Does University of California Undercut Academic Freedom?

Administrations and faculties at University of California campuses are embroiled in a searing controversy over requirements that applicants for faculty positions and candidates for promotion prove their active support, without reservation, of what’s called “diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Candidates must submit “DEI statements” that, under UC’s policies, determine whether they will be considered for employment or promotions, regardless of their academic credentials.

While different campuses use slightly different “rubrics” for judging candidates on their DEI statements, they generally use a 1-to-5 scale to determine whether they should be allowed to advance.

One, at UC-Davis, provides the lowest score to candidates who seem to be unaware or uninterested in the need to promote diversity, while the highest score would be given to someone who “discusses diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values that every
faculty member should actively contribute to advancing.”

Another version, according to a recent history of UC’s Advancing Faculty Diversity Initiative, establishes a 1-to-5 scoring system to judge whether the applicant should be rejected out of hand or allowed to advance. If he or she refuses to discuss gender or ethnicity issues, or contends that such issues are “antithetical to academic freedom or the university’s research mission,” they will automatically receive a low score. In contrast, someone who embraces DEI as “core values that every faculty member should actively contribute to advancing” should get the highest score.

One UC Merced professor, Tanya Golash-Boza, even published a guide in the professional publication Inside Higher Ed, to help applicants frame their DEI statements in language that would pass muster with the authorities.

The use of DEI statements began at UCLA four years ago and has become virtually universal since, sparking an intense debate in academic and legal circles over whether the UC system is, in effect, elevating political correctness over academic achievement and in doing so damaging the concept of academic freedom.

To its supporters, DEI statements and other evaluations are necessary tools to ensure that the university system overcomes its historic imbalance in students and faculty that favors whites and Asians over Blacks and Latinos.

But detractors see DEI statements as violating in spirit, if not in letter, university policies that prohibit using politics as a litmus test — policies that were introduced to counter Cold War-era efforts to weed out faculty members with leftist tendencies by forcing them to take loyalty oaths.

In 1950, the Legislature passed the Levering Act, requiring all state employees to sign such oaths — a move obviously directed at the UC faculty. In fact, 31 tenured professors were fired for refusing to sign it.

After years of legal and political wrangling, the state Supreme Court, by a 6-1 vote, declared the Levering Act to be unconstitutional in 1967. Meanwhile, the UC Board of Regents adopted a policy that “No political test shall ever be considered in the appointment and promotion of any faculty member or employee.”

The DEI statements were mandated campus by campus because the UC system’s administrators are under intense pressure from the Legislature, the Board of Regents and activist organizations to overcome ethnic imbalances in spite of voter approval of a ballot measure, Proposition 209, in 1996 that outlaws racial or gender preferences in public employment.

Moreover, in 2020 the state’s voters, by a substantial margin, refused to repeal Proposition 209.

The history of how DEI statements became a powerful tool to weed out faculty applicants who don’t conform is explored in a recently published and somewhat critical but remarkably objective monograph by two academic researchers affiliated with UC’s Riverside campus. They are Steven Brint, a professor of sociology and public policy, and Komi T. German, who earned her doctorate at UC Riverside.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

California ‘The State Everyone Can’t Wait to Leave Behind,’ Kevin Kiley Tells CPAC Audience

Republican congressional candidate Kevin Kiley used the national conservative stage Saturday to forcefully denounce Gov. Gavin Newsom and paint California as a place where people “walk down streets that double as restrooms and injection sites.” Kiley spoke Saturday at the CPAC convention in Dallas, a gathering that included some of the conservative movements’ biggest – and most controversial – figures, including former President Donald Trump. Trump endorsed Kiley during the primary campaign in May. “Gavin Newsom’s California is not a model to the nation. It is a warning to the nation,” Kiley said as the audience cheered.

California “used to be a state where anyone could get ahead, the California dream,” Kiley said. “Now we’re the state everyone can’t wait to leave behind.” Kiley, who faces Democrat Kermit Jones in November, has been a consistent, vocal critic of Newsom. Newsom has tried recently to boost his national profile, with a television ad in Florida criticizing that state’s conservative policies and newspaper ads in Texas criticizing Gov. Greg Abbott’s policies on abortion and guns.

Kiley was a candidate in last year’s California election attempting to recall Newsom. The governor won easily. Kiley received 3.5% of the vote. Since then, Kiley, a Rocklin assemblyman, has turned his attention to his bid for the new Third District House seat. The district is being closely watched as Republicans need a net gain of four seats to win control of the House.

It goes from Plumas County in the northeast corner of the state, through Sacramento’s suburbs and south to Inyo County, between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Nevada border. The district is rated by independent analysts as a likely Republican win in November. CPAC is a gathering of conservatives that in recent years has become more identified with the Trump wing of the party. The national Democratic Party this week called the meeting “nothing but an extreme GOP cattle call.” The program has featured a parade of conservative stars, including Rep.. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., My Pillow CEO and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell and others. Kiley spoke for five minutes Saturday and told the appreciative audience that while a Democratic-run legislature and State House caused California to decline, Newsom “brought that decline to a total freefall.:”

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee

After public outcry, San Clemente rejects anti-abortion ‘sanctuary for life’ resolution

After Public Outcry, San Clemente Rejects Anti-Abortion ‘Sanctuary for Life’ Resolution

Between the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of constitutional protections for abortions and the addition of Proposition 1 on the upcoming ballot in California, a San Clemente councilman said he saw the opportunity for his city to take a stand to “protect the sanctity of life.”

