Second-Largest CA Firm May Be Heading To Texas

welcome to Texas 2California could be on the brink of one of its biggest corporate defections yet with the signs that McKesson Corp. – the pharmaceutical giant that is sixth on the Fortune 500 list – is preparing to move its headquarters from San Francisco to the Dallas area.

Apple is the only California company that’s bigger than McKesson, which has 75,000-plus employees and had $198 billion in annual revenue last fiscal year.

McKesson saw its profile increase greatly in 2017 after a joint investigation by the Washington Post and CBS “60 Minutes”alleged that the company had played a central role in the national opioid epidemic by failing to report “suspicious orders involving millions of highly addictive painkillers.” Yet it’s long been considered one of the 10 biggest companies “you’ve never heard of” by the InvestorPlace website and other business trackers.

Firm sold San Francisco headquarters

Now, according to a connect-the-dots report by the San Francisco Business Times, its days in the Golden State may be numbered. McKesson officially denied it was looking to move. But the newspaper noted a number of seemingly linked developments:

  • The remarks of an official with Irving Economic Development Partnership that hinted McKesson was considering an expansion of its already “major commitment” to Irving. McKesson’s $157 million regional headquarters opened in 2016 in the business-friendly suburb of Dallas that already has the headquarters of such corporate giants as ExxonMobil, Fluor Corp and Kimberly-Clark. The state of Texas provided $9.75 million in subsidies to encourage McKesson’s decision.
  • The announcement that CEO John Hammergren will retire on March 31, 2019, and be succeeded by McKesson executive Brian Tyler, who lives in Las Colinas, a posh Irving neighborhood. His possible relocation was not directly addressed.
  • McKesson’s 2017 decision to sell its San Francisco headquarters for more than $300 million in favor of an arrangement in which it leased offices at the facility.

Given how much cheaper it usually is for a company to own rather than lease a large headquarters, the sale looks in retrospect like a warning sign to city leaders that their richest company was preparing to move.

McKesson would be hardest hit by new ‘homeless tax’

Nonetheless, besides Mayor London Breed, the city’s political establishment offered relatively little pushback to a successful tax measure on San Francisco’s Nov. 6 ballot that will take its single biggest toll on McKesson – at least if the company stays in the city.

To fund increased programs for the homeless, Measure C imposes a gross receipts tax on San Francisco-based companies which have $50 million or more in annual revenue. With $198 billion in fiscal 2017, McKesson is by far the highest-grossing San Francisco-based firm. Measure C is expected to generate $300 million a year, boosting the $380 million that City Hall now spends on homelessness.

If McKesson does leave, it will join the more than 1,700 companies whose decisions to abandon the Golden State have been documented since 2008. The traditional corporate complaints about California having high taxes and heavy regulations have been expanded in recent years to include concerns about the high cost of housing making it difficult to attract and retain workers.

Among the most prominent departures: Toyota moved its U.S. headquarters from Torrance to the Dallas suburb of Plano; energy giant Occidental Petroleum moved its headquarters from Los Angeles to Houston; and the Nestle USA food conglomerate moved its headquarters from Glendale to Rosslyn, Virginia, in the Washington suburbs.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Rejection of Proposition 6 Doesn’t End the Taxpayer Revolt

Gas PricesIt is understandable that many California taxpayers are disappointed with the election results. The defeat of Proposition 6 means that last year’s big increases in both the car tax and the gas tax imposed on us by Sacramento politicians will remain in effect and California’s drivers are stuck having the second-highest gas tax in the nation.

Tax-and-spend progressives are interpreting the defeat of Prop. 6 as a green light to impose even higher taxes. In fact, some now believe that the iconic Proposition 13 itself may be vulnerable. But this thinking is faulty.

There are three major reasons why Proposition 6 failed and none of them are because voters were enamored with the Senate Bill 1 tax hike last year. First, the ballot label – which may have been the only thing low-information voters saw – made no reference to the tax hike passed by the legislature last year. Rather, it ominously stated that the initiative would “eliminate certain transportation funding.” This non-specific description ignores that, had Prop. 6 passed, California would still have the fifth-highest gas tax in the nation. In providing a blatantly misleading ballot title, Attorney General Xavier Becerra did the opponents a huge favor.

Second, the financial power of the “rent seekers” — those interests which secure financial advantage through higher taxes on the general public – was on full display during this campaign. Big business, including large construction companies, teamed with big labor to contribute well over $50 million in campaign funds. A one-time $50 million investment for $5 billion in tax proceeds every year is a heck of a good return on investment. Moreover, this amount of money dwarfed the approximately $5 million raised by the proponents. With that kind of spending disparity, the disinformation spewed out by the opponents could not be challenged effectively, particularly in major media markets.

Third, opponents engaged in repeated acts of questionable and even illegal behavior. Beyond just the over-the-top threats of collapsing bridges if Prop. 6 passed, there was the well-publicized use of Caltrans-supervised work crews to stop traffic and hand out campaign fliers urging a no vote on Proposition 6. And the full integration of Caltrans management with opposition campaign operatives was an example of real, not fake, collusion. While legal actions are pending on this kind of activity, it is of little solace to California drivers who are being punished every time they pull up to the pump or write a check to the DMV. …

To read the entire column, please click here.

