Tag: California

Join Jim and Greg as they serve up three martinis, including one bad one they think could end up being good. They discuss unions planning walkouts from teachers, truckers, government employees and others to demand things like Medicare for all, free rent, and defunding the police – but see tremendous potential for this tactic to backfire spectacularly. They also unload on Kamala Harris for reversing her position on fracking and noting her blatant pandering to Pennsylvania voters in the process. And they vent in reaction to a California wildfire starting from a pyrotechnic explosion at a gender-reveal party.

The California Homeless Urban Brushfire Fire Season Begins

 

Vacant lot on residential street near Downtown Los Angeles set ablaze after homeless encampment catches fire on the night of August 19, 2020.

As the only member of my family living in California – specifically, Los Angeles – I have to deal with the common misconceptions of the state: No, one does not go up to celebrities and start talking to them, even just to say how much one likes their work. No, locals generally don’t go to Hollywood; it’s an overpriced, touristy hellscape of traffic with no parking. And no, even if one does go to the beach (many don’t – that hellscape of traffic with no parking thing again), people only swim on the hottest days because the ocean here is icy cold.

Congress Can’t Afford to Bail Out High-Spending States

 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY-D) speaks to union group. (Lev Radin / Shutterstock.com)

Congressional Democrats are doubling down on their demand that, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government must bail out free-spending states. There are several terrible ideas out there just now (destroying minority-owned businesses in the service of racial equality comes to mind), but this is one of the worst.

The crisis in problem states is fueled mainly by unfunded pension liabilities. Public employee unions and the politicians they elect have for decades promised lavish pensions to union members, far exceeding those paid to wealth-creating private-sector employees. But adequate funding was never provided and the over-optimistic financial market returns didn’t materialize. The result is a growing total of $4.9 trillion in contractually enforceable liabilities to state retirees. There is no way the states can make these payments.

Urban Un-Renewal: After Coronavirus and Black Lives Matter, Has the Bubble Burst in Downtown L.A.?

 

The Frank Putnam Flint monument on the south lawn of Los Angeles City Hall, facing the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters, covered in anti-police graffiti. – 6/21/20

Despite decades of flagrant political and fiscal mismanagement, the cities along California’s coast have flourished. Even with the looming threat of unpaid liabilities to civil servants’ unions, an unrelenting drought, and a wave of homelessness that has swept down upon San Francisco and Los Angeles like the zombie apocalypse, nothing seemed to stop the push to develop more and more. The jeremiads against gentrification have grown louder and more desperate every year as, in L.A., more formerly poor and minority-dominated neighborhoods saw craft beer shops and vegan bakeries open among the 99¢ stores and check-cashing outlets. Nowhere was more symbolic of the success that Downtown L.A. itself: At the start of the millennium, the city’s historic and financial core was a ghost town after 6 P.M. and on weekends, its streets becoming eerie canyon of shuttered storefronts devoid even of the homeless.

Michael Gibson joins Brian Anderson to discuss San Francisco’s ongoing struggle with public order and his decision to leave the Bay Area for Los Angeles—the subject of Gibson’s story, “America’s Havana,” in the Spring 2020 issue.

“Even before the current Covid-19 pandemic,” writes Gibson, “San Francisco was a deeply troubled city.” The city ranks first in the nation in a host of property crimes, and its high housing costs make it prohibitively expensive for low- and middle-income families. Even tech companies are now considering relocating their operations; any significant exodus of such businesses would be a serious blow to the city’s economy.

It’s the first-ever al fresco edition of the Three Martini Lunch!  Join Jim and Greg as they welcome encouraging news on the search for the coronavirus and that experts believe the economy might start improving in June. They also roll their eyes as California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the federal government must bail out his state or else first responders will be the first ones laid off.  And they fire back at a Washington Post opinion writer who claims Americans would do much better against the coronavirus if we weren’t so skeptical of government and protective of our liberties.

Hey, we made it to Friday!  Join Jim and Greg as they applaud cities and states for gearing up for the worst of coronavirus before it hits.  They also cringe as Washington, D.C., officials claim the COVID-19 peak may not come there until late June or early July. And they call for a common sense review as sheriff’s officials in southern California arrest a man for defying state orders by paddle boarding in the ocean by himself.

