Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Richard Rider Rant 6/9/09

1. Liberal bias and censorship in college classrooms? Imagine that!

2. Global warming is GOOD, not bad

3. Interactive map of California Props 1A-1F May votes by county

4. Prop 13 property tax revenue has soared above inflation and population growth – and doesn’t go down

5. Tech Corner – Free cell phone text messaging from your computer

6. Finally! Police crack down on charity gambling for the needy. America is saved.

7. Our federal debt obligation jumps 12% in 2008

8. CA proposes 47% of the total states’ tax/fee increases this year

9. Government allocating water usage has failed California

10. Ignore Big Business calls for higher taxes – even THEY don’t believe it’s a good idea

11. World is globally warming. No . . . wait . . . .

12. Firefighters push local tax increases, but seldom have to pay them

13. Final proof that public employee pensions are too high – and the opposition knows it

14. Here’s my latest, updated “Breaking Bad” report on CA

15. A perfect example of what would happen in California without two-thirds rule on taxes, budget

16. Tax Foundation compares CA to national average from 1977 through 2008

17. Tipping, minimum wage and the resulting misallocation of resources

18. Solar electric finally makes sense – at taxpayer expense

19. Rider heading to Baltic Sea to save Europeans from themselves

1. Liberal bias and censorship in college classrooms? Imagine that!

RIDER COMMENT: David Horowitz has written a lot about the liberal/statist bias in the collegiate classroom. His latest book seems to carry that expose’ forward, with excellent examples. The article (link below) lauding his book is a bit long for my rant, but I do recommend you give it a gander (not exactly sure what that term means). Here’s the URL:


Over the years speaking on San Diego area college campuses, I have found that, on this issue, Horowitz has it right. As I mentioned in a recent rant, I recently was appalled by the list of the “seminars” at Grossmont Community College’s “Political Economy Week.” I was the sole speaker from a limited government perspective. Many of the other seminars sounded like the curriculum at a Cambodian Pol Pot re-education camp. It is rare that I’m invited to speak on such campuses, even though I deliver a boffo speech filled with facts and references – delivered with wit and charm.

BTW, modesty is not my strong point.

That being said, will speak for food. Keep that in mind when next looking for a titillating entertainer at an feeding event.

2. Global warming is GOOD, not bad

RIDER COMMENT: Well, all things in moderation, of course. We don’t want to fry or freeze.

Still, given a choice, some global warming likely is a LOT better than some cooling.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not conceding that the earth is getting warmer. It seems to have plateaued or cooled a bit these past ten years, but the debate will continue.

Nor am I conceding that man’s activities on our planet are the primary, or even a significant factor in “climate change.” Maybe yes, but likely no.

It’s the third question that merits more consideration – Is global warming necessarily a bad thing? Not if you live in Canada!

At any rate, here’s a provocative article ruminating about this matter. Food for thought.


May. 24, 2009

If earth were warming, it would save a lot of lives

First, if the earth was warming at a rate of about 1 or even 2 degrees per century in recent decades, there are reasons to believe that's slowed or stopped. One of those reasons is that the "global warming" fanatics have abruptly shifted their rhetoric, adopting instead the new nonsense euphemism "climate change."

This is a clear attempt at inoculation: If it turns out the globe is indeed cooling again, they will merely take their same pre-set, ulterior agenda -- huge energy tax hikes to finance bigger government, cripple capitalism and destroy the freedom-giving automobile, instead forcing everyone to pile like lemmings into mass transit -- and declare that an identical agenda is now needed to fight "global cooling." And we dare not lose any time in debate! Hee-haw!

Furthermore, even if the earth did warm a bit in recent decades, there's no reason to believe man's activities played a substantial role. Carbon dioxide is not a particularly effective greenhouse gas, nor the most prevalent. (Water vapor is.) The amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide generated by man's activities is infinitesimal.

And third, even if the earth is warming and mankind somehow contributed to the process, no regulations promulgated by the U.S. government can have any useful impact, because the U.S. government has no authority over the activities of fast-industrializing India and China, where new coal-fired generators come on line weekly.

But let us, for the sake of argument, stipulate to all three flimsy links in this chain. Let us stipulate that the earth is warming noticeably and will continue to do so; carbon dioxide generated by mankind plays a dominant role in this process; and some set of expensive, Draconian regulations that can be promulgated and enforced by the EPA or a high-handed White House can end or substantially reduce global warming.

OK. We're still left with an important question: Should that be done? That is to say, is there any scientific reason to believe that moderate global warming will do more harm than good to the health and safety of mankind?

And the answer is ... no.

"The maximal increase in atmospheric CO2 from combustion of hydrocarbon fuels cannot harm human health directly," points out Howard Maccabee, Ph.D., M.D., in the November 2008 newsletter of the group he heads, the Tucson-based Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. Rather, the "hypothetical mechanism of harm" now being used to justify EPA intervention under the Clean Air Act is through global warming.

