California has the worst bond rating in the nation, hovering just above junk bond status. A lower bond rating means higher interest rates when selling bonds – and California already spends $10 billion per year in bond principal and interest repayments.
In this, as in many other things, California leads the nation, for better or for worse (repaying the money borrowed for President Obama’s Stimulus will cost every American $280 a month for life).
Some people place a portion of California’s debt problem at the feet of voters who approve nearly every bond initiative, from $3 billion for an embryonic stem cell research bond to $10 billion in debt to build a high-speed rail system.
It’s hard to blame citizens of the Golden State for voting for debt when the most famous Californian, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, proclaims bonds “a gift from the future.” It’s also hard to blame voters for approving bonds when the bond ballot descriptions and arguments are chock full of shaky claims.
Take November 2008’s much promoted High-Speed Rail Initiative, Proposition 1A. Voters approved it by 52-48 after proponents, such as train manufacturers and unions poured $2.5 million into the effort. As with almost every bond measure, there was no funded opposition. The measure’s proponents, big business and labor unions, claimed that the trains would offer time-saving travel “AT A CHEAPER COST!” than air travel or car. And that, the train would, “give Californians a real alternative to skyrocketing gasoline prices and dependence on foreign oil while reducing greenhouse gases. Building high-speed rail is cheaper than expanding highways and airports to meet California’s population growth.”
Really? Who checks these claims?
A widely read California columnist recently noted that the cost estimates for the fast train were rapidly unraveling only 18 months after the vote. According to the signed ballot argument train fares were sold to voters as going for “about $50 a person” for a ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Now the estimated cost for that same train ticket has soared to $105. The doubled cost to riders has tanked train ridership estimates by one-third.
An additional report from the San Jose Mercury News revealed that the train’s crucial ridership numbers were based on an unpublished study rather than the disclosed peer reviewed documents. A High Speed Rail Authority internal memo indicates the public employees deliberately withheld the final assumptions, presumably to ease passage of the controversial bond initiative. (A trick learned from the Global Warming community, perhaps?)
Meanwhile, as the state teeters on insolvency, the repayment cost is still anticipated by the High-Speed Rail Authority to hit $647 million annually, an estimate that lacks even a basic level of credibility as California’s bond interest rates are expected to soar as they reach junk status.
I was pleased to author the arguments against Proposition 1A, along with Tom McClintock, then a Senator, now a Congressman, Senator George Runner, Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and others. We wrote that repaying the bond would cost $20 billion; or about $2,000 for each California family of four over the life of the bond. If California’s bonds go to junk status, the annual repayment cost would escalate to more than $960 million per year, taking an additional $1,000 bite out of the typical California family’s budget over 30 years.
Further, the bond repayment costs will be in addition to a heavy yearly subsidy from state taxpayers to keep the train from operating in the red. This train subsidy will take scarce tax funds from road and highway construction, as well as such mundane things as buses for urban mass transit.
California is tapped out. We can borrow no more. The question is, will voters realize this and start to hold on tight to their wallets in future elections?
As for the rest of America, look to California and take careful notice: incurring mountains of debt without the ability to reliably repay it comes at a high cost. Out of control debt encumbers future generations with crushing repayment obligations – essentially subjecting America’s youth to taxation without representation while consigning them to a life with a lower standard of living than their parents and grandparents.
Don't know if this is what We are looking for in opposition to the EPA, but someone has has enough or another ploy. -----------Look who’s opposing EPA’s war on carbon now By Michelle Malkin • February 5, 2010 01:06 PM
The Obama administration’s eco-crats — who have had free reign in their war on carbon — are now getting push back from…Democrats.
It’s about time:
Three House Democrats are now pushing legislation that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon emissions—a decision the agency announced in December — without express permission from the Congress.
Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would amend the Clean Air Act to exclude regulations based on global warming effects, while Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) has a bill that would keep the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases at all unless approved by Congress.
In April 2009 the EPA proposed an “endangerment finding” for greenhouse gases, claiming that they “endanger the public health and welfare of current and future generations.” An endangerment finding is necessary to regulate emissions under the Clean Air Act. On Dec. 7, the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson officially signed the finding, opening the way to regulate emissions of gases like carbon dioxide and methane.
By complying with the rules of the Clean Air Act, the EPA claims it can begin regulating things directly, such as automobiles, without any new law from Congress. But some Democrats, contrary to the administration’s views of the issue, are not satisfied with the EPA’s new regulatory direction.
“I’m proud to help sponsor this bill because if Congress doesn’t do something soon, the EPA is going to cram these regulations through all on their own,” Rep. Peterson said in a statement.
Slow learners are better than no-learners.
I seem to find this strange similarity between the EPA and the FDA -- both, I feel, integral to keeping the "big guys" in check on a number of different levels, and both, equally, failing due to the sort of dichotomous obstacle that all actually USEFUL federal citizen-protection agencies (that's their "ideal" description, tto me, anyway) face: and that's a combo of classically overly bureaucratic, red-taped, workforce-heavy, workforce-lazy stagnancy, AND, the ever-present infestation of partisan politics and corporate power-plays which change, buy or otherwise manipulate decisions based on just who's in power at any given time.
