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Newsom’s Homeless Policies Require Radical Revision

California’s Homeless Industrial Complex was delivered a minor jolt last month, when Governor Newsom “issued a blanket rejection of local California governments’ plans to curb homelessness, putting on hold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.”

The panic was short-lived, however, when in a November 18 conference in Sacramento the governor relented and released yet another billion dollars to California’s cities and counties after their representatives all pledged that “in the next round, they commit to more aggressive plans to reduce street homelessness.”

Oh please. “We’re going to plan to make more ‘aggressive’ plans. Ok? Now give us the money.”

This is theatre, but it doesn’t have to be. Newsom is one of the few individuals in California with the power to completely upend the corrupt, phony compassion-spewing army of opportunistic bureaucrats, nonprofits, and politically connected developers who have squandered billions in order to make California’s homeless crisis worse than ever.

Newsom was right to reject funding requests that, on balance, claimed they would only reduce homelessness in California by two percent. But he is wrong to expect that “more aggressive policies” will ever be effective unless the fundamental model to combat homelessness is completely scrapped and replaced.

Homeless policy in California rests on premises that guarantee ongoing failure. The so-called “Housing First” doctrine, which requires the homeless to be given free housing without any behavioral conditions before they can be treated for mental illness or substance addiction, much less trained to develop marketable skills, is […] Read More

Creating Water Abundance in California

“And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.” Ezekiel 47:9

Water is Life. For as long as there has been civilization, access to water has been an unyielding prerequisite. California is no exception. As its population grew, the state built one of the most remarkable systems of interbasin water transfers in the world. Every year, nearly 40 million acre feet of water is diverted from remote rivers and transported to magnificent coastal cities or used to irrigate rich farmland. But the whole system needs to be upgraded for the 21st century.

Here are some water projects that ought to be moving forward in California:

(1) Desalination at scale: There is only one major desalination plant in California, located just north of San Diego. At a total project cost of just over $1.0 billion, the Carlsbad Desalination Project went into operation in 2015 and desalinates 55 thousand acre feet of water per year. Desalination has the unique virtue of being an inexhaustible supply of fresh water. Every other water source, ultimately, depends on how much rain we get. In combination with wastewater recycling, building several more large desalination plants could enable California’s coastal cities to become nearly independent of imported water. Potential sites for their construction are already […] Read More

Looming Deficits Present Opportunity to Find Solutions for California

Less than six months ago, California’s state legislature approved a record breaking $300 billion state budget. Within that total, and to finance most of the state’s ongoing operations, was a general fund allocation of $235 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023.

Record breaking budgets are nothing new. Only ten years ago, California’s general fund was $93 billion, which adjusted for inflation would be $118 billion in today’s dollars. Meanwhile, California’s population over the past ten years has only grown from 38 million to 39 million. This means that inflation adjusted per capita general fund spending in California has increased from $3,124 back in 2013, to $6,023 today. California’s state government is spending twice as much money today per resident as it did just ten years ago.

This explosion in spending has yielded dubious benefits. By nearly every measure, things are worse off today in California. Obvious examples include expensive and unreliable energy and water, failing schools, rising crime, unaffordable housing and college tuition, and an exploding homeless population, but that’s hardly the entirety of the worsening challenges facing Californians. The decade-long run of record tax revenue spawned an avalanche of new regulations, driving up prices, discouraging expansion of big business and driving small businesses under. Through its spending priorities California attracts the dependent and repels anyone striving for independence. It’s grotesquely inequitable.

This is the context in which to view the latest revenue projections coming from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Analyst. The concern […] Read More

Climate Skeptics Have Ready Allies in Africa

So when you say stop to your fossil fuel, what’s the alternative? – Fortune Charumbira, president of the Pan-African Parliament, November, 2022

his is a question without an answer. But for nearly three weeks in November, over 35,000 people including heads of state and the global corps d’elite, pretended they were solving what they claim is the most urgent crisis in the world—the climate emergency—while ignoring the only relevant question. What is a practical alternative to fossil fuel?

