Government for the Government

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

If Abraham Lincoln were delivering his Gettysburg Address today, he
might feel compelled to conclude, “… that government for the
government shall not perish from this earth.” He was “Honest Abe”
after all.

Let’s take a look at how Sacramento really operates.

Those in power in the Capitol — as well as many local politicians
— make skillful use of those who rely on government services to
advance their spending agenda. They use children, the disabled, the
elderly, and others who appear vulnerable, to justify increasing
taxes. When reasonable arguments are made that higher taxes in an
already high-tax state could lead to fiscal ruin and less for
everyone, politicians and bureaucrats use these dependent classes as
human shields.

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It’s Official Now – US Recession Is Nearly a Year Old

David S. White
Principal of the Law Firm of David S. White & Associates, West Los Angeles, specializing in litigation, arbitration and mediation of real-estate-related disputes and litigation since 1977; www.dswlawyers.com

Like we needed to be told. The gurus of such things, the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced yesterday, finally, that the US has been in a recession since December 2007. The Dow promptly celebrated by dumping nearly 680 points in a day’s trading, shedding some 7% of its total value, giving up all the gains of the five ‘up’ days and the manufacturing statistics are simply horrible. Way to state the obvious!

The NBER defines a recession as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP growth, real personal income, employment (non-farm payrolls), industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.” Alternative ways of telling when a rescission is afoot is a decline for two or more successive quarters of a year in gross domestic product (GDP), or negative real economic growth – others believe this is to simplistic. Most say this will be a doozey, rivaling those in the early 80’s or even worse.

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Make Your Wildest Dreams Come True at the Waste Management Board

Public Affairs Consultant specializing in Issue Advocacy and Strategic Communications

As I throw my name in the ring for an appointment to the Integrated Waste Management Board, I am inspired by Homer Simpson’s slogan during his run for Springfield’s Sanitation Commissioner: “Can’t someone else do it?”

Some of you may prefer Pedro Sanchez’s line in Napoleon Dynamite (the Citizen Kane of Generation Y political thrillers), “vote for me, and your wildest dreams will come true.” I like that one, too, but have never figured out what the movie is really about.

I must confess that I was not interested in this job until I read about IWMB board members being compensated $132,178 for only 12 days of meetings per year.

Come to think of it, I already know something about waste management. I have a compost bin at home and use it to dispose of garden and food waste every few days. Each time, I like to take a minute and watch the bugs eat my old banana peels and yard trimmings before I pour another bucket full of food waste in there.

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Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here! But Do They Care About Small Business?

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

As the newest crop of legislators arrives at the Capitol today to officially assume their oath of office, one must ask: “Will this class of Senate and Assembly inhabitants have a greater appreciation and understanding of small business than history has shown?”

If more of our state leaders had hands-on experience signing the FRONT side of a check, they’d appreciate exactly what small business owners are going through in this economic downturn and how their decisions impact the jobs and lives of working Californians. Sadly, the majority of our Capitol leaders have no idea what kind of fatal blow new and unexpected costs – be they taxes, levies, assessments, fees – will do to small business owners and the people they employ.

Most small businesses have limited incomes and razor-thin profit margins, which basically means that every month, every pay period, once they have paid what is due for administrative, payroll, overhead, property, utilities, permits, inventory, and, yes, taxes, they are left with little, if anything, for their own livelihood or other unanticipated future needs. In fact, many small employers at this point in history are faced with the sad reality that they are steeped in red ink and are scrambling to find immediate sources of credit or some form of capital to survive.

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New Legislators – First, Go Find the Capitol’s Bathrooms

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Welcome new legislators! Here’s the first thing you have to do in the capitol once you are sworn in. Go find the bathrooms. Take a tour. Get a architectural plan of the capitol. Do what is ever necessary to find the bathrooms. Do it now. Why? Because in this era of term limits you have very little time to become experts on governing California.

We’ve all heard the phrase attached to the argument that because of term limits new legislators only have enough time to “find the bathroom” before they are term limited out. That means that the legislators cannot come to grips with the policy and politics of Sacramento to make important changes in California’s governance. They only have time to get their feet wet—then presto, they’re gone.

Whether current term limits are good or not is not the point here. Term limits is the law that the new class of 25 novice legislators will serve under. So there is no time for excuses, they have to get up to speed quickly.