So, we've got two bureaucratic nightmares in the form of the EPA & FDA, driven by a fiscally-fickle political nightmare ... and, we expect them to do what they were designed to do, both efficiently and effectively? How can we expect that of them, really, until we change the system by changing the complexion of our legislative and executive branches?
It'd just seems to me that, if we were allowed to run the EPA AND the FDA like I wish we could run our government -- entirely eliminate "job security" on all levels, so we might actually FIRE them when they're not DOING them, as a start ... and start running these organizations and divisions of government like we would any honest, solvent and highly productive company?
We'd start seeing immediate and lasting results in the areas both the EPA and FDA are quite CAPABLE of managing -- which is, basically, OUR protection. Not the environment's protection, but protection of the environment so that WE (and our wildlife) might hand down the sort of land and sea we want our children's children to enjoy, SAFELY. And, not the protection of pharmaceutical or food/cosmetic conglomerates, but protection of our food/cosmetics we'd feel SAFE in handing down to our children's children.
Does that sound liberal? I don't know -- don't care, really, because I hate over-legislation of anything. In fact, one of my favorite of my Dad's many disgusted, sarcastic lines about Dem.'s, whenever got involved in just about anything was, "well, by all means -- let's make another LAW." He (and our whole family, a long time before I came along,) was self-employed. An entrepreneur. A very independent man who believed in FREE enterprise, capitalism, the American Dream (worked for him, after all,) and, OF course, grin, Reagan. And, I'm a lot more like him than I'm not ... so, no, I don't think I have a "liberal" view on this, even though I am against most partisan-for-the-sake-of-partisanship stuff, and have abandoned blanket support for the Republicans for this very reason, as they've proven to be just as crooked as the Dem.'s.
That said, just to check my basic math here, I Wiki'd both entities just to get a bare-bones definition of what each agency "does" to exert their specific control over our lives -- what their individual scopes of responsibility and oversight and "power", etc. really are.
Skip through these next couple of graphs, then, if you already know all of this. I had a general idea, as we all do, before tonight; but, I was a bit surprised to see the full scope of their operations, and even more interesting, to me -- HOW each agency was represented. How MUCH detail would I find from a few-second browse through a Wiki page?
And, yeah, I did it this way for a reason: I wasn't interested in the gov's sites' mission statement ridden, overly "rah-rah" websites, or, even in any other outside "expert's" comparison study of the two entities that basically control the biggest domestic life-force issues we have, as Americans, for now. I only wanted a simple, non-government-sellin'-itself-to-itself AND the occasional idiot, like me, who doesn't actually know "what", and very exactly, each agency ... actually controls OR protects in my name.
Because, really, I'm mostly just like every other U.S. taxpayer, air-breather, water-drinker, clothes-wearer, vehicle/boat-driver, Great Lakes fish eater, Michigan game eater, as well as a general consumer, user AND buyer of lots of other "stuff" made or merely sold in the U.S. -- so, hey -- I have a right and a responsibility to know a helluva' lot more about these agencies and all of this "stuff" before I vote "for or against" anything or anyone to DO with them, right?
Isn't that what we're trying to do here at FT, anyway? Learn more, exchange more info, figure more out about the Constitution and how our government REALLY works vs. SHOULD work, and then choose the right people in every election from now on-- including those who will choose these EPA/FDA-types, and then oversee their decisions about a lot of "stuff" that directly relates to US, the American people?
Even before we start thinkin' about whether or not we really even "need" these agencies anymore?
Well, that's what I think, anyway, even if I'm on the side of KEEPING them, albeit revamping the CRAP outa' how a lot of their work is actually done.
So, onto my Wiki-fested stuff ... which I think some of you who have the patience to read this stuff might actually find interesting. I'd even suggest going straight to the pages themselves, and looking a bit deeper ... I haven't, yet, granted, but, I think I might. It won't be because I have an undying need or passion for knowing any of this, really, but, because, before I cast another vote any time soon -- I'd like to know enough to ask an intelligent question or two regarding both agencies to any candidates I'm interested in voting for ... and see if THEY know anything ... already have opinions or thoughts about how to better and more HONESTLY run these agencies in the future ... AND? Well, hell ... what those thoughts/ideas might be -- without a teleprompter in front of them. (Chances are I'd vote for the schlub who said, "damn, honestly I don't know, as I haven't even THOUGHT about that yet -- but I'll put it on my list and get back to you." And then? WOW -- I'd actually get an answer not written by a 20-something intern goin' only by the X-Party's "Form Answers For Political Dummies" manual ... ya' know what I mean?)
So, anyway ...
