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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The nation has a complaint. Me.

The president of my fan club calls into Washington Journal. To complain about a threat greater than the war or national security or the economy or the health care bill -- me!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Explaining what health care reform really means

In 1961, before he was governor of California and president of the United States, Ronald Reagan gave a speech about socialized medicine in response to a bill in congress to reform health care. If you want to really understand what nationalized healthcare will mean to all of us, please listen to this (there is no video). His words from almost 50 years ago are relevant today more than ever.

I'm always inspired by Ronald Reagan, who was a true patriot, and I think you might be too if you listen. It contains his famous line "what it was once like in America when men were free." (It's 10 minutes long but if you want to skip to the best part, it starts at 5 minutes into the speech.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Plunder! Dissects Government Unions

This might help the Manteca Bulletin readers sort things out. 

Do policemen die early?  Is being a cop a “dangerous job?”  Do government unions “protect the worker?”  I suggest the answers are no, not really, and no!  You can read why in this well researched article.

Plunder! Dissects Government Unions by John Seiler

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The War on Kids - Trailer

This is some kind of movie that looks interesting.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Giant Pool of Money

I was reading the Manteca Bulletin this morning and there was a letter to the editor that talked about which political party was responsible for the "economic meltdown" and the "mortgage crisis." It reminded me of an entertaining and informative radio program I listened to earlier this year on NPR's "This American Life" called "The Giant Pool of Money" (produced by Chicago Public Radio, originally aired May 9, 2008, #355).

This program is a fascinating report on how the global economy was driving mortgage lending in the US and how "the global pool of money" that exists drives the world's economies. It illustrates how intertwined our money is with the rest of the world's. It also illustrates how greed and basic incompetence in interpreting financial data on the probability of foreclosures fueled the housing market collapse.

You can access the program for listening or read the transcript (I recommend listening) at http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1242

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The trick to “hide the decline.”

I thought this was an interesting development.  Some “hackers” (or more likely some insider) exposed the files and emails from some preeminent scientific institution being funded to “find evidence of Global Warming®.”

I wonder if the whole thing could be the greatest scandal of modern science. 

I note that in a Manteca city council meeting the state forced us to comply with some sort of measures in our “housing element” that would “reduce greenhouse gases.”  Whatever they are.

But you know, the great minds in the State of California often want to be “the first” – to lead the world.  And in the process they tell us what kind of houses we can build and where and what sort of roads to have and were the bus routes should go.  No matter what this does to our economy. 

So while the rest of the world cancels the Copenhagen summit and is glad they didn’t fall for this Global Warming® thing, we in California rushed to saddle ourselves with regulation that will help make us poor poorer and won’t do a thing for “the earth.”  But we’re leading the way!

Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’? – Telegraph Blogs

Schools are bad for your kids…

I thought this was an interesting (if thorough) read into the problems of the government schools.

How Did We Get Into This Mess? by James Ostrowski

Friday, November 20, 2009

Idiocy in Lodi

What’s wrong with these two stories?

Redevelopment to top Lodi agenda in June

Lodi moves to cap lunch wagons

It seems to me that on the one hand, they are saying the city is poor and blighted and they need to borrow tons of money to “re-develop” the city.  And in the 2nd story, they are “cracking down” on hard working people who are making jobs for themselves, providing a service, feeding their families with their own initiative, etc.

Do you need any better illustration of what’s wrong with the central valley and the People’s Republic of California?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Signs

sign

downtown 027

I wonder what this sign means.  Did the Manteca Bulletin say something about downtown businesses not being supportive enough?

And what exactly does it mean to “support” the efforts of the police dept?  I thought the job of the police dept was to protect the businesses, not the other way around.  hmmm

There were a few of these signs on Yosemite Avenue in the windows of more than one establishment.

Ooops: Fixed name of street.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

US embraces communist health care plan as rest of world celebrates the 20th anniversary of the end of communism

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the day the Berlin wall was torn down. Symbolically and idealogically it was the end of Communism. Freedom had prevailed. Evil had been conquered. As a child of the 50s, I was taught that the Communists and the Soviet Union were our enemies, they wanted to kill us, to "bury" us. If you are too young to remember air raid drills and "duck and cover" in school, then you probably don't fear communism the way I do. "The Cold War" was real then and we lived with the shadow of nuclear war every day.

Two years before the fall of the wall, President Ronald Reagan stood before the Brandenburg Gate on the 750th anniversary of Berlin and uttered those famous words, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" That marked the beginning of the end of the Berlin Wall and our mortal enemy, the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan's role in ending the Cold War is often diminished by revisionist historians as if the events "just happened." Time has an article that at least acknowledges the efforts of Reagan and Gorbachev (leader of the USSR) to actively pursue the end of the war and bring freedom to the Eastern Bloc.

