Government Unions and California Ballot Propositions

Californians voted on twelve state ballot propositions on November 3. On nine of these propositions, California’s government and private sector unions spent significant amounts of money, over a million in five cases, and over ten million in two cases. But of these nine, the unions only got their way on one of them, Prop. 19, which changed some of the rules on how property taxes are applied. And Prop 19 was not a high priority for the unions, with barely over $100,000 in contributions, mostly from Firefighter unions. The big bucks in favor of Prop. 19, over $41 million, came from the real estate industry.

And if it weren’t for Prop. 19, California’s unions would have logged a perfect record on November 3, losing every battle. The real story on November 3 is that California’s tech moguls, and big business, in that order, are willing and able to spend California’s unions into the ground when they decide that’s what is necessary to protect their interests. Before reflecting on the implications of that staggering fact, it’s worth having a closer look at some of the battles.

The chart shown below summarizes total spending in support and in opposition to the twelve ballot propositions on November 3. As reported by the California Secretary of State, unions, mostly government unions, spent $68 million on ballot propositions. That is based on information updated through October 17, and does not include in-kind contributions, so the actual spending was higher. The biggest […] Read More

America’s Union Agenda at a Crossroads

The war for the soul of America is mirrored in the war for the soul of its major political parties. The establishment Democrats contend with a progressive insurgency, the establishment Republicans contend with a populist America First insurgency. And the bipartisan corporate glue that connects the establishment Democrats to the establishment Republicans means they have more in common with each other than with their respective insurgencies.

Polling and voting results indicate that more than nine out of ten registered Republicans consistently favor the America First policies ignited by Donald Trump. On the other hand, the loss of seats in the House of Representatives by Democrats this November suggests that most registered Democrats will support a Republican before they’ll support the Democratic Socialist agenda.

Both factors – that Republican voters overwhelmingly embrace America First principles and reject globalism, and that, at the least, a majority of Democratic voters apparently reject far-left ideology, makes the Democratic party the new primary home of the establishment, and hence more attractive to billionaire donors and corporate multi-nationals. America’s billionaires and boardroom titans also realize that it is easier to coopt a far-left agenda, particularly with respect to social issues where they can exploit the synergy between, for example, “diversity” mandates and open borders, or environmentalist mandates which disproportionately harm small emerging potential competitors. Hiding behind this moral rhetoric, they amass more profit and power. There is no such opportunistic synergy to be had with Republican “America First” voters, no inauthentic gambit to exploit, […] Read More

Will America’s Politically Disenfranchised Unite?

By now most America First conservatives have recognized the common agenda of libertarians and progressives. They have significant differences, of course, for example, progressives are pro-union while libertarians prefer employee choice, but on most of the biggest issues their agendas now align.

This alliance, however, is a mismatch, for two reasons. First, because progressives have far more money and institutional power, and second, because progressives are serious, whereas libertarians tend to favor symbolic gestures.

The result of this is a one-sided alliance where the only time libertarians see elements of their policy agenda move from theory to reality is when it also serves the interests of progressives. For example, libertarians:

– Support “free movement of peoples” but can’t prevent expensive welfare programs that attract economic migrants.

– Support “free trade” but are indifferent to the impact that cheap foreign labor and foreign subsidies have on eliminating manufacturing jobs for Americans.

– Support the right to be a homeless drug addict, but can’t prevent government hand-outs which attracts more homeless drug addicts, or taxpayer subsidized developments to give them free housing.

– Support “upzoning” residential neighborhoods but don’t prevent developer subsidies or greenbelts that strangle the growth of cities.

– Oppose government funded infrastructure which stops new freeway construction or projects to increase the water supply, but can’t prevent subsidized rail transit projects or water rationing.

– Support the right of big tech platforms to censor free speech, with no apparent recognition that these companies have built monopolies and are manipulating […] Read More

Grassroots Group Fights for Common Sense Water Policies

The Great Valley of California, variously referred to as the Central Valley, or, north of the Delta as the Sacramento Valley, and south of the Delta as the San Joaquin Valley, is one of the geographical wonders of the world. Nearly 450 miles in length and around 50 miles wide, it stretches from Redding in the far north to Bakersfield in the south.

Many Californians take the Central Valley for granted, if they think about it at all, but that unconcern is unwarranted. It is a unique combination of great weather, fertile soil, an annually replenished snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range to its immediate east, and – thanks to visionary builders in the 1950s and 1960s – it is blessed with the most extensive, ingenious system of water engineering in the world.

Thanks mostly to the Central Valley, California’s farmers produce “a sizable majority of American fruits, vegetables and nuts; 99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, and 69 percent of carrots and the list goes on and on.” All of that is endangered today, because California’s policymakers are not taking the appropriate steps to cope with recent droughts.

The history of California, based on accounts dating back to the earliest settlements, and before that, based on physical data such as tree rings, is characterized by periods of intense droughts. Regardless of whether or not […] Read More

California’s Cruel Green Cramdown

A few years ago a provocative book by Rupert Darwall entitled “Green Tyranny” made the case that climate alarm is more about power and control, and less about the climate or the environment. Darwell’s reasoning, echoed today by a growing number of economists and environmentalists such as Bjorn Lomborg and Michael Shellenberger, concludes that environmental extremism, especially now that it is amped up with climate alarm, is disastrous to both the environment and the economy.

It’s actually worse than that, however, because the economic misery inflicted by extreme environmentalism only afflicts middle class and low income people. Wealthy elites are either indifferent to the costs, or make hefty profits. In America, California is ground zero for green tyranny. If Joe Biden actually manages to take office in January 2020, every state will have to contend with what Californians have endured for decades.

