Archive for February, 2009

Demigod Politicians Attempt to Interfere in Opposition Candidate Selection in California

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

     Originally in California, a political party’s candidates were chosen at party conventions, which meant that candidates were chosen by the political leaders; rank and file party members had little input into selection of candidates.

     Reformers believed that ordinary party members should express their opinion about candidates of their party, so they instituted primary elections, which were ‘political party’ elections, where candidates and party’s central committee members were elected. 

     Now in California, voters are required to register as a party member and are provided with their political party’s ballot to vote for candidates for partisan offices.  All voters, including Independents, are given ballots for non-partisan offices.

      Last week, California announced plans to have an election to determine if, in the future, California will allow independents and opposition party members to vote for candidates in whatever party they choose (a so-called ‘open primary’).  This absolutely violates the purpose of primary elections, as political party elections.  It is ludicrous to allow members of an opposing party and/or independents to choose and affect a political party’s candidates and choose the member’s of the party’s central committee.  Opposition party members and/or Independents will deliberately vote in the opposition’s primary to manipulate and affect the outcome of the choice of candidates.

     Open Primaries are a total violation of a political party’s integrity.

California Budget Crisis: Proposition 13 and Its Effect

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

        What California’s budget crisis boils down to, is an epidemic in California of one of the following or all of the following: insanity, greed, ignorance, and/or hatred of government in general.  It appears that no one in California wants to do without the ‘necessities’ of life that are provided by State tax revenue, yet, no one in California wants to pay their fair share.  The people and their Governor appear to believe that the benefits of government, the very purpose of the government, should be provided free of charge.

     Like all other States, California has three primary sources of tax revenue: income tax, sales tax, and real property tax.  In most States, traditionally and practically, the local police protection, fire protection, and public schools are provided for primarily from revenue from property tax.  But thirty years ago, Californians voted to approve of Proposition 13, which virtually eliminate real estate tax as a viable source of revenue for these purposes.  In San Diego, less than twenty-five percent of the support for schools comes from property tax, whereas before Proposition 13, seventy-five percent of the cost of schools was derived from property tax.

     Of all of California’s tax revenue sources, the best source of revenue is real property tax because the wealth of California is in ‘land’; it would be hard, even impossible, to argue with that statement.  Yet, Californians voted to virtually eliminate the tax on land as a viable tax base for revenue in the State.  In essence, the people of California voted to deprive local government, local police and fire protection, and public schools of their primary source of tax revenue by enacting Proposition 13.

     Prior to 1978, California had the most equitable real estate tax in America because all property in California was reassessed every three years.  As real estate values increased, the assessments and the revenues increased proportionately because of the reassessment and not because of tax rate increases.  Then, property tax adequately provided for police protection, fire protection, and public schools.

     The real catastrophe of Prop 13 was that it eliminated property reassessments every three years and mandated instead that reassessments only take place when property sold; when property sold it was required to be reassessed at market value.  The result was that property of business, industry, and rental properties rarely sell and that property, today, is taxed basically at their assessments of thirty years ago.  However, turnover of residential property is quite high and when sold, the assessment of residential property for the new owner increases as much as ten times the old assessment of the previous owner.  The inequity of California property tax, by virtue of Prop 13, is extremely unfair to ordinary buyers of residential property and business, industrial, and rental properties owned since 1978, are paying a pittance in property tax.  Proposition 13 was an initiative that provided huge benefits for wealthy property owners, compared to ordinary residential property owners.

     When Gov. Schwarzenegger ran for office the first time, he chose Warren Buffet as his financial adviser.  Buffet made a speech in which he indicated that California’s property tax inequities were at the core of the State’s financial problems; Scwarzenegger publicly told Buffet to shut up about Proposition 13 and it was never again mentioned.

     Buffet had indicated that he paid only $2,400 in property tax on his $5 million estate in Malibu and he paid ten times that in property taxes on a $500,000 home in Nebraska.  Imagine how the poor California property tax payer thought, considering the property tax on his recently purchased below-the-median-priced two bedroom condo was $3,600.00 and considerably more than the tax on Buffet’s $5 million estate.  Buffet is, of course, an extremely wealthy man, but he understands the inequities of property taxes in California and the effect it has on California’s budget.

     However, Schwarzenegger knew that the people of California actually believed that Proposition 13 lowered their property tax, even though that is not necessarily true for a majority of today’s property owners, many of whom are now facing foreclosure and paying ten times the property tax of their neighbor or the business that they work for.

     California schools ranked first in the nation relative to dollars spent for each student, prior to Prop 13; today, California schools rank last dollars spent on each student and Gov. Schwarzenneger proposes to cut funding for public schools even further, to resolve the State’s present financial crisis.  This is a good indication of how much Californians and Governor Schwarzenegger are concerned about public education compared to Proposition 13, that primarily benefits business, industry, and other wealthy landowners.

