Orange County Classical Academy Excels Despite COVID

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck hard back in April 2020, California’s teachers’ unions went into overdrive. The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) released a lengthy document outlining what they believed to be “Safe and Equitable Conditions for Starting LAUSD in 2020-21.”

In a report published by the California Policy Center that same month, Larry Sand explained the deal struck between the school district and the UTLA:

“The deal engineered by UTLA boss Alex Caputo-Pearl requires teachers to provide instruction and student support for just four hours per day and also to ‘host three office hours for students’ every week. So instead of a 40-hour work week, teachers in L.A. only have to be available for 23 hours. Additionally, teachers can create their own work schedules ‘and not be required to teach classes using live video conferencing platforms.’”

The consequences of deals like this on the lives of California’s public school students, especially those in low income communities, has been disastrous. But there is an alternative.

The Orange County Classical Academy (OCCA), a new charter school that was approved to operate in a 4-3 vote by the board of the Orange County Unified School District back in January, opened its doors this fall to 360 elementary school students. As described in a report published by the California Policy Center in July, it was evident that this school was going to be no ordinary charter school. But how have things progressed, now that the school has been in session for three months?

To answer this, I recently spoke with the co-founder and board chairman of the Orange County Classical Academy, Jeff Barke. He immediately confirmed that, unlike LAUSD, their school had opened on schedule with in-person instruction. Compliant with all COVID mandates including wearing masks, Barke said “the school is full with 360 kids and we still have a waiting list of another 200.” While the school offers distance learning as an option, only a few parents have made that choice for their children.

An immediate question with respect to in-class instruction is whether or not there were outbreaks of COVID infections. Barke was unequivocal on this, stating “out of 360 kids we only had one kid test positive and they had very mild symptoms. We have had zero teachers or staff test positive. All persons entering the school are asked about symptoms and temperature checked. Our classrooms and school are routinely and thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Hand washing stations are located throughout the school. Testing is offered to all teachers and staff.”

As a charter school OCCA receives public funds, but their per student remittances are less than what traditional public schools receive. Parents of public school children enrolled in LAUSD and other closed or partially closed school districts should ask why OCCA can safely open for in-class instruction, but their schools cannot. But this distinction, while huge, is only one way OCCA is different from a typical public school in California.

What truly differentiates OCCA is their instructional approach. They have thrown away recent “innovations” such as Common Core and returned to traditional methods of teaching reading and math. For guidance they have licensed the curriculum and teacher training programs created for K-12 charter schools by Hillsdale College, a program that is used so far by 24 charter schools in ten states. The Hillsdale curriculum offers a fascinating alternative to progressive education, based on classical education techniques perfected over centuries.

For example, the curriculum architecture is defined by the “Trivium,” which consists of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, and the “Quadrivium,” which consists of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.

How these concepts translate into practical instruction is not all that complicated. The Trivium encompasses subjects in the human sphere such as history, where the grammar phase emphasizes memorization, the logic phase teaches how memorized facts fit together, and the rhetoric phase teaches students how to express and evaluate facts and logic.

The Quadrivium focuses on subjects in the natural world, where arithmetic teaches about numbers, geometry teaches about numbers in space, music teaches about numbers in time, and astronomy teaches about numbers in time and space. These unifying concepts, which date to teaching methods employed in ancient Greece, offer students a way to consider in a very early and very profound way who they are in relation to the world.

The advantages of memorization should be obvious, despite being deemphasized in modern progressive curriculums. OCCA students learn the multiplication tables by heart, something all students used to do, a skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives, and a process that naturally leads to students developing the numerical intuition that Common Core so clumsily leapfrogs to without requiring traditional memorization.

It is only a few months too early to see how the OCCA students perform on standardized achievement tests, but parent feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. For example, and again dodging Common Core for more time-tested approaches, students learn to read by memorizing the phonetics of the most common syllables. Parents have reportedly been astonished at the sudden rapid progress in the reading ability of their children.

Establishing OCCA wasn’t easy. It was approved in a narrow vote by the local school board, over the strenuous objections of the teachers’ union. The fact that OCCA is non unionized, with a generous 401K plan instead of belonging to CalSTRS, represents a threat to the union grip on public education in California. The school’s rejection of progressive education in favor of a classical education also represents a threat to the teachers’ union, a threat that will greatly increase if the school delivers academic outcomes that surpass the performance of traditional public schools.

Once OCCA began operations, Barke said various types of intimidation began, although to-date it is impossible to prove who is behind it. “We have people driving by our school raising their middle finger out the window during pickup and dropoff,” he said, “we had someone on a motorcycle without a license plate on it stopping by and video taping our school, trying to find evidence of a COVID violation.”

The question everyone interested in the welfare of California’s children should be asking, however, is not what the impact of a truly innovated, non-unionized public charter school might have on the future of the teachers’ union. The relevant question is do the practices being pioneered at OCCA work? In terms of educational outcomes, do they offer a significant improvement over traditional public schools? The beauty of charter schools, or, in a perfect world, school vouchers, is that parents can choose from an assortment of educational options, and the ones that are successful can be replicated and the ones that fail go out of business.

To the future of OCCA and classical education, Barke only had this to say: “We now have our eye on opening additional schools.”

This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.

More California Elected Officials Violate Their Own Business Lockdown Orders

In another stunning act of hypocrisy, after ordering restaurants in Los Angeles to close, former State Senator, now Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl enjoyed an outdoor meal at a Santa Monica restaurant last Tuesday, Fox News reported.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo appears to have broken health protocols in celebrating Thanksgiving with family members outside of his own household, NBC Bay Area reported.

“The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has learned Liccardo celebrated with his elderly parents at their Saratoga home with an unknown number of other guests. While the mayor’s staff did confirm the dinner took place, they have not disclosed how many other people attended, how many different households were present, and whether any of those in attendance wore masks while not eating.”

