Tag: California

California Knifes the Gig Economy

 

(Sacramento, Aug. 29) Car displaying Uber and Lyft fliers advocating California unionize the gig economy.

California state legislators embarked last week on the single most important regulatory misadventure this country has seen in many decades, seeking to redefine the obscure but critical legal distinction between an employee and an independent contractor. The employment relationship today is subject to massive regulation that is inapplicable to the independent contractor, who pretty much works on his or her own.

Like it or not, the employee receives many statutory protections, including the right to receive minimum wages and overtime, to join a union, to receive worker’s compensation benefits and unemployment insurance, and to receive paid family and sick leave. None of that mandated protection comes without significant costs. It has been estimated that reclassification of Uber and Lyft drivers as employees in California alone will cost the two companies an average of $3,625 per driver per year for a combined annual bill of nearly $800 million per year. Nonetheless, in 2018, the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court forged ahead with such a reform by unanimously holding that drivers who worked for a firm that supplied nationwide courier and delivery services should be classified by law as employees and not as independent contractors.

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Having solved the overuse of natural gas in homes problem now the city of Berkely has moved on. From USA today and other sources: Berkeley’s municipal code will no longer feature words like “manhole” and “manpower,” and instead say, “maintenance hole” and “human effort” or “workforce.” The measure passed unanimously Tuesday and replaces more than […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss the American Medical Association rejecting call for single-payer healthcare system. They’re also disgusted as prolific “Jeopardy!” winner James Holzhauer faces a massive tax hit courtesy of the state of California. And Jim and Greg discuss how Democratic voters in Virginia are returning a scandal-tarred candidate to the state legislature and how Democratic politicians are cozying up to Gov. Ralph Northam and his campaign money again.

Hot Takes and Fast Breaks

 

We are in the midst, or at the end, of the National Basketball Association’s championship tournament. The Golden State Warriors are the first team to advance to five straight NBA finals since the Boston Celtics, who were in 10 straight finals between 1957 and 1966. There have been other incredibly dominant teams who went on finals streaks, then missed a year, then were back for more. Yet, this has been a very special team. They also have good reputations off the court but have joined the rest of the NBA in their open leftist contempt for American voters’ decision in 2016. Indeed, they act as if the election was illegitimate while championing every left-wing Democrat cause. Yet, they may well lose this finals series to a Canadian team, the Toronto Raptors. President Trump should have tweets drafted and ready to immediately address either eventuality.

The Raptors were up three games to one when they lost Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals by one point. They need only win one of the next two games to unseat the defending champion Warriors. Yet, Game 6 is in the Warriors’ home arena. Suppose they win, making it one game for all the marbles. It would be seasoned champions against first-time-ever contenders, with all the pressure on the Raptors for letting the series slip away.

Golden State Warriors Win, and “Three-peat:”

Erica Sandberg joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss the deteriorating state of public order in San Francisco.

The Bay Area’s most densely populated and desirable neighborhoods are being destroyed by lawlessness and squalor. San Francisco now leads the nation in property crime, according to the FBI. “Other low-level offenses,” Sandberg reports for City Journal, “including drug dealing, street harassment, encampments, indecent exposure, public intoxication, simple assault, and disorderly conduct are also rampant.”

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So, Governor Gavin (almost makes you miss Jerry Brown) Newsom is inviting woman (and men, I suppose) to have their abortions in California. Formally known for beaches, movie glamour, redwoods, the state come now known as the Baby Killing State (maybe that could be a new slogan on the license plates.) Well, some states do […]

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Judge Koh Is No 5G Wiz

 

Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California gave the Federal Trade Commission an enormous victory this past week in its antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm. Her conclusion was that “Qualcomm’s licensing practices have strangled competition” in key markets to the detriment of rivals, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and consumers.

Her solution was a stern edict that at a minimum forces Qualcomm to abandon its “no-license, no chip” policy in three key ways. First, as that label suggests, Qualcomm may no longer sell its chips only to parties who have already obtained a license—perfectly proper under patent law—to use chips that contain Qualcomm’s patented technology. Second, Qualcomm must renegotiate all of its contracts worldwide to make sure that it only charges “fair and reasonable rates” for all of its technology and chipsets, including now required sales to its direct competitors in the 5G market. Third, the order prohibits Qualcomm from entering into “any express or de facto exclusive dealing relationships” with its customers. As the Wall Street Journal wrote, Judge Koh’s “Qualcomm coup” effectively “kneecaps” the major American player in the 5G market.

I have worked as a legal advisor and consultant for Qualcomm for many years, and have always been stunned by the huge number of antitrust attacks that are raised against the company solely because it is an industry leader in both the United States and world markets. Treating this issue as a basic matter of patent law, a “pioneer patent”—that is, one that goes to a company that made a major advance in patented technology—has always received the broadest interpretation, and, through that protection, the largest financial rewards. The social judgment here is clear: consumers are far better off paying high royalties for a new product that they desperately want than they are paying no royalties on a product that they cannot obtain.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America have a lively discussion of the Trump administration’s withdrawal of federal funding for California’s high-speed rail project. Democratic presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand says states would no longer be able to legislate on abortion if she gets elected. And Jim offers a radical counter-proposal after learning an adversity score was added to the SAT.

