Saturday, May 30, 2009

Majority rules!

I don't know how many times I heard that saying as a kid. I'm sure I even said it myself a few times. Nowadays my skin crawls when I hear it.

Here's a cute little You Tube video about that saying- or at least the idea- and about how individual rights can be trampled by majority rule. It focuses on same- sex marriages, but it would be nice to see something like this involve a wider range of issues.

Hat tip to C.L.S, over at the
Classically Liberal blog (May 29th post) for the heads up.

First they came for the communists and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist....


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Calnorth Korea

I mentioned last month there was a bill introduced in Sacramento that would prohibit eggs from being imported into the state if they weren't produced under the cage- free conditions of Prop 2. So, if this new bill passes, you'll have no choice but to pay higher prices for eggs, or smuggle them in from out of state.

Now it looks like even trash is trying to leave California so busy- body Assemblygal, Pat Wiggins, has introduced a bill to charge a fee on trash sent out of the state. This, we can surmise, to keep the coffers of the 450 bureaucrats of the Integrated Waste Management Board well funded.

This state is becoming as isolated as North Korea, for the same sort of reasons. We need to get rid of the Integrated Waste Management Board now. We also need the Justice Dept. in Washington D.C. to file suit against the State of California for interfering with interstate commerce.


Some Budget Numbers

A nice piece in the Capitol Weekly this morning gives some numbers I've been looking for. In particular, it looks like I was right in saying both state revenue and spending on education has increased over the last few years. At least I think he's saying that:
In fact, new revenue estimates released by the Department of Finance this week place the state’s general fund revenues at $85.9 billion – nearly $4 billion higher than they were just five years ago.
In the 2004-05 budget year, spending on K-12 schools was $30.3 billion. In 2009, it was $39.4 billion. But during that same period, K-12 enrollment stayed flat. In 2003-04, there were 6.3 million students in public schools. In 2007-08, there were 6.28 million students, according to stats from the state Department of Education.
It certainly begs the question of the disconnect between local schools and Sacramento as Hank Sims writes about in the North Coast Journal this week. But, as the Capitol Weekly points out, the process of distributing the money is rather confusing.

MediCal is also pointed out as another major cost increase. I've mentioned before that I find this both fascinating and scary. MediCal probably has the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. I believe they pay less than 14 cents on the dollar and more and more doctors are refusing MediCal patients. Think how much higher state expenses would be if MediCal reimbursed at more conventional rates?

Over that last five years, prison spending has increased around 45%. I'm not sure there's much we can do about that. Even releasing prisoners will still leave a cost heavy infrastructure to pay for.

Overall, though, I found the article somewhat comforting if only it makes me feel the budget situation isn't as bad as it's being made out to be. Or, is it?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Equal Treatment Under The Law

...unless the a majority feels otherwise.

Would You Subscribe?

As mentioned over at Humboldt Herald the other day, the Times- Standard is going to start charging for access to its web site sometime in the future. This article, which appeared in the T-S Business Section this morning, looks further into the subject and cites one newspaper that is making that work.

The Arkansas Democrat- Gazette only allows subscribers of their hard copy free access to the online addition. Non- subscribers have to pay. Sounds like it works for them as their readership has increased recently, unlike most other newspapers.

I'm still wondering how this would affect bloggers since most of us just take it for granted we can link to news web sites? I suppose, in a way, nothing would change. We could still link to the news sites but blog readers would have to pay for their own subscription to use any links you provided.

Would you pay a fee to access news web sites? You might have to, eventually, if you want to read the news and everybody is charging for access.

Taxes: Too much, or not enough?

Eric Kirk and some others over at his blog think we're not paying nearly enough in taxes as we should be.

The Sacramento Bee's, Dan Walters, takes a look at taxation in California.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, it appears a number of the state's millionaires have left to state to avoid taxes. That seems to be happening all over the country, or so I've been hearing.

During all this, our supposed socialist neighbor to the north, Canada, seems to have been weathering the worldwide recession fairly well by most accounts. Why the difference with the United States? The Washington Post seems to think it might have to do with spending less on at least some aspects of government.

If you click on the subject titles on the bar above the graph, you'll get a different corresponding graph.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Look At State Expenses

Interesting look at the state deficit in the L.A. Times. The author claims,

"California could fire every state employee -- including well-paid prison guards and university professors -- close every government office, stop all travel and even cease the purchase of paper clips without closing the budget gap. The government would be gone but the deficit wouldn't."

Unbelievable, except he doesn't say how big the deficit would be after getting rid of state government.