California Voters Take Free Market Positions On Some Key Ballot Measures

VotingOn Nov. 6, California voters defeated a statewide rent control measure and Los Angeles city voters declined to move forward with a public bank. These results suggest the electorate has the economic wisdom to turn back some of the state’s worst economy-damaging impulses. And it may even augur well for market-friendly policy ideas in the Golden State going forward.

Proposition 10, a measure which would have restored local governments’ ability to impose new rent control laws, was defeated by a wide margin. More than 60 percent of those voting on the measure opted to retain the Costa-Hawkins Act, a state law that prohibits local rent controls on properties built since the mid-1990s. Passage of the measure would have freed cities like Santa Monica to impose price controls on new rental housing, thereby likely choking off the already insufficient amount of new residential housing construction going up in California.

The vote against Proposition 10, along with the passage of two statewide affordable housing bond measures and a new corporate tax to support homeless services in San Francisco is suggestive of a pattern. Voters, aware of skyrocketing housing costs and widespread homelessness, want to see more housing supply.

New housing units can be added most cost-effectively inland, where land acquisition costs are lower. Unfortunately, a lot of the bond funds will be devoted to central city residential in-fill projects that could be built privately for market rents and without subsidies. While San Francisco’s leaders have rightly called for a regional approach to the Bay Area’s housing crisis, what is really needed is a statewide strategy.

It would be much cheaper to build large amounts of supportive housing well inland. The state should deploy affordable housing bond proceeds away from San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego, where land acquisition costs are so high. Instead, the state should consider increasing the amount of social service funding it makes available to inland counties if they approve affordable housing units and take in homeless or under-housed individuals from coastal counties.

In Los Angeles, voters rejected a measure that would have paved the way for the city to create a public bank. Municipal and state-owned banks have become a holy grail for some activists in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The Bush administration’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) reinforced suspicions that banking is a one-way bet, with bankers reaping windfall profits and big compensation packages during the good times and then handing taxpayers the bill for bad loans when the music stops. Why not end this rollercoaster through public ownership, the reasoning goes.

But, as recent experiences in Germany show, public banks don’t necessarily protect taxpayers; indeed, they often heighten risks to the public purse. While TARP loans were ultimately repaid with interest, failures at multiple German publicly-owned banks necessitated tax funded bailouts that will never be recouped.

A better way to take the excess profits and cushy compensation packages out of banking is to encourage more competition—from both for-profit startups and not for profits.

Web-based, peer-to-peer lending platforms like LendingClub make it easier for savers and borrowers to connect with one another while limiting the amount taken by intermediaries. Alternative payment providers like Veem compete with expensive funds transfer services offered by banks. In recent years, the term fintech has come to embrace a wide array of technology-driven financial innovations that provide viable alternatives to consumers frustrated with banks. It is worth noting that banks have responded with significant innovations of their own – as anyone who deposits checks via their smartphone or uses Zelle for interbank transfers can confirm.

Alternative banking does not necessarily have to be a for-profit enterprise. Kiva is a non-profit that helps borrowers in 80 countries obtain subsidized microloans to help them start businesses. Another financial non-profit, EARN, helps low-income families save for retirement and other purposes.

So rather than pursue an initiative that could impose more risk on the community, public bank advocates in Los Angeles and elsewhere should consider partnering with startups and non-profits to provide better, cheaper and more socially responsible financial services.  The $44,000 advocates raised for the Los Angeles public banking ballot measure could have more usefully invested in microloans to struggling Angelinos.

As for the potentially positive long-term political and policy implications, it seems many Californians remain open to economically rational public policies.

This article was originally published by the Reason Foundation

California’s Legislators Lack Private Sector Experience

CapitolBack in the days of adding machines and manual ledgers, final election results in California were usually done by midnight on election day. Sometimes there would be a few precincts counting ballots into the wee hours of the morning, and you wouldn’t know a result till the next day. Fast forward to 2018, and the age of global interconnectedness, with instantaneous algorithmic management of everything from power grids to Facebook feeds, yet here in California the complete results of the 2018 midterms won’t be available until December 7th. Go figure.

While California’s ability to count ballots runs contrary to the otherwise dazzling march of progress, by now we have enough information to offer a pretty good look at California’s state Legislature for 2019-20. The Democratic supermajority has been re-established. With 28 confirmed seats in the Senate, and 56 in the Assembly, the Democrats hold 70 percent of the seats in both houses. Even if Republicans achieved the unlikely capture of all four Assembly seats that remain too close to call, nothing would change. Overall, so far there are 84 Democratic legislators, and only 32 Republicans.

How Many State Legislators Have Private Sector Experience?

Three election cycles ago, a California Policy Center analysis compared the biographies of California’s state legislators, asking how Republicans and Democrats differ in terms of what they did before they became politicians. To repeat this exercise, 2018 election results were obtained from the California Secretary of States “District Races” page for the Senate and the Assembly. For incumbents who were re-elected, biographies were obtained from the Senate and Assembly websites. For newcomers, a trip to Wikipedia, Ballotpedia, or their campaign websites was sufficient.

When one considers the professional background of California’s politicians, a clear pattern emerges. And while compiling this data requires some degree of subjective interpretation, no reasonable interpretation would fail to reveal dramatic differences in experience between Democrats and Republicans.

California State Legislature, 2019-2020 Membership
Business vs. Government Background

As seen on the above table, in California’s 2019-20 state senate, 79 percent of the Democrats have no private sector experience. On the other hand, 58 percent of the Republicans had no public sector experience prior to running for elected office, although most of them ran for local offices prior to running for state senate. The same story applies with California’s state assembly, where 73 percent of the Democrats have no private sector experience, and 55% of the Republicans have at least some private sector experience.

