Friday, November 27, 2015

Unlimited Immigration is the Enemy of Freedom and Prosperity

The most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics is Angus Deaton, a British-American Princeton economist known for his focus on data to explain sources of economic growth.  In his book, The Great Escape, he attempts to explain why some nations escaped the grinding poverty that has been the condition of most of mankind since the dawn of history.  In my opinion, part of the trick is asking the question properly, not "Why are so many nations so poor?" but "What sets the rich nations apart that they escaped poverty?"  In The Great Escape he summarizes the answer:
Perhaps the best answer is that poor countries lack the institutions—government capacity, a functioning legal and tax system, security of property rights, and traditions of trust—that are a necessary background for growth to take place.
Ronald Bailey notes in his review that this explanation, while well supported by the facts, doesn't explain why some countries have these institutions; just that they are important.  I believe that the European culture which combined both Greek and Christian tradition provided the societal stability and freedom of inquiry to produce a stable society that valued the innovation adequately to reap its benefits.  Whether or not I am correct, we can still look at the world and see which countries have adopted or are adopting similar cultural values to ours which allowed us to escape poverty.

This matters to the immigration and refugee questions.  As a nation, it is our right to ask for and the duty of our leaders to implement policies that benefit the citizens of our nation.  Unrestricted immigration from countries that don't share our values undermines our prosperity.  When I look at the so-called "Syrian" refugee crisis; I see two key sets of facts.  First, the refugees seem to be neither Syrian nor refugees, in large part.  Second, even when legitimate, they come from a society that doesn't share our values.  Contra Obama, there are no shared universal values.  If there were, there would be democracies all over the Arab world.

With regards to immigration from Latin America; the main sources of migrants continue to be from countries with little respect for the rule of law.  It is not coincidental, that as Mexico has improved its internal governance through reform, the number of migrants from Mexico has declined.  Now, dictatorships trans-shipping people through Mexico are increasingly the problem.

On twitter, someone compared the so-called Syrian refugees to the Jews we admitted during World War II.  For brevity, my response was that the Jews were culturally European and therefor worthy of admission.  In other words, they were ready to support and understand our institutions, security of property rights and "traditions of trust" in ways that Syrians are sadly incapable of.

We should limit immigration based on country of origin in order to not dilute the cultural underpinnings of our society.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thoughts on Paris - From Someone Who Remembers Pearl Harbor

My Dad was old enough to remember Pearl Harbor and its effect on this nation.  After the Paris atrocities, he said some things that seem like such common sense, but in an age of uncommon stupidity, they need to be said.

From Pops:
My wife had just read The Fall of Japan and we were having a discussion with Dean about our feeling over the dropping of the bomb.  I told him that the number of people killed at Hiroshima meant nothing to us [Americans].  Our only thoughts were a giant sigh of relief and “its over, we won’t be getting any more telegrams.”  Those telegrams always started, “We regret to inform you that your son has been killed ...”  Each telegram sent a shock wave of grief through our community. 
Pearl Harbor was vivid in our memories and I think there was a feeling of “you finally got what you asked for,” though I never heard it expressed exactly that way.  The remembrance of the announcement of Pearl Harbor is still vivid in my mind 76 years later.  On that day, our family was going to a funeral in Fremont and the newsboys on the corners were shouting the news.  As a boy, I didn’t really know what it was all about but there was still a feeling in my mind of “We’ll get you guys for this.” 
Several years ago I heard a commentator pontificating on the use of the atom bomb on the Japanese.  It may have been Mike Wallace.  He said that the number killed at Hiroshima shocked the American consciences and is etched on our psyche to this day.  I could only think, “Fella, you weren’t there for Pearl Harbor or the telegrams.  You never felt the pain.” 
What brings this up now is that the attacks on Paris is their Pearl Harbor.  Their feeling and those of much of the rest of the world must be no different from ours on that Sunday in December.  I don’t think the number of ISIS killed in retaliation will grieve any Frenchman or leave a mark on their psyche.  I was glad to see our president declare war on Japan.  I wonder how long it will be before our media and our leaders realize that we are in a war and it must be treated as such.  Will it take a Paris in America to wake them up?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thanks To My Nation - From a Veteran

As many of you know, I am a veteran.  The amount of attention given to veterans on this day has grown over the years, to the point that some on the left object to it.  Dean has a great post deconstructing leftist objections to Veteran's Day here; predictably the left's objection include the specter of RacismTM.

For myself, sometimes the attention is a little embarrassing, because I feel so blessed to have served and benefited from my service.  Today, I say thank you to my country for the opportunity to serve and for the benefits I received.  Here is a short list that pertains to me:
  • I received a first rate education in Annapolis and in Monterey.
  • I made life-long friendships with some great Americans.
  • I was trained to perform challenging and demanding missions on behalf of my nation.
  • I received fair compensation and benefits.
  • I retired with a good pension and benefits.
  • I can point with pride to my service.
These benefits came about because I serve a nation that values the defense our veterans have provided and continue to provide.  I am happy that my country thanks me, but I must thank my country in turn.

God bless the United States of America.

United States Flag design as it existed on November 11, 1918.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oorah! USMC Birthday

Happy Birthday to the Marine Corps of the United States of America!  The oil painting pictured above is described on Wikipedia as:
New Providence Raid, March 1776 Oil painting on canvas by V. Zveg, 1973, depicting Continental Sailors and Marines landing on New Providence Island, Bahamas, on 3 March 1776. Their initial objective, Fort Montagu, is in the left distance. Close off shore are the small vessels used to transport the landing force to the vicinity of the beach.
This was the first battle in which the Continental Marines, later to become the U.S. Marine Corps, took part and set the precedent for daring amphibious assault that became one of the hallmarks of the Corps.  A good retelling is located on Military History Now.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Paying Tribute to Veterans at Mount Soledad

I spent the morning at Mt. Soledad Veteran's Memorial with men from my church.  If you live in San Diego or ever pass through, you should definitely visit the site; it is one of the gems of the city.

Today, we paid tribute to veterans we knew and talked about their lives and how service to their country was an integral part.  I was struck at how members of the World War 2 generation, were and still are reticent about their war experiences.  Certainly, war is always horrible, regardless of the technology used to fight; but it seems that men are much more willing to discuss what happened today.  I am not passing judgement on this, just an observation.

I was also struck but how unspoken our assumptions about military service are.  There are many motives for signing up, but in our nation, we have traditionally believed that serving in the military served a higher calling; because our nation is, was and always will be a beacon for good.  We exercise our freedom of religion, but collectively believe that our national belief in a good and just God makes us a nation worth defending.

Such concepts are under assault by the left on a daily basis, especially on our campuses.  The ease with which College Insurrection produces clickable headlines for conservatives has to do with the outrageous way that the left behaves on campus.  (Today's headline: University cuts Pledge of Allegiance from Veterans Day Chapel. Short rebuttal: Faith and patriotism have always been linked.)  If those of us who cherish our liberty and the cultural conditions that produced limited, constitutional government continue to lose the culture wars, then military service will be dead.  Freedom for our nation will be dead as well.

