The cap on greenhouse gas emissions in California imposed by AB32 California’s Global Warming Solutions Act does not go into effect until 2013, but already there is maneuvering by state officials to get their hands on the pot of hoped-for gold at the end of this rainbow. It is not that we can’t use the money. California has struggled with huge budget deficits for a decade.
The Governor and Legislature have made billions of cuts in a futile effort to balanced spending with falling revenue in a sinking or stagnant economy. For politicians, the gold from carbon taxes offers relief from the pain of disappointing special interests each eager to protect their part of the pork barrel that is the California State Budget. Some estimates are that the carbon tax will produce between $1 billion and $3 billion in the early years and perhaps as much as $14 billion by 2015 when it is fully implemented. Last year the state budget deficit was $9 billion—so you see why this is seen as the easy way out—tax the polluters!
In all candor California voters are part of the problem. We allow ourselves to be seduced into all manner of silly initiative ballot measures that adopt policies, impose costs and target increasingly scarce resources to pet causes. This is no way to run a railroad—but it is the way California is governed.
We have also made the state revenue picture worse by the steeply progress nature of our tax system which, paradoxically, depends heavily on capital gains taxes and economic growth from the very people the Governor and Legislature now want to ‘soak’ again to get out of the current mess. It does not take a Cal-Berkeley economist to understand that when the economy sucks and capital gains are reduced that when you target those who are successful they simple change their voting residence from California to Texas or Florida and —POOF! This double whammy of bad economic luck and bad public policy is strangling the Golden State, driving up the cost of doing business here, driving away successful people tired of game, and worse no longer working to produce the economic growth, opportunity and revenue California depends upon to live into its 21st century potential.
But carbon taxes are going to kick in in 2013 and California hopes to be in the gold again. There are just a few problems with this calculus:
- California does not allow the construction of coal fired generation in the state so there are no coal plants to tax. The once thru cooling water rule will force many older natural gas plants to shut down and most be replaced with much more efficient and less emitting new gas plants. Neither nuclear power nor hydropower produce carbon emissions and thus are exempt and all that wind and solar also beats the carbon tax. So what’s left to tax?
- Well technically this is NOT a tax it is a fee. This makes a big difference and complicates life for politicians. A tax in California requires a 2/3 vote of the State Legislature or a Referendum so AB32 imposes a “fee” set administratively each year by the California air Resources Board so no requirements that politicians must ‘vote’ to raises taxes even if they could get a 2/3 majority in the Legislature which all agree would be impossible. But a ‘fee in California also has limitations under a 1991 California Supreme Court Decision in the Sinclair Paint v California case where the court ruled that the proceeds from a fee can only be used to mitigate or offset the health or environmental impact of the industry affected. Let the game begin!
- Eureka! Charge out of state power plants selling into California! You can imagine how happy Utah and other states with cheap coal fired generation are to hear of that ‘California dreamin’. But what if those power producers decide to sell their energy to other states? Since California is a net importer of about 20% of its electricity requirements it may have trouble meeting peak demand unless the price goes up enough to cover not only the competitive market price but also the carbon tax thus socking California rate payers with their own carbon tax. Or alternatively California will have to build more power plants to satisfy its own demand.
- Carbon Taxes and Offset Policies in Europe and the Northeast Are Not Working! Another problem is that the carbon allowance markets now in operating in Europe (European Trading System) and the Northeast (RGGI) are struggling to survive with falling prices for carbon allowances. Make no mistake they have raised a lot of money. In the case of RGGI more than $900 million over the past several years but the states have different policies on how they use those funds and many have just suctioned them up and spent them to reduce deficits or fund pet causes.
This is the situation is facing California now. The carbon tax is not a tax it is a fee. But fee revenue must be spent on things directly related to the health and environment effects giving rise to the fee. No problem says Governor Jerry Brown we’ll spend the AB32 money on the high speed bullet train project. As you can imagine this is going over like methane in a crowded room as the bullet train project is so far over budget, so expensive that is can easily consume all the money the ‘fee’ produces and then some.
Governor Brown’s proposed state budget beginning July 1 2012 includes $1 billion from cap and trade revenue for the fiscal year. So far it is unclear how that money will be allocated, but $ 1 billion is too rich a pot of gold to be left to the whims of mere Governors so the pigs are lining up at the trough to be fed.
So where is all this going?
