New Feature Series - Out of California, Episode 1, Volume 1

October 14, 2019 - San Francisco, CA - - The political leadership of California has on numerous occasions and across both GOP and Democrat administrations boasted that the state, as measured by aggregate GDP, is the fifth largest economy in the world .

Let that settle in, that is SERIOUS juice with California falling in just behind the US, Chinese Communist PRC, Japan and German economies and besting the entire output of the UK!

California is also by far the most populous state in the union - over 40 million residents.

But under the glitter, things are not going well in the economy that - arguably - William Hewlett David Packard transformed. For substantiation of their contribution, please reference their development of the first desktop calculator [1968]; the first scientific hand-held calculator [1972]; the first desktop mainframe computer [1982]; and finally the first laser jet printer. Consequently, 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto, California - a one car shared garage where Hewlett and Packard started experimenting in 1938 - is widely regarded as the birthplace of Silicon Valley which has a GDP of $748 B, meaning that it accounts for nearly 30% of the entire state’s gross domestic output - approximately $2.7 T.

For all of its economic clout - 25% of the United States’ richest people reside here - living conditions have gone from bad to worse in a very short period of time, a fact that is highlighted by Pacific Gas & Electricity [PG&E] and Southern California Edison’s decision last week [starting 10.6.19] to entirely suspend provision of electricity to nearly 1M customers, some of whom had to deal with the created emergency for 96 hours. This breaks down to approximately 700,000 PG&E customers in Northern California and upwards of 150,000 Southern California Edison customers.

Disclaimer - getting exact or even rough aggregate numbers is impossible because both companies are so disorganized and duplicitous that all of their official pronouncements are suspet. To underline the state of disarray, the companies have been relying on local weather reports to identify “problem” areas meaning these highly speculative guesses are being used to predict exact temperature and wind speed so that powerlines going through those areas can be shut down.

Mistakes were made...

Adding to the horror-circus atmosphere surrounding all of this, both companies are trying to frame their actions as if the “safety concerns” were due to a matter external to their operations. In fact according to their advertising blitz now choking the airwaves, PG&E and Southern California Edison are casting themselves as studious custodians of citizens’ welfare, when in fact this is the opposite of an “emergency” it is the direct and predictable result of decades of gross mismanagement, failure to make a reasonable effort to improve their infrastructure and a corrupt overseer, the State Public Utility Commission [PUC] which actually gave the final go ahead to shut off the power.

PG&E and public endangerment are old friends, for example in 2010 a natural gas line located in San Bruno, CA, erupted in a thousand-foot-high wall of flames that killed 8 people outright. Eventually settlements were made with about 500 plaintiffs totaling over $600M which includes nearly $100M in legal fees.

That is half-a-billion dollars that could have been put into infrastructure modernization.

That these folks are ruthless and totally unsympathetic to people with special needs that depend on having uninterrupted electrical power; per the PG&E safety action center - “During a Public Safety Power Shutoff, ALL customers serviced by an affected power line will have their power shut off. This includes Medical Baseline customers…” [emphasis PG&E’s]

Curl up and die, no power for you...

The intentional shutting down, for days, of a state’s power-grid is unprecedented in American history. What it means is that unless there are rapid and massive changes, California will be threatened for the foreseeable future with an unpredictable power supply, one of the marks of Third World country.

In this matter, PG&E is probably the most craven of California’s power providers - though there is more than enough blame to go around - since its outages were so massive combined with the fact that the company admits at the same time that it is more than 50% behind in its already lax infrastructure maintenance schedule.

PG&E’s dire economic state [it is currently in receivership , pleading with the courts to allow a Chapter 11 reorganization process, that is being challenged by bond-holders who are advancing a more radical addressing of the situation] is largely a result of its decision to seek bankruptcy with an eye towards shielding the company from an estimated $30B in damages which may accrue the organization due to 2018’s “ Camp” fires that killed 86 and destroyed 18,000 structures, 13,000 of which were homes.