The good news is that the left always lies and their dogma makes no sense.  The bad news is that they are influencing the culture successfully.  We are heirs to two millennia of intellectual tradition and greatness.  To lose when holding such a winning hand would be ludicrous; but is possible.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fences Prove Popular

Who'd a thunk it?  Hungarian President is restoring his party's standing by building fences and closing off Hungary's southern border to so-called refugees. 
With an anti-immigrant campaign and razor-wire border fence Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has reversed a slide in his party's popularity, emerging at home as a winner in the crisis that has divided Europe.
The fence seems to work as well:

I won't support any Republican Presidential candidate that won't build a fence on the southern border.  This is within our ability.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

White Working Class Death Rates and The Culture

I already posted about the increase in the death rate among middle-aged white people without college degrees and its tie to immigration.  Heartiste has done a great job in summarizes all of the causes behind the statistic:
Think about the ingredients of a happy life: 
Family — destroyed by welfare, feminism, gogrrl careerism, obesity, and sinking earnings for working class men.
Community — destroyed by population density and Diversity™.
Work — destroyed by open borders, automation, and oligarchic greed.
Faith — destroyed by SCALE-induced materialism and noblesse malice.
The working poor and less-educated need these four pillars, perhaps more than effete SWPLs do, to feel like their lives have purpose. Instead, malignant elements in our ruling class have done everything in their power to knock those pillars over and smash them to dust.
SWPL = Stuff White People Like, but has become a term of derision for effete college-educated whites who identify as liberal as long as they never have to encounter an actual black man.

The lack of faith, as evidenced by rampant materialism, is driving down birth rates, which in turn become a source of depression.  We see this most rampantly in Germany, which despite being an economic engine of Europe now, won't remain so for long with a fertility rate of 1.4 (well below replacement of 2.1) and a mere 8.2 children born per 1,000 inhabitants over the last five years.  It is not coincidental that Germans are gutting churches to make room for Muslim immigrants.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Illegal Immigration is THE Issue

Why has immigration become THE issue?  I am not certain, but one reason might be that the native born, and especially white people feel under assault.  There is certainly some evidence here:
The U.S. death rate has been falling for decades, but researchers have detected one group in which the rates have been steadily ticking up - middle-aged white people. Suicides and deaths from drug overdose and alcohol abuse are being blamed.
The scientists in the article tried to blame the increase on increased use of painkillers, which even if proved, is more like pointing to a symptom, not the disease.  In my view, the economy has not been getting worse for those people in this group (middle-aged white people without college degrees.)  People under strain have always intuitively turned against more immigration in times of stress.  It makes sense to think that if our economy doesn't have work for the native-born, then how can there be work for new arrivals from other lands.  And basic economics tells us that an increased supply of labor will lead to lower wages.  You can argue whether, in a global economy that increased supply couldn't be tapped anywhere.  But to the person struggling, seeing immigrants, and especially illegal ones, doing below minimum-wage work that benefits business, but not them, it has got to be depressing.

For my part, immigration issue has become a test of whether the nation is willing to preserve the rule of law and the our constitutional heritage.  The failure to deal with the problem is subverting our institutions.  Obama, in typical Caudillo-fashion is looking to bypass the courts and Congress on immigration.

Further, there is good evidence that the intent of the left is to flood our electoral system with immigrants, beyond our ability to assimilate them, who lack our common language and cultural traditions of respect for liberty, freedom and markets to thereby fundamentally transform America.

I am only voting for those who will stand up to this nonsense.  Right now that looks to be Messrs. Trump and Cruz.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why Islam Offends Us

Over the years, I've learned to trust Mrs. Daddy's instincts. But she has a bad feeling about something, she's usually right.  She was on the military base today, and saw a woman in full Muslim head garb, and asked me "why did that offend me?"

After some thought, it occurred to me that Islam is not merrily a religion, it is a political movement. And, it is a political movement whose tenets are antithetical to American concepts of liberty, democracy and free enterprise.  The history of Islam as a political movement is well documented on the Internet, so I will not repeat it here.  Fundamentally, the key tenet I was why is the subordination of the non-believer to the believers.  In turn, the believers are subject to the absolute rule of the Caliph who receives his authority from God.  At its heart, Islam is essentially monarchist. Didn't we fight a revolution that overthrew a monarchy over 200 years ago? 

Although some adherents of Islam in this country may feel that it is merely a religion, it is not the essence of the worldwide movement.  The reason that misses daddy feels offense is that the appearance of the Muslim women runs counter to our culture of freedom and democracy.  They are seizing up on the benefits of a society that they are religion is actively seeking to undermine.  More specifically, the military base represents over two centuries of defense of freedom against a multitude of freedom-hating ideologies, Islam being merely the latest example.

As the entire world becomes more educated, the desire for freedom arises everywhere except inside Islam.  The inevitable is describe by Mark Steyn:
In India, it's Muslims vs Hindus. In southern Thailand, Muslims vs Buddhists. The world is a messy, violent, complicated place, but as a rule of thumb, as I said all those years ago in America Alone, in most corners of the planet it boils down to: Muslims vs [Your Team Here].
Millions of complacent westerners genuinely regard Islam as merely another exotic patch in the diversity quilt, but I find it hard to believe that the leaders of liberal progressive political parties can be quite that deluded. 
We tolerate personal freedom, but we have the right to take offense at the sight of burqa-clad women in our midst.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Easy Answers to Left Wing Idiocy on Immigration

The Donald has shown that the public is hungry for a candidate who takes their issues seriously and won't bend to pressure from left-wing media like Fox News.  The illegal immigration debate isn't complicated, it is just made so by those who benefit from it whether leftist politicians or business interests that hire the illegals.

I used to have a complicated immigration plan.  Nobody cared.  Here is a simple one that takes me less time to ascertain that no one cares:

1. Build a fence.
2. Deport illegals who break the law.
3. Repeat offenders get hard time.

On to the Q and A.  In order to help Republican candidates avoid looking like these low-T wussies, I am putting together a handy crib sheet.

 Q. Aren't you against illegal immigration just because you're racist? (Takes many variations.)
A. How did YOU get to be so racist? I thought reporters were supposed to check their biases.  Mexicans aren't even a majority of the immigration problem, I have a rule against responding to racist questions.

Q. A fence won't work. A fence will cost $XX billions.
A. You fence your pit bull don't you?  It's cheaper than housing all the illegals and other countries have proven it works.

Q. Won't your stance hurt you with Hispanic voters?
A. I'm leading in the polls with Hispanics.  (Or if you're not Trump.) Hispanics are very happy with my plans, its clear that as I get better known I will be leading in the polls with them.  Hispanics know that illegal immigration hurts their community. Every Hispanic I've talked to, and I've to talked to hundreds, agrees with me on this.

Q. Will you deport native-born children with their parents?
A. How is that a question?  Do you even understand the law?  We deport the illegal immigrants who have violated the law. Period.

Q. Are you going to round up and deport millions of illegals? Won't that be expensive?
A. Compared to what, the cost of housing them and having them serve prison terms at taxpayer expense?  I will get the best deal possible for the American taxpayer.

Submit your questions in the comment section to help out our low-T GOPers.