The San Clemente City Council was set to consider a resolution later this month that declares the city a “sanctuary for life where the dignity of every human being will be defended and promoted from life inside the womb through all stages of development in life up and until a natural death.”

But instead, City Council members ultimately hastily called a meeting on Saturday, Aug. 6 in the city’s community center, drawing a crowd of hundreds. Protestors stood on the lawn and an overflow room was made available to those who didn’t fit into the main area. About 50 speakers addressed the council — many calling the proposed resolution abuse of power, overreach, political grandstanding, and far outside the purvey of a city council.

After a nearly three-hour meeting — where Mayor Gene James pounded his gavel several times to restore order — the council ultimately voted 3-1 to remove the resolution from the Aug. 16 City Council agenda. Knoblock was the lone vote against pulling the item, and Councilwoman Laura Ferguson was not present.

“We’ve heard the community from all sides,” said Councilwoman Kathy Ward. “Let’s pull this from the agenda and get back to the business of San Clemente. There’s no need to let this go any further. I didn’t talk about the issues (pro-life, pro-choice) because I don’t believe they belong here. Let’s get back to the business we should be doing.”

If it had remained on the agenda and were passed, the resolution could have led to a follow-up city ordinance that would enforce a ban on abortion procedures within the city limits, said Councilman Steve Knoblock, who authored the resolution. Such an ordinance would run counter to state law. But Knoblock said he wanted San Clemente’s resolution to send a message “recognizing the full humanity of the pre-born life and human life and to protect and defend that.”

“We know since Roe vs. Wade, 62 million deaths occurred,” he said. “That’s a stack of babies 4,000 times higher than the Empire State building. The purpose of government is to protect life.”

A draft of Knoblock’s resolution said the City Council “considers life to begin at conception” and “stands against the establishment of Planned Parenthood health centers or any other clinics where abortions are performed.”

Such a resolution, however, would simply reflect an opinion by a majority on the city council. It’s unclear if the city can ban a provider of a legal health service. The closest Planned Parenthood clinic to San Clemente is in Mission Viejo, a few miles up the 5 freeway.

The resolution — scheduled for discussion by a council comprised of two women and three men — didn’t have language on enforcement. But it could have signaled official city support for a later ban on abortions except in cases where the mother’s life is at stake or the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

Ahead of Saturday’s meeting, San Clemente Mayor Pro Tem Chris Duncan said the resolution caused concern within the community. He said this topic has drawn more email responses from residents than any other that he’s handled during his two years on the council. Most of that communication has been against the proposed resolution.

“I don’t think the majority of residents in San Clemente … want government taking away their long-held rights to control their body,” said Duncan, a Democrat running to represent the 74th Assembly District. “We saw that with the vote in Kansas the other day.”

National abortion fight gets local

The back-and-forth in San Clemente is part of a larger national conversation that’s grown louder since June, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and left the issue of abortion to individual states. Since then, at least 13 states have moved to ban or restrict the procedure, with more expected to do so by the end of this year. Many other states, including California, have passed laws to expand access to abortion and back a woman’s right to choose.

Earlier this week, voters in Kansas — a state that preferred Donald Trump over Joe Biden in the 2020 election by about 15 points — overwhelmingly chose to uphold abortion rights protections in the state constitution.

“This vote makes clear what we know: The majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions,” President Joe Biden said on Wednesday, Aug. 3, a day after the vote in Kansas.

Knoblock said he hasn’t paid attention to what other groups or states are doing about abortion but, as a public servant, he believes he should bring the discussion forward. He added that he’s particularly concerned about Proposition 1, which if approved by state voters in November, would prohibit anyone in California from denying or interfering with a person’s reproductive health care, including any decision a person might make about abortion and contraception.

‘All it takes is one city’ 

Should San Clemente have declared itself a “sanctuary for life,” it wouldn’t be the first to do so. In fact, several dozen cities, working with Right to Life of East Texas, have passed ordinances that outlaw abortion procedures within city limits. Still others have passed resolutions.

Texas is among the states banning abortion. The state also has passed rules that allow citizens to sue clinics or anyone else who “aids or abets” a legal abortion outside of Texas.

According to Mark Lee Dickson, the director of Right to Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative, 50 cities — mostly in Texas — have passed ordinances banning abortion.

“Cities should do everything in their power to protect residents of their communities — both the born and the unborn,” Dickson said in an email.

“In the same breath, cities must also be smart about the laws they enact to protect their residents,” he said, advocating for an enforceable ordinance over a resolution.

“Gov. Newsom has been very clear that he wants California to be a sanctuary for abortion access,” Dickson added.

“This leaves the people of California who believe in protecting innocent human life having to make a decision: Will San Clemente be a ‘sanctuary for abortion,’ or will the good people of San Clemente do everything in their power to fight against it? All it takes is one city who is willing to go first. All it takes is one city which fears God more than they fear Gov. Newsom.”

San Clemente’s draft resolution did, in fact, invoke religion.