Before continuing, it’s interesting from this perspective to compare this 2019-20 state legislature to the 2013-2014 state legislature. Back then the proportions were generally the same, but there were almost no Democrats – only five in both houses – compared to 14 of them today. Conversely, back in 2013 there were 25 Republicans who had an exclusively business background prior to holding elected office, compared to only 15 today. Over the same period, the number of Republicans with only public sector experience prior to holding office has more than doubled, from four back in 2013 to 11 today. Overall there are now even fewer Republicans – down from a paltry 36/120 six years ago to a vanishing 32/120 today.

California State Legislature, 2013-2014 Membership
Business vs. Government Background

What might explain this tepid drift to the center, at least in terms of more Republican state legislators with public sector experience, and more Democratic state legislators with private sector experience?

One explanation could be the open primary, which makes it less likely an extreme candidate will survive the general election. Another could be the decision made around 2010 by California’s beleaguered business community to start supporting pro-business Democrats. Finally, as Republicans in California fade further into irrelevance, the alliances and allegiances formed in public sector work offer Republican candidates with that background a better chance of electoral success.

Public Sector Unions Pick Public Sector Careerists to Run for Public Office

Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s there were plenty of pro-business Democrats, so called “Pat Brown” Democrats, who worked with Gov. Brown Sr. to build freeways, bridges, power plants, and the finest system of water storage and conveyance the world had ever seen. Those same Democrats cooperated with Republican Governor Reagan a few years later to build the finest public university system in the world. The opportunities available to California’s middle class were unrivaled. What happened to these Democrats?

The problems began in the 1970’s when public sector unions were allowed to form. Steadily acquiring political power through automatic dues deductions, they used taxpayer’s money to lobby for the interests of government workers instead of the interests of the people they serve. Increasingly, business-backed candidates started losing races to candidates backed by government unions. Almost invariably, unions backed Democratic candidates. The more powerful these union-backed candidates became, the more laws they enacted to further consolidate their power. Today government union rule in California is absolute.

The tragedy of unionized government is not merely that they have taken over California’s state legislature and nearly every city, county and school board in the state in order to pursue their membership’s interest above the public interest. It is that most elected officials no longer understand business. These union anointed elected officials come from government agencies, union bureaucracies, nonprofits, activism, and public education. Most of California’s legislators have never had to balance a budget, make a payroll, or convince a customer to voluntarily purchase a product so they could earn a precarious profit in a competitive market.

California’s lawmakers, to the extent they are elected with the support of public sector unions and to the extent they lack business experience, not only face a conflict of interests every time they have to deal with a reform that threatens the power of the unions. They are also less qualified to understand the financial and operational realities that apply in any  efficiently ran, productive organization, large or small. They are in over their heads.

To exemplify this, consider how California’s democrats are crowing over a $6 billion budget surplus. Compare that $6 billion surplus to the nearly half-trillion in bond debt that California’s state and local governments have piled up, including another $23 billion on Nov. 6th. Compare that $6 billion surplus to, by most reasonable estimates, the more than half-trillion in unfunded retirement benefits that are going to blow sky high in the next market downturn.

Hint. A trillion is a thousand billion.

End of Brown Era – Pat & Jerry

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

At the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs post election conference yesterday at Cal State L.A., political consultant Mike Madrid declared that the Brown era of politics focused on building and infrastructure is over with the end of Jerry Brown’s fourth term as governor. He wasn’t referring to just the current governor but to his father, Pat Brown, as well. Both Browns focused on building from water works and highways to the bullet train.

Darry Sragow, editor of the California Target Book echoed that thought, calling Jerry Brown brilliant, but as governor, he “replicated” his father as a builder of things and didn’t move too far on social programs. Sragow predicted that would change under new governor, Gavin Newsom.

Sragow argued that Newsom would have to do something positive to establish his governorship and create a vision for the future. Making a statement by blowing up the high-speed rail is not the way for Newsom to begin his new administration, Sragow suggested.

Madrid concurred saying Newsom will need to do something big and bold. “That takes money,” Madrid said, “and he’s got it.”

A newly released report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office declared that California’s budget is flush.

Politico California Playbook’s Carla Marinucci, the third panelists, argued that Newsom must be concerned with the jobs picture that would change dramatically as technology and automation advances.

Madrid said the new governor would be defined by how he deals with social problems. He noted that the state’s problems with poverty, income inequality, and housing all happened with Democrats in charge. However, he gave credit to Newsom for raising these issues in the campaign and said he believed Newsom is prepared to address them.

Long time Los Angeles journalist and moderator of the popular “To the Point” radio program, Warren Olney, moderated the panel.

Whatever course Newsom lays out, he will have to navigate the legislature that despite having a supermajority of his own party will have their own ideas how to spend the state’s surplus dollars. Sragow predicted the legislative would be “headstrong” in dealing with the new governor.

When challenged that the supermajority Democrats could splinter into ideological camps and even break apart, Sragow pushed back on the idea saying that the Democratic coalition, despite a wide range of views, would hold.

Republicans, however, are a different story according to the panel.

In reviewing the election results, Marinucci talked of two important groups that deserted Republicans: suburban women and college educated women and men.

