Patterico's Pontifications


Another Year of Horrid Ballot Propositions in California

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:58 am

[guest post by JVW]

Proving the adage that everything noble is eventually corrupted, the citizens, interest groups, and legislature of the Golden State have once again conspired to place a series of foolhardy ballot measures up to the public for debate. Each election year we Californians, who put the “crazy” into democrazy, mull over a slew of initiatives and propositions which represent items so rancid that even the mono-party California Legislature refuses to consider them, or else they are ideas that either require the assent of the governed in order to be enacted or are controversial enough that the legislature prefers to let the riff-raff of the state have the final word. Once in a while a conservative group will cobble together enough valid signatures to place an item for public consideration, only to usually see it die a quick yet painful death.

This year our propositions are the usual collection of the stupid, the useless, and the foolhardy. I know many readers don’t reside in our dysfunctional avocado republic, but in the past some of you have mentioned that you enjoy hearing about the folly we like to inflict upon ourselves, so here you go:

Proposition 14
What is it: It authorizes the state to sell $5.5 billion in bonds, the proceeds of which will be used to continue and expand the stem cell initiative of 2004.
Who’s for it: Big Science, as well as the wealthy philanthropist who spearheaded the 2004 initiative in response to the suffering of some family members.
Who’s against it: Just about everyone in the state who has figured out that the 2004 stem cell initiative did not unlock a bevy of cures which then in turn showered the state in the promised royalty and tax revenue.
How I’m going to vote: Against. I voted no on the 2004 initiative. There’s plenty of venture capital in this state, so if stem cells are a promising field they will have no trouble raising money privately.

Proposition 15
What is it: The first major challenge to 1978’s property tax-limiting measure, Prop 13, this year’s measure would allow commercial property holdings in excess of $3 million to be reassessed at current market value for property tax purposes in order to allegedly raise $6.5 – $11 billion annually “for the schools.”
Who’s for it: The dominant leftist cartel, educrats, and a lot of people who rely upon state tax dollars for their employment.
Who’s against it: Business owners and associations, taxpayer groups, the last two or three small government advocates left here, the NAACP, landlords, some renters’ associations, pretty much anyone who understands he or she would directly or indirectly be paying these increased taxes and isn’t already filthy rich.
How I’m going to vote: No — aw, hell no! The left has long claimed that Prop 13 “starves” the state of needed revenue, even though we have somehow managed to fund a $222 billion budget in the meantime. With a pretty strong coalition against Prop 15, including some skittish Democrat legislators, I’m optimistic it will go down to a well-deserved defeat. Otherwise, look for the same coalition to sooner-rather-than-later come after residential properties too.

Proposition 16
What is it: It undoes Prop 209 from 1996 which prohibits the use of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or natural origin in government decision-making. It would allow for these factors to once again be used in public college admissions, employment, and the awarding of state contracts.
Who’s for it: The wokedy-woke and the diversity industry. They have been pining for this moment for the past 24 years, and believe the hour has at last come. The legislature considered a run at undoing 209 six years ago, but kept their powder dry until this moment.
Who’s against it: The un-woke and those who believe that a pluralistic state which is now majority minority ought to judge people by factors that are not entirely related to DNA. Asian-Americans in particular feel that they have a lot to lose by repealing 209, and they were a key player in forcing the legislature to back down in 2014, though the rise of woke Asian-Americans complicates matters somewhat.
How I’m going to vote: No. I actually voted against Prop 209 two dozen years ago for a variety of reasons, but in retrospect I think that vote was a mistake on my part. I am afraid, though, that our state suffers from terminal wokedness and that Prop 16 will pass. If I am wrong, that’s a sign that there really is a silent majority in this state who is tired of all the diversity bullying.

Proposition 17
What is it: Gives felons the right to vote after completing their prison term.
Who’s for it: The usual criminal-reform folks, racial and ethnic organizations, and Democrats who expect to benefit from voting felons.
Who’s against it: Law-and-order types, victims rights groups, Republicans who think this will lead to a higher Democrat vote totals.
How I’m going to vote: I suppose no. I would consider a yes vote if this forced ex-cons to complete their full probationary period before having voting rights restored. As it is, knowing that the Bernard Sanders crazies want even currently incarcerated felons to be able to vote, I would rather throw up a road block here and now than find ourselves sending ballots to Folsom and San Quentin in four years’ time.

Proposition 18
What is it: Allows 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections, provided that they turn 18 before the general election.
Who’s for it: Democrats who rely upon naïve voters to unquestioningly accept their agenda.
Who’s against it: People like me and W.C. Fields who don’t particularly like the young.
How I’m going to vote: There’s a decent argument to be made in favor of this, but now that California primary elections with their “jungle ballot” oftentimes elect a candidate who achieves a majority of the vote without requiring a general election runoff, I think I’ll vote no. Some hard left hamlets, such as San Francisco, are pushing the idea of allowing 16-year-olds to vote, and I’m cynical enough to see that as an attempt to get mush-minded kids who don’t pay income tax to rally around big government initiatives that their parents would have to pay for. As with Prop 17, I would rather nip this idea in the bud right away.

Proposition 19
What is it: This is a retread of 2018’s failed Prop 5, which allows homeowners over age 55 to transfer their lower property tax assessment from a home they sell to a newer home that they purchase. Advocates have tried to sweeten the pot for progressives by at the same time tightening the ability for families to pass down non-primary-residence homes or farms to younger generations without triggering a new tax assessment.
Who’s for it: Senior citizen groups, realtors, developers, local politicians who believe the legislative analyst that this will lead to a net increase in tax revenue for cities and counties, which seems to me to be a questionable assertion.
Who’s against it: Anti-tax groups and some Republican legislators
How I’m going to vote: I voted against Prop 5 two years ago because I didn’t like the idea that it was essentially a $1 billion tax break for senior citizens when I think it is young families struggling to afford a home who deserve the break. Advocates have come back and added the part about forcing assessments when a $1 million non-primary-residence home or farm is transferred in order to allegedly make this a net revenue raiser for cities and counties, but I am skeptical. I am going to study this one a bit more, but I’m leaning towards a no vote.

Proposition 20
What is it: Attempts to roll back some of the recent criminal reform measures such as Prop 47 and Prop 57. Increases penalties for some theft-related crimes. Restricts the ability of the state to give early release to some prisoners. Expands DNA collection program for prisoners.
Who’s for it: Law-and-order types who have been disgusted by the state’s move towards parole in lieu of incarceration. State prison employees and private prison operators whose livelihoods are threatened.
Who’s against it: Those who successfully pushed Props. 47 & 57 and who believe in miscreant rehabilitation and restorative justice.
How I’m going to vote: I’ll probably vote no, just because that’s my default vote on most propositions. Like our host, I do believe that Prop 57 went too far and that the state currently puts too much faith in hug-a-criminal programs, but I also recognize that the powerful prison employee unions have an ulterior agenda here. I want California to turn away from its coddling of criminals, but I don’t think that this ballot proposition is the way to go.