Of course, one of his recommendations for fixing the budget is getting rid of the 2/3 majority requirement to raise taxes. Seems to me that if you could basically dissolve government in this state and still have a deficit, increasing taxes wouldn't work.

What I'd like to know, and I don't know that I've seen it mentioned anywhere, is how much the sales tax- or any other tax for that matter- would need to be raised to eliminate the current deficit?
And I suspect that, even without a government, the deficit might still increase as it always has over the last decade or two. We'll need even more taxes after that.

How much are you willing to pay?


Saturday, May 23, 2009


Nice to see at least the Eureka Police Department getting on the case of jaywalkers. I'm not so sure I have a problem with jaywalking in and of itself. If someone is paying attention and crosses the street where he legally shouldn't but it's not causing a problem with anyone's safety, what's the problem?

It's the ones who don't look or pay attention to traffic that cause the problem, or those that cross on red lights, sometimes.

I had a girl cross the street on a red light in front of me a few months ago. Middle of the afternoon at the corner of Henderson and E Streets in Eureka. I don't think she even looked as I drove in to the middle of the intersection and had to abruptly stop. She just looks over at me and smiles. I couldn't believe it. SOMEONE WRITE HER A TICKET, PLEASE!

Henderson Center is the place to go if you want to watch crazy pedestrian moves. Strange thing is, I see the worst pedestrian stuff on F street, whereas E street seems to have more people that at least look both ways before crossing the street. Maybe F street, being more congested, makes people feel safer since people usually drive slower?

At that one crosswalk on F street some people just walk out in the street without looking. Most at least look first, but usually just look straight ahead as they walk across the street. They don't seem to realize cars can pull out of a parking space or turn on to the street from a side street and become a threat.

I wish they could write tickets for inattentive walking, but maybe that's asking a bit much. Probably come back to haunt me, anyway, if they did start doing that.
As an aside, I saw a good one take place on the corner near my house some months ago.

I was out taking stuff out of my truck and noticed a teenage kid at the corner across the street. I assumed he was a high school student as he was carrying a rucksack and was headed toward Eureka High School.

I didn't notice if he looked before crossing but the next time I looked up he was crossing the street looking straight ahead seemingly oblivious to the white older model station wagon bearing down on him from the south on E street.

The car isn't even slowing down and I realize it's about to hit the kid. I yell to the kid, LOOK OUT! He quickly jumps out of the way of the car and just keeps on walking as if nothing happened. The car was maybe five feet from him when he jumped. He walked on down Trinity Street after that and I don't believe I've seen him since.

As the car passed by- the driver was in his late teens or early twenties with a passenger about the same age- the passenger throws something at the kid but the driver just drove on. He never slowed down at all.

Pretty crazy stuff going out there between cars and people nowadays.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Free, from PG&E

Some work was done on my house yesterday. It came about as a result of the Pacific Gas and Electric C.A.R.E program. The C.A.R.E program is for low and fixed incomes.

I feel a bit embarrassed about them doing all that work free of charge since it kind of makes me a low- life, but I am also grateful. Whether or not I see a change in my gas and electric bill remains to be seen.

It started a couple weeks ago when a gal from PG&E called. We've been on the C.A.R.E program for maybe 3 years now and she told us we qualified to have a free home inspection and some free energy efficiency modifications done. I agreed to have a home inspection made and she gave me a number of choices for an appointment the very next day.

I had to work, but Connie was home when the inspector guy came. He took a look and listed some things that would be taken care of, including some we could of easily done ourselves like replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent. He also said they'd be replacing our refrigerator as ours is over 20 years old. They claim a new refrigerator will cut the energy cost of the appliance in half. We shall see.

So, about a week later that same guy calls and sets up an appointment for the contractors to do the work. We made the appointment for yesterday between 9am and 10. They showed up a bit before 9 and went to work. I forget the name of the company. They wore green shirts.

They roved around the house looking at things to take care of. I got the impression that they had a list the PG&E guy gave them but could add things to it if they felt it needed doing. All kinds of things ended up being done.

They replaced a few of our light fixtures with fluorescent fixtures. Put vents of some sort in support of our forced air and water heaters. Caulked up a few places where air might be leaking into the house and put weather stripping on the doors. I guess if you had broken windows they'll replace them with those sealed, two pane windows, but none of our conventional windows were broken.

I got a little bit bothered when the boss guy was looking at our Wedgewood stove and made it sound like it should be replaced with a new stove. Hey, that's my stove, dude! But that never got too far. We told him we were happy with the one we have and don't have room for 2 stoves.

Truth be told, I'd appreciate a newer energy saving stove, but nobody's taking away our Wedgewood. The Wedgewood stays.

