“In order to strengthen and restore California’s economic freedom and prosperity, and to maintain its healthy environment, CABPRO works for lower fees and taxes, less government regulation, and preservation of property rights for all residents, and business, property, and resource owners.”
Thank you to the reader who sent us The Census Is Getting Personalclip by Jerry Day that raises serious questions as to the Constitutionality of what is being asked of us by the US Census Bureau this year.
In the prior article we articulated where Republican leaders went wrong by adopting the failed policies of the left to simply win seats. By wandering from conservative bedrock principles, our Republican leaders gave people the sense that they no longer had real alternatives. A choice only between the liberal’s bad policies and no policies. Our leaders had failed us.
The Bible says without a vision, the people perish. Vision is what Reagan provided when he was President, and the nation responded. Vision is what the Contract With America provided and as a result Congressional Republicans were given a chance to lead. Such vision is what is missing now.
There is no doubt that people look to Republicans in tough economic times, but without a true plan they will certainly fall into the same traps as before and fail. Here are some thoughts about a plan Republicans can all be FOR as a vision to begin to repair California.
Education – First, charter schools are a great place to look at how we can improve education. They provide school choice and competition options; they don’t have to follow the thousands of pages of California Ed. Code; they can fire bad teachers; and they are controlled by parents working with teachers to shape their schools education. They work better and have waiting lists to get in. They prove that parents can do education better than Sacramento bureaucrats if they are allowed to. We need to be FOR parental control of schools instead of bureaucrats.
Second – In school, I had the privilege of having shop classes, welding, auto mechanics, business class etc. to help train me for a real, practical job. Most high schools have dropped these vocational skills programs for our kids and yet 80% are not college bound. In such schools we have nothing left to train these kids for practical jobs. We’ve abandoned that objective. College prep is good, but what are we doing for our other kids? We need to be FOR skills training in high schools.
Energy - We need to produce enough electricity and gas in our own state to meet our state’s needs from all cost effective technologies, both new and old. We have enough in state oil reserves to meet our own needs, and we need more electricity production capacity built to keep up with our own demand. We need to stop being held over the barrel by the Enrons of the world or the Middle East. We need to be FOR energy independence and security for California.
Natural Resources - We are importing over 75% of our state’s wood, yet our forests are burning down leaving our grandchildren with no forests to enjoy. We need to be FOR defensible forests, harvesting enough wood in California to meet California’s own needs and using the proceeds to pay to defend our forests from devastating fires.
Water - We get plenty of water in this state . . . in the winter. We need to keep it for the summer for all of our state’s needs. We need to be FOR real water storage.
Political Process Reform - Currently members don’t look in depth at state concerns or necessities before they write new laws. They’re a bill-passing machine. We need a 2-year budget and only efficiency hearings allowed during the first year of a session, with no new bills until the second year, to force legislators to see what the state’s already doing before they are allowed to introduce any new laws. Then cut the number of bills allowed in half to force real reflection and also limit sessions to 4 months with no fundraising allowed during those months. We need to be FOR real political process reform.
Historically, when Republicans keep their commitments to conservatism and at the same time optimistically articulate their own reasoned solutions, voters respond. With the recognition of our mistakes, recommitment to conservatism and visionary ideas for the future, it can happen again here and now. We can put this train back on its track.
What is the infantile lack of ability to think things through that afflicts a considerable number of people these days? For instance, spreading the wealth, Robin Hoodism if you will. Taking from the rich to give to the poor or more bluntly Socialism. This, at first blush, may sound like a good scheme. After all don’t the rich have more than enough money to fully support at least some of those less fortunate? The answer is probably in the affirmative. Sure they do. So, how is it that we manage this massive transfer of wealth? We know that if the government manages it, a whole new bureaucracy will be needed and the cost of that alone will consume the majority of the transferred wealth. How much do we take from the rich and how much do we give to the poor? Who decides who is rich and who is poor? How many people who are close to the poor line and working 40 plus hours a week would quit their job and take a little less money not to have to work at all? All these folks not working will definitely affect the job market as there is less people to hire and when a business hires it will cost them more to pay the employee so their profit margin either goes down or they must raise their prices. If the business owners accept a lower profit margin then they have less wealth to transfer so they must lower their standard of living. The employee who will no longer get his annual COLA or any raises must now accept his place in life and soon he will see the merits of not working at all for less money.