The Soviet Union lasted almost 70 years under communist dictatorship and had the second largest economy in the world after the United States. Even so, the US economy eclipsed the USSR's. A failed war with Afghanistan and a failed economy eventually led to the collapse of the communist government. 20 years after the victory of freedom over tyranny, the United States is rushing headlong towards communism at an alarming pace. A failing economy? A war with Afghanistan? What's the answer? Communism!

Manteca Bulletin - Free car wash for veterans Wednesday

As far as I’m concerned, Quicki-Kleen can keep their free car wash for veterans. I see no reason to participate in any public relations stunt that brings credit to the people who orchestrated the bullying of a fellow citizen who wanted to open up a competing car wash.

The owner of Quicki-Kleen was listed among those who led the “cause” of blocking a new car wash from opening in the 300 block of Yosemite Ave a few months ago.

What does this have to do with veterans you ask?

Well what veterans fought for was freedom. That means the freedom to do business back at home. Anyone who would try to block a competitor using socialistic arguments and questionable “petitions drives” is nothing more than a freedom hating bully. All the free car washes in the world won’t make up for that.

Manteca Bulletin - Free car wash for veterans Wednesday

Thursday, November 05, 2009

More on cable customers taxed

Two other things I forgot.

Regarding the cable TV tax, the editor claims “There is little doubt the revenue is needed.” Little doubt? “Needed” by whom? For what? There are a lot of us who don’t believe the tremendous growth of government over the years has been a good or “needed” thing.

Next, he says “No one in Manteca at this time should have the Ad%20Pepto%20Bismol%202 stomach to push for new taxes. In time, though, the need will come.”

Why will the need come to raise new taxes? What is going to happen that will cause such a need?

Let me dispel two myths of why people think “new taxes” are “needed.” What about growth of the population? Does that cause the need for “new taxes?” NO! If there are more people, more houses, more businesses, then the government collects more taxes from the new people, houses, etc., in exactly the proportion of the growth.

If the population of Manteca goes from 60,000 to 120,000 there will theoretically be no need for “new taxes!” Why? Because there are twice as many people using government “services” and there will be twice as much tax collected. It all evens out.

Of course this never stops the government propaganda machine from telling us a new tax “is needed” because of “the growth in the population,” but that’s just the way it is.

The other excuse sometimes used is “inflation.” We need to raise taxes because “inflation” has made everything cost more. Sounds half-logical until you think about it. If a loaf of bread costs $1 today they collect x taxes. If the price of a loaf of bread goes to $2, then they collect 2x taxes. In other words, if the cost of everything doubles, then the taxes collected doubles. Once again, everything “evens out.”

No, the real question was raised by the author of A Monetary History of the United States; namely, why were taxes more or less stable at about 7 percent of GDP for the first 150 years of the nation, and then suddenly started skyrocketing in the later part of the 20th century. What was so “needed?” And why is the growth in the cost of government so “inevitable?”

Manteca Bulletin - Cable customers ‘taxed’ by Manteca, satellite users aren’t

Manteca Bulletin - Cable customers ‘taxed’ by Manteca, satellite users aren’t

A couple of comments in this editorial caught my eye.

Nothing illustrates how we underestimate the huge burden of taxation and regulation than the example of the cable TV provider in town (Comcast) and the proliferation of satellite TV.

Sure, the tax is just a few dollars per person. But it adds up when there are thousands of customers! And what about the regulation? We don’t usually think about regulation costing anything, but it’s not cheap to get city permits, to be authorized as the franchise, comply with all the rules and such.

sciencefair 110 I don’t have to list the costs. The reason is evident: The taxes and regulations are so burdensome that it was less costly to launch a complex scientific device into geo-stationary orbit above the Earth than to pay the taxes and deal with the regulatory hurdles governments put between them and their customers! Not to mention the costs of the receivers in each home capable of decoding signals from outer space.

And the editor bemoans how “unfair” it is that the genius innovators at the satellite TV company “don’t have to pay the cable tax.” Duh! They invented a way to distribute their content without cables. No cables, no tax.

Manteca Bulletin - Cable customers ‘taxed’ by Manteca, satellite users aren’t

p.s. The first person who suggests that the taxation was good because it spurred on innovation will get 20 lashes with the Milton Friedman noodle.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

I hope you’ve all been keeping up with your economics education!  Tonight’s podcast on “The Financial Crisis” is almost an hour and a half!  I hope it’s good.  I haven’t listened to it yet.

EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

Monday, October 19, 2009

Don’t question the hero

Some guy wrote to the Bulletin questioning my qualifications as “a hero” just because he “saves lives” and “fights crime” and is a good example for the children and stuff.  This clip from Dr Horrible’s sing along blog should clear things up.