They were here close to 6 hours. The last thing they did was a test for carbon monoxide- the house being sealed better now, the more danger of CO. He found a couple burners on the stove he said were over the limit and needed to be looked at, despite us having a carbon monoxide detector about 5 feet from the stove. He called PG&E to report it and they left.

The PG&E gas guy arrived in less than an hour. He checked out the stove and said CO was within acceptable limits. Nice guy. Enjoyed talking to him. He told us there was a bit of a disconnect between PG&E and their energy contractors and he shouldn't have necessarily been called out to our house immediately for the CO levels we had.

I also mentioned to him, despite him being a gas guy, I didn't think our refrigerator cost $30.00 a month as their calculator claimed. He said it most likely did and a new one should cut the cost in half.

Ok. We shall see. Don't know when they'll be giving us our free replacement fridge, but first they'll likely have a different contractor come out and install one of those ground fault plugs in the kitchen, then the fridge.

I do feel somewhat ashamed. Then again, I was paying for this stuff just like the rest of you are now. Heck, maybe I still am? I guess part of your energy bill goes to pay for energy efficient upgrades for low- lifes like me, but even some of the well- off get to take advantage of this.

The gas guy was saying it was kinda kooky how the program works. He said if a landlord had 30 rental units, the landlord essentially got a free refrigerator (or stove, or whatever) if the tenant met C.A.R.E guidelines. The tenants qualifications are what matter, not the landlord's.

So, once the tenant leaves, the landlord gets to keep the new appliance. I agree with the gas guy that the tenant should be able to take the appliance with them, or so I would think that would be fair.

Anyway, thanks for the work done so far, PG&E.


Voters Not To Blame

The San Diego Union- Tribune doesn't think voters share as much of the blame for the budget crisis as I seem to. They make some good points, but I still say voters are entitled to at least some blame for electing most of our problem legislators over and over again.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Do Their Jobs?

Nice editorial in the Times- Standard this morning. They're not the only ones saying our state legislators should do their jobs and fix the budget. As I've alluded to before, that's much easier said than done, especially when the electorate has limited their options and helped send spending soaring by with boondoggle bond measures and such.

But one thing I've wondered about and don't believe I ever saw any specifics on is what the original Republican budget proposal was, earlier on, as opposed to the Democrat version. I've read that Republicans were pretty much into cutting spending and Democrats in to raising taxes, but never read specifics.

Not sure if I'd really be able to handle reading an entire budget proposal, but perhaps a summary, as Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tom Campbell has put together, would suffice. He gives a general idea of what he would do to solve the budget dilemma.

Like Richard Rider, who I was surprised to find making comments to Campbell's plan, I'm skeptical of raising the gasoline tax. Then again, I don't know what it will really take to clean this mess up and I appreciate Campbell and others at least taking the initiative themselves instead of just telling other people to do their jobs.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What He Said

"Oh my God! Oh my God!".

That's what BART police officer, Johannes Mehserle, said after shooting and killing a BART passenger on January 1, according to a witness. I've been wondering what he might have said ever since that thing happened.


We're Doomed!

This guy thinks California will be the first state to go bankrupt. I think he might well be right. What he doesn't say is what he thinks would of happened if yesterday's ballot measures had passed.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No, They Aren't

I wondered, and at least one other person asked earlier, whether California's employee pension obligations were being included in the ongoing state budget debate. The Sacramento Bee's, Dan Walters, tells us they are not. Neither are state employee health care obligations.

It doesn't look to me like there's any way out of this mess other than leaving the state, for those of you that are able to.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm Right Again?

Wow. The Sacramento Bee's, Dan Weintraub, seems to agree with me about the ballot propositions:

"...and it doesn't much matter what happens Tuesday.".

Am I great, or what? Too bad that might also mean we're doomed.


Wal- Mart Is Good For You

Radley Balko explains that Wal- Mart reduces obesity in neighborhoods where they're located.

If you haven't already done so, you'll want to add his Agitator blog to your blog list. I've had it on mine for years and, just a little while ago, added a link to his blog to this blog's sidebar.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Six Figure Club

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat editorializes this morning about the growing number of public employees retiring with incomes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many retirement funds are short of money right now and, if the funds can't cover these retirements, taxpayers will have to pick up the tab.

I don't think these expenses are included in all the wrangling over the general fund budget, or are they? Either way, bad news. I mentioned before I'd be interested to see how our city and county retirement funds up here are doing.
The Ukiah Daily Journal also reports on pension liabilities this morning. Looks like Mendocino County will be short millions in their pension funds.

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A rather odd web site I just found out about, gives you the chance to rate your congresscritters. I say odd if only because it works a bit strange.