There’s a reason that in California it costs so much to rent an apartment, or buy a house. There’s a reason why bills for gas and electricity are so high, and why water bills are so expensive, and why sometimes water is even rationed.

The green tyrants of California explain away the punitive cost-of-living endured by ordinary residents as the result of capitalism, racism, and white oppression, or maybe they just blame Republicans. To-date, with a majority of Californians, this nonsensical, obsessive distraction still works. But it’s wearing thin. The real reason everybody in California suffers from a high cost of living is extreme environmentalism, […] Read More

Realigning California & The Newsom Recall

AUDIO: A review of ways to restore affordability and quality of life to California, followed by a discussion of the campaign to recall Governor Newsom, an effort that has already made history – 21 minutes on KUHL Santa Barbara – Edward Ring on the Andy Caldwell Show with guest host Stephen Frank.

Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.

Citizen Initiatives Transform Oxnard Politics

California’s ballot initiative process allows citizen activists to bypass politicians who are controlled by special interests. The ability for citizens today to connect and organize using online resources means it has never been easier for a determined group of individuals, without access to big donors, to nonetheless successfully qualify reform measures for the ballot and put them before voters.

A current example of this is the ongoing RecallGavin2020 campaign. This volunteer organization is already half-way towards collecting enough signatures to force Governor Newsom to defend his position in a special recall election. The 800,000 signed recall petitions collected so far, all by volunteers, is already in record territory. These volunteers have made history.

What can be done statewide can also be done locally. Back in 2019, in Oxnard, a small group of activists, led by Aaron Starr, a local executive with a financial background including a CPA, began working to qualify five reform initiatives. The audacity of their effort to qualify not one, but five reform initiatives was noteworthy at the time, as reported in a California Policy Center article “Citizen Reformers Set to Transform Oxnard’s Politics.”

With the November 2020 election over, what has happened in Oxnard sets an inspiring example for reform activists in every city and county in California. Following through on their plans, Starr’s group, dubbed the “Coalition for Moving Oxnard Forward,” have seriously disrupted business as usual in the City of Oxnard. For each of the five reform measures they proposed, they […] Read More

The Agenda to Realign California Politics

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. The Democrats run almost everything. The political spending by government unions and leftist billionaires, overwhelmingly favoring Democrats, leave the GOP hopelessly outgunned financially. The political bias of literally all the online and legacy media leave the GOP without a voice.

This is the context through which it is indeed surprising and impressive that CAGOP logged some significant wins in the recent election. Critics of CAGOP’s performance, and they are many, downplay the CAGOP’s victories – including flipping four U.S. Congressional seats and beating back a partial repeal of Prop. 13 – and instead remind everyone how Democrats remain in absolute control of the state legislature, all higher state offices, and almost every city and county. But the CAGOP had far less money, and they faced relentless media hostility. It’s a wonder they ever win anything, anywhere.

So what’s next for CAGOP? 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?

[…] Read More

The Libertarian Path to Democrat One-Party Rule

A recent article in the Washington Examiner titled “Maybe the libertarians weren’t so irrelevant after all” just scratches the surface of the challenge posed to conservatives in America by the Libertarian Party. To state the obvious, America is a two-party system. When you split the anti-socialist vote, the socialist wins.

When elections are close, and three of America’s last six presidential elections have been decided by razor thin margins, the spoiler doesn’t have to be relevant to be “relevant.” When electoral votes are decided by margins of a few thousand, a one-percent shift to a third party changes who wins.

As Washington Examiner columnist Tiana Lowe put it: “In Arizona, Jorgensen has more than 50,000 votes, with 98% of total votes counted. Biden leads Trump by fewer than 15,000 votes. In Georgia, Jorgensen’s total is nearly six times Biden’s lead. In Wisconsin, it’s nearly double, and in Pennsylvania, it’s almost the same story.”

In the six states where Trump is reportedly losing by the thinnest margins, the impact of the Libertarian candidate either flipped the election to Biden or very nearly did. Notably, the Green Party candidate was not present on the ballot in any of these states except for Michigan, where he only won 0.2 percent of the vote. As the chart below shows, if the voters who’d opted for Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgenson had chosen Trump instead, Biden would now be losing in Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin, and his lead in Pennsylvania would be just […] Read More

Yes, Total Deaths in U.S. ARE Up in 2020

Making the rounds on social media and alternative news websites is the story about a Johns Hopkins study that claimed COVID-19 deaths are overstated. The work in question can still be found on the Wayback Web Archive here. It measured total U.S. deaths from all causes during 2020 and concluded that these deaths – from all causes – were not greater than deaths in previous years.

Skeptics were quick to pounce. For example, in this report, an alternative content provider led with the headline “Study: Absolutely NO excess deaths from COVID-19.” Then when Johns Hopkins pulled down the study, the plot thickened. Here is a typical reaction to that, “Johns Hopkins Publishes Study Saying COVID-19 Deaths Overblown, Then Deletes It.”

When Johns Hopkins took the study down, they published an explanation which only clarified some of the issues raised by the study. To the main point, which was that deaths from all causes in the U.S. are not higher in 2020 than in previous years, Johns Hopkins wrote “This claim is incorrect… according to the CDC, there have been almost 300,000 excess deaths due to COVID-19.”

But Johns Hopkins did not explain, or even speculate, as to where the author of the retracted study (which really was just an article in their newsletter, not a study) got their figures. But there’s a fairly likely explanation, because this isn’t the first time something like this has happened this year.

Back in July, a meme went viral claiming, […] Read More