America as Texas vs. California: Who’s Moving Where Edition

America as Texas vs. California: Who’s Moving Where Edition

View this map (click on a county) to see whether people are leaving or moving into the specific county.

Texas’s low-cost, liberty-loving atmosphere has become an attractive alternative to California’s oppressive public sector and dysfunctional policy environment. No amount of heart-melting vistas, celebrity sightings, or traipses through wine country can make up for what almost appears a strategic attempt by one of the nation’s largest states to drive businesses and productive people away.

Now let’s look at California. Aside from the appeal of Los Angeles to people living in the high-cost northeast (you might as well have good beaches and sunny weather if you’re paying high taxes for bad services), it appears the city of angels is losing its heavenly radiance in a massive way. San Diego also looks very red. San Francisco (not included here) has a surprisingly black hue to it in defiance of that beautiful city’s high cost of living, but it has a noticeably lower volume than the other great California cities.

How Public-Sector Unions Broke California

How Public-Sector Unions Broke California

There is a very good article on how the public-sector unions in California have raped the state by Steven Malanga on City Journal.  It explains how the unions, using their ability to elect politicians who will support their requests have negotiated contracts that have resulted in unreasonable and unsustainable retirement benefits for their members.

The ability of public-sector unions to control the legislature have caused much of the fiscal problems in California.  The unions’ political triumphs have molded a California in which government workers thrive at the expense of a struggling private sector. The state’s public school teachers are the highest-paid in the nation. Its prison guards can easily earn six-figure salaries. State workers routinely retire at 55 with pensions higher than their base pay for most of their working life. Meanwhile, what was once the most prosperous state now suffers from an unemployment rate far steeper than the nation’s and a flood of firms and jobs escaping high taxes and stifling regulations. This toxic combination—high public-sector employee costs and sagging economic fortunes—has produced recurring budget crises in Sacramento and in virtually every municipality in the state.

This is an important factor in the problems of California.

How public employees became members of the elite class in a declining California offers a cautionary tale to the rest of the country, where the same process is happening in slower motion. The story starts half a century ago, when California public workers won bargaining rights and quickly learned how to elect their own bosses—that is, sympathetic politicians who would grant them outsize pay and benefits in exchange for their support. Over time, the unions have turned the state’s politics completely in their favor. The result: unaffordable benefits for civil servants; fiscal chaos in Sacramento and in cities and towns across the state; and angry taxpayers finally confronting the unionized masters of California’s unsustainable government.

The CTA is one of the unions that has acquired enormous power and uses it for their benefit, and to the detriment of the citizens of California.

Consider the California Teachers Association. Much of the CTA’s clout derives from the fact that, like all government unions, it can help elect the very politicians who negotiate and approve its members’ salaries and benefits. Soon after Proposition 13 became law, the union launched a coordinated statewide effort to support friendly candidates in school-board races, in which turnout is frequently low and special interests can have a disproportionate influence. In often bitter campaigns, union-backed candidates began sweeping out independent board members. By 1987, even conservative-leaning Orange County saw 83 percent of board seats up for grabs going to union-backed candidates. The resulting change in school-board composition made the boards close allies of the CTA.

The SEIU is another.

The SEIU’s rise in California illustrates again how modern labor’s biggest victories take place in back rooms, not on picket lines. In the late 1980s, the SEIU began eyeing a big jackpot: tens of thousands of home health-care workers being paid by California’s county-run Medicaid programs. The SEIU initiated a long legal effort to have those workers, who were independent contractors, declared government employees. When the courts finally agreed, the union went about organizing them—an easy task because governments rarely contest organizing campaigns, not wanting to seem anti-worker. The SEIU’s biggest victory was winning representation for 74,000 home health-care workers in Los Angeles County, the largest single organizing drive since the United Auto Workers unionized General Motors in 1937. Taxpayers paid a steep price: home health-care costs became the fastest-growing part of the Los Angeles County budget after the SEIU bargained for higher wages and benefits for these new recruits. The SEIU also organized home health-care workers in several other counties, reaching a whopping statewide total of 130,000 new members.

The SEIU’s California numbers have given it extraordinary resources to pour into political campaigns. The union’s major locals contributed a hefty $20 million in 2005 to defeat a series of initiatives to cap government growth and rein in union power. The SEIU has also spent millions over the years on initiatives to increase taxes, sometimes failing but on other occasions succeeding, as with a 2004 measure to impose a millionaires’ tax to finance more mental-health spending. With an overflowing war chest and hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers, the SEIU has been instrumental in getting local governments to pass living-wage laws in several California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. And the union has also used its muscle in campaigns largely out of the public eye, as in 2003, when it pressured the board of CalPERS, the giant California public-employee pension fund, to stop investing in companies that outsourced government jobs to private contractors.