“We believe that life is God-ordained and God is the author and finisher of every life,” the resolution said. “No matter if at the beginning or at the end. We stand in agreement that, as a City Council, we will protect and sustain life at every stage. As we ask God to bless America, we first have to honor and respect God. We feel that we do both by protecting life and passing this resolution.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Bill Allowing Safe Injection Sites in Los Angeles Heads to Governor’s Desk

A bold plan to provide places for people to use illegal drugs making its way through the California legislature. The bill would allow supervised injection sites.

Los Angeles is one of the three cities being considered for the pilot program and the bill is heading to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.

The idea, according to proponents, is to provide a place where people could use drugs safely.

Senate Bill 57 allows certain areas to create injection sites. The California department of public health says there were more than 5,500 overdose deaths in 2020.

The bill, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, passed the state Senate by a 21-11 vote Monday.

“An absolute explosion in overdose deaths in California and other parts of the country, it’s a national problem,” Weiner said.

Under the proposal, three areas: L.A. County including the city of L.A., San Francisco and Oakland could create pilot programs where people use drugs they bring with them.

Proponents said it would reduce overdoses because there would be people there to help in case if an emergency.

“Allow them to go inside so the public won’t see them into a setting that is safer and healthier and cleaner, where if they do overdose the overdose it can be immediately reversed so they don’t die,” Weiner said.

Weiner said people could then be offered treatment.

“The intention is done with heart, but the unintended consequences are much greater,” Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh said.

Opponents said drug users don’t have to accept any treatment.

“So the incentive is for them to go to these safe zones for the injections, but there’s no requirement of them to seek treatment,” Ochoa Bogh said. “It’s there to be offered as a referral as a resource but it’s not required of them.”

Deaths attributed to accidental drug overdoses in L.A. County increased by 52% during the first 10 months of the pandemic compared to the same time period in 2019, according to a July 2021 report by the county.

Some worry this would allow cities to operate drug dens. They worry it would normalize substance abuse.

“I’m not sure that many taxpayers would be an agreement to use their tax dollars to facilitate drug use,” Ochoa Bogh said.

The bill is expected to be on Governor Newsom’s desk by the end of this week. After that, he has 12 days to sign it or veto it.

Newsom said in 2018 he was “very, very open” to the idea of a pilot program to allow legal drug injection sites, splitting with his predecessor Jerry Brown, who vetoed a similar bill that same year.

Click here to read the full article at ABC7.com

Vin Scully, Iconic Former Los Angeles Dodgers Broadcaster, Dies at Age 94

Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, whose dulcet tones provided the soundtrack of summer while entertaining and informing Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years, died Tuesday night, the team said. He was 94.

“We have lost an icon,” Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement. “Vin Scully was one of the greatest voices in all of sports. He was a giant of a man, not only as a broadcaster, but as a humanitarian. He loved people. He loved life. He loved baseball and the Dodgers. And he loved his family. His voice will always be heard and etched in all of our minds forever. I know he was looking forward to joining the love of his life, Sandi. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this very difficult time. Vin will be truly missed.”

Scully died at his home in the Hidden Hills section of Los Angeles, according to the team, which spoke to family members. No cause of death was provided.

“Today we mourn the loss of a legend in our game,” Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Vin was an extraordinary man whose gift for broadcasting brought joy to generations of Dodger fans. In addition, his voice played a memorable role in some of the greatest moments in the history of our sport. I am proud that Vin was synonymous with Baseball because he embodied the very best of our National Pastime. As great as he was as a broadcaster, he was equally great as a person.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Vin’s family, friends, Dodger fans and his admirers everywhere.”

As the longest-tenured broadcaster with a single team in pro sports history, Scully saw it all and called it all. He began in the 1950s era of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, on to the 1960s with Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, into the 1970s with Steve Garvey and Don Sutton, and through the 1980s with Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela. In the 1990s, it was Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo, followed by Clayton Kershaw, Manny Ramirez and Yasiel Puig in the 21st century.

“He was the best there ever was,” Kershaw said after the Dodgers’ game Tuesday night in San Francisco. “Just when you think about the Dodgers, there’s a lot of history here and a lot of people that have come through. It’s just a storied franchise all the way around. But it almost starts with Vin, honestly.

“Just such a special man. I’m grateful and thankful I got to know him as well as I did.”

Tweeted Puig: “You gave me my Wild Horse name. You gave me love. You hugged me like a father. I will never forget you, my heart is broken.”

The Dodgers changed players, managers, executives, owners — and even coasts — but Scully and his soothing, insightful style remained a constant for the fans.

He opened broadcasts with the familiar greeting, “Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be.”

Ever gracious both in person and on the air, Scully considered himself merely a conduit between the game and the fans.

After the Dodgers’ 9-5 win in San Francisco at Oracle Park — where in October 2016 Scully broadcast the final game of his career — a tribute to him was shown on the videoboard.

Fans of both teams stopped and applauded Scully before exiting.

“There’s not a better storyteller, and I think everyone considers him family,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He was in our living rooms for many generations. He lived a fantastic life, a legacy that will live on forever.”

Although he was paid by the Dodgers, Scully was unafraid to criticize a bad play or a manager’s decision or praise an opponent while spinning stories against a backdrop of routine plays and noteworthy achievements. He always said he wanted to see things with his eyes, not his heart.