It is not difficult to see the vortex that is created here. Sooner or later the system reaches the point of diminishing returns, where it can no longer support itself and falls apart, leaving those on the dole with no income whatsoever; hungry and on the street, they will have no skills and they won’t be happy.
If you think any government program through, you wind up with similar results. Why? Well, one reason is because the government has no money of its own. Whatever the source, the funds eventually come from the consumer. Import, export taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, etc, etc, etc. And don’t forget fees that are taxes by another name that require a smaller percentage of votes to pass on to us. Any money the government has, either directly or indirectly, comes from us. Even if they print more of it, our debt increases and who is responsible for that? You guessed it, you and me. The only money the government has originates with you and me. This cannot be anymore clear. Any time the government gets involved in any program, the price of that program goes up, if for no other reason than the bureaucracy that must be created to manage it. Even as small a business as I own, when gasoline prices went to $4.00 per gallon, I didn’t pay for the increase, my hourly rate went up appropriately. When larger businesses receive cost increases, they pass it on to the consumer. It doesn’t work any other way.
There is no such thing as a government funded program. There are only consumer/ taxpayer funded programs, period. The next time some politician talks about a program to benefit a certain group of people, grab your wallet. If he is bringing to this state large money for special projects, grab your wallet. It is all our money and we deserve better management of it. Think it through.
California has the 2nd highest state income tax in the nation. 9.55% at $48,000. 10.55% at $1,000,000 By far the highest state sales tax in the nation. 8.25% (not counting local sales taxes) Highest state car tax in the nation – at least double any other state. 1.15% per year on value of vehicle. Corporate income tax rate is the highest in the West at 8.84% 2009 Business Tax Climate ranks 48th in the nation. Fourth highest capital gains tax at 9.55% Highest gasoline tax (averaging 64.5 cents/gallon) in the nation (July, 2009). When gas hits $3.00/gallon, we are numero uno – because unlike many states, we charge sales tax on gasoline purchases (built into the price). Sixth highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12.4%. (January 2010) California’s “Tax Freedom Day” (the day the average taxpayer stops working for government and start working for oneself) is again the 4th worst date in the nation – up from 28th worst in 1994. 1 in 5 in Los Angeles County are receiving public aid.
California has 12% of the nation’s population, but 36% of the country’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare recipients – more than the next 7 states combined. Unlike other states, this “temporary” assistance becomes much more permanent in CA. California prison guards highest paid in the nation. California teachers are the highest paid in the nation while it has the second lowest student test scores. California now has the lowest bond ratings of any state, edging out Louisiana. California ranks 44th worst in “2009 lawsuit climate.”
In 2005 (latest figures), for every dollar Californians sent to D.C. in taxes, we got back 78 cents – 43rd worst.
America’s top CEO’s rank California “the worst place in which to do business” for the fourth straight year. But here’s the interesting part – they think California is a great state to live (primarily for the great climate) – they just won’t bring their businesses here because of the oppressive tax and regulatory climate. Consider this quote from the survey (a conclusion reflected in the rankings of the characteristics of the state): “California has huge advantages with its size, quality of work force, particularly in high tech, as well as the quality of life and climate advantages of the state. However, it is an absolute regulatory and tax disaster.” California, a destitute state, still gives away college education at fire sale prices. Our community college tuition is by far the lowest in the nation. How low? Nationwide, the average community college tuition is 4.5 times higher than California CC’s. This ridiculously low tuition devalues education to students – resulting in a 30+% drop rate for class completion.& nbsp; In addition, 2/3 of California CC students pay no tuition at all – filling out a simple unverified “hardship” form that exempts them from any tuition payment, or receiving grants and tax credits for their full tuition. California residential electricity costs an average of 35.4% more than the national average. For industrial use, CA electricity is 56.2% higher than the national average. It costs 2038% more to build solar panels in California than in Tennessee – which is why European corporations have invested $2.3 billion in two Tennessee manufacturing plants to build solar panels for our state. Consider California’s net domestic migration (migration between states). From April, 2000 through June, 2008 (8 years, 2 months) California has lost a NET 1.4 million people. The departures slowed this past year only because people couldn’t sell their homes. These are not welfare kings and queens departing. They are the young, the educated, the productive, the ambitious, the wealthy, and retirees seeking to make their pensions provide more bang for the buck. The irony is that a disproportionate number of these seniors are retired state and local government employees fleeing the state that provides them with their opulent pensions – in order to avoid the high taxes that these same employees pushed so hard through their unions. As taxes rise and jobs disappear, we lose our tax base, continuing California’s state and local fiscal death spiral. This spiral must stop NOW, or it will be too late.
