An Engineered Drought

Victor Davis Hanson
Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

California governor Jerry Brown had little choice but to issue a belated, state-wide mandate to reduce water usage by 25 percent. How such restrictions will affect Californians remains to be seen, given the Golden State’s wide diversity in geography, climate, water supply, and demography.

We do know two things. First, Brown and other Democratic leaders will never concede that their own opposition in the 1970s (when California had about half its present population) to the completion of state and federal water projects, along with their more recent allowance of massive water diversions for fish and river enhancement, left no margin for error in a state now home to 40 million people. Second, the mandated restrictions will bring home another truth as lawns die, pools empty, and boutique gardens shrivel in the coastal corridor from La Jolla to Berkeley: the very idea of a 20-million-person corridor along the narrow, scenic Pacific Ocean and adjoining foothills is just as unnatural as “big” agriculture’s Westside farming. The weather, climate, lifestyle, views, and culture of coastal living may all be spectacular, but the arid Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay-area megalopolises must rely on massive water transfers from the Sierra Nevada, Northern California, or out-of-state sources to support their unnatural ecosystems.

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Generation Deferred: Millennials’ Perspective On Home Affordability

Matt Horton and Kristen Keough
Matt Horton is a senior program associate at the Milken Institute California Center. Kristen Keough is a research analyst at the Milken Institute.

Despite being saddled with criticism ranging from narcissism to laziness, many millennials have stuck with the plan. You know the plan: Work hard in school, go to college and maybe grad school and you will end up with a well-paying job and a home of your own.

hortonkeogh_CA high housingSomewhere along the line this plan became more of a fantasy, especially in California. Over the last 30 years, the precipitous rise in the state’s housing prices has far exceeded the change in median income. Compared to other states, California home prices appear untethered to the incomes actually earned by residents. The lack of affordable housing has caused California to lose some of its best young talent.

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Doctors Join Push For CA Assisted Suicide

James Poulos
Staff Columnist, Orange County Register

In a medical community sharply divided on the issue of assisted suicide, momentum has shifted to the side that embraces the idea — with California at the forefront of the change. Two Golden State doctors with life-threatening illnesses have recently become plaintiffs in a lawsuit aimed at shielding physicians from legal liability “if they prescribe lethal medications to patients who are both terminally ill and mentally competent to decide their fate.”

Changing mores among MDs

For disability-rights advocates like Marilyn Golden, senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, “the marriage of a profit-driven healthcare system and legalized aid in dying sets up dangerous possibilities,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “She warned of a scenario in which insurers might deny or delay life-sustaining treatments and a patient ‘is steered toward assisted suicide.’”

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CA Following Massachusetts Model When It Comes To Voters & Voting?

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

New statistics show a big jump in “no party preference” voters in California while registration in both major political parties has declined. While this change in voter registration mirrors some national trends, California may be heading boldly in the direction of another thickly populated blue state – Massachusetts.

In California the recent report from the Secretary of State shows Democrats make up 43.1 percent of the registered voters, Republicans 27.9 percent, while independent registration gained more than two full percentage points to 23.5 percent or a nearly 12% overall gain.

Many observers predict it is only a matter of time when voters who do not declare affiliation with any political party will outnumber Republicans.

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California Cannot Conserve or Over-Regulate Way out of Drought

Aubrey Bettencourt
Executive Director, California Water Alliance

This week Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed that “a historic drought calls for unprecedented action,” when handing down the latest executive order instating mandatory statewide water restrictions aimed at conserving 1.5 million acre feet of water over the next nine months.

This ambitious “first-time-in-state-history” action and goal is admirable, one I wish can be achieved. But do more laws or in this case, a set of 31-point executive directives, create or even free up more water?

A suggested goal of 20 percent reduction of water use last year was never achieved, despite gallant efforts made by communities statewide.

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PPIC Sets Up Water Policy Center

Mark Baldassare
President of the Public Policy Institute of California

The Public Policy Institute of California announces the launch of the PPIC Water Policy Center. Led by PPIC senior fellow Ellen Hanak, the center will spur innovative water management solutions that support a healthy economy, environment, and society—now and for future generations. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

To coincide with the center’s launch, we have published the first edition of California’s Water, a set of short policy briefs on the state’s most critical water management challenges and actions needed to address them. This briefing kit is designed to inform state leaders and to raise awareness more broadly about the important water issues facing our state.

Stay up to date on our activities by visiting our website to sign up to receive water related publications, subscribe to the center blog, and learn how to support the PPIC Water Policy Center.

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A Growing MFG Economy Would Be A Powerful Message For CA Climate Change Leadership

Dorothy Rothrock
President, California Manufacturers & Technology Association

I enjoyed speaking on a climate change panel this week hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).  The topic is important to manufacturers because they are sensitive to high energy costs, and we can expect ever higher energy costs when state climate change rules go into full effect.

Other states are watching to see if the manufacturing economy in California will be hurt under our strict greenhouse gas reduction rules.  They won’t jump on board until they believe it will be good for their economies. That matters because we could take every single molecule of carbon out of the California economy and climate change would still happen.  The climate will improve only if other states and countries adopt significant reduction polices.

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The Most Important Month

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

April 2015 marks 150 years since the most important month in American history, April 1865.  This anniversary probably won’t be remembered, although it should be.  In the span of a single week that April, two events occurred that have marked American history ever since: the end of the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

The Civil War had begun on an April day in 1861 when Southern forces attacked federal property at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, but it had its inception at the very beginning of the county in the controversy over slavery.

Slavery was a moral issue in the abolitionist north; it was a state’s rights issue in the slave-holding south.  But it was also an economic issue; northerners resented having to pay for their labor while southerners depended on their slaves; the south resented the north’s interference in what it said was a uniquely southern institution.

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Bipartisan Effort Needed to Deal With Drought

Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Majority Leader, United States Congress

The current drought in California is devastating. The order from the governor should not only alarm Californians, but the entire nation should take notice that the most productive agriculture state in the country has entered uncharted territory. We have experienced extreme drought conditions in years past but thanks to the most sophisticated water system in the country that captured and stored water during the wet years for use during the dry years, our communities and farmers survived.‎ Unfortunately, state officials have turned their back on this proven infrastructure system.

The order is the culmination of failed federal and state policies that have exacerbated the current drought into a man-made water crisis. Sacramento and Washington have chosen to put the well-being of fish above the well-being of people by refusing to capture millions of acre-feet of water during wet years for use during dry years.

These policies imposed on us now, and during wet seasons of the past, are leaving our families, businesses, communities, and state high and dry. These rules and regulations must be changed.

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Still Pursuing the Neighborhood Legislature

John Cox
California-based Businessman and Former Illinois Republican Official

Rescue California Foundation, a 501c(4) foundation dedicated to better state government, filed with the California Attorney General’s office our request for title and summary of the Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act, to be placed on the ballot in 2016.

It’s the third time we’ve filed, because of the exigencies of the state elections system, but the proposed reform act has not changed in substance since we initiated it five years ago. (See the act here.)  Much more importantly, our organization, our resources, and our chances of success have advanced dramatically.

The problem we are determined to solve is structural: the California state legislature of 40 Senators and 80 Assembly (lower house) representatives is built to favor the buying of legislation and legislators by well-funded special interests. The political and commercial value of these 120 seats is so great that the politicians find it easy to raise millions of dollars from funders and lobbyists to fund the media campaigns required to win. Then they are locked in to writing and passing the legislation the funders have paid for.

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