Just For Fun Concerts EP 2016-38 (Episode 42)

Another week and another sparkling new episode! Tales From The Drop Box Episode 42 is at least consistent with the other 41 previous episodes: 15 new (ish) tracks ( okay there are two old ones!) from artists you are unlikely to have heard of before listening to this episode, or have not heard on commercial radio ever and will likely never hear on commercial radio, or are unlikely to encounter in your daily travels unless you are trapped at a desk for work (like I am most days).

What follows below is the 2nd installment of my thoughts on the 17 propositions Californians will have to vote upon in the November 8 election. I assure you this will be less painful than reading the Official Voters Guide which is 244 pages of small print this year. Part 1 of this topic – covering the “sexy” propositions (#60 through 64) – is found in the show notes to Episode 41.

As a refresher, there is 1 general rule and 6 specific rules to evaluating how to vote on a proposition:

The general rule for assessing whether to vote for a particular proposition is this:

If you don’t know about a particular piece of legislation for whatever reason, or if you are unsure of the consequences of voting in favor of a particular piece of legislation – then always vote NO.

The 6 specific rules, all subject to the general rule:

  1. If the government can’t predict the economic impact of the proposed legislation – vote no.
  2. If the proposed legislation is worded in such a manner so as to disguise its true objective (e.g. Prop 60 – the condom law) – vote no.
  3. If the proposed legislation is morally objectionable to you or you believe it will have a significant negative economic impact that will impact you personally – vote no.
  4. If the proposed legislation will accomplish the elimination of a specific societal ill that you personally find ethically/morally objectionable, and will not impose a significant cost on you personally, or you are willing to bear that economic cost – vote yes.
  5. If the proposed legislation will bring about positive change for a particular group of individuals, have no or little financial impact on your life, and is not ethically/morally objectionable to you – vote yes.
  6. If the legislation will bring about a positive change and the financial impact is one you, personally, are willing to bear – vote yes.

Like last time, I have provided links to the California Legislative Analyst Office (a nonpartisan fiscal and policy advisor) analysis each of the below described propositions so you can read the full analysis. You can also find on their website the actual language of the proposed legislation to get the full picture. Finally, like last time, I’ve thrown in my two cents using the rules described above as my guide to tell you how I’m going to vote. In this manner, you can determine whether I am the psychotic, extreme left leaning, fiscally conservative, Demorepublocratican you all already think I am. It is punk rock after all.

Proposition 51

School Bonds. Funding for K-12 School and Community College Facilities. Initiative Statutory Amendment. Authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds: $3 billion for new construction and $3 billion for modernization of K-12 public school facilities; $1 billion for charter schools and vocational education facilities; and $2 billion for California Community Colleges facilities. Bars amendment to existing authority to levy developer fees to fund school facilities, until new construction bond proceeds are spent or December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier. Bars amendment to existing State Allocation Board process for allocating school construction funding, as to these bonds. Appropriates money from the General Fund to pay off bonds. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: State General Fund costs of $17.6 billion to pay off principal ($9 billion) and interest ($8.6 billion) on bonds over a period of 35 years. Annual payments would average $500 million. Annual payments would be relatively low in the initial and final few years and somewhat higher in the intervening years. (15-0005.)

A YES vote on this measure means: The state could sell $9 billion in general obligation bonds for education facilities ($7 billion for K-12 public school facilities and $2 billion for community college facilities). A NO vote on this measure means: The state would not have the authority to sell new general obligation bonds for K-12 public school and community college facilities.

On its surface this seems like a good idea. We need to modernize our schools. However, this legislation, proposed by the Construction Industry of all things, attempts to do this on a statewide level at the expense of all citizens. I am all for money for education, but I am also for local control of educational funding. This proposal is very expensive! Borrowing the $9 billion would cost the state an extra $8.6 billion in interest. i.e. State costs of about $17.6 billion to pay off both the principal ($9 billion) and interest ($8.6 billion) on the bonds. The state would likely pay off the debt over 35 years, at a cost of about $500 million a year. Further, it would not likely help those school districts where modernization is truly necessary. School districts pass school bonds because those funds are utilized in those districts to meet the needs of their students. I could write an entire article on the necessity of passing local school bonds and the priorities for spending those dollars e.g. new gymnasiums vs. qualified computer science teachers and programs, but I digress. The economic impact of this proposed proposition on the average citizen will be huge and will only stimulate the contractors who will bilk the school districts for expensive and unnecessary costs because of the unwieldy and expensive process to approve facility construction. I’m voting NO.