As a service to the RNC, I am repeating my easy to remember immigration platform:

1. Build a fence.
2. Deport any illegal who commits a crime.
3. Hard time for repeat offenders.

End all this stupid talk about e-verify, which just punishes businesses and have government do its job.

What You Should Be Reading:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

This Side of the Rainbow - The Bitter Slipper

Today marks the 76th anniversary of the release of the Wizard of Oz.  Mark Steyn marked the occasion of the 75th anniversary as only he is capable, detailing the genesis of the film's hit number, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, embedded below.  As a kid, I always loved the Wizard Of Oz, and felt, growing up, I did not live in Kansas, or as Steyn put it: . . . in drab, dusty, cheerless, broken-down black-&-white Kansas.  I lived in Oz. The pace of technical innovation in this country was charging ahead starting in the 1960s and Tomorrowland was my favorite themed area of Disneyland.  But lately I have been more pessimistic, thinking that the underlying cultural conditions that allowed such technical progress were being rapidly eroded.  I have started to feel like the dreary Kansas of the movie is taking over America, because everything is politics, and politics is thin gruel for the soul.  And it makes me wonder about Dorothy.  What did she think when she got back to Kansas.

You clicked your heels and said "There's no place like home" three times.  The magic in those ruby slippers sure seemed sweet.  And now you're back in Kansas; but frankly after the technicolor splendor of Oz, Kansas isn't all that. There's chores and the farm and Auntie Em. . . and that's about it. Those ruby slippers seem a little bitter now, and maybe you want to be back in Oz. So this drink's for you Dorothy.

This drink takes off from the Ruby Slipper, linked above and seems a fitting drink for the age.

Bitter Slipper.  Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. Crown Royal (or other slightly sweet whiskey such as Bulleit Frontier Whiskey)
  • 2 oz. 7-up or lemon-lime soda
  • 3/4 oz. of Grenadine
  • 3 shakes of Angastoura bitters

Mix over ice in an old-fashioned glass, garnish with maraschino cherries.  Toast Dorothy.

A picture of the actual slippers from the movie.

Friday, August 7, 2015

My Not Very Sober Take on the #GOPDebate

Watched all of the #GOPDebate and drunk tweeted on my @BDaddyLiberator account. I wasn't going to, because, as I told Mrs. Daddy, it's just entertainment.  Her response was that it was the best entertainment we had available last night.  Sadly, she was right.

My take in brief:

1. The Donald followed Steve Sailer's advice and went all in for the white male vote.
2. Rubio impressed, surprisingly.  It is an important point he made that Mexico is not the prime source of illegals.  But he failed to leap to the easy solution, pay Mexico to keep Hondurans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans out of our country.
3. I disagree with friends about Jeb Bush who thought he looked good; he looks like way too try-hardy, or as @Warden_AoS said, born with a silver stick up his ass. Plus, Bush has Wall Street connections, so eff him.  To be fair so does Billary, but eff them too.
4. Everybody missed a really important point from Christy (whom I loathe) about social security; the promises to seniors have already been broken; its just a matter of when that bill comes due.
5. Walker did himself no favors and he is my favorite, with Perry right behind.
6. No matter how good Fiorina, Carson or Trump look, President of the United States is not an entry level political position.

Finally, does anyone really believe that election of a Republican President will make one iota's difference with respect to our immigration mess?

What You Should Be Reading:

  • Mark Steyn, again, because he stipulates that love of country may trump devotion to the GOP.
  • Dalrock gives some advice on fighting the abortion argument.
  • WC Varones takes on Fiorina's business record at HP.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

San Diego vs. Chargers - All Over But the Divorce Decree

Mayor Faulconer appears to have played a weak hand badly with regards to negotiations with the Chargers, if his goal was to keep the Chargers in San Diego.  Jeffrey Siniard has been covering the situation at
Mistakes made by the City of San Diego:
1. Mayor Faulconer and his staff got in over their heads the moment they didn't realize how much pressure the Chargers were under to make a deal, and assumed it was primarily an attempt by the Chargers to manufacture leverage.
2. A better understanding of the situation by Falconer and his staff could have led to an earlier City/County partnership, earlier hiring of negotiating experts, who then could've worked with CSAG to produce a polished offer in shorter time.
3. Instead of ignoring all of the noise coming from the Chargers, the City has instead chosen to respond in kind, which abets the Chargers "We have to Los Angeles" narrative.
But I also agree with Siniard said earlier in the same article, Falulconer's main goal seems to be to avoid blame should the Chargers leave town.  Charger attorney Fabiani's overheated rhetoric serves that end so well, it makes you wonder if it isn't a conspiracy.

In a more recent post Siniard argues that the December election is a sure loser for the City:
- There is no solution the Chargers and/or the NFL will accept in San Diego for 2015. Stop trying to come up with one. Much as people want the Chargers to accept San Diego's idea, they are a private business and are under no obligation to accept it.
- All of the options presented by San Diego for getting around the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) carry a significant degree of risk from a successful lawsuit, or take too long to complete for a vote in 2015.
- Furthermore, no deal in San Diego can beat the deal the Chargers have put together with the Raiders in Carson. Until that option disappears, there's no reason for the Chargers and/or Raiders to negotiate in good faith with their home markets. The Chargers and Raiders are going to see how Los Angeles plays out this year. They'd be stupid to do otherwise.
I have argued that there is no way the Chargers can remain in town, because we will never be able to compete with Los Angeles in terms of what the city gives away to the team.  Siniard take the view that the only way to keep the Chargers here is to apply pressure on the NFL. But he is clear that it only buys some time for an election to be held during "prime time" that would have a chance of passing a plan that would satisfy the Chargers.  Too many ifs, in my opinion; better to just let the team walk rather than divert leadership attention from other pressing problems.

Qualcomm Stadium By Intersofia at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.0], from Wikimedia Commons

What You Should Be Reading:

  • The Voice of San Diego, because even if they are left of center, they break important stories.  It's called journalism and the national press should take notice.  Going after Dumanis in today's edition with more great investigative work

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Taking Sides in a Religious Civil War

In order to to not offend Muslims, the President has taken pains to try to distance himself from the idea that we are fighting a religious war, so as not to offend Muslim allies.  This is understandable, but shows a lack of understanding of the true nature of the problem.  His administration has taken to saying silly things such as ISIS is not truly Islamic.  This could not be further from the truth, ISIS is nothing if not Islamic.  Their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to have a doctorate in Islamic studies and certainly speaks with the rhetorical flourishes characteristic of a learned Muslim scholar.  Graeme Wood's excellent article in the Atlantic says this about ISIS' Islamic pedigree.
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
. . .
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
Essentially, ISIS represents a sect of Islam that is different but related to Salafism, a Sunni sect.  We are witnessing a civil war within Arab Islam that has ethnic and tribal components as well, typical of any civil war.  We are choosing to take sides in this religious civil war, because it is in our national interest to do so. We make no judgment about the theological correctness of any side. We merely seek the defeat of those who have pledged destruction of us and our allies.  In Islamic thought, there is no distinction between the political and the religious, so when we attack ISIS' conception of political rule, we engage in a religious war whether we like it or not.