Remember, “it’s not enough to bash in heads, you’ve got to bash in minds.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

hmmm

KarenPearsall:
October 14, 2009 - 02:30 PM

American_hero, you state that you have "not seen the slightest bit of any evidence of abuses" as far as city government, yet you set yourself up as judge and jury about how the police union and negotiations work without being privy to any inside information or actual involvement in the process. Making "the union boss" the bad guy here, as if the police officers don't have the power to vote down anything the union leaders recommend, is both inaccurate and misleading. I know from your website that you have a low opinion of unions, but projecting your own biases onto the police union isn't justified and makes for a weak argument that police officers can easily refute. A union leader does not get to "dictate", he represents the group, which has the choice to follow his recommended course of action by voting its approval or to reject his platform. Also, this is not a one-sided affair. The city has its negotiations representative and both sides hash thing out until compromises are reached and a contract is agreed upon by both parties. Much of the anger and frustration we are reading in these postings comes from the police force's resentment of the city's strong-arm tactics and breach of trust by reneging on past contract agreements. It is not just about money, which you describe as "greed", but it is also about principles. Joe, I know that you had a bad experience with the police several years ago when you were on your bike. Do think that, unintentionally, this may be coloring your assessment of the situation or are you just influenced by your obvious contempt for and distrust of unions, in general? Sincerely, Karen

Dear Karen:

Well I only know what I read in the papers.  If there was some abuses someone can say.  So far all I’ve read is that the city manager is a mean jerk and “threatened to fire us.”  Never mind that he’s their boss and that’s his job, to “manage” the city’s resources.  They should hire me as their negotiator, then I’d decide if there are any abuses or not.

I know that to many people, the labor unions hold some special place in the hearts and minds, fighting for “the rights of the working man.”  But to an economist, a labor union is simply a cartel that controls the supply of labor.  Of course I don’t hold the policy of a cartel in high regard; they are simply looking out for the best interests of their members – not “the working man” in general.  Now in a free market I don’t dispute the right of workers to assemble into any organization and act according to their own interests.  But I don’t make any apology for regarding GOVERNMENT unions as a political force detrimental to the interests of "the working man” or anyone for that matter.

I don’t think I’ve been particularly critical of the MPOA any more than I’ve been critical of the teacher’s union, which in my view is precisely the same issue with different players.  The teachers castigate the school board and tell all the parents to “tell the school board you want smaller class sizes” etc.  And they are the ones who dictated the larger class sizes!

I’m not the judge of the police department’s operation.  I’ve tried to be fair in judgment, and just a last month the chief’s wife thanked me for my kind words about her husband’s leadership at a public meeting.  However, I’m not the one who put a gun to some guy’s head and threatened “we can kill you right here” and I’m not the one who kicks a man off his bicycle in retaliation for speaking out at a public meeting and I’m not responsible for the man (men actually) who mysteriously die in custody, sometimes with boot marks on his back.  Or picking fights at bars or teenage parties or beating their wives, or singling out businesses for harassment because they are the wrong race.  So if you’re asking if I demand better from this so called “professional police force” yes I do.  But I don’t think this really has anything to do with the city/union negotiations, except to the extent that I can hardly contain myself when they start whining and going on about what a fantastic job they do. 

Notice how suddenly the issue isn’t them but it’s me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkins

That last thing from the city manager was kinda depressing, so let’s just look at some pictures from last week’s Pumpkin Fair.

 pumpkin 054 pumpkin 063

pumpkin 116 pumpkin 085pumpkin 219   pumpkin 157 pumpkin 143  pumpkin 235 pumpkin 242 pumpkin 257 pumpkin 271

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Just for the record

This is page 7 and 8 of the report to Manteca City Council (3 Aug 09) titled: COPS Hiring Recovery Program Grant, i.e., the Obama “stimulus” money that reduced the police layoffs from 16 to 12:

image

image

The total compensation package to start is $114,405. This includes $15,630 health insurance, $20,227 in deferred pay to his retirement account, a dental plan and even $196 for eyeglasses, in addition to $76K in salary.

Tell me, where else on earth can a kid out of high school get a job paying over 100K? I probably shouldn’t say that, but let's be realistic people!

Notice, in addition, there are some built-in raises for year 2 and 3. By year 3 (the far, far distant future I know) the compensation goes up to $132,126 per year. Isn’t it nice to know our city leaders know what the future holds?

It should be obvious that no amount of new taxes, whether it’s a utility tax or a sales tax or a development fee or whatever, can ever keep up with such obscenely excessive increases in the costs of government services. There’s just no other way to even have a government other than controlling the costs.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Pointless bickering tests endurance

IMGP3412

Amid the heat and mental pressure of a council chamber packed with angry policemen, a woman fainted, briefly causing a break in the pointless, childish, hyperbolic emotional “debate” over pay adjustments for city workers.

I guess technically this was before the pointless debate, as the meeting was still an agenda item at the time, a plan to upgrade the public works garage.  This presentation was so searing-ly boring that it’s a wonder someone doesn’t drop every meeting. 

(The young woman had, it appeared, simply fainted and walked out with assistance.  It was very warm in there, and it was packed with people.)

