January 13, 2017

Making Western Water Great Again

President Trump is not even President yet and he's already inspiring positive change to the drought conditions in the western United States. Almost all of the average precipitation measurements on this map of the west shows readings between 100 percent and 200 percent of normal for the last three months.

Colorado is doing nearly as well as California, as evidenced by the map below. (Source)


Sources found at The Water Report's snowpack research page.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 4, 2015

"How can we stop these shootings, togeeeether?"

Gypped from a very good RedState piece, 'This is Why Fox News Continues to Destroy CNN and MSNBC' here is CNN's Carol Costello emoting and John R. Lott Jr. reasoning:

We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five ...

Back to RedState:

It's the day after what might be the first major Al-Qaeda attack on American soil since 9/11, and FoxNews is giving people news. MSNBC and CNN are giving people sermons on gun control. And that's why FoxNews is winning.
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:32 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

But, John. John. John. Surely you are ready to throw away your lifetime of research and science and accept the conventional wisdom...

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2015 3:06 PM
But AndyN thinks:

But CNN and MSNBC both totally beat Faux News to the rummaging through an active, sealed crime scene scoop!

Posted by: AndyN at December 4, 2015 6:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. In the live version of "Dirty Laundry" Don Henley dedicates to "Rupert Murdoch."

Sweet irony.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2015 7:23 PM

October 7, 2015

All Hail Taranto!

You can tell me when I've posted too many.


UPDATE: If you have not read Reason's Plastic Bags are Good for You, do yourself a favor.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:45 PM | Comments (1)
But nanobrewer thinks:

You can never over-quote Taranto in my book.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 7, 2015 11:16 PM

August 17, 2015

Golden State

I was lashing out childishly to criticize Brother Keith's Home Sweet Home State in a comment. It was beneath me and I was wrong.

But, while I'm on a roll:

Hat-tip: Ed Driscill @ Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 6:46 PM | Comments (7)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

In other state and regional news, developments out of Colorado keep getting better and better:


I could see Californians going along with Federal demands like this. Californians are stupid, government-worshipping sheep. I thought Colorado would be close to burning the EPA to the ground over this.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 18, 2015 9:14 AM
But jk thinks:

Threat of $35,000/day fines will wilt resolve in most locales.

I thank my brother for kind words about my home state -- and I suspect our mine owners to be pretty brave -- but the state as whole is in deep doodoo (if you'll pardon technical jargon).

Our urban areas have gone steeply left. Watching local punditry, someone lamented "will Denver ever vote against any tax increase for anything ever?" Hip gentrification has succeeded, but it is becoming San Francisco on the Platte.

As whined in our secession push, the urban areas have disproportionate influence in the legislature.

Maybe build a raft out of old tires and Coors cans...

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2015 10:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Speaking only of California for the moment, that state does still seem to be alive and well.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2015 12:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And speaking of Colorado, whom exactly did you suspect would burn the EPA to the ground? Our governor? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

We have a good Attorney General but defanging a federal agency will take more than what a handful of wronged states can accomplish. More likely we'll see EPA comeuppance over their coal burning rules.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2015 12:36 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Colorado's governor? No. Colorado's freedom-loving citizens? (Well, until Brother JK schooled me on how that metric may have lurched leftwards.)

I hear my friends on the right complaining that with the demise of the rule of law, our Elected and Appointed Overlords are "turning this country into a third-world banana republic." Those overlords need to remember that in civilized nations, they'd eventually wind up with prison sentences and public humiliation when the wheel turns around, and it always does. In third-world banana republics, they wind up dancing from lampposts or sent off to the killing fields.

Consider the news today about the private server through which Hillary Clinton funneled all our state secrets - now revealed to have been kept in the bathroom closet of a loft serving as a mom-and-pop company. I can guaran-damn-tee you that the sensitive foreign policy communications of the lowliest third-world dungpiles do NOT get stored in the bathroom of some unknown citizen - not in Bangladesh, not in Uzbekistan, not in Namibia. I seriously want to know what in the fresh hell anyone involved in this escapade was thinking.

I will be frank. I have no confidence in our Federal government, and by that I mean both parties. Even the Republicans in whom I have confidence are a small minority of the party. I am at - no, I am long past - the point of believing that Leviathan needs a date with a chain saw and a chipper-shredder. I don't know whether the best solution is an Article V convention, secession, or revolution.

People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 18, 2015 1:01 PM
But jk thinks:

I vote Article V, seeking liberty with as little discontinuity as possible. I think of the Buffy/Angel A/B episodes "Fool for Love" and "Darla" and do not wish to empower the vampires through the revolution.