The writer concludes:

It will take an enormous effort to roll back decades of political and economic gains by government unions. But the status quo is unsustainable. And at long last, Californians are beginning to understand the connection between that status quo and the corruption at the heart of their politics.

This is important information. Please read the whole article.

Why Socialism Doesn’t Work – A Class Experiment

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”.

All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that.

Dennis Prager: Why Democrats Don’t Care About Our National Debt

Dennis Prager: Why Democrats Don’t Care About Our National Debt

Dennis Prager, writing in Townhall.com, explains why the Democrats don’t care about the $10 Trillion National Debt:

[…]

“And most Americans do not understand the difference between liberal and left. They do not realize, for example, that there is no major difference between the American Democratic Party and the leftist social democratic parties of Western Europe. They do not know that from Karl Marx to Obama, the left (as opposed to liberals) has never created wealth because it has never been interested in creating wealth; it is interested in redistributing wealth.

Therefore, unprecedented and unsustainable debt, a debt that will negatively affect most Americans’ quality of life, renders the dollar increasingly undesirable, and undermines America’s prestige and power in the world — these developments do not particularly disturb the left. They may trouble the president, the Democratic Party, and others on the left on some political level, but that pales in comparison to what the left really wants: a huge government overseeing a giant welfare state and a country with far fewer rich Americans.”

[…]

“But the demise of the dollar as the world’s currency disturbs the left as much as does America’s not getting a gold medal in curling at the Winter Olympics.

And as for America wielding less power in the world, that is a positive development for the American left. It is the world community as embodied in the United Nations that should wield power throughout the world, not an “overstretched,” “imperialist” and “militarist” United States.

I used to believe that left and right have similar goals for America, that they just differed in the means they wanted used to get there. I was mistaken. The left has a very different vision of America than those who hold the founding values of America, most especially individualism and small government. And if the price of a once in a lifetime possibility of getting to a giant welfare state dominated by the left is America’s steep financial decline, that is a price fully worth paying.”

Read the whole article.

The Central Economic Fallacy of the Century

The Central Economic Fallacy of the Century

The late Murray N. Rothbard once published a major article titled “Ten Great Economic Myths.” Included on Rothbard’s hit list were the notions that deficits are the cause of inflation and that economists can accurately forecast the future.

One myth that he didn’t cite dominates Washington today: that the economy can be successfully “managed” from some central point. This idea underlies, directly or indirectly, all of the others Rothbard mentions.

Unfortunately, society’s intellectual, political, and economic “mainstream” still accepts what should be called the Central Economic Fallacy of the Twentieth Century. The “mainstream” just doesn’t get it. Thus, we continue to see a basic progression. First, government subsidizes x or regulates y to correct for some government-diagnosed problem z. Unwanted side effects result, and z, assuming it exists, often grows worse. Government intervenes again to fix the side effects and redouble its efforts to battle z. More undesirable side effects result. And the process continues, with government growing inexorably as interventions accumulate. More and more of the economy is micromanaged through increasing webs of subsidy, regulation, and quick fix. The logical end result, as Ludwig von Mises has shown in great detail, is socialism.

Read the whole article. The author makes a lot of sense.

No Words Will Suffice to Describe This

No Words Will Suffice to Describe This

This is a hearing on May 5, 2009 of a committee of the House of Representatives looking into oversight of the Federal Reserve and seeking an explanation for the large and sudden expansion of the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve. The Congressman asking the questions is Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson. He is questioning Elizabeth Coleman, Inspector General of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Watch it and despair. A clear example of why Government is not the answer.

 

The Global Financial Meltdown Did Not Start in the U.S.

Alan Reynolds in an article on the Cato Institute site concludes that President Obama, and other G-20 leaders, have it wrong.

At the recent meeting of G-20 nations in London, officials from many nations agreed on one thing — that the United States is to blame for the world recession. President Obama agreed, speaking in Strasbourg of “the reckless speculation of bankers that has now fueled a global economic downturn.”

The article shows that the recession did not start in the U.S., and that the speculation of bankers was not the cause of the recession or the financial meltdown.

Instead, he lays the blame for the global meltdown at the feet of the oil cartel, and the price of petroleum.

What really triggered this recession should be obvious, since the same thing happened before every other postwar US recession save one (1960).