IMGP3399

Below, Manteca citizen does a pretty respectable Norma Rae

IMGP3465 norma-rae

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Justice for Jeremy walk


Group marching from SJ Co. Jail to Lathrop on 12 Sep 09 to protest or bring awareness to Jeremy Lum. Total distance about 6 miles. Some made the walk without shoes to simulate the conditions Jeremy found himself.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Manteca Pumpkin Fair

 

Here’s an early look at the Manteca Pumpkin Fair.  I got there early this year and got lots of free trinkets!  And talked to a few of the political movers and shakers.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The circus in town?

circus 010  How did this get here without me noticing?circus 012Why no mention in the newspapers?  There’s a special edition of the Bulletin with a map of  the “Pumpkin Festival,” so why no mention of the circus? circus 016

circus 020

Here’s the basic idea.  It look like a pretty fun circus.  At least it’s something “real.”  I know everyone’s probably seen a circus on TV or in the movies, but here’s a chance to see a real live performance.  I have no idea of the quality of the show.  And I probably won’t because as you can see from the sign my camera isn’t welcome.  “No camera?”  What’s the point then?

There seems to be a zebra.circus 027

circus 037 … and a camel getting flowers.

 

circus 073 But alas, no tiger so I’m told.  They do have an elephant on the way but no pictures of it.

Study significant in what it doesn’t say

Congressman Alan Grayson put up a sign on the floor of congress listing the “republican plan” for health care as “die quickly.”  The “support” for this statement is a “study” he claims “proves” that thousands die because they don’t have health insurance.  The “study” is on his web sitediequck and he invited everyone to read it for themselves.

Well I did look at the study.  First of all, it says nothing about “republicans” but that’s not the point.  There’s some very significant fine print in that study!

The chart does indeed show an increased risk of death among those without health insurance as compared to those with private health insurance

Wait a second!  Isn’t the study missing something?  What about those who have government supplied health care?  They simply chose not to include any government health care plans in their study!  Why?

We can’t really know why for sure.  But there are some hints that suggest a reason:  If they had included government supplied health care, chances are it would show that having government health care would cause more deaths than either not having insurance at all or having private health care!  Let me explain why that’s likely.

Let’s simplify things with a little analogy.  Let’s say I want to study how far an athlete can throw various types of fruit.  Let’s say I want know which can you throw farther: an apple, an orange or a pineapple?  Simple enough, right?

So we do our experiment (study).  We carefully control for the strength of the thrower and randomize things so one person doesn’t always throw the apple first or the pineapple last to avoid skewing the results by having a tired throwing arm, and things like that.  No need to go into more details.  Let’s just say the results are in and we read the published, peer reviewed results:  The apple was thrown 1.4 times farther than the orange.  Great study, huh?

image But wait a minute, what happened to the pineapple?  In the fine print, it says we didn’t include the pineapple because the throwers couldn’t seem to throw the pineapple right.  Good excuse?

Why couldn’t they make a glove or something to throw the pineapple or a machine to throw all the fruits?  Or something?  Maybe they say they had to “adjust” for the different weights of the apple and the orange.  So if they could “compensate” for one of them, why couldn’t they adjust for confounding factors for the pineapple?  Something is wrong.

Also, from the comment in the notes “not able to throw the pineapple right;” doesn’t that suggest that the pineapple didn’t go as far as the others?  Isn’t that the implication?  Because if the pineapple flew farther than the others, the note would say something like “the pineapple seemed to be too aerodynamic and flew too easily” or something like that.

image Furthermore, let’s say there’s a political debate raging over the issue of if pineapples or apples fly farther.  Doesn’t that make it all the more suspicious when the pineapple is mysteriously excluded?

Back to the health study.  They write that the reason they excluded the “government health care plans” is that, well, those people must be really sick already.  Doesn’t that imply that the results were that people on government insurance did poorly, but they aren’t going to report that?

imageThey even mention they had to do all sorts of adjustments to “even out” various factors for the differences between the “insurance” group and the “no insurance” group.  Things like income, smoking rates, rates of obesity, different patterns of exercise among the groups, even assessments of their current health.  So, we are to believe that the study authors were able to compensate for all these factors, including current health, (the very reason cited for not including the government insurance in the results) but were somehow unable to do these same compensations to get an accurate view of government supplied health care?

I smell a rat!  What would congressman Grayson’s sign say if they included the government health care in the study?

graphmaybe

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MORR Conference on Redevelopment Abuse November 7

If you're interested in what the "Redevelopment Agency" (RDA) is and what it does, MORR (Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform) is holding their 15th Annual Northern California Conference on Redevelopment Abuse on Saturday, November 7 from 8:30am to 5:00 in San Jose at the San Jose Holiday Inn.