With California’s overbuilt electricity market awash in wind and solar resources even if there is new power plant construction it likely will be limited to a few clean natural gas plants or peakers that only run a few days a year. That will not produce much carbon fee revenue. Out of state power producers are likely to look for alternatives to doing business in California or raise their prices to recover the carbon fee in bids sticking it to California ratepayers.
The only other source of carbon fee revenue is gasoline prices and since California has a unique set of boutique fuels only sold in the Golden state you can bet fuel prices will get slammed. That makes the progressive carbon fee among the most regressive of revenue raising schemes going and risks alienating drivers and residents in the faster growing ‘warm side of the hill’ and in the Great Central Valley which demographically tends to vote Republican more than the foggy coastal urban centers.
Welcome to California!
There is one more thing—-the inconvenient truth is the Nunavut Government in Canada reports polar bear populations at an all-time high and climate scientists not intimidated by peer pressure to say so tell us that climate temperatures have not risen in more than a decade.
Holy Carbon Fee!
- The greenhouse effect of B.C.’s carbon-tax plan (theglobeandmail.com)
- Gillard the Lunatic. The light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off due to the cost of the carbon tax. What is the total electricity bill ($AUD) at Parliament House/Canberra for: 12 months ? What is the quantifiable “Carbon Footprint” for Parliam (heavycalibre.me)
- Gillard & the “Carbon Tax” Lie. Remember the celebrations when it was passed ? Not “hugs & kisses” for the environment ? No ! Only for the money these corrupt Federal MP’s will be “skimming” & pocketing. Fraud, theft, misappropriation, racketeering, corru (heavycalibre.me)
- Queenslanders to pay $7 out of every $100 on electricity bills to cover carbon tax, Federal Government claims (wrc559.com)
- South Africa to Green its Economy in 2013 with Carbon Tax (greenprophet.com)
- Complaint lodged against ‘carbon tax collector’ ad – Business – Australian Broadcasting Corporation (exitbusiness.wordpress.com)
- Chevron seeks relief from carbon tax (theglobeandmail.com)
- Carbon tax “worst piece of economic reform” says outgoing chairman of the Future Fund (seeker401.wordpress.com)
- Cap-and-trade: One, two, pick up the cash (fresnobeehive.com)
No Budget, No Payday!
That was the stunning decision yesterday by California State Controller John Chiang. Under California law the State Legislature must adopt a balanced budget (Proposition 58) and they must do so by June 15th by a simple majority vote instead of the previously required 2/3 vote (proposition 25).
Yesterday the other shoe dropped when State Controller John Chiang, also a Democrat, said the Legislature failed to meet the tests under both Proposition 58 to pass a balanced budget and Proposition 25 to do so on time. Therefore, he was just following the law (Proposition 25) and ordered that the Legislators would forfeit about $260 per day in salary and $142 in tax-free travel and living expenses. Under Prop 25 that money is forfeited meaning it cannot be later paid back once the budget is adopted.
Since the Legislature is a full-employment act for politicians with members making $95,291 getting cut off cold-turkey is the voters’ equivalent of a furlough, and legislators are not accustomed to being disciplined especially by other Democrat elected officials.
The Democrat Legislative Leaders were furious believing Governor Brown stabbed them in the back. The Republicans were largely quiet observing the age old political proverb—‘when your opponent is committing suicide, let him’.
Brown told the Legislative leaders to go back to the budget negotiating table and try to talk the Republicans into a short-term extension of the current sales and income tax increases and to allow voters to decide whether to extend them further. Otherwise he told the Legislature to send him a budget with cuts deep enough to close the $9.6 billion gap.
The Controller’s action was refreshingly gutsy and the blogosphere was alive with calls of “Chiang for Governor.” In the short-term Chiang’s action strengthens the hand of Governor Jerry Brown in getting the Legislature to act responsibly enough to allow State Treasurer Bill Lockyer to sell the bonds needed to keep the state in cash.
Republican have resisted calls for a tax extension arguing that past use of that strategy has resulted in the Legislature spending all the money and then some. The problem Republicans have is voters surveyed have repeatedly said they want the opportunity to vote up or down on taxes. So if Republicans continue to hold out they risk irritating voters on a core issue. But voters also passed Prop 25 reducing the vote needed in the Legislature to approve the budget to a simple majority thus depriving the minority party—almost always Republicans in California—the ability to hold the budget hostage. So Democrats have the votes but not the will to adopt a balanced budget making deep cuts, but they don’t have the votes to call a special election on the tax questions.