Proposition 21
What is it: Allows local governments to enact rent control policies. Another rehash of a failed 2018 initiative.
Who’s for it: Advocates for lower-cost housing who don’t mind passing the costs on to landlords.
Who’s against it: Free-market types, landlords, rental housing conglomerations.
How I’m going to vote: Emphatic no, just like two years ago. Our friend aphrael makes a solid case for rent control as the least-bad of a number of bad options, but I respectfully disagree. And I resent the idea that a proposition which failed by a 3:2 margin two years ago is being introduced again just because rent control proponents believe that anti-Trump momentum will carry them to victory. They deserve to fail miserably again.

Proposition 22
What is it: Exempts app-based rideshare and delivery companies like Uber and Lyft from the baneful effects of AB 5, against which we have inveighed since it was passed a year ago. In return, compels the companies to adopt limited benefits packages for employees.
Who’s for it: This ballot measure is fully conceptualized and funded by the rideshare companies themselves.
Who’s against it: Organized labor and their lackeys in the state legislature.
How I’m going to vote: I’ll vote yes for once, though I don’t like the fact that the rideshare companies have limited this initiative to their industry and not the myriad other industries which have been badly affected by this awful legislation. But once rideshare has their exit route, I’m guessing that AB 5 will collapse due to its own futility.

Proposition 23
What is it: Establishes regulations for kidney dialysis clinics in the state.
Who’s for it: Organized labor, who put this measure on the 2018 ballot only to have it defeated.
Who’s against it: The people who operate dialysis clinics.
How I’m going to vote: I’ll vote no, like I did two years ago. This is a personal snit between union interests who have not been successful organizing workers in a particular industry and an industry with deep enough pockets to fight back against union legislative influence, and ought not to play out in the voting booth.

Proposition 24
What is it: Further expands 2018 legislation to add new requirements for companies to maintain data privacy and allow users to opt-out of having their information shared. Imposes stiff financial penalties for non-compliance.
Who’s for it: If you believe the opponents of the proposition, it was written by Big Tech in cooperation with wealthy progressives and the legislators they fund, and provides companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. with lots of backdoor methods of compromising and profiting from the user’s desire for online privacy.
Who’s against it: If you believe the proponents of the proposition, the opposition are people who don’t care about the online safety of your children and support Big Tech’s current ability to exploit your data for profit.
How I’m going to vote: Fuck all of these people. I’m voting no just because I want to continue to see them battle it out in the court of public opinion. One other reason to vote no is because this proposition would create yet another state regulatory body full of bureaucrats operating on the public dime.

Proposition 25
What is it: Replaces money-based bail with a system based upon a judge’s determination of flight risk and public safety.
Who’s for it: The wokearati who believes that the criminal justice system is stacked against people of color and the poor.
Who’s against it: Bail bondsmen and victims’ rights groups; surprisingly, the NAACP and some Latino civil rights groups also oppose this proposition.
How I’m going to vote: I’ll vote against. I’m kind of sympathetic to the pro argument, but if we really have a problem with poor people languishing in jail because they can’t raise bail money then the proper solution is for wealthy leftists to create a foundation which posts bail on their behalf.

That’s that. This is how a reactionary and grumpy right-winger plans to vote: almost all noes (with the possibility that I might change my mind at the last minute on two issues) and one very grudging yes. Feel free to let me know how I have botched it all up with faulty logic or willful blindness.



Ballot Propositions, Have We Got Ballot Propositions

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:27 pm

[guest post by JVW]

One week from Tuesday, voters will go to the polls across this great land to determine which party controls each house of Congress, who sits in the governor’s office in 36 states (and three territories!), and the ideological make-up of the various state legislatures, many of which have some interesting ramifications for the national agenda.

Just over half of our country’s states offer ballot initiatives and/or referenda, an exercise in direct democracy whereby the citizens can vote on whether or not to enact or eliminate laws. California, which enacted the referendum and initiative option over a century ago during the Progressive Era, traditionally offers a whole panoply of ideas (good and bad) for citizens of the Golden State to consider. Accordingly, here is this year’s smörgåsbord (I so love using special keyboard characters) along with my thoughts on the best way to dispense with them (and believe me, most of them ought to be dispensed with).

[Note: I am only going to give very brief summaries of each ballot initiative, and they will no doubt be colored by my own biases and ideology. If you want a full accounting of the language and intricacies of each individual proposition, you can access the voter guide at the California Secretary of State’s website.]

Prop 1: Authorizes $4 billion in bonds for funding assistance housing programs for veterans, farm workers, people with disabilities, and the homeless.
Prop 2: Permits using existing money earmarked for housing for the mentally ill to finance $2 billion in bonds to build more housing for the homeless.
Prop 3: Issue $9 billion in bonds for various infrastructure projects, most of which have to do with providing fresh water.
Prop 4: Issue $1.5 billion in bonds to build new and renovate existing children’s hospitals, which is a huge boon to the construction industry.

Are you noticing a trend here? One of the best and worst aspects of the whole California set-up is the incessant proposal of bond issues every election. It’s a good thing, because California requires that the citizens assent to the issuance of any bonds; it’s a bad thing because our lazy and venal legislature now uses the mechanism of bonds to fund projects that properly ought to come from general funds.

Additionally, there is no guarantee that the bond money will meet the stated goals of the proposition, nor is there any accountability should they fall short. This should be a huge red flag to Californians. Two years ago, Los Angeles voters passed Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion tax initiative promising to build 10,000 new housing units for homeless Angelenos over the next decade. But an audit performed this past summer now suggests that as few as 6,000 units might be completed before funding dries up. It’s important to take a jaundiced view of the promises that government spending advocates make, since they are so very rarely realized in full.

Finally, the whole manipulativeness of the bond structure is obscene, with Prop 1 being the worst offender. There was no real need to include veterans in the Prop 1 list. They already qualify for low-interest home loans under what used to be known as the Cal-Vet program, with the loan repayments by the recipients providing the funding to pay off the loans in full without any taxpayer contributions. The state could easily increase the amount of money available to vets, but Prop 1 proponents are using veterans to cudgel us into adding yet more money for the homeless and for lower-income families. The same goes for pleading for money for children’s hospitals, which just like building housing for the homeless is a huge boon to the construction industry, who just happens to be a major supporter of all these bond issues. Funny how that works, no?

The legislative analyst tells us that debt service on the bonds is mostly manageable under the present rate of general fund revenue that is coming into the state. In other words, since the economy is good we can continue to issue bonds and the debt service ratio will peak at 4.5% of the general fund revenue (contrasted to the 2009 recession when debt service represented 6% of revenue) then level off at around 4%. However, that assumes that the economy will not go into recession and that revenues won’t drop, two assumptions that are rather hard to swallow. It also doesn’t account for future bonds which will doubtlessly be proposed. We’re spending too much already; let’s put the kibosh on the bonds for at least a couple of years, at least until we account for whether previous bonds accomplished what they promised to do.

I plan to vote no on Props 1 through 4.

Prop 5: Allows all homeowners over age 55 to transfer their lower property tax payment from their former home when they purchase a more expensive home.