Regaining the role of blog optimist for one shining moment, I have this dream of a collapse of the Democratic Party in 2016's enabling a non-establishment Republican in the Rand Paul or Carly Fiorina to get a mandate and majorities to deliver smaller government.

I think the economy is poised to (if I may resort to technical economic jargon again) "completely freakin' explode" if the government would soften its boot heal on the neck of producers. Credit would somewhat rightfully accrue to the new administration and we might get a taste for prosperity.

You may sa-a-a-aay I'm a dreamer, but it happened in Canada and the Democrats are not looking wildly formidable.

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2015 1:41 PM

May 8, 2015

California Regulators: Falling Down on the Job of "managing private profit"

Can any ThreeSourcer believe that California regulators have been passing up opportunities to control a for-profit industry in California since around 1987? I was truly amazed to learn this. Perhaps the old codger who used to do it died before training his successor. But California environmentalists are on the case:

According to Adam Scow, California director of Food and Water Watch, the governor and state agencies could in theory disregard the legislature and act on the California constitution which bars "waste or unreasonable use" of the state's water supply.

"We need to start managing and protecting groundwater as a public resource," Scow said. "In a drought, bottling public water for private profit qualifies as wasteful and unreasonable."

Because... DROUGHT! "Endless drought" in fact.

Nestlé itself insists its water use is efficient and has minimal impact on the environment - something the activists reject out of hand.

"While California is facing record drought conditions, it is unconscionable that Nestlé would continue to bottle the state's precious water, export it and sell it for profit," says the petition, which is sponsored by the political activist organisation the Courage Campaign.

But surely not as unconscionable as drawing a Mohammad cartoon. Right?

Please people. A little perspective is in order. Bottled water is measured in ounces and gallons. Irrigation and municipal water is measured in cubic feet per second and acre feet!

Nestlé and its competitors point out that bottled water accounts for a tiny fraction of California's overall use, particularly when compared with the state's vast agricultural infrastructure. Almond farming alone sucks down 10% of the state's water, at a rate of roughly one gallon per almond.


One key question will be how much water Nestlé is taking to create what one industry group delightfully calls "the quintessential hydrating beverage". The company claims 700m gallons a year, or about what it takes to keep two golf courses green.


Posted by JohnGalt at 3:08 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

And my Facebook friends have posted (as Dave Berry would say, I'm not making this up) "Ban Almonds!"

One hates to see suffering, but the Hayekian in me welcomes this as a graphic illustration of Fatal Conceit -- let the pointy heads price a commodity instead of the market, and expect shortages or gluts.

Everybody's water price is subsidized in California. The created huge water subsidies for agriculture because Adam Smith, then they had to subsdies municipal usage because the discrepancy was alarming.

"Why didn't they just lower the..." Son, you've never faced an Ag lobby.

Searching for the great piece I read on this topic, I encountered this guy who started growing almonds because he saw that subsidized cotton in the valley wasn't a long term plan.

As for the gallon-per-almond metric?

Boy, that sounds wasteful. It's a figure designed to outrage, and it does the trick.

But looking at the societal value of producing food only by gallons of water used is silly, if not absurd. My fellow growers of other crops calculate that it takes about 168 gallons of water to produce a single watermelon. And 50 gallons for a cantaloupe. That head of broccoli that you feel good about serving to your child? Thirty-five gallons. A single ear of corn requires roughly 40 gallons.

If only there were some way to let all the users of a commodity find its most valuable use among competing demands. If only somebody could come up with such a scheme.

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2015 3:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Thus explaining why ag water is measured in acre feet instead of gallons. For example:

1 almond = .000003 acre feet of water
1 watermelon = .0005 acre feet

Everything else listed is between those two figures. Units matter. It's like saying a typical diet soda has just 4 Calories, when in scientific terms (thermal calories) it is actually a whopping 4,000 calories. (And a Carls Jr. 1/2 pound guacamole bacon thickburger is 1.21 million calories.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2015 12:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Reading the comment-linked article, CA farmers are paying $1000 per acre foot for federally supplied water. Since there are 325,853 gallons in an acre foot that is 0.3 cents per gallon. Talk about "producer subsidy!" The hipsters' have to pay 650 times that for their Ethos Water!

I'm not sure which is "worse" - the government giveaway to "Big H2O" or the rapacious profit-gouging by private corporation Starbucks!

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2015 12:43 PM

November 27, 2014

"...and snacks and stuff."

The funniest stuff I've read in a long time is in this "article" on the California ballot initiative voters "approved" to build a high-speed rail line to Hawaii.