Does anyone out there have any memory of the reason given for the establishment of the Department of Energy by the Carter Administration? We've spent several hundred billion dollars of our tax dollars in support of the DOE since it was instituted on August 4, 1977 by President Jimmie Carter. At the time Carter said the DOE's sole purpose was to "Lessen our Dependence on Foreign Oil". So, here we are in 2010 and the DOE now has 16,000 Federal employees, approximately 100,000 contract employees and an annual budget of $24.2 Billion. And, look at the terrific job it has done in it's 33 years of existence "lessening our dependence on foreign oil! Ain't it great!!!
It's important to remember just how many taxes we pay on a daily basis. Income tax, property tax, sales tax and gasoline tax are the obvious ones. But don't forget the tax on your home phone and cell phones, utilities tax, trash tax, vehicle registration tax, state excise tax and the list goes on.
After witnessing the election of Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate, it is hard not to think about this democracy of ours. How was it that seemingly overnight, this long held “democratic seat”, “Ted Kennedy’s seat” just rolled over into the hands of a Massachusetts Republican, who stated that this “Democratic/Kennedy” seat was in fact “the peoples seat”? A little review of the history of Democracy starting at the very beginning in Athens, Greece, seems in order.
Upon visiting Athens, you head straight for the Parthenon looming high above the city like a protective fortress. And yes, it is unbelievably beautiful and massive. From there you look below to the ruins of the Agora – the ancient center of commerce and trade. Amazingly white fallen columns and marble blocks lie in disarray and encircle the foundation of the jail where Socrates was held.
Another ruin that you cannot miss is just over the hill from the Acropolis. This stone platform (called the Pnyx) located atop a hill is the place where speakers addressed the masses. The orator would climb a steep set of stairs carved out of stone, which miraculously is still intact today. A stonewall behind him amplified his voice. It was here that all the great orators spoke to the people’s assembly of 5,000 people strong. In this spot the acoustics are amazing as even a whisper is amplified!
Of course you cannot isolate democracy in the ruins of Athens. But I believe the essence of democracy boils down to just one word; talking. Perhaps to put it better, speeches and debates. It is a well-known fact that the only way to agree on anything in a government by the people is to persuade one another.
Our founding fathers must have known this, although they didn’t exactly copy the Greek way. Still, without the Greeks, we never would have had a Roman republic. And without the Roman republic, our founding fathers would have lacked democracy’s background to create their own republic.
While the ancient Romans looked up to the Greeks, they also resented them. The Romans looked upon the Greeks as being more sophisticated and cultured. And although they hated the Greek’s snobbery, they went out of their way to imitate them! You will find a Sacred Way in both Athens and in Rome. The one in Athens takes you through the Agora and up the steep hill to the Parthenon, the temple to the goddess Athena. In Rome, the route leads you through the Forum and then up a lesser hill to the Temple of Jupiter.
Ancient Roman politicians traveled a path of overlapping government branches. There were consuls, censors, praetors, the senate as well as the tribunes of people. The rules were such that each branch could veto and demote the other. Armed gangs made sure the votes turned out the way the rulers wanted. Nothing ran smoothly but it wandered along for nearly 500 years and somehow created one of the world’s greatest empires!
The Magna Carta is Latin and means “Great Charter”. It was signed in June 1215 between the barons of Medieval England and King John. It is considered one of the most important documents of Medieval England.
The document was a series of written promises between the king and his subjects stating that King John would govern England and deal with its people according to the customs of feudal law. In short, the Magna Carta was an attempt by the barons to stop a king from abusing his power with the people and causing them to suffer.
England had for some years owned land in France. The barons had provided the king with both money and men to defend his territory. Traditionally, the king always consulted the barons before raising taxes and demanding more men for military service (because the barons had to collect the taxes and provide the men for military service).
King John was not successful in his military campaigns abroad. His constant demands for more money and men angered the barons. By 1204, John had lost his land in northern France and as a result he introduced high taxes without asking the barons. All this was against feudal law and accepted custom.