“He had a voice & a way of storytelling that made you think he was only talking to you,” former Lakers great Magic Johnson, a part owner of the Dodgers, tweeted. “Vin was the nicest & sweetest man outside of the booth & was beloved by all of our Dodgers family.”

Jaime Jarrin, the Spanish voice of the Dodgers and a Hall of Fame broadcaster as well, mourned the loss of his counterpart, writing on Twitter: “We’ve lost the greatest chronicler of baseball and any sport. I’ve lost the architect of my professional life, a beloved friend: Vin Scully. I’m experiencing how difficult it is to put my thoughts together now and all I can say is rest in peace, we’ll see each other again soon.”

Vincent Edward Scully was born Nov. 29, 1927, in the Bronx. He was the son of a silk salesman who died of pneumonia when Scully was 7. His mother moved the family to Brooklyn, where the red-haired, blue-eyed Scully grew up playing stickball in the streets.

As a child, Scully would grab a pillow, put it under the family’s four-legged radio and lay his head directly under the speaker to hear whatever college football game was on the air. With a snack of saltine crackers and a glass of milk nearby, the boy was transfixed by the crowd’s roar that raised goosebumps. He thought he would like to call the action himself.

Scully, who played outfield for two years on the Fordham baseball team and briefly served in the U.S. Navy, began his career by working baseball, football and basketball games for the university’s radio station.

At age 22, he was hired by a CBS radio affiliate in Washington. He soon joined Hall of Famer Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ radio and television booths. In 1953, at age 25, Scully became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game, an achievement that still stands.

Scully moved West with the Dodgers in 1958. Scully called three perfect games — Don Larsen’s in the 1956 World Series, Koufax’s in 1965 and Dennis Martinez’s in 1991 — and 20 no-hitters.

He also was on the air when Drysdale set his scoreless innings streak of 58⅔ innings in 1968 and again when Hershiser broke the record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings 20 years later.

When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s record in 1974, it was against the Dodgers and, of course, Scully called it.

“A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol,” Scully told listeners. “What a marvelous moment for baseball.”

Scully credited the birth of the transistor radio as “the greatest single break” of his career. Fans had trouble recognizing the lesser players during the Dodgers’ first four years in the vast Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

“They were 70 or so odd rows away from the action,” he said in 2016. “They brought the radio to find out about all the other players and to see what they were trying to see down on the field.”

That habit carried over when the team moved to Dodger Stadium in 1962. Fans held radios to their ears, and those not present listened from home or the car, allowing Scully to connect generations of families with his words.

He often said it was best to describe a big play quickly and then be quiet so fans could listen to the pandemonium. After Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, Scully went silent for 38 seconds before talking again. He was similarly silent for a time after Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Scully was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year and had the stadium’s press box named for him in 2001. The street leading to Dodger Stadium’s main gate was named in his honor in 2016.

That same year, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

“God has been so good to me to allow me to do what I’m doing,” Scully, a devout Catholic who attended Mass on Sundays before heading to the ballpark, said before retiring. “A childhood dream that came to pass and then giving me 67 years to enjoy every minute of it. That’s a pretty large Thanksgiving Day for me.”

In addition to being the voice of the Dodgers, Scully called play-by-play for NFL games and PGA Tour events as well as calling 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games. He was NBC’s lead baseball announcer from 1983 to 1989.

Scully also received the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award, which recognizes accomplishments and contributions of historical significance, in 2014. He became just the second non-player to receive the award, joining Rachel Robinson.

While being one of the most widely heard broadcasters in the nation, Scully was an intensely private man. Once the baseball season ended, he would disappear. He rarely did personal appearances or sports talk shows and preferred spending time with his family.

In 1972, his first wife, Joan, died of an accidental overdose of medicine. He was left with three young children. Two years later, he met the woman who would become his second wife, Sandra, a secretary for the Los Angeles Rams. She had two young children from a previous marriage, and they combined their families into what Scully once called “my own Brady Bunch.”

He said he realized time was the most precious thing in the world and that he wanted to use his time to spend with his loved ones. In the early 1960s, Scully quit smoking with the help of his family. In the shirt pocket where he kept a pack of cigarettes, Scully stuck a family photo. Whenever he felt like he needed a smoke, he pulled out the photo to remind him why he quit. Eight months later, Scully never smoked again.

After retiring in 2016, Scully made just a handful of appearances at Dodger Stadium and his sweet voice was heard narrating an occasional video played during games. Mostly, he was content to stay close to home.

“I just want to be remembered as a good man, an honest man, and one who lived up to his own beliefs,” he said in 2016.

Click here to read the full article at ESPN.com

The Manchin, Schumer ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ is a Fraud

Let’s look at just how the Manchin, Schumer mini version of Build Back Better is supposed to fight inflation

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is rushing to push through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

I don’t blame him. The more scrutiny the mini-Build Back Better proposal gets, the worse it looks.  

Let’s start with the obvious: despite its Ministry of Disinformation title, the legislation will not reduce inflation. Analysis from the Penn Wharton Budget Model concludes “the impact on inflation is statistically indistinguishable from zero.”    