Proposition 52

State Fees on Hospitals. Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds. Initiative Statutory and Constitutional Amendment. Increases required vote to two-thirds for the Legislature to amend a certain existing law that imposes fees on hospitals (for purpose of obtaining federal Medi-Cal matching funds) and that directs those fees and federal matching funds to hospital-provided Medi-Cal health care services, to uncompensated care provided by hospitals to uninsured patients, and to children’s health coverage. Eliminates law’s ending date. Declares that law’s fee proceeds shall not be considered revenues for purposes of applying state spending limit or determining required education funding. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: State savings from increased revenues that offset state costs for children’s health coverage of around $500 million beginning in 2016-17 (half-year savings) to over $1 billion annually by 2019-20, likely growing between 5 percent to 10 percent annually thereafter. Increased revenues to support state and local public hospitals of around $90 million beginning in 2016-17 (half-year) to $250 million annually by 2019-20, likely growing between 5 percent to 10 percent annually thereafter. (13-0022.) 

A YES vote on this measure means: An existing charge imposed on most private hospitals that is scheduled to end on January 1, 2018 under current law would be extended permanently. It would be harder for the Legislature to make changes to it. Revenue raised would be used to create state savings, increase payments for hospital services to low-income Californians, and provide grants to public hospitals. A NO vote on this measure means: An existing charge imposed on most private hospitals would end on January 1, 2018 unless additional action by the Legislature extended it.

I know, you are thinking, like me, why do I care? The LAO cannot predict the fiscal impact: uncertain fiscal effect, ranging from relatively little impact to annual state General Fund savings of around $1 billion and increased funding for public hospitals in the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Further, this proposition is one of the most complicated initiatives on the ballot and is designed to protect the state’s ability to fund Medi-Cal. The background for this proposed proposition is helpful. California has not ever put up enough money into Medi-Cal to trigger the maximum amount of federal matching funds available for health care for the poor. Those hospitals that continue to accept Medi-Cal patients (approximately 450) therefore operate at a loss. At the time of the economic crisis in 2008, these hospitals offered to pay the state fees as matching dollars in order to obtain the matching federal funds. However, when the economic crisis triggered a state budget crisis in 2011, the state legislature spent roughly $500 million from those fees on services entirely unrelated to Medi-Cal.

Proposition 52’s stated objective is to protect those fees by keeping them in place and requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to spend them on anything but they’re intended purpose: health care for people who cannot afford it. My problem is with Medi-Cal and the rampant fraud in the program. I would normally support a proposition like this, forcing the government to actually spend monies targeted for indigent medical care on those who need the care, but I also (perhaps mistakenly) see it as dis-incentivizing Medi-Cal reform. Therefore, in a close one, I’m voting NO.

Proposition 53

Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Requires statewide voter approval before any revenue bonds can be issued or sold by the state for projects that are financed, owned, operated, or managed by the state or any joint agency created by or including the state, if the bond amount exceeds $2 billion. Prohibits dividing projects into multiple separate projects to avoid statewide voter approval requirement. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: The fiscal effect on state and local governments is unknown and would vary by project. It would depend on (1) the outcome of projects brought before voters, (2) the extent to which the state relied on alternative approaches to the projects or alternative financing methods for affected projects, and (3) whether those methods have higher or lower costs than revenue bonds. (15-0003.)

A YES vote on this measure means: State revenue bonds totaling more than $2 billion for a project that is funded, owned, or managed by the state would require statewide voter approval. A NO vote on this measure means: State revenue bonds could continue to be used without voter approval.

I note that there are very few public projects that would trigger a statewide vote except for the governor’s bullet train proposal, California “WaterFix” project, which would build two tunnels to move water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and when the Rams keep losing in Los Angeles and the team abandon’s Los Angeles again, a new football stadium to lure the Traiders back to town. I note also that the proposed legislation does not define “project” and therefore courts would have to decide what qualifies as a “project.” Good for lawyers though! The primary for me is that opening up public projects to a statewide referendum as to whether they should be funded and approved is a nonstarter. The reason we elect the crazy F-tards to the legislature is so that the natural course of statewide politics can take place. You know, lobbyists paying our elected officials to vote for the approval of “big” projects. Given the differences in opinion between northern California and Southern California leaving the decision making to the voter, is just dumb. We don’t vote on really important things like local city council elections and the presidency, why would we expect informed voting on public projects. Once the word project is defined by some court, the legislature will just alter the way it does business, cutting up a big project into several smaller projects to avoid the cost of running an election. I’m voting NO.

