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Ed Driscoll

Why Is California Hosed? Blame ‘The Bloomberg Syndrome’

April 6th, 2013 - 5:12 pm

“Nice puff piece on San Francisco’s Trash Inspectors” in the Atlantic, one of Ace’s co-bloggers quips. “I can’t quite put my thumb on why California has a debt issue. It couldn’t be paying people to do stuff like this can it?” The piece highlights — I take it back, praises — nanny-state intrusiveness to the nth-degree:

To help improve the city’s landfill diversion rate, Slattery and his crew pound the pavement, both in the early morning and in the evening, keeping tabs on what’s being thrown out and educating people about the three-bin system. The early-morning cart monitors are armed with clipboards, and they take notes about the trash sorting behavior of each household, which is later entered into a database and given to the outreach crew.

“Bad, bad, bad,” says Calderon, shaking her head as she peered into the bins in front of a small home. “This goes in here,” she says, pointing to pieces of plastic packaging that had been put in the black bin instead of the blue recycling bin. She makes a note of it and moves to the next house. There’s no time to waste, because it’s garbage day, and the crew has to remain a few blocks ahead of the trash collectors.

In the course of the morning, we encountered a handful of people – mostly Chinese Americans – who looked somewhat surprised to find a group rummaging through their trash. Each time, Slattery points to his vest and explains that he’s with the Department of Environment. By about 7 a.m., the workers take off their reflective vests and headlamps and head back to the office to log the data they’ve gathered.

San Francisco residents are required by law to separate their compost and recycling from the rest of their trash, and soon they’ll have an added incentive to do so. Recology, the city’s trash hauler, will likely be raising its rates this summer. Under the proposed change, compost and recycling would no longer be free, but people who opt to downsize their black trash bin would pay a reduced fee.

Needless to say, this is all bulls***, to give it a name:

And it’s also a case of two Atlantics in one; elsewhere on the Website, Conor Friedersdorf (I know, I know) explores “What Progressives Can Learn From Their California Failures.” But won’t of course:

What vexes me most about California governance is the pervasive dysfunction. Whatever one thinks about taxation in the state, disagreements about how big government should be and what it should do are proper and unavoidable. But the flame-retardant-couch law? The inability to fire the worst teachers in a timely manner? The pernicious giveaways to the California prison guards? The public-employee pensions so unsustainable that they’ve already bankrupted cities? The gerrymandering? The inability to provide accurate cost estimates for high-speed rail? These problems aren’t rooted in different ideological visions or the minority party’s intransigence.

They’re just amateur hourish — seemingly undeniable evidence of inept governance. The state needs its own Washington Monthly just to chronicle all of the dysfunction. Says Krugman, “at this point the state’s G.O.P. has fallen below critical mass, losing even its power to obstruct — and this has left Mr. Brown free to push an agenda of tax hikes and infrastructure spending that sounds remarkably like the kind of thing California used to do before the rise of the radical right.” Fair enough. The Democrats are running things now. Let’s see how quickly they fix the problems that I’ve mentioned, now that nothing matters save their own ability to govern, or lack thereof. I predict that the legislature will remain captive to teacher and prison-guard unions, that public-employee pensions will continue to eat up an unsustainable share of the state’s revenue, that the increased tax revenue will largely be steered to special-interest groups, and that Democrats will prove unable to complete large infrastructure projects on time or on budget. Let’s revisit in a year to see if my pessimism or Krugman’s optimism proves closer to the mark.

I sincerely hope I am proved wrong.

As long as its cities are featherbedding their payrolls by hiring people to go through their citizens’ garbage, it’s a safe bet he won’t be on this topic, at least.

For another example of a once Golden State now in twilight, Aaron Clarey explores “How Liberal Art Majors Destroyed Stockton,” at his Captain Capitalism blog:

I pointed this out a while ago, but it needs repeating.

You cannot expect a group of adults whose only experiences are in the non-profit/government/education industries to lead with any measure of competence in that they are politicians first and foremost and have not the ability nor care to adhere to mathematical and financial reality.  They are mentally spoiled little children who just happened to be in adult bodies that purposely and consciously chose weak degrees requiring no rigor, effort or thought, and consequently chose easy “careers.”  It should be no shock that Stockton, or any city or organization, led by such weak and talentless people went bankrupt.