Currently, several counties in the state already have this law on the books, so Prop 5 would make it statewide policy. There is a legitimate argument to be made for this, but I am tired of seeing tax breaks go to senior citizens (who vote disproportionately to their share of the population) instead of young first-time homeowners and families. In addition this will cost the state an estimated $1 billion in tax revenue, all of which will be pocketed by greedy geezers just as the state’s population continues to get older. I’m voting no.

Prop 6: Repeals the gas tax enacted by the legislature and signed into law by the governor last year. It would reduce state tax revenue by about $5.1 billion, money ostensibly used to repair roads and support public transportation.

I’m all for good roads and clean buses, but with the tax-and-spend Democrats dominating this state, repeal of the gas tax would be a shot across Gavin Newsom’s bow suggesting to him that he can’t expect to extort unlimited money from the residents of and visitors to the Golden State. It is also a giant middle finger to the public employee unions, who have funded a mindless campaign against this initiative suggesting that all of our homes will burn down because the fire departments won’t have enough money. This will be a rare yes vote on an initiative for me.

Prop 7: Would put us on permanent daylight savings time, subject to federal approval.

I’m not a morning person, so during the winter hours I would be willing to sacrifice the sun not coming out until 8:00 am if it meant we could have the sunset pushed back to 6:00 pm. The main argument against this seems to be that school kids would be going to school in the dark, but I’m all for toughening up the little dears. I’ll probably vote yes unless I am in a really grumpy mood and just automatically revert to a no vote.

Prop 8: Regulating the amount that kidney dialysis clinics can charge for treatment.

Nurses, like teachers, cops, firefighters, and other public employees are necessary and valuable members of the community. I’m sure most people have stories of a hospital stay for you or a loved one that was made infinitely more bearable by a kind, caring, professional nurse. God bless ’em; I truly mean that.

But that said, the California chapter of the American Nurses Association is one of the most avidly leftist and obnoxious unions in the entire state. Years ago, their Marxist leader formed key alliances with all of the other public employee unions, and ever since the organization has been a major supporter of private sector regulation and an untrammeled flow of public funding towards its members. The ANA has been having trouble organizing workers at dialysis clinics, so in response they have sponsored this measure to exact revenge. Yes, the medical industry has dumped massive amounts of money to defeat this measure, and I don’t like their ads any more than I like the pro-regulation side’s ads. But at the end of the day I reject government manipulation of markets. This deserves a very emphatic no vote.

Prop 9: Split California into three separate states.

This initiative is so stupid that a court yanked it off of the ballot.

Prop 10: Allows the entire state to enact rent control policies.

Rent control is one of those awful ideas supported by people who despise free markets, want to be generous with someone else’s money, and have no concept of unintended consequences. You know what cities have lots of rent control units? San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica do, to name a few. Do you think that it is easy to find affordable lodging in any of those cities? I truly hope this mindless idea goes down to a much-deserved defeat.

Prop 11: Requires private-sector ambulances to remain on-call during work breaks.

There is no formal opposition to this measure so it’s likely to pass overwhelmingly, but I can’t help but see it as a solution in search of a problem. I’m not aware of a bunch of people bleeding it out in the street because the private company EMTs are finishing up their combo meal at Del Taco. I think I’ll vote no just to be ornery, but if you want to vote yes then I’ll certainly understand.

Prop 12: Increases the minimum living space requirement for farm animals who provide meat and eggs, and prohibits the selling of products in the state from animals whose confinement doesn’t meet California’s requirements. Mandates that by 2022 all eggs sold must be laid in a cage-free environment.

We passed a proposition ten years ago that required these animals be given enough space to turn-around, lie down, stand up, and extend their limbs. This initiative would actually specify minimum square footage for these animals. This is one of those weird initiatives which are supported by some mainstream animal rights folks, but opposed by a more loopy sect of animal rights activists who think it’s a trojan horse for continued cruelty. The state estimates that oversight might cost up to $10 million annually, and the price of meat and eggs will almost certainly increase. I’m voting no.

So there you have it: one man’s ill-informed and reactionary opinions. Feel free to light into me in the comments.



California Propositions

Filed under: 2008 Election — JRM @ 9:27 am

The host has hit the biggies; I’m going to hit them all. These are my views only, and may not reflect the Official Blog Position. For those not in California, I hope you find what we’re voting on interesting:

Prop 1A: No

Proposition 1A is a $19 billion bond to privide for high speed rail connecting central California to Southern California and San Francisco. I believe government’s job includes transportation, and in better economic times, I would support this.

Prop 2: Yes

Proposition 2 requires farms to give some animals sufficient room to move a little bit. I would be a member of an animal rights group if such groups were sane at all. Animals don’t think like humans, but they certainly appear to feel pain, and the housing conditions are awful on some farms. I’ve seen plenty of farms run with very nice conditions – happy cows, even – and reducing the pain to critters who aren’t in such good conditions is worth a few bucks a year.

The panic ads by the anti-Prop 2 folks (Prop 2 will kill children!) are appalling.

Prop 3: No

It’s $2 billion for a children’s hospital bond. I like children. I like medical care. We don’t have $2 billion, so let’s not spend it.

Prop 4: Yes

Pre-existing views: I’m pro-choice, but I despise the arguments made that abortion’s a purely medical procedure entirely up to the woman to the point of birth. I’m for roughly the rules determined in Roe v. Wade, even though I’m of the strong opinion that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.

But that’s not what this is really about.

Sure, I’d like the protections in Prop 4 for teens in dysfunctional family units to be stronger than they are now, but all in all, parental notification seems like a good idea. Note that this is a parental-consent [Edit: Notification, not consent. Words are hard. Thanks to commentator MayBee] issue, not a parental-permission issue – it’s still the minor’s choice. That’s a big difference.

Prop 5: No

You need to understand the current position: If you possess drugs and aren’t committing other crimes, you’re just not going to jail. (Yes, you can find a way to go to jail this way, but it’s really hard.) The prisons aren’t filled with non-violent drug offenders.

This proposition destroys the tiny vestiges of prosecuting drug crimes, and it’s going to result in people who are committing non-drug crimes getting treatment rather than jail. What happens if they don’t get the treatement? They get warned! Presumably sternly.

Prop 5 will result in more murders. A fair number of drug treatment folks oppose Prop 5. This is a total disaster. This isn’t just Prop 36 (which has been mostly ineffective, but I understand the point.) This isn’t Drug Court, which works better than other programs. This is a free pass.

For those of you who are professional thieves, though, make sure to keep a meth pipe at home. Then if you get caught, claim drug addiction.



All Propositions Defeated

Filed under: Abortion,Politics — Patterico @ 6:30 am

I started my search for election results by clicking on this AP article, via Drudge. It says all the propositions went down. But I didn’t entirely trust it because it says Proposition 73, the parental notification provision for abortion, “would have restricted political spending by public employee unions.” I guess I didn’t read the fine print!

The California Secretary of State’s results, accessible here, are more reliable. The propositions were indeed all defeated, with the vote on Proposition 73 being the closest (52.6% opposed and 47.4% in favor with 99.5% of precincts reporting).

I’m pleased that 78-80 were defeated, but that hardly makes up for the bitter disappointment of the defeat of the others.

