schools with weak test scores last school year. At these schools, only 20 percent of students met or did better than state math standards and only 28 percent in English.

Yet last school year, 68 percent of teachers in these schools were not subject to official evaluations – either through oversight or via exemptions ordered by their principals. Of teachers who were evaluated, 96 percent were found to meet or do better than district performance standards. Over the past three school years, the figure edged up to 97 percent getting positive evaluations – meaning only about one in every 30 evaluated teachers is found wanting.

“We do see this in other districts, where almost everyone has a satisfactory rating and it’s disconnected from student achievement,” Seth Litt, Parent Revolution’s executive director, told the Los Angeles Times. “It shouldn’t be disconnected.”

The findings parallel those that emerged from the landmark Vergara v. California lawsuit, in which nine students from state public schools represented by civil-rights attorneys hired by the Students Matter group alleged five state teacher job protection laws were so powerful that they had the unconstitutional effect of keeping incompetent teachers on the job and funneling them toward schools in poor communities.

Evidence presented by the plaintiffs in the case showed that only 2.2 teachers on average are fired each year for unsatisfactory performance in a state with 275,000 teachers at its public schools.

The case’s primary focus was on Los Angeles Unified. In a twist that few expected, some of the most powerful testimony against the teacher protection laws came from then-LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy. He testified in early 2014 that even if a teacher were “grossly ineffective,” it could cost the district millions in legal bills to fire the teacher.

Later that year, state Judge Rolf Treu agreed with the plaintiffs that the five teacher protection laws unconstitutionally deprived the students of their right to a good public education. Treu likened the laws’ effects to those of segregation before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Treu’s decision was overturned on appeal on the grounds that the trial failed to clearly establish a factual nexus between student performance and the job protection laws.

3 state justices wanted to hear teacher tenure case

But education reformers were somewhat heartened by what happened next. Three members of the California Supreme Court wanted to hear an appeal of the appellate ruling, suggesting at the least some interest in Treu’s reasoning, which was mocked as novel and weak by attorneys for teacher unions. While they were voted down by the state high court’s other four justices, they could be a factor in future litigation.

As for Los Angeles Unified, litigation over school practices affecting minorities and high-needs students has been common for decades. In September 2017, for a recent example, the district reached a $151 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU over the improper diversion of Local Control Funding Formula dollars that were supposed to be used to help struggling students in poor communities, especially English-language learners.

LAUSD was also the target in 2010 of what a federal government statement called “the first proactive civil rights enforcement action taken by the Department of Education under the Obama administration” – prompted by what then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the district’s failure to adequately educate many Latino and African-American students. The case was settled in 2011 after the district agreed to make several substantial changes meant to improve these students’ performance.

But evidence presented in the Vergara case showed no subsequent gains by these student groups.

Los Angeles Unified has 640,000 students, making it by far the largest school district in California. Only the New York City school system, which has about 1 million students, is larger in the U.S.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Bay Area Has Become World’s 19th Largest Economy

sanfrancisco3The Economic Institute reported this month that the Bay Area would be the 19th-largest economy in the world, if it were a country, after growing at the fifth-fastest rate of any nation since 2014.

The Bay Area’s nine counties — including San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, San Mateo, Solano and Santa Clara — consistently grew faster than the U.S. over the last 20 years. With a GDP of $748 billion at the end of 2017, the Bay Area’s economy now exceeds that of Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

The Bay Area’s rate of growth, at 4.3 percent compounded from 2014 through 2017, was also about two and a half times faster than the 1.7 percent growth of the United States. Due to that persistent growth advantage, the Bay Area’s GDP per capita is almost $80,000, versus less than $55,000 in GDP per capita for the nation as a whole.

Bay Area employment grew slower than the U.S. economy from 2008 to 2011, but has recently ramped up. The fastest Bay Area job growth sectors in the Bay Area were healthcare. up 26 percent; professional and scientific professions, up 25 percent; accommodation and food industries, up 17 percent; and information technologies, up 14 percent.

Bay Area median wages in 2017 were the highest in the nation at $52,100, versus $50,300 for Boston and $39,800 for Los Angeles.

The Economic Institute credits the Bay Area’s highly educated population as a key competitive advantage. With a metropolitan area national high of 46 percent of resident adults over the age of 25 with a college bachelor’s degree, the Bay Area’s average educational achievement towers over the 31 percent average for the U.S.

