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Finding Common Ground in California

In California, environmental regulations have brought infrastructure investment to a standstill. Without expanding energy, water, and transportation infrastructure, it is nearly impossible to build housing, the cost-of-living is punitive, water is rationed and food is overpriced, the overall quality of life is reduced, and money that ought to be paying skilled workers to operate heavy construction equipment instead goes into the pockets of environmentalist lobbyists, bureaucrats, litigators, and activist nonprofits.

Californians nonetheless agree that infrastructure, as it is traditionally defined, needs new investment. Freeways, bridges, railroads, dams, aqueducts, seaports, airports, transmission lines, pipelines; all of this needs to be maintained and upgraded.

But despite agreement on the goal, more than ever, solutions are filtered through the lens of polarizing ideologies. What is today’s definition of infrastructure? Is it physical assets, or something more ephemeral? Do infrastructure priorities have to be established based on restoring race and gender equity, or by concerns about climate change? Should some infrastructure be deliberately allowed to deteriorate, to avoid “induced demand” and the unsustainable consumption that would result?

Debate over these questions has paralyzed California’s politicians. Navigating a pathway out of this paralyzing morass takes more than just compromise, it takes the courage to adhere to controversial premises. Chief among these is to reject the idea that legislated scarcity is the only option to combat climate change. In every critical area of infrastructure there are solutions that can enable a future of sustainable abundance.

For example, Californians can rebuild their energy infrastructure in a manner […] Read More

The Real Reasons Newsom Has Failed All Californians

While acknowledging that the outcome of the ongoing Newsom recall voting is anybody’s guess, it is worthwhile to imagine life in California if Newsom survives the recall and goes on to win reelection next year. Because the nonpartisan and growing opposition to Newsom and what he represents is not founded in “Trumpism,” nor is it the product of “out-of-state Republicans.”

The Newsom recall effort is a reaction, shared by independents and moderate Democrats, that California’s institutions are failing. Even life-long progressives are horrified by the appalling negligence and corruption that now defines governance in California. Examples of this are everywhere.

One may begin by imagining a future of endless fire seasons, where the air is so filthy that on any given summer day more than half the state’s residents can’t venture outdoors. Does anyone think announcing an electric car mandate will solve this problem, or that hiring state agencies to thin the forests will ever get the job done? There are solutions. Bring the timber industry back to the scale it operated at in the 1990s, and let them thin the forests and maintain the fire breaks, fire roads and transmission line corridors while supplying affordable lumber to Californians. That used to work fine, and with what we’ve since learned about forest management, would solve the problem and improve forest ecosystems.

Instead the policy, to be continued, is to make it impossible for property owners to ignite controlled burns or mechanically thin the undergrowth on their land, […] Read More

Explaining an Initiative to Fund Water Projects

AUDIO/VIDEO: How do ballot initiatives bypass a negligent state legislature? Can ballot initiatives be used to fund water projects, so Californians will not have to experience water scarcity in the future? Can a ballot initiative be used to amend laws and regulations that have made it almost impossible to get approval and permits to construct water infrastructure in California? A 42 minute YouTube interview with Edward Ring on Mike Netter’s Town Hall.

An Agenda to Fix California

As a recall election looms and embattled Governor Newsom fights for his political life, the political ads, as usual, are expensive pablum. That’s what we’ve come to expect, of course, but this election is nonetheless more than a referendum on a failing governor and failing policies. It’s a chance to think about what California could be. Instead of candidates pledging to “lower taxes on the middle class,” which obviously isn’t a bad idea, contenders for governor might discuss very specific policies they would champion.

Moreover, as voters cast their ballots and decide whether or not to keep Newsom in office, they might think about which candidates they’ll support in the future. Do they want to continue supporting political mannequins? Talking puppets that spout focus group tested cliches when you pull a string in their back? Or candidates that may be a little rough around the edges, but possess the courage, the vision, and the attention to detail that California needs now more than ever?

Here, being as brief but as specific as possible, are some ideas to solve some of California’s biggest problems. Most of them are controversial. It would be nice to find a politician with the guts to espouse all of them, without equivocation and without exception.

Problem: Unreliable and expensive energy:

Solution: Upgrade California’s natural gas powerplants to run at maximum efficiency and without being shut on and off. End the restrictions on natural gas hookups in new construction. Keep Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant open. Streamline […] Read More

How Unions Could Save America

The general perception within Conservatism, Inc. and libertarian circles is that collective bargaining is a violation of the right of the individual to seek work without being compelled to join a union. That sounds good in principle, but there’s much more to the story.

A few years ago, the workers at a local grocery store chain in California went on strike. The reason they voted to strike was that management had implemented a new policy whereby most of the employees, including full-time career workers, had their hours reduced to fewer than 25 hours per week. At the same time, these employees had their health coverage taken away.

It’s easy enough here to simply proclaim that this is the free market working for the greater good. After all, consider the Walmart chain. By sourcing most of its merchandise from overseas, exploiting economies of scale, and offering minimal pay and benefits, consumers are able to purchase food and other goods at prices far lower than a local, unionized grocery store chain could possibly achieve. Survival of the fittest. Economic Darwinism. Creative destruction. What could possibly go wrong?

But when you talk with the people who decided to go on strike, the other side of the story becomes obvious. Not everybody is a freelance gig whiz who can move to a low-cost city while writing code at $100+ per hour to service clients all over the world. Some people just want to do an honest day’s work, earn enough to support a family, […] Read More

California’s Green Conundrum

In 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the landmark AB 32, the “Global Warming Solutions Act.” Determined to leave a legacy that would ensure he remained welcome among the glitterati of Hollywood and Manhattan, Schwarzenegger may not have fully comprehended the forces he unleashed.

