The Abandonment of Cynicism

“I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind; but then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves—something no hero will ever defeat. Now I know, that only love can truly save the world. So I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be.”
Wonder Woman (the movie), played by Gal Gadot, 2017

During these final days of what has been, at the very least, the worst year so far in the 21st century, it is easy to feel cynical about the future of America and the future of humanity. Indeed it may seem that cynicism is the only rational choice. But cynicism, even in times much worse than what we are living through today, is a poor choice.

Underlying the polarization in America today is an epidemic of cynicism. Across the fragmented cultural landscape, every faction perceives the other as motivated by self-interest, or stupidity, or hatred. But as actress Gal Gadot vowed in the underrated conclusion to her 2017 movie Wonder Woman, “I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them there will always be both.”

Referencing a comic book superhero for wisdom that might counteract cynicism may seem unforgivably shallow, but that’s the point. It is impossible to argue against cynicism with reason when everything someone has worked for is being destroyed. People don’t have the patience to listen to sophisticated counter-arguments when they sincerely believe their civilization, and their planet, face existential threats. It is better to just put it out there, in plain English, in words that can fit into the bubble on the page of a graphic novel: “Inside every one of them there will always be both.”

Which is to say, no matter how harmful and misguided a movement may be, there are good people within those movements who believe their fight is the noble fight. Reaching out to those people from the other side requires the abandonment of cynicism.

Assume for a moment that sometime in 2021 the pandemic subsides and the Biden/Harris administration settles in to implement its political agenda for America. Their mandate, such as it is, relies on the populist support of roughly half the American electorate – the Left – and the emotional core of that so-called mandate rests on two fundamental premises: achieving racial equity and saving the planet from climate change.

To anyone on the other side of this populist schism – the Right – these are overblown distractions masking epic scams. They are excuses for a corporate oligarchy to consolidate their control over the American people. But that assessment, accurate as it may be, will never convince people on the Left. You can’t expose the hidden corporate agenda until you embrace these core principles they’re using as cover, and then explain that the tactics are flawed. Not the principles. The tactics.

Everyone wants to live in a nation where people have equal opportunity. Everyone wants to protect the planet. The path to the hearts of people on the Left is not to strike back at them with all the vitriol they’ve directed at people on the Right. After all, it was the corporate media that conditioned people on the Left to hate people on the Right. It was the establishment oligarchy that nurtured “the darkness that lives within the light.”

Those of us who have watched right-of-center politicians get mistreated by the media for decades found Trump’s pugnacity to be a welcome counterpunch. But ultimately, Trump’s decision to personally insult his critics enhanced their ability to discredit him to anyone not paying close attention to his deeds instead of his words. It’s hard to say whether or not Trump would have won an election that tens of millions of Americans – with ample evidence – believe was stolen from him and would have been stolen no matter how many votes he got. But imagine if Trump had been able to promote his policies with uncompromising firmness, while also conveying respect for his opponents. By taking the high road, Trump would have helped additional millions of Americans to recognize the naked, disgraceful bias of the corporate media.

What Trump set in motion, however, must give hope to millions of Americans. For the first time in decades there is populist awareness of a globalist corporate agenda that intends to further reduce our quality of life, restrict our liberty, increase the cost-of-living, undermine the labor market, liquidate American assets and export American jobs. The mission of Trump’s successors, and the people working to offer coherence to Trump’s policies from now on, must be to help left-of-center Americans connect the dots.

None of this is meant to minimize the fight that the Right is in, or the menace they face. Rather the point is that to win, recognize there are millions of people on the Left who still haven’t had their Red Pill moment. The WalkAway movement, the Blexit, and the Lexit, are all just harbingers of what may come, if the Right recognizes the validity of many of the values, not the tactics, but the values, that motivate people on the Left. With that recognition comes the power to persuade. For example:

Of course we want equal opportunity, but how does it help inner city, low income students to have the teachers union exercising monopoly control over public education? Why not support school choice? And how is it helpful to teach children to feel either disadvantaged or privileged depending on their skin color, instead of just teaching them vital skills that will help them succeed as individuals?

And yes, we want to protect the planet, but how does it protect the planet to force everyone to live in dense cities, when developing only a small fraction of abundant open space would bring the cost of housing way down? On a related note, how does it help the homeless when all the shelter and supportive housing projects are corrupt boondoggles wasting billions? Why not just build dormitories and demand sobriety? Are these leftist inspired solutions trying to help the homeless, or just make money?

And no, our right-of-center agenda is no longer a front for the excesses of libertarian globalism, which is the flipside of corporate socialism, serving the same oligarchs but just hiding behind a different ideological mask. We are pragmatists, not ideologues, and our core principle is that the fate of the world is brighter when the American people are happy and prosperous, not divided and diminished.

Most Americans, definitely including those who are only somewhat left-of-center, are repelled by the antics of the hard Left. They don’t believe any of it, from the widespread urban violence, shamelessly condoned by the media, to the preposterous theories regarding gender and collective white guilt. These people on the Left can and should be reasoned with. They should be respected. They should be encouraged to understand that the right-of-center agenda offers better answers to the challenges of our time.

There are countless additional examples of tactical shifts, in pursuit of the same goals, where the Right has more practical and effective ideas than the Left. This is the truth that can liberate Americans with Leftist sentiments. This is the positive, hopeful message that abandons cynicism in favor of creating a genuine mandate. It is the path to victory and peace.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

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The Coalition That Will Realign California

Poor governance, beginning long before the bungled response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to a recall campaign that may very well put California Governor Newsom into a fight for his political life in the Spring of 2021. If a suitable challenger emerges to replace Newsom, he could end up in well deserved political exile. But what’s happening in California today is bigger than Newsom’s failures as a governor, and it’s bigger than any single politician who may replace him.

Across several areas of policy, the Democratic party, led by Gavin Newsom, has not merely alienated, but enraged millions of Californians. The key to political realignment in California is not only to offer these groups a political agenda that incorporates solutions to all their grievances, but does so in a manner so coherent, so practical, and so promising, that a common solidarity is generated which transcends all the ways California’s ruling class has thus far divided them.

The groups that can come together to transform California and change its political landscape fall into four obvious groups, with potential allies in other groups. The four core groups are parents of children going to public schools in low income communities, small business owners throughout California, residents of farming and logging communities, and religious conservatives who are mostly Christian but include Sikhs, Moslems, and others.

Grassroots opposition to Newsom’s Democratic party in California is only consistently found among farming communities, small business owners, and religious conservatives. It’s not enough to ever win a statewide contest. Hard core populist support for Democrats in California comes primarily from millions of white liberals, living in inherited homes, who pay minimal property taxes and are hence immune from the consequences of an out-of-control public sector bureaucracy, along with the government employees that work in that bureaucracy. The critical swing constituency, currently solidly in the Democratic camp, are black, Latino, and Asian voters.

Guiding the agenda of California’s Democrats are a ruling elite, small in number, but wielding incredible power. Among these elites are government union leaders, liberal billionaires from Hollywood to the Silicon Valley, extreme environmentalists, and the social justice vanguard. The money and influence these elites bring to California politics cannot possibly be matched by the opposition. But all the money in the world cannot make up for the fact that their policies have made life miserable for millions of ordinary Californians.

Unifying the Alienated Constituencies

Lowering the cost of housing and energy will have strong appeal to every Californian household that is at or below the median income. It will also appeal to small business owners who pay high rents, have high utility bills, and have to support a workforce that needs to afford California’s high cost-of-living. For starters, this means keeping Diablo Canyon open, keeping California’s natural gas grid intact, and requiring renewable electricity providers to guarantee an uninterrupted year-round supply of energy, and price those true costs into their competitive bids to the utilities. It also means reversing draconian zoning mandates that have drawn boundaries around California’s urban areas and prevented them from growing outward.

School choice will appeal to California’s approximately 4.0 million households with school age children. School vouchers will have universal appeal among households at all income levels, since middle income homeowners that want to avoid public schools will no longer have to pay twice – once through property taxes for the public schools, then also via tuition for the private school. Needless to say, turning the entire public school system on its head and breaking the teachers’ union monopoly would earn the enthusiastic support of religious conservatives, who are thoroughly fed up with some of the nonsense that passes for education in California’s public schools.

Restoring appropriate laws to discourage public intoxication, petty theft and vagrancy, combined with spending public funds on cost-effective homeless shelters in less expensive parts of cities, could end California’s homeless crisis in a few months. Californians living and suffering in the midst of this debacle only need to make their voices heard, and the inexplicable public support for idiots like the newly elected Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon will evaporate overnight.

California’s farming and logging communities do not have the numerical clout of its small business community or its households with children, but the issues they are passionate about are issues that affect every Californian. Farmers want more water. Loggers want to see a revival of the timber industry. And the infrastructure projects necessary to create water abundance would benefit all Californians, just as the revival of the timber industry would thin the overgrown forests and prevent additional summers where half the state is blanketed in killer smoke.

A unifying political alternative to California’s current Democratic agenda would borrow from what California’s Democrats used to represent. Back in the Governor Pat Brown era, Democrats genuinely supported big infrastructure. They completed the most extensive system of dams and aqueducts in the world. They built a magnificent network of freeways. They built the finest public university in the world. And they did all of it cost-effectively and projects only took few years from concept to completion.

It will be interesting to see if the Biden presidency delivers on his campaign theme of “Build Back Better.” Pragmatists in California, regardless of party, realize there could soon be a torrent of federal money coming into California. But where will it go? Will it repair the dams and aqueducts and build new ones? Will it resurface and widen the freeways? Or will it be used to prop up bloated public sector budgets and accomplish next to nothing?

Apart from federal pork, Californians who want to live in a business friendly, affordable state with good K-12 education options and responsible forest management probably cannot expect much from the Biden administration. But if Californians themselves demand these reforms, they can transform the Democratic party, or destroy it, both in California and nationally.

In any case, it may not be Republicans that lead the political realignment of California. Any group of politicians that will express these reforms clearly and coherently can marshal a new and unbeatable coalition. Under the unifying theme of a pragmatic, comprehensive agenda, politicians can run without the support of any party and they can win. Build enabling infrastructure. Open up more land for residential and commercial development. Fix the schools. Thin the forests. Roll back overdone, punitive, job-killing regulations. Enforce necessary laws to preserve public order. Stand up to the fanatics and the opportunists that have been blocking these common sense measures for decades.

That message will attract a supermajority of California’s voters. It is an inspiring agenda embracing optimism and hope, liberty and prosperity, and it benefits everyone.

This article originally appeared on the website of the California Globe.