"This is a great day for California," says Walter Miller, leader of the Yes on 49 campaign. "Sure it's relatively easy and cheap to fly to Hawaii. But why would you want to take a 5-hour flight, when you can take a 15-hour train ride in an underground tube?"
Posted by JohnGalt at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2014


Little jealous of Brother Keith that he has the opportunity to vote for this guy. I won't be so jealous in November when "Governor Moonbeam" beats him by 20 points...

Seriously, this is a VERY good video. Mark off ten minutes and watch it.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:10 PM | Comments (7)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Well, in the time it took me to compose that epic, JK had time to post not one but two new offerings, and I didn't even get to the footnote that the asterisk was supposed to lead to, so here it is:

* California has its own idea brewing, and I'm vastly in favor of it. It's called "Six Californias," not to be confused with Six Flags California. More linkage:


Now that I have this out of my system, I do believe I saw a reference to Eliza Dushku. Love her, hate her politics (half of that applies to Udall, too), so I seem to have some reading to do...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 31, 2014 6:10 PM
But jk thinks:

We had our moment in the 51st State sun, but the "State of Jefferson" is the most awesomest separationist movement out there. General Eisenhower said if a problem seems intractable -- expand it. Perhaps a shattering has some potential a clean split does not.

Curiously, ours was killed (no proponent but me will admit this) by some 100 year floods. They devastated our dry state such that some clouds over the last week have triggered PTSD -- at least ion the media.

Anyone on the margin saw the State step in to do rescue and disaster relief. That just left the crazies -- and there are some wackos in the movement. Even I have switched to preferring "The Phillips Plan." Proposed by un-populous Phillips County, the suggestion is to structure the Colorado State Senate with one vote per county.

This requires amending the State Constitution which guarantees proportional representation. But the rhyme to our Federal systems is unmistakable -- as is its ability to really solve the problem of a rural minority that generates more wealth than voters.

I may have been a Donnelly guy; I'll concede that two Obama votes is a serious indictment. I just know Kashkari from his PIMCO days and his Kudlow appearances -- he has a good dose of the free market in him.

I found the documentary compelling in the spirit of another hero of mine who is also dismissed as establishment: the Late Jack Kemp (QB - Bills). What-his-nose Democrat in Wisconsin tries a week on minimum wage and runs out of baloney -- One-percenter bond executive doing a homeless week in Fresno is -- have I used "awesome" too much in one comment? -- cool as hell.

Posted by: jk at July 31, 2014 6:58 PM
But jk thinks:

From your link:

In addition, Donnelly has raised only about $475,000, less than half what Kashkari has raised.

He misspelled "spent on lunch..."

Posted by: jk at July 31, 2014 7:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I read some parallels between CA's Donnelly/Kashkari primary and CO's Tancredo/Beauprez contest. Did the RGA come in and urinate all over Donnelly in a few key counties like it apparently did to Tancredo?

I've no lost love to Tommy T and I tend to agree with the GOP power brokers who probably calculated that his "loose cannon"ness would hurt not only his chances, but those of down ticket Republicans. (Damn it hurts to have to agree with GOP power brokers!)

But at least Beauprez has a snowball's chance against the wounded Hickenlooper, so we've got that going for us.

Posted by: johngalt at August 1, 2014 2:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"24% of Californians live in poverty. The highest in the nation."


Posted by: johngalt at August 1, 2014 2:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

We are all Starnesvillians now.

Will he get opportunities to debate Governor Brown? How can Brown defend the obvious failures of the regulatory state? Neel can focus on those failures without having to defend his flank from the favored charges of "racist" or "war on women."

Millions of Californians have good paying jobs in California, it is true, but millions more can't reach the first rung of the ladder that government has forced to be raised way, too, high.

The barrier to entry for American jobs? American governments.

I've said it has to get worse before it can get better. It seems to me it is now bad enough. Time to turn around, lemmings.

You're right, jk: Moving.

Posted by: johngalt at August 1, 2014 3:08 PM

May 14, 2014

Quote of the Day

Toyota will continue to participate in this cynicism in order to keep selling cars in California, naturally. But how could any auto company executive fail to be repulsed by the heedless sense of entitlement with which California's leaders squander the industry's capital on fake gestures? At least Toyota's image and California's now can go their separate ways. The company built its pickup-truck plant in Texas because it wanted to be closer to middle America. It joined Nascar for the same reason. Anyone who imagines Toyota didn't carefully consider the symbolism of removing its U.S. headquarters from California doesn't know Toyota. -- Holman Jenkins
Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2014

Movin' to California

So I can vote for Neel Kashkari:

UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page notes some "Rookie Mistakes:

We doubt that hailing the bank bailout as a profit-maker will pay dividends with Democratic or Republican constituencies. He'd do better sidestepping the issue by noting that many California Democrats in Congress, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, voted for TARP because they believed it was necessary at the time to save the economy.