Checkmate as usual—but this time no paycheck as usual.
- California State Controller Sticks Lawmakers’ Face In It (cehwiedel.com)
- California Controller to Pols: No Pay for You! (reason.com)
- Chiang Cuts Off Legislators Pay As California Budget Saga Continues (economy4abc.blogspot.com)
- California Budget Rapture is Near (civicchoices.wordpress.com)
- California Voter Revenge Hits Politicians Hard! (civicchoices.wordpress.com)
- Jerry Brown vetoes budget – Democrats ‘dismayed’ (sfgate.com)
A fist fight between opposing views on the State budget broke out at the California Legislature just before the Democrat-sponsored State Budget was approved anyway and sent to Democrat Governor Jerry Brown. But Brown vetoed the budget sent him by fellow democrats saying it was full of gimmicks and did not solve the problem.
He told them to talk the Republicans into allowing voters to decide whether to extend the current temporary sales and income tax increases as a bridge and to find more cuts in budget categories or else.
This is Jerry Brown at his finest!
He knows every legislative and political trick in the books and he obviously surprised the Democrats by not rolling over for their latest attempt to kick the can down the road.
Why were they doing it?
Voters approved a ballot Initiative last election that stops legislative paychecks if they fail to approve a balanced budget on time. So the Legislature approved a budget they called balanced in time—the first time in decades—to meet that paycheck deadline betting that fellow Democrat Jerry Brown would let them get away with this smoke and mirrors trick.
The Governor knew he would have to live with a flawed budget and thus would get all the blame for making draconian cuts needed to make up for the gimmicks the Legislature approved. So in vetoing the budget he told them to try again.
So angry was Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg that he announced he was halting Senate consideration of Governor Brown’s appointments and there would be no further confirmations for an indefinite period of time.
Pressure on the Legislature to approve a realistic state budget is compounded by bad economic news. California employers shed 29,200 jobs from payrolls in May after several months of job growth had boosted California’s estimated revenue for the year. California’s unemployment rate still fell to 11.7% from 11.8% in April, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.
California was not alone in this bad economic news as only 54,000 jobs were added in May and the national unemployment rate grew to 9.1%. First quarter job growth averaged 220,000 jobs a month. Add falling home prices and lower retail sales and consumer confidence numbers and you see why Governor Brown was tired of waiting for the Legislature to do its job.
A POX ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES
Jim Boren, an editorial writer for the Fresno Bee, summed up the nasty mood pervading the State with this editorial:
“Here’s more evidence that we need a part-time Legislature in California: It took lawmakers almost six months to come up with a phony budget, which Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed within hours of its passage. Part-timers couldn’t have done any worse, and likely would have solved the problem.
The Sacramento political establishment scoffs at the thought of a part-time Legislature for many reasons. If lawmakers are part time, their staffs would be part time. The public relations professionals and lobbyists, who operate full time, would have less work.
A full-time but dysfunctional California Legislature works for everyone except the taxpayer. We have a system in Sacramento that has morphed into a moneytree for the political class.”
And so it goes.
- Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes state budget (marketwatch.com)
- Uncertainty reigns as Jerry Brown vetoes ‘questionable’ California budget (csmonitor.com)
- Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes Democratic budget bill (abclocal.go.com)
- Jerry Brown Vetoes California Budget, Cavanaugh on 10 O’Clock News Again Tonight (reason.com)
Proposition 25: No Budget, No Paycheck! The California Legislature has five days to complete work on a state budget or risk missing the Constitutional deadline. What’s new, you ask, they have missed the deadline in 24 of the past 25 years.
What’s new is that THIS TIME as a consequence of Proposition 25 approved in the November 2010 election if the Legislature fails to approve the budget on time the State Controller must stop paying them. California lawmakers are paid $95,291 per year in addition to a daily expense allowance of $141.86 on days the Legislature is in session so each day the budget is late after June 15th will cost them $403.93. Since most of the legislators consider it their full time job this is a serious consequence, but there is more—-any compensation withheld is considered forfeited and cannot be paid retroactively.
Proposition 11: Redistricting Hits Home. Proposition 11 approved by California voters in 2008 gave authority to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to redistrict State Legislative seats, Congressional Districts and seats on the State board of Equalization. As you can imagine, the Legislature hates this idea because it undermines the careful gerrymandering done to protect incumbents. It worked too—in the November 2010 election not a single incumbent legislator was defeated. But this week the California Citizens Redistricting Commission released the first draft redistricting maps using new census data and input from citizens across the State.