"Many scientists dispute the predictions from the U.N. IPCC computer models," Dr. Maccabee notes. However -- here's the killer -- "even if the models are correct, warming would be a net benefit to human health. Hence the EPA has no legitimate authority to regulate CO2 emissions."

The doctor then proceeds to spell that out.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (a political organization) gives an average temperature increase of 4.5 Centigrade as a worst-case scenario. There is historical precedent for increases of this magnitude, Dr. Maccabee points out. Stalagmite proxies in South Africa indicate increases of up to 4 C in the Medieval Warm Period (formerly called the Medieval Climate Optimum). Because of the urban heat island effect, large cities have shown temperature increases as much as 3 C (e.g. Tokyo 1876-2004) to 4 C (New York City 1822-2000). We thus have data to evaluate
the health effects of climate change.

In 1995, Thomas Gale Moore published the first of his pioneering efforts, "Why Global Warming Would be Good for You," and in 1998, "Health and Amenity Effects of Global Warming." He estimated that a temperature increase of 2.5 C in the United States would cause a drop of 40,000 deaths per year from respiratory and circulatory disease, based on U.S. mortality statistics as a function of monthly climate change. Two other studies, one by the Eurowinter Group in 1997 and one in 2000 by the British Medical Journal -- hardly a fringe of flaky publication -- examined mortality as a function of mean daily temperature.

In 2006, A.J. McMichael et al. assume, in "Climate Change and Human Health: Present and Future Risks," that the maximum daily mortality in higher temperature periods will be equal to or greater than the maximum mortality in cold periods, resulting in heat-related deaths increasing far more than the lives saved by warming of the cold periods. But "this hypothesis is inconsistent with U.S. data showing that mortality due to
cardiac, vascular and respiratory disease in winter is seven times greater than in summer," Dr. Maccabee and Doctors for Disaster Preparedness now report. "This ratio is about nine to 10 in Europe, from the data of Keatinge, et al."

In early 2008, a United Kingdom Department of Health study found that there was no increase in heat-related deaths from 1971 to 2002, despite warming in summers, suggesting that the UK population is adapting to warmer conditions. But cold-related mortality fell by more than a third in all regions. The overall trend in mortality for the warming from 1971 to 2002 was beneficial.

"The data from the Eurowinter Group (Lancet 1997) on mortality versus temperature can be used for a quantitative estimate of mortality benefits from warming," Doctors for Disaster Preparedness conclude. "This would lead to an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 fewer deaths in the U.S. per year for a 1-degree C temperature rise. This can be compared to 30,000 deaths per year from breast cancer, 30,000 for prostate cancer, or about 40,000 from motor vehicle accidents."

Global warming (if it were happening) would save lives – lots of them. The "climate change" we should really worry about is the next Ice Age, which could see everything north of Columbus, Ohio, covered by an ice shelf a mile thick.

Do the global warming fanatics think we can prevent that by burning lots of coal and putting lots of miles on our SUVs? If so, shouldn't we start right now, just in case?

Meantime, can someone explain again why Barack Obama gets to play commander in chief of the auto industry, wave his magic wand, and declare that an industry already in bankruptcy will have to charge an extra $1,500 per vehicle to limit carbon dioxide emissions to "fight global warming" ... when it turns out global warming would save human lives?

The full text of Dr. Maccabee's comments, together with figures and references, are posted at www.ddponline.org.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the books "Send in the Waco Killers" and "The Black Arrow." See www.vinsuprynowicz.com/ and http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/vin/

© Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1997 - 2009

3. Interactive map of California Props 1A-1F May votes by county

RIDER COMMENT: I like this interactive map of the votes in the May special election. Try it, you’ll find it illuminating – and impressively presented. The LA TIMES did something right!

The facts are interesting. ALL counties voted down Prop 1A. Even San Francisco, which really should be a country unto itself.


4. Prop 13 property tax revenue has soared above inflation and population growth – and doesn’t go down

RIDER COMMENT: Below are two succinct comments I’ve put together to “copy and paste” into any discussion of Prop 13. I can go online where an article has run, and quickly post up these two insights inside a couple minutes. I’m terrorizing newspapers throughout the state with this. Feel free to do the same on websites, stop signs and other posting locations.

Prop 13 is no problem at all -- except for profligate spenders.

Take my San Diego County. Please.

According to the SD County Tax Assessor, in 1977 -- the year BEFORE Prop 13 took effect -- our countywide property tax revenue was about $639 million. For this 30 June concluding 2008-2009 fiscal year, our county assessor is projecting revenues of $4.656 BILLION. For every property tax dollar collected in 1977, the county today collects $7.29.

During that time frame, our county population has grown about 83%, and inflation has gone up about 260%. Hence property tax revenues today are substantially higher than the bloated PRE-Prop 13 year, even after adjusting for inflation and population growth.