Proposition 54

Legislature. Legislation and Proceedings. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. Prohibits Legislature from passing any bill unless it has been in print and published on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the vote, except in cases of public emergency. Requires the Legislature to make audiovisual recordings of all its proceedings, except closed session proceedings, and post them on the Internet. Authorizes any person to record legislative proceedings by audio or video means, except closed session proceedings. Allows recordings of legislative proceedings to be used for any legitimate purpose, without payment of any fee to the State. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased costs to state government of potentially $1 million to $2 million initially and about $1 million annually for making additional legislative proceedings available in audiovisual form on the Internet. (15-0083.)

A YES vote on this measure means: Any bill (including changes to the bill) would have to be made available to legislators and posted on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the Legislature could pass it. The Legislature would have to ensure that its public meetings are recorded and make videos of those meetings available on the Internet. A NO vote on this measure means: Rules and duties of the Legislature would not change.

This proposition was written to prevent lawmakers from making last-minute changes to bills headed for the governor’s desk for signature and to prevent the “secret” tinkering require the Legislature to post bills online for public review at least three days before a final vote. The proposition also is written to help incumbent political candidates obtain free “campaign footage” of them in “action” for use in their political races by expanding access to live video of legislative action.

This is an attempt to change “the way things are done” in the legislature, which for now is controlled by Democrats, and for the likely future will be controlled by Democrats. Charles Munger Jr., a prominent Republican donor paid to put this measure on the ballot. Most bills follow a very lengthy process requiring multiple votes by lawmakers and therefore with a ton of opportunity for the “public” ( i.e. lobbyists, political influencers, and others who actually may give a crap about a certain piece of legislation) the opportunity to give input. However, that is not always the case. Democrats, can and often do waive the normal rules and ram a piece of newly written legislation at the last minute with no public scrutiny. This is how it normally works. The question then is should we change the normal practice into one that makes the process slightly more transparent and with video too? It would cost about 1 to $2 million for the equipment to make the magic happen and about $1 million annually thereafter for making the videos available and for storage. The real question is what would be the practical effect of the proposed change. Likely none as lawmakers would not change what they are doing anyway, it would not subject the legislation to any more scrutiny and no one is going to watch the video of our elected F-tards do their job. So, the expense is not worth the “enhanced” transparency or the hi-definition video. I’m voting NO.

Proposition 55  

Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Extends by twelve years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250,000 (for single filers; over $500,000 for joint filers; over $340,000 for heads of household). Allocates these tax revenues 89% to K-12 schools and 11% to California Community Colleges. Allocates up to $2 billion per year in certain years for healthcare programs. Bars use of education revenues for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how revenues are to be spent. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state revenues annually from 2019 through 2030—likely in the $5 billion to $11 billion range initially—with amounts varying based on stock market and economic trends. Increased revenues would be allocated under constitutional formulas to schools and community colleges, budget reserves and debt payments, and health programs, with remaining funds available for these or other state purposes. (15-0115.)

A YES vote on this measure means: Income tax increases on high-income taxpayers, which are scheduled to end after 2018, would instead be extended through 2030. A NO vote on this measure means: Income tax increases on high-income taxpayers would expire as scheduled at the end of 2018.

Continue to tax the rich. Why? Because they have money and the state needs money. Some basic facts about the State’s budget should be helpful:

Over Half of State Budget Spent on Education. The state collects taxes and fees from people and businesses and uses these revenues to fund programs in the state budget. This year, the state plans to spend about $122 billion from its main operating account, the general fund. Over half of this spending is for K-12 schools, community colleges, and the state’s public universities.

Medi-Cal. About another one-quarter of this spending is for health and human services programs, the largest of which is the state’s Medi-Cal program. I’ve already commented on what a pile of crap I think Medi-Cal is. So, three-quarters of the State’s budget goes to two big programs – education and indigent health care.

Prisons and Courts. Most of the remaining state spending pays for prisons, parole programs, and the courts.

So, what do the rich actually pay? Proposition 30, approved by voters in November 2012, increased income tax rates on high-income taxpayers. Depending on their income levels, starting at $263,000/annum, high income taxpayers pay an extra 1 percent, 2 percent, or 3 percent tax on part of their incomes. These higher rates are in effect through 2018. This year’s state budget assumes that the Proposition 30 income tax increases will raise about $7 billion in revenue. Proposition 30 also increased the state sales tax rate by one-quarter cent from 2013 through 2016.

The proposed proposition (1) extends for 12 years the additional income tax rates established by Proposition 30 and (2) creates a formula to provide additional funds to the Medi-Cal program from the 2018-19 state fiscal year through 2030-31.