While doing conservative outreach on the Hugh Hewitt radio show earlier this week, the Republican slighted the governor for his wealthy upbringing. "Nobody was born into a life of privilege like Jerry Brown," Mr. Kashkari said. He also challenged Mr. Brown to release his tax returns and made hay of a financial disclosure statement that showed $1 million in stock in Jack in the Box. "Jerry Brown owns a million dollars of Jack in the Box stock," the Republican quipped. "I eat at Jack in the Box."

Derision of wealth--inherited or otherwise attained--may be typical of Democratic campaigns, but it seems beneath Mr. Kashkari. While it might be tempting to try to neutralize his personal fortune by smearing his opponent with the same marker, the Republican merely comes across as petty. What's more, such lines detract from his anti-poverty and jobs message.

UPDATE II: Huh? Tax troubles in California? One-third marginal rate against Texas's one-fourth.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:44 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2014

B'bye, California!

How did I miss this? Coyote Blog closes his business in The Golden State and drinks a New Year's Toast. "Ventura County combines a difficult government environment with a difficult employee base with a difficult customer base."

Other than that... Why am I posting this here and not on Facebook? ThreeSourcers don't need to see what business owners face.

A local attorney held regular evening meetings with my employees to brainstorm new ways the could sue our company under arcane California law. For example, we went through three iterations of rules and procedures trying to comply with California break law and changing "safe" harbors supposedly provided by California court decisions. We only successfully stopped the suits by implementing a fingerprint timekeeping system and making it an automatic termination offense to work through lunch. This operation has about 25 employees vs. 400 for the rest of the company. 100% of our lawsuits from employees over our entire 10-year history came from this one site. At first we thought it was a manager issue, so we kept sending in our best managers from around the country to run the place, but the suits just continued.

Closing the site should work. There's much more at the link; the except was truly random as I cannot rank the events in egregiousness. Read the whole thing! Share liberally!

Hat-tip: Terri @ Ruminants

Posted by John Kranz at 1:40 PM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2014

Quote of the Day

California's project is one of several lingering on drawing boards since being promoted by President Obama's first-term stimulus bacchanal. To call these projects "high-speed rail" is to stretch a concept. They involve dollops of federal money dangled in return for states agreeing to talk about high-speed rail, draw up plans for high-speed rail, conduct studies of high-speed rail, pour concrete and move earth around in ways vaguely suggestive of high-speed rail at some point in the future. -- Holman Jenkins, Jr.
Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Heck, they may as well post a sign.

"Whistle, Piss and Argue." Learn somethin' new ev'ry day.

Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2014 2:52 PM

July 11, 2013

Mugged by Reality

My beloved and überprogressive niece found herself marooned from work by the BART Strike.

The unions--the Service Employees International Union and Amalgamated Transit Union--represent about 2,400 BART station agents, train operators, mechanics, maintenance workers, and professional staff. The unions have sought a wage increase of 23.5 percent over the next three years. Other key sticking points include employee contributions to pensions and health insurance. All sides agree they are far from reaching a deal and the unions could strike again after August 4. In the meantime, the public should take a close look at BART compensation figures.

She confronted a picketer and mentioned that she was not really getting a 23.5% raise...

Posted by John Kranz at 1:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2013

Quote of the Day

In June of 2012, Calpers lowered the expected rate of return on its portfolio to 7.5% from 7.75%. Mr. Milligan suggested 7.25%. Calpers had last dropped the rate in 2004, from 8.25%. But even the 7.5% return is fiction. Wall Street would laugh if the matter weren't so serious. -- Andy Kessler
Nonsense, I bet Cypriot bonds are paying 7.5. There would be a certain poetry in California's choosing them as an investment vehicle.

UPDATE: Persuant to the comment thread, Helicopter Ben got the job done today!


Posted by John Kranz at 9:54 AM | Comments (6)
But johngalt thinks:

Nonsense. The Bernanke bubble will make 8% returns the norm, at least until the music stops.

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2013 11:21 AM
But jk thinks:

Harrumph. Is that before or after the black UN helicopters invade and impose Communism, or we all die for fluoridated water or mandatory vaccinations?

I'll happily critique the absence of competing currencies, the Fed's dual mandate, and imperfections of monetary policy -- well into the night if there is enough beer.

Yet I cannot join the "New Ron Paul Monetary Malthusians" who are the only ones bright enough to see what is going on.

Could a lot of things end badly? Yes. Is the entire worldwide economy a Potemkin village with no realistic endemic underlying value? No. Are bond traders unable to comprehend risk? No. As I suggested to our dour Monday speaker, there remain many opportunities for soft landings.