This is the same PWBM that Schumer touted when opposing the GOP tax bill a while back and that Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., describes as “well respected by both sides of the aisle.” 

In addition, promises that the bill will reduce our fiscal deficit rely on optimistic assumptions about what a beefed-up the IRS will sniff out in the way of tax fraud and $313 billion in proceeds from a tax on corporations that is so injurious to our manufacturers that even Democrats will likely decide to pare it back.

As to making what President Joe Biden calls an historic investment in combatting climate change, it seems unlikely that expanding tax credits for buying even more EVs and subsidizing more renewables will solve the gritty problems of raw materials shortages and other issues sure to be complicated by the “made in America” provisions of the bill.

So, chances are that while it checks a number of satisfying boxes for Democrats running scared ahead of the midterms, this bill will not reduce inflation, will not bring down our deficit and will not have much impact on the climate.

Moreover, it will raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000, belying a critical promise made by President Joe Biden and repeated just recently by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is promoting this damaging bill. 

Otherwise, it’s a terrific piece of legislation that just magically appeared full-blown at 700-plus pages out of a darkened basement, rather like our befuddled and wildly unpopular president. 

Let’s review. How is this bill supposed to fight inflation? First, by allowing the government to negotiate certain drug prices, which supposedly will save $288 billion over 10 years.

Fully 40% of that ($122 billion) comes from revoking a rule put in place by the Trump administration that was never going to be implemented anyway. Such are the games played in this legislation. 

There is no doubt that the government could effectively set prices on a variety of drugs, since it controls roughly 36% of total healthcare spending. But drug companies, hit by those price limits, are almost sure to raise prices on other products, new drugs or even on those same products marketed to private customers. They will not simply absorb the lower profits delivered by the feds, nor should they. 

Plus, the rising cost of prescription drug prices is not driving inflation. In fact, in May, while the Consumer Price Index rose 8.6%, prices paid for prescription drugs rose less than 2%. 

So, capping a commodity that is not actually contributing much to inflation cannot be expected to bring it down. 

Second, the bill will purportedly fight inflation by bringing down the deficit. Of course, since Democrats deny that their reckless $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan blew up our already bloated budget deficit and delivered inflation, this is a tricky argument. 

Apparently, some deficits are worse than others.

In any event, the deficit impact depends partly on whether giving the IRS an additional $80 billion will yield substantial incremental revenues. 

In an earlier iteration of Build Back Better, the Biden administration estimated such an investment in tax snoops would yield $316 billion over 10 years; the nonpartisan CBO cut that down to $200 billion. Now Democrats estimate the windfall at $124 billion, a further downgrade that does little to build our confidence.

The other source of increased revenue comes from tax hikes that, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, would raise an additional $16.7 billion on American taxpayers earning less than $200,000 in 2023. The proposal would raise another $14.1 billion from taxpayers earning between $200,000 and $500,000.

Moreover, over the 10-year window covered by the bill, the average tax rate paid by every single income category would increase.

That’s because the 15% minimum tax on “book” corporate profits – profits reduced by the immediate expensing of depreciation for tax purposes – will stifle business spending that increases productivity and that leads to wage increases. And, because corporations don’t eat those tax hikes – they pass them along via lower wages and reduced investment. CLICK HERE TO GET THE OPINION NEWSLETTER

The National Association of Manufacturers says the tax next year will reduce income for workers by $17.1 billion – and that’s just one year. They conclude it will also cost 218,108 workers their jobs.

The bill, though, will give hefty taxpayer handouts to some favored industries. The Wall Street Journal notes that “companies will get tax credits for spending on wind, solar, critical minerals, biofuels, hydrogen, carbon capture, nuclear, “sustainable” aviation fuel, lithium-ion batteries, electric-vehicle charging stations and more.” 

We’ve seen how successful the federal government can be when picking winners and losers. Remember Solyndra?

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews.com

CalPERS’ $29 billion Loss is More Than Just a Flesh Wound

“Just a flesh wound,” protests the Black Knight in Monty Python’s famous “Holy Grail” comedy, challenging King Arthur to continue their duel even after all his limbs have been severed.

Similar happy talk is coming from the management of California’s big public employee pension funds after CalPERS, the nation’s largest institutional investor, posted a loss of $29 billion. When CalPERS reported on its end-of-fiscal-year performance, its July 20th press release was headlined, “Challenging global public markets, strong private market returns lead to varied performance.” Varied performance, indeed.

Overall, the hit to the system’s portfolio of investments was a 6.1% decline for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Stocks and bonds took the biggest hit while its real estate holdings actually gained, helping to avoid an even a bigger loss. But the drop from $469 billion to $440 billion is bad news for taxpayers.

Relax, say those who defend CalPERS and its system of “defined benefits.”

Ted Toppin, the executive director of the Professional Engineers in California Government, one of the state’s most powerful unions whose members reap big pensions under CalPERS, says in a recent Capitol Weekly piece, “Don’t be alarmed” over these record losses.

Well, of course not. His members and all participants in CalPERS — both currently retired or employed — can afford to relax because they know that if the investments by CalPERS are insufficient to cover their benefits, taxpayers are on the hook. So at the same time private-sector employees and the self-employed watch their own retirement portfolios sink, they also have to worry about higher taxes to cover the losses of the big public pension funds.