Although the Bay Area is often referred to as Silicon Valley, the economy is broadly diversified, compared to New York, which is heavily concentrated in financial services and consumer goods. In addition to tech companies, the Bay Area is home to leading companies in financial services, consumer goods, and other sectors.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Stockton to test universal basic income plan

StocktonStockton, California, will soon become the first U.S. city to experiment with a universal basic income program, granting 100 residents $500 a month with no strings attached.

The project is being backed by Silicon Valley titan Chris Hughes, whose Economic Security Project gave $1 million toward the effort.

The goal, supporters say, is to ensure that the embattled city’s residents can stay out of poverty and the experiment is designed to assess whether or not the program could be rolled out on a wider scale.

“We’ve overspent on things like arenas and marinas and things of that sort to try to lure in tourism and dollars that way,” Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs explained, according to Fox News, believing that the model can be used to bolster quality of life in the struggling city – and others like it.

Stockton in recent years has been known as the “foreclosure capital” of the country and drew headlines in 2012 when it declared bankruptcy, becoming a flashpoint for Americans suffering during the Great Recession.

The concept of a universal basic income has gained traction in the Bay Area amid concerns that automation will increasingly displace workers. It’s been propelled by major CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, who argue that so-called “free money” may be a necessity as technological advances alter the labor landscape.

“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas,” Zuckerberg said in his Harvard commencement address in May 2017.

Other similar efforts have been rolled out in places like Finland, which announced in April that it was ending its trial run to explore alternative welfare programs instead. The full results will be disclosed next year.

While some experts argue that universal basic income can be a way to lessen poverty by creating a guaranteed income floor, others explain that such a framework is impractical given the current entitlement and welfare state.

“I would be in favor of this if it meant eliminating all other welfare programs and requiring work,” economist and Heritage Foundation fellow Steve Moore told CalWatchdog via email. “The only way out of poverty is a job not a government handout.”

Overall, the experiment will look at how the residents spend the money and the potential economic impact it could have on the city, something that the young 27-year-old mayor is optimistic about.

“We trust that people are smart and resilient to make the best decision for them and their families with the money,” Tubbs said in a CBS News interview back in February.

Stockton’s effort is expected to begin in early 2019.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

U.S. Justice Foundation: Trump Heralded for Kavanaugh Nomination

Brett Kavanaugh Donald TrumpPresident Donald Trump is being heralded for his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the United States Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the United States Justice Foundation, a nonprofit public interest, legal action organization, praised President Trump for Kavanaugh’s nomination, saying that he had delivered on his campaign promise to nominate well-qualified conservative judges that would faithfully follow the Constitution.

“Judge Kavanaugh is an outstanding choice with impeccable credentials,” said James Lacy, a former Reagan Administration General Counsel and a spokesperson for US Justice Foundation. “Judge Kavanaugh’s exceptional record makes clear: he follows the law and does not legislate from the bench.”

An All-American jurist, Kavanaugh currently serves on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where he has established himself as an effective and respected “judge’s judge”. Judge Kavanaugh is also considered mainstream by the legal community – with more than 210 judges citing just 100 of his insightful opinions.

“From the start of his career, he’s applied the Constitution faithfully, even when that made him a lonely voice,” author J.D. Vance wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “He has done so with particular tenacity on the issue that matters most to the president: taking power away from unelected bureaucrats and returning it to elected officials.”

Judge Kavanaugh: Well-Qualified, Respected by Both Sides of Aisle

Judge Kavanaugh’s strongest support will likely come from the legal community, which has praised him for his work to advance diversity and mentor young lawyers.

“Judge Kavanaugh is the #1 feeder judge of clerks to the Supreme Court. He sends clerks to almost all the justices, on both sides of the aisle — ‘a sign of the deep respect that his possible future colleagues have for him,’” David Lat, founding editor of Above the Law, wrote prior to his nomination.

When President George W. Bush nominated Kavanaugh for the U.S. Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh was initially rated “well qualified” by the American Bar Association. The organization eventually bowed to pressure from liberal special interest groups and downgraded Kavanaugh to “qualified.”

Chairman Steven Tober, then-chairman of the 14-member American Bar Association committee, affirmed that Kavanaugh was “indeed qualified to serve on the federal bench.”  “This nominee enjoys a solid reputation for integrity, intellectual capacity and writing and analytical ability,” he wrote. “The concern has been and remains focused on the breadth of his professional experience.”