Under AB 32, California was required to “reduce its [greenhouse gas] emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.” Now, according to the “scoping plan” updated in 2017, California must “further reduce its GHG emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.”

The problem with such an ambitious plan is that achieving it will preclude ordinary Californians ever enjoying the lifestyle that people living in developed nations have earned and have come to expect. It will condemn Californians to chronic scarcity of energy, with repercussions that remain poorly understood by voters.

It isn’t merely that Californians will experience unreliable energy, as the percentage of energy generated from “renewable” sources continues to increase. That will eventually get sorted out, although at a stupendous cost. Battery farms will replace natural gas plants to fill in those times of day when there is no sun and insufficient wind, and over time, the entire solar, wind, battery, and “smart grid” infrastructure will get overbuilt enough to cope even with those months in the year when days are short and there isn’t much wind. It will cost trillions and despoil thousands of square miles of supposedly sacred open space, but it will get done.

The bigger problem is that […] Read More

Here Come the DINOs

How do you define a RINO? Definitions vary, but tend to go something like this: A Republican In Name Only is a member of the uniparty establishment. This means that politician is part of a ruling elite that is betraying the interests of Americans in almost every important area of policy. RINOs are compliant with the entire rhetorical message of progressive Democrats, from the reality of “systemic racism” to the “climate emergency.” They offer nothing unique or useful in the way of solutions to real problems, but merely go along with the Democratic policy agenda.

The entire value proposition of RINOs, if you want to call it that, is that somehow they’re able to moderate the worst excesses of the Democrats. So what? At their best, they just delay the agenda of what is possibly the most corrupt concentration of anti-American oligarchs and government careerists in American history. RINOs are worthless, not merely for their cowardice masquerading as moderation, but for their utter lack of alternative solutions.

DINOs, on the other hand, are something completely different. And the emerging breed of Democrats In Name Only coming out of California are something extraordinary. The policies these DINOs are promoting are stimulated by California’s status as a fully realized one-party progressive state. They see a dismal reality—unreliable energy, water rationing, traffic gridlock, unaffordable housing, out-of-control homelessness, rampant and unpunished crime, burning forests, and an increasingly worthless system of public education—and all of it is a consequence of progressive politics. They’ve realized that […] Read More

Birthrates, Immigration, and National Identity

The United States currently has one of the highest proportions of foreign-born residents in its history. At nearly 50 million, over 15 percent of the people living in America were born somewhere else.

The hotly debated pros and cons of mass immigration tend to center on economic arguments (that immigrants either benefit or harm America’s economy) or cultural ones (that immigrants either enrich or undermine American culture).

It is impossible to take a position in these debates without inciting hostility from one side or the other. But no matter what position one may take, it is useful to look at immigration in the context of global population trends.

The official United Nations estimate shows global population rising from the current 7.8 billion to peak at 10.9 billion in 2100. But this projection is disputed by demographers Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson in their 2020 book “Empty Planet.” Taking data from numerous recent studies and official reports, nation by nation, their estimate has global population peaking at 9.0 billion by 2050 and declining thereafter.

Everything about this has profound implications. The authors cite urbanization as a central variable affecting population growth, claiming that “in rural settlements children provide farm labor, whereas in cities a child is just another mouth to feed.” More education, more access to healthcare, and a lower prevalence of religious influence are other reasons the authors claim that urbanization lowers birth rates.

True or not, the correlation is undeniable. In 1960, two-thirds of humanity lived […] Read More

The Future of Automobiles

AUDIO: Will electric cars ever completely replace cars with internal combustion engines? Is it wise to mandate zero emission vehicles, which leaves no place for hybrids? What are the remaining technical challenges to making electric cars commercially competitive and environmentally sustainable? – 8 minutes on KNRS Salt Lake City – Edward Ring on the Rod Arquette Show.

 

https://civicfinance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/2021-08-10-Edward-Ring-on-Rod-Arquette-8-minutes-KNRS-SLC.mp3

Kevin Paffrath is a Serious Candidate for Governor

There is a lot to recommend Kevin Paffrath for governor of California. Along with several Republicans, including Kiley, Cox, Elder and Faulconer, Paffrath is going to get a lot of votes. Not only is his presence on the ballot likely to increase the probability that Newsom is voted out of office on the Recall ballot’s question one, but because there are four viable Republican candidates, and only one viable Democratic candidate, Paffrath could very well end up becoming California’s next governor.

Paffrath would be a vast improvement over the governor we’ve got. If he ends up getting elected, it could represent a political realignment in California as significant as a victory by a GOP candidate. Paffrath has a lot to offer. He has Kiley’s brains, Cox’s business acumen, Elder’s charisma and communication skills, and if anything, his politics are to the right of Faulconer.

And unlike some of the many other candidates in the Recall, Paffrath’s candidacy is no joke. In the most recent poll, he leads the top GOP challenger, Larry Elder, 27 percent to 23 percent.

Consider Paffrath’s plan for the homeless (all of this can be found on his campaign website). He intends to use the national guard to construct centralized shelters, which will enable the national guard in conjunction with law enforcement to immediately remove the homeless from California’s streets and parks. Compare this to Newsom’s plan to double down on the corrupt practice of constructing homeless housing at […] Read More