King John made other mistakes as well. He angered the Roman Catholic Church. The pope banned all church services in England in 1207. The Catholic Church taught the people that they could only get to Heaven if the Catholic Church believed that they were good enough to get there. Religion and the fear of hell were very important to the people including the barons. Now how could they ever get to heaven if the churches were closed? John finally agreed to step down and accepted the power of the Catholic Church in 1214.
But the mistakes continued for John. Once again, he suffered military defeat while attempting to regain his territory in northern France. Upon his return to London, he demanded more money from taxes. This time the barons refused to listen. They rebelled against King John and had defeated him entirely by the spring of 1215. Finally both sides were willing to discuss matters and the result was the Magna Carta, a document that promised laws that were good and fair and that everyone was entitled to have access to the courts.
Colonial America thought it could do better. Our founding fathers envisioned a nation that would be an “empire of laws”, as they called it. They used the ancient Roman writer Titus Livius or Livy as he is more commonly known as their source. Our founders considered the fall of the Roman republic a lesson to take note of and were careful to create as Caesar-proof a system as they could. This said, we probably shouldn’t get too cocky about our republic. After all, we have at least another two centuries to go before we can say our republic lasted longer than the Romans’.
Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and the tiny Assembly Room is where it all happened here in America. It began with the debating, editing, and finally the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Only to be followed 11 years later with the United States Constitution.
Our founding fathers had serious work ahead of them, creating this Democracy. Rule by the people, which the Greeks had invented, was their aim. Add to that, the division of powers that the British had taken from the Romans and there you have it.
Our Constitution forms a much tighter bond between government and its citizens than the Greeks, Romans or the English ever had. You can liken it to a marriage if you will. It’s full of challenges, arguments and annoyances. But our loyalty isn’t to the Constitution; it is to the People. It is “the people’s seat”.
Although starting with a mandate of reform contained in the Republican revolution of 1994, our national Republican leadership gradually fell into the same traps of out-of-control spending, failure to secure our borders and ethical and moral scandals as their predecessors. As a direct consequence, Republican leaders lost the moral authority to lead, lost the confidence of hard working Americans and thereafter, the mantle of leadership. This laid the foundation for the subsequent election of Democrat President Barack Obama and thereby cemented unified Democrat control of our country.
Our lesson? When Republican leaders govern like the Democrats they replace, they cease to be relevant in the public debate and they lose elections.
As a reaction, Republican leaders at many levels have become so busy trying to forge a Democrat-like agenda in that they have failed to design and advance their own alternative Republican vision for the State and the Nation. As a result, they’ve allowed the GOP to become defined nationally by the left as simply “The Party of ‘NO’”, or seen as no different. These failures leave the public with the perception of being forced in elections to choose either people with bad ideas or no ideas.
Concurrently there have been other very significant developments that are worth noting. We recently saw an estimated 2 Million Tea Party activists pay their own way out of their own pockets to travel to our nations capitol. They came to protest the current direction of our government and to tell them that they are fed up with the leadership of both parties. In fact, they deeply and sincerely fear for both our liberties and our nations future. They, with other Patriots throughout America, passionately want a new direction for America.
The other significant political development is there has been a political shift underway in the rise of those re-registering Decline to State (DTS). DTS is the fastest growing group of voters in the state. People are leaving both major parties due to the fact that neither is seen as reflecting their values or having practical logical solutions. It is essential that we define both what Republicans are against, and also what they are FOR.
Both of these groups clearly reject what they are seeing coming out of the Democrat leadership and the Obama Administration. And as much as they fear what they are hearing from the Democrat leadership, they are also not hearing a responsive alternative vision springing from the Republican leaders. Republicans cannot expect voters to turn to them until these same leaders are clear as to where they went wrong and also where they want to go. You can’t effectively drive a bus if you can’t tell others where you want to take it.
Historically, when Republicans clearly keep their conservative commitments and articulate their own reasoned solutions, voters respond positively. It worked for Ronald Reagan. Even though he faced a Democrat controlled Congress, communication of the strength of his Republican vision and his commitment to carry it out endeared the American public. Due to the resultant public pressure, the Democrat Congress was forced to follow. Again in 1994, Newt Gingrich with the “Contract With America” clearly defined a new vision. The American public embraced that vision and changed our course. No doubt it can happen again now.
In the next article I will outline some specific elements that I believe the Republican Party can be FOR as we seek to put the train of our state and our nation back on it’s tracks.