CDR Salamander's shorter summary, "Often, it isn't what you think about religion that matters, it is what the other guy thinks."

The harder question is what to do about the problem.  By taking sides in the conflict, we risk granting moral authority to ISIS which can correctly claim that America, (the Great Satan or some such term for infidels) is supporting other forms of Islam.  The obvious inference is that the Salafist Saudis or Shiite Iraqis are therefore tainted by our help.  This tends to draw recruits to ISIS sides, because in the 21st Century, people appear to be craving the moral certainty such a brand of religion brings.

Failure to intervene works against our interest as it brings to power a religious and political movement inimical to our goals of stability and peace throughout the world.  From the same Graeme Wood article:
Abu Baraa, who maintains a YouTube channel about Islamic law, says the caliph, Baghdadi, cannot negotiate or recognize borders, and must continually make war, or he will remove himself from Islam.
This is a classic wicked problem, defined as such because any attempt to solve the problem only seems to make the problem worse.  The best option appears to be to provide support to those reliable allies such as the Kurds who won't be tainted by U.S. help.  Putting boots on the ground only as a last resort to prevent catastrophes would also be necessary.  Finally, given the Caliphate's (ISIS' term for itself) need to continually be at war, a slow bleed of its resources and war making capacity is needed.  This would mean bypassing the national Iraqi army, as equipment destined for that sorry group only ends up captured and use by ISIS.  But in the end, we have to acknowledge that this is a religious war with political consequences.  We are taking sides to protect our national interest.  It doesn't mean that we have a theological view, just that we care about our own vision of the world order.

But in the longer term, if Western Culture doesn't provide something to offer beyond nihilism, we will be defeated by the likes of this man. (See this and this.)

The Caliph has studied Islam more than you have.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Battle Hymn of the Republic - Memorial Day

I hope you are enjoying Memorial Day.  Take a moment to read Mark Steyn's short history of the Battle Hymn of The Republic and enjoy this video from Judy Collins.  The Civil War imbued the ideals of America with deeper meaning that Lincoln summed in the Second Inaugural address.  This song is one of the great songs to come out of that conflict.

What You Should Be Reading

  • Mark Steyn, of course, because he nails the meaning of America in ways that we native born seem to miss.
  • If you are a Christian, Dalrock (this and this), who seems to stand almost alone in fighting the feminist assault on the church.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Insurance Costs, ER Visits Up Under ACA - Uninsured? Not So Much

As I have said before, that the left's "solutions" to problems only creates more problems for government to solve is just icing on the cake for them.  Today's Case: The ironically named Affordable Care Act (ACA) was supposed to reign in medical costs, reduce emergency room use and end the tragedy of lack of coverage in America.  How are we doing?

First, health insurance costs (from the WSJ):
Health Insurers Seek Hefty Rate Boosts
Major insurers in some states are proposing hefty rate boosts for plans sold under the federal health law, setting the stage for an intense debate this summer over the law’s impact.
In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6% in premiums for 2016. The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3% increase. In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4% across its products. Moda Health, the largest insurer on the Oregon health exchange, seeks an average boost of around 25%.
All of them cite high medical costs incurred by people newly enrolled under the Affordable Care Act.
Emergency Room Visit Reductions (from USA Today):
Contrary to goals, ER visits rise under ObamacareThree-quarters of emergency physicians say they've seen ER patient visits surge since Obamacare took effect — just the opposite of what many Americans expected would happen.
Ending the tragedy of lack of insurance?  According to the widely quoted Kaiser Family Foundation survey on the uninsured the rate of uninsured will go from 17.87% to 14.22%.  So we wrecked the entire insurance market in America for 3.66% of the population and still left four times that number uninsured?  Another way of saying it is that only about one in five uninsured got covered.  That's disgusting.  The whole bill is disgusting.

What You Should Be Reading:

  • CDR Salamander, because he takes on the Diversity Bullies every Thursday.  As he posts in that link, we are having some success.
  • The Rational Male, if you have young men you need to mentor about relationships.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Gavin McInnes Nails It

Being interviewed in the Hollywood Reporter, Gavin McInnes nails my political philosophy (and I don't care if you think he's trolling):
"I am a socially liberal libertarian who is not for open borders," he says. "That's my only problem with libertarians. I want almost no laws, I want the smallest government possible. I don't want anyone telling anyone what to do. But I also see the merit in tradition and I think that women and men are different."
When THR pointed out that this sounds more like a socially conservative position, McInnes laughed. "Yeah, I guess so."
For those who misread yesterday's post, this is my philosophy as well.  We should be free to use social pressure to re-institute a conservative social order that will make the country prosper and become far happier.  But unlike, the left I don't care to impose such a social order through the government. Such a culture is robust and successful that it doesn't need government to impose it, unlike leftism.

If you don't think a lack of social cohesion and purpose is a destroyer of culture, I ask you to ponder this piece by Leon Wolf at RedState bookends quoted here:

There’s a very simple reason why extremist Islam – a culture that is unable on its own merits to progress scientifically beyond the beginning of the 18th century or so – is able in the modern world to consistently embarrass countries possessed of vastly superior military might. That reason is this: extremist Islam believes that it has a claim to a superior message for the world. Christendom no longer does.
. . .
There is a reason that every week brings a new story about a kid raised in comfort here in the West running off to join ISIS, to the shocked dismay of his/her parents. ISIS, at least, presents a front that says that the world and life has objective meaning and that they, ISIS, have a claim to that meaning. Here in the West, by way of contrast, we allow our kids to just float adrift on a sea of meaningless moral relativity and nihilism. As C.S. Lewis noted, the human psyche tends toward rejection of a meaningless explanation for existence – and if the West cannot offer such meaning, people will get it somewhere else.
Leftism is doomed, it will eat the societies it conquers.  The real question is whether we Americans can restore the sense of our exceptionalism based on a Christian culture.

What You Should Be Reading

Monday, May 18, 2015

How Your Support for Gay Marriage is a Threat to Craft Beer

Alternate title:
The Left and Government Sanctioned Destruction of the Culture

The key insight that brings conservatives and libertarians together in an alliance against the left is that liberty in a constitutional republic can only be predicated on a conservative culture. A conservative culture constrains the bounds of behavior so that government can exercise a light touch over a society that will still function properly. This is why the left is seeking to destroy the pillars of conservative culture in America; marriage and family, the Christian church, and the language. This is being accomplished through government aided destruction of those institutions; while simultaneously "solving" the problems so created and simultaneously growing government.  I am not making an accusation of conspiracy; merely stating that there is a shared realization on the part of the leaders of the left, whether intuitive or explicit, that traditional American culture is a bulwark against their desire for a socialist society.  Hence the movements to delegitimize the keepers of this cultural flame.