A sax player friend lived with me in the early '90s. Three times in the year he rented my basement, he got up early to remove all of his money from the bank. Each time he was in wonder that there was no line. You may call me a Pollyanna. So did he.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2013 1:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I can't tell which part of my comment got your hackles up... 8% returns? Bubble? That it might pop? All three?

Let me simplify and just say, I see 7.5% returns as child's play for as long as the Fed continues its current policies. Anything controversial about just this?

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2013 2:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Some hackle inducement is residual from Monday's Liberty on the Rocks. Rampant belief that assets valued today will not be after the <your favorite apocalyptic term here>. Predicting gloom & doom is a long & noble enterprise which probably existed prior to prostitution. But the real Mad-Max, no possible soft landing scenarios infer no fundamental underlying value underpinning financial assets. I cannot join the bomb shelter crowd there.

QEn liquidity is certainly inflating stock prices, and it will be unimaginably difficult to unwind the expanded Fed balance sheet. Yet my Deutch-ian optimism suggests that human reason will find a way out.

Each clause of your comment is defensible. I take some exception to the 8% bit. I do not believe Chairman Bernanke is targeting, ever expected, or has achieved eight percent nominal investment growth. And I read "music stops" as the hard landing which so many of my fellow liberty lovers and Austrians are too certain will transpire.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2013 5:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Could not say it better than blog friend Terri:

Jk over at Three Sources sees humanity as capable of finding better ways out of bad situations. Especially Americans. I prefer to agree with him rather than with Mr. Wright who is “optimistic” that in the end after the fires and ravages of the BIG ONE, conservatism will win.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2013 5:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

1) Didn't intend to imply that 8% was Big Ben's target, but did mean to imply that since his "inflation targeting" does such a piss-poor job of measuring real inflation, said real inflation will be all or more of that 8% "growth."

2) I agree that "human reason" can solve this problem, now or in the future, but human reason has heretofore not been at the helm. Government has.

3) I heard only the Brushfire Radio interview and not the LOTR talk, but what I took from Mr. Wright was not that America will collapse, or even our financial system, but the Federal government is almost sure to do so, and may or may not take its dollar with it. Now that's a dystopia I can wish for!

So yes, I do see a hard landing of a sort. I think Jeff called it the mother of all bubbles or something like that. The "Grand Correction." Yeah, that was it. But things with real, intrinsic value will not become valuless. And even the dollar is fairly safe, for in this age of Global Currency War it is still the particular flavor of Monopoly (TM) money that more people believe in than any other.

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2013 6:19 PM

December 3, 2012

Heinleinian "Bad Luck"

An 80-year-old business of oyster farming is shut down.

Salazar ordered the Park Service to help the oyster company remove property, oysters and racks from the estuary and assist oyster company employees in relocating and finding jobs and employment training.

"We are taking the final step to recognize this pristine area as wilderness," Salazar said. "The estero is one of our nation's crown jewels, and today we are fulfilling the vision to protect this special place for generations to come."

My first thought was that this operated on leased Federal land and the operators should not be too surprised by political vicissitude. The real trouble being that there is Federal land, not the surprise of its being managed capriciously.

But the back-to-the-caves argument grows within me, watered by schadenfreude tears of disappointed Marin-county organic foodie customers. Rachel Maddow asks why we don't build Hoover Dams anymore -- her people won't let you dig a clam out of the sand.

California is a beautiful place. But it is more amazing for its rational achievement. Steve Martin's L.A. Story talks about the people who made a magical place in the desert. Steinbeck chronicled migration to the Golden State's agricultural wonderland. Silicon Valley's contribution to wealth and culture will be studied for centuries.

But it's over, kids. Human reason is no longer welcome there. And one fears the bright folks on the West Coast may once again be leading the nation.

"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as 'bad luck.'" -- Robert A Heinlein
UPDATE: Good video story on this.
Posted by John Kranz at 11:23 AM | Comments (3)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

It occurs to me that some Three Sourcers might enjoy the discussions at the Heinlein Facebook Forum: http://www.facebook.com/groups/41168255694/.

Sign up and stir up some trouble!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 3, 2012 5:21 PM
But Jk thinks:

I signed up. I have a feeling I'm going to get my ass kicked, but that can be fun.

Posted by: Jk at December 3, 2012 9:36 PM
But dagny thinks:

Thanks for the invitation and I have been a Heinlein fan since before I could drive but I just cannot afford another electronic time sink.

Posted by: dagny at December 4, 2012 11:53 AM

August 2, 2012


I'm going to coin the word, claim credit, and deposit my royalties in a Cayman Islands account.

