Monday, November 01, 2010

Voting Matters - Governor of California (Could We Have A Worse Set of Choices?)

so it's that time of the year again. Ballots have been printed, debates have been had,and now tomorrow all you have to do is go on down to your polling station hold your nose and make some choices.

I'm really not kidding about that last part. This year in California we've been offered probably the weakest selection of candidates that it has been my misfortune to ever have to vote on. Think I'm making this up? We've managed to outdo the absurd removal of Gray Davis, where among the slate of candidates we had a porn star and former child actor, by  the two parties giving us a retread and a dilettante.

Going with the theory that it's age before beauty, will start off with Jerry Brown. What can we say that hasn't been said about Jerry Brown? He's been governor once before. He's run unsuccessfully for president of the United States. He was the mayor of Oakland, more on that later. And now he's the Attorney General of California. We know an awful lot about Mr. Brown.he has an awful long record, which is something that is unusual in this election cycle where everyone seems to want to not have a record.

With the state that California is in right now a priority for any voter has to be how is this person going to handle the economy and more specifically, whether they can do to help create jobs. Over Mr. Brown's website, he states that his plan is going to include a number of things. First, he wants to stimulate clean energy jobs. How did he want to do this? he wants to increase California's electrical generation capacity by at least 12,000 MW, in addition to that he wants to build 8000 MW worth of large-scale renewable and necessary transmission warnings. Furthermore he wants to reduce peak energy demand to develop energy storage systems along with those who want to increase the efficiency of buildings and appliances while at the same time developing more combined heating and power projects. And of course to ensure all this goes smoothly, he wants to appoint a "Clean Energy Jobs Czar".

Along with his proposed clean energy initiatives, Mr. Brown wants to encourage business startups. (Where have I heard that before?) To do this, essentially he wants to embark on a massive infrastructure upgrade. he also wants to create what he calls "strike teams" which will focus on job retention and creation. we hope that these teams will do is coordinate between worker training program tax incentives and other programs to help, I suppose match entrepreneurs and job seekers with each other as well as applicable incentives which may help them create new jobs in the state. he also promises to make a priority and increased manufacturing jobs also delivering quote targeted workforce training programs". Finally, like any good candidate, he promises to invest in education.

Now the question really is, how is in the pay for office? He is talking about a lot of money to be invested in "green jobs". when president Obama proposed the same thing, people started looking at this. Some studies have shown that to create one green job, you need to spend $30,000 of taxpayer money. in Spain, where they've done a similar plan of subsidizing renewable energy sources, they found that the cost of exit significantly higher end effects the economy number of ways. First, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Second, not only do the citizens have to pay for it as part of their taxes, they also end up paying higher energy costs because it's more expensive to generate.great, so not only is it going to cost us a lot of money or each new job that Mr. Brown wants to create with his renewable energy incentives, but were also pay more for the electricity that were already using. Already, this sounds like a great plan.

While Mr. Brown says that he wants to cut down on the bureaucratic red tape that businesses have to go through California, at the same time he proposes creating a new bureaucratic position, "Clean Energy Jobs Czar". how many government positions in the executive that report directly to the governor do you think come without a staff? If you can name one you get the no prize.

In what passes for his plan to deal with the budget, Mr. Brown said 11 same things that we heard from Gov. Schwarzenegger when he took office. This includes cracking down on those who aren't paying their taxes, making sure that we get all the federal money that's available, adopting a pay-as-you-go type of financing for state projects, and tearing up the "credit cards", while creating a rainy day fund. Tom, history Brown watched any of his own political ads? Play something about insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over?

The major problem with Brown, if you're talking in very broad terms. He's talking in idealistic ways about how he wants to help California. Make no doubt about it, I truly believe this is a man who sees himself as being the one to help the state at this time. The problem I have with them is his inability to articulate his position on certain issues. First and foremost, what is he going to do about taxation and how does he view that when it comes to dealing with jobs in growing the economy California. The reason I ask this question first, is that he wants to spend a lot of money to make his vision of the future happened. Right now renewable energy costs a lot to get started. When you've got more than 10% (its actually 12.4%) of Californians out of work or underemployed, you have to start at the base and the basics in this case is job creation.

Second, what is he going to do to make sure that people are actually able to live in this state. The state has one of the highest standards of living, and because no one seems to be willing to allow the market to fail and readjust downward, we're stuck with the high cost of living. One of the ways that we alleviate this  is Proposition 13. Position 13 passed during jury Brown's first term as governor of the state of California, and he fought against its passage. Once passed, he later professed to be "born again supporter" of Prop 13. now the unions, and some educational advocates, claimed the Prop 13  harmed our state schools. Why? Simple proposition 13 limited the amount that real property taxes could be increased in the state. The way that while schools in the public school system are financed is through the collection of property taxes. Without the ability for the local city and municipal governments to raise the taxes at their whim, and to whatever level they wanted, it hurt the school's ability to get new funds. on the right, Prop 13 is seen as a bulwark against out-of-control government taxation that is essentially unaccountable to the electorate. Now in San Francisco, Proposition 13 is unpopular. Why? Because were very liberal and a majority of the people within the city are renters, and renters don't pay property tax. but in other parts of the state the majority of the people are property owners in the 1970s property tax rates skyrocketed making homeownership almost unaffordable. It's something to consider. Backspace, especially in light of the fact that Mr. Brown is heavily dependent on the union's, including the SEIU and the teachers union, or very hostile to Proposition 13.