The defeat of Proposition 73 should be a lesson for fanatics who are worried about the reversal of Roe v. Wade. If we can’t even pass a reasonable restriction like parental notification in California, then clearly the sacred right to kill your unborn baby will remain alive and well even if Roe is overturned.

UPDATE: Dafydd ab Hugh has a post-mortem on election returns throughout the country.


The Calvin Coolidge Century

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:07 am

[guest post by JVW]

One hundred years ago today, August 2, 1923, President Warren G. Harding died at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco from a heart attack exacerbated by a bout with pneumonia. Three thousand miles away, at his family home in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, John Calvin Coolidge Jr. suddenly became the Thirtieth President of the United States. A call with the news was placed to Bridgewater, a town roughly eight miles away (the Coolidge residence not being equipped with electricity or phone service in 1923), and a messenger was dispatched to deliver the sad tidings. Vice-President Coolidge and his wife Grace had already retired for the evening, so the message was given to his father who relayed it to the new President. As I related in my Independence Day salute to the man, Calvin Coolidge’s inauguration as President was befitting of the humble, private, small-“r” republican Chief Executive he would be: his notary public father administering the Oath of Office while the new President solemnly laid his left hand on the family Bible and agreed to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Thus began five and one-half years of some of the finest Oval Office leadership our nation has ever experienced.

I don’t want to bore you with details of President Coolidge’s magnificent stewardship: the biography of him written by the inestimable Amity Shlaes does a far better job than I possibly could. If you want to hear it straight from the man himself, The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge is back in print thanks to the efforts of the Coolidge Society. And if you are interested in a somewhat sympathetic narrative from a left-leaning academic and journalist you can check out David Greenberg’s volume which was part of Arthur Schlesinger Jr’s series on The American Presidents.

What I want to do on this auspicious anniversary is hearken back to the words of the man himself, an underrated writer and orator, and see if they don’t still resonate today.

On Over-Legislating
In his younger days, Calvin Coolidge had been tolerant of the progressive Republicanism of Theodore Roosevelt, but by the time he became the Speaker of the Massachusetts House in 1914, he had soured on the idea that legislation could solve every problem. Here he is in his inaugural address as House Speaker, perhaps his most famous oration, making the case for humility in government:

Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness. That state is most fortunate in its form of government which has the aptest instruments for the discovery of laws. The latest, most modern, and nearest perfect system that statesmanship has devised is representative government. Its weakness is the weakness of us imperfect human beings who administer it. Its strength is that even such administration secures to the people more blessings than any other system ever produced. No nation has discarded it and retained liberty. Representative government must be preserved.

[. . .]

The people cannot look to legislation generally for success. Industry, thrift, character, are not conferred by act or resolve. Government cannot relieve from toil. It can provide no substitute for the rewards of service. It can, of course, care for the defective and recognize distinguished merit. The normal must care for themselves. Self-government means self-support.

[. . .]

Do the day’s work. If it be to protect the rights of the weak, whoever objects, do it. If it be to help a powerful corporation better to serve the people, whatever the opposition, do that. Expect to be called a stand-patter, but don’t be a stand-patter. Expect to be called a demagogue, but don’t be a demagogue. Don’t hesitate to be as revolutionary as science. Don’t hesitate to be as reactionary as the multiplication table. Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong. Don’t hurry to legislate. Give administration a chance to catch up with legislation.

On Faith
President Coolidge reflects on the importance of religious belief in an address from the White House broadcast via telephone to a group of Boy Scouts about to set sail for an international scouting meeting in Denmark. This address took place on July 25, 1924, two weeks after the Coolidges had tragically lost their own son, Calvin Jr., at age sixteen from sepsis:

Without the sustaining influence of faith in a divine power we could have little faith in ourselves. We need to feel that behind us is intelligence and love. Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics do not create. Faith is the great motive power, and no man reaches his full possibilities unless he has the deep conviction that life is eternally important, and that his work, well done, is part of an unending plan.

On the Declaration of Independence
In Philadelphia celebrating the sesquicentennial of the signing of of the Declaration of Independence, President Coolidge delivered stirring words about our nation’s founding documents which I only wish a modern leader could emulate:

It is not so much then for the purpose of undertaking to proclaim new theories and principles that this annual celebration is maintained, but rather to reaffirm and reestablish those old theories and principles which time and the unerring logic of events have demonstrated to be sound. Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics, every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken. Whatever perils appear, whatever dangers threaten, the Nation remains secure in the knowledge that the ultimate application of the law of the land will provide an adequate defense and protection.

[. . .]

We are too prone to overlook another conclusion. Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. [. . .]

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

On “Americanism”
Speaking to the American Legion in Omaha in 1924 and reflecting upon the aftermath of the Great War, President Coolidge makes clear that your family heritage doesn’t define how American you are:

We must not, in times of peace, permit ourselves to lose any part from this structure of patriotic unity. I make no plea for leniency toward those who are criminal or vicious, are open enemies of society and are not prepared to accept the true standards of our citizenship. By tolerance I do not mean indifference to evil. I mean respect for different kinds of good. Whether one traces his Americanisms back three centuries to the Mayflower, or three years to the steerage, is not half so important as whether his Americanism of to-day is real and genuine. No matter by what various crafts we came here, we are all now in the same boat.

On George Washington
One of my five most favorite Presidents showed reverence for my favorite President while addressing the Amherst College Alumni Dinner in March 1918:

They [the thirteen colonies] fought and won a revolutionary war [. . .] but the glory of military power fades before the picture of the victorious general, retiring his commission to the representatives of the people who would have made him king, and retiring after two terms from the Presidency which he could have held for life [. . .]

On Woodrow Wilson
Reflecting on a predecessor who could not have been less ideologically attuned with him, President Coolidge issues a Presidential proclamation on the death of Wilson, February 3, 1924, and takes the art of damming with feint praise to new heights:

He was moved by an earnest desire to promote the best interests of the country as he conceived them.

On Barack Obama
In his autobiography, Mr. Coolidge suggests that Chief Executives need to get a grip:

It is a great advantage to the President, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man.

On Donald Trump
In a 1997 book titled First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Best Friends, authors Roy Rowan and Brooke Janis attribute the following to President Coolidge:

Any man who does not like dogs and [does not] want them about does not deserve to be in the White House.

On Joe Biden
As quoted by his Secretary of War, Dwight F. Davis, the famously taciturn President peered one hundred years into the future and had this advice for his successor:

You know, Mr. Secretary, I have found in the course of a long public life that the things I did not say never hurt me.

On Taxes
Pretty much every Democrat — you paying attention Comrade Sanders and Sen. Fauxcahontas? — needs to commit to memory what President Coolidge told a group of labor leaders in a meeting to commemorate Labor Day 1924:

No matter what anyone may say about making the rich and the corporations pay the taxes, in the end they come out of the people who toil.

On Fetishizing Higher Education
Writing in his post-Presidential newspaper column some ninety-two years ago, Mr. Coolidge questioned the wisdom of mindless credentialing by the college cartel:

If we would stop thinking that a bachelor of arts must be a white-collar man and let him be any kind of man he is adapted to be, the danger of spoiling a good craftsman to make a poor professional man would vanish.