Of course the taxpayers should spend their money on bigger government because the monies raised from this proposition will likely not go to where the taxpayer thinks when they hear money for education – i.e. “the children.” Nope, it goes for a whole bunch of “education related bureaucracy” and not to teachers’ salaries, learning materials, student programs, or anything actually relevant to education. Also, this was supposed to be a temporary measure. Throwing additional money scraped from people who are already smart enough to avoid paying taxes (such as by moving to Nevada) is not the answer. Looking at real changes to the Education system, fixing Medi-Cal, and actually dealing with the real financial issues is the answer to the State’s budget issues. Not this proposition. I’m voting NO.

Here is my scorecard for these 5 propositions:

  • Proposition 51: NO
  • Proposition 52: NO
  • Proposition 53: NO
  • Proposition 54: NO
  • Proposition 55: NO

So after 10 propositions I am voting NO on 8 of them and YES on 2 of them (Propositions 62 and 63). Finally, just be aware that all of the commercials you are going to be inundated with every second over the next 40 days (love the veterans!) are somewhat misleading. They are paid advocacy broadcast solely in the hope and belief that you won’t actually read the propositions or the actual text of the proposed legislation before election day ad will rely on the commercial to guide (buy) your vote.

The last day to register to vote in the November 8 General Election is October 24. Californians can register to vote online at: http://registertovote.ca.gov/

Here is what you’ll find in Episode #42:

  1. LP – “Strange” (Death Valley EP)
  2. Eskobar – “Starlight” (Magnetic)
  3. Math & Physics Club – “Coastal California, 1985” (In This Together)
  4. Varvara – “Shadow of Mistrust” (Death Defying Tricks)
  5. Steve Adamyk Band – “Broken Arms” (Graceland)
  6. Banks & Steelz – “Ana Electronic” (Anything But Words)
  7. Mozes and the First Born – “Cry Baby” (Great Pile of Nothing)
  8. Stickup Kid – “Artistry and Certain Death” (Debris)
  9. The Pictish Trail – “Easy With Either” (Future Echoes)
  10. Soccer Team – “Traffic Patterns” (Volunteered Civility & Professionalism)
  11. July Talk – “Now I Know” (Touch)
  12. Polarsets – “Adelaide” (Horizon)
  13. The Tuts – “What’s on the Radio” (Update Your Brain)
  14. The dB’s  Love is For Lovers (Like This)
  15. Gordi – “Can We Work it Out?” (Clever Disguise)

Where did everybody go, where did the summer go… it’s a long way from Adelaide to you.



Just For Fun Concerts EP 2016-37 (Episode 41)

Hep Cats and Cool Daddies! It’s time for another episode of your favorite podcast Tales From the Dropbox. As always, new tunes abound in Episode 41. On a somewhat sad note, tomorrow is Vin Scully’s last game as the announcer for the Dodgers. I will miss both Vin’s game calls, which are unequaled in the history of sports announcing, and the class he brought to the game of baseball presenting for the listener the best side of baseball despite its often difficult challenges. Vin is Dodger baseball.

I also thought that now would be a good time to start to deal with the record number of propositions that Californians will have to decide in the November election. No time like the present, eh? In addition to voting for U.S. President and Vice President, 154 congressional and state legislative contests will be voted on this November. The offices on the November 8 ballot include:

  • one member of the U.S. Senate,
  • 53 members of the U.S. House of Representatives,
  • the 20 odd-numbered State Senate district members, and
  • the 80 State Assembly members.

Californian’s will vote on 17 propositions including some that complex and deceptive to voters trying to determine whether to vote in favor of a particular proposition. As I indicated in the show notes to an earlier episode of Tales From The Dropbox, There is a general rule for assessing whether to vote for a particular proposition is this:

If you don’t know about a particular piece of legislation for whatever reason, or if you are unsure of the consequences of voting in favor of a particular piece of legislation – then always vote NO.

However, there are a number of specific rules for assessing the validity of a particular piece of legislation. Here are my 6 specific rules, all subject to the general rule:

If the government can’t predict the economic impact of the proposed legislation – vote no.

If the proposed legislation is worded in such a manner so as to disguise its true objective (e.g. Prop 60 – the condom law) – vote no.

If the proposed legislation is morally objectionable to you or you believe it will have a significant negative economic impact that will impact you personally – vote no.

If the proposed legislation will accomplish the elimination of a specific societal ill that you personally find ethically/morally objectionable, and will not impose a significant cost on you personally, or you are willing to bear that economic cost – vote yes.