The Christian religion, and in particular, the Northern European interpretation of it, has led to a culture of individualism. In this interpretation, one's salvation is determined by an individual decision to follow Jesus. This relationship with God, an intensely personal one, without the benefit of an earthly mediator, leads directly to the conclusion that each man and woman is responsible for the ordering of his or her own life within the constraint of belief. This gives the individual the mental freedom to be entrepreneurial which is usually disruptive to the established order.  Further, within this theological understanding, the grace granted by God should lead to good works in this life as evidenced by one's hard work and frugality.  This idea of this Protestant work ethic being related to the rise and success of capitalism is not new, having been proposed by Max Weber in 1905.  There is a natural cultural pairing of Christianity and capitalism, especially in America. The left, which is nothing if not anti-capitalist, naturally views traditional Christian belief as embodied in the conservative church as an enemy.

This Christian culture is not going to survive without actual Christian belief, so the left seeks to attack both Christian belief and institutions at every opportunity.  Gay marriage is only the latest example.  The move to legalize gay marriage was followed without pause by a public campaign of persecution against those who have religious and moral objections to that outcome.  In some cases, the persecution has taken the form of state sanction against bakeries.  The seamless transition to persecution gave the lie to the notion that this was about equal rights. The gay marriage movement was clearly a ploy to delegitimize traditional Christian belief.  In the meantime, there is no parallel movements against Muslim belief, even though Islam is much more harsh in its treatment of gays than Christians. Why? Because the Left sees Muslims as potential allies to attack the traditional Christian culture.

Destroying traditional pillars of culture and morality results in the need for more government control to make up for the lack of self-control in the population. This is a feature, not a bug, of the process of destroying the culture and is embraced by the left. For example, rampant sex between undergraduates on college campuses is the norm today, or so we are led to believe. While perhaps that has always happened to some extent; it was far less in degree and done with far greater discretion in times past.  But since this behavior gives rise to sex under questionable circumstances, we have the California have the California State Legislature considering how to regulate sex on campus. Here is KTCat's take:
Of course, as we all know, freedom isn't free. No, there's a price to be paid for freedom. We must maintain eternal vigilance lest the dark powers of Christian morality and its wretched partner, chivalry, attempt to come back.
Well, vigilance and affirmative consent rules, ruthlessly enforced by the State, that is. After all, we need something to do the job of a national culture based on Judeo-Christian objective morality.
The same groups who demand that government, to include colleges acting in loco parentis, stop prohibiting sex are now those who demand that government become involved in sex at college.  Why the shift?  This has to do primarily with feminism, which seeks the destruction of traditional gender roles in society and is almost always allied with leftism for that reason.  The initial calls to deregulate sex allowed women more sexual freedom.  Coupled with the wide-spread introduction of no-fault divorce, and state support for single mothers; this shifted economic power away from bread-winning males to the state.  (Time precludes a full exposition of this theory, see Dalrock for more detail.) I note that the government has taken to jailing fathers who don't pay child support in fairly large numbers, further shifting power away from men to the government.  This is necessary because it is men who are likely to be the revolutionaries that rise up against state power.  Now, the new change in attitudes with regards to sex on college campuses is to make it easier for women to accuse men of rape and for consequences to be meted out, without the benefit of trial.  Again there is power shifting towards women, who can claim rape without having to go to trial. The shift of power to single women suits the left just fine, because they tend to be reliable supporters of left-wing candidates.  Married women are much more conservative, because the power of government robs their family of provisioning resources, since intact families are much more likely to be paying more in taxes than they receive in benefits from the state.

So how does the left act in power?  They seek to regulate all facets of society to shift ever more power to the government, in the name of protecting the ordinary worker and consumer, often harming those same groups in the process.  It is not a coincidence that the same political groups that set themselves against traditional culture are the ones who also argue for larger government.  I may add examples later, but the fight over uncontrolled illegal immigration has to do with how fast our society can today assimilate immigrants without damaging our current culture.  Those who favor amnesty and open borders that would inevitably bring in more immigrants call their opponents racist; claiming that is the only reason that traditionalists would wish to control immigration. But society can only assimilate immigrates so fast.  So the call for amnesty and open borders is a cal to subvert traditional American culture by overwhelming it with immigrants who have not had the time to assimilate.  For the most part, those supporting amnesty also support increased government spending and regulating, such as the Affordable Care Act. In turn, government spending and regulating is destructive of free markets.  The left consists of an alliance of groups such as union leaders, environmentalists, and feminists seeking to both increase the scope of government and undermine traditional society.  These goals are complimentary not separate.

Which brings me to craft beer.  My observation is that craft beer is largely a pursuit of white males who are just starting to disrupt the current market for beer dominated by large corporations like AB-InBev.  Budweiser's Super Bowl commercial was evidence that the big companies are taking notice.  AB InBev has a large contract with the Teamsters in North America.  If craft beer threatens union jobs, how long before craft brewers come under pressure?  There will be calls to raise wages, to increase regulatory scrutiny and to change alcohol distribution laws to protect the big boys and the union jobs.  (Look at what Walmart endures.)  Further, the whiteness and maleness of the industry will come under attack by the cultural marxists. (Don't believe me, perform a search on "San Diego Craft Brewers Guild" under images and look at the faces in the various pictures.) The guardians of political correctness will seek to make sure that craft beer will be seen as somehow racist or anti-feminist or some other pejorative.  When craft beer is seen as a threat, and that is just starting, then the persecution will begin.

So this is why your support for gay marriage threatens craft beer.  By supporting gay marriage you are joining an alliance that views entrepreneurs, such as craft brewers, as a threat and who wish to destroy the culture that allows free markets to thrive.  You are voting for socialism, whether you like it or not.

Yes, that's a picture of Jesus watching over my craft beer drinking.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Look Who is Opposed to Fracking

So you oppose fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to produce natural gas. Would it surprise you to know that you agree with Vladimir Putin? Just follow the money:
A shadowy Bermudan company that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. . .
. . .
The foundation
[funded by the Bermuda company] passed those millions along to some of the nation’s most prominent and politically active environmentalist groups. The Sierra Club, the Natural Resource Defense Council, Food and Water Watch, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Center for American Progress were among the recipients of Sea Change’s $100 million in grants in 2010 and 2011.,
. . .
The Sierra Club, which received nearly $8.5 million from Sea Change in 2010 and 2011, launched its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign the following year. The effort has become one of the largest and best-funded environmentalist campaigns combating fracking and the extraction of natural gas in general.
Russia's interests are served by higher energy prices worldwide, so opposition to U.S. fracking by them is understandable.  All those years of using the KGB to foment propaganda against the West are still being put to use.

Getting beyond ad-hominem attack, I have always believed that environmentalists reflexive opposition to the new technology is based on a hatred of industrialization not a love for the environment. This is clearly the case with fracking and the increased production of natural gas.  Environmentalists should be ecstatic about the use of natural gas, instead we see the Sierra Club launching a campaign against it.  Last year, greenhouse gas emissions from the United States fell to their lowest levels since 1995.  It is well understood that increased use of natural gas to displace coal, has been a key factor in this reduction.   From the MIT Technology Review:
. . . the trend is largely the result of a rapid drop in coal-fired electricity, and a corresponding rise in electricity generated by cleaner fuels, especially natural gas.
You would think this would be cause for cheer amongst green groups. But then, you have to expect it will actual consistency from the environmentalists.