But I am not otherwise going to engage in the trendy denigration of Facebook as a corporate entity. I did not purchase an equity interest and suspected that those who did were not paying attention in 1999. And yet, it's hip to hate Facebook. Watching FOX Business (methadone for Kudlow withdrawal), it is a veritable religion. Plus the hipsters cannot abide by anything popular, and the tech-savvys need to be seen on the latest platform.

I'd sell a put on Facebook at 16 though. It is a real platform with hundreds of millions of users, and many millions of devout users. That is not without value, even if that value is not $28.

Professor Reynolds of Knoxville engages in a little Zuckenfreude from time to time. Today, linking to a real concern that Zuckertaxes was the last trick up the Golden State's sleeve.

California state officials had been counting on a big boost to state revenues from the social networking company FB+0.70%.

California Governor Jerry Browns office put the number as high as $1.9 billion, assuming that Facebook shares are trading around $35 later this year when restricted stock unit lockups end.

Now however, with Facebook barely above $20, those assumptions are very much in doubt.

And as the Legislative Analysts Office told the Sacramento Bee "if the companys stock price remains depressed, hundreds of millions of income tax dollars assumed in the 2012-13 state budget plan are at risk."

Ruh ro.

UPDATE: Patent rejected:

[June 06 2012] Business journalists are having fun chronicling the stock market woes of Facebook (FB). I call the phenomenon Zuckenfreude. But when it comes to technology train wrecks, Facebook can't hold a candle to the disaster that is Sony.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:40 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2012

Understatement Award

I suggested to some fellow liberty lovers last night, that Jim Carlton and Max Taves must have been biting their mouth severely enough to draw blood as they penned this WSJ Politics Blog piece:

For Now, Bullet Train May Go Nowhere

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--After clearing a major legislative hurdle, California's proposed bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco still faces obstacles--including lawsuits and uncertainties over future funding--that could delay it for years

Negative Nellies, huh. I've a mind to reserve my tickets for the Bakersfield-Modesto link.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2012

Quote of the Day

Once unassailable politically, the environmental community is fracturing between those thoroughly allied to rent-seeking capitalists and the Democratic Party and those still primarily concerned with preserving nature. The Sierra Club, for example, objects to Browns attempt to exempt the high-speed line from environmental review. Some Greens also object to Brown-supported projects like the massive tortoise-roasting solar farm planned for the Mojave Desert. -- Joel Kotkin
Hat-tip: Brother Keith via Facebook (Whole piece is great!)
Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2012

Golden State Fiscal Misfeasance -- Greatest Hits

The WSJ Ed Page is on the case of a California "Revenue Disappointment" in California Ugly: Soaking the rich isn't working on the left coast

Among the biggest surprises is a 21.5% or nearly $2 billion decline in personal income tax payments from what Governor Jerry Brown had anticipated. This reinforces the point that when states rely too heavily on the top 1% of taxpayers to pay the bills, fiscal policy is a roller coaster ride.

California is suffering this tax drought even as most other states enjoy a revenue rebound. State tax collections were up nationally by 8.9% last year, according to the Census Bureau, and this year revenues are up by double digits in many states. The state comptroller reports that Texas is enjoying 10.9% growth in its sales taxes (it has no income tax), while California can't seem to keep up despite one of the highest tax rates in the land.

This would seem to suggest that California should try cutting tax rates to keep more people and business in the state, but Sacramento is intent on raising them again.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:13 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Laffer curve, shmaffer curve.

California producer class to state government: "Up yours!"

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2012 4:24 PM

May 12, 2012

If only somebody could have predicted this


SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California's budget deficit has swelled to a projected $16 billion -- much larger than had been predicted just months ago -- and will force severe cuts to schools and public safety if voters fail to approve tax increases in November, Gov. Jerry Brown said Saturday.

The Democratic governor said the shortfall grew from $9.2 billion in January in part because tax collections have not come in as high as expected and the economy isn't growing as fast as hoped for. The deficit has also risen because lawsuits and federal requirements have blocked billions of dollars in state cuts.

I sure hope those tax hikes pass so that revenue can start a-flowin' in -- this sounds serious.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:05 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

The more things change, the more they stay the same:


Three years ago this very week.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 12, 2012 8:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Golden State fiscal misfeasance is always comment bait for Keith, but this one is a home run, bro:

We're sorry. We admit, we've overspent ourselves into bankruptcy. We've taken all the money you've given us previously and frittered it away on shiny things that caught our attention. We've ignored every previous law, budget reform, and policy statement ever enacted. We can't help ourselves; we can't control our spending habits. We need you to control us with a new set of budget reforms and spending limits, and we promise you, this time, we'll obey them. Really. We mean it this time. And we want you to give us a whole truckload of additional money while you're at it. You can trust us this time. We promise. We really, really promise.