Is it the quality of the people who managed its services that led to Stockton’s fiscal collapse, or is it that they very likely succumbed to what Victor Davis Hanson has dubbed “The Bloomberg Syndrome:”

It is a human trait to focus on cheap and lofty rhetoric rather than costly, earthy reality. It is a bureaucratic characteristic to rail against the trifling misdemeanor rather than address the often-dangerous felony. And it is political habit to mask one’s own failures by lecturing others on their supposed shortcomings. Ambitious elected officials often manage to do all three.

The result in these hard times is that our elected sheriffs, mayors, and governors are loudly weighing in on national and global challenges that are quite often out of their own jurisdiction, while ignoring or failing to solve the very problems that they were elected to address.

Quite simply, the next time your elected local or state official holds a press conference about global warming, the Middle East, or the national political climate, expect to experience poor county law enforcement, bad municipal services, or regional insolvency.

QED:

But while Stockton’s mayor is busy turning her back on ethical oil, her city makes the list of America’s most dangerous cities in multiple years.

Stockton’s rococo global warming concerns, and San Francisco’s garbage nannies are both reminders that the simpler, smaller, and more focused the government, the less qualified the people running it need to be. Or as Milton Friedman once said, “It’s nice to elect the right people, but that’s not the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things:”

Unfortunately for all of us though, California politicians and civil servants take the notion of “politically profitable” far too literally.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"I am native Californian building my escape pod “

Before you arrive, strip yourself of all Californian influences and habits and remember to vote like a native of the state to which to you choose to move. If you want to stay Californian, move to Oregon.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (30)
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Heard VDH on the John Batchelor Show two nights ago. Mr Hanson, who had gotten a phone call from the CA Gov, thinks Mr Brown will allowing fracking and/or drilling along the coast so that profits can be taxed to raise money for his agenda. Hmmmmmm. Can it really be that Brown will do something that benefits CA?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
how about we all shut up, sit in our little cubicles, sort the waste and bow down and praise obozo as lord and savior and while we are sacrificing for the good of the state, watch as he lives life grandly, telling us we have to sacrifice more for the good of others, as he takes our money and enjoys himself and spares no expense for his kids.

Laughable, for obozo our clown in thief, yes, but the laugh is on those that vote for this nonsense and think it will make everyone better.

There is a reason that crab tanks at restaurants don't have lids on them. the crabs will pull down any crab looking to try and get out. Rather they all sit in the misery waiting to be dinner for someone.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've come to the conclusion that the mindset that wants to run other people's lives is impervious to logic or knowledge. Whether you're a bit of a meddler or a full nanny-bully, you rationalize your policy as being "for the good of the people." And as every piece of evidence shows your error, you claim that the failure is because the policy must be stronger, or better-funded, or applied more widely, or...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The really stinky dirty little secret is that residential recycling is worse on the environment than landfilling. The whole crap sandwich was a delayed and overdone reaction to landfill practices of 50 years ago. Put a pencil and calculator to it (tools with which the enviro-kooks seem totally unfamiliar) and you will find the benefits of residential recycling are negated and overwhelmed by the resources used in hauling it around.

Industrial and (some) commercial recycling, OTOH, in many cases can make sense because of the volumes generated at single sites.

There is no shortage of land. Another feel-good nanny state exercise in stupidity.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We have curbside recycling here in solidly Red State Plano, TX and it seems to work fairly well. The city collects landscape waste separately and composts it locally, greatly reducing the total volume hauled out to the landfill. They'll haul away a whole tree worth of branches if the pieces are small enough to lift. They gave up on separate bins for the different recyclables and just collect the mix of junk mail, plastic, and cans in one big bin every other week. Their goal is to reduce landfill costs, not save the planet, so they avoid lots of the absurd micromanagement. I hate to see useful stuff just get buried in a landfill, so I make the minimal recyclable vs. not recyclable sorting effort. One can support resource conservation for the benefit of future generations without going all environmental wacko.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Penn and Teller did a segment on their show "Bull***" where Californians were asked to segregate their trash into a whole bunch of different bins, according to the type of garbage. The docile morons in the show went along with the lunacy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Agencies SF Dept of Enviroment are where politcal soldiers are awarded with lifetime pension and medical benefits.

SF Dept of Enviroment is headed by Melanie Nutter - formerly Pelosi's Chief of Staff in San Francisco. She was appointed by SF Mayor - Gavin Newsom - who is related to Nancy Pelosi by Marriage. Beyond that Newsom's dad and Paul Pelosi grew up together in SF's posh Marina District.

