Take the Bus?

bus

I’d like to respond to the Letter to the Editor by Nathan Bousefield, published on April 18th under the title “Need to change how we work”. In it, Bousefield asserts that if, instead of spending money on improving road and freeway capacity, we spend the money on mass transit – trains and buses – we’ll see a more significant impact on relieving road and freeway congestion.

In his letter, he focuses on one sole aspect of traffic: commuting to and from work. That’s the fatal flaw in his position.

People drive all the time for all kinds of reasons, to go to many different places to do all kinds of things.

Who’s going to take a bus, or a train, to go get a pizza? Or pick up some home improvement materials? Or visit grandma? Or see a movie? Or go to a restaurant? Or hit the mall? Or visit Vasquez Rocks or the zoo? Or take their kids to school? Or go to the beach? Or the mountains? Or skiing? Or to go grocery shopping?

Ain’t gonna happen.

There’s a reason “rush hour” is an all-day condition, including outside of normal “commute” times. The only time the roads are clear is WAY deep at night, when people have finally gone home to sleep.

Mass transit works fine in some places, typically older cities that were designed and built in the era before personal transportation became available: NYC, Chicago, Boston, DC. But those cities that boomed after the personal car became common developed along a different paradigm, centered on a less structured and less centralized environment that exploited the freedom of movement afforded by cars, and a centralized mass transit system won’t work.

Why would I spend at least 45 minutes using a bus system – in addition to having to walk to a bus stop, not one of which is at all close to my house – to go to the mall, when I can hop in the car at my front door and be there in 10 minutes? And then have to reverse the process to go back home, lugging my purchases with me?

Further, this is Southern California, the epitome and birthplace of the “car culture”. You are what you drive. Who wants to be “that guy who uses the bus”?

Nope. As I said, this is just one more example of the socialist utopian fantasy of turning people into ant colonies. The same “logic” that’s brought us the not-so-bullet-train-to-nowhere boondoggle. It’s nonsense.

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today in The Signal)

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#Calexit To Nowhere

calexit-2

 

It’s official. The Electoral College has spoken. Donald Trump is the President-Elect of these United States of America. Those last four words are important, because they describe the nature of this country: individual states united into a nation.

But to hear the hysterical left carry on about it, you certainly wouldn’t know it.

In my last three columns I discussed how unglued they’ve become since Trump’s Trumanesque victory over Clinton, and I thought I was done with the subject. Well, it turns out that just when I thought they couldn’t get any crazier they went ahead and proved me wrong.

Have you heard of #calexit? It seems that there’s a contingent here in this state that wants to collectively and figuratively stamp their feet in frustration, take their ball, and go home.calexit By that, I mean they want this state to secede from the Union. The word “calexit” is obviously fashioned after the term “brexit” which resulted in the start of the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union. A petition is in circulation for a ballot proposition to advance the act of seceding from the Union.

With great sadness, however, I have to inform them that their plan is a non-starter. When a state joins the Union, it’s kind of like the Mafia: once in, never out. It’s not a membership in a health spa or gym. In fact, we actually had a little event known as the Civil War back in the mid-1800s that made that point rather dramatically.

The Constitution goes to great lengths describing the process a state has to go through to join up. There’s not one single word about ever being able to pull out again. In fact, there have even been Supreme Court cases confirming that reality.

The crazies promoting this idea like to point out that if it were an independent country California’s economy would be the eighth largest in the world. All well and good, but they also ignore other realities that attach to being an independent country.

About ¼ of the illegal aliens in this country, approximately 3 million of them, live in this state. Additionally, about 1/3 of the nation’s welfare recipients live here, all while the state has only about 1/8 of the nation’s residents.

The only reason those demographics haven’t further bankrupted the state is that the costs of supporting these groups is defrayed and subsidized to a very large part by funding from the federal government, both directly and indirectly, through various grant, aid, and direct funding programs.

But if California were to secede from the union that flow of money would stop dead in its tracks. Then what? Jack up taxes on the already overtaxed people in this state who already are subject to about the highest tax burden in the country?

Of course, this fantastical new Republic of California is going to have to be able to conduct foreign affairs, and defend itself militarily, a huge new expense currently borne exclusively by the United States. Where’s the money going to come from for all the new embassies everywhere, and professional diplomats? And for the new army, navy, and air forces we’ll need, not to mention coastal security, meaning some form of Coast Guard?