Here's the EPA's "function", basically:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged to protect human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970, when its establishment was passed by Congress, and signed into law by President Nixon, and has since been chiefly responsible for the environmental policy of the United States. It is led by its Administrator, who is appointed by the President of the United States. The EPA is not a Cabinet agency, but the Administrator is normally given cabinet rank. Lisa P. Jackson is the current Administrator. The agency has approximately 18,000 full-time employees. LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Environmental_Protection_Agency
[Now, check out the different approach the FDA's page takes -- then I'll be back [shudder], lol]
The Wiki'd FDA's "function", basically:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA) is a government agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The FDA is responsible for regulating and supervising the safety of foods, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and non-prescription medication, vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, electromagnetic radiation emitting devices (ERED), veterinary products, and cosmetics. The FDA also enforces other laws, notably Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act and the associated regulations. Many of these regulations are not directly related to food or drugs. These include sanitation requirements on interstate travel and control of disease on products ranging from certain household pets to sperm donation for assisted reproduction. LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_and_Drug_Administration_%28United_States%29
As you'll notice, IF you looked at either page, and only after skimmin' through the FDA's similar intro paragraph (at least in size, if not content, so much), you have to scroll down a bit to see what the EPA's all about -- it's actually separated in the glossary section, though:
* 4.1 Air
* 4.2 Water
* 4.3 Land
* 4.4 Endangered species
* 4.5 Hazardous waste
Um, YEAH, that's some important STUFF to us ... AND to our kids -- you know, if we wanna' breathe, and not do a cannonball into a freakin' pond of DDT instead of, you know ... water.
But, if you looked further down that glossary, you'd see its proud list of "programs", obviously trying to sell themselves, however they can, to a lot of pretty po'd people affected by their "functions" ... and it looks like some of 'em are right here at FT, in fact.
On the FDA page, though they're just as "eeeeevil" (at least right now) in the more SUBTLE of the classi passive-agressive kinds of MURDER we often ignore because -- hell -- we don't KNOW about it ... the glossary area isn't nearly as filled with PR devices like that ... maybe because it dosn't need to be? It's not FIGHTING a bunch of rabid ANTI-EPA people, because, no one really even KNOWS, much less realizes just how much more dangerous the FDA really is to the American public. And the "stuff" they THEY control/regulate? Kills us FASTER!
Hey, maybe that's it! The FDA's thinkin', 'dude -- Americans are SO into immediate gratification and selling out the futures of their children, etc. ANYway ... so maybe, even if they really KNEW how much we screw up either on purpose or not, it'd still be ok. Other government agencies or employees have done far worse to them, after all ... though, really, they probably don't know all of that, either. WOW, are they slow.'
No, seriously -- maybe the FDA's already happy enough with their funding and image, just as long as no one looks too hard into which legislators from which states are givin' the go-aheads/no-go's to the OTHER pinheads they barter with in the back-rooms, their support based on the deep pockets and underhanded campaign (and otherwise) funding "incentives" on the part of pharm. & food & cosmetics companies. So, why worry? They're covered ... pretty much.
And you KNOW these corporate suits -- the ones who want their new drugs rushed through approval & released long before adequate safety testing! They're just as successfully workin' our WONDERFULLY incorruptible system of greedy politicians and amoral bureaucrats as the OTHER suits are -- those who don't want European competition, and thus prevent or slooooooooow down the approval processes for certain (and sometimes extremely superior to our own) treatments/drugs "we" either can't or don't know how to produce yet!
You know -- the dance! Maybe the FDA's just been dancin' longer with this stuff, because the music's so much more LIVELY!
"It's just FOOD, man -- that's all we do -- protect you against bad FOOD! Oh, and plus maybe some mascara and stuff -- OH, yeah, and we also approve drugs that SAVE YOUR LIVES!!! POLIO, anyone? No, because there's a vaccine to STOP IT now -- that was US -- WE did that! [Whether or not "they" did, sigh ...] So, hey Ameria, we ROCK! WE don't over-regulate or over-tax you out of your JOBS because we don't want some greedy corporate bastard's toxic waste filling up your kids' swimmin' holes, either, so we don't NEED no stinkin' PR like the EPA does!"
Hard to say, but the differences in how even Wiki structured each page, based on an identical search term format, only exchanging EPA for FDA when running them? Tells me a PR bedtime story that, usually, in my former business? Meant that there's even more trouble behind the "curtain" than you could imagine ... unless you start having some of those bureaucratic nightmares again, of course.
So, please don't toss out the EPA OR the FDA because you think they have no function except for screwin' with your "free enterprise rights" or even your "jobs" these days.
We can FIX that by revamping the agencies themselves, stream-lining the hell out of them both, DE-legislating/DE-regulating in a lot of cases -- and in some -- YES -- punishing the hell out of SOME industries/corporations whose operations are covered by one or both agencies, because the U.S. SHOULD have the highest standards in the world.
Not just for our products ... but mostly? For our PEOPLE. And we can't DO that without agencies like the EPA and FDA.
Hell, we can't do that WITH either one, at the moment, either ... but, we need a lot of change in this country. And I mean SENSIBLE change, because we can't just throw everything out that we just don't fully understand, or simply don't "like meddling in our affairs" and "start over".
That's the opposite extreme to what the "progressives" are doing NOW that we hate so much ... and, haven't we learned, by now, that in any republic, the "extremists" always lose in the end?
Usually in pretty ugly ways, too, so I'd hate to hafta' be around for THAT, grin ...
Anyway -- will be interesting to see if any of you picked up on what I did, and only after skimmin' ...
[and an advance sorry for typos, etc. -- don't have time to edit tonight]