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The Real Reasons Newsom Has Failed All Californians

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

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

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

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

An Agenda to Fix California

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

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

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

Problem: Unreliable and expensive energy:

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

How Unions Could Save America

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

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

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

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

California’s Green Conundrum

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

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

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

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

The bigger problem is that […] Read More

Birthrates, Immigration, and National Identity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin Paffrath is a Serious Candidate for Governor

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

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

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

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

America’s Automotive Future

Joe Biden, emulating trendsetting blue state governors like California’s Gavin Newsom and New York’s Andrew Cuomo, recently has declared that by 2030, new car sales must be 50 percent zero-emission electric vehicles.

The problem with this decree is that it violates the proverbial rule against the government picking winners and losers. It’s one thing for the government to subsidize energy research, or, for that matter, any pure research. Libertarian purists might object to that, but sometimes these public-private research partnerships can accelerate innovation and help keep American manufacturers competitive. It’s quite another thing, however, for the government to restrict what sort of technology powers our vehicles, because there’s no way we can predict how technology will evolve between now and 2030.

Without any help from the government, electric motors already look very good as a competitor for the next generation default automotive power plant. Their horsepower-to-weight ratio is better than the finest internal combustion engines. Electric motors are simpler in design and require less maintenance than internal combustion engines, and they last longer. And as anyone driving a high performance sports car has learned to their possible chagrin, the extraordinary torque delivered by electric motors means a mid-range Tesla almost always beats them in a zero-to-60 challenge.

But if electric motors are highly competitive candidates to replace internal combustion engines, the technologies available to generate electricity and store it on board an EV still have a long way to go. As legislators in California […] Read More

What Would A Centrist Do?

The notion of centrism invites scorn from true believers. In many cases it is justified. A politician or person who just bends to the wind and prioritizes staying out of the crossfire, can often be accused of believing in nothing. Those in the so-called center deserve no respect if it is merely a hiding place for cowards and opportunists. But there’s another way to consider centrism.

Introduced as far back as 1976 by Donald Warren in his book, The Radical Center: Middle Americans and the Politics of Alienation, the concept of a centrist being a “radical” is based on the idea that a concrete, uncompromising political agenda can form that rejects extremism on the Right and on the Left. This concept is further explored in Ted Halstead’s more recent book The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics, published in 2002.

What Warren came up with in 1976, or Halstead in 2002, may or may not be applicable to America in 2021. But they expressed a powerful idea: The center does not have to be the refuge of cowards and opportunists. It can represent a vision and an agenda that is as revolutionary and as precise, if not even more precise, than the ideologies on the Left and Right that it rejects.

One of the liberating factors in proposing a radical centrist agenda is that it doesn’t have to adhere to ideological dogma from either extreme. It can focus on pragmatic policy solutions that rely on popular support […] Read More

Newsom’s True Opponents? Water and Fire

Not quite one year ago, Gavin Newsom did something that took political courage. It was also the right thing to do. He removed from one of the state’s local water boards one of the most outspoken critics of a desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach.

Unlike critics of desalination (once referred to as desalinization, and swiftly being rebranded yet again as desalting), Newsom understands a fundamental fact: When the Colorado Aqueduct reduces its annual contribution to the water supply of Southern California from over 1.0 million acre feet to zero, and the Delta pumps stop sending additional millions of acre feet of water down the California Aqueduct, in the midst of a drought that lasts not three years, but twenty years, all the water conservation in the world will not slake the thirst of Southern Californians.

Water conservation, when pushed to the limit, does more harm than good. It raises the price of water, since the entire operational infrastructure delivering water has a relatively fixed overhead that must be paid even when quantities delivered are reduced. It results in rationing, with consequences that are glibly dismissed. When lawns and trees die, more than “culture” is lost. Life is lost. Trees and lawns are life. They filter and cool the air, they nourish the human spirit. And every place you see a lawn, what you are really seeing is water resiliency. Surplus in the water system is healthy. Bend every fraction of surplus out […] Read More

Why the Newsom Recall is Nonpartisan

If you’re searching for an accurate term to describe the Newsom recall effort, it’s not easy. With 48 percent of the electorate planning to vote for Newsom’s retirement according to the latest poll, and only 24 percent registered Republicans in California, characterizing the recall as a “Republican Recall” is inaccurate. But that’s not stopping California’s Democrats from doing that, because it works.

The demonization of Republicans in California has its origins in Prop. 187, championed in 1994 by Pete Wilson, the Republican governor at the time. Approved by 58 percent of the electorate, but later struck down in court, the measure would have prohibited undocumented immigrants from using social services, public schools, and public healthcare services except in cases of emergency.

Ever since, Republicans in California have been successfully stigmatized as racist. The next step in the demonization of Republicans in California came with Prop. 8, approved by 52 percent of voters in 2008. Defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and also struck down in court, the legacy of Prop. 8 is to taint California’s Republicans as not only racist, but homophobic bigots as well.

If these factors weren’t enough, California’s Republicans are now tagged as Trump supporters. Since California’s electorate is thoroughly conditioned to associate Trump with every negative right-wing stereotype imaginable, that, too, works.

No wonder we have a national politicians like Elizabeth Warren appearing on television ads in California, where she equates supporters of the Newsom recall with “Trump […] Read More