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Stop the Nonsense About Arnold and Prop 8

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

I enjoy post-election recriminations as much as anybody, but I’m beginning to think the post-Prop 8 recriminations are getting out of hand. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but the latest target — Arnold Schwarzenegger — doesn’t deserve the criticism he’s currently getting.

Here’s the case against Arnold being made by No on 8 folks: Schwarzenegger is to blame for Prop 8 for failing to sign into law two bills legalizing same-sex marriages that were sent his way in 2005 and 2007. The argument is that Schwarzenegger set the stage for a ballot initiative by blocking legalization through the traditional process. Hans Johnson, a progressive political consultant, wrote recently in Huffington Post: “More than any other person, he remains responsible for putting marriage equality in jeopardy in California and leaving its future in the court’s hands. Having changed the state constitution, Prop 8 is now beyond both his reach and the legislature’s. For the time being, at least, it has foreclosed the very process that the governor stymied twice before.”

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Bottom Or Bear Market Rally?

David S. White
Principal of the Law Firm of David S. White & Associates, West Los Angeles, specializing in litigation, arbitration and mediation of real-estate-related disputes and litigation since 1977; www.dswlawyers.com

While we were enjoying the Thanksgiving Holiday break, the markets had five consecutive ‘up’ days, by my count – three Obama press conferences; five ‘up’ Dow days in a row. Have we seen the Bottom or is this just a Bear Market Rally? Likely, it is the latter, but, the Bottom can only be confirmed when looking in the rear view mirror, and we are still weaving and bobbing so much to avoid all the roadkill of the last months that we cannot safely steal that glance yet.

A Bear Market Rally is that curious creature that inspires hope, only to dash that hope after a short time and confirm that this is indeed a deep Bear Market and the Bulls have not returned. The Bottom, on the other hand, is the absolute statistical low point as shown on graphs – usually a V or U shape, that we can look back at and say, there it is – that was the Bottom – now onward and upward. It also gives us bragging rights if we got lucky enough to actually buy something at the absolute statistical bottom. It can make a dabbler in investment sound like a true maven – enough to fool the uninitiated and those without any historical reference.

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Throwing Water on Fire Fallout

Charles Crumpley
Editor and Publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal

The blazes around Los Angeles hadn’t even been fully extinguished last week before the call went out for more regulations. No surprise there. Regulations are about the only things that spread faster than wildfires around here.

After about 500 mobile homes were destroyed in Sylmar, you knew what was coming. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors didn’t disappoint us. On Tuesday, they directed fire officials to prepare recommendations to change building codes for mobile homes.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky reportedly said he’s in favor of the state requiring that mobile homes be built with more fire-retardant materials and that mobile homes not be situated closely together.

OK, let’s step back and think for a moment. Why do people buy mobile homes? It’s the low price, right?

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Detroit – Driven to Bankruptcy

Writer and Political Commentator

Detroit is failing and they want us to help. For years the “Big
Three” automakers (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) have rebuffed
the experts, turned a deaf ear to the demands of the consumer and
arrogantly ignored the success of their competitors (now their
betters). They have continued to sell through an antiquated franchise
model and have reacted far too slowly, and probably too late, to
changes in the marketplace. And now that the market has selected them
for well-deserved extinction, they are turning to the federal
government (us) for a minimum of a 25-billion-dollar bailout.

In a speech last week at the Ronald Reagan Library, Treasury
Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged how important the auto industry
is to America and that its impending failure is not good for the
country. Yet he does not intend to use any of the $700 billion
dollars at his disposal to bail out Detroit, saying, “It doesn’t do
any good to put money in unless there is a clear path to viability.”

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Let’s All Go Shopping

David S. White
Principal of the Law Firm of David S. White & Associates, West Los Angeles, specializing in litigation, arbitration and mediation of real-estate-related disputes and litigation since 1977; www.dswlawyers.com

Watch out what you wish for, the old saying goes, because you just might get it. Are you (or someone you love) the consummate shopper who holds out for the best bargains and will shop, shop, shop till you either find the best bargain or drop? Well, your time may be coming. A friend whispers in my ear, over and over – ‘if you really want to buy something, just wait a month or two, everything is getting cheaper.’

That concept unfortunately holds both the problem and the solution in its grasp. Every day now we get new zinger economic news – we break records, set new marks, and upend the quant statistics counters. The Consumer Price Index fell 1 percent in October, according to the Labor Department – the biggest drop in the 61-year history of the consumer price index – Truman was President last time we had this kind of one-month slide.

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