You have to create a username and password and then fill out a profile of yourself. Thing was, it didn't explain that to me. I created a username and password and it never directed me to fill out the profile. It just kept telling me I couldn't vote because they couldn't find my profile. I finally figured out how to fill out the profile but forget just where I found my profile form.

I'm guessing you can only vote once per day? I rated Mike Thompson a D. Tried to send him a letter but got some message I'd already voted. Hmmm... so voting is the same as sending a letter?

Then I tried to grade Boxer and Feinstein with Fs but was told I already voted.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Stand Aside

I'm thinking more and more that's what I should of done instead of voting YES on Prop 1A. Too late now, although I still have my filled out ballot on hand. This commentary in the Sacramento Bee is the latest one to make me question how I voted.

Then again, this commentary by Dan Walters makes me think it really won't matter in the end how anyone votes in this election. We're doomed, regardless.

As always, if asked for a login to the Sacramento Bee web site, you can use humboldtlib for a username and blogspot for a password.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Credit Card Regulations

I don't know quite how I feel about some of the proposed new credit card regulations floating around. But, since the government already regulates the banks to some extent, here would be my credit card regulation proposal:

Banks shouldn't be able to levy penalties for non- payment of an annual fee, as they do for missing a monthly payment. If you don't pay the annual fee, they can freeze the card so you can't use it but they can't charge penalties.

I used to carry a number of credit cards years ago, although I only used one or two of them regularly. I didn't pay annual fees on any of them, either. Then, one year, I got a bill from Capitol One (I believe it was). Nothing was due but an $18.00 annual fee.

I'd never had to pay that fee before and called them up asking them to close the account. I told the guy on the phone I don't pay annual fees on any of my other cards and I wasn't going to pay one for their card. As I expected, he said, Annual fees are always negotiable with us. We'll take that off your bill right away....

So, next year, the same thing happens. I get another bill for $18.00. I didn't feel like calling them at that moment so put it off. And kept putting it off, despite the bill sitting right next to the phone all that time. You snooze, you lose.

A month later I still hadn't called to get rid of that fee and I get another bill from Capitol One. This time it's for $68.00- the annual fee plus a $50.00 penalty for not making a monthly payment. Keep in mind I didn't have a balance on that card until they added the annual fee. Now I definitely had to call them, which I did.

I tell the gal I wanted to close my account. She says I can't because it has a balance. I explained that was because of the annual fee which I hadn't paid. She told me she still couldn't close it until the balance was paid but she'd flag the account for closing as soon as they received payment for the balance.


In hindsight I guess I should of asked to talk to someone higher up the line, although I wasn't really approaching them from a position of strength since I already told them I wanted to close the account. I probably should of brought up the annual fee first and then maybe they would of dropped the charges.

As it was, I ended up paying them $68.00 for basically nothing. It wouldn't bother this libertarian if they made that sort of thing against the law.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Food Control

I don't know if I mentioned it here before, but I was really worried about this happening. There's a movement afoot in the state legislature to prohibit imports of eggs into the state that weren't raised under conditions imposed by last election's Prop 2.

Damn. I was right again, although whether this effort will succeed remains to be seen.

So, voters in the state voted to raise the price of eggs, but at least some of us could still buy the cheaper eggs from out of state. Not if this effort succeeds. This is horrific example of big government control of one of the very foods people depend on for living as eggs are used in so many of the foods we eat, just like corn and sugar.

Food prices have already been climbing for some time and now we might not have any recourse but to buy more inexpensive foods being smuggled in from out of state.

Things do not look good in this state. I'm really thinking it's past time for a civil war. Then again, maybe this effort can be quashed by the courts declaring it as interfering with interstate commerce. I won't bet money on that, though.


Saturday, May 09, 2009

I've Cast My Vote

I filled out my absentee ballot yesterday. Not sure if I feel ashamed or proud for not standing aside on Prop 1A as I'd planned to do. I'd pretty much convinced myself to stand aside until the very last minute, when I voted YES on 1A.

My reasoning: As I wrote earlier, while 1A isn't the type of spending cap I think the state needs, it may be the best we can hope for in a Democrat controlled state. Compounding the problem are efforts to get rid of the 2/3 majority requirement to raise taxes. Many leftists and even some misguided middle- of- the- road types are behind efforts to remove the 2/3 requirement.

