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Tax Day homily

Although this story focuses on California’s abuses, it shows how government gets its revenue in general: arbitrarily and with the power and willingness to ruin people’s lives.

In 1970, a young Southern California electrical engineer and inventor named Gilbert Hyatt filed a patent application for an innovative microprocessor chip…

Twenty years later…the U.S. patent office awarded Hyatt the patent…a multimillion-dollar windfall. He moved to Las Vegas, where he said he was a full-time resident before he received the earnings.

California’s Franchise Tax Board (FTB)…decided to seek $7.4 million in back taxes, claiming that he was still a resident of California when the money came in. That sounds like a simple enough dispute that could quickly be resolved, but what followed has been an ordeal that has consumed a good bit of Hyatt’s adult life.

…[for] a sum that now tops $55 million as interest and penalties have accrued…The tax authorities have been pursuing him through its administrative process. Tired of the endless investigations, Hyatt filed suit in Nevada court in 1998. California officials said they weren’t subject to an out-of-state tort lawsuit. California lost that argument in the Nevada Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court and the high court decision sent the case back to a Nevada district court, which awarded Hyatt nearly $400 million in damages after finding that the California authorities abused their power and invaded his privacy. That case is on appeal.

Hyatt believes that California officials are purposefully delaying. “Specifically, because of the 20 year delay Hyatt can no longer obtain a fair and full adjudication of whether he owes state taxes to California,” according to his lawsuit. “During this time, material witnesses have passed away, memories of witnesses have faded, and documents relevant and important to Hyatt are no longer available.” The board keeps assessing penalties…He suspects the tax board is waiting for him to die so that it can go after his estate.

Under California law, the Franchise Tax Board has the “presumption of correctness,” meaning that the onus always is on Hyatt to disprove what the tax officials say. And, he argues, they keep changing their stories and their allegations, thus resulting in more years of legal expenses and disputes…

To sum up – When dealing with the tax man in America today, you have:

  • No “innocent until proven guilty”.
  • No real “right to a speedy trial”.
  • Kafka-esque complexity and situations rigged for you to lose.

To anyone who wants to claim that our tax system is “voluntary”, or that government somehow isn’t a gun, or that taxation somehow isn’t a use of force on people (many conscientious tax-objectors are given long jail sentences): You’re just lying.

LA Times forgets to indicate that Bob Filner is a Democrat

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:36 pm - July 31, 2013.
Filed under: California politics,Democratic Scandals,Media Bias

In its article on the latest lame excuse from the Democratic Mayor of California’s second largest city, the LA Times leaves out the so-called* man’s partisan affiliation:

The attorney for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner said in a letter the city may be liable for damages in a sexual harassment lawsuit because Filner never received mandated training about such behavior.

“The city has a legal obligation to provide sexual harassment training to all management level employees,” wrote attorney Harvey Berger in a letter requesting the city pay Filner’s legal bills in defense of the lawsuit filed by his former communications director.

Annotated Screen Capture: (more…)

CA and IL: worst credit ratings

Just a reminder that, of all the 50 States (or 57-58 States, if you’re Obama), California and Illinois continue to have the worst credit ratings.

That means they’re the most financially ill-run States; the ones in the most trouble with debt. They have swapped spots in 2013, with California upgraded from A- to A and Illinois downgraded from A to A-. But they’re still the bottom two.

By the way, Rahm Emanuel’s duchy of Chicago is getting low on cash, as it faces rising debt and expenses. The next Detroit?

On Jobs: Truth or Propaganda

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 8:09 pm - July 7, 2013.
Filed under: California politics,Economy,Media Bias

From Bloomberg on July 5:

Employment roared ahead in June…

Hourly earnings in the year ended in June advanced by the most since July 2011…Stocks climbed…

“Job growth is starting to hum along,” said Jonathan Basile, director of U.S. economics at Credit Suisse Holdings USA…”All of it is laying the groundwork for more spending and more jobs. This virtuous cycle is really taking hold…”

Sounds wonderful, right? Now for the reality check. From the same article:

Payrolls rose by 195,000 workers… The jobless rate stayed at 7.6 percent…

Retailers, professional and business services, health care, and leisure and hospitality businesses led the gains… Factories reduced payrolls by 6,000…

Translation: We added bartenders, servers and beauticians; we actually lost industrial jobs.

Also recall that when Bush 43′s economic recovery created similar jobs at similar rates, the media/Democrat complex denounced it bitterly as “McJobs” and a “jobless recovery.” So, why describe it now as “roaring…humming…a virtuous cycle”?