Gov. Newsom and his wife were caught in recent weeks dining in Napa Valley with a large dinner party at the swanky French Laundry restaurant, violating his own COVID stay-at-home orders.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was caught on security cameras visiting a San Francisco hair salon for a wash and blow-out, in September.

As the Globe continues to report, it’s obvious that politicians don’t live in fear of the coronavirus, so why should anyone else?

“This is a private event – not public,” said Jim Reed, Liccardo’s Chief of Staff.  “We are going to redraw the line between what is personal and what is public because that line has become blurred.”

As for former Senator Sheila Kuehl, she had no problem fear mongering earlier in the day: “This is a serious health emergency and we must take it seriously,” Kuehl said. “The servers are not protected from us, and they’re not protected from their other tables that they’re serving at that particular time, plus all the hours in which they’re working.”

As the Globe reported Sunday, California with a population of 39,512,223, reports 1,206,278 “cases,” which is a 3.05 % positivity rate – in the bottom quarter of the entire United States.

Governor Gavin Newsom, and most county public health officials, are manipulating the data and numbers, and clearly are trying to keep Californians scared so the draconian lockdowns will not be questioned.

Because there is no science backing the lockdowns, it is evident Gov. Newsom and the state’s elected Democrats are attempting to force more California entrepreneurs out of business and onto government dependence. There is no science or data showing that dining at restaurants or drinking at bars spreads the virus.

Proving just how arbitrary his lock downs are, the governor allowed strip clubs and bath houses to remain open.

“Never before has a government ignored science and common sense, and demanded that the public mask themselves and halt all normal life, creating a culture of fear and loathing,” restaurant owner Kevin Boss said in a letter to the governor and Santa Barbara elected officials. “Never before in the US have government officials, elected and unelected, taken it upon themselves to virtually proscribe almost all human activity at a whim.”

This article was originally published by the California Globe.

Newsom’s Woke Posturing Masks California’s Dismal Economic Record

If Hollywood were to cast a governor and future president, and if a straight white male were still politically acceptable, he would look like California’s Gavin Newsom. The 53-year-old governor, a former mayor of San Francisco, Newsom handsomely epitomizes the preening politics of the California elite class that has nurtured and financed his career from the beginning.

Like aristocrats of the past, Newsom seems oblivious to the realities felt by constituents among the lower orders. In the face of massive wildfires, he postures on climate change, conflating fires with an angry mother Earth—as opposed to poor land management—and uses the conflagration to justify a radical policy of switching to all-electric power over the next decade, with the elimination of gas-powered cars by 2035. In the midst of a near economic free-fall, he favors raising taxes and works to tighten pandemic lockdowns; and, with the state losing its ability to train workers, he backs an education system where almost three out of five California high schoolers graduate unprepared for either college or a career.

Listening to Newsom, or following California media, one would have no idea how badly California’s economy has performed during the pandemic. In the most recent statistics, California’s unemployment rate stood at 11 percent, well above the national average of 7.9 percent, and better than only four other states. Since the March lockdown, California, with 12 percent of the nation’s population, accounts for 16.4 percent of all unemployment. California also is recovering jobs slower than all but two states, tourism-dependent Hawaii and Nevada. Since the pandemic, the state’s largest metro, Los Angeles–Orange County, has suffered the second-largest job losses in the U.S., and two others, the Bay Area and the Inland Empire, rank in the top ten.

This awful performance has had little impact on the state’s politically and economically well-positioned ruling class. Newsom may be far from a popular governor, ranking in the lower third among his compatriots, but he enjoys a solidly Democratic legislature and almost lockstep support in the media. Voters are showing signs of getting restless, though, defeating proposals and taxes that he heartily endorsed along with his public-union and tech-industry allies. Typically, he avoided taking a position on Proposition 22, the ban on contract labor detested by the tech firms but deeply supported by the unions.

Conservatives like to ascribe the label “leftist” to politicians such as Newsom. In reality, California’s governor is no Marxist firebrand but rather a favored candidate of what the Los Angeles Times described as “a coterie of San Francisco’s wealthiest families,” including the Fishers (who founded the Gap clothing chain), the Pritzkers (whose family includes the current Illinois governor), and especially the Getty family, which essentially adopted Newsom, financed his business ventures, and allegedly paid for his first lavish wedding while helping launch his political career. These families overall have prospered in California’s highly bifurcated economy, among the least egalitarian in the nation. Its prime beneficiaries cluster along the state’s postindustrial, temperate zones.

Newsom rose, as former assembly speaker and San Francisco mayor Willie Brown suggests, as the favored spokesman for San Francisco’s local well-to-do. “He came from their world, and that’s why they embraced him without hesitancy and over and above everybody else,” Brown told the Los Angeles Times. “They didn’t need to interview him. They knew what he stood for.”

Newsom postures as a social-justice advocate and believer in austere green virtues, but the corporate aristocracy has helped him live in luxury, first in his native Marin, and now in Sacramento. Newsom’s passion for the good life caused him some embarrassment recently when he was caught violating his own pandemic orders at the ultra-expensive, ultra-chic French Laundry in Napa. This episode exemplifies America’s elite nomenklatura—demanding sacrifices of the masses, whether in the form of lockdowns or housing, but less often from themselves.

In addition to woke posturing on race and gender issues, climate change stands as the key driver of this kind of politics. In many regions, notably the Midwest, Democrats face a conflict between siding with the environmental lobby or with workers in fossil fuels, large-scale manufacturing, and construction. That tension is less evident in California, where a draconian tax and regulatory environment has reduced construction, particularly in the big coastal metros, and where manufacturing has stagnated, while policymakers have targeted the heavily unionized oil industry for extinction.