Shock would be a mild term for the legislative reaction. Virtually no district was the same since the plan was to assure that the election contests are competitive. Independent analysis of the first draft of maps from the California Citizens Redistricting Commission by the Public Policy Institute of California said the proposed boundary changes would more than doubles the number of competitive congressional and legislative seats. PPIC says the Assembly would gain 7 competitive seats for a total of 16; the Senate would see a gain of 6 competitive seats for a total of 9. The US House of Representatives would gain 5 competitive seats for a total of 9 out of 53.
PPIC defines “competitive” as any voter registration within 5% for Republicans and 10% for Democrats because it says Democratic voters crossed party lines more often than Republican voters.
Proposition 14: Open Primary Elections. Adding insult to this injury, the voters also approved a new primary election rules advancing the top two vote-getters to the General Election regardless of party. Meaning two Democrats or two Republicans or two Tea Party types could be nominated by voters. This seriously messes with the ability of the political parties to engineer the elections, but since a growing share of California voters are officially “decline to state” or independent it forces the candidates to broaden their appeal rather than courting only the base in their own party. The objective is to encourage a more centrist set of candidates and to breakdown the partisan gridlock that has held up decision in the Legislature.
- California Redistricting Commission Releases First Draft of New District Maps (elections.firedoglake.com)
- Fair redistricting? It is to laugh (maureenholland.wordpress.com)
- California Voting Map Stirs Criticism (online.wsj.com)
- California to get first look at new political maps (sfgate.com)
- Controller Announces No Pay for Legislators Absent Balanced Budget by June 15 Deadline (yubanet.com)
- Controller to legislators: No budget, no pay (sfgate.com)
In a 5-4 decision in Brown versus Plata the US Supreme Court upheld a lower court injunction ordering California to release about 46,000 convicted felons over the next two years to relieve overcrowding.
The decision split the court along its traditional liberal versus conservative lines with Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the swing vote between these blocks deciding in favor of the proposed sweeping release of prisoners. The conservative justices lead by Anton Scalia were scathing in their criticism of the majority decision saying the courts had overstepped their power and put themselves into a role of supervising the California prison system that was beyond their skill and authority and having failed at that they now propose to solve California’s overcrowding problem by letting the criminals out of jail.
That California prisons are a broken institution is not at issue. The prison system has been swamped by laws like three strikes, determinate sentencing and mandatory minimums aggressively incarcerating people in response to public outcries over violence, drugs and gangs.
But this is not just a California problem. The Pew Center on the States reports that more than one in every 100 adults is now confined in an American jail or prison. The Pew Public Safety Performance Project tells us what we know all to painfully that soaring costs of failed criminal justice systems are hitting the states hard when they can least afford it and worse those policies and systems are not solving the problem of crime, violence, drugs and gangs in any meaningful way.
But there is a worse demographic outcome even than these. We are wasting a generation of people who could have been productive members of society. One in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, for black males that number is one in nine. Men statistically are 10 times more likely to be in jail, but the rate of women being jailed is rising much faster than for men with the rate for black women in their 30s now 1-in- 100. Overall, 1 in 53 people in their 20s is in jail, and 1 in 837 of those 55 and older is in jail or still in jail.
The other problem is politics. Demand for action against crime is an easy way for politicians to pander to the voters, but the soaring costs of keeping all these people in jail longer and turning them out more hardened criminals isn’t working. The prison guards union is very powerful in California politics and often has been an obstacle to changes in the prison system. The problems facing California prisons today are not new but that does not make them easier to solve.
The question is whether releasing 46,000 felons over the next two years to comply with the court order will do anything to solve the fundamental problem causing this high incarceration rate as a consequence of a failed set of social policies, family relationships, and the corrosive influence of drugs, gangs and guns in our civic life.
We know the answer to that question don’t we? We just don’t know how to solve the real problems.
- California Must Release 40,000 Prisoners (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Supreme Court orders California to free up to 46,000 prisoners (telegraph.co.uk)
- What are California’s best options for reducing state prison population? – 89.3 KPCC (news.google.com)
- Top Court Sets Stage for Felons to Go Free (online.wsj.com)
- California must cut prison population by 33,000 (sfgate.com)
There is good news and bad news in California. The good news is state tax revenues grew $6 billion more than expected in the latest report reducing the state budget deficit from $16 billion to $10 billion for the year with less than a month to go before the Constitutional deadline for approving a budget.