Republican consultant Madrid was tougher on his party. He said Republican prospects in California were “nil!” He said conservatism was designed to lift people up through economic policy but that the GOP, which complains about Democratic identity politics, is now a party of white identity politics. He emphasized the point claiming that anyone who is against the boondoggle high speed rail because it would hurt the economy but is for building a wall which would also hurt the economy does so for one reason—unspoken was the issue of race. He predicted the collapse of the GOP coalition of coastal white color Republicans and inland blue collar workers.

*          *          *

Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, delivered the program’s keynote address. In a post speech Q&A, the Pat Brown Institute’s executive director Raphael Sonenshein asked Garcetti, what criteria he would use in deciding whether or not to run for president. Garcetti’s travels to other states and support for Democratic candidates in the recent election have been interpreted as laying the groundwork for a presidential run.

Garcetti said mayors should consider running for the presidency because as chief executives they deal with major issues that a president would face such as security and trade but also gain unique perspectives from local, hands-on issues. He said the key decision point is whether he feels he can add something that is different than other candidates, including new ideas.

If he decides to run he will have lots of company.

ditor and co-publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

Teachers Unions Not Yet Hobbled by Supreme Court Ruling

Charter schoolThe U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case that public employees couldn’t be compelled to pay union dues was widely seen as a game-changing moment in U.S. politics.

The coverage on The Atlantic website was typical. It called the decision, which stemmed from a lawsuit brought by Illinois state employee Mark Janus, a “huge blow” to public sector unions and suggested the decision had the potential to “end” such unions in America.

But five months later, the experience of the most powerful public employee union in the nation’s largest state undercuts the assumption that Janus would take a quick toll on unions’ clout. In supporting Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, for state superintendent of public education against Marshall Tuck, the California Teachers Association spent $16 million as of Oct. 31 – $5 million more than it did in the entire 2014 superintendent election, where the union supported incumbent Tom Torlakson over Tuck, a former Los Angeles school executive with deep support from charter school advocates and a loose coalition of tech billionaires.

Torlakson narrowly defeated Tuck. This election, Tuck and Thurmond have been trading the lead in recent days. With millions of votes yet to be counted, no journalism organization has called the race.

The CTA does not issue regular updates on its membership status. But a recent Sacramento Bee analysis suggested that the union, as in previous years, had 90 percent membership among the 325,000 teachers it represented. So while it’s lost dues from the 10 percent of teachers who reject union membership, the CTA still collects more than $150 million in dues annually – making it the most powerful force in the California Democratic Party.

Union clout to be tested in coming fight over funding

The extent of the CTA’s clout is likely to be tested soon – whether Thurmond or Tuck is elected. That’s because both have said they oppose one of Torlakson’s most controversial, union-favoring decisions: His 2015 announcement that the extra funding going to schools with disproportionate numbers of English learners, foster children and impoverished students could be spent on general needs, such as raises for teachers.

Torlakson’s decision, which overrode a directive from a lower-ranking official in the state Department of Education, spurred outrage in education reform circles. The Local Control Funding Formula – the 2013 state law changing how districts were allocated state dollars – had been pitched as creating a lock-box of dollars that would be spent only on helping underachieving students.

But Torlakson’s decision had the effect of turning the local-control funding into a de facto block grant. Many districts have used the funds for employee raises.

If Thurmond or Tuck revive the lock-box theory of how the funds can be spent, that’s likely to create huge headaches for most school districts, which have received an average of $8 billion a year in local-control dollars since the law took effect.

Newsom close with both teachers unions and reformers

A key factor in the coming fight over funding is the position taken by Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, who was strongly backed by the CTA but is also friends with the tech tycoons who want education reform. The governor’s control over parts of the Department of Education’s budget gives him a powerful lever to use on the state superintendent.

On the campaign trail, Newsom said teachers are underpaid and schools are underfunded. But he’s also rejected Gov. Jerry Brown’s claim that education reform is a “siren song” in which trends come and go but schools never get better. In interviews, Newsom has noted the success of education reform in union states like Massachusetts and New Jersey.

It’s unclear when the count of the Thurmond-Tuck vote will be complete. But the recent statewide election with the most parallels to the race offers encouragement for Thurmond, a former social worker.

In the 2010 attorney general’s race, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, a Republican, took such a substantial early lead over San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris that the San Francisco Chronicle pronounced him the winner on election night. But as millions of provisional and late ballots were counted, the tide turned steadily toward the union-backed Democrat. Three weeks later, Cooley conceded when Harris’ lead topped 50,000 votes. Harris ended up winning by more than 74,000 votes – about 1 percent of total voters.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Why America’s “Minority Majority” Will Never Happen

WhiteIn America today, the phrase “It’s ok to be White” is considered “hate speech.” Last week, in trend setting California, that was the clear message coming from Sacramento’s leading local television news network, KCRA. Watching this top story on November 3rd, you would think co-anchors Gulstan Dart and Kellie DeMarco were reporting on another synagogue massacre, instead of an incident at a local college where some anonymous “racist” had taped a few pieces of 8.5″ x 11″ copy paper to campus bulletin boards that read “It’s ok to be White.”

What happened in Sacramento wasn’t an isolated incident. “It’s ok to be White” flyers have been printed and posted elsewhere in the U.S. You can even buy “It’s ok to be White” t-shirts on Amazon Prime. The posters have appeared at Duke UniversityTufts University, the University of Delaware, the University of Denver the University of St. Thomas, and elsewhere.