Every country in the world has to have some kind of military capability to defend its existence and autonomy, at the very least, and the Republic of California is no different. And don’t kid yourselves; in the eyes of ISIS and the rest of the Islamic jihadis, the new Republic of California will be just as much a “Great Satan” as the rest of the United States, meaning we’ll be participants in the “war on terror” whether we want to be or not. We don’t make that decision, they do.

So, how do we fund this stuff? Even more new taxes? I sure don’t see any other way to do it. Do you?

All of a sudden it starts to become clear that the only reason this state is “the eighth largest economy in the world” is because so many of the financial burdens of its very existence are borne by the country of which it’s a part. But if that support goes away, and as the already high tax burden on its remaining residents increases, not only will that economy collapse, but those remaining productive tax-paying residents will vote with their feet and start an exodus that will deplete this state of its last source of income.

calexit-6The new Republic of California will turn into Venezuela North.

 

 

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

 

 

 

 

 

Baseball and the Electoral College

In my last column I discussed the hair-on-fire reaction of the American Left to the electoral rejection of the pantsuit woman in favor of the guy with the world’s biggest combover. Since then, more hilarity has ensued.

kabukikWe have the political Kabuki of Jill Stein, hitherto a virtual political unknown non-entity, trying to force vote recounts in three (as of this writing) states. Of course, she has a better chance of winning the Powerball lottery than actually reversing the results in any of those states, but that doesn’t really matter. She’s now catapulted herself from complete obscurity and irrelevance to being nationally known, not to mention being in control of millions of dollars not previously available to her. Think that might come in handy in… oh, say… four years, when her presidential aspirations are as sure to resurface as a dolphin gulping for air?

You tell me.

Then, of course, we have the complete and utter outrage that Miss Pantsuit can win a couple million more popular votes than Mr. Combover but still lose the actual election, all due to the “arcane, unnecessary and outdated” institution of the Electoral College (EC). Naturally, this leads to bleats for the elimination of the EC altogether.

Wake up time, snowflakes. The EC isn’t going anywhere, since it would take an amendment to the Constitution to do that.

But here’s where the so-called “logic” of the Dem/socialists falls to pieces. Our national election is just like the baseball World Series, in that the election consists of 50 individualscoreboard contests for electoral delegates just as the World Series consists of seven individual games. The outcome is based on who wins the most of those individual contests (in the election) or games (in the Series), not the cumulative total of home runs… or votes. That team with the most states – or won games – wins the election or the Series.

There’s another huge gap in their “logic”. There’s a built-in assumption that if the election were a straight plebiscite the vote totals would be the same as they are under our present system. But here’s a dose of reality. I know of several personal acquaintances – and I’m sure they’re typical of many based on simple human nature – who are conservatives and/or Republicans, who simply never vote for President because they know that this state’s 55 EC delegates are going to the Dems no matter what. They consider their votes a waste of time, or an opportunity to make some other “statement”, a la the NeverTrumpers.

But if those people had known their votes would actually have a direct impact on the actual outcome of the election, I have no doubt they’d have showed up in droves to vote, not for Trump, but against Clinton.

As of now Clinton’s popular margin is around two million more votes than Trump, but I’d bet big money that if there weren’t an EC he’d have gained around a million votes out of California ALONE. Throw in New York, Massachusetts, Washington state, and Illinois and he’d have cleaned her clock in the popular vote, too.

I often say that in order to be a leftist you have to be able to ignore five things: facts, logic, history, human nature, and the Constitution. If you can ignore those five things you, too, can be a practicing leftist.

Well, take notice of how this latest umbrage over the EC covers all those bases with the possible exception of history. A perfect fit!

 

 

©Brian Baker 2016

(Also published today in a slightly edited version in my local newspaper, The Signal)

 

Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown and the Usual Class-Warfare Shtick

Typical One-Trick Pony

Reporting From Greece On The Pacific: This Just In!

Greeceifornia’s $16 BILLION in the red. That’s $16,000,000,000. The number 16, followed by nine zeros. A lot of money in anyone’s book.

Moonbeam

And, as usual, the socialists running this state – the Top Dog being Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown – can only think of one solution to the problem: more taxes.