Draconian climate-change policies allow progressive elites to advertise their good intentions without curtailing their economic opportunities. The state’s renewable-energy policies enrich his Newsom’s tech backers even when their efforts—such as the Google-backed Ivanpah solar farm—fail to deliver affordable, reliable energy, and bring severe impacts on sensitive habitats, notably in the state’s deserts. Even the most impressive of the tech masterminds, Elon Musk, can trace a significant part of his fortune—now estimated at over $100 billion, the world’s fifth-largest—to generous subsidy policies for solar panels and electric cars. Policies that raise energy and housing prices, of course, tend to be politically unpopular—so Newsom, like his predecessors, imposes these regulations administratively, or through executive orders, thus freeing the governor to avoid legislative and political tangles and freeing him of any obligation to explain these positions to the public.

Read the rest of this piece at City Journal

Joel Kotkin is editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University.

California Has an Outmigration Problem

Recent Census Bureau data tell a story that surprises no one who keeps up with current events in California: The state is losing residents like few others. According to economist Mark J. Perry, only four other states – New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Louisiana – had a greater net outflow in 2019.

Using Census numbers, Perry ranked the top 10 inbound and outbound states, and then looked at how each “compared on a variety of measures of business climate, individual and corporate tax burdens, state fiscal health, electricity and housing costs, economic performance, and labor market dynamism.” What he found will, again, surprise no one. The top 10 outbound states have higher taxes, poor business climates, more expensive housing and energy costs, and lower economic and job growth. And they are, with the exception of Louisiana, blue states.

Here’s a quick California-centric overview:

  • Only four states in the outbound category have a higher state-local tax burden as a percentage of income than California’s. This state has the highest individual income tax rate (at 13.3%, no one is even close) and third-highest corporate tax rate (8.84%).
  • Even though most Californians live in temperate zones, only Connecticut has higher electricity costs, and the difference isn’t worth debating – 18.47 cents per kilowatt hour compared to 18.46 cents).
  • Homes are by far more expensive in California, with the 2020 median price at $586,659. Massachusetts is next at $457,192.
  • Only Louisiana and New Mexico have higher 2019 jobless rates than California’s 4.1%.
  • At 1.5%, the rate of job growth in California is second in terms of success only to New Mexico’s 1.6%, but it nevertheless lags every top 10 inbound state in job growth but Oklahoma, which has a rate of 0.8%. The average for the 10 inbound states, nine of which are right-to-work states, is 2.1%.

Perry didn’t include economic freedom when compiling his list, but it is not without significance. California lands at 47th in the Fraser Institute’s 2020 rankings of economic freedom in North America. New York is dead last. Other states from Perry’s outbound list found in the bottom half of the Fraser list include Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois, and New Mexico. This is not a coincidence.

While the wealthy continue to live well in California – more billionaires, 165, call this state home than any other – the middle class sees better opportunities elsewhere. And flees. As do businesses.

The heavy outmigration is likely to result in the loss of a congressional seat (and an Electoral College vote), probably from the Los Angeles region, reducing the state’s House delegation to 52. It would be the first time in California’s history that it dropped a congressional seat. Several other top 10 outbound states – Illinois, Michigan, New York – will probably lose House seats, as well.

Meanwhile, Texas, which has no state income or corporate taxes, lightly regulates commerce, and welcomes businesses, might gain three.

The official line out of Sacramento and most city halls and county board rooms, adopted by much of the media and repeated by supporters of the blue state model, says there’s nothing to see here, California is doing just fine. But the many residents and businesses that have left, and those that realize they will eventually have to as well, recognize this is true only for the extraordinarily wealthy and the bulk of the political class, which seems as if it’s going to be the last to know that it’s created an enormous problem.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.

Here’s what you need to know about California’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

California is in the throes of another COVID-19 surge — cases are skyrocketing and hospital beds are filling up quickly. On Tuesday, hospitals had 3,300 more COVID patients than at the beginning of this month, state health officials said.

But a glimmer of hope has emerged in the last leg of 2020: The first batch of vaccines could arrive in early December.

On Friday, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced that it had requested approval for emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Pfizer’s vaccine has shown an efficacy of 95% against COVID-19 “with no serious safety concerns observed to date,” said Albert Bourla, the company’s CEO

Moderna’s vaccine has similar results. AstraZeneca announced Monday that its vaccine was, on average, 70% effective.

Distribution details are still developing, and it remains unclear how many doses California will get before the year’s end.

Dr. Frances Collins, director at the National Institutes of Health, has said that if all goes to plan, he expects 40 million doses to become available nationwide in December. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are first in line, require two doses, meaning 20 million people could be vaccinated that month. California gets just a slice of that.

Manufacturers and the federal government will likely distribute doses based on state conditions and population size, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services Secretary.  “So California should get a significant and even the highest amount of vaccination based on those distribution plans,” he said Tuesday.

So when can most people expect to get one? How much will it cost? And how much longer will Californians be urged to wear a mask? 

Here’s what we know so far about the state’s vaccine rollout.

If you’re not a health worker, don’t expect a vaccine soon 

Initial vaccine supply will be limited. To help decide who gets a vaccine first, the state is adopting a three-phase plan from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state’s plan will guide counties, which will be in charge of on-the-ground coordination. 

So far, we know that health workers and first responders who are likely to treat or be exposed to COVID-19 patients will go first. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would first target 2.4 million health care workers. Those workers are also being divided into subgroups, in case of a shortage in the first rounds. 

Health workers will be followed by those living in congregate settings, such as nursing homes, along with other essential workers and people who are at higher risk of falling severely ill, including people 65 and over. 

The definition of an essential worker in the distribution guidance has not yet been determined, Ghaly said. Teachers, for example, will be a priority so that children can return to school, he said. But where exactly teachers and others will fall in the state’s priority ranking will be decided in coming weeks. 