After graduating with honors from Yale College in 1987, Judge Kavanaugh graduated from Yale Law School in 1990, where he was a Notes Editor on the Yale Law Journal. He clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, and Third Circuit Judge Walter Stapleton.

“Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s new nominee for the Supreme Court, is a whip-smart legal conservative,” National Review editorialized in support of President Trump’s selection. “As a judge in the highest-profile appeals court in the nation, he has shown an exemplary dedication to the rule of law.”

Precedent: Ginsburg Confirmed in 57 Days

Historically, the United States Senate has acted swiftly to confirm nominees of Kavanaugh’s caliber and qualifications. In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bill Clinton’s liberal choice to replace Justice Byron White, was confirmed in just 57 days and by a bipartisan 96-3 vote.

Democrats are unlikely to extend the same courtesy to Kavanaugh. According to a recent US Justice Foundation report, Democrats are politicizing the independent judiciary with excessive delays of a diverse cohort of judicial appointments.

“After a historic first year of reforming the judiciary, President Donald J. Trump’s supremely-qualified judicial nominees are now stuck in the swamp,” the USJF concluded in its June 2018 report, “America Needs Great Judges”. “Swamp politics are harming the American people by delaying the swift and independent administration of justice.”

Advice and Consent: Resistance Opposed Before Kavanaugh Finished Speaking

Under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the President “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law.”

 Yet, members of the anti-Trump Resistance are unlikely to faithfully uphold their constitutional obligations. It took California’s far left U.S. Senator Kamala Harris less than 20 minutes to announce her opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

“Trump’s Supreme Court Justice nominee, Judge Kavanaugh, represents a direct and fundamental threat to the rights and health care of hundreds of millions of Americans,” Harris tweeted minutes after Kavanaugh’s nomination. “I will oppose his nomination to the Supreme Court. #SCOTUSpick.”

An attack website, Stopkavanaugh.com, was registered anonymously on June 28 and had moved into full attack mode before Kavanaugh could even finish speaking at his nomination announcement. The website is funded by the far-left extremist special interest group, Demand Justice.

Other members of the left wing resistance expressed hope that Kavanaugh’s nomination could be derailed.

“The fluke of good fortune would be for Kavanaugh to turn out, over the course of hearings, to be such a fiasco of a choice that even Republicans would defect,” T.A. Frank, a Vanity Fair contributor, wrote. “Maybe Kavanaugh turns out to be in a cult that requires, say, punching horses in the face, and claims and counterclaims run for months.”

How to Replace the Gas Tax Law if its Repealed

gas prices 2Before the SB1 gas tax, fuel prices in California were already among the highest in the country with State excise taxes at the pump, and State sales tax at the pump, being among the highest in the country. With Californians also bearing the costs associated with compliance with various State environmental regulation laws, Californian’s are paying as much as $1 more per gallon than most folks in the country as all those costs trickle down to the consumer and are hidden within the posted price of fuel at the pump.

In November 2017, as a result of the SB1 gas tax that was passed by our legislature, but never approved by the voters, California’s base excise tax on gasoline went up 12 cents, increasing the total to 30 cents a gallon. Also, the diesel excise tax rose 20 cents, increasing it to 36 cents a gallon, with even more upward adjustments for inflation starting in 2020. The legislative bill SB1 for transportation Infrastructure funding has been projected to raise $52 billion over the next 10 years for infrastructure projects, and the recently passed Proposition 69 now protects the SB1 taxes just for infrastructure.

With the expected successful repeal of the SB1 gas tax in November, the real carrot will be next – a new initiative to REPLACE SB1. That next bill will designate that all current State excise taxes on fuels at the pumps, State sales tax on fuels at the pumps, and new car sales taxes, MUST all go to infrastructure, with NONE going to the general fund.

Fuels consumption for California’s 35 million registered vehicles in 2016, of which more than 90% were not Electric Vehicles (EV’s), was 42 million gallons per DAY of gasoline and 10 million gallons per DAY of diesel.  A total of 52 million gallons of fuel daily sounds like a lot of fuel, but it’s only about 1 plus gallons per day per vehicle, resulting in refueling requirements every week or two.