Trust us.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2012 11:21 AM
But jk thinks:

Plus a great band name: "The Golden State Fiscal Misfeasance!" Live at Beaudreaux's in Sacramento -- this weekend only!

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2012 11:36 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Right on, right on, right on. And the "magical" revenue cure teased at the bottom of that post is quite prophetic as well. And yet, Governor Jerry still refuses to see.

Anecdote: A San Diego cousin of dagny's (and spouse) visited last week. They were scouting for a new Colorado neighborhood. Their young daughter's middle name is Reagan. I won't identify them further lest they be apprehended and punished for thinking of abandoning Jerry and Ivy's "family."

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2012 2:56 PM

September 7, 2011

Golden State Paradise!

One would love to think this was a joke:

The Foreclosure Modification Act, a proposed citizen's initiative, would ban mortgagees from foreclosing on owner-occupied dwellings in the Golden State. It would further require banks and other lenders to help mortgage borrowers struggling amid financial hardship or illness.

Additionally, lenders would be required to reduce loan principal amounts to reflect a drop in local property values of at least 10 percent. Payments would be adjusted without a new credit review, the proposal states.

Lending institutions would have 45 days -- from a borrower's requests -- to refinance a loan maintained for at least three years, the proposal seeks to mandate.

If enacted, the initiative would state a finding that "foreclosure has become a method of increasing a lending institution, loan servicer, mortgagee, trustee and beneficiary's bottom line and profits by turning borrowers out of their homes."

And if enacted, the initiative would state that mortgage holders making further payments on their loans be reclassified as "suckers."

Hat-tip: Cafe Hayek. Don Boudreaux offers an open letter to the petition author that is worth a read in full:

As I say, waaaay cool! But now I must ask: if everyone can be guaranteed what in effect would be a debt-free home merely by amending a state constitution, why stop with homeownership? Why not put to full use the miraculous powers that you've obviously learned to extract from mere ink on parchment? Let's also make automobile ownership "a fundamental right."

Heck, even that's thinking too small! Let's give everyone a "fundamental right" to own a both a yacht and a private jet!

A power so stupendous and costless as the one you've identified ought to be used to its full capacity -- which, given the nature of this power, apparently knows no limits.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:02 PM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

It's already been tried. It's called "Communism."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 8, 2011 10:03 AM

May 12, 2011

Golden State!

We've been hard on California politicians of late (oh, the last nine years or so....) but there are some bright lights.

Rep Mary Bono Mack (R CA45) completely stole my heart as one of the House Impeachment Managers in 1998. Today she's written up in Reason for proposing reasonable reforms of the insane Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) .

Bono Mack's proposed tweaks to the law, as part of the Enhancing CPSC Authority and Discretion Act of 2011, are impressively commonsensical: The new rules would require a cost-benefit analysis (wild!) to see if mandatory third-party testing of virtually anything a kid might come in contact with is actually cost-effective at improving safety. If the answer is "not always"--as it certainly will be--the law would empower the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to change the regulations.

Hoss (I am assured the same term works across different genders).

Posted by John Kranz at 5:53 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Looking at your categories after the article: "California Hoss." Those are two words you don't see together often, and not merely because the Ponderosa was on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 12, 2011 6:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, Keith, we may have our occasional disagreements, but know that I always consider you a California Hoss.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2011 3:43 PM

That Buys a Few Bottles of Coppertone®

I saw something on this yesterday from the Guest Insties, but Professor Mankiw suggests it might be related somehow to California's current economic challenges:

According to a [Newport Beach] city report on lifeguard pay for the calendar year 2010, of the 14 full-time lifeguards, 13 collected more than $120,000 in total compensation; one lifeguard collected $98,160.65. More than half the lifeguards collected more than $150,000 for 2010 with the two highest-paid collecting $211,451 and $203,481 in total compensation respectively....Lifeguards are able to retire with 90 percent of their salary, after only 30 years of work at as early as the age of 50.

I've seen Baywatch; who can begrudge those insanely attractive young people a little remuneration?

Posted by John Kranz at 2:33 PM | Comments (6)
But johngalt thinks:

Even as ridiculous as this example is, the real budget buster is the 90% pension. While old-guy fifty-something lifeguard is being paid to be retired some young-guy twenty-something is hired to take his place, resulting in two people essentially being paid to do one job. If he's lucky, old-guy lives long enough to be eighty-something when young-guy retires and when gleam-in-the-eye guy is hired we now have three people drawing a paycheck for that single job.