Everyone else will likely have to wait a few more months. “Mass vaccination is unlikely to occur anytime soon,” Newsom said. Public health officials have estimated broader vaccine availability will come in the spring. 

State health officials have appointed more than 65 advocacy, labor and businesses organizations to a new community advisory committee to help ensure that the vaccine is distributed equitably. 

“The point of having all these groups at the table is to avoid blind spots,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, one of the committee member organizations. “If we’re not mindful of our most vulnerable populations, we’re undermining our efforts to (control) this pandemic.”

Cost shouldn’t be an issue

Out-of-pocket costs for a COVID-19 vaccine are likely to be low, if anything at all. According to the CDC, doses purchased with taxpayer dollars will be free. Providers, however, can charge for administering the vaccine, which insurance would cover. 

“For those who are uninsured and those in the Medicaid program, they should rest assured…the state is going to step in and make sure that the cost of vaccination in no way gets in the way of someone’s decision to be vaccinated,” Ghaly said on Tuesday.

California has ‘second set of eyes’ on vaccines’ safety

Last month, Newsom announced that the state would form its own panel of experts to review efficacy and safety data of any vaccine candidate. 

California’s experts have already reviewed the first two phases of clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and have no concerns so far, Newsom said on Monday. His panel will review Phase 3 data within 24 hours of it becoming available, he added, noting that the state’s review process would not slow vaccine distribution. 

This process is in addition to the FDA’s review. The idea behind the work group, made up of public health and immunization experts from across the state, is to instill trust among the public, Newsom has said. 

Still, challenges lie ahead

If people are looking to buy stocks, dry ice would be a good investment, said Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County’s interim health officer. That’s because counties and health care providers are scrambling to get their hands on both ultra-cold freezers and dry ice to help store Pfizer’s vaccine, which needs to be kept at minus 70 degree Celsius — that’s extremely cold.

“Not a lot of those freezers exist,” Vohra said. “The flu vaccine doesn’t need to be ultra cold.”

Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in a standard freezer.

Primary care doctors and other community providers may not be able to offer the first vaccines available because they may not have the freezers needed to store it, Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 testing officer, told county supervisors at a meeting earlier this month.

Newsom said the state is looking to acquire 16 ultra-cold temperature freezers and 61 smaller freezers. He said the state already has identified regions to distribute these freezers, focusing on more rural areas that might have a hard time obtaining their own. 

Hospitals seeking their own freezers are already bumping into supply issues. “They are in many cases back-ordered until the spring,” said David Simon, a spokesperson for the California Hospital Association.

Yes, you’ll likely still have to wear a mask after you get a vaccine 

No vaccine candidate is 100 percent effective. And experts say while a COVID-19 vaccine is likely to protect you from serious illness, it remains to be seen whether it will keep you from passing the virus to someone else. Scientists also don’t know yet how long a vaccine’s protection will last.

The three leading vaccine candidates all require two shots, spaced a few weeks apart, so you won’t be fully protected after your first dose. You’ll want to continue to wear a mask to protect others until most people are fully immunized — and that could take many months.

“While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others,” the CDC notes

Click here to read the rest of the article from CalMatters.org

What Gavin Newsom’s Inevitable Political Doom Means for Democrats

Just in time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered 38 California counties moved to the “purple tier” of coronavirus prevention mandates. This means Californians are now subject to a curfew, wherein “non-essential work, movement, and gatherings must stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.”

Including all the major population centers in the state, this curfew comes on top of a reestablishment of a ban on eating indoors in restaurants, as well as a requirement that people wear masks whenever they leave their homes, and “limit mixing, practice physical distancing and wash their hands.” It also comes on the heels of Newsom’s recently updated “Mandatory Requirements for All Gatherings,” which specifies in preposterous detail exactly how families and friends may gather during the holidays.

The irony in all of these mandates coming from Newsom is that despite enraging millions of Californians who are not convinced they are at all necessary, the pandemic and Newsom’s aggressive response to it are providing political cover for Newsom among those other millions of Californians, more numerous, who believe lockdowns and curfews are necessary. Once this political cover goes away, that equation, favoring Newsom, is going to change. And the speed and ferocity of that change, when it happens, is going to surprise a lot of people.

Nowhere to Hide

When the pandemic is over, Newsom will have nowhere to hide. Newsom, along with the Democratic Party he represents, will preside over an economy battered beyond anything Californians have ever seen. Apart from the tech billionaires who have shamelessly profited as an entire population was driven into the virtual world, California’s economy will be a smoking ruin. The COVID-19 shutdown will expose the fragile foundations of California’s alleged prosperity, and blast it to smithereens.

Before COVID-19 came along, California had the highest rate of poverty and nearly the highest income inequality in America. It had the highest cost-of-living and some of the highest taxes. It had crumbling infrastructurefailing schoolsdevastating wildfires caused by negligence, avoidable shortages of water and electricity, a housing industrydestroyed by overregulation, and an explosion of the homeless—people who could be helped if it weren’t for the toxic progressive combination of misguided compassion and rampant corruption.

All of these problems will be worse when people are allowed back on the streets. The homeless encampments, unregulated and not subject to the pandemic mandates affecting everyone else, will have become permanent. Small business owners everywhere will survey the financial wreckage, and move elsewhere. Tech companies, their bubble valuations topped out, will not be sufficient sources of tax revenue to make up for the imploding tallies from everyone else. The only thing standing between state and local government agencies and financial catastrophe will be a federal bailout.

Newsom is more than just an incompetent, hypocritical, corrupt governor. He exemplifies the entire fraud that constitutes the Democratic Party in California.

California’s voters are at a tipping point. Newsom’s polling numbers, still high back in September and October, were mostly just a reflection of an anti-Trump electorate being supportive of anything that seemed to defy Trump. When mismanaged and neglected forests burned down half the state, and Trump said Californians needed to revive the timber industry, Newsom instead signed an executive order requiring electric cars, and California’s anti-Trump voters cheered. When COVID-19 struck, and Trump said we must be careful not to let the cure become worse than the disease, Newsom instead imposed a statewide lockdown, and California’s anti-Trump voters cheered again.