The cost of registration for the conference is $65 and includes breakfast and lunch. We attended one of these conferences a few years ago and it was very enlightening and the food was great! There was a large buffet breakfast and a sit-down luncheon and interesting speakers.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I believe him…

"I accept responsibility," … "I just assumed that what I was doing was right, and I see now that many of those things were totally wrong."  (Monte McFall to judge)

I really do believe him.  And I’m glad his sentence is reduced.  Why?  Because it rings true to me. 

In my experience, these government types are bullies, and they don’t even know it.  It’s like “the fish doesn’t know he’s wet” because he’s surrounded by water everywhere, it just seems normal to him.

And I know because I’ve gone through a bit of that enlightenment myself.  I was quite the junior nazi when I was a young man, I believed in leftist and liberal causes.  It just “seemed” to be right.  We knew best, and the “little people” just needed to be told.  Don’t even bother asking, just tell them, no, command them for their own good.

You can see this in the video of the attack by the teacher.  She was incensed that I would question her authority to simply command me to not film the union demonstration or her people.  She’s probably used to talking to school children that way.  If I was a child I would have been up for detention, expulsion, deportation or worse for “talking back” like that.

It does seem normal to these types, and I know they can change, so I do believe Mr. McFall.  Good luck.

 McFall's sentence reduced | Recordnet.com

p.s. I know: this makes no sense unless you are familiar with the case I’m talking about.  See The Record link above; also a good summary here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A lineage of geniuses

Found this article in Slate about why we call certain great men by the first names. Men like Galileo (unique enough name), Leonardo (a common name) from Vinci (Leonardo da Vinci) or Joe from Manteca.

… in 1564, surnames were optional in Italy. In daily interactions, an Italian would use the name his parents gave him at birth … and, if further clarification were required, add on his father's name (like di Antonio, or "son of Antonio"), his birthplace (Romano, or "from Rome"), his occupation (Panettiere,* meaning "baker")…

The governments of the various Italian city-states eventually grew frustrated … without standardization, it was difficult to levy taxes or enforce military registration…

I’m reminded of this legacy every time I address the city council and the mayor insists on giving me his special welcome.

Why we don't use Galileo's last name. - By Brian Palmer - Slate Magazine

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Could be worse

I guess it could be worse.  Just look at what the union is doing to Stockton schools.

In a nutshell, the union demanded that the superintendent be fired because he spent a few million dollars on a new reading program in an attempt to turn around the “Dropout Factories” that the schools in Stockton had become.  It might have worked too, but the greedy union saw that money and lusted after it.

And the gall of the union is unrestrained if you check their website they are “doing it for the children.”  They want to pick the next superintendent “because they know best.”

It’s awfully nice to be able to pick your boss and the guy you have to negotiate with; that makes life a lot easier.  But that’s the prescription for building a Dropout Factory.

See the video from the Stockton Record, it makes the MUSD meeting look tame.

Recordnet.com Video | Amato fired after unanimous vote by SUSD trustees

Another great video here.  Setting aside that everyone looks like they were sent from central casting, (Mexican Businessman has great hair!) toward the end Bitter Union Organizer explains, couched in language that sounds better, exactly what I outlined above in a nutshell.

p.s. I won’t even get into this “anonymous” blogger called “Chocolate” who was so “concerned.”  It turns out that was a disgruntled employee of SUSD who was fired for some reason, although I hate to think of how bad of a job you would have to do to be fired from a Dropout Factory.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Teacher attacks citizen at board meeting



In this video, Ken Johnson, the head of the teacher’s union is speaking.  I follow (with the camera) Mr. Johnson back to his seat to film the audience and applause.  A woman sitting next to Mr. Johnson yells something at me.  I got the idea she didn’t like the video when she hid her face behind some papers.  Next,  I’m trying to film the events (the union leader) without getting the woman who doesn’t like being filmed in the frame.   Then Mr. Johnson comes over where I’m sitting and goes back to his seat, next the woman comes over from across the room and starts yelling at me some more and smacking me with her papers/book and her hand!


I apologize for my impolite words, I tend to be a little short when someone chases me across the room to hit me with their papers.  Although you’d think by now I’d be used to that.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lathrop’s award winning hot dog cart law

The old story goes:  A man has one good arm and a withered arm.  So he prays, “Lord, make my arm like the other one!”  In a puff of lighting, his other arm is withered.

The Lathrop hot dog cart law is an attempt to punish mobile food vendors “because it’s fair.”  The owners of stores and restaurants don’t think it’s fair someone should be able to compete with them.

The restaurants complain that they have to jump through hoops, get cumbersome permits, pay exorbitant fees and taxes, it can take years just to get a permit to operate (unless you are a big corporation with a good legal department, then it’s easy.)  So, in order to remedy this the wise council decided that the hot dog stands should be similarly burdened.

What’s wrong with this?  A few things.  First, you can’t create prosperity by restrictions on commerce!  The “job market” isn’t exactly good right now, and the last thing the city needs to do to “help people” is to outlaw their attempts to make a living.