In the center of the affected area - suburban Santa Rosa - entire city blocks looked like Hiroshima the day after, nothing remaining but cement foundations and the smell of dead pets and livestock.

It is believed that arcing PG&E lines were the root cause of the Camp fire, but the matter remains in litigation - as we have seen recently in the case of Johnson & Johnson [traditionally a very good corporate citizen] good luck limiting damages if it comes down to a jury trial.

So against a backdrop of a malfunctioning energy grid and one-party rule [Democrat governor and huge, radicalized Democrat majorities in both legislative houses] California has the highest homeless population in the United States, the greatest number of illegal aliens, the lowest average household income, the nation’s highest fuel prices and taxes…and a legislature that couldn’t care less making the state’s lawmakers full-on partners in the power companies’ irresponsibility.

California, not surprisingly given the people behind these statistics, is a sanctuary state. Illegal immigrants in California have more procedural rights here than long-time citizens, Google Kate Steinle:

“The revelation that the suspect arrested for firing the bullet that killed Steinle was a Mexican citizen who had been deported five times already, and who would have been deported a sixth time if not for San Francisco’s sanctuary policy protecting him from being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement upon release from a local jail, changed American politics.” [source, Susan Shelly, The Kate Steinle Tragedy Changed History].

With such mal-administration, in many cities “minor” felonies have been decriminalized; for example, San Francisco is the scene to an average of 60 vehicle breakins per day and don’t hold your breath waiting for the gendarmes to arrive…they’re at the donut shop. In all major California cities [uniformly Democrat run] vagrant tent cities abound, hard drug use is off the charts, the homeless defecate on the streets, shoot-up, hassle passers-by and urinate in public while law enforcement looks the other way.

Statewide 23% of the state’s citizens [and 25% of public high school graduates] are functionally illiterate, incapable of operating above a 5th grade level. In a data point that many might find astonishing, among California’s millions of illegals, many, if not a majority are illiterate in their own language.

Give us your dependent and stupid...

The upshot of this is that the great former Golden State has been Balkanized into binary entities - one, located in a few geographically small, rich, smug and snotty coastal enclaves where the average household income often exceeds $125,000 [second only to Midland Texas, increasingly the hub of the global oil business] and the other, threatened middle-class communities and large swaths of dirt-poor areas [the great rural North-East and Central Valley] where lesser-off families often live in squalor.

Though figures are hard to obtain, it is estimated that 156,000 “locals” fled the state in 2018 and the only reason why California’s population hasn’t already started to shrink is due to mass illegal immigration which as a group, helps play into a steady number of live births.

But the tipping point is near.

According to the “canary in the coal mine theory” any one of these challenges should be fodder for public outcry and some sort of action by the powers that be. But since the political class answers to Silicon Valley’s Masters of the Universe, legislative solutions are not even being seriously considered [this writer has recently talked to numerous state GOP party officials and legislative aides and they admit that there is nothing by way of legislation on their limited horizons]. Then there is Governor Gavin Newsom - a fancy man indeed – who has disingenuously declared that “he” intends to build nearly 4M new “affordable” homes by 2025 to address homelessness, a claim that is absurd on its face since government does not build housing, and he personally would be challenged to identify a framing from a ball-peen hammer.

Though the term is now tossed about indiscriminately, the State of California is facing an existential threat. When one combines the effects of the state’s historical miscues with the new specter of an unreliable power-grid, mass emigration to surrounding states could throw California into a tailspin. The constantly increasing number who are considering leaving are the producers, the first-tier worker bees and small businesses that help keep state coffers filled.

Which brings us to taxes; surprise, surprise, there is a dearth of information regarding what citizens in California actually pay in real and in-kind taxes [example, huge additional costs forced on builders such as mandated rooftop solar panels, which are always passed on to the public] special assessments and the like.