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Creating Water Abundance in California

AUDIO/VIDEO:  Is water scarcity and water rationing inevitable in California? Is it the only moral and practical choice? Or can a balance be struck between practical conservation measures and new investments in infrastructure that will increase the annual supply of water and guarantee there will never be a shortages  – 24 minute Epoch Times interview – Edward Ring with host Siyamak Khorrami on California Insider.

A Winning Political Agenda for California

When it comes to California’s political dysfunction, over and over, the story’s already been told. Failing schools, crumbling infrastructure. Highest taxes, highest unemployment, and highest cost-of-living. Hostile business climate. Crippling, punitive regulations and fees. Widest gap between rich and poor. Burning forests, lawless streets. Record numbers of homeless. Unaffordable housing. Water rationing, electricity blackouts. And on and on. We get it.

When it comes to California’s political hierarchy, again it’s a familiar story. Progressive liberals run almost everything. The political spending by government unions and leftist billionaires, overwhelmingly favoring housebroken incumbents, leave reform minded challengers decisively outgunned. The political bias of literally all the online and legacy media leave principled conservatives without a voice.

This is the context through which it is indeed surprising and impressive that California’s conservatives logged some significant wins in the November election. Critics downplay these victories – including flipping four U.S. Congressional seats and beating back a partial repeal of Prop. 13 – and instead remind everyone how California remains a one-party state, with progressive liberals still in absolute control of the state legislature, all higher state offices, and almost every city and county. But California’s conservative challengers had far less money, and they faced relentless media hostility. It’s a wonder they ever win anything, anywhere.

So what’s next for California’s conservatives? Or more to the point, what’s next for all Californians who agree regardless of their party affiliation that life in California could be better, much better, and that current government policies are to blame?

For starters, conservatives cannot identify a problem without simultaneously proposing a solution. And a unifying theme that should accompany proposed solutions is that nearly everyone wants the same result, regardless of their party ideology. That would mean acknowledging that progressive liberals – at least the idealists among them – have always had good intentions. But their policies have failed and it’s time to try something new.

Equally important, conservatives need to propose big solutions. Incrementalism is boring, costs too much to sell (because it’s so boring), and takes too long to make a difference. Conservatives needs to propose dramatic changes in policies that will terrify the progressive liberal elite. They need to propose solutions that will attract billions in opposition political spending, and then highlight how much money the opposition is spending to stop their ideas. They need to literally use the heavy spending by the establishment opposition as a weapon against them.

Solving the Problem of Failing Schools

The issue where principled conservatives can immediately seize the initiative and build a populist movement with the potential to immediately grow into an electoral supermajority is with public education. The teachers’ union has squandered much of its political capital by insisting on a near total lockdown of K-12 public schools in California, at the same time as private schools and a significant number of public charter schools have remained open.

The performance of California’s public schools was already dismal, especially in low income communities, even before COVID came along, but the innovations spawned during the shutdown have made the case for school choice more compelling than ever. Everyone in California wants K-12 schools to successfully educate children. Why not issue vouchers that parents can redeem as homeschoolers, or in micro-schools and pod-schools, or for private academies, parochial schools, charter schools, or traditional public schools. All that might be required for accreditation would be for the student body to reach or surpass minimum standards each year on standardized achievement tests. The case for vouchers is compelling.

California’s public schools receive approximately $15,000 per student per year from taxpayers. This equates to a $300,000 per year budget for one classroom with 20 students. That sort of budget will lease a pretty good classroom and a pretty good teacher, with plenty left over for educational materials. But even without vouchers, there are several ways that reforms can fundamentally transform and improve educational opportunities in California in both K-12 and college education. Here are a few:

1 – Create a voucher system for K-12 education, whereby every household with school age children is issued vouchers they can redeem at the school of their choice.

2 – Repeal legislation and regulations that restrict the formation of charter schools.

3 – Authorize through legislation the ability for homeschools, micro schools, pod schools, and distance learning programs to operate under the auspices of charter schools.

4 – Implement the work rule reforms sought after in the Vergara case – longer time before granting tenure, merit over seniority in layoffs, streamlined ability to terminate incompetent teachers.

5 – Restore the primacy of the SAT test in governing admission to public colleges and universities.

6 – Bring back vocational training programs in California’s high schools and junior colleges.

7 – Restore immutable discipline standards to make California’s high schools safe learning environments, expel disruptive students into special schools where they can be helped appropriately.

8 – Abolish all “diversity, equity and inclusion” programs as part of a headcount cut of at least 50 percent of nonfaculty personnel at public colleges and universities.

Education reform is the key to empowering the next generation of Californians, but there are other compelling issues that can be honestly promoted as nonpartisan solutions that will benefit all Californians. California’s neglected infrastructure is a prime example, because the quality of California’s water, energy and transportation infrastructure is what enables economic growth and broadly distributed prosperity. The challenge with infrastructure that it requires several fundamental shifts in policy that are difficult to distill into a coherent package for voters. But one at a time, conservatives can advocate a transformative agenda for water, energy and transportation, with the priority falling on water.

Solving the Problem of Neglected Infrastructure

Conservatives should back a $50 billion water bond, with the proceeds used to increase the annual water supply by at least 5 million acre feet. The bond would be crafted to allocate 100 percent of the funds to either the production, collection, or distribution of water. For example, California’s aqueducts and levees would be restored. Southern California’s urban water districts would achieve nearly total water independence through a combination of desalination plants and treatment plants with the capacity to convert 100 percent of wastewater to potable water. The various proposed surface storage projects, including Pacheco, Sites, and Temperance Flat reservoirs would be fully funded and expedited. The height of Lake Shasta Dam would be raised the proposed 18 feet. In this grand bargain, water abundance would be achieved in California, allowing environmentalists and farmers to receive their desired allotments, and urban users would no longer face rationing.

Here is a hypothetical list of the specific expenditures that would increase California’s annual supply of water by over 5 million acre feet:

1 – Build the Sites Reservoir (annual yield 0.5 MAF) – $5.0 billion.

2 – Build the Temperance Flat Reservoir (annual yield 0.25 MAF) – $3.0 billion.

3 – Raise the height of the Shasta Dam (increased annual yield 0.5 MAF) – $2.0 billion.

4 – So Cal water recycling plants to potable standards with 1.0 MAF capacity – $7.5 billion.

5 – So Cal desalination plants with 1.0 MAF capacity – $15.0 billion.

6 – Desalination plants on Central and North coasts with 0.5 MAF capacity – 7.5 billion

7 – Central and Northern California water recycling plants to potable standards with 1.0 MAF capacity – $7.5 billion.

8 – Facilities to capture runoff for aquifer recharge (annual yield 0.75 MAF) – $5.0 billion.

Total – $52.5 billion. Increased supply – 5.5 MAF.

On the issue of energy, conservatives can pursue a strategy that doesn’t seek to completely derail California’s commitment to renewables, but makes obvious and necessary adjustments. For example, conservatives should fight to keep Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in operation till the end of its useful life, which with regular upgrades could be several more decades. Conservatives should reverse the growing, misguided moves by progressive environmentalists to restrict the use of natural gas. And conservatives should require renewable energy providers to guarantee to any public utility customer a continuous, year-round supply of energy, and build that into their pricing, so that renewables do not unfairly drive other energy providers out of business.

When it comes to transportation, conservatives can reliably expect grassroots support to mothball the bullet train project, but conservatives should at the same time propose the funds that would have been allocated for high speed rail be redirected into transportation projects. Nearly all of California’s interstate highways need to have lanes added and resurfacing. Why isn’t I-5 three lanes in both directions from LA to Redding? What about Highway 99 and Highway 101? Conservatives should also advocate for more research and development of “smart lanes” or “hyperlanes” where high speed electric cars can run on autopilot. That innovation, along with passenger drones, is just around the corner, and if California is determined to be a leading edge state, developing these next generation roads for next generation cars is far more prescient than high speed rail.

Solving the Problem of Affordable Housing and Helping the Homeless

The other big issue, arguably bigger than everything mentioned so far, is housing and the homeless, and the interrelated issue of how to take back the lawless enclaves across California where tens of thousands of homeless have congregated. The first step is to rebalance the housing market. Conservatives must make it clear that “infill,” or “smart growth,” whereby nearly all the growth in housing stock occurs within the footprint of existing cities, is not going to solve the problem. Using taxpayer dollars to build subsidized multi-family dwellings in established neighborhoods is a divisive, futile exercise that only benefits opportunistic developers who build them at a cost of around $500,000 per unit. There are terrific alternative solutions that would actually work.

For less money, the enabling infrastructure of roads, parks, and utility conduits can be extended onto open land on the urban fringe. Why are the rolling hills east of San Jose still cattle ranches? If they’re so steep, why does San Francisco even exist? Why aren’t new towns springing up along the entire Highway 101 and Interstate 5 corridors? It’s just grazing land. You could build ten million homes on big lots in these areas of California, and you would barely make a dent in the remaining open space. Conservatives need to advocate laws that clear out the obstacles to constructing entire new cities. Conservatives need to make absolutely clear to voters that the reason homes cost so much is because of excessive laws, regulations, fees, and politically contrived scarcity of available land. Housing is indeed a human right, but the obligation of government is not to construct free housing, but to create the regulatory environment where private, unsubsidized builders can again make a profit building affordable homes. They do it in Texas. We can do it here. For example:

Ways housing could be more appropriately developed in California:

1 – Eliminate all forms of government subsidies, incentives or waivers to any developers. All players in the housing industry should be unsubsidized, and playing by the same set of rules.

2 – Stop requiring diverse types of housing within the same development or neighborhood. Mixing high-density, subsidized housing into residential neighborhoods devalues the existing housing, and this social engineering is unfair to existing residents who have paid a high price to live there.

3 – Roll back the more extreme building codes. Requiring 100 percent of homes to be “energy neutral” or include rooftop photovoltaic arrays, for example, greatly increase the cost of homes.

4 – Lower the fees on building permits for new housing and housing remodels. Doing this might require pension reform, since that’s where all extra revenue goes, but until permitting costs are lowered, only billionaire developers can afford to build.

5 – Speed up the permitting process. It can take years to get permits approved in California. Again, the practical effect of this failure is that only major developers can afford to build.

6 – Reform the California Environmental Quality Act as follows: prohibit duplicative lawsuits, require full disclosure of identity of litigants, outlaw legal delaying tactics, prohibit rulings that stop entire project on single issue, and require the loser to pay the legal fees. Better yet, scrap it altogether. Federal laws already provide adequate environmental safeguards.