It turns out that property tax revenue is FAR more stable than our other forms of tax revenue. Income tax revenue is plunging, and sales tax revenue is dropping.

But property tax revenue seldom goes down AT ALL. Since Prop 13, San Diego County property tax revenue has ALWAYS gone up – every year.

Even this year. The SD County Assessor reports that total property tax revenue for this fiscal year ending June 30 is UP 0.9%. If you look at just the pure real estate property tax revenue (ignoring the “supplemental property tax” revenue which is not subject to Prop 13 limitations), real estate property tax revenue this year is up 4.1%. Not one person in a thousand knows this – the press has not (yet) covered this amazing fact.

Revenue is up because the structure or Prop 13 has the little-known added benefit of smoothing out real estate property tax revenue from year to year. Most properties this year (generally those purchased prior to 2003) had their property tax go up 2%. Add to that the resales, property improvements and new structures (which establish new tax assessment levels), and the revenue grew in spite of the downturn.

Next year, in this real estate collapse, a mild drop in the order of 2%-4% in total property tax revenue is projected by our county assessor. Given our dramatic economic decline, this is an incredibly small drop, coming in the fourth year of a real estate meltdown.

5. Tech Corner – Free cell phone text messaging from your computer

RIDER COMMENT: I’m not a real cell phone user. I have one, and carry it once in a while when appropriate. Old dogs, new tricks, etc.

[An unimportant aside – I use an OLD cell phone that may not even text (don’t know). But I have a GREAT phone plan that is no longer offered, though it is grandfathered for me. NO MONTHLY FEE, but a very high 35 cents a minute usage (first minute free on incoming). As a nonuser, I’ve saved many thousands of dollars vs. monthly plans. Sprint offered it many years ago in only six cities to celebrate their entry into the cell phone business, and I grabbed it. For most cell phone users, it’s a lousy plan – but perfect for me.

If you use a cell phone as seldom as I do, consider getting a prepaid phone. Not perfect (prepaid minutes expire after a couple months), but far cheaper than the conventional cell phone plans.]

But I digress.

In this day and age, the cell phone is the fastest, most reliable way of reaching many people – especially essentially all younger people. Yet even those who do use cell phones often find texting a challenge. Young people can easily send text messages while having sex in the shower, but for the older generation, this is not something we do well (text messaging).

What most people don’t know is that they can send text messages to cell phones from their computer – for free. I know you use a computer – otherwise, you couldn’t read this!

Here’s the deal – each cell phone company has a format for receiving email text messages for their phone customers via email. They then instantly forward them to their customer as a phone text message. Each cell phone number is the basis for the email text address.

For instance, to send to AT&T cell phone users, the format is:

AT&T (formerly Cingular)
[10-digit phone number]@txt.att.net
[10-digit phone number]@mms.att.net (MMS)
[10-digit phone number]@cingularme.com
Example: 1234567890@txt.att.net

For a rather complete list of cell phone companies and their email text messaging formats, go to:

http://tinyurl.com/7ozcc7 or http://www.emailtextmessages.com/

For repetitive use, just enter a person’s proper email text address in your address book. Then text away.

Remember the 160 character limitation on text messages – you might want to delete your “signature” off the bottom of your email in such circumstances.

Two other advantages of “texting” from the computer:

A. You have a copy of your text message retained in your “sent” folder. That can be helpful from time to time.

B. You can easily address a message to both a person's computer email and text email address. That enhances the probability it will be read in a timely fashion. Warning – overuse of multiple addresses ticks off recipients.

See, if you dig deep down into my rants, you’ll find a nugget once in a while.

6. Finally! Police crack down on charity gambling for the needy. America is saved.

RIDER COMMENT: Government protects us all from such organized crime activities. Beware – you degenerate criminal types – including you Friday night poker players hiding in your homes. You know who you are.


May 29, 2009

Charity Poker Game Raided By Police
Money Seized At Event

BUXTON, Maine -- Buxton police raided a building where people were trying to raise money to give free food to the needy.

It happened at the Narragansett Pythian Sisters Temple on Route 22 where people were playing the card game Texas Hold'em to benefit the Buxton Community Food Co-op.

But state police said the game was illegal.

That's because whenever a gambling tournament is held to raise money for a group and takes place at its headquarters, a permit is needed and the co-op didn't have one.

So, state police seized cards, poker chips and $500 in cash -- money the food co-op desperately needed.

A member of the co-op, Joann Grader, said she is very, very sad about what happened.

"We've had a lot of people who come here -- people who are out of work, people who have cancer. We have a lot of people," said Groder.

But state police are standing by what was done.

"In this particular case they weren't licensed, and they knew they weren't and they knew they needed one," said Lt. David Bowler of the Maine State Police.

The money from the co-op's card game is currently being held as evidence while the investigation continues.