American Heroes, Engaged in Fracking Operations

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Obama: Black Father Absence to be Solved By...

... You guessed, it, taxes on the rich.  No kidding.  From Reuters:
At the panel discussion, the president defended his practice of encouraging young African American men to take responsibility for their children when they become parents.
. . .
He said policy makers had to budget for programs that helped impoverished youth, and he singled out changing tax loopholes such as one on "carried interest" enjoyed by fund managers as a way to help boost resources for such programs.
This is more evidence, as if we needed it, that Obama's approach makes race relations in America worse, not better. Today we see him stirring up class animosity, conflating the salaries of hedge fund managers with the death of black fathers in the home, as if 1 thing had anything to do with the other.   He is on to something as the absence of black fathers in the home is definitely a contributing factor to the rioting we have seen in the black community.  But, as I've said before, Obama should get a refund for any Economics classes he took at Harvard or Columbia.

Further, the last thing that black families need is more government intervention.  The war on poverty launched by Lyndon Johnson has turned out to be a war on black families. In typically racist fashion the Democrat party put into practice policies that undermined African-American families; substituting the government for fathers and ensuring that black men would be priced out of the labor market by a rising minimum wage.

The first black President could have been a god-send to this country's race relations, instead he has chosen to divide the nation on the basis of race and class. Thanks.

What You Should Be Reading:

  • Dalrock, because he breaks down family issues with a keen parsing of the statistics and the insight that comes with a true understanding of how evolutionary psychology is applied to interpersonal relations between the sexes.  His most recent post on black children living with their fathers is here.
  • The Scratching Post, because KTCat blogs everyday at a consistently high level.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Short Term Rentals and the Sharing Economy

Single family housing that used for short-term vacation rentals through web services such as Airbnb or VRBO have gotten negative attention here in San Diego of late.  Even though the complainants point to specific behaviors they dislike, the underlying tone of the discussion is that they don't like the sort of people who come America's Finest City to vacation.  I am probably not going to persuade those folks, because their argument is rooted in emotionalism to which they will not admit.  For the rest of us who realize that sometimes real problems arise from short term rentals, I think we need to propose a light regulatory touch that purges the worst abuses.  Technology, primarily the internet, is lowering the cost of bringing underutilized assets to market, whether its vehicles, homes or spare CPU cycles on our computers; these assets can return rents to the owners.  Unfortunately, we have a tax and regulatory environment that doesn't address the mixed use of assets very well.

I have engaged with a number of people on this issue and the key complaints can be boiled down to bad behavior by the renters, to include late night loud parties, not cleaning up trash and boorish behavior.  The answer is to hold the owners accountable, who can the hold the guests accountable.  Just as owners are rated on airbnb, so are guests.  Guests whose behavior threatens owners with loss of income will give guests bad reviews which in turn create a disincentive for the bad behavior.  For serious violations one might have to call the police, but that is always true.  In the past three years, I have had the police in my neighborhood in force on two different occasions that had nothing to do with short term rentals; there aren't any guarantees in life.

Consider this scenario. Two sets of parents from Fresno have students attending San Diego State. They want to visit their kids over a long weekend, enjoying a bit of San Diego, and also bringing a bit of home to their kids. By sharing a home, they keep down expenses, it costs less than renting three hotel rooms. They can also make their stay cheaper by buying groceries instead of going to restaurants and cooking them in the furnished house. They can relax more freely in the home atmosphere provided by the short term rental.

A policy of restricting short term rentals denies them this opportunity. Do we think that only the well off should visit our city? Wouldn't we want to welcome these fine folks to our city? This is why I would like to see a light and even-handed regulation of short-term rentals. It can be a source of joy for so many guests in our city.

Consider this too, people are having a hard time making ends meet.  Renting out their home helps.  "Elise Howell, who lives off a small pension and about $11,000 a year from substitute teaching, says she depends heavily on the money she makes from renting out a room in her two-bedroom Hillcrest condo for up to $79 a night."

In a 2007 analysis of the issue, the City Attorney stated that current regulations do not prohibit short term rentals.  However, the San Diego Vacation Rentals Manager's Alliance notes that owners who rent out room short term must collect the Total Occupancy Tax of 10.5%.  This is the position of the City Treasurer's office as reported in the U-T.

If the city is going to regulate short term rentals, I look forward to minimal regulations that allow neighbors to identify abusers, but allow owners to use their property as they see fit.  We should set a level playing field and welcome the additional visitors to America's Finest City.

Council Member Lorie Zapf (CD-2) recently posted proposed regulations that looked reasonable to me.  The key points were:

 Define the term “Short-term Vacation Rental” in the Municipal Code.
 Require a renewable permit for the operation of any short-term vacation rental city-wide.
 Determine permit fees that are cost recoverable and will be used towards the management and enforcement of the permit.
 Require a posted 24/7 contact with a name and phone number on the property as part of the permit.
 Enforcement process that includes fines and revocation of permit for repeat violators.
 Identify additional funding for the Community-Assisted Party Program (CAPP) to respond to citizen complaints.
 Require TOT collection and payment from short-term vacation rental hosts per Municipal Code. 
While this might lead to possible abuse by disgruntled neighbors, these proposals seem reasonable to solving the supposed problems of short term rentals.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Let's #racetogether for Racism

I am sure you have heard of Starbucks' ridiculous effort to show that they're contributing to moving America forward on the issue of race, with a hashtag #racetogether. Of course, this effort will be heavily lampooned, see Iowahawk's entry for starters. (By the way, how is the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag working out?)  However, I wanted to take on the issue head-on.

The real purpose behind efforts such as Starbucks' #racetogether is to delegitimize white people's voices, by continuously hectoring them over their supposed ongoing racism. Well, besides being an effort in colossal corporate ass-covering, just in case someone notices that all those baristas are persons of pallor, if you will.  Because this "conversation" is targeted at a specific racial group, in this case, whites, it is fundamentally racist. There is never any legitimate reason for racism. This is true whether the racism is practiced on behalf of the perceived victims or the perceived oppressors.  

Ultimately, the thought process behind the Starbucks campaign is illegitimate. It assumes a viewpoint on the part of the white customers. It doesn't treat them as individuals. In our society, we descend from a tradition where our rights accrue to us as individuals, we expect to be treated as individuals and we expect to be held accountable for our actions as individuals, not as members of a race. So when you are all given your Starbucks coffee cup emblazoned with #racetogether, if you haven't boycotted them already, you should ask:
"What makes you think I'm racist?"