There’s enough money for a $100 BILLION “high-speed rail to nowhere” boondoggle.

There’s enough money to pay illegal aliens to go to college through the state DREAM law.

There’s enough money to give public employees retirement pensions and medical benefits that private-sector workers can only envy.

There’s $54 million hidden away in a Parks Department bank account.

We have 1/8th of the nation’s populace and 1/3rd of the nation’s welfare recipients.

And they shrug their shoulders that we’re $16 billion in the red and swirling the drain? And tell us that we need to increase taxes… AGAIN?

Welcome to Greeceifornia!

Giving those morons more money is like taking a drunk to a bar to dry him out. No way, Jose.

So the solution, according to Moonbeam and his socialist minions, is a pair of competing ballot propositions this November, Propositions 30 and 38. Prop 38 is an increase in income tax rates on everybody; Prop 30 – promoted by Brown – allegedly goes to the state’s “education” behemoth, but in reality it allocates funding to try to stem the tsunami of red ink. It imposes an increase in the state sales tax (again affecting everybody) in addition to tax increases on “the rich”, defined as those earning over $250K annually.

According to the legislative analysis of Prop 30: “These new tax rates would affect about 1 percent of California PIT (personal income tax) filers. (These taxpayers currently pay about 40 percent of state personal income taxes.)”

Occutard

Look at that again. That “greedy” one percent is ALREADY paying 40% of the income taxes collected by the state. How dare they? Not enough! Let’s jack them up even more!

Brown’s strategy here is painfully transparent. Had he tried to have enacted a proposition that depended solely on a sales tax increase to close the budget shortfall, it would have been lucky to get a single vote at the ballot box. That would have affected everybody, and would have required a very significant increase in the sales tax rate, which is already high in this state. Instead, we have a whopping increase in the tax rate on those evil “rich”, a move that in this state – with so many people victims of class envy and participants in class warfare – gives it a much better chance of passage. This is the cynical tune the Left has been playing for many years, from Brown at the state level all the way up to Obama in this year’s presidential election.

Should Prop 30 pass, of course, the rest of us suckers who live in this sorry state will also be on the hook for some of that tab that’s now come due for many years of unfettered and obscene spending. But Brown’s counting on class warfare to make our “contribution” more palatable and politically viable, particularly since – again according to the Legislative Analyst – “… the vast majority of the additional revenue from this measure would come from the PIT rate increases on upper-income taxpayers.” The small portion the rest of us are stuck with is simply Brown’s “beard” for yet another unfair tax increase on the small business owners and job producers, what few who still live here, as it gives him an excuse to claim that the burden is being “spread around”. It’s not, other than in a very minor and almost purely symbolic way.

All of this while there’s no discussion at all from Brown & Company on any meaningful cuts or reforms on the spending commitments in this state. Don’t fall for it! Let’s see some major cuts in spending first! Let’s reprioritize first! Then we can talk about what taxes need to be raised – if any – to address any remaining shortfall.

This state used to be able to function within a reasonable budget with reasonable tax rates, and even enjoy surpluses. That’s the condition to which we must return. There is no Money Tree Forest, and it’s time the socialists who run this state learn that simple fact.

As Maggie Thatcher noted, “The trouble with socialism is that it always runs out of other people’s money”.

©Brian Baker 2012

Greeceifornia

If the states are, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis described them, “laboratories of democracy”, then California is the preeminent example in this country of the pitfalls and perils of socialism run amok.

It’s no secret that this state has been swirling the financial drain for many years now, spinning in a maelstrom of red ink. Massive deficits, accompanied by soaring taxes and Draconian regulatory burdens, have joined to drive out productive people and the companies that employ them. This state has about 14% (about 1/7th) of the nation’s population, and about 1/3rd of its welfare recipients. About 25% of the country’s illegal aliens live here (LINK).

We have among the highest state and local tax burdens in the country. We rank #6 in state and local tax burden per capita (LINK), but bear in mind that large percentage of people on welfare and the illegal aliens. If you factor them out, we’d be even higher on that list. We rank at #48 in state business tax climate, being better than only New York and New Jersey. We have the highest sales taxes in the country; we have the second-highest gasoline taxes, bested only by New York (LINK) by a mere 1/2 cent/gallon.