Groder now plans to hold a pot roast dinner to raise money for the co-op.

Copyright 2009 by WMTW

7. Our federal debt obligation jumps 12% in 2008

RIDER COMMENT: Below is an update on our average household increase in debt for the year 2008, due to federal commitments. Note that this does NOT include much of the massive increase in “stimulus” deficit spending under Bush, nor any of the even BIGGER deficit spending in 2009 by Obama. And, of course, it does not include state and local debts from unfunded and underfunded employee benefit obligations, plus other de facto debt obligations opposed by California politicians.

We are leaving our children a shameful legacy.

NCPA Summary:


(from) USA TODAY


Taxpayers are on the hook for an extra $55,000 a household to cover rising federal commitments made just in the past year for retirement benefits, the national debt and other government promises, a USA Today analysis shows.

Social Security:

  • Social Security will grow by 1 million to 2 million beneficiaries a year from 2008 through 2032, up from 500,000 a year in the 1990s, its actuaries say.
  • Average benefit: $12,089 in 2008.


  • More than 1 million a year will enroll starting in 2011 when the first Baby Boomer turns 65.
  • Average 2008 benefit: $11,018.

Retirement programs:

  • Congress has not set aside money to pay military and civil servant pensions or health care for retirees.
  • These unfunded obligations have increased an average of $300 billion a year since 2003 and now stand at $5.3 trillion.

The 12 percent rise in red ink in 2008 stems from an explosion of federal borrowing during the recession, plus an aging population driving up the costs of Medicare and Social Security. That's the biggest leap in the long-term burden on taxpayers since a Medicare prescription drug benefit was added in 2003. The latest increase raises federal obligations to a record $546,668 per household in 2008. That's quadruple what the average U.S. household owes for all mortgages, car loans, credit cards and other debt combined.

"We have a huge implicit mortgage on every household in America -- except, unlike a real mortgage, it's not backed up by a house," says David Walker, former U.S. comptroller general, the government's top auditor.

Source: Dennis Cauchon, "Leap in U.S. debt hits taxpayers with 12% more red ink," USA Today, May 29, 2009.

For full text of article:


8. CA proposes 47% of the total states’ tax/fee increases this year

RIDER COMMENT: New unpleasant factoid for my continuously updated "Breaking Bad" document. You’ll find my updated article, suitable for framing (or forwarding), later in this rant.

To offset lower state revenues, 29 states are proposing 2009 state tax and fee increases totaling $24 billion. California, with 12% of the nation’s population, is proposing 47% of that increase (6/5/09).


9. Government allocating water usage has failed California

RIDER COMMENT: Our California water “shortage” is really a water MISALLOCATION problem, caused by a commodity doled out by POLITICAL criteria rather than economic criteria. Central planning doesn’t work.

It results in the madness of growing rice in the Sacramento Delta. We grow the wrong crops in CA (such as alfalfa) due to artificially low water prices to farmers.

Sacramento homes STILL don’t pay for water usage by volume – they have been paying a low flat fee, and then are free to use as much water as they want. Madness!

In the early 1990’s the state passed a law that homes were REQURED to have water meters installed. Sacramento homeowners and their water district followed the law to the letter – installing the required meters. But they never ACTIVATED the meters – they still pay a flat rate for water (last time I checked).

Here’s a synopsis of an article about private water allocation.


10. Ignore Big Business calls for higher taxes – even THEY don’t believe it’s a good idea

RIDER COMMENT: For taxpayers, Big Business is too often our second biggest taxpayer opponent – after the public employee labor unions. Sad but true.

But MOST businesses benefit from lower taxes. Sadly, big business lobbying groups such as the California Taxpayers Association too frequently are playing footsie with the politicians, trying to curry favor to curb business regulation.

Bottom line: Ignore any call by Big Business for tax increases. Even THEY know it’s a bad idea (except for the government contracting firms who profit mightily from such spending increases). Here’s a good article discussing this:



Jon Coupal, President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

June 1, 2009

The phrase “feeding the alligators” is a metaphor about the dangers of appeasement. One may be able to buy temporary peace by feeding a threatening alligator, but the problem is that the alligator will, sooner or later, get hungry again. And because it was previously fed, it is now larger and more dangerous.

Regrettably, the California business community has often chosen to feed the ever growing alligator of government when it comes to important political battles. Thirty-one years ago, California business interests were united in their opposition to Proposition 13 due to fear that if homeowners received tax relief, the Legislature would try to make up the difference by raising levies on them. For short term protection for themselves, business was willing to feed average taxpayers and homeowners to the alligator.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. More than three decades after the passage of Proposition 13, these same interests were donating millions of dollars to the campaign to pass Proposition 1A, which would have meant a tax increase of $16 billion of mostly regressive taxation falling on regular folks. Why? Gary Toebben, chief executive of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, summed it up best. “We’re concerned that if this doesn’t pass, the Legislature will come back and pass taxes that are more targeted toward business,” he told the Los Angeles Business Journal.