The California Energy Commission shows that California fuel consumption is at the highest level since 2007. The good news is that drivers’ are now using less fuel than they’ve used in the past, but the bad news is that new car sales have been in excess of 2 million per year over the last 3 years, that have been netting MORE vehicles each year onto existing roads to join the 35.3 million registered vehicles we had in 2016. New car sales for 2018 are projected to also exceed 2 million which will also net more registered vehicles.

Key features of the next new initiative, a REPLACEMENT bill that will add NO new transportation taxes at the pumps, to a repealed SB1, would be:

  • 100% Lock Box on Existing Gas Excise Taxes: The measure would dedicate 100% of the State excise and sales taxes on fuel at the pump, to road maintenance and improvement contracts (no staffing costs, it has to be actual concrete and asphalt!) Roads must be the only use for gas tax funds.
  • New Car Sales Tax: The measure would dedicate 100% of the existing sales tax on the purchase of new cars to regional infrastructure maintenance and expansion. Interestingly, State sales taxes on new car sales, which have been in excess of 2 million per year, has generated more than $20 billion of revenue for the State per year.
  • Efficiency Reforms: The measure would enact competitive bidding versus the current CALTRANS bureaucratic monopoly they now have on all projects, and other efficiency reforms to ensure that infrastructure funds are properly spent.

Voters never had a chance to vote on the SB1 tax, but voters will get a chance to vote on the replacement bill, The Road Repair Accountability Initiative –in a future election, once the gas tax hike is repealed this November. The replacement bill will provide more dedicated dollars for infrastructure per year, and every year thereafter, without any new fuel taxes at the pumps.

ounder of PTS Staffing Solutions, a technical staffing agency headquartered in Irvine

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Withdrawal of the Taxpayer Protection Act could haunt the American Beverage Association

TaxesBy now, political observers have heard how a series of negotiations in Sacramento resulted in three initiatives slated for the November ballot being withdrawn by their respective proponents. The blame (or credit, depending on your perspective) for these deals has been attributed to a 2014 bill authored by then-Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, which allows proponents to withdraw an initiative even after it has qualified for the ballot. It was believed that this reform would result in more compromises being hammered out with the Legislature on contentious issues.

One of the measures withdrawn last week was the Taxpayer Protection Act, which would have strengthened a number of existing constitutional provisions including the two-thirds vote for local taxes. While a broad coalition of business and taxpayer groups backed the measure, and even provided significant input into its drafting, the lion’s share of financial support came from the American Beverage Association.

Faced with massive opposition from local governments and public-sector labor organizations, ABA decided to strike a deal with the Legislature to prohibit any future local soda tax increases between now and 2030 in exchange for removing the Taxpayer Protection Act from the ballot. The decision may also have been based, at least in part, on the perception that other potential financial backers for the campaign would be focused on other initiatives on the November ballot.

Nonetheless, ABA’s decision to withdraw the measure in exchange for limited protection for a specific industry blindsided many interests in the Capitol, including taxpayer organizations which were excited for an opportunity to campaign for strong taxpayer protections in an absurdly high-tax state.

Whether the Taxpayer Protection Act would have passed will be the subject of speculation for years. But it’s now a moot point. What isn’t moot, however, is whether the deal itself, and the similar negotiated agreements on measures addressing issues related to lead paint and consumer privacy, are a reflection of good government or whether they lead to “extortion light.”

Interestingly, political commentators have viewed these negotiated withdrawals differently. Some see them as all that is wrong with Sacramento while others see them as forcing the legislature to do its job. Most fall in the first category. Joel Fox, who puts out the Fox and Hounds blog, wrote a piece entitled “Weaponizing the Initiative Process.” Long time Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters, who now writes for CalMatters, calls what happened “genteel extortion.”

On the other hand, veteran Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton liked the fact that three potentially confusing measures have been taken off the ballot. He also observes that “unlike … initiatives, bills can later be easily tweaked by the Legislature to fix flaws.” But Skelton’s observation reveals another downside to these deals: Will the parties keep their word?

The decision by ABA to withdraw the Taxpayer Protection Act resulted in the enactment of legislation that they presumably believed would protect their interest for more than a decade. But almost immediately, interest groups, including health organizations that have targeted “sugary drinks” for years, filed a new initiative measure specifically targeting that industry. And unlike the Taxpayer Protection Act, which had broad support from an array of business and taxpayer groups, a measure seeking higher taxes just on soda might leave ABA alone in the opposition camp. …

Click here to read the full article from the Long Beach Press-Telegram