The problem with all this anti-Trump enthusiasm in California is that it only buys time for Newsom. In the recent election, with votes still being counted, Californians edged out Texas to cast the most ballots of any state in America—5.9 million so far—for President Trump. And in this high-turnout election, Trump even improved his percentage performance, rising from 31.6 percent in 2016 to 34.2 percent in 2020.

It’s a safe bet that every one of those Californians are ready to throw out Newsom and every other Democratic lawmaker. In fact, the ongoing populist movement to recall Newsom, fresh on the heels of a 120-day extension up to March 17 to gather signatures on a recall petition, has a very good chance of making him fight for his political life in a special recall election in the spring of 2021. And while Trump voters provide ample prospects to sign these recall petitions, the ranks of Californians who’ve had enough of Newsom are growing.

The Hypocrisy of the Party of the Rich

The apparent perpetual nature and increasing severity of what amounts to martial law are driving voters away from Newsom, a process exacerbated by Newsom himself, when he failed to comply with his own mandates. In a faux pasthat will go down in history, on November 10 Newsom and his wife joined at least 10 other people, sans masks, for a dinner paid for by lobbyists at the French Laundry in Napa County, one of the most expensive restaurants in the United States.

Newsom is going to have a hard time talking his way out of this. The hypocrisy of a man who built his image on his aggressive mandates to cope with the pandemic; the brazen display of privilege, lobbyist patronage, and stupefying wealth at this elite restaurant while small business owners, including restaurateurs, have no privilege, have no customer patronage, and must helplessly watch a lifetime of hard-earned wealth slip away rightly enrages many Californians.

Newsom’s initial response? “I should have modeled better behavior.”

Californians, whether they’re Left, Right or centrists, like most people everywhere, dislike hypocrisy. The Democratic litany, which claims Republicans are the party of the wealthy, is about to be broken, and Newsom’s hypocrisy is helping that along. While the vast majority of Californian parents are watching their children try to learn while being locked out of their public schools for nearly a year, Newsom’s children go to a private school, where attending classes was never seriously disrupted.

This reality, that the wealthy are exempt from the consequences of curfews and lockdowns, and these same wealthy are providing the backing and the agenda for the Democratic Party, is a ticking time bomb. Republicans already understand this. Republicans understand that their party is now the party of the worker. And every time a Democratic politician slips up—like Newsom with his dinner, or Pelosi with her two freezers filled with $12-a-pint ice cream—more voters realize that identity politics and environmentalist panic is a smoke screen, a con job, a way to get them to keep voting for the party of the rich.

Ultimately, when Californians emerge from their “dark winter” and try to resume their lives, they are going to have less tolerance than ever for the rhetoric of the Left. For example, compassion for the homeless is going to wear thin when your business is ruined and your bank is foreclosing on your mortgage, and meanwhile, thousands of homeless people took over the streets where you live and trashed them. They’re stoned out of their minds and shitting on the sidewalks.

And what is the answer? Round them up, put them in tent shelters in inexpensive parts of town? Get them off drugs? Dry them out? Help them? No. Of course not. Democrats will propose to spend additional billions to give them free housing on the beach at a cost of between $500,000 and $1 million per unit, and not even require them to stop using methamphetamine.

Of course they’re homeless and high all the time. Democrats reward them for it.

Similarly, next summer, when another 4 million acres of forest burn in California, and burned out homeowners can’t get fire insurance unless they move into a city where, thanks to overregulation, it costs $1 million to buy a bungalow with a backyard so small you can’t even set up a swing for your kids, Democrats will claim that the timber industry is the problem instead of recognizing it as the solution, and that absurdity will finally be heard for what it is: elitist, quasi-communist, clueless, baseless, misanthropic, opportunistic bullshit.

In every area of public policy, the progressive fraud that constitutes the Democratic Party, led by Gavin Newsom, will be exposed as threadbare posturing, designed to make the rich even richer, while everyone else gets broken financially and herded into subsidized hovels to save the earth and foster “equity.”

But perhaps the most egregious crime of the Democrats, inviting the biggest backlash, will be the performance of California’s public schools.

Returning to the classroom after being almost completely abandoned by teachers who never missed a month of pay despite not having to do much teaching, parents will demand a return to education fundamentals. They will demand a return to classroom discipline and teacher accountability. Who knows, maybe they will even demand school vouchers, to break the Democratic union monopoly that’s turned public education in California into a cruel joke.

One may go on and on. How many of California’s Latinos, who voted for Trump in record numbers, are going to stay loyal to Democrats, led by the likes of Newsom—white as snow and filthy rich—who have decided, without asking, that their ethnic group is no longer known as “Latinos,” but is now “Latinx,” pronounced “Latin-Ex.” Exactly who among the Democrats thought this act of cultural imperialism would be welcomed by Latinos? They’re in for a rude shock, and it’s about time.

There is a seismic wave building in California. It’s still far away, but it’s coming in with the tide. And when it reaches the shore, it is going to sweep away everything in its path. Most definitely including Gavin Newsom, and his rotten, corrupt, wealthy, dirty, grasping, lying, worthless party.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

The Most Crucial Small Business Saturday is Coming

Photo by Richard Balog on Unsplash

Small Business Saturday on November 28 is this event’s most important in its 11-year history because of what the pandemic has done to small businesses and their workers. Now with an upsurge in coronavirus cases and potential stiff business restrictions imposed by California governments, it is more important than ever to support small businesses during this holiday shopping season. 

It is no exaggeration to say that shopping at small businesses this season could mean an open or closed sign on the door of many neighborhood businesses as the new year begins. 