Also, fairness is a slippery concept that mostly exists in the mind of whoever is coming up with it.  The restaurant guy is “irate” how dare that kid with the cart sell tacos or ice cream?  He’s “taking away my customers” and I had to pay all these taxes and utilities and get permits to open this restaurant – It’s not fair they whine!

But the guy on the bicycle is probably thinking “it’s not fair” he gets to sit in an air conditioned building with gas and electricity and tables and can sell all sorts of things I can’t. 

Well, what’s stopping the restaurant guy from getting a bicycle and going pedaling around the city if he thinks they have it so great?  He doesn’t because he and the push cart guy have made choices.  Each weighed the costs and the benefits and decided what was best.  Each came to different conclusions but maybe that’s just the way it is.  But the ignorant and greedy restaurant bullies, rather than accepting their own choices, whine to the City Council to do something about them.  (Whaaaaa!)

horsesassaward The council members who voted in favor of this asinine law have earned The Manteca Live! Horse’s Ass award.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just that it was a stupid thing to do.  So stupid that intelligent people shouldn’t even have to discuss it.

Maybe if I feel like it I’ll list the problems with the new law (it’s poorly written, poorly intentioned, and just plain dumb) in another log entry.  But for now, let me point out that it’s not just my opinion that the purpose of the law is to “burden” the food vendors, in the staff report it actually says that.  (It talks about “equity” with “other business owners.”)

I have an idea, you can read it for yourself!  (see pages 49 to 60).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

SSJID make glorious revolution!

1970-Struggle-to-Increase-the-Mechanization2 
The text reads: SSJID will give glorious power and the people make great harvest.*

SSJID retail power will help agriculture survive & thrive

*accuracy of translation subject to variations.  Could also mean: We will take the power from the oligarchs!  Not for our glory!  But for YOU!  Only for YOU!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

“Woo” businesses? Start by treating current business properly.

Lathrop is attempting to “woo” business?  The new slogan should be: Come to Lathrop, spend all your life savings investing in a business.  Don’t worry, it’s safe because we probably won’t just wake up one day and decide to crush your business like we did to the mobile food vendors.

Lathrop wants to woo businesses in earnest

p.s Oh I forgot to add that former Lathrop Mayor Gloryanna Rhodes wins the “I’m living in a parallel universe” award for this statement:

“Everything in Manteca today was projected for Lathrop. Stockton is booming. Tracy is bringing people in.”

When she uttered the words “Stockon is booming!” a shaft of light shown down and she was quickly beamed up to the mothership.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Straight talk from City Manager

The Manteca City Manager has some interesting and straight talking Comments on a blog.  Of course, he's getting the usual flak from the usual suspects but I agree with his economic analysis. (And then some!)

It's back!

I thought the street vendor issue was settled in Oct 2007 at this public meeting. Those who spoke about the issue were strongly in support of the "street vendors" and favored minimal licensing or interference with them.

This week the issue comes up again in Lathrop. The "first reading" was passed without much fanfare a few weeks ago.

All the same burdensome regulations rejected two years ago are back like the thing in a horror movie that you think you killed but it keeps coming at you.
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Being honest in the health care debate

There'a an article by Washington Post columnist David Broder Obama must be blunt with us: Status quo must change that I think is worth reading whether you are for or against his health care reform proposals. I think the reason why so many people seem to distrust the president is that he comes across as a used car salesman trying to sell you a bill of goods. His campaign-style stumping to get everyone onboard and telling us to just trust him and don't listen to those trying to scare us isn't working and has an air of desperation around it.

The problem is everyone knows he's fibbing when he says nothing will change with your healthcare if you like it now and that his massive spending plan won't increase the budget deficit. He's not being honest and the general public is smarter than he thinks we are. His promises and statements just don't ring true.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tired of whining teachers and union boss

I stepped into the hallway to get some water and frankly was in no hurry to get back into the school board meeting.  I could hear the whining from here.  With me were a couple of school bus drivers.  They looked just as exasperated.  I delicately inquired and they told me “we took a 5 percent cut, why can’t they (the teachers) take the same cut like all the rest of us?” 

just-shut-up Now we hear “the district is hoarding cash!”  And they are firing teachers just to “put money in the bank.”  They have $12 million in the bank! (or $15 million depending) They scream! 

Readers, you probably know by now I’m not exactly the most uncritical person in the world especially of the school district or any of the government agencies around here.  But in this case, I have looked at the MUSD’s balance sheet and from “back of the envelope” calculations I have to side with the school board.

I don’t know if Chief Union Boss has ever taken math, but “$12 million” is just pocket change, not some “hoarding” or a “fortune.”  Directly from Superintendent Messer: The payroll alone is $13 million each month!  In other words the district needs to write checks for $13 million on one month, every month to keep the schools operating.  Having $12 to 15 million “in the bank” is just common sense, otherwise, as Mr. Messer explained, they would have to borrow and pay interest, costing the district even more.