Fiscal watchdogs have been warning about this for more than 40 years only to be ignored by our elected leadership, whose cozy relationship with public-sector unions makes even modest pension reform nearly impossible.

As this column warned back in 2018, “California’s pension crisis exists in large part due to the very nature of defined-benefit plans. Unlike defined-contribution plans, where the taxpayers’ obligation to each public employee ends with every pay period, defined-benefit plans depend on a projection of future investment returns. And therein lies the problem. California has been horribly wrong in its application of assumed rates of return, leading to hundreds of billions in unfunded liabilities. And this shortfall is occurring in good economic times when the state of California is relatively flush. A recession will quickly expose this short-sighted thinking.”

It is difficult for citizen taxpayers to wrap their heads around the size of the problem. “A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you are talking about real money,” as the late Senator Everett Dirksen famously quipped. But the best way to assess the risks to taxpayer is to consider the amount CalPERS must have to fully meet its obligations both present and future. Prior to the record loss, CalPERS was 80% funded, which some consider to be “fully funded.” The loss of $29 billion reduces the investments to an extent that CalPERS is now only 72% funded. The risk to taxpayers, the ultimate backstop, is going up.

Moreover, the notion that even at 80% funding CalPERS is healthy is wrong.

In fact, the American Academy of Actuaries calls this “The 80% Pension Funding Myth,” noting that “plans should have as their objective accumulating assets equal to 100% of relevant pension obligations.”

Trouble for CalPERS means trouble for local governments as well. David Crane, Research Scholar at Stanford and President of Govern for California, has previously noted that, even without a stock market crash, California would still be in trouble “because pension spending in California crowds out services [of local governments] at times.”

As local governments get squeezed, they are tempted to try risky strategies, such as issuing “Pension Obligation Bonds,” rather than control employee pension costs.

But POBs are magnets for litigation.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has a winning record of challenging these esoteric debt instruments.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

California Should Build Infrastructure, Not Shame Water Users

 After returning from a recent trip to the rainy Pacific Northwest, I opened the faucet and instead of hearing rushing water I heard only the dreadful coughing sound one gets from empty pipes. Fortunately, my well hadn’t gone dry, but some mechanical part in the pump had given out.

Still, few things are as frightening as running out of water. Our well was running in 24 hours, but that was a long day of using bottled water and rationing the use of toilets. It reminded me of the disaster that awaits if California can’t fix its shortages before it rains again. By the way, it was creepy driving past Mt. Shasta and noticing its non-existent snowpack.

The state always has been plagued by alternating droughts and floods. “California summers were characterized by the coughing in the pipes that meant the well was dry, and California winters by all-night watches on rivers about to crest,” wrote Joan Didion in her 1977 essay, “Holy Water.” Living near California’s last undammed river, I’ve spent long nights watching the Cosumnes overcome the aging levees.

Counterintuitive as it sounds, policy makers spend too much time worrying about how much water Californians use to run their households – and too little time figuring out how to bring more water into our system. The state hasn’t built significant water infrastructure since Didion penned that essay – when the state had 17.6-million fewer residents.

Five years ago, Jerry Brown announced the official end of a grueling six-year drought. Other than passing resolutions to “make conservation a way of life,” the former governor didn’t do much to improve the situation. After rains resumed, interest waned in fixing our water supply issues.

These days, the Newsom administration and Legislature have done little more than engage in water shaming. They want to badger us into using less water, as the state imposes tougher water-use standards on water districts and some districts (especially in the Bay Area) embrace water rationing.

Conservation is, of course, a good idea – and local districts that manage depleted reservoirs perhaps have no choice but to issue water-use edicts. But there’s a better way forward than encouraging people to report their water-wasting neighbors to the authorities.

“Since the drought emergency was declared in July 2021, Californians have reduced water usage by 2 percent, far below (Newsom’s) goal of 15 percent,” the Los Angeles Times reported this month. “You’re not saving enough water, Southern California,” blared a July Orange County Register article noting that, “draconian measures may be coming to stop folks from watering all those begonias.”

Begonias aren’t the problem. Californians and other residents of the parched Western states have indeed been conserving water. It is a way of life and has been for years. In the 1990s, Californians used around 200 gallons per capita per day (down from 220 in the 1980s), but now use around 48 gallons per capita per day – below the statewide standard of 55.

My favorite statistic comes from far drier Arizona, where Arizonans use less total water than they did in 1957 – when that state had one-seventh its current population. There’s no need to shame Westerners for their water usage, but there is reason to shame our officials for not doing their part to upgrade and build new water infrastructure.

Newsom was elected in 2018, and only this week did he reveal his plan for the Delta tunnel. “After three years with little to no public activity, the state released an environmental blueprint for … a 45-mile tunnel that would divert water from the Sacramento River and route it under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta so that it can be shipped to farms and cities,” the Sacramento Bee reported.

The now-single tunnel proposal will not provide more water, but will assure more reliable deliveries. The Sacramento River flows into the Delta, where it gets mired in hundreds of miles of waterways before the water is pumped southward. Administrators frequently shutter the pumps when a Delta smelt is found in the fish screens.