7 – Make it easier to extract building materials in-state. California, spectacularly rich in natural resources, has to import lumber and aggregate from as far away as Canada. This not only greatly increases construction costs, it’s hypocritical.

8 – Increase the supply of land for private development of housing. Currently only five percent of California is urbanized. There are thousands of square miles of non-farm, non critical habitat that could be opened up for massive land development.

9 – Engage in practical, appropriate zoning for infill and densification in urban cores, but only after also increasing the supply of open land for housing, and only while continuing to respect the integrity of established residential neighborhoods.

The issue of housing segues naturally into the issue of the homeless, now estimated at around 150,000 in California. Experts on the homeless divide them into three groups, the “have nots,” the “can nots,” and the “will nots.” The have nots are people who have had a series of economic or medical catastrophes and usually with some help from friends or friendly agencies they get back on their feet. But the majority of unsheltered homeless in California belong to the other two groups. The “can nots” are people who are disabled or mentally ill. They are typically incapable of living independently. The rest, constituting the majority of the unsheltered homeless in California, are “will nots.” These are people who have been attracted to, for example, the beaches of Southern California, where they can live on the streets year-round, taking advantage of free food in the shelters, a vibrant drug scene, and laws that have effectively decriminalized theft up to $950 per day, as well as possession and consumption of virtually any recreational drug including methamphetamine and heroin.

The solution to the problem of California’s homeless starts by recognizing that the obligations of compassion do not extend to tolerating theft, intoxication, or vagrancy, much less physical drug addiction as a “lifestyle.” People who live this way do not need indulgence, they need help. The current practice of building shelters on some of the most expensive real estate on earth, without even performing background checks or requiring sobriety, is a disgraceful waste of money. There are very specific steps that can be taken, as follows:

1 – Challenge the ruling Jones vs the City of Los Angeles in court, with the objective of redefining “permanent supportive housing” as inexpensive tents and community kitchen and bath facilities, located in the least expensive parts of counties. This will make it possible for homeless people to be relocated to safe shelter immediately, instead of having to wait until tax subsidized developers build them “supportive housing” at a cost of $500,000 per unit (or more). Any politician that runs for office that does not commit to overturning or dramatically clarifying the Jones ruling does not care about the homeless and is not serious about solving the problem.

2 – Revise the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act of 1967 that made it nearly impossible to incarcerate the mentally ill. It is not compassionate, nor is it a constitutional obligation, to permit someone who is obviously deranged to live on the streets where they are easy prey for criminals and perpetually tormented by mental illness. At the very least, these victims need to be taken off the streets and moved to facilities where they can be observed and treated if necessary. If they are not found to be seriously mentally ill, they can be placed in inexpensive shelters.

3 – Sponsor a referendum on Prop. 47 which downgraded drug and property crimes. It is absolutely impossible to police California’s streets if criminals are allowed to steal up to $950 of property every day, and never face more than a misdemeanor charge. Similarly, it is a recipe for chaos to tolerate public consumption of opiates and amphetamines and other hard drugs. Conservatives must emphasize that it is not compassionate to allow people to descend into the hell of addiction, and when drug addicts move into public spaces and become disruptive, it is reasonable to arrest them.

It is important to emphasize that California’s homeless problem will be significantly reduced if the supply of housing is increased and appropriate penalties are restored for vagrancy, petty theft and possession of hard drugs. Once housing is more affordable and once the “will not” contingent of homeless realize the party is over, California’s population of unsheltered homeless will become manageable. They can then be helped in facilities built in inexpensive areas, so that all of them can be accommodated, and the money that is saved can be used to treat their substance abuse, their mental illness, and provide job training.

Solving the Problem of Wildfires

There are a lot of issues that matter very much to some Californians, but the choice of issues here are those that matter very much to all Californians. Another example of such an issue is prevention of wildfires. This issue – how to prevent catastrophic wildfires – like all those already mentioned, has an obvious solution. And as with the other issues, there are powerful special interests that don’t want anything to change.

The problem is we have become expert at fire suppression, at the same time as we’ve reduced our timber industry to a fraction of its former size. The result are overgrown, stressed, tinder dry forests. The solution to preventing catastrophic wildfires, at least in California’s conifer forests where most wildfires occur, is to revive the timber industry. Modern logging practices do not destroy forest ecosystems, and in fact can be beneficial to the ecosystems. California’s timber industry needs to expand from the current annual harvest of 1.5 billion board feet to 4.5 billion board feet.

If the size of California’s timber industry were tripled, the amount of wood being harvested from the forests would almost be equal to the rate at which the forests grow each year. Using a mix of clear cutting on a 50 to 100 year rotation, combined with so-called “uneven age management” in more sensitive areas in order to preserve important groves and other valuable ecosystems, California’s overgrown forests could be quickly restored to health. There are many benefits to such a transformation:

1 – The clear cut areas, never more than 1-2 percent of the forests, would provide temporary meadow which actually helps wildlife populations.

2 – The logged areas are immediately mulched with new trees planted in furrows that follow the elevation contours, meaning all storm runoff percolates into the aquifers.

3 – The properly thinned forests no longer use up all the precipitation. Currently, the trees in California’s overgrown forests drink all the rain, often allowing none of it to run into the streams or percolate into the aquifers, and they’re so dense they’re often stressed and dying anyway. If California’s forests were thinned down to healthy historical norms, millions of acre feet per year would be added to California’s water supply.

4 – The timber companies, at their expense, will thin the forests, maintain the logging roads which are also fire breaks and used by firefighting crews, and cut away trees and brush that encroach on power lines. Currently all of those roads, fire breaks, and transmission corridors are overgrown because the timber companies have been chased out and there aren’t funds to do this maintenance from any other sources.

5 – Thousands of good jobs will be created, and instead of costing taxpayers money, it will generate tax revenue.

California’s fire seasons exemplify much of the political dysfunction that grips the state. And confronting the special interests that prevent progress does not require denying the values that these special interests have used for years to maintain their credibility with voters. It doesn’t harm the forests to bring back logging. Wildlife biologists have argued the exact opposite, that modern logging will save the forests, not only from wildfires that literally threaten to obliterate California’s overgrown forests, but even by revitalizing the ecosystems so wildlife can thrive.

The Coalition that Conservatives Can Build If They Offer Bold Solutions

This theme, that we want the same things the progressive liberals say they want but have failed to provide, offers conservatives power and credibility that money can’t buy. By not only identifying the failures of the ruling liberal establishment, but by taking on the exact same challenges and offering practical, obvious solutions, conservatives can build a populist supermajority in California.

Imagine the excitement that candidates can generate when they announce their commitment to legislation and ballot initiatives that will solve the biggest bipartisan challenges facing Californians. School vouchers will liberate millions of school children from a failing public school system that is under nearly monopoly control of the teachers’ unions. Overnight, competitive schools will be opened, offering a diversity of programs so that every parent has the freedom to choose a curriculum that will maximize the chances for their children to learn and have a bright future. Parents that homeschool or form micro-schools will get reimbursed, making that option feasible for far more parents. Private schools as well will thrive, as parents who couldn’t previously afford the quality of a private school will now have that opportunity.

Imagine the enthusiasm that will greet a serious proposal to create water abundance in California. $50 billion in general obligation bonds is plenty of money to increase California’s annual water supply by 5 million acre feet, since additional financing could come from revenue bonds attached to the ratepayers who would purchase the water, along with federal assistance. Imagine the relief Californians will feel when electricity bills stop rising inexorably to keep pace with renewable portfolio mandates, simply because Diablo Canyon stayed open, we didn’t destroy our natural gas infrastructure, and renewable electricity producers had to price the cost to provide continuous power into their contracts with the utilities. Imagine being able to drive safely up and down California’s widened and resurfaced freeways for less cost than what was proposed to be squandered on the bullet train.

It gets better. Imagine being able to afford homes again. Imagine that anyone with a decent job could once again afford to purchase a new home on a spacious lot, instead being a mortgage slave merely to own an overpriced home on a lot so small you can’t fit a swing set or trampoline in the back yard. Imagine new cities and suburbs up and down Interstate 5 and Highway 101. Imagine all those beautiful residential suburbs spared the divisive stress of having multi-story, multi-family, tax subsidized apartment buildings sprinkled randomly into the neighborhoods to house people who in a fair society could find a job and buy a home of their own.

And better still, imagine homeless drug addicts and alcoholics getting treated in facilities that are safe and inexpensive, instead of being allowed to destroy their lives while eating in shelters nestled in the middle of beachfront communities where people work like hell to pay their mortgages. Imagine the mentally ill taken off the streets and given treatment. Imagine California’s neighborhoods, parks, shopping districts, public squares, transit systems, sidewalks, alleys, underpasses and beaches given back to the local residents, shoppers and tourists.

And finally, imagine a state where a revived timber industry along with streamlined procedures for controlled burns and building firebreaks and removing biomass means a state where the air isn’t fouled for weeks on end every summer, as cataclysmic infernos drive thousands from their homes and rack up billions in damages.

This is an agenda that will attract every parent of a K-12 student in California. It will attract business and labor interests who want the economic growth. It will attract every family that wants to live in a home with a yard without having to go broke to do it. It will attract every person who doesn’t want to live with water rationing, or unreliable and expensive electricity, or endure clogged freeways. It will appeal to homeless advocates, if they’re honest about what needs to be done, and it will gain the passionate support of every resident of every community currently besieged by homeless encampments.

This agenda is not ideological, it is practical. It mingles libertarian solutions, such as using the private timber industry to solve the problem of forest fires, with government solutions, such as issuing general obligation bonds to guarantee abundant water. While it is certain to enrage some environmentalists, others will acknowledge key facts in favor of this agenda: new suburbs in the age of electric cars and telecommuting do not cause climate change, nor does nuclear power, there is plenty of open space in California to accommodate a few thousand additional square miles of urban civilization, timber extraction is the only practical way to thin overgrown forests and hence save them, and abundant water means, for example, we can refill the Salton Sea, we can send bigger freshwater pulses down the rivers and through the delta, and we can replenish our aquifers.

The biggest foes of this agenda will be the teachers’ unions. Good. Make the fight about this fearsome gang of leftist agitators who care more about indoctrinating children to harbor racial resentment than about encouraging them to take individual responsibility for their lives. The California Teachers Association is the most powerful political special interest in California, although in recent years the leftist billionaires of Silicon Valley are challenging them for the top spot. But these tech billionaires can also be targets of this fight. Why are the Big Brother tech billionaires, along with the entire leftist establishment headed by the California Teachers Association – and the Sierra Club – being allowed by California’s voters to do everything wrong?