In an American Express Shop Small Impact study it was revealed that 75% of small business owners need holiday spending to return to normal so they can stay in business in 2021. Nearly half said they need better than average spending to survive. 

Small business is not only the backbone of the state and national economy—that is pretty well agreed upon by economists—but in this time of extraordinary health and economic crisis small business is the measuring stick for job and business recovery. Big business has the resources to weather the Covid-19 storm. But if small business shows signs of life, it will be like new blades of grass poking through the turf telling us brighter, warmer days are ahead. 

The biggest incentive to shop small is that you are not only helping to keep small businesses operating, you are making your community stronger. When you purchase a product or service at a local store or restaurant, you are helping to pay the salary of a neighbor, a friend or a family member. You are helping to keep the people in your town or city employed so that they can support their families. Most importantly, you are demonstrating the value that you place on the small-business people who, by providing you and your community with incomparable products and services, work hard to keep your trust each and every day. 

Instead of dealing with temporary workers who don’t know the merchandise, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing directly with the mom-and-pop owner and staff who care very much about making you happy. They want you to come back time and again. 

You’ve always appreciated that small business or near-by restaurant being there—now that neighborhood business needs you. 

The economic stimulus package that helped keep small businesses alive during the initial advance of the virus is gone. A new stimulus package may or may not be available as the virus shows its sharp teeth again over the winter months. That’s why small business needs customer support to carry on until that day we are all praying for when there is a return to normalcy. 

Small businesses follow health care protocols for social distancing, mask requirements, and clean up. But there are other ways to patronize a local business that doesn’t require an in-person visit. Consider shopping online at a small business’ website, order a gift card for future use, or have products or food delivered by delivery app services. 

Covid-19 has made the positive life enjoyed by your neighbors in small businesses a very difficult challenge. Let’s join together this holiday season by helping to uplift our communities’ spirits by keeping those core neighborhood small businesses operating. 

It all starts this Saturday. Be there!

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Three Healthcare Achievements To Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving is this Thursday. It may seem hard to believe, but even in this year unlike any other, there’s still plenty to be thankful for—including some notable developments in healthcare policy.

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1. Individual health insurance premiums have stabilized and declined.

Open enrollment on the HealthCare.gov exchanges run by the federal government goes through December 15. In some states, open enrollment is even longer. California, for instance, allows people to sign up through its Covered California exchange through January 31.

When people log on to shop for a plan, they may be pleasantly surprised at what they find.

President Trump may have spent much of his presidency lobbying for Obamacare’s repeal. But on his watch, premiums for exchange plans decreased for three straight years. Next year, premiums for “benchmark” plans will fall 2%. That’s a decline to $379 a month for a 27-year-old, from $389 a month last year. For a family of four, that plan will run $1,486 in 2021, compared to $1,524 last year.

Since 2018, average monthly premiums for that benchmark plan have dropped almost 8% for our hypothetical 27-year-old—and 6.5% for our family of four. That’s equivalent to $32 a month in savings for the twentysomething—and $104 a month in savings for the family.

Competition is helping to drive these lower prices. More insurance companies than ever are now participating in the exchanges. Just 4% of enrollees will have only one plan choice this open enrollment, down from 29% in 2018.

2. It’s easier to access affordable health coverage.

Because of the pandemic-induced economic crisis, millions of people lost their jobs—and with them, their employer-sponsored health insurance. But thanks to several actions taken by the Trump administration pre-pandemic, they have access to more affordable health insurance options than under the Obama administration.

Consider short-term, limited-duration health plans. They aren’t subject to Obamacare’s cost-inflating regulations and mandates, so they’re less expensive than what’s for sale on the exchanges.

In 2018, the Trump administration expanded the maximum duration of a short-term plan from three months to 12 months. And it allowed insurers to renew the coverage for up to three years.

Those moves have made short-term plans a viable alternative to conventional exchange coverage in the 22 states where they’re available on the terms promulgated by the Trump administration. Other states have implemented more stringent regulations that blunt short-term plans’ impact.

A healthy 30-year-old in Atlanta can buy a mid-level short-term plan for $250 a month, nearly 50% less than the $467 a month a similar plan costs on the Obamacare exchange. A 60-year-old smoker in Atlanta could get a short-term plan for $888 a month; the comparable exchange plan is 27% more expansive, at $1,227 a month.

Workers can also be thankful for the expansion of health reimbursement arrangements, or HRAs. Employers have long been able to deposit untaxed dollars into HRAs for their employees to use for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. In 2019, the Trump administration finalized a rule effective January 1, 2020, that allows employees to use HRA funds to purchase individual coverage that they would then own personally.

This could have huge implications for the health insurance market. Employers could re-assert some level of control over their health insurance expenditures. Rather than spending ever-greater amounts on employer-sponsored coverage and having to manage benefits programs themselves, they can commit to a defined contribution toward each employee’s health insurance.

Workers, meanwhile, could choose plans that work for them, rather than their employers. Because they’d control their healthcare dollars, they’d have a strong incentive to shop around for the best deal. And with an army of potential customers entering the individual market with HRA dollars to spend, insurers would surely ramp up their offerings to meet that demand. Such competition would result in lower prices and better quality.

The Trump administration expects 11.4 million Americans to secure individual coverage using HRAs by 2029.

3. Covid-19 vaccines will soon get us out of this pandemic.

Last week, Pfizer PFE -0.6% and Moderna revealed that their vaccine candidates are about 95% effective. Pfizer announced on November 20 that it had applied for emergency use authorization from the FDA. If granted, the authorization could allow the company to begin distributing vaccines in December.

The end of the pandemic now appears in sight. In the meantime, therapeutic treatments are saving the lives of people who contract the virus. Earlier this month, the FDA gave emergency authorization to bamlanivimab, an antibody therapy from Eli Lilly LLY -2% that has been shown to prevent hospitalizations and reduce Covid-19 symptoms if administered early on.