Environmentalists are aghast at the plan. They predict an environmental catastrophe, yet currently – thanks to saltwater intrusion from the Pacific Ocean and subsidence (sinking land) – that beautiful region is suffering from a slow-motion environmental mess. The plan will also fund habitat restoration.

Where are the plans to bolster our water-storage capacities? Why can’t California prepare for the future? Recently, the California Coastal Commission rejected a desalination plant that would have met 12 percent of Orange County’s water needs. Newsom supported it, but didn’t expend much political capital to assure its approval.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

California Exodus Continues, With L.A., San Francisco Leading the Way: ‘Why are We Here?’

After living in the Bay Area for nearly seven years, Hari Raghavan and his wife decided to leave for the East Coast late last year.

They were both working remotely and wanted to leave California because of the high cost of living and urban crime.So they made a list of potential relocation cities before choosing Miami for its sunny weather and what they perceived was a better sense of safety.

Raghavan said that their Oakland house had been broken into four times and that prior to the pandemic, his wife called him every day during her seven-minute walk home from the BART station because she felt safer with someone on the phone. After moving to Miami, Raghavan said they accidentally left their garage door open one day and were floored when they returned home and found nothing had been stolen.

“We moved to the Bay Area because we had to be there if you want to work in tech and start-ups, and now that that’s no longer a tether, we took a long hard look and said, ‘Wait, why are we here again?’ ” Raghavan said.

He said there wasn’t much draw in California’s quality of life, local or social policies, or cost of living. “That forced us to question where we actually wanted to live,” he said.

An acceleration of people leaving coastal California began during the first year of the pandemic. But new data show it continued even after lockdowns and other COVID restrictions eased.

California ranks second in the country for outbound moves — a phenomenon that has snowballed during the pandemic, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which tracked data from moving company United Van Lines. Between 2018 and 2019, California had an outbound move rate of 56%. That rate rose to nearly 60% in 2020-21.

Citing changes in work-life balance, opportunities for remote work and more people deciding to quit their jobs, the report found that droves of Californians are leaving for states like Texas, Virginia, Washington and Florida. California lost more than 352,000 residents between April 2020 and January 2022, according to California Department of Finance statistics.

San Francisco and Los Angeles rank first and second in the country, respectively, for outbound moves as the cost of living and housing prices continue to balloon and homeowners flee to less expensive cities, according to a report from Redfin released this month.

Angelenos, in particular, are flocking to places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Antonio and Dallas. The number of Los Angeles residents leaving the city jumped from around 33,000 in the second quarter of 2021 to nearly 41,000 in the same span of 2022, according to the report.

California has grappled with extremely high housing prices compared with other states, according to USC economics professor Matthew Kahn. Combined with the pandemic and the rise in remote work, privileged households relocated when they had the opportunity.

“People want to live here, but an unintended consequence of the state’s environmentalism is we’re not building enough housing in desirable downtown areas,” Kahn said. “That prices out middle-class people to the suburbs [and creates] long commutes. We don’t have road pricing to help the traffic congestion, and these headaches add up. So when you create the possibility of work from home, many of these people … they say ‘enough’ and they move to a cheaper metropolitan area.”

Kahn also pointed out that urban crime, a growing unhoused population, public school quality and overall quality of life are driving out residents.

“In New York City, but also in San Francisco, there are all these fights about which kids get into which elite public schools,” he said. “The rich are always able to hide in their bubble, but if the middle class looks at this quality of life declining, that’s a push factor to leave.”

Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather cited a June report that tracked the change in spending power of a homebuyer on a $2,500 monthly budget. While 11.2% of homes in Los Angeles were affordable on that budget, using a 3% interest rate, that amount swelled to about 72% in Houston and about 50% in Phoenix.

“It’s really an affordability problem,” Fairweather said. “California for the longest time has prioritized single-family zoning, which makes it so people stay in their homes longer because their property taxes don’t reflect the true value. California is the epicenter of where the housing shortage is so people have no choice but to move elsewhere.”

While California experienced a major population boom in the late 20th century — reaching 37 million people by 2000 — it’s been losing residents since, with new growth lagging behind the rest of the country, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. The state’s population increased by 5.8% from 2010 to 2020, below the national growth rate of 6.8%, and resulting in the loss of a congressional seat in 2021 for the first time in the state’s history.

Although California has relied on immigration to offset its population decline for the past two decades, that flow has also shrunk, according to UCLA economics professor Lee Ohanian.

Delays in processing migration requests to the U.S. were compounded during the pandemic, resulting in the lowest levels of immigration in decades, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Estimates showed a net increase of 244,000 new immigrants between 2020 and 2021 — roughly half the 477,000 new immigrant residents recorded between 2019 and 2020 and a drastic reduction from more than 1 million reported from 2015 to 2016.

The state is also seeing a dwindling middle class, said Ohanian, who cited a report from the National Assn. of Realtors, outlining that the national median home sales price has reached $416,000, a record high. Meanwhile, California’s median home price has topped $800,000.

“[California is] at a risk for becoming a state for very, very wealthy people and very, very low earners who receive state and local and federal aid that allows them to be able to live here,” Ohanian said. “We should worry about those in the middle who are earning that $78,000 household median income and is, at the end of the day, really struggling, especially if they have interest in buying a home.”