On the Future
Conservatives are often accused by progressives of fetishizing the past. Here, Vice-President Coolidge sets the record straight in a 1923 address as to why it is vital to understand the past in order to ensure a successful future:

We review the past not in order that we may return to it but that we find in what direction, straight and clear, it points to the future.

On Honesty in Public Office
The day before he was elected Governor of Massachusetts in November 1918, Mr. Coolidge shared this wisdom in a newspaper advertisement:

My conception of public duty is to face each problem as though my entire record in life were to be judged by the way I handled it — to keep always in touch with the folks back home –to be firm for my honesty of opinion, but to recognize every man’s right to an honest difference of opinion.

On Presidential Legacies
At the end of his Administration, in an off-the-record news conference with reporters conducted on March 1, 1929, outgoing President Coolidge had this to say about how he might be remembered to history:

Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.

On Dying Young, part 1
Victoria Moor Coolidge, Calvin Coolidge’s mother, died at age 39 from reasons thought to be injuries from a years earlier buggy accident which had slowly turned her into an invalid, from tuberculosis, or perhaps from a combination of the two. In his autobiography, her son lovingly remembers her:

Whatever was grand and beautiful in form and color attracted her. It seemed as though the rich green tints of the foliage and the blossoms of the flowers came for her in the springtime, and in the autumn it was for her that the mountain sides were struck with crimson and with gold.

When she knew that her end was near she called us children to her bedside, where we knelt down to receive her final parting blessing. In an hour she was gone. It was her thirty-ninth birthday. I was twelve years old. We laid her away in the blustering snows of March. The greatest grief that can come to a boy came to me. Life was never to seem the same again.

On Dying Young, part 2
As mentioned earlier, Calvin and Grace Coolidge’s son died suddenly from sepsis in July 1924. In his final year in the White House, Mr. Coolidge met a man who had lost his own young son from polio around the same time that Cal Jr. had died. In an inscription to the man’s copy of the 1920 campaign book, Have Faith in Massachusetts, the President wrote an eloquent and moving tribute to both boys:

To Edward K. Hall, in recollection of his son and my son who have the privilege, by the grace of God, to be boys through all eternity.

I’ve gone on too long already, so let me end here with an earnest plea to my fellow citizens to find and cultivate men and women of wit, wisdom, integrity, humility, and decency like Calvin Coolidge. It would certainly be superior the motley crew that we continue to settle for these days.



Constitutional Vanguard: You’re Probably Not Going to Like This Piece

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:09 am

What did you do during the great Los Angeles rains, Daddy?

Well, son, I wrote this nearly 8,000 word piece with no real thesis.

Um, why did you do that?

Well, I had a bunch of new subscribers from Jonathan V. Last’s recommendation of a recent piece of mine about backing away from Twitter. Evidently I felt the need to drive most of those subscribers away! Weird, isn’t it?

I guess. Can I go outside and play?

Sure, son. Sure you can.


If there is a thesis to my latest Substack piece, it is that almost whatever you believe, there is often a pretty good counterargument . . . unless you restrict your beliefs to very simple and incontestable propositions like: “I should always strive to do the right thing.”

In the piece, I examine the arguments for things like: the notion that a writer should challenge his readers; the dangers of tribalism; the importance of expertise; the case for prosecuting Donald Trump; and the notion that Trumpism is worse than wokeness. But I also explore why a writer should reassure his readers; the importance of questioning expertise and conventional wisdom; the case against prosecuting a candidate like Trump; and the dangers of wokeness that make them potential harbingers of totalitarianism.

In short, there’s something there for everyone to hate. Hence the title.

In the course of the discussion, I recommend a few books and podcasts along the way, and engage in a rant or two. Here’s a sample:

One of the things that irritates me the most about Big Media is the sheeplike herd mentality that reporters and editors adopt about all conventional wisdom. Big Media positively sneers at anyone who bucks the Conventional Wisdom on any topic. Their attitude seems to be: “He who knows only his own side of the case knows . . . everything he needs to know, and the opinions of adversaries can always be safely dismissed as ridiculous.” In that way, Big Media is the anti-Mill (John Stuart Mill, that is) when it comes to questioning the conventional wisdom.

To take one glaring example: it is Conventional Wisdom that it is stupid for any politician to talk about entitlement reform. When have you ever seen anyone on a major network make the case, at length, in reasoned discussion, that the current path we are on is unsustainable? Anyone who even thinks of mentioning such a thing is ultimately bullied into claiming that they never really said such a thing (see: Rick Scott, Mike Lee, Ron DeSantis, and the list could go on and on). No major news anchor will ever have any of these people on and express sympathy for the undeniable fact that these programs can’t go on this way forever. Instead, they harangue them over and over: but you do want to reform entitlements, dontcha? Dontcha? Dontcha? Example:

And if any of these folks ever even hinted that it’s not a crazy topic to broach, the anchor would simply point out that the American people won’t stand for it and it’s very, very unpopular. Well, sure, in no small part due to the way that Big Media refuses to explain why it’s necessary.

Nearly 3000 words of the piece are free. It’s enough to decide if you do indeed hate it, as I warned you that you would, or if instead you want to subscribe to read the other 5000 words or so.


More on the Welcome Failure of “Let’s Raise Taxes for the Children”

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:02 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Three years ago this very week I chronicled the failure of the Los Angeles Unified School District to persuade its voters to pass a $500 million parcel tax measure designed to amp up funding for the district, which became a necessity when the district leadership foolishly caved to the striking teachers’ union and agreed to increases in wages and personnel despite not having the funding to back it. I suggested at the time that voters — even voters in decidedly left-leaning locales such as Los Angeles — were beginning to sour on the evergreen public employee union claim that more money is the answer to all community woes, and that perhaps this spirit would permeate throughout the state. Indeed, in fall 2020 as Joe Biden cruised to a massive victory in the Golden State, California voters rejected attempts to raise taxes on commercial properties even though the promise was that the lion’s share of the money would go to the schools.

On Tuesday, voters in the very tony and exclusive hamlet of Manhattan Beach (median home price: $3 million) went to the polls to determine if they would impose an annual $1,095 parcel tax on each home in order to raise an estimated $12 million per year for K-12 schools to plug a hole stemming from what proponents have deemed as underfunding from Sacramento (former Governor Jerry Brown pushed for a change in the state funding formula which now sends more money to needy school districts at the expense of well-off districts like Manhattan Beach). The clever, highly-educated, and dialed-in supporters of the tax increase pulled a controversial trick by having the parcel tax be proposed by local citizens rather than by the district, thereby routing the funds through the City of Manhattan Beach rather than the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. This difference allowed for the proposal to be passed with a bare majority of voters rather than by the state constitution-required two-thirds majority. This also had the benefit, supporters argued, of ensuring strict taxpayer oversight of the funds since MBUSD, which serves 6,500 students at eight public schools, would not control how this extra money was apportioned. The measure, which would be in place for twelve years before sunsetting, also included an automatic process for increasing the parcel tax to account for inflation (with a five percent annual cap on the increase) which naturally did not sit well in the current political climate.

