"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The People's Republic of California

By Gary;

My family came to the Golden State during the Gold Rush of the 1850s.  It sickens me to my core to see the greatest state in the nation and one of the greatest places on earth slip into a Socialist Black Hole.  This great state is moving at light speed to become the new Worker's Paradise.  But we will end up simply the a large version of Greece.

Top 10 list on why jobs are leaving California

Southern California business consultant Joe Vranich has made a name for himself in the past couple of years documenting companies that are moving jobs out of California, expanding outside the Golden State because of its business regulations/ taxes or packing up and leaving completely.

Vranich cites several studies and surveys in his list:

10. Unfair taxes (Tax Foundation ranks California as 48th for tax fairness.)

9. Most expensive business locations (Rose Institute for State and Local Government has many California cities as the most expensive U.S. places in which to do business.)

8. Worst performing labor (Pacific Research Institute rates California’s labor performance over a five-year period) as lowest in the nation.)

7. Dreadful legal treatment (Civil Justice Association of California ranks California as 44th in legal fairness to business.)

6. Worst regulatory burden (Consultant Bain & Co., in a report for the California Business Roundtable,  said California is far worse than any other state on its “regulatory hassle index,” based on cost, uncertainty and complexity of government regulations.)

5. Harsh treatment motivates exits (Bain & Co. also said more than half of California’s business leaders said their companies had a policy to restrict job growth in this state.)

4. Unfriendliness (The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ranks California 48th — Vranich says 49th based on the council’s 2009 report — in business friendliness.)

3. High misery index (Associated Press publishes a monthly economic stress index that ranked California 3rd highest in December.)

2. Uncontrollable spending (Several pollsters say people are angrier about California government than at any other time in the polls’ history.)

1. Worst state to do business (Chief Executive magazine surveyed company executives to conclude that California is the worst place in which to do business.)

The stage is set for California to lose additional companies, capital and jobs in the future. That’s because the business environment worsened when Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a requirement that utilities obtain one-third of the state’s electricity from renewable sources. California companies, which already pay 50% more for electricity than companies in other states, can expect costs to increase by another 19% in some places to a whopping 74% in Los Angeles.

Bi-Partisan Socialism

But the insanity of Big Government is bi-partisan.  Since 1983 three of the last four Governors of California have been Republicans.   Republicans have worked hand-in-hand with Democrats in massively increasing government spending.  GOP Governor George Deukmejian cut a deal with Democrats to effectively abolish the Gann Spending Limits adopted into law by the voters over the objections of legislators.  The state GOP even donate nearly a million dollars to help purchase TV and radio ads urging voters to approve tax increases. 

You can't even make a hamburger in California

California has changed dramatically since 1941, when Carl and Margaret Karcher scraped together about 325 bucks to start a hot dog cart in Los Angeles – a precursor to a drive-through restaurant they opened in Anaheim and which grew into the Carl's Jr. fast-food empire.

California has beckoned many Midwesterners – and people from every part of America and the globe – not just because of its pleasant weather, but because of a culture of openness that allowed creative people to go as far as their ideas would take them. Unfortunately, people with energy and creativity are now likely to go elsewhere, to places where the state government has different attitudes toward the private sector.

Born in California, now aborted.  The Carl's Jr. chain
is going to Texas.

CKE Restaurants, parent of Carl's Jr., is likely to move its headquarters from Carpinteria, near Ventura, to Texas and is undergoing a rapid expansion of restaurants in the Lone Star State.

CKE CEO Andrew Puzder spoke at the California Chamber of Commerce, blocks from the Capitol dome. Like most of us, Puzder loves California and has no interest in leaving it, but he told harrowing tales about doing business in a state that has gone from an entrepreneurial heaven to a bureaucratic nightmare.

"It costs us $250,000 more to build one California restaurant than in Texas. And once it is opened, we're not allowed to run it."  - - - CEO Andrew Puzder
This explains why Carl's is opening 300 restaurants in Texas and only maintaining its presence in California. Texas has lower taxes than California, but the reason for the shift has more to do with regulation and with the attitude of the respective governments.

California law encourages "private attorney general" lawsuits against private businesses over overtime and other regulatory rules, which has created a huge financial incentive for attorneys to file questionable legal actions against restaurants.

"It's not like we have kids working in coal mines or women working in sweatshops," Puzder said. It's not as if his workers in other states, where these regulatory rules don't exist, are oppressed, he added. "How does this help us instill entrepreneurial values?" He wonders how all these nonsensical rules teach people about being independent from the government rather than dependent on it.   - - - (Carl's Jr.)

The corruption in California is truly bi-partisan.  Both
parties have their snouts deep in the State Treasury.

Puzder estimated that construction review and permits in California can add $50,000 and as much as two years to the task of opening a restaurant. In Texas, he said, it can take as little as six weeks from signing a lease to pulling building permits.

In California, Puzder said, managers are treated as hourly employees and the company has to pay them overtime and limit their hours to protect itself from lawsuits.

Tom Thompson is a CKE franchisee with 59 restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area and the Central Valley. He said he went through a three-year process of trying to build a restaurant in the Fresno area only to see planners at the state and local level impose improvements for the disabled at an adjacent intersection and an unwanted double drive-through lane. He decided to pull the plug.