If the proposed legislation will bring about positive change for a particular group of individuals, have no or little financial impact on your life, and is not ethically/morally objectionable to you – vote yes.

If the legislation will bring about a positive change and the financial impact is one you, personally, are willing to bear – vote yes.

Simple reminder about the general rule: if you do not have enough information to make an informed decision for whatever reason – vote no. If a particular measure is critical, it will appear on the ballot again and hopefully the proponent will do a better job of selling it to the voters.

As to not overload you, I’m going to break the analysis of the proposed propositions on the November 8 ballot into a couple of parts over the next couple of episodes of this podcast because you should always listen to music while doing some heavy reading. For your convenience, I have also provided links to each of the described propositions to the California Legislative Analyst Office (a nonpartisan fiscal and policy advisor) analysis of each proposition so if you are interested you can read the full analysis. Finally, I’ve thrown in my two cents using the rules described above. I am also willing to tell you how I’m voting in case you are curious.

Proposition 60

Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements. Initiative Statute. Requires performers in adult films to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse. Requires producers of adult films to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations related to sexually transmitted infections. Requires producers to obtain state health license at beginning of filming and to post condom requirement at film sites. Imposes liability on producers for violations, on certain distributors, on performers if they have a financial interest in the violating film, and on talent agents who knowingly refer performers to noncomplying producers. Permits state, performers, or any state resident to enforce violations. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Potentially reduced state and local tax revenue of millions or tens of millions of dollars per year. Likely state costs of a few million dollars annually to administer the law. Possible ongoing net costs or savings for state and local health and human services programs. (15-0004.) 

As I covered this one in detail a number of episodes back – Vote NO on this one. It is bad for the economy and a disguised anti-porn initiative that impacts a significant workforce in the state of California. Whatever your feelings are about porn, the measure will impact jobs in California and if implemented will cause those jobs, many of them legitimate, to move from California hurting our local economy. Remember, always vote NO when the true objective is disguised. However, if you find porn morally objectionable, then follow the specific rule above, and vote YES because you know the true objective is to eliminate porn production in California and have the productions move elsewhere.  I’m voting NO.

Proposition 61

State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. Initiative Statute. Prohibits state agencies from paying more for a prescription drug than the lowest price paid for the same drug by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Applies to any program where the state is the ultimate payer for a drug, even if the state does not purchase the drug directly. Exempts certain purchases of prescription drugs funded through Medi-Cal. Fiscal impact: It is the opinion of the Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance that the measure, if adopted, may result in a substantial net change in state or local finances. (15-0009.)

This proposition’s problem is not the idea – lowering prescription drug prices is always good, but as should be obvious by now – no one actually knows what is going to happen to the price of prescription drugs, or the economic impact on individuals who may be priced out of the market. This is particularly true for drugs that the VA does not pay for, such as new and experimental drugs not approved by the VA which have no ceiling. A CAL matters analysis of state spending on prescription drug prices found that in some cases, the government is responding to rising costs by making it harder for people to get medication. Not covered by the measure are those who have private insurance, public school and school district employees or retirees, or the 10.4 million covered by Medi-Cal. Always vote NO when even the government can’t figure out the financial impact. I’m Voting NO.

Proposition 62

Death Penalty. Initiative Statute. Repeals death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death. States that persons found guilty of murder and sentenced to life without possibility of parole must work while in prison as prescribed by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Increases to 60% the portion of wages earned by persons sentenced to life without the possibility of parole that may be applied to any victim restitution fines or orders against them. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Net reduction in state and local government costs of potentially around $150 million annually within a few years due to the elimination of the death penalty. (15-0066.)

One of two death penalty propositions on the ballot, a YES vote on this measure means: No offenders could be sentenced to death by the state for first degree murder. The most serious penalty available would be a prison term of life without the possibility of parole. Offenders who are currently under a sentence of death would be resentenced to life without the possibility of parole. A NO vote on this measure means: Certain offenders convicted for first degree murder could continue to be sentenced to death. There would be no change for offenders currently under a sentence of death.

So what are we talking about here? Since the current death penalty law was enacted in California in 1978, 930 individuals have received a death sentence. In recent years, an average of about 20 individuals annually have received death sentences. The state currently spends about $55 million annually on the legal challenges that follow death sentences. As of April 2016,of the 930 individuals who received a death sentence since 1978, 15 have been executed, 103have died prior to being executed, 64have had their sentences reduced by the courts, and748 are in state prison with death sentences. The state uses lethal injection to execute condemned inmates. Because of legal issues surrounding the state’s lethal injection procedures, executions have not taken place since 2006.