Opponents of the parcel tax pointed out that the district, despite receiving from the state approximately $2,000 less per student than the mean, continues to maintains high ratings for the quality of education offered, and generally ranks somewhere in the top 5% to 7% of all California districts. Teachers still prize a job in the district, even though living in the community is all but unaffordable on a teaching salary, and open positions tend to attract a number of highly-qualified candidates. Opponents also point out that enrollment in the district has been slowly declining, mostly due to young families being priced out of homes in the district and very wealthy families choosing to send their children to fancy private schools. They questioned whether dumping $12 million more per year, especially without any detailed plans for how it was to be spent, was a particularly wise idea, and they resented the fact that proponents tried an end-run around the supermajority requirement. Debates were held, letters to the editor were exchanged in local media, allegations of dirty campaigning were hurled, but in the run-up to the vote the public consensus seemed to be that the wealthy residents of Manhattan Beach would open up their pocketbooks and give the schools all the money they could possibly desire.

Instead, the initiative failed miserably, by what may turn out to be a 70% to 30% margin by the time all votes are counted.

Clearly there was a quiet but pervasive groundswell against this idea, even if proponents were successful in steering the narrative as it appeared in the media. (At this point it should be mentioned that MBUSD and, more importantly, the teachers’ union were strong supporters of the parcel tax.) This is an unmistakable demonstration of Richard Nixon’s evocation of a “silent majority.” Needless to say, the local progressive chattering classes are stunned at the total repudiation of their plan. The opponents of the tax are relieved and thus far extending olive branches to the tax’s supporters, recognizing that residents need to do more to beef up district funding and proposing that both sides meet to hammer out a solution that all sides can accept. Manhattan Beach voters aren’t necessarily against more funding for the schools, but they won’t accept vague plans backed by clever tricks as the means of enacting it. (And don’t worry about the MBUSD being threadbare and broke this fall; they are backed by a parent-run educational foundation which just raised $1.3 million for the schools at their annual wine auction.)

Despite the current mania in Washington DC and Sacramento for throwing taxpayer money around like an NBA team at a strip club, Tuesday’s vote along with the aforementioned LAUSD vote in 2019 and citizens in several other school districts who have pointedly refused to raise taxes to increase district budgets suggests that at least at a local level there are Californians — even those who vote Democrat — who don’t like writing blank checks when it is clearly their own money behind it. Maybe someday the good citizens of this great state will extrapolate their local wisdom onto a larger scale. November might be a good time to try that out.



Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:49 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Hello! The weekend is upon us. Here are a few news items to chew over. Please feel free to share anything that you think might interest readers. Make sure you include links.

First news item

CDC eases mask requirements:

[T]he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people…allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

“Today is a great day for America,” President Joe Biden said…

“If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask,” he said, summarizing the new guidance…

The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

Clearly, businesses will not have a uniform response to new guidelines.

The conservative approach by the CDC is raising questions.

Also, not all experts agree that lifting mask requirements is a good thing:

100 epidemiologists are in the no column as well:

In the informal survey, 80 percent said they thought Americans would need to wear masks in public indoor places for at least another year. Just 5 percent said people would no longer need to wear masks indoors by this summer. In large crowds outdoors, like at a concert or protest, 88 percent of the epidemiologists said it was necessary even for fully vaccinated people to wear masks. “Unless the vaccination rates increase to 80 or 90 percent over the next few months, we should wear masks in large public indoor settings,” said Vivian Towe, a program officer at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

[Ed. My 2 cents: just go get the vaccine so we can be done with this pandemic already.]

Second news item

Deal struck? Not so fast:

The top Democrat and Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee struck a deal to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol, breaking a months-long logjam between House leaders about how to structure the independent panel.

House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and the panel’s ranking Republican, Rep. John Katko of New York, announced on Friday they had reached an agreement for the panel that would be modeled after the 9/11 Commission. The House could vote on it as early as next week.
After the agreement was announced Friday, it was not clear whether House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy — who has been fighting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the proposal — would sign off on the deal, as he said he was still reviewing it.

MAGA Republicans still living in their MAGA bubbles of delusion:

Third news item

Better late than never:

The head of America’s second-largest teachers’ union is calling for all public schools to open five days a week this fall, pushing forcefully for in-person learning over the uneven progress made by the Biden administration.

“There is no doubt: Schools must be open,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a speech Thursday on how she believes schools can reopen safely amid the pandemic.

“Given current circumstances, nothing should stand in the way of fully reopening our public schools this fall and keeping them open,” Weingarten said. “The United States will not be fully back until we are fully back in school. And my union is all in.”

Fourth news item

It won’t stop the baby-killing but Planned Parenthood finally admits that Margaret Sanger is a problem :

Up until now, Planned Parenthood has failed to own the impact of our founder’s actions. We have defended Sanger as a protector of bodily autonomy and self-determination, while excusing her association with white supremacist groups and eugenics as an unfortunate “product of her time.” Until recently, we have hidden behind the assertion that her beliefs were the norm for people of her class and era, always being sure to name her work alongside that of W.E.B. Dubois and other Black freedom fighters. But the facts are complicated.

Sanger spoke to the women’s auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan at a rally in New Jersey to generate support for birth control. And even though she eventually distanced herself from the eugenics movement because of its hard turn to explicit racism, she endorsed the Supreme Court’s 1927 decision in Buck v. Bell, which allowed states to sterilize people deemed “unfit” without their consent and sometimes without their knowledge — a ruling that led to the sterilization of tens of thousands of people in the 20th century.

The first human trials of the birth control pill — a project that was Sanger’s passion later in her life — were conducted with her backing in Puerto Rico, where as many as 1,500 women were not told that the drug was experimental or that they might experience dangerous side effects.

We don’t know what was in Sanger’s heart, and we don’t need to in order to condemn her harmful choices. What we have is a history of focusing on white womanhood relentlessly. Whether our founder was a racist is not a simple yes or no question. Our reckoning is understanding her full legacy, and its impact. Our reckoning is the work that comes next.

Fifth news item

Debt ceiling? What’s that??:

In fact, the Democratic majority says it has no intention of negotiating with Republicans bent on slashing spending as a condition for avoiding default after the July 31 deadline. Democrats say they won’t haggle with the minority party over the faith and credit of the United States, citing lessons from the presidency of Barack Obama. The diametrically opposed views heading toward a cutoff point that regularly vexes Washington could become highly consequential as Congress labors to cut bipartisan deals on a host of issues. Moreover, the standoff may set up a major confrontation in summer or early fall between a GOP settling back into fiscal hawkishness and a Democratic Party that believes ignoring Republican demands is the only way to avoid a fiscal crisis as the national debt tops $28 trillion. Republicans’ official party position “doesn’t matter to me,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “We don’t negotiate on the debt ceiling.”

Sixth news item

Hmm, human rights and/or clean energy?:

[N]ew research suggests that much of that work could rely on the exploitation of the region’s Uyghur population and other ethnic and religious minorities, potentially tainting a significant portion of the global supply chain for a renewable energy source critical to combating the climate crisis.