Also ignored at the latest U.N. Climate Change Conference, an event sponsored by some of the world’s biggest corporations and covered, uncritically, by the biggest media conglomerates on earth, was the primary reason for environmental challenges in the 21st century. It’s not fossil fuel. It’s population trends.

How patterns of population growth and population decline among the nations of the world intersect with the necessary trends in per capita energy use to eliminate global poverty is by far the most relevant variable affecting the future of humanity and the planet. But nothing in the program of COP27 explicitly focused on either of these genuinely existential challenges.

The imbalance in population demographics between wealthy nations, in which the native populations are failing to reproduce, and poor nations, which continue to explode in population, is easily apparent. The decline in birthrates in wealthy nations is well documented, even if it is rarely discussed. But what is almost never discussed, because it invites accusations of racism, is the unchecked population growth in nations […] Read More

How to Unify the GOP and Realign America

If Republicans hope to unify their party and realign American politics in their favor, they’ll have to do more than pour billions of dollars into television ads that highlight rampaging looters and the despairing jobless. They have to offer hope, tied to an achievable vision. Americans are ready for an alternative to Democratic fearmongering and stagnation. Give it to them.

Standing in the way of Republicans developing a comprehensive agenda they can agree on is the deepening rift within the party. On one side is the legacy party, represented by McConnell and Romney and other so-called moderate Republicans. Opposing them is the MAGA movement led by Donald Trump and backed up, among other things, by the Freedom Caucus which now constitutes a majority of the House Republicans.

The opportunity to heal this rift lies with the American voters themselves, whose sentiments on a few fundamental policy issues are coalescing into a consensus bigger than the political parties that supposedly speak for them. Embracing these unifying issues and emphasizing them will hand Republicans a populist bloc of voters that will include almost all grassroots Republicans, along with Independents and Democrats. It will attract voters irrespective of their income or group identity and it will cross ideological lines.

These core premises that might enable Republicans to realign American are on the issues of education, immigration, affirmative action, and climate change. In every case, powerful special interests among Democrats and Republicans will consider these policies, which have the potential to unify grassroots voters, […] Read More

Rick Caruso’s Missed Opportunity to Save Los Angeles

Karen Bass’s victory over billionaire Rick Caruso epitomizes what Californians are up against if they are to have any hope of rescuing their state. Bass, with her political origins as a communist activist and community organizer, and more recently as a Democratic Congresswoman, is now the incoming mayor of the City of Los Angeles. God help us all.

Rick Caruso, long-time Democrat who recently became a Republican, has proven yet again how money and consultant curated, moderate rhetoric do not win elections. In terms of spending per voter, Caruso’s $105 million campaign, financed with over $80 million of his own money, easily exceeds Meg Whitman’s $170 million outlay, squandered in her failed 2010 bid to become California’s next governor.

Like Whitman, Caruso tried to position himself as a centrist, hoping that moderate voters would join the small fraction of conservative voters to get him to a majority. But nothing Caruso had to say was explicit enough to excite conservatives, or differentiate him from Bass in the eyes of moderates.

Nonetheless, with Karen Bass. Angelenos are just going to get more of the same, whereas Caruso would have shaken things up at least a little bit. To illustrate how bad things have gotten, consider the “permanent supportive housing” proposal that relentlessly approaches groundbreaking in LA’s Venice Beach neighborhood. Everything about this project screams authoritarian corruption masquerading as compassion.