But, to continue from the same article:

The number of part-time workers rose for the fourth month…

The underemployment rate — which includes part-time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and people who want to work but have given up looking — rose to a four-month high of 14.3 percent in June from 13.8 percent the month before… “A lot of those people who have management experience are not finding jobs…”

In other words: After full-time jobs were lost in the recession, part-time jobs were created in the recovery. Some of that always happens, but Obama has taken it to a new level. Finally, consider this, from BloombergBusinessweek:

Why Are California’s Businesses Disappearing?

There were 1.3 million businesses in California at the end of 2012, 5.2 percent fewer than in the previous year (that’s about 73,000 fewer). To put that in perspective, Massachusetts lost 5,200 businesses, the second-highest amount…

There is no nationwide recovery, if California is still losing businesses at “recession” rates.

Don’t Blame Me, I voted for Meg Whitman
California ranks as worst state to do business

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:48 pm - May 7, 2013.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,California politics

Screen shot 2013-05-07 at 10.46.24 AM

Via Sacramento Bee.

H/t: Washington Examiner which alerted me to the study in reporting that the top 10 states for business all led by Republican governors.

Don’t Blame Me, I voted for Meg Whitman

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:24 pm - March 19, 2013.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,California politics

California now leads nation in unemployment at 9.8 percent:

California Democrats now control every statewide elective office and have veto proof majorities in both chambers of the state legislators. They passed a $6 billion tax hike last November and the state’s carbon cap and trade and renewable electricity mandates are now being implemented. No state that has embraced the progressive policy vision more than California.

There is just one problem: California now leads the nation in unemployment.

Vacant storefronts in Westwood Village (near UCLA)

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:33 am - December 12, 2012.
Filed under: California politics,Economy,Holidays,LA Stories

I began my holiday shopping yesterday in Westwood Village, the shopping/dining district immediately adjacent to UCLA; was struck by the amount of vacant retail space.  On Westwood Blvd itself, I counted five empty storefronts on each side of the street just on one block (between Kinross and Weyburn).  And that’s not counting the signs on the second floor.

And I could see signs advertising “Space available” on other buildings beyond this block.

When I mentioned this in one store where I bought some gifts, a clerk commented that someone had just said the same thing about Beverly Hills.  He noted that Westwood Blvd had been particularly hard hit, with a Mexican restaurant that had served the area for twenty-five years, recently vacating its Westwood premises.

I believe this the space that restaurant once occupied:


Note these two storefronts, immediately adjacent to one another: (more…)

Don’t blame me, I voted for Meg

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:21 am - November 30, 2012.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,California politics

California named worst-run state in the nation

Jerry Brown’s scorn for wealth creators

California was once a trend-setting state.

Today, however, it seems only to cling to ideas long since proved worthless.  Businesses are fleeing the state.  Storefronts on once bustling commercial thoroughfares sit vacant for want of retail tenants.  The unemployment rate remains above 10%.

And our governor doesn’t seem to have much respect for those who build enterprises and create jobs.  Contending that the passage of Proposition 30 last week marks “the start of a broader movement to increase taxes on the rich“, Jerry Brown said

Revenue means taxes, and certainly those who have been blessed the most, who have disproportionately extracted, by whatever skill, more and more from the national wealth, they’re going to have to share more of that. . . . And everyone is going to have to realize that building roads is important, investing in schools is important, paying for the national defense is important, biomedical research is important, the space program is an indicator of the world leader – all that takes money.

Ah, but Jerry, before that referendum passed, we were already taxed enough to pay for such things.  And other states manage to pay for roads, schools and etc., with much lower tax rates than we had before Prop 30 passed.  The issue is not the absence of revenue, but the excess of bureaucracy and the superabundance of benefits for government employees.

But, his suggestion about the state’s (supposed) revenue shortfall is only part of what is troubling in the once and current governor’s statement.  By using the verb, “extract,” to explain how wealthy citizens acquired their wealth, he all but dismisses their accomplishment, sounding scornful toward their achievement.

He seems to be suggesting that the “wealthy” extracted income from a fixed pool of national wealth, as if said pool existed in some remote locale — and they were the most conniving in accessing it and “extracting” the wealth already there.  They didn’t access the wealth, they created it, generally through their hard work and ingenuity. (more…)

California is now taxing my Amazon order

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:18 pm - November 12, 2012.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,California politics

First time I’ve seen that on my amazon receipt:

BTW, ordered it through Instapundit. (Does Glenn’s cut include a percentage of the tax?)

California independents swinging toward Mitt (Updated)

UPDATE:  It’s not just CA independents.  In FL, they split “‘54/38” for Romney and “44/35″ in Ohio, “with 12% still undecided and 9% claiming to vote for ‘other.’”  UP-UPDATE:  And in MA, it’s 53-40.

