28 Jan

CA to Ban Straws? Another Law that Sucks

Watching and writing on CA politics is difficult because not only are our elected officials mostly demagogues trying to sound important but the media who reports on them basically runs on Press Releases.

Let us take the example of (D) Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon’s newest bit of brilliance – banning plastic straws from restaurants.

If you were to read the media accounts of this you’ll see that under this newest piece of nanny-state-paternalism, waiters could be fined up to $1,000 for offering you a straw (Google News Screen shot presented as evidence with highlights added).

Google Straw Law Results

Sometimes a new agency will dig into some of the pertinent details such as when Reason Magazine pointed out that the 500 Million Straws # being cited by Calderon is nonsense: Read More

03 Jun

Sacramento Only Wants to Save Some Lives

On 22 May 2017 the California Senate voted to require homeowners with pools, or looking to build pools, to double their safety efforts. SB442, introduced by State Senator Newman, is aimed at saving the lives of children by requiring 2 of 7 State approved safety items be utilized instead of the current legally mandated 1 of 7.

In 2014, the most recent listed, California had 33 Pool-related drownings and 19 “Other” drownings for children aged 0-5.

While this might sound like a good idea to those who want the state to get more involved in the safety in and around your home, I would point out SB20 which passed the Senate a month earlier on 20 April 2017.

SB20 is a bill requiring buses to have seat-belts. Also for safety. Except for your children.

From the text of the bill:

The bill would specify that it does these provisions do not apply to schoolbuses.

For the sake of consistency it should be pointed out that the author of SB442, Senator Josh Newman, likewise voted for SB20.

One has to question the Senate’s commitment to safety when they will vote to require private property owners to add more safety around pools while exempting school buses from having basic safety requirements.

23 May

Single Payer Price Tag – $400 billion

single payer

One topic we haven’t spent too much time on in depth is the prospect of having a single payer healthcare system here in California. Proponents of such a system have made many arguments in favor of it. It was a major plank in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign platform. There has also been discussion about whether Obamacare was designed to fail to pave the way for a single payer system down the road.

So far, these debates have been happening largely on the national stage with proponents and opponents lobbying Congress one way or the other. With the rise of the American Health Care Act as the fulfillment of a promise Republicans made to their constituents to repeal and replace Obamacare, the prospect of a single payer universal healthcare system seems to be more pie in the sky than ever before.

single payer need not apply

That is, unless you live in California. State Sens. Lara and Atkins have introduced SB 562, the Healthy California Act. This bill would extend healthcare benefits to every resident of California, citizen or not. While the merits of such a bill will likely be hotly debated here in the Golden State, one aspect of it cannot be denied — the cost.

Until just recently, the cost of such a venture was unknown. A single payer healthcare system in a state as large as California has never been attempted in the US. We have nearly 40 million people living here. The economic impact of single payer has always been a major sticking point in practical implementation. Exactly how much is this going to cost us?

$400 billion. That’s billion with a B. And that’s not a one-time cost. That’s an annual cost. To put that in perspective, California’s total annual budget is estimated to be around $250 billion. The legislative analysis estimates that around $200 billion in existing state and federal funds could be used to offset the cost of a single payer healthcare system, but that leaves another $200 billion to be raised through other means.

The government isn't the only one who will pay.

This being California, it’s practically a surefire bet that those other means will inevitably be new taxes. We would be almost doubling our current budget. Double. I suspect most of these increased taxes will be levied against our businesses. The argument will likely be that they will no longer need to pay for employee healthcare plans, so the money they would have spent should be directed to this new tax. I also predict a new affluence tax on individuals and couples making more than $500,000 annually (or maybe $250,000!). The analysis itself proposes one scenario where an increased payroll tax of 15% could foot some of the bill.

The net result will be an ever accelerating free fall to the bottom of the business friendliness rankings and an increased exodus of the middle class to more tax friendly states. After all, around 65% of general fund revenue comes from direct personal income taxes. Don’t worry though. Our legislators will surely find a way to pass this first and then figure out how to pay for it later. I’m sure we will be talking about this a lot more in coming weeks. Be sure to check out our podcast archives to keep up to date on everything going on in California.

24 Apr

CA Legislature Not Done Criminalizing Open Carry

On 20 April 2017 the California Assembly Passed AB7 which closes a “loophole” banning open carry of non-handgun related firearms.

AB7 Assembly Votes

AB7 Assembly Votes

The bill covers non-handgun firearms specifically and is designed to close a “loophole” regarding unincorporated areas. California banned “Open Carry” essentially because a YouTube Video made people realize that open carry was legal and police didn’t know how to react to it.

Like all nanny-state measures the reaction to learning that Californian’s had a freedom they didn’t like the legislature ran to ban something. Now they’re simply back to making sure it’s MOAR BANNED.

24 Apr

Why Does Kevin McCarty Hate Disadvantaged Children?

Smoking is bad. MmmmKay?

California Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) wants to make your cigarettes more expensive by making it illegal to buy them with coupons. The logic? The (D)s in this state managed to get voters to kick the per pack taxes on cigarettes up to $2.87 and coupons make smokes cheaper. And?

Well, Smoking is bad. MMMKay?

The trouble with this anti-coupon idea is twofold. First of all 80% of the revenue generated from tobacco taxes goes directly to funding programs for children under five years of age, specifically disadvantaged children. If your stated goal for a tax is to discourage bad behavior then you cannot rely on that very tax revenue to pay for things. In this particular instance we’re paying for programs for disadvantaged children. By stopping people from smoking we’re de facto defunding those programs. I’ll explain further for the math challenged legislators out there.

If you get tax money when Johnny buys “X” product. And then you raise that tax so high that Johnny cannot afford to buy “X” product (the stated goal here), you don’t get that tax money. There is no tax collected on a product that isn’t sold. Well, not yet anyways but this is California so give it time.

I’ll let the California Department of Public Health explain my second point:

Do Higher Tobacco Prices Lead to Tax Evasion and Smuggling?
Following a tax increase, many smokers will find a way to buy cheaper cigarettes. Some smokers will try to find cheaper cigarettes on the internet; others will buy their cigarettes on Indian reservations and in casinos or even travel across state lines. This type of individual “casual” evasion does not have a significant fiscal impact on the illicit cigarette market whereas, large-scale bulk tobacco smuggling can be a problem.
That’s right boys are girls. People will simply find ways to not get robbed by the taxman.
That “casual evasion” is about to get a lot worse with a $2/pack increase. How do I know? Because some drugs are totally illegal and people still do the hell out of them. This isn’t just run of the mill anti-market stupidity from McCarty. No, he opted to have some of that and throw in a side of cause-and-effect stupidity to boot.