In 1983, economist James Hamilton of the University of California at San Diego showed that “all but one of the US recessions since World War Two have been preceded, typically with a lag of around three-fourths of a year, by a dramatic increase in the price of crude petroleum.” The years 1946 to 2007 saw 10 dramatic spikes in the price of oil — each of which was soon followed by recession.

In The Financial Times on Jan. 3, 2008, I therefore suggested, “The US economy is likely to slip into recession because of higher energy costs alone, regardless of what the Fed does.”

In a new paper at cato.org, “Financial Crisis and Public Policy,” Jagadeesh Gokhale notes that the prolonged decline in exurban housing construction that began in early 2006 was a logical response to rising prices of oil and gasoline at that time. So was the equally prolonged decline in sales of gas-guzzling vehicles. And the US/UK financial crises in the fall of 2008 were likewise as much a consequence of recession as the cause: Recessions turn good loans into bad.

The recession began in late 2007 or early 2008 in many countries, with the United States one of the least affected. Countries with the deepest recessions have no believable connection to US housing or banking problems.

The truth is much simpler: There is no way the oil-importing economies could have kept humming along with oil prices of $100 a barrel, much less $145. Like nearly every other recession of the postwar period, this one was triggered by a literally unbearable increase in the price of oil.

Read the complete article.

Obama Administration Clueless on Economy

Jim Rogers, Investor, Trader and Financial Commentator says that Tim Geithner and the Obama administration are dealing with the failing economy all wrong. They are taking the wrong steps to turn the economy around. Listen to Jim Rogers explain:

Sen Gregg: Obama’s Budget will Bankrupt America

Sen Gregg: Obama’s Budget will Bankrupt America

Sen. Judd Gregg made the following statement today:

“Today’s analysis of the President’s FY 2010 budget by the Congressional Budget Office confirms that under the President’s plan, our debt will increase to shocking levels that are simply unsustainable and will devastate future economic opportunities for our children and grandchildren.

Continue reading “Sen Gregg: Obama’s Budget will Bankrupt America”

Roots of the Crisis

FreedomWorks has done an excellent, well-documented analysis of the roots of the current economic crisis. Their analysis begins in 1913 with the passage of the income tax law and the ability to deduct mortgage interest to encourage the assumption of debt by Americans in the purchase of a home, and continues through October of 2008 when the crisis was fully upon us. Anyone interested in how we got here should read this analysis.

Excerpts:

1965 – The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is created.

HUD and FHA insure loans for borrowers with insufficient credit, thereby driving down interest rates for low-income borrowers and artificially increasing the amount of housing produced and sold.

1977 – The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) becomes law

and requires banks to loan to the areas where the banks are located, regardless of the eligibility of potential borrowers. To enforce the statute, government agencies take the information they gather on the banks into consideration when deciding to approve applications for new bank branches or for mergers or acquisitions.

1992 The Clinton Presidency Begins

Government weakens bank lending standards. A now-discredited study published by the Boston Federal Reserve enables Government Sponsored Enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to accept lower underwriting standards for mortgages they are seeking to purchase, so they may expand their portfolios, enable private banks to make more loans and influence the housing sector.78

At the same time, Congress weakens Fannie and Freddie standards. The Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act (FHEFSSA) is passed into law. This act mandates that the GSEs increase their acquisition of bank loans made to risky and lower income borrowers. GSE Fannie Mae announces a trillion dollar commitment. Banks know they can meet CRA requirements by giving these loans, and that they will be able to pass the risk of such loans on to the implicitly taxpayer-backed Government Sponsored Enterprises, so they make lower quality loans.

Also in 1992, Countrywide, Wachovia, and others pushed by Federal Reserve publications and other regulations begin loaning to clients with no or bad credit. Lenders are able to pass on the added risk of these loans by selling them to the GSEs, who guarantee, repackage, and sell them as securities with the implicit backing of the government in the case of default.

2003 Corruption at Fannie and Freddie

In 2003, the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates to 1% – the lowest since the 1960s. The rate allows borrowers to borrow at an interest rate lower than the rate of inflation, effectively subsidizing borrowers, encouraging banks and individuals to borrow as much as possible.

President Bush calls for reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by increasing their capital-reserve requirements, the percentage of liquid assets lending institutions must keep on hand incase of financial trouble.17 Third-party groups call for the two Government Sponsored Enterprises to be fully privatized, rather than the current status which privatizes profits but socializes risk. Congress, heavily lobbied by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to oppose the reform, opposes reform.

Frank: “I do not think we are facing any kind of a crisis. That is, in my view, the two government sponsored enterprises we are talking about here, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not in a crisis… . I do not think at this point there is a problem with a threat to the Treasury.
— Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), at a hearing in 2003

Read the whole article.

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