Among Independents,” reports CBS5 out of San Franciso on its latest tracking poll,

Obama led by 14 in September, but now trails by 9 in October, a 23-point right turn among the most coveted voters. One explanation, based on the poll data: The number of Romney supporters who said they were voting “for Mitt Romney” as opposed to “against Barack Obama” is way up, month over month.

Like independents across the country, those in the Golden State are now swinging toward Mitt.  Even if this trend continues, it’s unlikely to put the state in play, but is a sign that even where the Romney campaign is not active, these voters are turning away from Barack Obama and toward Mitt Romney.

Indeed, one state considered firm in the Obama campaign, but known for its independent streak (having elected two independents governor in the past forty years), is not looking as good for the Democrat as he might hope.   (more…)

NYT: CA gas prices “often high because of regulations”

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:37 am - October 7, 2012.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,California politics

Take a gander at this picture from a New York Times article on high gas prices in California:

And do note what I circled above. In the article, Clifford Kruass reports:

California typically has substantially higher gasoline prices than most of the country because of its tough environmental regulations and high taxes. Gasoline supplies are traditionally tight this time of year as refiners do maintenance work to switch from summer to fall gasoline blends mandated by the California pollution-reduction regulations. But this year, energy experts say, the local gasoline market is particularly chaotic because of the refinery shutdowns.

Via Instapundit. Do wonder if this crisis will cause California voters to truly appreciate the cost of state regulations and the burden of increased taxation.

Wake up, LA! Obama’s policies aren’t helping*

In past posts, I have cited the scores of empty storefronts I see on the once-bustling commercial thoroughfares of Los Angeles.  Today, driving along Wilshire from Crescent Heights to Doheny, part of the drive in Beverly Hills, I was struck at the increasing amount of signs I saw advertising office and retail space “for lease” or  ”available”.

And at the same time, unemployment in LA County inches closer to 12%.

Are people in this town even aware how federal, state and local taxes and regulations make it difficult for entrepreneurs to stay in business?  Or are they just more concerned about social issues?
*Nor are Jerry Brown’s

SOMEWHAT RELATED: Puppies for Obama:

For anecdotal evidence of California’s electoral uncompetitiveness, check out what passes for political advocacy in my Silicon Valley neighborhood. Never mind the 10.7 percent local unemployment rate or the perennially yawning federal budget deficit: The President’s dog wants Obama reelected and, presumably, you should too.

Interestingly, in driving around LA today, I only saw one Obama sticker on a car–the very one in the post linked above.

The governor of New Jersey understands what ails California

Why can’t this guy be my governor?  Well, at least I didn’t vote for Jerry:

Via Washington Free Beacon via Michael Warren.

Another California city with Democratic Mayor files for bankruptcy

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:44 am - August 2, 2012.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,California politics

As I returned home last night, found this story leading the news on Yahoo!’s home page:

San Bernardino filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday citing more than $1 billion of debts and making it the third California city to seek protection from creditors.

The city of about 210,000 residents 65 miles east of Los Angelesdeclared a fiscal crisis last month after a report said local government had tapped out its reserves and projected spending would top revenue by $45 million in the fiscal year that began on July 1.

The filing, made in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Central California District, states that the city has “more than $1 billion” in liabilities, and estimated that it has between 10,001 and 25,000 creditors.

The article’s author Tim Reid didn’t mention the name or political affiliation of the Mayor.  So I googled “San Bernadino Mayor” to learn that Patrick Joseph “Pat” Morris is “currently the mayor of San Bernardino, California” and “a a member of the Democratic Party.”  That information came up right away.  Wonder why Mr. Reid left it out.

Oh, and Morris just happens to be an appointee of once and current California Governor Jerry Brown who had tapped his fellow partisan to serve on the “San Bernardino County Superior Court in 1976.”

Fewer people going to happiest place on earth this summer?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:36 pm - July 30, 2012.
Filed under: California politics,Economy

Yesterday, while (as I mentioned in a prior post, I took a friend to Disneyland to celebrate her birthday and noticed much smaller crowds than I had noticed last summer.  I asked a cast member if she had noticed the same thing.  She had.  And I wondered if it had to do with higher ticket prices.  She thought maybe.

Or could it also be the Obama/Jerry Brown California economy?

What’s the matter with California? (High-Speed Rail Edition)

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:45 pm - July 19, 2012.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,California politics

Drive through some streets in Hollywood and you’ll wonder when was the last time they repaired the potholes.  Some of our freeways need resurfacing.  And the governor just signed an “$8 billion bill to kick off high-speed rail construction“:

The centerpiece of SB 1029, however, is $6 billion to start building the first tracks in the Central Valley early next year. The remaining $2 billion will beef up transit while laying the groundwork for high-speed rail in the Bay Area and Southern California, including electrification of the existing Caltrain line between San Francisco and San Jose.