2008-Tea-Party_024-web-2_copyright

The Democrats rule this state with an iron fist; their GOP “opposition” is comprised for the most part of a bunch of, shall we say, “moderates” (to put it kindly). All you have to do is look to our former Governator to see an embodiment of the problem there.

Those same Democrats are owned by the unions of both government workers and the private sector. The government-worker unions alone have managed to burden this state with wage levels and benefit costs that are bankrupting us, and there’s absolutely no effort among the ruling elites to do anything whatsoever to address that problem.

For years we’ve had annual deficits that have been in the tens of billions of dollars. Yet somehow, in spite of that, current Governor Jerry Brown and his minions have found the money to enact the state DREAM Act to fund the educations of illegal aliens, and to proceed with a high-speed train to nowhere that’s going to cost in excess of $100 Billion, according to the best estimates.

In what shouldn’t surprise anyone, Brown released a statement on May 12th that our budget shortfall this year is $9.2 billion more than projected (LINK), for a total of about a $16 billion shortfall. It seems that “…tax collections have not come in as high as expected and the economy isn’t growing as fast as hoped for.” I guess that’s what happens when you scare all the productive people out of the state with confiscatory taxes and punitive regulations coupled with insane spending priorities.

So… what’s the latest “solution” to our problems being proposed by Brown and the rest of the socialists… er, I mean, Democrats? If you guessed “more taxes!”, you win a one-way ticket to Athens. Greece, not Georgia. (Well, not really. But you get the point.)

We have two competing ballot propositions coming up that would raise taxes. Brown’s would raise income and sales taxes (and remember, our sales taxes are already the highest in the country); the competing ballot would only raise income taxes.

Brown, as is SOP, threatens that failure to enact his proposition will “…force severe cuts to schools and public safety…”. Notice how these “failures” to pass tax increases never “force severe cuts” to funding for illegal aliens, or bullet trains to nowhere, or pay increases and outrageous benefits to government union workers, or anything like that. No, we’ve got plenty of money for those things, somehow.

The hypocrisy, ineptitude, cynicism, and downright turpitude pile up so fast you need wings to stay above it. This is government failure on a massive scale.

We are Greeceifornia.

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© Brian Baker 2012

Sneaky Leftists

 (I know… oxymoron, right?)

Over the last few years out here in Commiefornia, capitol of the enviro-whacks, there’s been a rising tide of panic about the “dangers” posed to the environment by the bags used in grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores to package your purchases.

A few years ago, paper bags were the bugaboo, because trees were being “sacrificed” for such a “wasteful” purpose. There was much loud wailing and gnashing of teeth from the enviroNazis about how people should use plastic bags instead.

Then a couple of years ago those same fanatics changed their minds and decided that everyone should have to bring their own bags instead. It seems that plastic bags have also made it onto the “no-fly” list because of their durability (generally considered a good thing in other products); it seems some of them have been spotted floating around out in the middle of the ocean somewhere.

Can’t have that!

The problem is, they can’t sell their whacky ideas to the proletariat. That pesky free will at work again. So the answer was obvious: get their leftist buddies in government to do their work for them!

Of course!

So, in San Francisco (surprise!) and here in LA County, laws were passed to make the use of plastic bags illegal. They were banned, like other dangerous substances such as heroin and cocaine. The only “approved” choice is now back to those paper bags that were previously scorned … at a mandated “fee” of 10 cents per bag, of course. Fortunately for me, LA County has no regulatory power over the incorporated cities in this county, so here in Santa Clarita we still get to exercise our free choice in the matter.

But those stalwarts in the City of Los Angeles aren’t satisfied. Oh, no! Now they’re on the verge of passing a law banning paper bags, too (Link). Their goal, as they plainly admit, is to force people to bring their own reusable bags to the store, kinda like the Russian babushkas had to do in the glory days of the Soviet Union. I always have to wonder what was so appealing about the USSR that our homegrown leftists so often try to emulate it.

Of course, this stupid policy blatantly ignores the problems attached to the reusable bags: they’re unsanitary, most of them are made in China, and that little issue of people being able to make their own choices.

But then, they’re leftists. The only “free choice” they believe in is the choice to murder unborn babies. Anything else must be government-approved.

© Brian Baker 2012