Conservatives can offer freedom, enlightenment, prosperity, abundance, and safety – everything that progressive liberal ideology has taken away from Californians. They can adopt a platform that embraces school vouchers, infrastructure investment and practical approaches to water, energy and transportation challenges, regulatory reform to stimulate urban expansion and affordable new suburbs, sensible and cost-effective solutions to the homeless crisis, and a revitalized timber industry to curb the risk of wildfires and create thousands of jobs.

Conservatives can offer solutions. They can be bold. They can go on the attack, on behalf of all Californians. And they can win, to everyone’s tremendous benefit.

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How to Save California’s Forests, October 2020

The Battle for California is the Battle for America, October, 2020

How to Realign California Politics, September 2020

The Wondrous, Magnificent Cities of the 21st Century, March 2020

California’s Progressive War on Suburbia, February 2020

The Boondoggle Archipelago, November 2019

The Density Delusion, August 2019

America’s Homeless Industrial Complex – Causes & Solutions, July 2019

The Opportunity Cost of Shutting Down Diablo Canyon, July, 2019

California’s Regulatory Hostility Prevents More New Homes, July 2019

Defining Appropriate Housing Development in California, February 2019

Towards a Grand Bargain on California Water Policy, August 2018

California’s Transportation Future – The Common Road, July 2018

California’s Transportation Future – Next Generation Vehicles, May 2018

This article originally appeared on the website of the California Policy Center.

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Joe Biden Appointees Underrepresent Whites, But It’s Still Not Good Enough

It would be hard to find anyone in politics who has tried harder than Joe Biden to surround themselves with appointees who are either not white, not male, or not heterosexual. Biden’s journey down diversity lane began in earnest when he announced he would select a “black woman” to be his vice presidential running mate. True to his word, Biden selected Kamala Harris, the Democratic senator from California who is not only a black woman, but also part Asian. Score!

The real reason Biden chose Harris was to tap into her connections to the trillions in wealth to be found in California. Whether it’s the aristocracy of old San Francisco (Getty, Pelosi, Brown, and so many others), or the newly minted billionaires of Silicon Valley (Zuckerberg comes immediately to mind), or the liberal moguls nestled in the Hollywood hills, Harris has every one of them on speed dial.

Good choice, Joe. Harris checks three diversity boxes, and she taps all the money on the Left Coast.

As we will see, when it comes to cabinet picks and White House staff, Biden has done a great job making choices that “look like America,” and as of December 23, he’s almost done. In the cabinet, only three vacancies remain, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Commerce and Labor. In the White House, only two high profile jobs remain vacant, the CIA Director and the Small Business Administrator. So how has he done so far?

To get an idea of what Biden is shooting for, the following chart shows the ethic makeup of America. Drawn from 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data, it is sorted not only by ethnicity, but also by age group.

The first thing to note about this demographic snapshot of the U.S. is the arbitrary nature of the categories. In 2019, seventeen percent of newlyweds in the United States were so-called “mixed race” unions, but how are the children of these marriages classified? As it turns out, in marriages where one of the spouses is white, the U.S. Census bureau classifies their offspring as identifying with the race of the nonwhite parent. Depending on just how militant one feels about skin color and “whiteness,” the impact of this choice by the Census Bureau may serve to understate the percentages of whites in all age categories. Similarly, “Hispanic” applies to anyone with a Spanish surname, despite the fact that a significant percentage of American Hispanics are as white as “whites.”

Also arbitrary is the definition of “Asians.” This category includes people from places as dissimilar as Saudi Arabia and Japan, and everywhere in between. With that in mind, and in the interests of full disclosure, to eliminate one column and simplify the chart, the Census Bureau category “Hawaiian / Pacific Islander” was consolidated with Asians, since “Hawaiian / Pacific Islanders” only constitute one-half of one percent of the U.S. population.

What Diversity Parameters Is Biden Shooting For?

When adhering to diversity mandates, “proportional representation” is everything. But proportional to what? After all, when searching for people to fill top positions in the Federal Government, most of the people evaluated are between the ages of 40 and 65. Sure, there are wunderkinds under 40 who make it, and there are plenty of Americans over 65 who can still do the job, but most candidates will fall in the 40-65 age group. The two shaded sections on the above chart show both distributions – the top shaded section shows the distribution by sex and ethnicity for Americans between ages 40 and 65, the bottom shaded section shows the same breakdown for Americans of all ages.

As it turns out, there isn’t a lot of difference. Whites – very narrowly defined – are now down to 60 percent of the total U.S. population, while they constitute 64 percent of the Americans aged 40-65. Hispanics, because overall America’s 62 million Hispanics are younger than Whites, are 16 percent of Americans between 40 and 65 but are 19 percent of the total U.S. population. Blacks, Asians, and Native Americans do not show significant differences between the percentages for their groups in the 40-65 age category vs. in the general population.

So how did Joe Biden do? The next chart shows his cabinet picks and White House staff appointments so far, categorized by sex and ethnicity. When viewing this chart, two things jump right out. On just cabinet appointments, men outnumber women two-to-one, despite being divided more or less 50/50 in the general population. With apologies to Jordan PetersonJames Damore, and many others who might identify reasons other than sexism for this disparity, Biden is off his game. More women! But then again, if you total all of Biden’s key appointments, taking into account the fact that only 6 of his 17 White House staff appointments are men, the total male-to-female ratio of Biden’s key appointees is actually 15 to 14 in favor of women.

Also obvious at first glance is the fact that whites are underrepresented. At the least, 60 percent of the appointees ought to be white in order to be proportionally represented, but in both the cabinet and White House staff selections, whites represent only 50 percent of the picks. Then again, we might refer to the above chart that shows that among Americans under 40, whites (narrowly defined) only constitute 53 percent of that younger age group, and assume Joe Biden is taking into account America’s future. Heck, if Joe Biden looks ahead far enough, he might find it appropriate to not allow any whites onto his cabinet or White House staff.

What else is worth observing as we descend into the rathole of proportional inclusion or else? It appears the case, especially with respect to cabinet positions, that Hispanics and Blacks are overrepresented vs. their share of the U.S. population, and Asians, like whites, are underrepresented. But in general, and according to the terms the progressives have set before us, it seems fair to say that Joe Biden has done a commendable job of achieving “diversity” in his appointments. Or are they?

Biden’s Picks Not Good Enough for Progressives

If you just run the numbers, Biden is doing a pretty good job, but you would not necessarily get that impression from reading the many press reports on Biden’s effort to ensure “diversity.” And there are no shortage of press reports on this matter, because who cares if these appointees can do their jobs, as long as they’re “diverse?”

A typical report comes courtesy of the BBC, in a recent article entitled “Biden cabinet: Does this new team better reflect America?” The author helpfully include montages of thumbnail portraits, each one representing recent U.S. presidential administrations, including Clinton 1993, Bush 2001, Obama 2009, Trump 2016, and Biden 2021. The graphic artist has helpfully used greyscale to identify the white males, just in case you don’t get the point. And the author, Ritu Prasad, after quoting several still unhappy progressive liberals on Biden’s choices, makes sure to end on a note of displeasure, writing “So is this first cabinet diverse enough? It’s progress – but for many of the supporters who delivered Mr Biden the presidency, he’s not there just yet.”

Prasad is not alone. As reported in the Washington Post, “Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus met virtually with some of President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team Monday to express their growing concern that there will be insufficient Asian American representation in top-tier spots in Biden’s administration.”

And as reported in Politico, “The faces of the economic team President-elect Joe Biden unveiled publicly Tuesday included an African American woman, a man born in Nigeria, an Indian American woman and just one white man. The response from Asian American, Black and Latino Democrats: It’s not enough.”

Scouring news sources for information about the Biden appointees, the focus is overwhelmingly on diversity, with considerations as to competence almost as an obligatory but decidedly secondary afterthought. There’s nothing wrong with being conscious of diversity, but the priorities are flipped. Competence should matter more. When it doesn’t, and it doesn’t, God help us. Which leads to the rest of the story when it comes to diversity: you can’t just be “diverse,” you have to be the right kind of diverse.

That attitude is on display in a recent article in Business Insider entitled “The diversity of Biden’s cabinet will be just for show if it ends up promoting bad policies.” The author, Manny Fidel, elaborates, writing “Just because Biden’s cabinet is diverse, doesn’t mean people of color should get excited for officials who may push policies that hurt their communities.” But where does this leave the diversity warriors? Which factor predominates? Color and gender? Or political ideology? All we can know for sure is that competence, that old fashioned, oppressive notion, is the third priority, after identity and ideology.

Apparently, in the world of progressives, both matter. This means two things, both of them bad. First, if you’re a white male, it doesn’t matter if you’ll do all the things the progressives want you to do, you still need to go to the back of the line. Second, if you’re not a white male, and your sincere commitment to the welfare of your community does not embrace the progressive agenda, don’t even bother to get in line – you will not be part of the team.

This is the nonsensical agenda that Joe Biden, a man well past his prime, is dealing with as he picks his team, and he’s going to deal with this agenda as long as he’s president. At least conservatives are allowed to be colorblind. Not so with the progressives. Or as Biden famously summed it up, “if you don’t vote for Joe Biden, you ain’t black!”

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

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How to Beat Gavin Newsom in a Recall Election

With nearly 900,000 signed recall petitions already collected, four active recall committees now operating, and belated but significant press coverage shining a spotlight on the effort, the chances that Gavin Newsom will be in a fight for his political life in the Spring of 2021 has gone from a longshot to a distinct possibility.

In an article published by NBC News entitled “Recall effort against California governor an attempt to destabilize the political system,” Newsom spokesperson Dan Newman called the recall effort “a distraction and a circus.” Newman also characterized the recall proponents as “a ragtag crew of pro-Trump, anti-vaccine extremists, along with some ambitious Republican politicians who would like to be governor,” and warned that a recall election could cost taxpayers “upward of $100 million.”

Any candidate willing to stand against Newsom in a special recall election could start right there. They could explain that the money Newsom and his party’s policies have wasted, the wealth they have vaporized, and the hard won prosperity they have expropriated, makes $100 million a trivial price to pay for a course correction. A victorious challenger begins by quantifying the economic cost of policies imposed on Californians by Newsom. They then offer bright and bold alternatives that remove these oppressive burdens and restore opportunities to normal Californians.