When asked about Proposition 13 and other tax raises Mr. Brown has been very evasive about this. His answer seems to revolve around the evolving the power to tax and local levels. And how is he going to convince the state legislature to give up the power to tax or in the alternative to not tax is much. one thing that will grant him, is that he does have a history of frugality. The problem is is that enough especially in light of his performance as mayor of Oakland?

On the flipside, we've got Meg Whitman. Her first strike against her, in the state, is that she's a Republican. Say what you want about California this is a blue state. Her background, as you probably have heard by now if you've watched any television show in the state, is that she was one of the people who helped get eBay to where it is today. She made a lot of money doing it such creative lot of jobs at the company by helping guide from small startup to the behemoth that is now. For a time, she also sat on the Board of Directors for Goldman Sachs.

Let's talk about the Goldman Sachs connection per minute, because that kind of important in choosing who you want to lead your state. Another bit allegations that she did some pretty illegal things there. according to California Watch,

Whitman's relationship with the giant Wall Street firm -- an investor, corporate director and recipient of old insider stock deals and campaign donations -- could pose conflicts of interest if the Republican front runner is elected governor of California, critics say.
Whitman left the board [of Goldman Sachs] in 2002 after she was targeted in a congressional probe of bond underwriters and "spinning" -- a financial maneuver, now banned, in which Goldman and other firms allegedly traded access to hot IPOs for bond business. Whitman later settled a shareholder lawsuit related to the prophets she and other execs made from buying the IPOs.
With golden active on so many state issues, Whitman could face "a pile of potential conflicts of interest" if elected governor, said Doug Heller, spokesman for consumer watchdog of Santa Monica.
Whitman's campaign attorney said it was "plainly ridiculous" to hold Whitman responsible for problems Wall Street because she spent 15 months Goldman's board.

Basically, Whitman took advantage of the system as it existed at that time. The system did not make illegal the things that she knew about or participated in with Goldman Sachs, and it appears that no insider trading was ever proven. When ever there is money and where ever there is access, there is always going to be the implication that improper things are going on but the rest of the public does not have access to. yes, she did apparently settle a shareholders suit. However, that the civil litigation matter does not necessarily make her criminal nor make what she did wrong. It simply represents the fact that she chose to settle rather than go to costly litigation. (Yeah, it's a little inside baseball, but there it is.)

Now, let's look at what Ms. Whitman wants to do as governor. Just like with Jerry Brown, let's look at what she wants to do about the economy and in particular about jobs. According to her website, her plan had a number of components. First she wants to eliminate the small business start up tax, including apparently, eliminating the LLC filing fee. this she believes will make it easier to start new businesses in California. Second, she wants to eliminate the factory tax. third two wants to increase the research and development tax credit. Fourth she wants to eliminate the estate tax and capital gains. Fifth she wants to promote investments that are cultural industry. Apparently she wants to do this by providing a tax credit to encourage investment in our conservation technology so that we can reduce the consumption of water.

Wow, she really is noticed. Compared to Jerry Brown checks the list out what she wants to do what she wants to eliminate.

Next up, we have what she wants to do about the budget. Like Mr. Brown, Ms. Whitman wants to do something about the spending going on in Sacramento. Ms. Whitman's plan appears to be threefold. First she wants a strict spending cap. The spending cap is going to be based on the state's gross domestic product. All happened, according to her plan is that spending can't increase unless the state's economy is growing. Second, she wants to uphold the two thirds majority rule when it comes to passing the budget for the state. There she wants to turn the legislature into a part-time legislature, similar to what they do in Texas. This would take a constitutional amendment and could not be done something to passing a bill. It would require a vote by the citizens of the state of California.

In looking at what she wants to do, it appears that she has some laudable goals. Imposing some sort of fiscal discipline on the state is needed. However the question arises as to how he'd deal with expenditures that are going to be necessary when the unexpected happens. adopting the spending cap that she wants to use, unless certain safeguards are built in, it's going to make it very hard for the state to do things especially if the economy suddenly goes south again (of course, that'll require the economy to go up and grow instead of getting worse).

California has very difficult choice. Our economy sucks. Were losing jobs. We have a lot of projects that need to be done. Jerry Brown offers experience. Meg Whitman offers an outsiders perspective. Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages.

Some argue, that electing Whitman would merely be a continuation of Schwarzenegger's policies towards California. While some of what Gov. Schwarzenegger has done has not worked out, and his many campaign promises that were unfulfilled, this might not be a bad thing. The problem we have right now in the state is that we have been unable because of our unwillingness to effect change tour budget in the way that we do things. When I look at Jerry Brown, when I listen to what he says, I see a man who wants to to continue along the same path he is gone before. I respect Mr. Brown but I think given the results of his tenure in Oakland that his solutions are not necessarily the ones that we need nor can we afford at this time.

On the flip side, when I look at Meg Whitman, I see a business woman who has engaged in sharp practices as shown a willingness to initiate attacks on her opposition. While this sounds bad, I'm not necessarily sure that it is.while there are some questions as to whether or not she would have an actual conflict of interest with Wall Street, in particular Goldman Sachs, this is not the same as the type of baggage that Mr. Brown carries with him marked with tags from the SEIU.

If I could, I would send these two choices back and tell the respective parties to put up serious candidates. To me a serious candidate would be someone who has both ideals and is willing to lay out the plan what he wants to do going forward. Both Ms. Whitman and Mr. Brown only to fill half of my requirements as a voter. Because Mr. Brown is so dependent in what he does tell me he wants to do on things, such as green jobs, which studies have shown have the opposite effect of the helping create jobs, but I have to say that we should give Meg Whitman the vote.

You have no idea how much it hurts me to say vote for a Republican here.

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