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Chargers Must Leave San Diego

Qualcomm Stadium By Intersofia at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.0], from Wikimedia Commons

As long as the voters of San Diego are willing to punish politicians for subsidizing a new Chargers stadium, or as long as the law is interpreted that such subsidies require a public vote, there is no way that the Chargers can remain in San Diego for much longer. Numerous studies have shown that the value of a football stadium to a city is never more than the amount of money plowed into subsidies, so there will never be a viable economic argument for a new stadium, and I think San Diegans understand that. See Pacific-Standard for a great summary of the issue in general in America.
. . . from 2001 to 2010, 50 new sports facilities were opened, receiving $130 million more, on average, than those opened in the preceding decade. (All figures from Long’s book adjusted for 2010 dollars.) In the 1990s, the average public cost for a new facility was estimated at $142 million, but by the end of the 2000s, that figure jumped to $241 million: an increase of 70 percent.
. . .
Due to these oversights, Long calculates that economists have been underestimating public subsidies for sports facilities by 25 percent, raising the figure to $259 million per facility in operation during the 2010 season.
This only leaves emotional arguments about the value to the city of being in the "big leagues."  However,  even with the Chargers threatening to leave, the latest polls indicate that the public is unwilling to subsidize the team to stay in San Diego, with 54% disapproving of using tax dollars to keep the Chargers.

However, the situation is also unfair from the Spanos family's viewpoint. Other cities are willing to subsidize their football teams with money for stadiums, so San Diegans attitude puts the Spanos' Charger team at a competitive disadvantage. They have to compete against teams in larger markets who are playing on subsidized ballfields. The interest on loans to build a stadium is money not available to pay players salaries.  If the Chargers are a business, then they would be crazy not to look to move to a location where subsidies drive down their costs.  Ultimately, the business with the higher cost goes bust.  In the NFL, this would mean never being in contention and slowly losing your fan base.  Also, if the Chargers aren't going to receive subsidies, then moving to a larger market and sharing the costs of a stadium with the Raiders in Carson is still better than footing the bill alone in San Diego.

The real problem is that politicians in most other states and cities are willing to ignore public opinion and provide tax payer funding to professional sports franchises.  They do so, even when the public votes against ballot measures, like in Pittsburgh.  In such an environment, the only way to win is not to play the game.  But it means the Chargers have to go.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Water Conservation Hypocrisy

This lake near San Luis Obispo, California barely contains any water following a several year drought.  Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

The ever helpful nanny state types have invaded my neighborhood app, called Next Door, with tips about saving water.  Of course, there was no discussion about why we don't have any water and why agriculture is dying in California.  Since the hypocritical nanny-staters didn't allow me to comment on their post, I am responding here.

I muted the discussion topic "Waste No Water" because they closed any discussion of their post. The fact is that California is suffering more from this drought because of the stupidity of past kowtowing to the environmental movement that killed reservoir projects. Victor Davis Hanson has a great  summary on the The City Journal web site.

Just as California’s freeways were designed to grow to meet increased traffic, the state’s vast water projects were engineered to expand with the population. Many assumed that the state would finish planned additions to the California State Water Project and its ancillaries. But in the 1960s and early 1970s, no one anticipated that the then-nascent environmental movement would one day go to court to stop most new dam construction, including the 14,000-acre Sites Reservoir on the Sacramento River near Maxwell; the Los Banos Grandes facility, along a section of the California Aqueduct in Merced County; and the Temperance Flat Reservoir, above Millerton Lake north of Fresno. Had the gigantic Klamath River diversion project not likewise been canceled in the 1970s, the resulting Aw Paw reservoir would have been the state’s largest man-made reservoir. At two-thirds the size of Lake Mead, it might have stored 15 million acre-feet of water, enough to supply San Francisco for 30 years. California’s water-storage capacity would be nearly double what it is today had these plans come to fruition.

If these groups so concerned about the drought's effects would work to increase the state's reservoir capacity I might not ignore them for their hypocrisy. I have cut back my water usage by over 40%, but the state is killing jobs by not reserving water for farms and industry. I don't think the state can thrive without agriculture.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

San Diego Planning Follies

From the U-T:

The City Council voted 6-3 on Monday to reject plans to build three homes on the Jessop estate in Point Loma, adding to the single one built in 1926.
. . .
"When you have properties this big, you shouldn't be putting the houses 12 feet apart," said Council President Sherri Lightner, adding that the design would make firefighting difficult. "I have grave concerns about public safety."
Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, whose district includes Point Loma, said she could support adding­ development to the site, but not this particular proposal for La Crescentia Drive because of the locations of the new homes.
Monday's council vote was actually in favor of a res­ident's appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the proposed subdivision last June.
. . .
The owner of the property, Carolyn Kutzke, has been trying for several years to develop it.

The OBRag has more background on the story.  Apparently, there were 700 signatures on a petition to overturn the planning commission vote.  I think that Carolyn Kutzke should sue under the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution if she is not given a way ahead to develop her 1.5 acre property.

I hope that the city council is as fearful of resident's dismay when they vote on jamming dense development into the Morena district.  I am sure there will be far more than 700 people willing to sign a petition.  In the meantime, the council approved the path ahead to change the Bay Park community plan bypassing an update of the entire community plan.  This is a process foul that didn't go unnoticed by RaiseTheBalloon:
While we appreciate that the city threw out the original timeline to complete the Morena Blvd Area Specific Plan and replaced it with a more reasonable one, Raise the Balloon and residents of our community have made a formal protestation of the City’s attempt to change/amend our community plan through the Morena Blvd Station Area Specific Plan instead of updating our ENTIRE plan through the process of a comprehensive community plan update (CPU).
Meanwhile, all that money that the city collects from developers to make your neighborhood better?  It's not getting spent.  Apparently $78 million isn't enough cash to start a real project.  From the U-T watchdog:

Developers have paid more than $157 million in impact fees since San Diego approved the charges on new construction in the 1980s, and despite a litany of needs the city has spent only half the money, budget records show.
The money was collected from builders in some of San Diego’s oldest neighborhoods, with the idea that they should contribute to community needs such as parks and fire stations. Much of the money has remained in the bank for years while city planners save up for projects or figure out how it should be spent.
In the downtown district alone, the city has assembled $25 million. The city has not completed an impact fee-funded project in that area in more than 10 years, although officials have spent more than $400,000 of the funds on administration.
Citywide, $78 million of the money collected so far has not been spent, as of June 2014, the most recent accounting available.
Creative way to waste tax dollars? Don't spend it.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Short Term Rental Issue in San Diego

There is a petition on asking the mayor and the city Council to ban short-term rentals in the city of San Diego. I'm not going to link to the petition because I don't want you to sign it. A total ban would be ridiculous and an invitation for people to just flaunt the law. However, there are some issues that ought to be dealt with regarding short-term rentals.  Some negative comments about short term rentals from my neighbors on Next Door.
  • The vacation rental on our street is basically a hotel. New people, often for only two or three days. Lots of parties lots of noise. Sometimes they book it for a wedding.if it was the neighbor getting married, nobody would object to them having a wedding at their house.
  • It makes me upset and ruins my quality of life by having a "hotel" on my street in my quiet residential neighborhood. It is not safe for my child and threatens my well being. Especially when I am verbally assaulted by a transient occupant who thinks it's ok to party until 2:30 in the morning.
  • I know that some vacation rental owners do NOT pay TOT [10% tax levied only on short-term rentals], which one must remit voluntarily. Most of these owners do tend to rent for longer terms [& thus do not have to pay TOT], but 2- & 3-week rentals are common, as in the beach areas, so those who do not pay TOT on their short-term rentals are cheating the city.
  • As long as the city is receiving TOT from a vacation rental, there is no reason for them to care if it is a full time mini hotel or not. Houses in residential neighborhoods should not be turned into full time mini hotels, that is why we have hotels in the first place.
Other cities have taken some steps to regulate short-term rentals.  Portland's approach, however, seems a little heavy handed.
Portland will start issuing permits for its first legal short-term rental operations in private homes as soon as September.
The Portland City Council on Wednesday gave its OK for Portlanders to rent out one or two bedrooms in their home over-the-counter, $180 permit after an inspection and notifying neighbors.
$180 permit? Why?  This will only encourage people to evade the system and reduce the extra tax revenue that Portland could receive.  Further, there is no need for an inspection. This market is very much self regulating, with renters providing feedback on the quality of their stay.