The first step would be to point out the tragic cost of the extreme reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of quarantining the elderly and medically vulnerable, Newsom quarantined the entire population. This prevented Californians from acquiring herd immunity, and allowed the virus time to mutate into alarming new variants that may be used to justify lockdowns lasting years. Meanwhile, the damage to California’s economy includes over 2.6 million jobs lost. So far, less than half of those jobs have been regained.

A conservative, back-of-the-envelope estimate of the cost of this policy would be to take the average annual salary in California, which is $63,000, times one-million jobs lost for one year. That would be $63 billion. Compare that to the $100 million cost of a “distraction and a circus” necessary to get rid of the governor that caused this catastrophe.

And then there are the fires, caused not by “climate change,” but explicitly by the policies of California’s one-party state legislature that all but destroyed the timber industry. If the annual harvest of timber in California were tripled, back to the level it was before the Sierra Club and their allies declared war on logging, the amount of timber being removed from California’s forests each year would be equal to the amount of annual growth. This would restore California’s forests to health, and would cost nothing.

Instead of seeing millions of acres of overgrown, neglected forests burn in super fires every year, costing billions and displacing thousands of people, we would see thousands of new jobs, and the timber companies would maintain fire roads and fire breaks, as well as trim the growth along transmission line corridors. But when the latest round of infernos terrorized California last summer, what did Newsom do? Called for more electric cars. That is the act of a clown. That is what you might expect of a “distraction and a circus.”

There’s no end to the nonsense that Newsom and his party have concocted. After already wasting well over $5 billion, they want to redirect the rest of the nearly $100 billion earmarked for the bullet train into “light rail.” That’s $100 billion vs. $100 million for a special election. Note to innumerate journalists: One billion is one-thousand million. Finding a politician that will put money into freeways and smart roads instead of mass transit in the age of COVID for a mere $100 million is a cheap date.

What about housing and the homeless? Consider the staggering economic cost of overpriced housing. If the median price of homes in California were $250,000, like they are in Texas, instead of an obscenely overpriced $600,000 which is California’s median, people could afford to buy homes, housing stock would increase, and more people could find shelter. Roughly 500,000 homes are sold every year in California. That means that instead of paying around $935 per month (30 year fixed at 3%), each year another half million new Californian homeowners are paying around $2,250 per month. The difference adds up to another $10 billion per year, compounded every year, coming out of Californians’ pockets for the privilege of living here. And the beneficiaries? Exiles, who took the money and ran to other states, where they’ll spend their winnings starting a new life somewhere they feel welcome instead of oppressed.

As for California’s homeless, 150,000 strong? Their numbers keep rising, despite tens of billions already spent on “supportive housing” that costs over $500,000 per unit. Newsom presides over this racketeering scandal, which only benefits politically connected “nonprofit” developers, their for-profit vendors, and public sector bureaucracies, and does nothing to reduce the numbers of homeless.

The cost of energy is another way that Newsom and his gang have oppressed Californians. California’s notoriously corrupt Public Utilities Commission has been systematically decommissioning clean natural gas and nuclear power plants in favor of far more expensive solar and wind power. Now they are pushing to deny gas hookups in new homes. As this monstrous scam quietly gathers momentum, special interests line up for a piece of the action: along with the entire “renewables” industry, add all those high tech firms and appliance manufacturers that intend to create “connectable” washers, dryers, dishwashers, heaters, air conditioners, water heaters and refrigerators to “help” consumers manage their consumption. The cost to retrofit every one of California’s 13 million households? If all seven of these major appliances could be purchased for under $10,000 – and that’s a laugh – it would “only” cost California’s consumers $130 billion.

When calibrating the economic and social costs of the Gavin Newsom administration, the state of California’s public schools has to rank at or near the top. Governor Newsom is wholly owned by the teachers’ unions. This is the reason he has supported legislation designed to undermine charter schools, it’s why he blocks any other attempts at education reform, and it’s why he hasn’t pushed harder for California’s public schools to reopen. Thanks to politicians like Gavin Newsom, there is a generation of youth that are not getting the education they deserve. The cost of this policy failure is incalculable.

The Winning Strategy

Beating a governor like Gavin Newsom ought to be easy, but it will require a candidate with the courage to promote bold solutions. For example:

Open California back up for business. Focus on protecting the vulnerable instead of locking down an entire population. Demand legislation to restore responsible logging in California’s forests. Support infrastructure projects that offer practical value to all Californians – more water storage, more roads and freeways, and clean, cost effective, conventional energy from natural gas and nuclear power. Explain that housing will not become affordable until cities are allowed to build again on California’s abundant open land, perhaps in the places currently earmarked for solar farms. Expose the homeless industrial complex boondoggle and call for supervised, no-frills homeless encampments to be built in areas where land is inexpensive. Change the laws to restore penalties for hard drug use, public intoxication, petty crime, and vagrancy, and watch most of the homeless problem evaporate overnight. Push for school vouchers, so parents have absolute choice over where to send their children to get an education, and the teachers union monopoly on public education is broken forever.

Along with bold policies, however, a successful candidate must run a bold campaign.

That would begin with the unshakable belief that what they are proposing is something that every ordinary Californian wants, especially low and middle income Californians. The successful candidate should prioritize campaigning in low income neighborhoods. They should enlist the support of conservative activists in the black and Latino communities, but not as an afterthought, or as one item on a vast strategy checklist, but as the core strategy. They should be physically present in these communities in every venue they can find. They should be visible on social media with a focus on these communities. And they should repeat, over and over, not pandering sops to the various identity groups they address, but their bold policy agenda for that is designed to benefit everyone.

The political elite in California is a hereditary aristocracy. Brown, Pelosi, Getty, Newsom. A tribe, connected by blood and money. Newsom, the poor soul, might be aptly compared to Czar Nicholas, a weak man who was forced by fate to govern a fading empire. Then again, California isn’t exactly fading, at least not yet. Instead, the recent explosion of Silicon Valley wealth has buttressed what was already a formidable coalition of aristocratic old money, powerful environmentalist pressure groups, and a public sector bureaucracy coopted by union negotiated pay and benefit packages that largely immunize them to the punitive cost-of-living their policies have inflicted on everyone else.

This is the story that has to be told to Californians of all colors, genders, origins and incomes. Because it is a story of oppression by a corrupt and self-interested ruling class, and all their rhetoric about “equity” and “inclusion” is a brilliant distraction from the real issues. With any luck, Gavin Newsom is about to stand trial for crimes against the common man. If that happens, the right candidate can beat Newsom, if they are unafraid to tell the whole truth, offer the hard choices, and explain how much better life can be in the Golden State.

This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.

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Abundance, Not Scarcity, Can be the Immediate Future for Humanity

Assume for a moment that regardless of what really happened, or what should happen, Joe Biden occupies the White House on January 20th. What are some of the biggest issues and initiatives that we can expect from his administration? What are the underlying themes and premises that will inform his agenda?

When considering these questions, equally relevant is how much of Biden’s agenda will be Biden’s agenda? Say what you will about Biden’s many flaws, at least he is an amiable glad-hander whose career has been defined mostly by hewing to the political center. But Biden is way past his prime, and when he’s having another “lid” day, his energetic sidekick Kamala Harris – along with her entire Silicon Valley entourage – will be wide awake.

What this California democrat brings to Washington DC is a culture of almost unbelievable arrogance. Some of it is earned. For at least forty years, and now more than ever, Silicon Valley has been the global epicenter of high-tech innovation and the principle repository of the trillions in wealth that its innovation has generated.

Wealth. Power. Arrogance. Hubris. This is a dangerous combination when wielded on such a scale, and especially if some of its fundamental premises are wrong. And the biggest, almost horrifyingly wrong premise that informs the culture of Silicon Valley is that we are in what Jerry Brown, in his first stint as governor back in 1976, called “the era of limits.”

It’s paradoxical that such a value might come out of the Silicon Valley, a place that has nurtured inventions that have transformed the world. But Kamala Harris, along with the big tech CEOs, Bay Area Democratic politicians, and almost every venture capitalist on Sand Hill Road, share a hectoring, monolithic world view that boils down to this: humans are parasites on the earth, especially Americans, and their consumption of everything has to be dramatically reduced.

California is still paying the price for what Jerry Brown did back in the 1970s to enforce his era of limits – cancelling the completion of California’s water infrastructure and selling off the right-of-ways the state had acquired to construct additional freeway corridors. But the era of limits has morphed, thanks to climate change alarm and the opportunistic expansionist plans of high tech firms, into what is becoming a green police state. To enforce limits, to reduce consumption, cities will no longer be allowed to expand out, only up. Water infrastructure will not be expanded, instead water rationing will be enforced using the internet of things. Similar measures will curb energy use and transportation options. This is Kamala Harris’s Brave New World. This is the so-called Cleantech Revolution.

The consequences of getting this wrong are impossible to overstate. The example set by the United States, and the investments made by American corporations inside and outside the U.S., are going to greatly influence economic growth around the world. The policies the U.S. advocates in the United Nations, and through the many supra-national institutions where Biden/Harris will forcefully reengage, will also greatly influence economic growth around the world.

But the world doesn’t need more solar and wind farms. It needs big infrastructure. Nuclear power. Hydroelectric power. Aqueducts and pumping stations to enable massive interbasin transfers of fresh water. These projects will accelerate economic growth everywhere, and as has been proven without exception over the past few decades, as prosperity increases, population growth slows. The Kamala Harris vision, and the Silicon Valley agenda it represents, will not liberate the people of the world, nor will it save the planet.

Questioning the Era of Limits

With the Silicon Valley’s cleantech revolution about to acquire new momentum in Washington DC, and with environmentalist values set to again command unprecedented influence on federal policy, it is more important than ever to have a vigorous national and global dialogue as to what constitutes clean technology, and what constitutes a legitimate continuum of environmentalist values.

How these questions are answered will have profound impact on the nature and speed of economic growth all over the world, as well as the quality of our lives and the quantity of our individual rights and freedoms. There are two fundamental assumptions that govern environmental values today: (1) use of fossil fuel should be phased out as soon as possible, and (2) resource scarcity is an inevitable reality that will not be overcome for generations. To this end, massive reallocations of wealth are being enacted to subsidize alternatives to fossil fuel, and rationing of resource use is becoming policy in the areas of energy, water and land. But what if both of these assumptions are completely wrong?

There is a case to be made that resource abundance, not scarcity, can be the immediate destiny of the human race, and that scientific innovation combined with free markets are the keys to realizing this optimistic scenario. In every fundamental area, energy, water and land, there are promising trends – unfolding with breathtaking speed – that provide humanity with the opportunity to realize global wealth and prosperity within a generation.