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Well, he’s at it again. Gavin Newsom, California’s newly elected Governor, has once more decided his moral sensibilities take precedence over the duly enacted law. Today, March 13, 2019, Governor Newsom, with a stroke of the pen, signed an executive order placing a moratorium on executions. As per Article 5, Section 8 of the California […]

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Pat Buchanan’s latest column – https://buchanan.org/blog/how-middle-america-is-to-be-dispossessed-136645 – foretells a dire prospect for the America many of us grew up in and prefer to conserve. It relates the deliberate strategy of people in power to displace traditional Americans, a strategy which no longer has to be covert, but instead can proclaim its intentions openly, knowing that […]

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Last week, Ray and I went down to California for a Hillsdale National Leadership Seminar, on Principles and Politics.  Speakers were Andrew Roberts (author of a book on Churchill), Dr. Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale; Christopher Bedford, of The Daily Caller; Peter Schweitzer, and Shelby Steele.  I have done three posts about our trip over […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud President Trump for demanding that California return the $2.5 billion it received from the federal government for its high-speed railway after the project was dramatically scaled back. They also raise their eyebrows at Arizona’s plans to collect the DNA of state residents and charge them a fee to do so. And they explain that while our society is very forgiving, it might be asking a bit much to welcome back an ISIS propagandist with open arms. 

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to California Gov. Gavin Newsom greatly scaling back high-speed rail in the state, proving once again that the concept is not the dream solution that liberals think it is.  They also slam New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez for being outraged that people entering the U.S. illegally and illegal immigrants caught driving drunk are treated like criminals.  And they have fun with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker declaring that meat consumption is destroying the planet and that he wants to make the existing model of the food system obsolete.

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Gavin Nuisance, in a rare spasm of Common Sense, is apparently canceling the California High-Speed Choo-Choo boondoggle. The CHSCC was supposed to go from LaLa Land to San Franpsycho, but going up the coast was never really an option because it would have annoyed the rich people who live there. This was not so much […]

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The Hidden Costs of the LA Teachers Strike

 

The recent teachers strike in Los Angeles was resolved on terms that have generally been regarded as a victory for the teachers against the embattled Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The LAUSD is financially strapped because of ever heavier pension obligations for retired teachers and high operating expenses. Nonetheless, the LAUSD capitulated to the demands of the teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). It agreed to a 6% pay raise for the teachers to be phased in over two years, and class size was reduced by two students per class. The District also vowed to beef up its employee base by hiring 300 nurses, 82 librarians, and 17 counselors by 2020.

LA mayor Eric Garcetti, who has higher political ambitions, crowed: “When we see a problem, we fix it.” AFT President Randi Weingarten noted optimistically, “Everything teachers are demanding would strengthen public schools.” Going out on strike, she said, was about “ensuring that all public schools have the conditions they need for student success.” But those remarks, as Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal notes, must be taken with a large gain of salt, for self-interest offers a better explanation of the AFT’s strategy than its supposed altruism. The AFT thought that its gambit was worthwhile for its members, but a closer look at the settlement shows that in the long-run, the union teachers got less than they hoped for, while everyone else lost big time.

The initial sticking point is the interim costs—none of which are recoverable—that stemmed from the shutdown of the school system for six days. The teachers took a big salary hit—about $2,250 in wage losses per teacher, or three percent of salary. The District lost around $100 million because state funding is tightly tied to the days that students are in school. The teachers were willing to roll the dice because they thought that their losses would be offset by long-term gains, but that outcome depends on their political ability to persuade the California legislature to raise taxes to fund the expensive settlement, which given the state’s tricky financial condition is far from certain.

Alexandra DeSanctis of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy watching Howard Schultz and Elizabeth Warren trade insults over Warren’s proposed wealth tax and shudder to think that Schultz might be the most sensible liberal considering a 2020 presidential run.  They also slam Kamala Harris for suggesting that lawmakers who don’t support gun control don’t care about the victims of mass shootings and contending that if Republicans saw photos of murdered children that they would vote differently.  And they laugh and cringe as the chairwoman of a California State Senate committee bans the use of gendered pronouns in committee – and then proceeds to violate her own rule over and over again.

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A California Assemblyman has introduced legislation that would ban paper receipts from being printed and given to customers unless the customer asked for a printed receipt. So I guess I’m behind the times. I thought California had an ongoing problem with wildfires and was staring down the barrel of a crippling pension problem. And had […]

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California’s Forest Fire Tragedy

 

Over the past several weeks, California has been gripped by two of the most deadly forest fires in its history: the Camp Fire north of Sacramento and the Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. At last count, the toll of this disaster includes 76 dead and hundreds missing, the destruction of nearly 10,000 homes, and unhealthy air quality—now called the “dirtiest in the world”—throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, leading to the postponement of many local events, including moving the “Big Game” between Cal and Stanford from November 17 to December 1.

An enormous debate has developed over the cause of both fires.  Outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown has loudly proclaimed that climate change deniers are “definitely contributing” to the onslaught of new fires. But the best evidence says otherwise. Global temperature increase has been nil over the last 20 or so years, notwithstanding the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Similarly, the repeated claims that we have had more unstable global climate patterns within that period is likewise false. According to Professor David B. South of Auburn University, “data suggest that extremely large megafires were four-times more common before 1940” than today, even though CO2 levels were lower.

Local variables have transformed California far more dramatically than climate change. Thanks to a large influx of new residents to California in recent years, new homes have been built close to the forests, as happened in the now torched town of Paradise, where the many new homes burnt to the ground were quite literally in harm’s way. On the forest floor, as explained in the Wall Street Journal, an accumulation of dead wood, coupled with too much new growth, stymied the efficient growth of healthy trees that are better able to resist fires.