The reporter on the scene in Sacramento, Walter Makaula, dutifully pointed out that “messages of inclusion and diversity” were posted “everywhere” on the Sacramento’s American River community college campus. “Black Minds Matter.” “Womyn & Femmes Circle.” But posting “It’s ok to be White” was apparently hateful. As Dean of Student Services Joshua Moon Johnson reassuringly stated for the camera: “Quickly we addressed the situation and made sure campus police were called and made sure we had those removed.”

Good job, Mr. Moon-Johnson. Such bravery. Such resolute action.

The common sense questions to this typical response are many. Why is this offensive? Why is this rather bland affirmation of white personhood considered a threat? Why is it called “hate speech?” And what is it that might inspire someone, presumably a white student, to print a few of these signs and post them around their campus?

Could asserting that “It’s ok to be White” be a perfectly understandable reaction to an educational culture where literally anyone who is not “White” is obsessively celebrated? A reaction to institutional discrimination where anyone who is not “White” is granted preferential treatment in admissions, scholarship awards, and future hiring decisions? And wouldn’t knowing these flyers would trigger a hysterical overreaction, despite containing content that is trivial by any objective standard, motivate an irreverent and spirited student to post them?

While the origin of the phrase “It’s ok to be White” is allegedly linked to “white nationalists,” that shouldn’t alter its meaning. You can’t outlaw a reasonable phrase merely because unreasonable people uttered it. When you do, and make an overwrought fuss every time the phrase is encountered, you are inviting millions to also utter it.

The term “White” is inclusive, not exclusive, and cultural, not racial

But what is “White”? Could it be that the term “White” is destined to become perceived as inclusive instead of exclusive? Eric Kaufmann, writing for UnHerd, has coined the phrase “Whiteshift,” which he defines as “the voluntary assimilation of minorities into the majority though intermarriage.” Kaufmann goes on to explain how this voluntary assimilation can occur, characterizing it as “a process which will need active telegraphing as mixing won’t be strong enough on its own to make much difference to social cohesion until the end of the century.”

While Kaufmann is writing about the United Kingdom, his prescriptions for assimilation apply in America as well. He writes: “The Left needs to back away from excessive accusations of racism and dreams of radical social transformation. Conservatives should worry less about Muslims, Hispanics or the behavior of other minority groups and focus instead on defending the interests of those who seek slower cultural change. This is not just about immigration levels, but should involve ethnic majority citizens inducting mixed-race children into myths of British [American] ancestry.”

In this context, American “multiculturalism” is clearly the wrong approach. An entire collection of industries have been built in America to capitalize on a divisive obsession with race and ethnicity, and the elaborate scaffolding of ranked victims based on their race and ethnicity. From campus “Chief Diversity Officers” to corporate human resources departments, to the plaintiff’s bar, to pandering politicians, to the Academy Awards and the like, American culture has acquired an unhealthy obsession with race.

In a society where actual racism is universally condemned and utterly marginalized, new offenses have been invented: microaggression, unconscious racism, white privilege. And with the new offenses, new solutions: trigger warnings, safe spaces, speech codes. The new goal? To create a utopian society where equality of outcome across all races is achieved. That is impossible, which is perhaps the point. No industry wants to solve its reason for existing.

Demographics favor an inclusive definition of “White.”

The good news, however, is this entire paradigm of race and ethnicity as the defining issue of the left-of-center establishment is about to collapse, for a reason the race careerists are not expecting and will not be able to counter. Quite simply put, the “White” race is assimilating “people of color” at breathtaking speed. Not just culturally, but genetically.

In 2015, over 17 percent of marriages in America were across “racial” lines. It is the reality of ethnic intermarriage that will add critical weight to the conservative argument for cultural assimilation, just as intermarriage in America between immigrants of various European ethnicities propelled cultural assimilation ala the “melting pot” in previous centuries.

Earlier this year, the Washington Post published a fascinating article entitled “The Demise of the White Majority is a Myth.” They write: “Under a more expansive definition that counts as white anyone who so identifies (even if they also identify with another race or ethnicity), the white population is not declining; it’s flourishing. The Census Bureau’s inclusive projections show a white population in excess of 70 percent of the total for the foreseeable future.”

This observation, backed up by demographic data, provides abundant reasons for optimism. As the Washington Post author puts it: “Projections of racial demographics should reflect the great changes in the meaning of race in America. But stories about the impending demise of white America are rooted in outmoded notions of racial exclusivity. These stories of white decline obscure the ongoing changes to America’s color line, and they serve only to divide.”

Watch out, professional race hustlers. Your entire livelihood is “rooted in outmoded notions of racial exclusivity.”

The next great American era of assimilation could be just around the corner

Based on demographic data as cited by the Washington Post, when one uses the inclusive definition of white, America is destined to remain around 75% white for decades to come. Using any other definition renders unsustainable the Leftist strategy of identity politics. How can they continue to carve out preferential treatment for “people of color,” if nearly everyone is mostly “White,” yet qualifies? And if they use a more exclusive definition of White, where will they draw the line? What would stop Elizabeth Warren copycats from litigiously demanding they too receive preferential treatment? The current system of racial redress via racial quotas across all aspects of American life is going to collapse of its own weight.

The hopeful reality that Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren, in very different ways, has propelled America towards is new wave of American cultural assimilation. Trump because he was the raging bull in the china shop of political correctness. Warren because she exemplifies the absurdity of race based career opportunism.