One notable business exception in the battle over Proposition 1A was the National Federation of Independent Business, which was strongly opposed. But then this organization represents thousands of smaller businesses that are more in touch with the concerns of most California taxpayers.

The divergence between grassroots taxpayer interests and business interests over Proposition 1A is ironic in that, logically, ordinary taxpayers and business should be marching in the same direction. Unlike the labor interests, taxpayers recognize that business provides jobs and income to most in our state. When business succeeds, the state prospers and, as an additional bonus, more tax revenue pours into state coffers to provide essential services.

Thinking taxpayers don’t want to see additional burdens on California businesses. They know that increased business costs are eventually passed along to consumers or result in lower wages and benefits. Average taxpayers are usually sympathetic to the “job killer” arguments frequently advanced by California business organizations.

Several recent surveys rate California is 47th out of 50 – or lower – in business climate. We understand that most business must compete nationally and even internationally, and increases in taxes on business will only accelerate the exodus of business that have come to the conclusion that they must find a more tax friendly environment or close their doors. Any doubts that this threat is genuine are dispelled by almost daily news reports. For example, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. has been advertising in California touting the tax advantages of moving to their state. Already Hewlett-Packard has agreed to build a $260 million dollar data center in Colorado, as the company prepares to shut down its Palo Alto customer support office that employs 800 people.

Despite the usual lack of reciprocity, taxpayers have long history of defending business. When in past years radical tax raisers have pushed splitting the property tax roll so that owners of commercial property would pay higher tax rates, most taxpayers said no.

But here is the real irony. Had Proposition 1A passed, the left of center labor interests would have argued compellingly that Californians don’t mind additional taxes. And, like a larger and hungrier alligator, these powerful interests would be back with a serious push for a split roll, an oil severance tax, a nickel a drink tax and a myriad of business targeted taxes, fees, charges and assessments.

Make no mistake, these labor interests will still make a push for these proposals, but their internal political calculus has been severely altered. Like Governor Schwarzenegger, they too have come to understand that any tax or fee increase is radioactive.

It is the hope of conservatives and grassroots taxpayer advocates that the business community has learned something from this. It is time that all those who believe in free enterprise and limited government stand shoulder to shoulder and stare down the alligator.

11. World is globally warming. No . . . wait . . . .

RIDER COMMENT: Here’s my global warming skeptic selection for this rant. Remain skeptical. And remember, follow the money. Grants go to those who foresee the biggest global “climate change” calamities.



Monday, June 1, 2009

Editorial: Cooling down with global-warming data

U.S. and world temperature records are compromised by monitoring station errors.

An Orange County Register editorial

If fighting global warming may cost the economy $9.6 trillion and more than 1 million lost jobs by 2035, as the Heritage Foundation forecasts, it'd be a good idea to be sure there's a sound basis before making such a massive sacrifice.

We've noted before that climate change is occurring as it always has, but the claim that man-made greenhouse gases will cause catastrophic temperature increases is based on questionable science and projections. Man's contribution to greenhouse gases is minuscule. There are some theories but no convincing proof that increased emissions cause increased temperature.

Now another serious doubt has been raised concerning how much of the 1-degree centigrade increase over the past century allegedly caused by escalating emissions has even occurred.

"We can't know for sure if global warming is a problem if we can't trust the data," said Anthony Watts, veteran broadcast meteorologist, who for three years organized an extensive review of official ground temperature monitoring stations, in conjunction with Dr. Roger Pielke Sr., senior research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and professor emeritus of the Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Colorado.

The study, recently published by the free-market Heartland Institute, inspected 860 of the 1,221 U.S. ground stations that gauge temperature changes. The findings were alarming.

They found 89 percent of stations "fail to meet the National Weather Service's own siting requirements" that say stations must be located at least 100 feet from artificial heat sources.

"We found stations located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering hot rooftops and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat," Mr. Watts reported.

Many stations also had added more sensitive measuring devices, heat-generating radio transmission devices and even latex paint to replace original whitewash, resulting in greater heat retention and reflection.

At one location, Mr. Watts said when he "stood next to the temperature sensor, I could feel warm exhaust air from the nearby cell phone tower equipment sheds blowing past me! I realized this official thermometer was recording the temperature of a hot zone . . . and other biasing influences including buildings, air conditioner vents and masonry."

These influences produce readings higher than actual ambient temperatures, Mr. Watts said. Moreover, the research revealed "major gaps in the data record that were filled in with data from nearby sites, a practice that propagates and compounds errors."

These inflated, error-prone, tinkered-with temperature recordings are one of several measurements cited by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as evidence man-made global warming is a threat. But the Heartland study concluded, "The U.S. temperature record is unreliable. And since the U.S. record is thought to be 'the best in the world,' it follows that the global database is likely similarly compromised and unreliable."