And frankly, every problem mentioned in the letter from the union boss; from class size to the school bus cutbacks is directly caused by the teacher’s union greed and lack of cooperation

I’m sorry to have to say it that harshly, but if you disagree go ahead and tell me where I’m wrong.

Union boss’s letter here: Kids should come before cash reserves in Manteca

Obama spins fairy tale

I listened to President Obama’s speech to the joint session of congress last night and felt like I was being told a fairy tale about how the fairy godmother government was going to provide everyone with fantastic low cost heath insurance, and the president personally was going to protect us all from the evil insurance companies and make sure no one would ever be denied coverage, never have their insurance cancelled and never have to pay out-of-pocket expenses! With no increase to the budget deficit at all! Why, who wouldn’t want such wonderful benefits?

If it sounds too good to be true…it is. Put aside all the emotional issues like "death panels" and rationing and look just at the financial reality. There is NO WAY he can deliver everything he’s promising and have it be “budget neutral.” He also says the government will run the health care system more efficiently and at lower cost than the insurance companies! When has the government ever run anything more efficiently and at lower cost than the private sector can? But he’s the president, he wouldn’t lie to us!

Obama says no one else has come up with a solution, so there’s no other choice than to adopt his plan. Others have suggested an easy option that the government does not want to do: Allow open competition for insurance companies across state lines so that people can shop all over the US for health insurance like they do now for auto insurance. Nothing lowers prices like competition. Forbes.com has an excellent article on the subject Making Health Care Simple.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Manteca tells visitors to stay the hell away

In the Manteca Bulletin yesterday, Dennis Wyatt says "There’s an extra incentive now for out-of-town residents to drive safely in Manteca" referring to the recent city council decision to charge a fee to anyone who doesn't live in Manteca and needs emergency fire services while traveling here. http://www.mantecabulletin.com/news/article/6748/

How will Manteca advertise this incentive? Afterall, if out-of-towners aren't aware of this new incentive, then why would they be more likely to drive more safely? Will they be putting up billboards or signs advertising it as visitors enter city limits? Maybe a prominent sign at the entrance of Bass Pro Shop warning customers to get the hell out of Manteca before they get nabbed for having an accident. One in front of Big League Dreams too.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Conspiracy Theorist Convinces Neil Armstrong Moon Landing Was Faked

Stunning!

Conspiracy Theorist Convinces Neil Armstrong Moon Landing Was Faked | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

A labyrinth of government panhandlers

Ok, they used the term “public-sector” as a euphemism for “government.”  But this reminded me of this week’s meeting where the firemen asked for permission to charge you for their services.

The term “panhandlers” surprises me because this isn’t coming from a manifesto from a mimeograph machine in the Montana back woods, but rather, the New York Times.

States, Counties and Towns Using Fees to Fix Budget Problems - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What happened in ‘82?

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This is from the report on “affordable housing” that’s to be presented at tonight’s council meeting. (Pg 10, fig 1) It’s a graph of how much money people make (personal income) in this county over the years and compared to the average of the nation (United States) and the state (California.)

According to this, the rest of the state has done pretty well over the years. One of the more prosperous places in the nation. (Many lucrative industries, Hollywood, aerospace, silicon valley, etc). So what went wrong with San Joaquin country?

And in particular, what happened in 1982? SJ was more or less about as wealthy as the nation as a whole, just a little less than California as a whole. But according to this chart, the bottom fell out in the early ‘80’s. You can see the red line (San Joaquin) diverge from the national average about then, and the “gap” in poverty increases.

So what went wrong? Did people suddenly get stupid? Prop 13? Williamson act? The ascendency of “central planning?” State takeover of school funding? Ronald Reagan? (no, the nation prospered under Reagan). Then what was it? Maybe someone should ask the expert tonight.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Police focus on Club Leon

l_8e814057d1d04961808fac04ad72d362 The public hearing about Club Leon’s permit for operation was put off a few months ago. This week it comes back for consideration.

Since then, the courts have ruled that if you permit a bar then you have to permit live music. Live music is a right; it’s a form of expression protected by the first amendment.

Nevertheless, the police chief is still opposing the renewal of the permit. He cites “incidents” since they last met. One was a call from an unknown person about “noise.” (One noise complaint in a year? That’s fantastic!) And the police drove through the parking lot and … hold onto your hat… they found a drunk. And guess what, they did the same thing a month later, they found yet another drunk near the bar or in the parking lot. What a crime wave. In a year, that would be a dozen drunks found in the parking lot.

By the way, there’s no result of any investigations in any of these “incidents.” Maybe the noise was coming from a car stereo? It does seem like an odd claim since anyone can go there any night they are open and see if there is “noise.”