The bad news is there is no legislative agreement on the budget and little prospect of getting one by the deadline. The Legislature rarely meets its deadline for budget approval.
Governor Brown proposed to close the deficit with extensions of sales and incomes tax rate increases scheduled to expire to cover half the shortfall and budget cuts to close the rest. Democrats scream soak the rich, Republicans scream stop spending money you no longer have.
So while Sacramento dithers, out here in the real world stuff happens:
A Pox on Both Your Houses. California voters in the last election approved a ballot initiative to reduce the legislative votes needed to approve a budget from 2/3 of each House to a simple majority. But Californians are not stupid so they also approved another measure that requires a 2/3 vote of the people to raise taxes so Governor Brown can propose tax increases and the Legislature can put them on the ballot but the people will decide.
California bad-mouthed as not being business friendly. Newly elected Lt Governor Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco, lead a delegation to Austin Texas to investigate why so many California businesses were moving out of the Golden State and end up on the Lone Star State. In one meeting covered by the media, executives of companies that quit California complained of burdensome regulation, high costs of mandates, and deteriorating business conditions. One fast food chain executive said it takes more than 2 years to get permits to build one of his restaurants in California compared to 6 weeks on average in Texas—so his company is building 200 more restaurants in Texas and only 4 more in California and those are relocation of existing establishments to better locations.
BayWatch Salaries. Newport Beach’s 13-member full-time lifeguard crew salaries, benefits and overtime pay average over $100,000 each and the top two cost more than $200,000 each(with $400 for sun protection) as the city struggles to rein in pension costs.
Vacation Scams. Despite a policy limiting vacation carryover from year to year to 80 days (640 hours) total accrual, the State of California was forced to pay $2.75 billion for more than 75.5 million hours of excess vacation accrual because its managers failed to enforce its policy. One prison doctor accumulated more than two and one-half years worth of vacation and was paid $594, 976 upon retirement. An audit report says 29% of state employees leaving the system were paid for excess vacation time and 400 received an amount equal to more than one year of salary.
We Pay them HOW MUCH!#@? The San Jose Mercury Newspapers have posted an online database of public official salaries creating a controversy over intrusions into employee privacy not that pales next to the controversy the facts revealed. Public officials are well paid in California—very well paid. Some part-time elected city council members are paying themselves nearly $100,000 per year while others get $100 per meeting for their service. Some cities, counties and special districts pay the health insurance costs and pension contributions for part-time elected officials. In some instances the annual cost of benefits is a multiple of the salaries paid.
Wined, Dined and Termed Out. California has more than 300 state boards and commissions many of which have turned into ‘way-stations’ for termed out legislators and others with political connections. In the most egregious cases, these board appointments are paid $125,000 per year or more to attend a monthly meeting lasting several hours. Governor Brown responded to the last newspaper expose by proposing to eliminate a handful of these boards which met with howls of resistance from legislative leaders and the appointed politicians.
California is careening down the freeway out of financial control with the radio blaring the song “ Do You Know the Way to San Jose” hoping desperately that Silicon Valley will take off again and refill the treasury with gold except Intel decided to build its two new chip making plants in Arizona and all those millionaires California needs changed their legal residence to Texas which has no income tax or capital gains tax.
California is broke and our state government is broken and even the Terminator failed us so we hired back Governor Moonbeam who is busy negotiating new labor agreements which do include some pay and benefit concessions from state employees but do little to change the fundamental flaws in the benefits structure that got us in trouble.
Oh, there is one more thing, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office sought and won waivers from who said they could not afford the required coverage mandates under the new law and unless they received waivers they would terminate their health insurance plans. They got them quietly until the press found out. requirements for major San Francisco employers
Have a nice day!
- Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom: CA still has no clear economic plan to “get back in the jobs game” (sfgate.com)
- Texas, America’s Land of Opportunity – Pursues Calif. Businesses After Jobs Summit (timesoftexas.com)
- California’s Brown sees “good chance” for budget (reuters.com)
- S&P: ‘Important crossroad’ for California credit rating (fresnobeehive.com)
- Deep in the heart of Texas: Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom and Gov. Rick Perry keep it cordial (sfgate.com)
- California bishops decry breakdown on budget deal: ‘Devastating for poor’ – Catholic San Francisco (news.google.com)
- Rich People Underappreciated in Golden State (reason.com)
San Francisco Superior Court judge Ernest Goldsmith smacked down plans by the California Air Resources Board to implement its AB32, Global warming Solutions Act, “scoping plan” because he said CARB failed to follow the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because its environmental review failed to adequately consider alternatives to its proposed cap and trade approach.