The real issue for many people is likely that we don’t kill people fast enough after they have been sentenced by a jury of their peers to death. Since that objective has only been carried out 15 times since 1978, the state can save $55 million per year and free up courts to deal with other matters. I’d say vote your conscience on this one. Effectively California does not have a death penalty, and unless and until the Supreme Court decides that those sentenced to die don’t have automatic appeals, California will not have an effective death penalty. If this proposition is passed then at least Californian’s will save some money. I’m voting YES.

Proposition 63

Firearms. Ammunition Sales. Initiative Statute. Prohibits possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, and requires their disposal by sale to dealer, destruction, or removal from state. Requires most individuals to pass background check and obtain Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition. Requires most ammunition sales be made through licensed ammunition vendors and reported to Department of Justice. Requires lost or stolen firearms and ammunition be reported to law enforcement. Prohibits persons convicted of stealing a firearm from possessing firearms. Establishes new procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession by felons and violent criminals. Requires Department of Justice to provide information about prohibited persons to federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state costs in the tens of millions of dollars annually related to regulating ammunition sales, likely offset by various regulatory fees authorized by the measure. Increase in court and law enforcement costs, not likely to exceed the tens of millions of dollars annually, related to removing firearms from prohibited persons as part of court sentencing proceedings. These costs could be offset to some extent by fees authorized by the measure. Potential increase in state and local correctional costs, not likely to exceed the low millions of dollars annually, related to new and increased penalties. (15-0098.)

Here is an example of an attempt to regulate the possession of weapons but at a potentially significant economic cost as it develops essentially a new court system to deal with a growing social concern. (NOTE: It does not take guns out of the hands of the police who commit firearms offenses). A YES vote on this measure means: A new court process would be created for the removal of firearms from individuals upon conviction of certain crimes. New requirements related to the selling or purchasing of ammunition would be implemented. A NO vote on this measure means: No new firearm-or ammunition-related requirements would be implemented.

So, the proposed legislation would not impact gun sales, attempt to regulate sales of ammunition, and have little direct fiscal impact unless you are a hunter as the enforcement costs are going to be likely added to the cost of ammo. It would however, put in place a system that will enforce court orders that persons convicted of certain felonies do not possess firearms. This is a good idea in theory and on balance the economic risk appears to be worth the reward. I’m voting YES.

Proposition 64

Marijuana Legalization. Initiative Statute. Legalizes marijuana and hemp under state law. Designates state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry. Imposes state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15% of sales price, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Exempts medical marijuana from some taxation. Establishes packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana. Prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana to minors. Authorizes re-sentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Net reduced costs ranging from tens of millions of dollars to potentially exceeding $100 million annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system, and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Net additional state and local tax revenues potentially ranging from the high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually related to the production and sale of marijuana. Most of these funds would be required to be spent for specific purposes such as substance use disorder education, prevention, and treatment. (15-0103.)

A YES vote on this measure means: Adults 21 years of age or older could legally grow, possess, and use marijuana for non-medical purposes, with certain restrictions. The state would regulate non-medical marijuana businesses and tax the growing and selling of medical and non-medical marijuana. Most of the revenue from such taxes would support youth programs, environmental protection, and law enforcement. A NO vote on this measure means: Growing, possessing, or using marijuana for non-medical purposes would remain illegal. It would still be legal to grow, possess, or use marijuana for medical purposes.

This measure is complicated. There is the potential that the increase in ease of availability of marijuana will lead to increase availability for minors. However, minors who choose to use, are doing so already regardless of the fact that marijuana is illegal. Evidence from other states that have passed similar legislation – Washington and Colorado – suggests that the state coffers are dramatically and positively impacted. The legislative analyst office suggests that the tax revenue derived from the measure could exceed $1 Billion annually most of which would be utilized for enforcement and youth programs. The State would save money jailing users for marijuana offenses.

This measure is also a complicated because, like alcohol and tobacco, there are potentially adverse health consequences from the use of marijuana and increased legal recreational use will likely lead to more DWI accidents. See Marijuana-related fatal car accidents surge in Washington state after legalization; Fatal road crashes involving marijuana double after state legalizes drug. Similar findings are true in Colorado: The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Vol. 4, September 2016.