Posted by: johngalt at May 12, 2011 2:50 PM
But jk thinks:

As Mark Twain famously quoted Herb Stein: "Something that can't go on forever, won't."

Mickey Kaus is right, the future will be those with funded pensions versus those without. There will only be enough wealth for one and the politics will become very interesting (cf. Greece).

Posted by: jk at May 12, 2011 3:10 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

You've hit that on the head; now multiply that by 232,690 - the number of the army of State employees in California. It doesn't take a lot of math expertise to see the megatonnage of the state's ticking economic time bomb.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 12, 2011 3:12 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

First of all, as we speak, the one guy left out is probably bitching to his boss for a raise.

Second, if it saves only one life, isn't it worth it?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 12, 2011 3:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I think I saw this episode of Baywatch, br. His girlfriend has left him because he is the only lifeguard not making 100K and her Mom is furious. All appears lost, then he saves the Mayor's kid and gets a big raise. His girlfriend not only comes back, but she has had breast augmentation surgery in the meantime, and the four of them live happily ever after...

Posted by: jk at May 12, 2011 3:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Another notable point is a comparision of the salaries of these Surf City lifeguards (about $100k per year) versus the average Navy SEAL (about $54k.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2011 3:22 PM

December 15, 2010

One I Picked Wrong

I don't have the stomach to search and read old posts, but I'll come clean and admit I was very excited when "Ahhnold" rose to gubernatorial greatness in the Golden State. He liked Reagan. And Milton Friedman. And he bragged to Arianna Huffington that he drove a Hummer. An Austrian's Austrian.

But it did not end well. Joel Kotkin:

Schwarzenegger never grew beyond the role of a clueless political narcissist. As the state sunk into an ever deeper fiscal crisis, he continued to expend his energy on the grandiose and beyond the point: establishing a Californian policy for combating climate change, boosting an unaffordable High-Speed Rail system, and even eliminating plastic bags. These may be great issues of import, but they are far less pressing than a state's descent into insolvency.

The Terminator came into office ostensibly to reform California politics, reduce taxation and "blow up the boxes" of the state's bureaucracy. He failed on all three counts. The California political system--particularly after the GOP's November Golden State wipeout--is, if anything, more dominated by public employee unions and special interests (including "green" venture capitalists) than when Gray Davis ruled. Taxes, despite efforts by members of Schwarzenegger's own Republican Party, have steadily increased, mostly in the form of sales and other regressive taxes. The bureaucracy, with its huge pension costs, continued to swell until this year even as state unemployment climbed well over double digits.

Yet another reminder to put your faith in philosophy and not leaders. The ideas that he read from his script remain valid, even though he has failed as a leader.

Hat-tip: Instapundit -- and, no, I won't blame it on Maria Shriver.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:51 PM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Recovery is a 12 step process. Step 1: "My name is The Refugee and am a Schwarzenegger supporter..."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 15, 2010 4:14 PM

December 10, 2010

Any Hope for LA at All?

Insty linked to this, suggesting "the last thing they need is new entry-level jobs."

I was appalled at the Orwellian assertions of the councilwoman that these bans were all about providing choice. I said "there's no hope! Game Over in LA!" and "Yes, I'd love another cup of coffee!"

But then, the local TV voiceover asks "but is it government's job?" (The odds of that question appearing on FOX31 in Denver is 0 out of 100.) Then, two of the three man-on-the-street interviews suggest freedom. And the third is ambivalent.

Liberty's not dead in South Los Angeles, but it has much to impede it.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:48 PM | Comments (0)

November 8, 2010

The Lindsay Lohan of States

You're pretty and all...

Instead, we're making bets on how long it will be before your next meltdown. Oh, wait--you're already melting down.

You've racked up nearly $70 billion in general obligation debt, and that doesn't include your $500 billion unfunded pension liability. Your own analysts predict you'll face a hole of at least $80 billion over the next four years.

Your government's run by a brothel of environmentalists, lawyers, public-sector unions and legislative bums. When they're not taxing or spending, they're creating regulations and commissions like the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology and the California Blueberry Commission. Many businesses would leave if it weren't for your sunny climate.

From Allysia Finley, a "lapsed Californian" on OpinionJournal.com.

I can't throw stones. Our fair state has looked at the other 49 Brandeisian laboratories of democracy, pointed to California, and said: "That One!' We're right behind ya...

UPDATE: My. Oh. My. Insty links to a list of California State agencies. Like John Stossel's boxes of Federal Regulations he keeps as a prop on set. The length of this list speaks to fiscal irrectitude.

More importantly, how free can anybody feel or be in a State with that many regulatory bodies?

Posted by John Kranz at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)