Los Angeles County, in particular, has suffered from slowed population growth, as have rural parts of the state, while Orange County, Sacramento and some parts of the Bay Area have managed to see some gains, the Public Policy Institute of California found.

Fairweather said that since she last lived in Los Angeles in 2016, she’s noticed fewer affordable places to rent.

“It used to be that Santa Monica and Beverly Hills were expensive, but you could find affordable housing on the Eastside,” she said. “But that got expensive and you had to find housing near South Central. Now, there’s nowhere within a two-hour commute of downtown Los Angeles that’s still affordable.”

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Facebook, Instagram Posts Flagged as False for Rejecting Biden’s Recession Wordplay

Meta’s third-party fact-checkers have flagged as “false information” posts on Instagram and Facebook accusing the Biden administration of changing the definition of a recession in order to deny that the U.S. economy has entered one. This is yet another reminder that the project of purportedly independent fact-checking on social media is a highly partisan one, in which legitimately debatable opinions are passed off as objective truth.

Last week, the White House published an online article disputing the standard definition of an economic recession: i.e., two consecutive fiscal quarters in which GDP growth was negative.

“Both official determinations of recessions and economists’ assessment of economic activity are based on a holistic look at the data—including the labor market, consumer and business spending, industrial production, and incomes,” wrote the White House. “Based on these data, it is unlikely that the decline in GDP in the first quarter of this year—even if followed by another GDP decline in the second quarter—indicates a recession.”

This post has been widely shared—and in some cases, mocked—on social media. Graham Allen, an Instagram personality, posted a video reacting to the post in which he asked Siri to define the term recession. Siri’s definition: two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.

But Allen’s video is currently obscured on Instagram; users can still watch it, but they first have to click past a disclaimer that it contains “false information reviewed by independent fact-checkers.” A similar label has appeared on some Facebook posts that also take issue with the Biden administration’s wordplay.

The fact-checker is Politifact, a fact-checking website run by the Poynter Institute. Politifact is an official third-party fact-checking apparatus for Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram. This means that PolitiFact is not like any ordinary website that offers a critique of a political narrative: PolitiFact’s critiques are enforced by social media platforms.

In this instance, PolitiFact has rated as false the claim that “the White House is now trying to protect Joe Biden by changing the definition of the word recession.” PolitiFact acknowledges that the Biden administration’s efforts to spin current economic conditions as something other than a recession are political in nature. Nevertheless, the fact-checkers conclude that since the White House is citing the National Bureau of Economic Research’s official definition, the administration is on solid footing.

Phil Magness, director of research and education at the American Institute for Economic Research, thinks PolitiFact is playing games.

“In this case, PolitiFact’s ‘ruling’ is compounded by the fact that they have previously invoked the very same definition of a recession—2 consecutive quarters of GDP decline— in previous rulings to either provide cover to exaggerated Democratic claims about an impending recession or tear down Republican claims to the same effect,” he tells Reason.

In a recent op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Magness explained that the NBER is not the “official arbiter of recessions”; on the contrary, the federal government has often used the general definition preferred by most lay people, as well as Siri:

Mr. Biden’s economic advisers are certainly free to make the case for a revised determination. The NBER takes a more holistic approach, in part because some recessionary events are shorter than two quarters or manifest in nonconsecutive quarters. But this rationale works against the White House’s current argument, which seeks to delay acknowledging a recession even if a two-quarter decline is observed this year. The NBER committee has previously acknowledged recessions that fell short of a strict and sustained two-quarter contraction. This last happened during the 2000 dot-com bust, which played out in nonconsecutive quarterly drops.

While recognizing its limitations, the traditional definition of a recession provides a functional rule of thumb to interpret events as they unfold. The NBER determination is a rigorous and reputable historical indicator for dating the beginning and end of business-cycle troughs, but it isn’t suitable for real-time policy determinations.

This is hardly the first time that the social media fact-checking industry has failed to add clarity to a contentious issue. Last year, PolitiFact rated as false the claim that COVID-19 is 99 percent survivable for most age groups.

“Experts say a person cannot determine their own chances at surviving COVID-19 by looking at national statistics, because the data doesn’t take into account the person’s own risks and COVID-19 deaths are believed to be undercounted,” wrote PolitiFact.

Regardless of what “experts say,” it is certainly the case that individual persons can estimate their likelihood of surviving COVD-19 based on national statistics. The disease’s age discrimination is extreme: The overwhelming majority of young, healthy people are not at significant risk, especially when compared with elderly Americans. This was a curious fact-check, and it was hardly the first.

Science Feedback, another of Meta’s fact-checking partners, wrongly labeled as false one of my own articles about the efficacy of mask mandates in schools. Not only was the fact-check incorrect, but it also introduced a new error: The fact-checker suggested that my article had erroneously claimed masks don’t work to stop the spread of COVID-19 in schools. In actuality, my article had only asserted that there wasn’t much compelling evidence that mask mandates had made a difference. (A year later, this distinction is moot, since even COVID-cautious public health officials now admit the cloth masks required in most schools do practically nothing to thwart the variants.) After I pointed out the mistake to Facebook, Science Feedback removed the “false information” label.

Click here to read the full article at Reason.com