Before devastating the economy to fix a problem that may not exist, we ought to get the numbers right.

12. Firefighters push local tax increases, but seldom have to pay them

RIDER COMMENT: One factor seldom mentioned is that most firefighters don't LIVE in the city that employs them. That's because swapped shifts (working two-three days in a row) they commute to work only 5-8 times a month. Hence they can afford to live a LOT further away from their job than most people, getting more bang for their mortgage with bigger homes in more rural areas.

Not only do most San Diego urban union firefighters not live in the TOWN that employs them -- many do not live in the same COUNTY.

Why is that important? Three reasons come to mind:

A. Firefighters campaign relentlessly for tax increases to pay them higher salaries and bigger pensions. But they and their families often don't PAY the taxes.

B. Their salaries and pensions depart the paying jurisdiction to be spent elsewhere -- made all the more worse if you use the economists' pet "multiplier" effect as a negative impact.

C. By living further away from their employer, off-duty firefighter response times to emergency recalls are too often abysmal. In our two brush fires this decade, sometimes a four man truck could not deploy in a timely manner -- waiting until the last of the four firefighters showed up.

I’m told that the majority of Poway firefighters don’t live in the COUNTY. In La Mesa and National City where sales tax increases were successfully pushed by firefighters, over 85% of those cities’ firefighters live outside the city.

Many San Diego area firefighters live in Temecula and other locations in counties north of us. If there is a fire or earthquake disaster and I-5 and/or I-15 are closed, the delayed recall of these firefighters could have disastrous consequences.

13. Final proof that public employee pensions are too high – and the opposition knows it

RIDER COMMENT: How do you know that California pensions are too high? I mean really, REALLY too high?

Answer: When the SACRAMENTO BEE – a liberal paper that toadies up to the mass of government employees in its readership market – finally puts out an editorial ripping politicians for the fabulous pensions paid to government employees. And when other SAC BEE columnists, long accustomed to defending Big Government, change their tune and seriously question the government employee compensation packages.

There’s been some excellent SAC BEE pieces on this, if I do say so. Way too late, of course, but let’s not be overly critical here. Unfortunately I can’t find them for you to view, but the truth is, by now you’ve heard it all before.

For me, the most interesting aspect is the “comments” section where readers respond. When an article is even mildly critical or even skeptical about government worker whining, within 24-36 hours there are 400 to 700 comments. It’s an amazing, MASSIVE response.

But when you read the responses, it quickly becomes clear that over 80% of the commenters are state government workers. They bury the pro-taxpayer responders in insults, lies and general whining.

Obviously the state employees have developed an electronic call to arms that goes out to their troops. It is DEFINITELY orchestrated.

Even more interesting is WHEN these government workers get on the Internet and blog away with their comments. You guessed it – most do it from work doing the day.

Oddly enough, when I comment – pointing out this fact that I’m paying for their commenting – the excitement level rises on the other side. Then I point out that we can indeed cut legions of government employees, since so many have nothing better to do than surf the Internet while on the clock. THAT sure doesn’t go over well!

With luck, my inflammatory posts are bringing the state bureaucracy to a near standstill, as the drones rage online in response. Method in my madness, there is.

14. Here’s my latest, updated “Breaking Bad” report

RIDER COMMENT: Share this with other Californians. Often.

Remember, I try to keep the latest version posted on my blog site: www.RichardRiderRant.blogspot.com

Breaking Bad: California vs. the Other States

by Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters

Version 1.43 Revised 5 June, 2009

Phone: 858-530-3027 RRider@san.rr.com

Here’s a depressing comparison of California taxes and economic climate with the rest of the states. The news is breaking bad, and getting worse:

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. 8.84%

2009 Business Tax Climate ranks 48th in the nation.

Fourth highest capital gains tax 9.55%


Second highest gasoline tax (58.3 cents) in the nation (April, 2009). When gas is $3.00+/gallon, we are numero uno – because unlike many states, we charge sales tax on gasoline purchases (built into the price).

Fifth highest unemployment rate in the nation. (April, 2009) 11.0%


California’s 2009 “Tax Freedom Day” (the day the average taxpayer stops working for government and start working for oneself) is again the fourth worst date in the nation – up from 28th worst in 1994.


To offset lower state revenues, 29 states are proposing 2009 state tax and fee increases totaling $24 billion. California, with 12% of the nation’s population, is proposing 47% of that increase (6/5/09).


1 in 5 in LA County receiving public aid.

California prison guards highest paid in the nation.

California teachers easily the highest paid in the nation.

http://www.nea.org/home/29402.htm (CA 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 “2008 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 (3/2009). 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. In addition, many California CC students fill out a simple form that exempts them from ANY tuition payment at all.