Oh, and someone “discovered” (That’s what the report says, as if they unearthed a dusty old zoning map from Joshua Cowell’s sarcophagus) that the zoning is “community commercial” and for some reason a bar and/or dance hall needs a permit. But all of “downtown” is the same “CC” zoning. Including all the bars, restaurants, and the M.R.P.S. hall where they presumably dance and sing. So the zoning is a non-issue.

I’ve previously commented on the other issues. If anything, the courts have spoken and it makes no sense to single out Club Leon for punishment. In fact, in light of the vast improvements they have made, they should be commended.

Manteca Fire to charge a fee?

This week the Manteca Fire Department is proposing they be permitted to charge (actually, bill) people from “out of town” who get in car accidents in Manteca!

The proposal is riddled with problems:mobsterfighter

1. The department notes that California law permits charges for certain services but it’s a bit more nuanced. The accident has to be caused by negligence. And while I’m sure most accidents are caused by someone’s negligence it’s often hard to figure out who. Now the fire department claims to have some method of determining fault?

2. There’s no provision in the law for provincial discrimination. In other words, there’s nothing that lets them charge one guy and not charge another guy depending on where they live.

The rationale they glibly suggest is that people in Manteca already pay taxes for the fire services and presumably “outsiders” don’t. But that is not so. Actually, anyone who stays at a hotel, fills up with gasoline or stops for a meal in a restaurant or buys a stick of gum in Manteca pays some taxes.

Is that enough to pay for fire services? Probably. Consider the entire public safety budget, and consider how long it takes a car to pass through Manteca’s jurisdiction on Hwy 99 or 120. Something like 90 seconds to 180 seconds. And when you figure it all out and divide the public safety budget by the number of minutes in a year, it comes to about a dollar a day, or a fraction of a penny for a passing through. If someone stays at a hotel, they pay about $10 in tax, enough for more than a week of public safety. I don’t want to get bogged down in numbers too much; but it’s obvious that many visitors do pay enough in Manteca taxes. And maybe everyone does.

Because, one could argue that for the small amount of time one passing through Manteca uses, (a minute or two of fire and police protection) they have already paid that in taxes paid to California and to the federal government. Based on my back of the envelope calculation, if Manteca takes in $1.8 million in federal or state aid or grants, then everyone in the United States has paid enough to the City of Manteca to cover the cost of providing life saving services for those who pass through.

3. What kind of a public relations disaster this would be! The city is trying hard to promote itself and encourage people to visit. How will it help our reputation once it gets known if some crazy Manteca driver causes an accident not only might you be hurt but the city will send you a bill! Our new slogan will have to be “Come to Manteca so we can bill you if we have to save your sorry ass.”

4. Maybe we should only charge people who reside in a city that would charge us if we were in their city and got in an accident! Fortunately, there are few cities that do this. Most cities save the lives of Manteca residents when they are visiting or passing through. Our way of thanking them for that is by charging their residents?

5. The charges are outrageous and arbitrary. Anything from about $500 to go out to the scene of the accident and do nothing, to over $2000 to essentially do nothing but watch a helicopter land and med-evac someone. Granted there’s an in-between charge of about $1800 if they have to use the "jaws of life” to pry open a door to get you out of a wreck. Now I have one more thing to worry about if I’m trapped in a wrecked car; if I’m still conscious I’ll be thinking “what is that thing costing me?… Maybe I can just crawl out the back window, just give me a boost….”

6. I saved the best for last. This company they are thinking of hiring brags on their web site how they collect at such a high rate, much more than anyone else. How do they do it? They won’t say. It’s a secret method, we’re just supposed to authorize that.

God only knows what they do! Do they call up and demand money? Do they threaten? Do they “forget” to mention that you have a right to contest the charge? Do they say they will sue? (They aren’t authorized to bring lawsuits.) Do they send out the goon squad who remarks what a shame it would be if your kneecaps were to “get in an accident like your car?” Who knows!

But one thing we do know. The City Council should not authorize a third party to do some secret thing they won’t tell us. Do I need to say it again? A public relations nightmare!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One stop permit center opens

The long awaited “one stop” permit center has opened in Manteca.  Included in this video is the wild opening gala and interviews with customers about their experience and comments from various city officials.

In addition, in this video I ask the chief of Manteca Transit (bus service) about how the new bus route is working out. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

Who said it?

fingernails Quick quiz for you.  Last week at a meeting with the congressman, this was said:

(they) … complained about illegal aliens playing the system for funds; who see people drive into the parking lot in a Cadillac Escalade clutching cell phones with fake fingernails but claiming they don’t have the money to buy their child asthma medicine;

Who uttered this non-judgmental non-elitist non-arrogant insightful commentary?  Choose one:

a)  An idiot

b)  Directors of Doctors Hospital in Manteca

c)  The Manteca Country Club membership committee

d)  Lou Dobbs

For the answer, see the report in this weeks Sun-Post.  (link below)

SunPost.net - News, businesses, classifieds, sports, events in Lathrop and Manteca, California.

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