I'm thinking efforts to remove the 2/3 requirement will be successful, eventually. If that happens, there'll be hell to pay as taxes and spending will likely go through the roof without some sort of protection. While it may not be a spending cap, Prop 1A will be the closest thing we'll have to one and we definitely need something to protect us from out of control taxing and spending that we may be facing.
As far as the others:

Prop 1B was an easy NO vote, if for no other reason than it will throw even more money at the schools. Funding for education has increased every year for decades, yet still we have nothing to show for it and are told we're not spending enough on schools. This goes on whether enrollments are up or down. Enough is enough. A rainy day fund should be used for rainy days, not for throwing even more money at the schools.

Prop 1C was a fairly easy NO vote. I don't have a problem with using lottery funds for general government, but borrowing the money to only have to pay it back with interest will likely just make things worse. We have more than enough debt to pay off as it is.

Prop 1D& E I'll link together because they're similar and I think the idea behind them has at least some merit. These measures take money from certain programs and divert them to the general fund, if necessary. What the heck. I don't have a problem with that. My main concern is that supporters of the affected programs would simply try the same thing, again, that they did to get funding in the first place: Raise another tax.

No way to say for sure if they would do that but I'll use these two issues to find common ground with the Republicans, the Humboldt Taxpayer's League and a host of others with their temper- tantrum voting this election and voted NO on both of them.

Prop 1F was an obvious YES vote. The least significant of all the propositions, I've yet to hear one halfway decent argument against it with the exception of Eric Kirk's. His argument centered along the lines of our legislators not being paid enough. Not that I necessarily agree with him, but it was the only argument I've heard that rose above the temper- tantrum level.

So there you have it. Now you know how to vote. If you haven't done it yet, fill in the blanks on your sample ballot and on May 19 go in and vote for The Freddy!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

State of the Air

Interesting table showing the supposed air quality of the various California counties. Humboldt is one of three without a rating for some reason and there seems to be no rhyme or reason for the ratings of some counties. How can some of these rural counties with fewer people and traffic end up with lower scores than, say, San Francisco?

Also, unless I'm just not seeing it, I don't see Lassen County listed.

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A Case Against Legal Pot

I still haven't been able to find that old commentary by the two Canadians I dubbed The Libertarian Case Against Legalizing Pot. Here's the next best thing. It hits some of the same points.

Hat tip to for providing the link.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Confiker Virus Update

This just in from the folks at ZoneAlarms, the folks I use for firewall and anti- virus. Looks like they've found out more on how the recently spread Confiker virus works and what it's trying to do. Pretty wild stuff. They say if you get the pop- up window on your computer, don't click on it at all, even to close the pop- up. Wow!

Just posting this because you know there's at least a few visitors to this blog using unprotected systems:

A recent development regarding the Conficker virus has been detected, where it is now directing infected machines to download new, harmful files, thus activating the botnet. Here’s how this new behavior works:

Conficker sends out email spam without the PC owner’s knowledge. In addition, Conficker uses pop-ups to warn of PC infection and offers fake antivirus software, called 'SpywareProtect2009' at a price of $49.95. If purchased, credit card information is stolen and the virus downloads even more malicious software.

You can protect yourself from Conficker with ZoneAlarm Security Suite.
It includes anti-spyware and identity theft protection in addition to your antivirus protection.

If you encounter a pop-up like this, do not click on the pop-up at all - not even to close the box. To remove the pop-up without infection, open your Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Delete), and end the task from your Browser (Explorer, Firefox, etc.). You should take additional precautions to ensure you are not already infected and have adequate protection:

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"Free" Broadband OnThe Way

As would be expected, some people want Obama's spending bill to provide broadband access to all California's households. One billion recently printed dollars are being eyed for that purpose by the powers- that- be.

I've said here before I think such efforts are an inappropriate use- if not a waste- of government money. While the article doesn't specify just what exactly this will entail, I get the sense this is hoped to be an ongoing subsidy for certain households, not a one- time expense. This is not good.

Sorry, as the article mentions, 96% of California households have access to high speed internet. That's good enough for me and I don't feel it fair to subsidize those living out in the boonies just so they can download porn movies rather than still pics.

From the looks of the comments to the Bee article, most seem to agree with me.

As always, if asked for a login to the Sacramento Bee website, you can use Humboldtlib for a username and blogspot as a password.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Less Government. More Freedom. Individual Liberty

That's a campaign slogan Tom Campbell is considering for his run for Governor of California. Sounds good to me. I've heard he's not strong on gun rights, but he's my hands down favorite candidate of those who have announced, so far.

I think his chances of winning the nomination are slim, though. I don't think Republicans would nominate someone who isn't anti- homo. has a story on him this morning. He also has his own web site.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009


That was a good jolt, just a few minutes ago, if you didn't feel it. Scared the crap out of me.

Wow! The epicenter was 1km Northeast of Pine Hill. That's a close one.

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