The report published Friday — titled “In Broad Daylight: Uyghur Forced Labor and Global Solar Supply Chains” — presents evidence of a troubling reality: that components for clean energy may be created with dirty coal and forced labor…

Allegations have been raised before that forced labor in Xinjiang has been used to produce polysilicon, a key component for making solar panels. But this latest research indicates that the practice is also used in the mining and processing of quartz, the raw material at the very start of the solar panel supply chain.

“The global demand for solar energy has encouraged Chinese companies to go to great lengths to make our climate responsibility as inexpensive as possible,” the report states, “but it comes at great cost to the workers who labor at the origin of the supply chain.”

About the Uyghurs:

Birthrates in Xinjiang fell by almost half in the two years after the Chinese government implemented policies to reduce the number of babies born to Uyghur and other Muslim minority families, new research has claimed…

The data adds to mounting evidence of coercive fertility policies in Xinjiang, including first-person accounts of forced sterilisation or birth control, and leaked policing data on the internment of women for violating family planning regulations…

The Chinese government denies allegations of mistreatment, genocide and crimes against humanity, saying many of its policies – including the mass detention network it says includes vocational training centres – are anti-terrorism efforts. It says birth control is entirely the choice of individuals and there is no agency interference. This claim has been contradicted by women who claim they were coerced into sterilisation or contraception.

Seventh news item

Cheney to Tapper:

Telling CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” that there are “more members who believe in substance and policy and ideals than are willing to say so,” Cheney cited the impeachment vote earlier this year, in which she was one of only 10 House Republicans who voted to hold Trump accountable for the Capitol riot.
“If you look at the vote to impeach, for example, there were members who told me that they were afraid for their own security — afraid, in some instances, for their lives,” she said. “And that tells you something about where we are as a country, that members of Congress aren’t able to cast votes, or feel that they can’t, because of their own security.”

Eighth news item

Because it’s going to take a helluva lot more than a free Krispy Kreme to get enough people vaccinated:

To the many propositions that governments have used to try to bolster slumping demand for the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio raised the ante considerably on Wednesday, announcing that the state would give five people $1 million each in return for having been vaccinated as part of a weekly lottery program.

The lottery, whose legality could raise questions, will be paid for by federal coronavirus relief funds, Mr. DeWine, a Republican, said during a statewide televised address.

The first of five weekly drawings will be held on May 26, according to Mr. DeWine, who said that Ohio Lottery would conduct them.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy!’ ” Mr. DeWine said on Twitter. “‘This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.’ But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”

We shouldn’t, but apparently, we do:

We shouldn’t have to bribe to vaccinate. And while people can do what they want with their own bodies, that doesn’t include the right to carry a deadly disease into public spaces. The way to get people vaccinated should be simply to require vaccination or documented medical exemption in order to return to schools, businesses, and crowded public spaces.

Note: West Virginia and Detroit are already paying people to get vaccinated, and Maryland and News Jersey are also offering incentives for residents to get the Covid vaccine.

Ninth news item

Golden state nightmare:

With little notice, California on Saturday is increasing early release credits for 76,000 inmates, including violent and repeat felons, as it further trims the population of what once was the nation’s largest state correctional system.

More than 63,000 inmates convicted of violent crimes will be eligible for good behavior credits that shorten their sentences by one-third instead of the one-fifth that had been in place since 2017.

That includes nearly 20,000 inmates who are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole.

More than 10,000 inmates convicted of a second serious but nonviolent offense under the state’s “three strikes” law will be eligible for release after serving half their sentences. That’s an increase from the current time-served credit of one-third of their sentence.

The same increased release time will apply to nearly 2,900 nonviolent third strikers, the corrections department projected.

Note: The changes were approved this week by the state Office of Administrative Law, with little public notice. They were submitted and approved within a three-week span as emergency regulations.

Motivating the drastic decision: According to officials, to “increase incentives for the incarcerated population to practice good behavior and follow the rules while serving their time” so they can get out sooner. Also, it would reduce prison populations, which would then allow Gov. Newsom to fulfill his promise to close a second prison.


Book recommendation: Old Bones by Preston and Child. An engrossing mystery about an archeologist and historian searching for the rumored “Lost Camp” of the Donner Party. Based on the real-life events of 1847 in which a group of pioneers out of Missouri resorted to cannibalism when they found themselves snowbound and stranded in the Sierra Nevada mountains because they left the wagon train and took an unsure shortcut.

A few vacation photos:




Have a good weekend!



Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:55 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Here are a few news items to chew over. Please feel free to post anything that might be of interest to readers. Remember to include links.

First news item

California governor seems determined to help the Recall Newsom campaign:

California’s health department on Thursday started recommending that residents “double mask” to better protect from the spread of the coronavirus.

While the state doesn’t require wearing two masks over each other, Gov. Gavin Newsom said people who use cloth face coverings are encouraged to do so.

“We are encouraging people basically to double down on mask wearing, particularly in light of all of what I would argue is bad information coming from at least four states in this country,” Newsom said. “We will not be walking down their path. We’re mindful of your health and our future.”

Second news item

CDC eases COVID restrictions at migrant shelters:

The Centers for Disease Control is allowing shelters handling child migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border to expand to full capacity, abandoning a requirement that they stay near 50% to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus, Axios has learned.

…The fact that the country’s premier health advisory agency is permitting a change in COVID-19 protocols indicates the scale of the immigration crisis. A draft memo obtained by Axios conceded “facilities should plan for and expect to have COVID-19 cases.”

American parents and their children still at home have questions:

While it states in its opening paragraph that children have been less affected by the coronavirus than adults, the memo makes clear its recommendations are only in response to rising numbers of migrant children — and don’t apply to other group settings.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

The Biden administration is offering to reimburse local officials and nonprofits in Texas who are helping migrant families released from U.S. border custody by testing them for COVID-19 and providing them with shelter, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by CBS News.

But Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, has rejected the proposal, alleging it amounts to an “illegal immigration program.”

The DHS memo says that qualified state, local and tribal agencies would be reimbursed for sheltering and COVID-19 testing of migrant parents and children who have been released from Border Patrol custody. It reasons that extended stays in U.S. Border Patrol facilities “are not conducive to the health and well-being of migrant families and adjacent communities.”…

Abbott said in a statement to CBS News that Texas would “not aid a program that makes our country a magnet for illegal immigration.”‘

Third news item

“Could raise constitutionality concerns?” Ya think???:

A bill that would require new cellphones and tablets sold in Utah to come with activated pornography filters won final approval in the state Legislature, although some lawmakers argued the proposal is unworkable and could raise constitutionality concerns.

Several years ago, Utah lawmakers passed a resolution that declared pornography a “public health crisis” and recognized the need for education, prevention, research and policy changes to control a “pornography epidemic.” Last year, legislators approved a bill to require that all pornography in Utah come with a warning label.

This year’s legislation, sponsored by South Jordan Republican Susan Pulsipher requires every new mobile device and tablet sold in Utah after Jan. 1, 2022, to have adult content filters turned on at the time of purchase. Pulsipher has said this requirement will assist parents who want to protect their children from harmful online content but don’t have the technological know-how to block it from their devices.