The alternative to identity politics is unity politics. Affirmation of a trans-racial, 21st century American melting pot where conservative and libertarian values, derived from Western traditions, are overwhelmingly accepted and protected. And contrary to conventional wisdom, another great wave of American assimilation may be in the offing.

Demographics are indeed destiny, and America’s current demographic trends point to a future where White lineage is predominant in so many people who also have a lessor percentage of “non-White” heredity, that these millions of Americans will embrace their American heritage. They will reject special preferences for themselves or anyone else, and celebrate American history and traditions with the same fervor as the great waves of ethnic immigrants who arrived over a century ago from Southern and Eastern Europe.

“It’s ok to be White.” Absolutely. Because “White” is destined to become an ethnically inclusive term, devoid of divisive connotations. Chief Diversity Officers may wish to find a new line of work, along with all those minions of overpaid bureaucrats they manage.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

Did California save Ted Cruz?

ap_ted-cruz_ap-photo-3-640x426Chuck DeVore is just one of thousands of former Californians who have moved to Texas. But DeVore is unique. Not only did he serve in the California Assembly, but he remains heavily engaged in policy issues as Vice President of National Initiatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a free market think tank based in Austin.

DeVore is a frequent guest on national television shows to speak on economic issues, including how progressive policies suppress economic growth. Moreover, he has firsthand experience with the movement of people and money between the two economic titans, California and Texas.

The migration of businesses from California to Texas is well-documented. Big names, like Charles Schwab, Campbell’s Soup, Burger King, Waste Management and other billion-dollar businesses severed their California connections for Lone Star liberty. In fact, it was entertaining to watch the sparring between then-Texas Governor Rick Perry — who frequented California to poach businesses from California — and the Golden State’s own Jerry Brown who tried to portray Texas as hick-country governed by a buffoon.

More than just businesses, it is people who have left California in numbers significantly larger than those coming in from other states. From 2007 to 2016, California has experienced net domestic out-migration of a million citizens, and the number-one destination? You guessed it. Texas. Of course, that doesn’t mean that California has lost population, in fact it has gained. But those gains have come from immigration – both documented and otherwise — and new births.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Gov. Brown Will Defend Public Pension Reform Dec. 5

SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 27:  California Governor Jerry Brown announces his public employee pension reform plan October 27, 2011 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California.  Gov. Brown proposed 12 major reforms for state and local pension systems that he claims would end abuses and reduce taypayer costs by billions of dollars.  (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

As he requested, Gov. Brown will get a chance before leaving office to defend a public employee union challenge to his pension reform that some think could result in a ruling allowing pension cuts.

The state Supreme Court yesterday announced oral arguments scheduled Dec. 5 in Los Angeles on a firefighter appeal to allow employees to continue boosting their pensions by purchasing up to five years of “airtime,” credit for years in which they did no work.

If the court finds airtime is a vested right, the court could modify the “California rule” that prevents cuts in the pensions of current workers, limiting most cost-cutting reforms to new unvested hires, which can take decades to yield significant savings.

The airtime case, Cal Fire Local 2881 vs. CalPERS, one of five similar challenges to the pension reform, was fully briefed last January. Brown’s legal office replaced the state attorney general in the defense of the airtime ban.

“As the end of Governor Brown’s term in office draws closer, we respectfully urge the Court to calendar this matter for argument as soon as possible,” the governor’s legal affairs office said in a letter to the Supreme Court last July 6.

The Supreme Court said in September that Cal Fire oral arguments might be held as soon as November. The arguments on Dec. 5 are during the last regularly scheduled week of oral arguments before Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom is sworn in Jan. 7.

“This move was animated in large part by Governor Brown’s deep concern for the fiscal integrity and solvency of public pension systems throughout the state,” said the governor’s legal office letter in July, referring to taking over defense of the reform.

“It was the same concern that motivated him to help develop the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013, and sign it into law,” said the letter.

Brown has left a seat vacant on the seven-member Supreme Court for a record 14 months. Former Supreme Court Justice Kathryn Werdegar gave notice in March last year that she would retire in August.

If no appointment is made before Dec. 5, a key vote on pension reform could come from one of the rotating appeals court justices brought up to hear more than 100 cases so far.

The six current members of the Supreme Court are evenly split between three appointees made by Brown, a Democrat, and three appointees made by former Republican governors.

“It’s not something I want to do too quickly,” Brown said in January, one of his few publicly reported remarks about the vacancy. “It’s very important now. I have appointed three. The fourth could be very decisive. So I want to understand how that decisivness should work.”

Among the speculation is that Brown may appoint an aide he wants to retain as long as possible, wanted a four-year delay in a retention election for the new election by waiting past the September deadline for the ballot this month, or may appoint his wife Anne Gust Brown.

The California rule has been cited as courts overturned several cost-cutting pension reforms approved by voters. For example, a Pacific Grove limit on payments to CalPERS in 2010 and a San Francisco ban on supplemental pension payments in 2011.

In 2012, a superior court overturned a key part of a San Jose measure approved by 69 percent of voters that would have cut the cost of pensions that current workers earn for future work, while protecting pension amounts already earned.

The plan pushed by former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, would have given current workers the option of paying more to continue earning the same pension, up to 16 percent of pay, or choosing a less costly pension that would pay less in retirement.