. . . .

Despite the governor’s enthusiasm, high-speed rail has become increasingly unpopular around the state, and polls show a majority of voters now oppose the plan largely because of its record costs and uncertain prospects for completion. Brown, who was silent publicly when the Legislature debated his bullet train plan two weeks ago, now needs Californians back on board but said Wednesday he wasn’t concerned by the polls.

Doesn’t seem he’s concerned about the cost either.  ”Bay Area Democrats,” we read further in the article, “unions and business leaders applauded Brown for improving a wobbling high-speed rail plan in the last year, helping to reduce the most recent cost estimates by $30 billion . . . ”  Reduced cost estimates by $30 billion?  Sounds like a huge chunk of change, but that lowers the “projected cost” to just $68 billion.  And the state’s budget is $16 billion in the red.

And let’s not forget cost overruns endemic to big-government projects.  Particularly in California.

FROM THE COMMENTS:  EssEm reminds us that there are also “the maintenance and repair costs over the years…”

Another CA city helmed by Democratic Mayor Declares Bankruptcy

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:10 am - July 11, 2012.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,California politics

Last month, it was Stockton, a California city helmed by a a Democrati-backed Mayor.  Earlier today, Yahoo! reported that 

The City Council in San Bernardino voted Tuesday night to seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, making it the third California city in less than two weeks to make the rare move.

The Southern California city of about 210,000 people will also become the second largest in the nation ever to file for bankruptcy. Stockton, the Northern California city of nearly 300,000, became the biggest when it filed for Chapter 9 on June 28.

. . . .

“We have an immediate cash flow issue,” Interim City Manager Andrea Miller told Mayor Patrick Morris and the seven-memberCity Council, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Wikipedia identifies Morris as “a member of the Democratic Party.”  Do wonder how that tidbit could have escaped the notice of the Associated Press, responsible for the article.

Stockton Bankruptcy: Democrat-backed Mayor Says Chapter 9 Filing ‘Very Likely’

My title is nearly identical to that of this Huffington Post article.  Just added the descriptor italicized above as Mrs. Huffington’s staffers neglected to include it.

From the

The San Joaquin County Democratic Party has announced its endorsements in local races set to be on the June 5 primary ballot.

Seats on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and the Stockton City Council are not partisan, but it is still common for political parties to back candidates. County Democrats picked their local favorites Saturday, while Republicans picked their local favorites earlier this month.

. . . .

For Stockton, Democrats endorsed Mayor Ann Johnston in her bid to serve another term against six challengers.

Miss Johnston is the Mayor who believes a declaration of bankruptcy is likely.

The “first election decided by a battle over baby bottles”?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:18 pm - June 2, 2012.
Filed under: California politics,LA Stories

So wonders the LA Weekly‘s Patrick Range McDonald in his piece on the current contest to represent California Assembly District 50, “one of the wealthiest Democratic districts in California — and the nation“, in Sacramento:

“This district is La La Land,” says Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science geographer Paul Robinson, an expert on social issues in California. “It’s divorced from the reality of what’s happening in other parts of L.A.”

And, given the issues in the campaign, it seems from the real problems of California — and from the real world — as well.  This district stretches “from the Pacific Ocean and tony Malibu eastward to the mansions of exclusive Hancock Park, and encompassing such communities as Topanga Canyon, Santa Monica, the Pacific Palisades, Bel-Air, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Larchmont Village and the Hollywood Hills“.

McDonald dubs my candidate, openly gay “Republican Brad Torgan, 50, the truest of outsiders in this race”.  Brad finds the battle between the two top Democrats in the race, California Assemblywoman Betsy Butler and former NGLTC Executive Director Torie Osborn “annoying to watch. . . . When I see them at community forums, it’s obvious that there’s a lot of tension. Whether they admit to it or not, the vibes are that they don’t like each other.”

As Torgan challenges the Sacramento establishment, making an appeal for fiscal sanity and against regulations which hurt businesses, McDonald writes that

Butler, Osborn and [Santa Monica Mayor Richard] Bloom [a third Democrat in the race] . . . are trying to forge a crunchy coalition of white folks: canyon people in the Santa Monica Mountains, gays and lesbians in West Hollywood and other enclaves, beach people in Santa Monica and Malibu, ex-hippies and neo-hippies, environmentalists, entertainment-industry hotshots, lawyers and academics, feminists, social-justice activists, vegans, animal-rights activists, surfers and rich philanthropists.

The beating heart of the Obama coalition?  Read the whole thing; it’s a good read and a great piece of political journalism. (more…)