"Included in the [building] code are more than 395,000 restrictive terms such as “shall,” “must” and “required,” a good gauge of how many actual requirements exist. This is by far the most regulation of any state in the country..." [source, LA Times]

Gas taxes are absurdly high; unbelievably the cost of gasoline itself is mandated by the state since it requires its own “special blend” [thanks to another unelected entity, CARB, the California Air Resources Board] that is allegedly more environmentally friendly. Income taxes are the highest in the nation [13% at the top rate] and if [when] you leave the state the tax-man will follow to make sure that the state treasury gets its pound…or three…of flesh. Sales taxes are edging up towards 9%. If you buy a new vehicle for $60,000 the true cost will be around $67,000, the result of 13 separate additional taxes, vehicle registration and sales tax.

Probably the most invisible and unkind tax of all is the one that levied at the gas pump; about 43 cents added to the cost of every gallon of regular gasoline driving the total price up to a little over $4. By way of comparison, in Arizona gasoline is $2.90, so if one drives 20,000 miles a year in a vehicle that gets 20 mpg you will pay over $4,000. In our example, the same amount of fuel purchased in Arizona will cost the driver $2,900, a not inconsiderable amount in a state where commutes are often long.

In the middle-class suburban areas, let’s say San Francisco’s East Bay where day-to-day life is livable, an average tract home will run you $800,000 which means that upon sale one might very well be liable for paying an excise tax on the amount that the sale price is over a calculated “basis” which can be in the $100,000 range.

The number of taxing authorities and their often-hidden levies make it impossible to even calculate a true net-net tax rate. Hours of online searches are not likely to yield such a figure…go ahead, we tried.

As a standalone proposition California’s utility rates are shocking out of line with those in the rest of the nation. In many suburban households combined utility bills in the $500 a month range are common. These are often accompanied by dire scoldings, warning of “miss or over-use of water, gas or electricity” as compared to some calculated “reasonable” standard usage rate that seem designed with singles living in tiny apartments in mind.

And then there is the mental tax that anyone right-of-center is forced to bear, the result of inescapably being blasted at every turn with leftist propaganda while watching the next generation being brainwashed like Hitler Youth by public school witches who regularly go on strike…“for the children” but always settle when salaries and benefits are increased.

This results in a constant psychological drain to the degree that if you have the temerity to display a Trump, MAGA, NRA type bumper sticker, you are targeted for abuse and even people who support you will whisper it. Yes, there is a palpable fear of reprisal and faux “righteous anger” based upon Orwellian crimethink.

If one works in an office, virulent anti-Trump-speak will be the norm and any deviation will result in the offender becoming an outcast.

And as for the Second Amendment, in California it might as well not exist since you must pass a background check and receive “clearance” even to buy a single box of ammunition. In response people are driving hundreds of miles to get out of state simply to buy ammunition without signing over their first-born.

To demonstrate how far this process has gone, California actually maintains a list of “approved handguns” meaning that every year manufacturers are forced to hand over two samples of every model of handgun they propose to sell in the state. Then some “independent” facility “tests” them to make sure they are “safe.” Now comes the really crazy part, California has simply declared that every single SKU must be put through this process so if Smith & Wesson wants to “certify” model X, that comes in five different colored grips they must hand over 20 pistols. The system is insane on its fac, but it does have the desired effect, fewer and fewer manufacturers are willing to put up with such nonsense, shrug their shoulders and bail from the huge California market, while the “approved” list grows smaller and smaller.

The atmosphere regarding firearms’ regulations is so foul and incomprehensible that the NRA has fled the state since fighting the lock-step Ninth Circuit has proven foolish.

So there are manifest reasons to want to leave what is still a beautiful state, but the longer you have resided in California, the harder it is to simply pick up shop and move. You will be faced with leaving, often forever, old friends, extended family, access to high-quality medical care and most importantly a job.

But those who should care don’t; everything is in play.

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