A better approach for San Diego would be very light touch regulation. Owners who want to do a short-term rental, should pay a very low fee, maybe $10, so that the city is aware of their activity. They should also pay the same transient occupancy tax (TOT) that hotels do. If owners don't control their rental properties their permits could be revoked.

Exit question: If I rent out my home on do I get to vote on the use of the TMD tax? Would I have standing to sue that it violates Prop 26?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Leftism, corruption, and its causes

You can always count on the left to favor solutions that both increase government size and lead to cronyism and corruption. Holman Jenkins makes this connection in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal.
But Europe, Japan and the U.S. have been desperate to stir private-sector growth and yet refuse to consider how they treat their private sector. Europe gave itself austerity in which the private sector shrank and the government didn’t. Big-name economists keep insisting monetary policy can conjure growth without anyone having to question any ideological, political or policy embraces of the past three decades. 
Nobody asks: How can we make our societies ones in which people find opportunity? They worry about the distribution of income but not the absence of income-creating opportunities for individuals.
When the left's solutions never actually solve the problems they report to solve, then it is fair to question their motives. Indeed I have come to believe that the motives of the leaders of the left are merely to aggrandize their own power. They have no interest in solutions, just as Al Sharpton has no interest in better race relations in the United States, because continued trouble gives him the continuation of his platform.

Another area of leftist hypocrisy, but I repeat myself, is in the area of global warming. It seems clear to me that man is having some effect on the climate, even if not catastrophic. But you might argue that it would still be good for the environment to impose a tax on carbon since the burning of carbon is associated with other forms of pollution.  Such a tax would need to be offset by other tax reductions to not distort the economy further. Of course, the left does not propose this. Instead, they opt for cap and trade, which does very little to reduce carbon omissions, is prone to fraud, and lines the pockets of politicians seeking donations from groups to get exemptions from the caps for their favored industries.  It becomes nothing but a graft machine wall destroying the wealth that we need to come up with a real solutions to the problem.

Rather than argue policy with the left, it is much easier and more effective to point out their massive hypocrisy. When they propose cap and trade, for instance, just ask them why they intend to increase corruption.  When they propose raising the minimum wage, ask them why they hate the unemployed. When they propose even more regulation of Wall Street, ask them why their legislation includes bailouts for Wall Street's biggest firms.  Ask them why they always favor the solution that increases corruption.

What You Should Be Reading

  • Left Coast Rebel provides an excellent review of American Sniper, without plot spoilers.
  • Dalrock continues to expose the ugliness of feminism through the subject of hot farts. (It is really worth the read.  Also, defeating feminism is necessary to maintaining liberty in this country.)  Fortunately, feminists have made themselves so darn easy to ridicule.
  • Duck Enlightenment (@jokeocracy on Twitter) guest blogs at Heartiste and puts the shiv to SJW feminism by asking "Who Bitch This Is?" Reasonable debate has failed and the feminist establishment refuses to listen to rational concerns about where they are leading our civilization. Direct words need to be spoken, and this man Shinblade has gifted us with these four powerful direct words to show us the way forward.  (Backstory, the woman pictured in the video had plotted ahead of time to provoke a reaction that would prove her SJWs theories.  When she is caught on video, the result is epic fail.)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Surveillance State and the Erosion of Trust in San Diego

Revelations about the surveillance state are eroding trust in government and in law enforcement in particular.  Police officer involved deaths of civilians are also responsible. Setting the Ferguson incident aside, which details are murky; Eric Garner's death in New York and the death of Tamir Rices in Cleveland, both captured on video, cast doubt on the fairness and integrity of those police departments and the justice system.

Locally, this distrust played out in social media on my app, NextDoor,which allows people to connect with others in their neighborhood (the comments referenced below come from the Bay Park neighborhood news feed.)  Significantly on this app, anonymity is not allowed, which seems to improve on-line behavior.  SDPD Officer Hesselgesser posted an article about car break-ins by thieves capturing the key-fob signal. I applaud the SDPD for taking to social media in this way to work with the community.  But, subsequent commentary revealed the impact of the lack of trust.  Officer Hesselgesser advised against covering up the vehicle's VIN as a means of preventing thieves from getting fobs from the dealership. Some wondered why.
What's the valid, non big brother reason we should keep the VIN uncovered?
Asked Tom from PB in the comments.

Another interaction that reveals the mounting concern over surveillance comes from this posting about video cameras at a Balboa Ave. intersection.
At the intersection of Balboa Ave. and the Target store entrance driveway, there are 4 video cameras installed next to the hanging traffic signals. All 4 cameras are aimed toward the center of the intersection. Does anyone know why the cameras are there, and who is monitoring them?
And comments worrying about transparency:
I noticed those also. For sure those are video cameras. They are *not* traffic light sensors or Traffic Signal Preemption (TSP) sensors for emergency vehicles (turn traffic lights green). The TSP sensors don't look like cameras. That intersection is not on the 511 camera list:
I'm guessing those cameras are for law enforcement against illegal use of Traffic Signal Preemption devices which are sold on the Internet. If you want to dig deeper, call councilmember Chris Cate's office and ask.
In case you are curious the cameras appear to be optical detection cameras to sense approaching vehicles and linked to the traffic light controls.

Cylindrical object is optical detection camera. (Source: WikiMedia Commons.)

Finally, there is the unresolved issue of how the San Diego police are using the cell phone tracking devices known as the Stingray.  (This stingray is much more pleasant.) The Stingray is a mobile cell phone device that masquerades as a cell phone tower, allowing law enforcement to get a suspect's (or average citizen's) cell phone to divulge information to the interceptor.  Because information on the operation of the device is being kept secret by the San Diego police, we have no way of knowing if bystanders or even love interests of officers, are under surveillance.  The Snowden revelations have made us realize that once a technology is in the hands of the government, it will likely be misused without oversight.

Law enforcement needs to be held to a higher, not lower, standard than the average citizen.  There should be consequences when the police don't live up to high standards, rather than the current culture that rallies the DA and fellow officers to get an exoneration.  Even when circumstances don't warrant prosecution, poor police conduct that results in the citizen deaths should be punished by dismissal.  Finally, local law enforcement needs to be transparent.  The San Diego police should release as much information about the Stingray that pushes the envelope of what the Justice Department has told them.  When they engage on social media, a good thing, they need to follow up on citizen's concerns.  Restoring trust that law enforcement is doing its job while protecting our constitutional rights will make us all safer.