For me, the decision as to how to vote on this proposition is truly not that complicated. Why?  There is strong evidence that people are just plain stupid. I have no religious or moral objection to the legal use of marijuana and would likely vote in favor of the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes if I had any faith in the goodness and decision-making ability of people. I don’t. If I truly believed that people would not die as a consequence of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, then I am in. I strongly believe that people should have the ability to choose their “poison” so long as their choice does not adversely impact others. The available evidence strongly suggests that people who use marijuana get in their cars, boats, and other vehicles and drive impaired. Therefore, because I believe that people will not put the lives of others ahead of their own desire to get high – I vote NO. Simply put, the potential negative impact of recreational marijuana use – death of another human – significantly outweighs the fiscal incentives for permitting the recreational use of another drug that impairs the ability to think. Vote No on this measure. I’m voting NO.

So there you have it – analysis of 5 propositions of the 17 on the ballot that will impact your life depending on how you vote. Here is my scorecard:

  • Proposition 60: NO
  • Proposition 61: NO
  • Proposition 62: YES
  • Proposition 63: YES
  • Proposition 64: NO

The last day to register to vote in the November 8 General Election is October 24. Californians can register to vote online at: http://registertovote.ca.gov/

Here is what you’ll find in Episode #41:

  1. Martha – “11-45, Legless in Brandon” (Blisters In The Pit of My Heart)
  2. Butch Walker – “Stay Gold” (Stay Gold)
  3. Hellfreaks – “Burn The Horizon” (Astoria)
  4. Death of A Party  “Hellraiser” (Rage Millennial)
  5. Pop. 1280 – “Pulse” (Pulse)
  6. Chris Farren – “Human Being” (Can’t Die)
  7. D.A.R.K. – “Loosen The Noose” (Science Agrees)
  8. The Hunna – “Rock My Way” (100)
  9. Someone Else – “Hymn For The Underdog” (Power Chord Poetry)
  10. Belle Noire – “Everything” (What It Means To Be)
  11. Work Drugs – “American Fool” (Method Acting)
  12. Nots – “Cosmetic” (Cosmetic)
  13. Cymbals Eat Guitars – “Well” (Pretty Years)
  14. Bad Sports – “Done To Death” (Living With Secrets)
  15. Deap Valley – “Little Baby Beauty Queen” (Femejism)

Well I’m so damn bored I could cut myself only four more hours to kill…. If I could be around you all the time, I’d be content to just stay in every night.


Just For Fun Concerts EP 2016-36 (Episode 40)

Tales From the Dropbox Episode 40 is a good one! Okay, I think they all are. However, I truly do believe the past several episodes are close to the vision I had for these podcasts from their inception: to present for your listening pleasure a mix of interesting and diverse new music from a wide-ranging group of artists all of whom are highly unlikely to receive any attention on commercial radio. Why is this universe of music not played anywhere on the commercial monopoly that passes for radio? Why do current radio programmers have no room on their playlists for the likes of Ex-Cult, Beach Slang, or the Rifles?


But this lack of radio airplay turns out to be  great for all of us that traverse the alternative universe. (Oh …my …God! I just figured out what alternative means in the current day and age…It means an alternative to the crap played on KROQ or _________ (fill in your own local clear channel controlled FM station)). Why? Because you can always find truly terrific music here!

Speaking of vision, I couldn’t help noticing (only because I am old) that Donald Trump has shared his vision of America at a speech in Philadelphia on September 9. As Trump put it:

“We Will Be One People, Under One God, Saluting One American Flag.”

Apparently, the Donald shares the same vision as another infamous leader who came up with this slogan for his political party:

“Ein volk, Ein reich, Ein Fuhrer!” (“One people, one empire, one leader!”).

I, unfortunately, am not too surprised that the Donald would paraphrase Hitler as he seeks the Presidency of the United States of America. As Trump posited in the same speech:

Starting in 2017, we will be one American nation. It’s time to break our ties with the bitter failures of the past and to embrace a new American future. Have to do it. Together we will make America believe again. We will make America united again. And we will make America great again.”

In fairness, Trump is not Hitler. However, Trump’s obvious and vocal appeal to the extreme right – a fear of immigrants, of other religions, of the banning of Muslims etc. – is a parallel to the same rhetoric that launched the Nazi party into power. Not that I’m the only one to notice the parallels. The internet is filled with such comparisons, some from well-known publications (e.g. Who said it: Donald Trump or Adolf Hitler? The theory of political leadership that Donald Trump shares with Adolf Hitler) but the most interesting view is not the similarity of Trumps rhetoric and vision, but rather that the race for the Presidency is apparently a dead heat. Really, has ½ of America gone insane or are we really a nation where the fear of a [black, yellow, brown, immigrant, poor] planet is so great that people are willing to take a chance on Trump?

This is progress?