"That was five years ago; the property is still vacant," Thompson said.

As the president of an office and retail property firm in Sacramento, Tim Cahill is used to keeping buildings up to snuff. But he often feels boxed in by California's myriad regulations, including one being phased in this year that requires him to conduct energy audits of his tenants even though they pay their own utilities.

"I'm not sure anybody understands the state system," said Cahill, president of Charles C. Bell Inc. "It can be expensive and it can also be extremely frustrating — and I don't know which is worse."

And the Big Government Spending goes on and on

The insane California bullet train that no one will ride is the latest taxpayer boondoggle. 

The state is bankrupt but in April some 1,000 companies from around the globe, drawn by a bonanza of public funding allotted for California's proposed bullet train, descended on the Los Angeles Convention Center angling for a piece of one of the biggest public works projects in American history.

An artist's rendering of the proposed San Jose station
of the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles Bullet Train

With state officials committed to breaking ground next year on a $43-billion Los Angeles-to-San Francisco high-speed rail link, would-be bidders from Asia, Europe and across the United States are lining up to compete.

California High-Speed Rail Authority officials came Tuesday seeking something as well: to mobilize a broad coalition of large and small businesses to lobby for more government funding.

Both political parties have their snouts fully thrust into the trough of the state treasury.  The head of the High Speed Rail is Curt Pringle the last Republican Speaker of the State Assembly.

"Now we need to hear from you," board Chairman Curt Pringle told the crowd that filled much of an exhibition hall the size of a football field. Washington decision-makers need to hear what the project could mean to you, he told the audience.

Ending Agriculture as we Know It

Would France rip out its storied vineyards? Would Juan Valdez scorch Colombia's coffee crop? Sri Lanka its black pepper harvest? China its tea?

With global markets won by nations specializing in doing what they do best, and with regional reputations important enough to drive some nations to protectionism, it's almost unthinkable.

But then there's California.

On a springtime drive through the Central Valley, it's hard not to notice how federal and state governments are hell-bent on destroying the state's top export — almonds — and everything else in the nation's most productive farmland.

Instead of pink blossoms and green shoots along Highway 5 in April 2010, vast spans from Bakersfield to Fresno sat bone-dry. Brown grass, dead orchards and lifeless grapevine skeletons stretch for miles for lack of water. For every fallow field, there's a sign that farmers have placed alongside the highway: "No Water = No Food," "No Water = No Jobs," "Congress Created Dust Bowl."

It started with a 2008 federal court order that stopped water flowing from northern tributaries on a supposed need to protect a small fish — the delta smelt — that was getting ground up in the turbines of pump stations that divert the water south. The court knew it was bad law, but Congress refused to exempt the fish from the Endangered Species Act and the diversion didn't help the fish.  After that, the water cutoff was blamed on "drought," though northern reservoirs were full.  The cry was "save the salmon," a reference to water needs of the state's northern fisheries.

Joe Marchini of Marchini Farms stands in front a water cutbacks sign on the flanks of
his field and highway 99 near Chowchilla, Calif.  “Man-made drought,” the signs
draped across fences or cotton trailers at the edge of fields proclaim in large,
bold letters. (AP Photo/GosiaWozniacka)

On Highway 99, a few miles north of Chowchilla in the small community of Le Grand, Joe Marchini has just put up several signs on the edge of his wheat and tomato fields. "Farm Water Cut (equals) Higher Food Cost!" says one tacked to a fence by the buzzing highway. Marchini, who has been farming for 50 years, had to idle some land during the drought, and he said other farmers lost their land.

"I've never had to fight for water like I had in the past five years," Marchini said. "They starved us for water. The signs are very valid, because people forget and you have to keep reminding them what farmers went through."

His signs were paid for by Families Protecting the Valley, a farmer organization that advocates for water for agriculture.

"Our goal is to educate people," said Russ Waymire, a pistachio industry consultant and board member with the group. "We have a water problem here and we need to work together to solve it."

This year's relative abundance of water aside, Waymire said the signs focus on what he believes is the bigger picture: Restrictions meant to save threatened fish unfairly target farmers.  "Sewage discharges are killing the fish and yet they have been able to blame our pumps and they have been shutting them off," he said.

Unemployment in some valley towns had shot up to 45%.   Mortgage defaults are on the rise, and food lines are lengthening. 

The new state seal of California.  Do not
worry Comrades.  Food comes from
supermarkets and jobs are created
by magic leprechauns.

There's no good reason to destroy California's most productive region, which turns out 85% of the world's almonds, or to coldly demonize its growers as "corporate agribusiness."

That's a favorite slur of leftist politicians, such as Democrat Bay Area Rep. George Miller, who write off the agricultural damage to global warming and drought while harming the very environment they claim they want to preserve. The valley's water table, for example, is falling as desperate farmers try to retrieve whatever supplies they can.

"What they have done is try to create a green utopia in the San Joaquin Valley, and in the process they are ruining people's lives," said Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare).

This was made painfully obvious in a news photo datelined Mendota, Calif., and showing farm workers standing in food lines. The laborers who once picked vegetables in California's world-renowned "salad bowl" were taking handouts not of California carrots, but of baby carrots grown in China.

The once Golden State of California is sinking into a Greek-like Socialism.

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