Probably the most difficult notion to intuitively fathom is that land will become abundant again, but for several important reasons, that is precisely what is going to happen. The primary reason for this is that human population growth is finally leveling off. From today’s total of 7.7 billion people, projections now indicate human population will peak at slightly over 9.0 billion around 2050, an increase of only around 20 percent. While this seems like a lot, it is important to remember that in 1970, the world population was only 3.7 billion, meaning the last 40 years has registered a human population increase of 80 percent. We have already seen the dramatic growth in population, and are now in the leveling off phase.

The reason this slowdown and leveling of human population will result in more abundant land is because at the same time as human population growth slows down, human migration to cities continues to accelerate. In 1970 only 1.3 billion people lived in cities, 35 percent of the world’s population. Today 55 percent of the world’s population live in cities, 4.2 billion people. Over the past 40 years the world’s overall population has increased 80 percent, but urban population has increased by 160 percent. Urbanization is accelerating, and is depopulating rural areas faster than projected remaining overall population growth is filling them. Forty years from now, there will be more open land in the world than there is today. And these twin phenomenon, urbanization and population stabilization, are completely voluntary, inexorable, and are occurring at rates that are, if anything, underestimated.

If land abundance on planet earth is going to be achieved by a stabilized population living mostly in megacities, how will we build these cities? How will we transform our cities, already swarming with far more people than they were originally designed to hold, into 21st century magnets for humanity, offering economic and cultural opportunities instead of merely a last destination for the destitute? Here is where Malthusian assumptions, combined with a misguided environmentalist ideology that condemns development, have conspired to stifle the building of next generation infrastructure. The good news is these delays have also allowed us the time to develop better-than-ever technology.

From high-rise agriculture to high-speed rail, from advanced water recycling to ultra-efficient energy conduits and appliances, from cars that are clean, smart and safe, to new roads that convert pavement heat into utility-scale electricity and convey vehicles that drive themselves, hyperlanes for ultra fast cars, passenger drones, cities of the future can be built today – but not if the wealth we need to pour concrete and smelt steel is spent instead on environmentalist lawsuits, and not if the market incentives that animate billions of construction entrepreneurs are squelched because instead we gave the work to government bureaucrats. Creating abundance is human nature – but only individual liberty, property rights, and free markets will enable this nature to be realized. Governments enforce the rules, but only a free people can play the game.

Abundant water is just around the corner because of several interrelated technological opportunities. The most promising of all is the potential of smart irrigation. Primarily this means using drip irrigation instead of flood irrigation, but this also refers to no-till farming, new crops that consume less water, inter-cropping, and advanced irrigation management, where irrigation timing and volume are precisely coordinated with weather conditions. Smart irrigation techniques could reduce the volume of water required for global agriculture by 40-50 percent.

Other means to create water abundance span the gamut from traditional methods – contour berms to catch and percolate runoff, urban cisterns to harvest rainwater, or where necessary, massive new infrastructure projects to move large volumes of water from water rich areas to water poor areas. To save ecosystems and restore fisheries, why not build a canal connecting the massive Ob-Irtysh River to the Aral Basin? Diverting only a small fraction of the Ob-Irtysh’s annual flow would make a decisive contribution to restoring the Aral Sea. Why not divert a small percentage of the Ubangi River north to refill Lake Chad?

Finally, water reuse and desalination will guarantee water abundance in urban areas. High-rise agriculture, for example, can use gray water to irrigate hydroponic gardens at a commercial scale, and the transpiration these plants emit within these enclosed spaces can be harvested to yield pristine drinking water. Desalination is no longer a technology reserved for energy rich nations – it now only takes 2.0 kilowatt-hours to desalinate a cubic meter of seawater. Desalination already provides over 1 percent of the fresh water used world wide, over 30 km3 per year, and this total is rising fast. But water reuse is the most promising source of urban water of all – technologies now exist to create essentially a closed loop in urban areas. Water is used for drinking, then treated and piped back to use for irrigation and to refill reservoirs, then after percolating and filtering back into aquifers, is pumped up, treated, and used again for drinking.

Water abundance will enable us to grow all the food we want, using new strains of crops and new agricultural techniques that are enabling another revolution in yields, guaranteeing abundant food. Water abundance will allow us to finally begin refilling our depleted aquifers, restore our vanished lakes, and never have to wonder whether or not the next war might be fought to quench a nation’s thirst.

To create water abundance, however, and to build megacities, to create 21st century civil infrastructure, and to deploy advanced technologies, we will need wealth and prosperity, and more than anything else, the enabler of wealth and prosperity is energy production. World energy consumption today is not evenly distributed. But energy consumption equals wealth. Even with extraordinary improvements in energy efficiency, say, twice what we enjoy today, for 9.0 billion people to average only half the per capita energy consumption of residents of the Americans, global energy production would have to more than double.

To aggressively curb further development of fossil fuel, instead of promoting it as part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy, is to condemn humanity to misery. Let them strip the forests bare for fuel. Let their industry stagnate. Keep them poor. This is the true impact of demanding renewable energy. Using fossil fuel until leapfrog technologies such as commercial fusion power is available is not just an economic choice. It’s a humanitarian choice, it’s a environmentalist choice, and it’s a moral choice.

The challenge to achieve resource abundance is not impossible; it is within our grasp. Despite heartbreaking examples of lingering poverty all over the planet, the fact is the overall condition of humanity is remarkably better now than it was 40 years ago, 400 years ago, 4,000 years ago. Disease and starvation remain endemic, but by all objective measures, and despite setbacks, they are on the retreat. This is the trend the future holds, if we seize the opportunity. But to achieve this bright future, we must ask these questions:  What is clean technology, and what are legitimate environmentalist values?

To create prosperity, for example, given 85 percent of the world’s energy currently comes from fossil fuel, and given there is a staggering abundance of remaining fossil fuel reserves in the form of heavy oil, coal, and natural gas, do we really want to stop using fossil fuel? What if the imperatives of “clean” technology stopped at the point where harmful pollutants were reduced to parts per billion through advanced filtration and efficient burning, instead of having to make that gigantic leap beyond simply eliminating unhealthy emissions to requiring zero emissions of CO2? Given the certain and devastating price humanity will pay in the form of ongoing poverty and escalating tensions over resources – especially if we precipitously abandon developing new sources of fossil fuel – do we really want to stop emitting CO2?

What if solar cycles indeed are all there is causing climate change? What if climate change isn’t anything but normal fluctuations? What if rainforest destruction and aquifer depletion, dried up lakes and misused lands are the reasons for regional climate change? What if we can’t do anything at all about climate change anyway? If you believe the worst scenarios, it is too late – but what if the models are simply wrong? If they’re right, it’s too late, and if they’re wrong, it doesn’t matter. So why on earth would we consign humanity to much higher probabilities of poverty and war, instead of developing clean fossil fuel, at the same time as we systematically develop advanced, alternative sources of energy?

Abundance is the Solution, Not Scarcity

There are vital environmentalist values that everyone should embrace, such as practicing sustainability, eliminating genuine pollution, and taking reasonable steps to protect species and ecosystems. But without the energy, without the mines, without the steel mills, without the paved roads and poured concrete and power plants and pumping stations and water treatment plants and countless other ecologically disruptive activities, humanity will struggle to realize their destiny of prosperity.

Kamala Harris and the people she’s bringing with her to the White House, are going to exert tremendous influence over the doddering Biden. The Silicon Valley mentality they’re bringing with them has a monolithic opinion on issues that strike to the heart of how the United States and the rest of the world will develop over the next few decades. Their wealth and power is matched by their intolerance for dissenting points of view. But if they are allowed to stifle the aspirations of humanity, enforcing rationing, scarcity, micromanagement, technology driven surveillance, and billions for the bureaucrats and litigators, instead of for the bulldozers and builders, their legacy will be one of destruction and decline.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

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How Scope Insensitivity Enables the “Reset”

Al Gore, High Priest of the Climate Fundamentalists, once said Americans are addicted to “short term thinking.” He is correct. Even in America’s business world, which is presumably rational, timelines often stretch no further than the next quarter’s earnings reports. To think ahead by spans of generations or more is not very common.

Sadly, however, Al Gore fails to emphasize – for reasons either cynical or simply because he suffers from the same affliction as most everyone else – that Americans are also victims of “scope insensitivity.” That is a big phrase – “scope insensitivity” – but understanding the meaning of this phrase is key to understanding many of the policy failures of America, especially in recent decades.

Scope insensitivity is the inability of a person, or voting bloc, or nation, to understand simple quantitative proportions, which if understood, would cast a policy issue in an entirely different light. Simply put, because of scope insensitivity, the logical conclusions one might rationally find obvious are eclipsed by emotional arguments.

If you suffer from scope insensitivity, the relative importance of variables affecting a policy choice become incomprehensible. When a population suffers from scope insensitivity, policies are decided based on whoever has the most money and the most compelling emotional appeal. Here are three interrelated examples:

How Scope Insensitivity Enables Flawed Policies:

Global Warming:

Let’s assume all of these catastrophic projections are actually true; that we have to immediately stabilize atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and this is something under our control. In pursuit of this goal, in California, for example, we are going to destroy all semi-rural suburbs with subsidized high density infill, coerce people out of their cars, and carpet the landscape with solar farms, wind farms, and biofuel farms. But is this feasible and likely to make any difference in global atmospheric CO2 concentrations? The answer is an absolute and irrevocable no.

According to the most authoritative source available, the 2020 edition of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, currently 85 percent of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuel. “Renewables,” including wind, solar, and biofuel, only contribute 4 percent – the rest comes from nuclear and hydroelectric power. And even if we were able to deliver to everyone in the world, including Americans, a per capita energy allocation equal to half what people in the US consume today, energy production in the world would have to double.

There is no way the global economy can function without fossil fuel. It is inspiring and appropriate to work to accelerate the deployment of non-fossil fuel energy. But it is completely impossible to stop burning fossil fuel. Only gross scope insensitivity would allow anyone to come to such a conclusion. And absent this conclusion, policy options change considerably.


Accepting immigrants is part of America’s heritage as a nation. But Americans appear unable to grasp the difference between allowing immigration sufficient to make up for low birthrates – something all developed nations are experiencing – and allowing immigration that based on current rates will cause America’s population to increase by nearly 60 million people in the next 30 years. Is this desirable, and for whom?

American policy ought to reflect a rational calculation of what rate Americans want their total population to increase – then taking into account the higher birthrates of immigrants recently arrived – should calculate how many additional immigrants be admitted every year.  Scope insensitivity prevents this calculation from being made.