On top of that, California offers thousands of absolutely free adult continuing education classes – a sop to the upper middle class. In San Diego, over 1,400 classes for everything from baking pastries to ballroom dancing are offered totally at taxpayer expense.


California residential electricity costs an average of 28.7% more than the national average. For industrial use, CA electricity is 48.6% higher than the national average (11/08).


It costs 38% 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 (such as Tiger Woods), 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.

NOTE: If you would like to receive my free periodic “Richard Rider Rant” e-newsletter with more of this type of information and analysis, just drop me an email at RRider@san.rr.com. To see the latest version of this “Breaking Bad” column, plus samples of my free “Richard Rider Rant” e-newsletter, go to my blog at http://www.RichardRiderRant.blogspot.com/.

15. A perfect example of what would happen in California without two-thirds rule on taxes, budget

RIDER COMMENT: The U-T’s Chris Reed has done it again. Here’s a wonderful (well, horrible) example of how our liberal sister state New York fares – with no 2/3 vote restrictions on raising taxes and spending money.

Imagine there was another high-tax large state with a majority Democratic Legislature in which heavily gerrymandered election districts kept incumbents in power no matter how poorly the state was run and where the gerrymander ensured disproportionate influence for public employee unions. This state, like California, also had highly volatile revenue because of a reliance on income and capital gains taxes and a habit of spending the windfall in boom years. In this state, however, unlike California, taxes and budgets could be approved on a simple majority vote.

You don't have to imagine this state. It's real. It's New York. And guess how N.Y. lawmakers dealt with their budget crisis for their 2009-10 fiscal year, which started April 1?

They increased spending by $10 billion! By 8 percent! How did they fund this? Partly with federal aid, but mostly with $8.3 billion from two dozen increases in taxes, fees, surcharges and assessments.

Income taxes were raised on the rich.

A popular state program providing rebates of $200 to $900 to homeowners on their school property taxes was eliminated.

An extra 1 percent tax was added on utility bills.

New taxes were imposed on HMOs and health and auto insurance.

The fee the state charges retailers to sell tobacco was increased by ten-fold or more, depending on the size of the business.

The excise tax on beer and wine went from 11 cents to 14 cents per gallon.

A 5-cent-per-bottle deposit was put on plastic water bottles.

Fees to register cars and boats and to get a driver's, hunting or fishing license all went up.

There are more, but the point is obvious. Taxes and taxes disguised as fees were raised with reckless zest -- even in the middle of a deep recession. Even as state unemployment soared. Even as budget analysts decried gimmicks, unaddressed structural problems and such outrages as including $170 million for lawmakers' pork earmarks.

But what a minute -- didn't Gov. David Paterson describe the budget as a tough spending plan that made difficult choices and required "shared sacrifice"? Sure he did. That's why he announced plans for 8,500 layoffs in March. How many state employees has he actually laid off nearly three months later? Zero.

Here's the analysis of George J. Marlin, a veteran New York journalist and author of two books about the state's politics:

The governor's claim that there is "shared sacrifice" is ludicrous. While public employees in California, Ohio, Vermont, Delaware and other states are accepting wage cuts, raise freezes and furloughs, no such sacrifices are being made by New York state employees. Paterson not only gave large raises to his staff, there's a $145 million reserve in the budget to pay retroactive salary increases to unionized workers negotiating contracts with the state. Medicaid - which funds the health care unions and costs more per capita than the combined expenditures of America's three largest states, California, Texas and Florida - is slated to grow 7 percent to $48 billion, a $3 billion increase. Most state employees and their departments are not affected by this fiscal crisis. In fact, most will see increased spending.

And THIS is what "good government" groups want California to become by eliminating the two-thirds hurdle on tax hikes and budget approval? That's truly, utterly, completely mind-boggling.

Thank God for the two-thirds rule. Or thank Buddha. Or Oprah. Or Kobe. Whomever you worship. The two-thirds rule is the thin blue line protecting California from ruination.

Posted by Chris Reed at June 4, 2009 11:48 AM

16. Tax Foundation compares CA to national average from 1977 through 2008

RIDER COMMENT: Here’s an excellent chart comparing the historical state and local taxation of Californians from 1977 (the year BEFORE Prop 13 took effect) through 2008. It compares us with the national average in both income and taxation.

By every standard, we are a high tax state, and have moved back up the list since Prop 13 passed – providing temporary relief. While Californians’ income is above the national average, our percent paid for taxes is even higher, as a percent of income.


17. Tipping, minimum wage and the resulting misallocation of resources

RIDER COMMENT: In my ongoing effort to eventually piss off everybody, here’s my outing of the tipping racquet in California.

SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE columnist Michael Stetz writes well, with insight and humor – even when I disagree with him. Recently he had a pretty good column on tipping – Here's a tip, or maybe not – it all depends.”


I was inspired to waste some time posting three comments online with his article. Realizing my mistake, I did some “cut and paste” below to waste YOUR time.