A superior court overturned the option citing the California rule, a series of state court decisions believed to mean the pension promised at hire becomes a “vested right,” protected by contract law, that can only be cut if offset by a comparable new benefit, erasing cost savings.

Reed, now on the board of the bipartisan Retirement Security Initiative pension reform group, said pensions have been losing ground. CalPERS had a debt or funded liability of $90 billion in 2012, when the Brown reform legislation was approved, and $138 billion in 2016.

He said five different lawyers have filed five friend-of-the court briefs outlining five different approaches to modifying the California rule. One of the questions in the Cal Fire case is whether the Supreme Court will rule on vested rights and the California rule.

The Supreme Court summary says the Cal Fire case presents two issues: 1) Was the option to purchase airtime a vested pension benefit (2) and if so, did the legislation ending airtime purchases violate the contracts clause of the state and federal constitutions?

If the court finds that airtime is not a vested benefit, the court might also decide there is no need to rule on whether the airtime ban violates the contracts clauses and the California rule.

“This is the California State Supreme Court and this is a real big issue, and I would be very surprised if they didn’t take the opportunity to be more expansive than narrow,” Reed, a lawyer, said yesterday. “But I’m only guessing.”

Gregg Adam, a Messing Adam & Jasmine attorney for Cal Fire, said “our client is excited that oral argument is scheduled,” and the case has been extensively briefed by the parties and friends of the court.

“A narrow ruling is certainly possible,” Adam said in an email. “The Governor argues additional retirement service credit is not the type of pension benefit that the California Rule protects. If the Court agrees with him, the opinion will be short.

“We hope the Court reaches the larger issue. The benefit was integral to employees’ retirement security. It also encouraged diversity and education in state service. So we think it falls squarely within the category of benefits protected by the California Rule.

“The California Supreme Court has led on this issue and, especially at this time, we’re going to encourage it to continue to do so.

“With respect to Alameda, the Court will determine when it is ready to resolve the issues in that case, which may or may not be affected by any ruling in Cal Fire.”

Alameda County Deputy Sheriff’s Assn. v. Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Assn. was consolidated with similar Contra Costa and Merced county cases challenging a part of the reform that prevents “spiking” by boosting the final pay on which pensions are based.

The Supreme Court designated the Alameda case as the lead for three other similar cases challenging parts of the governor’s reform. The governor’s office had no comment yesterday on the pension cases.

Reporter Ed Mendel covered the Capitol in Sacramento for nearly three decades, most recently for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

California’s Voters Approve New Taxes and Reject Tax Repeal

Although hundreds of election results remain to be decided across California, thanks to millions of vote-by-mail ballots still being counted, we can already project with reasonable accuracy the total amount voters approved in new taxes and borrowing. At the local level, new taxes nearly always are approved by voters. In 2016, out of 224 local tax proposals, voters approved 71 percent, adding $2.9 billion in new taxes. As shown on the table, if a similar percentage of November 6, 2018 local tax measures are approved by voters, California’s taxpayers will be providing local governments with another $1.6 billion per year.

Total Estimated New Annual Taxes Approved by California Voters, November 2018

$=Millions

While these new local taxes add billions – over time, tens of billions – of additional burden on California’s already beleaguered taxpayers, state ballot measures often offer even more significant tax increases. This November, voters turned down an opportunity, via Prop. 6, to eliminate an estimated five billion in new gasoline taxes. In all, California’s voters enabled another $6.1 billion in annual taxes, in a state that already has among the highest overall tax rates in the U.S.

California’s Total New Debt

The impact of new taxes is immediate. Rates go up, revenues increase, and government budgets swell. Compared to taxes, the impact of bonds is greater in the long run, but harder to recognize. In reality, bonds are just deferred taxes. From a financial perspective, it would almost be preferable to use taxes to fund many projects that currently rely on borrowing, because at least taxpayers would only be paying principal, and not interest. For example, if you assume 3 percent inflation, the present value of the payments on a $1.0 billion bond (5% interest, 30 year term) is $1.3 billion. That is, in real dollars, using a typical example, bond financing costs taxpayers 30 percent more than paying for services using operating funds. But the seduction of borrowing is hard to resist: big money today, while mortgaging tomorrow.

Total Estimated New Borrowing (incl. Annual Payments) Approved by California Voters November 2018

$=Millions

As it is, this November, voters mortgaged a lot of tomorrows. And as always, the big money in the case of new bonds was almost all local. In 2016, of the 193 new local bond measures, voters approved a whopping 94 percent of them. This added $32 billion in new debt, equating to an estimated $2.1 billion in new annual principal and interest payments. As shown on the table, if a similar percentage of November 6, 2018 local bond measures are approved by voters, California’s taxpayers will owe another $15.5 billion. The principal and interest payments on this new debt will cost taxpayers another $1.0 billion per year.

At the statewide level, despite rejecting Prop. 1, the water bond, voters approved three new major state bond measures totaling $6.5 billion. Adding that to the likely $15.5 billion in local bonds, Californians this November will have added $23.0 billion in debt, costing $1.5 billion per year in annual payments of principal and interest.

California’s Total Accumulated Debt

Who was it that said, “a billion here, and a billion there, and pretty soon we’re talking about serious money”? That would describe California’s total state and local government debt. When you look at what constitutes California’s total debt, accumulated over decades, it puts the relentless drive for higher taxes into context. The next table summarizes California’s total debt, as estimated by California Policy Center researchers Marc Joffe and William Fletcher in a 2017 study entitled “California’s Total State and Local Debt Totals $1.3 Trillion.”