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Following Super Tuesday’s romp by Joe Biden, there seemed to be a bit of a cooling among Republicans about their prospects of retaking control of the House of Representatives. It wasn’t a lack of confidence in winning back seats, but there seemed to be too much emphasis placed on a Bernie Sanders nomination dragging down-ballot […]

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Hi everyone! I’m new here. I usually hang out on Twitter, but decided to check out Ricochet. I just wanted to share an article/video from Reason Magazine about California’s AB5 bill which restricts freelancers, including people like me. Writers can only write 35 articles a year per publication. It’s dystopian. California leads the way in […]

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“I’ve lived in California all my life, and I’ve never even heard of that.” The speaker was about 5’7″, female, with mid-length blond hair in a ponytail. The setting was a Costco in St Louis, where I was doing some Christmas shopping. And “that”? “That” was the name of a place in California where our […]

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California Wrecks Its Gig-Economy

 

The economic law of unintended consequences should serve as a cautionary note for anyone wishing to enact lofty, far-reaching social legislation. The intended purpose of such legislation is typically laudable: It is often to protect disadvantaged groups unable to fend for themselves against potential exploiters. But such legislation backfires by ignoring its unintended consequences. No legislative initiative in the realm of economic and social relationships can advance the position of a protected class unless it also imposes costs on the groups with which it does business. Stressing the intended consequences ignores the countermeasures to which other groups will resort to minimize the impact of the legislation. In the end, by shrinking the economic pie, both sides are left worse off.

This proposition is particularly relevant in labor contracting, where the language of exploitation is never far from the lips of today’s most aggressive reformers. Exhibit A is the fighting words of Lorena Gonzalez, a progressive Democratic assemblywoman from the San Diego area who, in September 2019, led the successful drive for the passage of Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). That legislation is now reshaping the California economy for the worse by forcing the reclassification of many independent contractors as employees.

This shift is not without profound consequences, for it now entitles these new employees to receive, as a right, an expansive and expensive set of benefits including worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, social security, overtime pay, and more. AB5 is meant to undo the current law, which in Gonzalez’s view, fails to afford independent contractors adequate legal protection. Her spokeswoman has explained via email: “The assemblywoman is incredibly angry at an economic system that has caused a permanent underclass in her community of working men and women who are constantly being squeezed by corporate greed.”

Lara’s Theme Harms California Insurers

 

California’s Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara took the highly unusual step this past week of instituting a one-year moratorium preventing the state’s insurers from refusing to renew their homeowners insurance policies. He did so to ease an affordability crisis when homeowners insurance rates spiked in response to the $24 billion in claims that these insurers had to pay to cover losses from the disastrous fires across California in 2017 and 2018. Heeding constituent calls, Lara aims to protect homeowners who had “been dropped after decades of premium payment and loyalty.” At a minimum, 800,000 homes are covered by the new policy, with more to come.

The insurance companies have loudly protested this move, but to no avail. They suffer collateral damage from catastrophic losses not of their own making. Unfortunately, it is easy to identify the parties responsible for these devastating losses. Start with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), the heavily regulated public utility company, which recently agreed to a $13.5 billion settlement to be paid for death, personal injury, and property damage claims from the 2017-2018 wildfires. Next is the California legislature, whose ham-handed regulations in the pursuit of “environmental justice” and “diversity and inclusion” have contributed to PG&E’s chronically poor performance. Nonetheless, a strong wall of government immunity for discretionary functions insulates the state treasury from all liability—yet another classic illustration of undue power without correlative responsibility.

The obvious scapegoat for government responsibility and public wrath is global warming. True to form, the New York Times, among others, treats the California nightmare as yet another example of the perils of climate change, without offering a shred of evidence to support that conclusion. In fact, mountains of evidence point in the opposite direction. To most people’s surprise, global temperatures went down in 2017 and 2018. Whether or not part of a trend, the movement undercuts any claim about the short-term effect of global warming. In addition, there has been no substantial change in summertime temperatures in northern California, where the fires raged. Global losses from natural catastrophes from all sources declined from $350 billion in 2017 to $160 billion a year later—a huge drop that cannot be explained by trivial annual changes in global temperature.