Still, you might find my ruminations interesting. And yes, is it partly political.


RIDER: The story includes an error common in such stories about tipping in California. Stetz asserts in passing that "waiters and waitresses . . . work below the traditional minimum wage because tips are an assumed supplement."

True in many states, which have lower minimum wage for such tip-oriented jobs. Not true in CA.

Waiters, valets and indeed any hourly employee in CA is paid at least the full CA $8 minimum wage -- plus tips (if any). This results in CA having some of the brightest, most over-educated waiters in the world.

It is very common for such workers to make a total of $15-$20 an hour -- and more. Plus they "get paid" daily, and they usually forget to report the full amount of the tips for tax purposes.

Our ill-advised minimum wage policy results in what economists coldly call a "misallocation of resources." Educated, intelligent people are performing menial work, wasting their talents doing work best left to less over-qualified workers (who indeed need the work just as badly). The productivity of America suffers as a result.

I've seen young dentists forgo starting their profession to remain as bartenders -- making hundreds of dollars per night. [Why a dentist would prefer serving drinks over working inside people’s mouths – inflicting pain and earning hatred – is a mystery to me.] Throughout CA, there are talented people wasting their abilities waiting on tables, parking cars and doing other work best left to others.

Few of us have the courage to tip really low to reflect this economic windfall -- and to encourage our talented tipees to find more productive work. But at the very least, don't over-tip.

Note to restaurant workers – ignore my comment’s accompanying photo. I'll be in disguise when next I eat out.


A couple other points:

- 1. Watch your bill. Some restaurants do not highlight the included gratuity when charged. Too many people tip on an already tipped bill. And the waiters too often fail to point out the duplication.

- 2. Don’t tip on the full bill – the part called “sales tax.” The sales tax has nothing to do with the restaurant’s product or service. With the sales tax, we are being “serviced” by the state – like cows being serviced by the local bull.

We’ve actually put waiters, waitresses and busboys in a position where they profit from higher sales taxes – which results in higher tips from most patrons. We’ve already got all the government workers voting for higher sales taxes – let’s not add the legions of restaurant staff to the “raise taxes” side.


One other thought (just in case I haven't yet made an enemy out of ALL food service people).

The generous state of California provides a full minimum wage floor for folks who normally make their living off of tips. Naturally that wage is cranked into the price of the meal. Then we pay a tip on that inflated meal price. In essence, we pay a tip on the hidden extra wage.

'Vat a country!

18. Solar electric finally makes sense – at taxpayer expense

RIDER COMMENT: I’ll have more on this later, but thought I should get the word out quickly since the state tax rebate will drop to a lower level in a month or less. Bottom line: If you are looking for a good investment with a great after tax return, look closely at residential solar.

Between the federal and state governments’ ill-advised rebates, the cost of such a system is cut almost in half (at this point in time). Solar electricity can make marginal sense without the rebates in a few instances, but is a terrific deal for many with the rebates.

Now, let’s be clear. The government should not offer the rebates. Even if they do offer rebates, they should not offer the AMOUNT of these piggybacking rebates, which are far in excess of the amount needed to make solar make economic sense. That said (wearing my financial planner hat), as a consumer and taxpayer, you might profit mightily from this giveaway.

But solar electricity definitely is not right for everyone. Most important is your electrical bill. If you don’t run a big bill, it doesn’t make sense. By that I mean that you don’t (under SDG&E’s rate structure) go much over “tier 1” and “tier 2” pricing, don’t consider solar. But if you are up in tier 3 and tier 4 usage, it makes sense.

Tier 1 and 2 total pricing (not easy to figure from the bill) runs about 15 cents per KwH. Tier 3 an 4 pricing has shot up to about 33 cents per KwH. The trick is to put in a big enough system to slice off those two upper tiers, while still paying the modest tier 1 and 2 bill.

You need a space to mount the solar panels (usually the roof). It must be unshaded almost all the time to make sense.

BTW, solar makes little sense for most condo owners. Condos don’t generate the electric bills of detached homes. Each condo gets its own cheap tier 1 and tier 2 pricing.

The other thing is you need to be a significant federal taxpayer. The state rebate comes directly to you in the form of a lower system price, while the federal rebate must come off your income tax bill.

I’m a big electric user and generous, grateful taxpayer, so the math works for me. Looks like I’m going to put in a system, if all goes well. Indeed, I hope to sign the papers today before I leave for . . .

19. Rider heading to Baltic Sea to save Europeans from themselves

RIDER COMMENT: Actually, that’s a lost cause. So I’ll just cruise around the Baltic with all the other American public servant retirees enjoying our pensions (in my case, my wife’s teacher pension), visiting ports, observing the decline of Western civilization, and perhaps glimpsing our future. Back on June 23rd. My son and his friend will man the home fort, but are totally unresponsive to political queries.

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