     One can only imagine how much better off the State of California would be if Proposition 13 were repealed; real property was assessed equitably; and wealthy property owners were paying their fair share of the costs of government.

Yet, Another Opinion About Labor Unions and Immigration!

Monday, February 16th, 2009

     Preface: Here is a letter sent in response to an opinion article in the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper on  February 15, 2009, ‘Opposing views on labor unions’ by Ruben Navarrette.

      The article was basically about the good or evil of the ‘Employee Free Choice Act’ now before Congress and the relationship of labor unions to immigration.  The ‘Employee Free Choice Act would purportedly make it easier to unionize an employer’s business.

Dear Mr. Navarrette,

     Several times I have written you, sometimes to praise but admittedly more often to criticize and consequently I confess I seldom read your column since I consider your opinion predictable.  That does not mean that I do not respect your column which I do; when it comes to commentary and opinion, I do not believe that there is, in reality, absolutes, right or wrong (except for a few commentators for which I have no respect at all).

     Your Sunday, “Opposing views on labor unions”, did interest me.  Your article dealt with labor unions and immigration, which I agree are related.

     I am the grandson of a German immigrant and son and grandson of blue collar workers who benefited from labor unions.  Personally, I have studied labor history, participated in labor union organizing, and I have taught American labor history in the public schools.  As a public school teacher, I felt it absolutely necessary that I teach labor history without indicating my own bias and opinion; I consider teaching public schools a sacred trust!  However, I realize that as a newspaper commentator, your bias and opinion are your ‘bread and butter’ and the very purpose for which you are employed and I have no argument with that.

      For over fifty years, I have been a resident of San Diego, here on the Mexican border, and witness to the history of ‘illegal’ Mexican migration and employment and I have developed some personal biases over the years.  Consequently, I feel that I have had considerable experience with people and dear friends of Hispanic heritage, I appreciate Mexican culture, and I am, in general, sympathetic to ‘illegal’ Mexican workers that I have discovered are otherwise good American citizens and tax payers.  I say that I am sympathetic to ‘illegal’ Mexican workers because I believe the real problem in America is not illegal Mexican workers, at all, but the problem is instead illegal American employers.

     Please let me explain that I lived in Switzerland for five years and discovered that in Europe there is little problem with ‘illegal workers’ because the European countries have a ‘national identification system’ for work purposes and workers must be proven qualified to work before employers can hire them; employers who do employ workers who do not qualify to work and are caught hiring illegal workers, are sent to prison.  In Europe, there was very little evidence of workers who were not qualified, finding employment.  My experience in Europe made me a firm believer in this system of law enforcement regarding employment of illegal workers; therefore, I believe that it is the only possible answer to the American problem of employing immigrants who are not entitled to work in America from being employed by American employers illegally.

     I would appreciate it if you would find space to discuss your feelings about this concept in your column.

     Further, I respectfully disagree with your condemnation of harsh methods used by farm worker unions (fear of immigration) to protect and preserve progress made by unions for the benefit of ‘union workers’.  This is my reasoning and I ask that you please try to understand.  Labor/employer relations is an adversarial situation and the only ‘weapon’ recognized by either party is ‘power’; this is a given!  Power in labor relations is derived by having some sort of advantage or control over wage benefits, profits from production, or statutes.  There are no charitable benefactors among either labor or management; the only mediating circumstances in labor/management disputes is that after the dispute is resolved, labor and management must work together for successful production, in which both sides have an equal selfish interest in the form of jobs and profits.

      In the case of farm workers and growers disputes, immigration statutes become a weapon used by either side, as you mentioned; use by either side is unfortunate and should not be.  This is an example of the need for realistic and effective immigration legislation by Congress.

     Circumstances and statutes in America naturally favor employers over labor; it is a matter of wealth and power.  The early part of the American 20TH Century witnessed a great and sometimes bloody (literally) struggle between management and labor; eventually, labor won some concessions in beneficial legislation, because Congress realized that a large majority of voters are also workers. 

     Unfortunately, the Taft-Hartley legislation enacted by conservative Republicans in 1948 wiped out much of the progress that labor had made earlier; labor unions have gone ‘downhill’ since. 

     Also, more and more employment in today’s job market has become ‘technical’ and technicians have been convinced that they are part of ‘management’ and anti-union (until they lose their jobs).  It is unfortunate that much of today’s labor force has not realized the benefits of organized workers.

     Personally, I believe that America’s illegal migrant worker ‘problem’ is a huge problem for American workers and employers that can only be resolved by a national identification system for employment purposes, realistic and severe penalties for employer violations, and a reasonable and equitable guest worker program; but then, no one ask me.

      It is my hope that you consider this a positive critique of your column, “Opposing views on labor unions”.