Added in column two of this table is the estimated annual payments on this debt. As can be seen, the conventional debt – bonds, loans, and other contractual debt – paid back over 30 years at an interest rate of 5 percent, is costing California’s taxpayers $27.7 billion per year. Add to that, of course, annual payments of another $1.5 billion on new debt approved by voters earlier this week. But it’s in the unfunded liabilities for public employee retirement benefits where truly serious money burdens California’s taxpayers.

California’s Total Estimated State and Local Government Debt 2018

$=Billions

The story of how California’s taxpayers ended up on the hook for unfunded retirement pension liabilities easily in excess of a half-trillion dollars defies glib explanations. Anyone wanting to dig deep into California’s public sector pensions is encouraged to read the California Policy Center primer “Resources for Pension Reformers” and click on the many links for in-depth analyses of this complex topic. Simply put, an unfunded pension liability is the difference between the assets being managed by a pension fund at any time, and the present value of all promised future payments to retirees and active workers that have been earned up to that same point in time.

Over nearly three decades, some critical mistakes were made in California’s public employee pension fund management. Pension benefits were increased, again and again, by politicians eager to curry favor with public employee unions, but didn’t want to blow their current year budgets by granting salary concessions. Instead, they sweetened future pension benefits which did not incur significant immediate costs. Then the required annual costs to fund pensions were underestimated. Rates of return on invested pension fund assets were overestimated. Life expectancies were underestimated. And as the assets of California’s state and local pension systems began to fall well behind the value of their liabilities, creative accounting was employed to understate the amounts needed to reduce that debt.

Because of all these unknowns, there is a wide range of estimates of California’s total public sector pension debt. At the least it totals over a quarter trillion; at most, about triple that amount. This much is reasonably certain: if there is an economic downturn, and if pension benefits aren’t further reduced, it is likely that payments on pension debt will need to be in excess of $50 billion per year. In all, absent reforms and an epic continuation of the bull market, Californians are likely to be paying over $90 billion per year on state and local government debt. More than half of that will be to pay down unfunded pension liabilities.

The Public Sector’s Insatiable Desire for More Money

It is impossible to view California’s relentless pattern of tax increases apart from its public sector pension crisis, which is just beginning. Currently, the estimated annual payments on unfunded pension liabilities in California is estimated at $17 billion. Imagine the impact of that amount soaring to $55 billion. Just based on modest adjustments to the assumptions governing projections of pension solvency, and based on official announcements already made by California’s largest pension fund, CalPERS, the ongoing (normal costs for pension benefits earned in the current year by active workers) plus the unfunded payments for pensions are estimated to rise from $31 billion in 2017 to $59 billion by 2024. No tax increase, anywhere so far, not even all of them added up, are sufficient to cover this shortfall.

If analysts find California’s looming pension funding crisis alarming, public employees who receive these pensions find it terrifying. That’s why, when a new local tax or bond measure is on the ballot, local governments use taxpayer funds to engage in “information campaigns” aimed at their voters that come very close to being political advocacy. Sometimes they cross that line. After such activities in support of a local sales tax increase in Los Angeles County, the California Fair Political Practices Commission found cause to charge the county, as well as the individual members of the Board of Supervisors, with 15 counts of campaign finance violations.

Californians had a chance to apply vigorous pressure to its elected officials by passing Prop. 6, which would have repealed the gasoline tax. That repeal would have cost state and local governments $5.0 billion per year. Why wouldn’t Californians seize an opportunity to lower what are the highest gas taxes in the U.S.? The answer reveals more about California’s public sector, and their desperate need for more revenue.

Earlier today and in the aftermath of the Nov. 6th election, Carl DeMaio, a former member of the San Diego City Council, who launched the Prop. 6 campaign, described the tactics of the opposition. California’s attorney general is responsible for reviewing ballot initiatives and approving the final wording of these initiatives as they appear on the ballot. According to DeMaio, rather than objectively describing the intent of Prop. 6, which was to repeal the new gasoline tax, his department used focus group research to compile a title and summary for the initiative that was worded in a manner more likely to get people to vote no. But it didn’t end there.

Not only is California’s attorney general alleged to have doctored the language of Prop. 6 to draw down voter support, California’s public sector unions spent millions on an opposition campaign. Overall, the opposition to Prop. 6 spent $50 million on their campaign, compared to only $2.6 million spent by its proponents.

Even in California, $50 million buys a lot of airtime. Lost on California voters, sadly, was the irony of a veteran firefighter who made $324,000 in 2017, serving as the main television spokesperson opposed to Prop. 6 which would have lowered taxes. California’s public sector unions collect and spend at least $800 million per year. They can, quite literally, spend as much as they need to spend to defeat candidates and propositions that do not favor their own interests.

Why don’t California’s voters and policymakers overcome high taxes and an unaffordable cost of living? Partly it’s due to the grip that public sector unions have on politicians, which prevents the state legislature from ever getting spending under control. Partly it’s the lack of any effective opposition, since the supposedly tax averse Republican party in California is a hollow shell, lacking on-the-ground infrastructure, strong candidates, or a shared and compelling political agenda. Saddest of all, it’s because the media in California is entirely unwilling to make the connection between public sector compensation, the power of public sector unions, and the punitive taxes and living costs that are its consequences.

This article was originally published by the California Policy Center