Prior to Nutter's appointment the the Director of SF's Dept of Enviroment was Paul Pelosi Jr. - son of Nancy Pelosi.

These rich creeps really have each others back.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I lived in SF from 1977-98. During that time I worked at the SF Tennis Club. I greeted members and ran the parking garage. The Pelosi's were members and I saw them quite a little. Few people can understand the levels of privilege these folks indulge every day. Every year the Pelosi's attended the Black and White Ball and their entourage would begin at the Tennis Club. Paul had a fleet of 25 foot long classic Packards in charcoal grey to shuttle the tipsy revelers to the Ball. I was instructed to keep the Packards lined up at the front of the club, denying all the other members easy access to the front door. Those of us who worked there saw the details of their lives, who left with who surreptitiously for instance. or helped them to the car when intemperate. These are (or were) very beautiful and corrupt people, I saw and spoke with them daily at the time. They are not political posters for me but actual people I have stood in front of. They are enemies of the America we remember. In the fullness of time this will be seen.

We lived at the Great Highway and Quintara, 34th and Moraga and 18th and Lincoln in the Sunset. In the belly of the Statist Beast.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Waves were breaking last week at Noriega.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've heard it reported that CA has more mineral wealth in Monterey shale than all the other states combined. I haven't heard Brown moving on this. Also that even the President of Sierra Club was in favor of drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara -- because oil is bubbling to the surface, anyway, and drilling would relieve this. Part of the problem is the super wealthy who live on the coast and don't want to see oil rigs from their mega-million dollar homes.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mr. Driscoll forgot to include Walter Russell Mead's ongoing blogposts about the failure of the Blue State Model over at The American Interest. Mr. Mead is the Democrat who sees even more damage than ConorF, The Libertarian at The Atlantic.

I give CA's Brown more credit for trying to salvage the damage than the suddenly clueless NYCuomo. At least Brown might just frack some growth for CA.

Still kicking myself for failing to move to Indiana in 1998
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I used to take my almost-empty paint cans to the city dump. But, then, Bloomberg closed the city dump. Now, I stock pile all the really nasty stuff waiting for a solution -- or a fire. However, a neighbor told me that if you 'tip' the garbage men, they'll take anything.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Having lived here all my life (parents also - each of their families have been here over 100 years total) I can attest to the decline of California in virtually all areas but for increases in people on the gub'mnt handout. California politics; example: High speed rail was approved by the voters (52%) in 2008 at a cost of 33 billion. The figure was boosted to 53.4 billion in 2011. 54.5 in billion 2012. 68.4 in 2013. If that same measure were on the ballot today, approximately 59%+ would not vote for it. Give a politician and inch and they will take 100 miles. Damn the torpedos and full speed ahead. (Similar thoughts and actions of the captain of the Titanic when told of the danger of icebergs in their path)

California is in terrible financial shape yet the federal gub'mnt is pushing for the start of construction ASAP in the hopes that once started, California can always use the excuse, "We've begun construction and we won't stop because we would waste all the money already put into it." Ever hear the term, bail out now and cut your losses. Do you hear that giant sucking sound? That's tax payer money being poured into a black hole.

Ridership estimates have shrunk to such a level that the cost to ride California's high speed rail is going to put it out of the reach of all but the elite. Without federal subsidies, it will never make any money and even that is in question. It will most likely always be a financial black hole

I would dearly love to move out to a state whose politicians actually use common sense but due to many circumstances, we may not be able to. This state has been run by liberal politicians from both parties for 30+ years and according to "liberal speak", you'd think we would be on top of the world. Sadly, reality steps in and shows everyone how liberal thinking is not the solution, it is the problem.

In the city we live just outside of, the city council decided to take trash hauling into the private sector. It would have saved the city close to $2,000,000 annually. The unions collected enough signatures to have a special election so voters can vote for that one specific council action which will cost the city at least $600,000. They got the signatures by holding an all out campaign of misinformation and bringing in loyal union folks who don't even live here to carry the word.

If they win, the city has no choice but to have another round of layoffs. The trash haulers don't care the city is in the "tank". They were all told they would have jobs with the private hauler but being a typical gub'mnt employee, they want their elitist paycheck and retirement benefits that will ultimately cost the taxpayer even more.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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