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Thanksgiving may be a little more subdued this year. But for those who follow health policy and are invested in making healthcare more affordable and of higher quality, there is indeed reason to be thankful.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.

Prioritizing Small Business in California

“Taxes on capital, taxes on labor, inflation, bureaucratic regulation, minimum wage laws, are all – to different degrees – unnecessary slices of the wedge that stand between an individual’s effort and reward for that effort.” – Jack Kemp

During Governor Newsom’s November 16th press conference, where he announced that he would pull the “emergency brake” in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and plunge almost all of California’s population back into the most restrictive tier, the Governor made a special effort to acknowledge the plight of small businesses. He explained that the coronavirus-wracked economy threatened the hopes, dreams and livelihoods of California’s entrepreneurs, and he pledged that the top priority of his January budget would be to “support our small businesses that are trying their best to weather this storm.”

This focus on supporting the state’s small businesses is much needed. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey (collected between November 9th and November 15th), 51.4 percent of California small businesses believe it will take more than 6 months before they return to their normal level of operations. Moreover, 2.3 percent of California small businesses have closed permanently while another 5.9 percent expect to permanently close in the next 6 months.

But is the state budget really the best vehicle with which to help California’s 4.1 million small businesses? In the current budget year, 91 percent of California’s $133.9 billion in General Fund expenditures is locked into spending on education, health and human services, and corrections, so there is not a lot left to repurpose. And while the Legislative Analyst’s Office recently reported that state tax collections are running $11 billion above projections, legislative leaders have already signaled that this revenue should be used to restore cuts to universities and state worker pay made in this year’s budget.

Consequently, any financial assistance from the budget, while certainly welcome, necessarily would be limited given already existing claims on state resources. As a case in point, the Governor just announced the launch of a rather small California Rebuilding Fund – involving “a $25 million anchor commitment and $50 million guarantee allocation from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank” – intended to help the state’s smallest businesses.

If Gov. Newsom cannot help small businesses financially, he would do better to find other ways to support them. The most obvious action would be to allow them to operate and generate revenue by returning counties responsibly to less restrictive tiers. After all, the recent spike in coronavirus cases in the state has more to do with social gatherings than indoor shopping, gyms or other business activities.

Short of this, the Governor could look to more creative ways. Unfortunately his Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery, which released its final report on November 20th, provides little actionable guidance. Here is the entirety of the Task Force’s recommendations for helping small businesses: “Expand Support and Provide Flexibility to Small Businesses – California should build on the impactful efforts to support small businesses, especially those owned by women and people of color and operating in economically distressed areas. Small businesses are the cornerstone for economic growth, and we must recognize that, in order to invest in our communities, we must invest in the people who make them vibrant.”

Amen to that.

Thankfully, the National Federation of Independent Business regularly surveys small businesses about their problems and priorities, and its July 2020 survey could spark some useful ideas for Gov. Newsom to pursue. Asked to rank 75 individual issues, California small businesses cited the following as their top five (in order): Cost of Health Insurance, Unreasonable Government Regulations, State Taxes on Business Income, Federal Taxes on Business Income, and State/Local Paperwork. While the Governor might not be able to influence the cost of health insurance or federal taxes on business income, he certainly can affect the other three.

Take unreasonable government regulations as an example. Gov. Newsom could provide flexibility to independent contractors and gig workers by leading the charge to repeal AB 5. Now that California voters have approved Proposition 22, a few hundred thousand ride-hail and delivery drivers join independent truck drivers and workers from dozens of favored industries as being exempt from the requirements of AB 5. That leaves the remaining independent contractors and gig workers – those without the political connections needed to obtain an exemption – facing an uneven playing field in the marketplace.

By prioritizing the removal of bureaucratic regulations like AB 5, as well as taxes on capital and taxes on labor, Gov. Newsom can truly support California’s entrepreneurs and help them survive the pandemic. After all, these are unnecessary slices of the wedge that stand between an individual’s effort and reward for that effort.

Dr. Justin L. Adams is the President and Chief Economist of Encina Advisors, LLC, a Davis-based economics research and analysis firm.

Liberal Press Intensifies War on Suburbs

While conservatives routinely, and accurately, characterize the establishment media in America as being profoundly biased both against President Trump and, more significantly, biased against everything that is even slightly right-of-center, they don’t generally consume this media. Because it is inescapable, they’ll see an example of liberal media bias here and there, find it frustrating, and move on to One America News or the Epoch Times, or their favorite conservatives on Twitter.

This is a mistake. The major networks and the major newspapers don’t just relentlessly poke at President Trump, they reinforce—also relentlessly—every piety and supposed axiom and premise of leftist ideology. Right-of-center people need to be aware of this and understand how it works.

Another powerful example of media bias is found in America’s major cultural magazines: The New YorkerVanity FairThe Atlantic, and New York magazine. Now routinely including feature-length articles on every conceivable public policy issue, these magazines hammer away, establishing certain truths as “beyond debate” where, in reality, there needs to be impassioned debate. The cumulative impact of these articles is a leftist intelligentsia in America that is increasingly closed-minded about an expanding array of issues.

“Suburbs” as Code

A recent article in New York exemplifies the degree to which partisan propaganda has replaced impartial analysis about what is a deceptively mundane issue. In the article’s subtitle in the print edition, “The System—Segregation and the suburbs,” the reader is already subjected to an editorial opinion. The implication is suburbs are inherently racist and unjustifiably segregated.

The cover photograph, of an elderly white man using a gasoline powered mower to cut his front lawn, adds additional context designed to subconsciously reinforce a political message: Old privileged white people live in suburbs, burning fossil fuel to mow their water-wasting lawns. The already indoctrinated will infer even more from this photograph: Who does this old man think he is? What does he contribute? Why is his life so comfortable when so many people are in need? How can we correct this injustice?