In essence, the judge said CARB had already made up its mind and its actions to implement the scoping plan “seeks to create a fait accompli by premature establishment of a cap-and-trade program before alternatives can be exposed to public comment and properly evaluated by the ARB itself.” Judge Goldsmith found that CARB’s “analysis provides no evidence to support its chosen approach,” and its action “undermines CEQA’s goal of informed decision-making.”
Adding insult to injury for CARB the lawsuit pending before Judge Goldsmith was filed by the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, a San Francisco environmental justice group that seeks more specific remedies from the court such as ordering reductions in specific harmful emissions in specific neighborhoods.
CARB has until Tuesday to respond to the preliminary ruling, but if it is ordered by the Court the effect could be considerable delay in implementing AB32.
The delay could be just a temporary hiccup in the implementation of AB32, according to environmental blog Legal Planet since the since CARB won on the merits on all the plaintiffs specific claims challenging the scoping plan. The Judge’s decision is narrowly cast to apply to the CEQA environmental review process. CARB would certainly appeal any injunction issued but it probably will have to fix the procedural problems before it moves forward with implementation.
In 2010 193 businesses pulled up stakes or materially reduced their business investment in California to build facilities out of state or out of the country. This compares to 51 companies leaving in 2009 according to Joseph Vranich who bills himself as a business relocation coach. In a series of posts on his business relocation blog he documents the companies departing and where they said they were going.
These business losses are driven by deliberate business decisions to relocate outside of California followed by decisions to redirect capital investment that more likely than not would have been directed to California but now will not. California is losing its attractiveness to business while other states with better business conditions are working hard to suction up the doubters.
The biggest losers among California Counties are Orange County (40) Santa Clara (36), the heart of Silicon Valley, Los Angeles County (34) and Alameda County (14) together making up 64% of the business losses.
The series of blog posts Joe Vranich has produced is eye opening reading for those who want California to return to growth and succeed, but it is going to take a change in attitude to match changes in policies for that to happen.
In the I can’t believe they could be this stupid department, the California Public Utilities commission has created a “foundation” to enable the utilities it regulates to contribute money to assist the Commission which is running short of cash in the midst of the state’s budget crunch.
The report surfaced today in the San Francisco Chronicle Matier & Ross column which covers politics when it got wind of a big dinner planned to coincide with the CPUC’s 100th anniversary. According to the report utilities are buying $20,000 tables at the dinner. State Senator Mark Leno called the whole thing “rather unseemly” but two newly appointed CPUC commissioners who happen to be consumer advocates at first said they would not be attending but seem to have changed their minds.
So if you have a spare $20,000 you would like to contribute to the CPUC they will take your money but it will not have any effect on their decisions—they promise!
California license plate numbers follow a pattern of number-letter-letter-letter-number-number-number, but the state is running out of possible combinations.
The Contra Costa Times asked readers for suggestions. A few wise-guys responded:
“The obvious, quintessentially California answer is this: Once we get to9ZZZ999, the state will simply declare that there can be no more cars registered in the state. A cap, if you will. This will be explained as a necessary measure to preserve air quality and reduce our energy usage. The only way you’ll be able to buy and register a new car is to take an old one off the road.”
“I agree that this will probably happen, replied another, with one small variation. When the state institutes the cap, the only way to register a different car will be to find someone to swap cars with you: cap and trade.
Still a third said: “Rebellious citizens will quickly set up a black market where you can buy new cars, incandescent light bulbs and (for San Franciscans) Happy Meals, which will soon replace crack and other controlled substances.”
I think a reverse auction might work where new car owners bid on the license plate numbers of older cars. Think of it like buying a renewable energy credit. When the price is higher than the residual value of the old clunker someone will raise their hand and take the deal. The state will keep half for the politicians to spend flagrantly on essential purchases. You know, like the $258,000 the state motor pool just spent to buy the newly elected state legislators new cars—more than half of which were gas guzzling SUVs.
But there is hope for California.
Governor Jerry Brown told 48,000 state employees to cancel their cell phones saying that when he was last governor we didn’t even have cell phones and things worked better. Besides, he said, he did not understand why 40% of the state employees or 96,000 of them needed state paid cell phones.