Fourth news item

Another red state toys with the First Amendment:

Texas governor Greg Abbott said Facebook and Twitter are leading a “dangerous movement to silence conservative voices and religious freedoms” as he backed a state bill Friday that would allow any Texans temporarily removed or banned from Facebook or Twitter to sue the social media companies in order to get reinstated.

“Big tech’s efforts to censor conservative viewpoints is un-American, and we are not going to allow it in the Lone Star State,” Abbott said.

Texas state Senator Bryan Hughes, who sponsored the bill and spoke along with Abbott, said that all the state wanted to do was protect the freedoms of its citizens. “We don’t allow a cable company to cut off your television because of your religion,” Hughes offered as a justification for the proposed law.

Fifth news item

A bit too on the nose:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had someone else take his mandatory workplace sex harassment training course for him — then signed off on it as if he’d taken it himself, accuser Charlotte Bennett says in a bombshell new interview aired Friday night.

Sixth news item

Biden approves:

The President supports the compromise agreement, and is grateful to all the Senators who worked so hard to reach this outcome. It extends supplemental unemployment benefit into September, and helps the vast majority of unemployment insurance recipients avoid unanticipated tax bills. Most importantly, this agreement allows us to move forward on the urgently needed American Rescue Plan, with $1400 relief checks, funding we need to finish the vaccine rollout, open our schools, help those suffering from the pandemic, and more.”

Some party members less than happy:

“We obviously are now ultimately sending money to less people than the Trump administration,” Omar said. “This is not the promise that we made… Ultimately it is a failure when we compromise ourselves out of delivering on behalf of the American people and in keeping our propositions.”

Keilar asked, “You’re saying that Trump wanted to deliver more in the way of checks for Americans than Biden?”

“Yeah,” Omar said.

“The last checks that we were able to send had given, you know, 17 million more people than we will ultimately do with the caps now. And that, you know, is going to be something that we’re going to have to explain, and I don’t know if many of us have a logical explanation on why we are delivering less than what the Republicans were willing to compromise us on delivering on to the American people,” she added.

“We’re not going to be able to blame Republicans for our inability to deliver on the promises that we made.”

Seventh news item

Eight vote “no”:

One of President Biden’s top policy goals, an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, suffered a big setback Friday when eight members of the Senate Democratic caucus voted against it….Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)

Eighth news item

Republican Party restores tarnished image by focusing on what matter most:


Down to the bone in the Valley of Vision:

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

Making sure you leave the joint with a smile:

Have a good weekend.



Economic Scholars: California’s Tax Increases Drove Out High Earners

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:32 pm

[guest post by JVW]

I have been meaning to write about an op-ed piece published earlier this month in Southern California News Group newspapers. Orphe Pierre Divonguy, the chief economist at the Illinois Policy Institute, points us to a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research regarding the effects that the tax increases on wealthy California residents, implemented by the passage of Proposition 30 seven years ago, led to a shortfall in the anticipated revenue as millionaires fled the state, even while overall revenue in the state rose (Prop. 30 also increased the state’s sales tax by one-quarter cent). Here is how Mr. Divonguy explains the findings:

I join the vast majority of my economist colleagues in the belief that taxes on labor income encourage households to shift away from work in traditional sectors and toward untaxed uses of time such as leisure, household production, or even work in the shadow economy.

At the core of the policy discussion is whether or not individuals react to tax hikes by engaging in less productive activities or move to avoid paying higher taxes.

It turns out that people do adjust their behavior because of higher taxes, and top income taxpayers are even more responsive to marginal tax rates than the rest of us.

The negative economic effects of the tax hike wiped out nearly half of the revenue Proposition 30 was expected to bring in. Among top-bracket California taxpayers, outward migration and behavioral responses by stayers together eroded 45% of the additional tax revenues from the tax hike.

So did this revelation come as a huge surprise to the Democrat establishment in the Golden State who repeatedly turns to tax increases to bail out irresponsible spending decisions? Hardly. The language from the legislative analyst that appeared in that fall’s voter guide made it clear that the projected $6 billion annual windfall from the tax increases was, to put it mildly, a hopeful guesstimate [emphasis added by me]:

The revenues raised by this measure could be subject to multibillion-dollar swings — either above or below the revenues projected above. This is because the vast majority of the additional revenue from this measure would come from the [personal income tax] rate increases on upper-income taxpayers. Most income reported by upper-income taxpayers is related in some way to their investments and businesses, rather than wages and salaries. While wages and salaries for upper-income taxpayers fluctuate to some extent, their investment income may change significantly from one year to the next depending upon the performance of the stock market, housing prices, and the economy.

Of course what the legislative analyst apparently failed to consider is that upper-income Californians and those who file as business owners might simply leave for more hospitable business climates. Back to Mr. Divonguy’s op-ed:

California’s rate of departures increased and the state lost 0.8 percent of the taxable base among those earning $250,000 or more. The bulk of the erosion of that tax base came from millionaire taxpayers leaving California resident status into non-resident filing status.

This finding is consistent with a large body of research that has shown that certain segments of the labor market, especially high-income workers and professions with little location-specific human capital, may be quite responsive to taxes in their location decisions.

Proposition 30 also caused a roughly $1.5 million average decrease in non-investment pre-tax income for top earners between 2012 and 2014. This is the result of the change in tax filing behavior as well as a reduction in labor market activity for these workers.

I imagine that our readers and commenters in states such as New York, Connecticut, and Illinois are nodding their heads vigorously after reading that assessment. It turns out that wealthy people have a choice where to reside for tax purposes, and will choose a state that takes substantially less, or perhaps none, of their income when given the opportunity. And it’s not as if this mobility of capital never occurred to California Democrats. Former governor Jerry Brown repeatedly warned that too much of the state’s budget depends upon the wealthiest Californians and that even small downward changes in the stock market can wreck havoc on the budget, though typical of Moonbeam, he diagnosed the problem and then made it worse. Meanwhile, our deluded fellow Californians voted to extend Prop. 30 taxes for another decade.

How then should we fix this mess? Mr. Divonguy has some radical ideas beginning with flattening out tax rates:

California’s experience is not dissimilar from other states that have progressive income taxes. Connecticut – the last state to switch from a flat income tax to a progressive income tax – saw their economy forgo over 100,000 jobs and $6 billion in economic activity as a result of the change, while seeing higher incidences of poverty. My research shows that states with a progressive income tax tend to have worse income inequality and weaker economic growth than states without a progressive income tax. Indeed, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, California was one of nine states where income inequality has gotten worse.

But naturally 2020 will likely bring more efforts to soak the rich. Beyond the repeal of Proposition 13 property tax protections for commercial properties which will be on the ballot in one form or another, it is possible that there will be yet another “millionaire’s tax” ostensibly earmarked for education, and there is still time for even more mischief for progressive groups to make on behalf of eating the rich. Should a ridiculous demagogue such as Bernard Sanders or Elizabeth Warren become the party nominee, don’t be surprised if the California electorate isn’t in the mood to vote “yes” on anything remotely related to sticking it to the high earners of the state, even if the local Democrat party establishment counsels otherwise. They’ve helped mightily to create this monster, and it could yet end up eating them first.


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