Instead, Americans are led to believe they must absorb all the dispossessed, the persecuted, the destitute, from all the world. But simple calculations indicate conclusively that even if Americans doubled or tripled their already high rate of immigration, it would make virtually no dent in the number of people in the world who suffer these afflictions. According to the World Bank, 1.8 billion people live in poverty, and of those, 708 million live in extreme poverty. Just the people living in extreme poverty around the world are twice as numerous as the entire population of the United States.

The realistic way for Americans to help alleviate poverty in the rest of the world is to assist them with economic development.

Systemic Racism:

This is perhaps the most emotional issue of all, evidenced by the sustained and violent nationwide reaction to the tragic death of George Floyd last April. Across America, the rhetoric was extreme. Defund the police. Stop the “slaughter” of black men by police. Stop the “genocide.” But it is possible to acknowledge this tragedy and strive to improve without condemning the entire system. Basic quantitative realities must inform discussion and decisions regarding allegations of racism. For example:

There are more than 800,000 sworn police officers in America, authorized to make arrests and use deadly force. Over 50 million Americans have at least one encounter with a police officer per year, usually involving something minor such as a traffic stop. Police make over 10 million arrests each year. In confrontations with unarmed people over the past decade, only between 50 and 100 have been shot per year by police, about the same number as police who are killed in hostile encounters per year.

These are big denominators, yielding infinitesimally small fractions of tragedy. Over 50 million police encounters, less than 100 unarmed people killed. It is statistically impossible to root out every single incident of misconduct in a group that large. But even in these small numbers, are blacks disproportionately targeted? It is true that the number of blacks killed by police is consistently disproportionate to their share of the U.S. population. Over the three year period from 2017 through 2019, blacks represented 27 percent of all people shot to death by police, yet they comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population. On the surface, this looks pretty bad. But there is a lot more to this story.

When considering any case of disproportion, you have to examine the underlying facts. In an unvarnished analysis recently published in the Wall Street Journal, Manhattan Institute fellow and author Heather Mac Donald presents some inconvenient facts: Blacks are indeed twice as likely to be fatally shot by police than whites, but, “in 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.”

These facts are well known, but they’re ignored. When crime rates are taken into account, it turns out that blacks are not disproportionately killed by police and, in fact, the opposite is true. In a recent study that even NPR reporters acknowledged was peer-reviewed and published by the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers concluded: “We find no evidence, at the national level, that officers show racial bias against Blacks in the decision to use deadly force,” and “we found no evidence that the race of a police officer related to the race of a citizen shot.”

Who Are the Victims of Scope Insensitivity?

When activists, corporate marketing departments, biased and innumerate journalists, and opportunistic politicians take advantage of scope insensitivity to enact flawed policies, the primary victims are the people they claim they’re trying to help. It doesn’t help members of the black community to defund the police, it just causes black on black crime to increase. It doesn’t help low income communities in America to compete for jobs with immigrants, nor does it help poverty stricken nations to rise up, when that small fraction of their population that emigrates includes a high proportion of their most enterprising and ambitious citizens. And nobody of modest means is helped, anywhere on earth, when the cost of energy and other vital resources is artificially inflated.

And when scope insensitivity is endemic and unchallenged, who wins? In America the winners are its ruling class: billionaires, multinational corporations, and their enablers, advocates and facilitators – tenured professors, attorneys and other professionals, powerful nonprofit pressure groups, and the unionized public sector which is immune from most of its effects. Overregulated and expensive energy, water, land, and other basic resources empowers the monopolies that own and distribute them. Cheap private sector labor benefits corporations and wealthy people. And a nation riven by deliberately fomented racial tension is less likely to question policies that are robbing them of their prosperity, freedom, and national sovereignty.

The corporate elite are betting that democratic socialism will still allow for rich people and huge corporations. It is a perilous bet, but to hedge their bets, they are aggressively selling a “reset” in the name of environmental protection, social justice, and protection from disease. This “reset” is the most hideous expression of tyranny in American history, and it is to be enforced with a technology-driven police state that is intended to handle even the most determined populist uprising.

Scope insensitivity is a big part of the reason Americans may see their nation complete its downwards drift towards becoming a socialist police state controlled by mega corporations, enforcing rationing instead of competition, artificial scarcity instead of abundance, and solidifying the nation into two very different classes; the super rich, the unionized government elite and their partners, and everyone else. This is the vision that dominates every deep blue state and deep blue city in America, justified in the name of establishing “equity” among the races and saving the planet.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

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Liberal “Anti-Racism” Does More Harm Than Good

Last month, Sacramento County Supervisors passed a resolution declaring racism to be a “public health crisis.” Only one supervisor, Sue Frost, voted against it. Reaction was swift.

Columnist Marcos Breton writing for the Sacramento Bee, was outraged, describing Frost’s attempts to explain her reasoning as “reading from a script,” despite the “impassioned” comments from community members supporting the resolution. Breton went on to accuse Frost of being “insincere” and “playing wedge politics.” It’s worthwhile to read Breton’s column in its entirety, because it is representative of the cut-and-paste rhetoric that defines liberal outrage whenever anyone questions the conventional narrative on issues of race and “equity,” or the conventional solutions.

It’s also important to make something very clear before even starting to counter Breton’s arguments, however, which is the plain, ugly fact that Breton’s hit piece on Supervisor Frost required no creativity, much less courage. He regurgitated some facts, devoid of context, designed merely to provide a veneer of authority to his arguments, then he engaged in character assassination. And the sad reality is when writers do this, they’re just following the crowd. If Breton were to actually care to examine all the facts, and strive for a fair minded and constructive analysis of whether designating “racism as a health crisis” does any good, he’d have to work a lot harder. And he’d risk angering the mob. He might even lose his job.

That said, how can someone question any of these supposed truisms, such as the assertion that America remains mired in “systemic racism” that must be rooted out by any means necessary? Can anyone question this without being attacked as racist? Is it possible to make reasoned arguments that convey not only a sincere attempt to understand the issues in their totality, but also a sincere intention to achieve the same goal: better outcomes, better justice, better opportunities for everyone? It’s worth a try.

To begin, white people have a right to opine on issues of race that affect people of color. We have the right to voice our opinions and hope that people of color will consider them for the simple reason that people of color tend to cast votes overwhelmingly in favor of liberal politicians and liberal policies, and their votes, almost invariably, are the decisive factor in securing victory for liberal politicians and liberal policies. That all by itself belies the notion of disenfranchisement. People of color, because they vote as a bloc, are determining the future of America. Everyone’s future.

Maybe that’s the reason well funded mobs shout down conservative voices that don’t merely defy the liberal narrative on race, but offer constructive alternatives. Imagine a nation where a supermajority of people of color cast their votes for conservative politicians and conservative policies. Don’t laugh. It could happen any day.

Breton pumps out an assortment of facts in his column attacking Sue Frost, and while they reflect genuine challenges, he uses them to justify conclusions that don’t hold up to fair scrutiny. Breton describes how the construction of I-5 decimated Black neighborhoods in Oak Park. But freeway construction decimated neighborhoods all over the nation. When Robert Moses blasted expressways through the boroughs of New York City in the 1930s, or as the interstate system was built in the 1960s across America, these projects dislocated thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people. Some of them were black. Most probably were not.

This example, however, goes to the heart of Breton’s argument, and by extension to the heart of the current liberal narrative on race: disproportionate impacts and disproportionate outcomes. How many blacks have been displaced by freeway projects? How many whites? What percent of the black population was disrupted? What percent of the white population was disrupted? Is the black percentage larger than the white percentage? Voila. Racism.

Breton performs this magic with high school suspensions, COVID-19 cases, police stops, arrests, incarceration, jaywalking tickets, police shooting, school dropouts, and poverty rates. The conclusion we’re expected to reach is that the reason for disproportionate negative outcomes among blacks compared to whites is because of racism. Better declare a public health crisis.

There are plenty of facts to contradict this theory, however, and it’s time for more journalists and activists of conscience, regardless of their political ideology or their ethnicity, to start talking about them. These facts fall into at least two categories. First, much of the disproportionate outcomes cited are caused by other factors.

Police misconduct and alleged systemic racism is perhaps the most emotional example of this, evidenced by the sustained and violent nationwide reaction to the tragic death of George Floyd last April. Across America, the rhetoric was extreme. Defund the police. Stop the “slaughter” of black men by police. Stop the “genocide.” But it is possible to acknowledge this tragedy and strive to improve without condemning the entire system. Basic quantitative realities must inform discussion and decisions regarding allegations of racism. For example:

There are more than 800,000 sworn police officers in America, authorized to make arrests and use deadly force. Over 50 million Americans have at least one encounter with a police officer per year, usually involving something minor such as a traffic stop. Police make over 10 million arrests each year. In confrontations with unarmed people over the past decade, only between 50 and 100 have been shot per year by police, about the same number as police who are killed in hostile encounters per year.

These are big denominators, yielding infinitesimally small fractions of tragedy. Over 50 million police encounters, less than 100 unarmed people killed. It is statistically impossible to root out every single incident of misconduct in a group that large. But even in these small numbers, are blacks disproportionately targeted? It is true that the number of blacks killed by police is consistently disproportionate to their share of the U.S. population. Over the three year period from 2017 through 2019, blacks represented 27 percent of all people shot to death by police, yet they comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population. On the surface, this looks bad. But there is a lot more to this story.

When considering any case of disproportion, you have to examine the relevant underlying facts. In an unvarnished analysis recently published in the Wall Street Journal, Manhattan Institute fellow and author Heather Mac Donald offers relevant facts: Blacks are indeed twice as likely to be fatally shot by police than whites, but, “in 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.”

These facts are well known, but they’re ignored. When crime rates are taken into account, it turns out that blacks are not disproportionately killed by police and, in fact, the opposite is true. In a recent study that even NPR reporters acknowledged was peer-reviewed and published by the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers concluded: “We find no evidence, at the national level, that officers show racial bias against Blacks in the decision to use deadly force,” and “we found no evidence that the race of a police officer related to the race of a citizen shot.”

These facts suggest that while tragic miscarriages of justice are inevitable in a population of 337 million Americans, police racism is not the primary cause of disproportionate harm befalling black Americans. That’s just one example, but it begs the more general question: What then would explain disproportionate outcomes across many key indicators of achievement in America? Here one finds another set of facts, hard facts, which may explain what drives black underachievement. If the conditions these facts describe don’t change, they may always drive black underachievement, even if racism is obliterated entirely from American society.