Writer Zak Cheney-Rice leads off by stating, “To really understand the suburbs as imagined by Donald Trump and Joe Biden, you first have to understand that neither of them is really talking about the suburbs. They are talking about segregation.” Got that? “Suburbs” is code for “segregation.”

Cheney-Rice goes on to claim that late in Trump’s campaign, the president fell back on appeals to racist suburbanites because he’d failed on the big issue which was to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Through his article, Cheney-Rice recites arguments that are no longer questioned in polite company: suburbs equate to “white housing exclusivity,” the origins of suburbs were “white flight,” suburbs are a sanitized way to achieve racial segregation, and in turn, segregation is “a means of resource accumulation and protection.”

Most of what Cheney-Rice argues, however, falls short when compared to facts and history.

To support his arguments regarding white flight and intentional segregation, Cheney-Rice has to reach back to the early 1960s. Nobody disputes that segregation was a reality back then, but “back then” was 60 years ago. The author uses Atlanta as a case study in white flight and segregated suburbs, but admits a few paragraphs later that Atlanta’s suburbs are now largely integrated.

And what about California’s suburbs? Most of them were built to accommodate new residents, as California’s population exploded during the 1960s and 1970s. Suburbs in California and throughout the American West were built because people liked living in detached homes with yards, and had absolutely nothing to do with “white flight.”

Big Progressive Lies

The problem with articles that perpetuate the myth that suburbs are inherently racist is that it can be used to justify extreme solutions that are ultimately counterproductive. As Trump repeatedly pointed out in his remarks on America’s suburbs, overall, they are already over one-third populated by ethnic minorities. And while the media never reported it honestly, Trump would always go on to say how everyone living in suburbs, including ethnic minorities, worked hard to achieve that lifestyle, and none of them want to see their quality of life destroyed.

The progressive war on suburbs is one of the biggest issues of our time because this war relies on two big lies—that suburbs are racist and that suburbs are ecologically unsustainable. By accepting these lies, we will not only lose our suburbs, we will lose, in all facets of our lives, our property rights, our prosperity, and our incentive to work and achieve.

Cheney-Rice is correct that not one, but two generations ago, there were still parts of America where institutionalized segregation existed. But what Cheney-Rice and like-minded progressives cite as evidence of racism today is disproportionate outcomes, which they fail to attribute to other causes such as broken homes, corrupt elected officials, public schools ruined by the teachers’ unions, and an overall culture—encouraged by the mainstream media—that devalues education and disrespects law and order. It is perfectly normal for anyone, white or black, to move out of low-income neighborhoods as soon as they can afford to do it. It has nothing to do with racism.

To be clear: Cheney-Rice, writing for New York, is only one voice in a coordinated media assault on suburbs. Here are just a few recent examples from The AtlanticNew York TimesWashington PostChicago TribuneLos Angeles TimesDetroit NewsBaltimore SunNBCAssociated PressBloomberg, and Time. It’s a bottomless pit of endless content, with one message: destroy the suburbs. If you object, you’re a racist.

The solutions that progressives are offering, especially when combined with the requirements of environmentalists, spell certain destruction for the suburbs. Basing their urban planning on the antiracist principle of “inclusion,” progressives intend to mandate subsidized housing in every suburb in America. In practice, this means that households where both parents work full time to have enough money to pay their mortgage and take care of their children, will find themselves with neighbors who don’t work, don’t have to get up early in the morning or quiet down and sleep at night, and who don’t have the same care of ownership for their homes.

Who Will Bear the Cost?

How much reasoning does it take, how many psychological studies, how many examples from history are necessary to convince progressives that when people don’t have to work for what they have, they don’t value their possessions with the same care as those who do have to work for everything they’ve got?

“Inclusive” zoning, designed to sprinkle subsidized housing through America’s suburbs, is a form of Communism. It has nothing to do with race. The question should not be, “are you a racist, or not?” The question should be “are you a Communist, or not?”

To pile on the misery that forced “desegregation” would impose on hard working suburbanites of all races, environmentalists have declared suburbs to be ecologically unsustainable. Consequently, they believe we cannot have any more of them. “Urban containment” is their mantra. This, too, does not get the attention it deserves from conservatives.

America’s population is projected to increase from just over 330 million today to more than 400 million by 2060. If the environmentalists have their way, all of that population growth will occur within the footprint of existing cities. Already, in a series of progressive/environmentalist legislation and ordinances passed at the state and regional levels, and spreading around the nation, officials are changing zoning laws to allow multi-family dwellings in neighborhoods that are currently single-family homes.

At this point, the role of libertarian enablers should be mentioned. Libertarians have an argument—not strong, but at least plausible—that owners of single-family homes should be able to do whatever they want with their property. This flies in the face of the zoning laws that everyone living in a neighborhood relied on when they invested their lifetime earnings into home ownership, but libertarians are purists.

How libertarians might adapt more productively to the conversation over urban planning is to first defend the right of owners of open land to develop their properties to build new suburbs, and then, and only then, defend the right of homeowners in existing suburbs to rezone their properties.

In any case, libertarians are not the enemy. They’re just confused. The real enemy is the Communists, hiding behind overblown, distorted ideals of anti-racism and environmental protection. And as these Communists destroy America’s suburbs, rest assured it won’t be the wealthy enclaves of rich liberal idealists that end up with subsidized apartment houses plopped next to mansions with spacious lots and manicured lawns. Those people can afford to litigate. As usual, it will be the hardest working Americans, the middle class of all colors, who will pay the price for progressive idiocy.

It is nearly impossible to counter adequately the agenda-driven misinformation that comes out of America’s establishment media, but their war on suburbs is a war that must be fought. Suburbs are not racist. They are not ecologically unsustainable. They are beautiful, and we need more of them.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.