Dubbed by outraged Venice residents as “the monster on the median,” the proposed structure will […] Read More

How Politicians Get Elected in California

AUDIO: California’s election laws permit ballot harvesting and same day registration. This has moved the outcome of elections even further into the hands of those campaigns with the most money and the best get-out-the-vote operation – 22 minutes on KSMA Santa Maria – Edward Ring on the Andy Caldwell Show.

https://civicfinance.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/2022-11-21-Edward-Ring-on-Andy-Caldwell-Show-22-minutes-KSMA-Santa-Maria.mp3

Parasitic Architecture is Not What it Seems

The concept is attractive. Taking advantage of an existing superstructure and utility conduits, developers can simply add new units on the sides and top of a residential building. In theory, this can save money, preserve the original building and create new housing in areas where housing tends to be in short supply and high demand.

In practice, parasitic architecture often ends up being a controversial aesthetic experiment, wherein buildings of historic value have their exterior facades debased – or enhanced, depending on who you ask – with odd protuberances. Or it finds expression in “adaptive reuse” projects that rely on public subsidies to create overly expensive additional housing units.

A classic example of parasitic architecture blazing a path into the aesthetic frontier of urban design is the Museum of Military History in Dresden, Germany. In this case, a 135-year-old stone building had grafted onto its square, classical façade a massive steel and glass triangle that juts skyward like the prow of a ship. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. A Wall Street Journal architecture critic compared the new section to “a piece of shrapnel freshly fallen from the sky.”

Enthusiasts proclaim the beauty is in the incongruity, but the practice has many detractors. During the 1980s, architects saved the facades of many historic Washington, D.C. downtown offices and built superstructures behind them – spurring critics to refer to them as “facade-omies.”

There are plentiful examples of historic public buildings expanded with ultra-modern structures. The Pablo Serrano Museum was […] Read More

Green Bureaucrats Are Destroying California’s Ecosystems

California’s political elite consider themselves, and the state they control, to be the most environmentally enlightened in the world. They’re not. Well intentioned but misguided policies, combined with hidden agenda from special interests using environmentalism as cover, have resulted in “environmentalism” often causing more harm than good to the environment.

Some environmentalist policies that might otherwise be obviously suspect are justified in the name of combatting climate change. The prime example of this is the hundreds of billions Californians are spending to convert the electricity grid to “renewable” energy. If it weren’t for their zero emissions claim, nobody would endorse carpeting the land with thousands of square miles of wind turbines, or hundreds of square miles of photovoltaic arrays.

But even if the climate emergency narrative is accepted, does it matter if the consequences to the environment from developing “renewables” is as bad, or worse, than any realistic climate crisis that we’re likely to confront in the next several decades? What is the long-term cost to the environment of doubling or tripling the amount of electricity generated in California, in order to convert the residential, commercial, industrial and transportation sectors of the economy to use 100 percent electrical energy? What would the environmental cost be to accomplish this only using wind and solar energy technologies, meaning California’s existing wind and solar capacity would have to increase at least ten-fold?

The environmental cost of California’s determination to expand wind and solar capacity is already felt around the world, in […] Read More

California Water Facts for Legislators

Everyone in California agrees that water policies need to adapt to changing times. There is even growing agreement that enforcing draconian reductions to farm water allocations (which will eliminate all but the most powerful corporate agribusinesses) and outlawing household outdoor watering will not only fail to solve the problem, but is a tough and undesirable solution. And so the debate over more rationing versus more water supply projects goes on.

Missing from the debate over water policy in California, however, especially among the state legislators who need to do something about it, are some basic overall metrics regarding how much water we need, what various types of water projects cost, how much potential capacity each type of project delivers, and how much energy is involved. Here’s a summary.

When quantifying macro variables of this nature, first it is important to note that for any project category, costs are not uniform. A wastewater recycling plant, for example, will cost more to construct and more to operate depending on the type of wastewater it has to process. The cost to build and operate a conveyance to deliver water from a recycling plant or desalination plant direct to the consumer or to a storage facility will vary depending on the length of the conveyance and any necessary elevation changes. So these are rough numbers. They are nonetheless vital to begin a more informed discussion of water policy options in California.

The primary measurement used to describe large amounts of water are units of […] Read More