To give voice and meaning to these facts, consider these quotes from conservative black intellectuals:

In a conversation between radio host Larry Elder and Kweisi Mfume, then the president of the NAACP:

“As between the presence of white racism and the absence of black fathers,” I asked, “Which poses the bigger threat to the black community?” Without missing a beat, he said, “The absence of black fathers.”

From the recently departed Walter Williams:

“At the root of most of the problems black people face is the breakdown of the family structure. Slightly over 70% of black children are raised in female-headed households. According to statistics about fatherless homes, 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes; 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father figure; 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes; 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes; and 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions have no father.”

And perhaps the toughest love of all, from the incomparable Thomas Sowell, ”

“You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization — including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain – without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large. Non-judgmental subsidies of counterproductive lifestyles are treating people as if they were livestock, to be fed and tended by others in a welfare state – and yet expecting them to develop as human beings have developed when facing the challenges of life themselves. One key fact that keeps getting ignored is that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits every year since 1994. Behavior matters and facts matter, more than the prevailing social visions or political empires built on those visions.”

Walter Williams elaborated on that “social vision,” the one that informs columns like the one written by Marcos Breton, the one that is now the fundamental premise of the “political empire” that aptly describes the Democratic party in Sacramento, California, and America at large:

“Here are my questions to those who blame racial discrimination for the problems of black people: Is it necessary for us to await some kind of moral rejuvenation among white people before measures can be taken to end or at least reduce the kind of behavior that spells socioeconomic disaster in so many black communities? Is it a requirement that we await moral rejuvenation among white people before we stop permitting some black youngsters from making education impossible for other black youngsters? Blacks were not the only people discriminated against in America. While Jews and Asians were not enslaved, they encountered gross discrimination. Nonetheless, neither Jews nor Asians felt that they had to await the end of discrimination before they took measures to gain upward mobility.”

These conservative black intellectuals, along with a growing list of young conservative black influencers like Candace Owens and Star Parker, along with conservative black activists with street credibility like Malcolm Flex and Kash Lee Kelly, are the people like Marcos Breton ought to be turning to and talking about, if they truly care about elevating the achievements of blacks in America. These are the truly courageous voices in our time.

It is very easy to follow the mob. Rename another school. Proclaim a “health emergency.” Call Sue Frost a racist. None of this accomplishes anything. It does more harm than good.

This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.

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George Gascon, Prop of the Techno Tyrants

As “president elect” Biden stocks his cabinet with Wall Street warmongers and big tech supremacists, all the far left slogans he simultaneously stammers his way through cannot stave off grassroots disillusionment. Belatedly, progressives are realizing that they’ve been conned, used, and abandoned; that they have more in common with the disenfranchised MAGA voters than they’d ever imagined. Corporations are taking over the world, and elected officials have become mere stage props.

As usual, it is in California where the naked power grab by woke corporatism finds its most advanced expression. How else to explain the election of George Gascon, an avatar of woke extremism, to become the next district attorney of Los Angeles County? In a bitter, hard fought campaign where Gascon’s strategy relied on demonizing the incumbent Jackie Lacy – a black female – Gascon was the recipient of millions in donations. The most notable of these donors was the notorious George Soros. But even more money came from a collection of high tech billionaires and Hollywood moguls.

The most generous among Gascon’s big tech benefactors were Netflix founder Reed Hastings and his wife Patricia Quillan. Together they contributed $2,153,000, nearly edging out Soros’s $2,250,000 to be Gascon’s biggest donors.

Whatever else one may say about high tech billionaires, they’re not stupid. Many of them have experienced extraordinary luck, since not every nerd with a college website dedicated to rating the physical attractiveness of coeds ends up parlaying that prurient diversion into a company worth nearly a trillion dollars. But only luck combined with brains, and only ambition combined with an unimaginably rigorous work ethic, enables someone to ride a concept all the way from a dorm room to the pinnacle of Silicon Valley power. Whether it comes from Zuckerberg, Hastings, or even the bedraggled Dorsey, this is smart money.

So what are they thinking? Why did California’s elite digerati join the Hollywood glitterati to support George Gascon, a man whose previous act as San Francisco’s district attorney was so destructive that even that city’s ultra liberal mayor, London Breed, declined to endorse his candidacy for Los Angeles County district attorney? Getting into the mind of someone like Reed Hastings is not easy, the man “does not comment on his personal donations,” but we have to try. Because understanding his motivation, and by extension, the motivation of all the big tech money behind the far Left, may lend coherence to what on the surface seems inexplicable.

An intriguing article by Sara Roos, published just before the election in the obscure Los Angeles Education Examiner, attempts to connect the dots. In her article entitled “Big money for pro-charter school board candidates, picks George Gascón for DA,” Roos claims the same ideology that informs the charter school movement is at work in these hotly contested races for district attorney.

Roos may be mistaken to consider charter schools a poor alternative, charters in Los Angeles Unified School District tend to outperform the traditional public schools both in terms of dollar cost per pupil and in terms of educational outcomes. LAUSD badly needs competition, so long as one monopoly isn’t replaced with another. But her larger point addresses privatization, and deserves careful consideration. She writes:

“LAUSD’s school boardroom has become a surrogate battlefield for neoliberalism, public-private partnerships and the leveraging of public goods for private gain. So, too, it would seem might the race for LAC’s District Attorney (LAC-DA) signal a new incursion on privatization in criminal justice.”

How else to explain the decision by someone like Reed Hastings to go big in support of someone like George Gascon? What Gascon is going to do, widely reported and hence not necessary to reiterate here, is dismantle current modes of law enforcement and criminal justice. But what is the end game? What is going to fill the vacuum in law enforcement and follow-up prosecutions, when crime in Los Angeles, already way up in the last few years, continues to soar?

Answers to this question point repeatedly towards either private solutions, or “public/private” solutions, or, as Roos puts it, “a vast satellite system of private vendors and service providers embedded amongst the public in competition for public dollars.”

This is already seen in the scandalous waste of public resources on privately constructed “supportive housing” for the homeless and low income residents of Los Angeles County. The average per unit cost of “supportive housing” comes in at over $500,000, with that money, all of it sourced from taxpayers, spread lavishly among “stakeholders” including the cost of government fees and permits, the operations of powerful nonprofits, and “a vast satellite system” of private-sector consultants, developers, construction companies, brokers, attorneys, and public relations firms.

This ongoing corruption, barely legal at best, does more than just deliver obscene profits to the players involved. It can also be designed to delay effective solutions to homelessness until targeted areas are ruined, and as productive residents flee, private sector developers move in to demolish and rebuild, creating additional overpriced monstrosities designated as “supportive housing.” And yes, there is a connection here to law enforcement, and there is a connection to the high tech industry as well. For starters, anyone living in housing of this nature is under constant supervision, and subject to remotely activated “lockdown.” But why stop there?

A troubling article published on December 15 by John Whitehead, president at the Rutherford Institute, explains the opportunity for big tech to take over much of the role currently relegated to law enforcement, as well as how big tech has the capacity to greatly surpass conventional law enforcement in the scope of behaviors it will monitor and control – in your home, in your car, and everywhere you go.

Entitled “Big Brother in Disguise: The Rise of a New, Technological World Order,” Whitehead’s article leads off with a quote from George Orwell, “You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” Elaborating on how that quote describes the world we’re living in today, he writes “This is not freedom. This is not even progress. This is technological tyranny and iron-fisted control delivered by way of the surveillance state, corporate giants such as Google and Facebook, and government spy agencies such as the National Security Agency.”

Imagine the additional trillions that Silicon Valley tech companies are going to make, as they move from addictive communications platforms to the internet of things. And every one of these things, from driverless cars to smart light bulbs, thermostats, and doorbells, will be recording everything you do. This in-turn leads to predictive policing, which in some opportunistic inversion of logic, is not the same as “profiling.”

Eventually, and by “eventually” we’re talking within the next ten years, it will be possible to monitor not just individual behavior, but individual moods if not actual thoughts. At the least, expect your body to be continuously wired to a very sophisticated version of lie detector equipment, tracking your pulse, respiration and body temperature. Incentives will be provided to encourage participation, and failure to participate will identify candidates for enhanced surveillance. In the name of combatting climate change, racism, pandemics, elections – there are no boundaries on what is necessary to keep us “safe” – not just speech, but all activity will be controlled. And to augment the defunded, reinvented police, all manner of auxiliary government and private entities will be weaponized. And augmenting these auxiliaries will be robots and drones. Resistance is futile.

What Sara Roos alludes to, the privatization and “public/private” morphing of government, connects with this even more ominous vision of Whitehead’s in two ways. First, and most obvious, this is an opportunity for profits to the high tech industry that boggle the mind. Trillions will be made. Somewhat less obvious, but if anything more important, is that we have done a poor job so far in understanding how the Bill of Rights applies to private space. The unchecked abuses we have witnessed on the monopolistic communications platforms over the past few years, and especially over the past few months, is just the beginning.

How will the Bill of Rights protect anyone, if the entire public sphere is privatized? From the playgrounds to the prisons, private ownership means house rules. Imagine straying unauthorized into a privatized space in, say, 2027, and encountering a swarm of slap drones. After you’ve awakened, if you’re lucky, from your Ketamine injection – precisely administered via a dart launched from a hovering drone – your attorney will explain how the castle doctrine now pretty much informs every square inch of planet earth.

We cannot stop technology, we can only try to manage the rollout, preserving as many of our freedoms as possible. In this context, the public sector, answerable to people instead of corporations, may be our only hope. And maybe, just maybe, Bernie Bros and Trump supporters, equally disenfranchised, equally discarded, will unite on one common principle: monopolies harm ordinary Americans no matter where they appear. When concentrations of wealth in the private sector render the public sector “monopoly” impotent, you’re looking at a paradigm shift. And new paradigms generate new politics.

Ultimately, the true clash of civilizations in the world is not between ideologies. It’s a technology-driven power struggle between Westernized nations and China. A struggle, that is, so long as Silicon Valley doesn’t sell its soul to the Chinese. Either way, and even in this broader context, George Gascon is a useful prop. The actors wielding him along with all the other elected props, are multinational corporations led by the – collectively speaking – trillionaires of Silicon Valley. Moreover, this sort of technological evolution cannot simply be stopped, even if we were willing to throw away the many good things in order to eliminate the bad.

Ultimately, the world we inhabit in a few short years will very likely be either China’s Orwellian “1984” version of techno-tyranny, or Huxley’s somewhat more benevolent “Brave New World” techno-tyranny, courtesy of Silicon Valley.

You’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy. Go to work George. The world holds its breath.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

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