Here is what you’ll find in Episode #40:

  1. Barb Wire Dolls – “Blind To Your Misery” (Desperate)
  2. Many Things – “Dear One” (Burn Together)
  3. Dirtbombs – “Indivisible” (We Have You Surrounded)
  4. Ex-Cult – “Mr. Investigator” (Negative Growth)
  5. Beach Slang – “Spin the Dial” (A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings)
  6. Malibu Cannibals – “Shine” (Beautiful)
  7. The Rifles – “Motorway” (Big Life)
  8. Puddle Splasher – “I’m Hurting Me” (Separate States)
  9. Gap Dream – “Rock and Roll” (This is Gap Dream)
  10. The Wytches – “Cough-Cool” (Home Recordings EP)
  11. Avers – “Holding On” (Omega-Whatever)
  12. La Femme – “Mycose” (Mystere)
  13. Frenzal Rhomb – “We’re Going Out Tonight” (We Lived Like Kings (We Did Anything We Wanted))
  14. Stiff Little Fingers – “Johnny Was” (Inflammable Material)
  15. Blowout – “If-Else-If” (No Beer, No Dad)

This street we walk upon this corner full of piss and fear this street won’t bear it long
it slants, it tilts, it’s brought outside alive . . . Woman hold her head and cry, cause her son had been shot down in the street and died from a stray bullet.


Just For Fun Concerts EP 2016-35 (Episode 39)

Tales From the Dropbox Episode 39 is about musical diversity – on this day – the 15th anniversary of September 11. As for this episode’s read-a-long, the theme is rather simple: Remembrance. This show is being released on September 11, 2016 – the 15th anniversary of the coordinated terrorist attacks on the United States of America, on Americans. The date, 9/11 is significant, and marks a moment in our history we should never forget. However, two questions concerning 9/11 will certainly arise (if not now but certainly at some point in the near future, from a generation too young to have witnessed let alone understand 9/11’s significance), why do we care and why should we remember?

What follows is my meager attempt to capture the significance of this tragic day – a day that 15 years later I still remember unfolding and still recall the aftermath of that day’s events. Like many memories the edges of those memories are a little blurry. The “significant” details from my viewpoint are still sharp but the details are not. I have not experienced 9/11 fatigue – the feeling that I cannot watch another retelling of the events of that day, the stories of the heroes, the victims, the senselessness of the attacks. The answer to why I am still interested in the “details” of 9/11 lies, I believe, lies in the answer to the two questions posed above: why do we care and why should we remember?

We must care about the events of 9/11 because one of the several significant lessons of this tragic day is that that America, for all of its strength and weaknesses, is a symbol that generates a number of powerful emotions in those who are not Americans. The power of that symbol is so great that there are those who will give up their lives to attack our symbols and our citizens. This is the other side of the coin of patriotism. Just as there are those who will fight and give up their lives for our freedom, there are those who will give up their lives to destroy our freedom, to attack our values, and undermine our way of life.  There are those governments and individuals who see only the aspects of our nation that they want to see – both real and imagined i.e. our economic, social, and foreign policies – and then extrapolate those aspects to form their view of America as a nation. One particular view of America held by, apparently, a large group of individuals and foreign nations is that America is the land of infidels that should be destroyed. (See America’s Global Image.) Defending against this particular viewpoint is why we should care about 9/11.  We must care about the events of 9/11 because those events have shaped our domestic and foreign policy for the past 15 years and should be a daily reminder to Americans that America must be vigilant and united in defeating those who wish to tear apart the foundations our nation and threaten both our unity and freedom. The cost of that freedom is significant. The cost is measured by the lives of those who lost in the tragedies that have unfolded beginning that day.

We must remember the victims and events of 9/11 because as the years have passed, this date, like many others in recent history, (such as April 15, April 16, April 20, May 23, June 12, June 17, July 20, September 16, October 1, December 2, December 14), is in danger of fading from our memories and the consequences of failing to remember will have a significant consequence in the future. These dates all should be reminders of the cost of our freedom, of the rights guaranteed under the constitution, of the strength of our nation to repel attacks upon our core ideals and values, and the significance of each life lost, of each name – of each mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, child – significant each and every one – because they represent each of us. We should remember the victims of these unspeakable tragedies because they serve as reminders of the seriousness that the concept of “freedom” serves to anchor our nation and represents our progress as a society, as a nation.

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

We must remember. In order for us to continue to progress as a nation, as a society, we must retain the knowledge of the victims of 9/11, because such remembrance gives us a direction forward – progress –  distinguishing us from the barbarians – “in which instinct has learned nothing from experience.” (Id.)

So, on this 9/11 take a moment to care and to remember.


10 things you may have forgotten about 9/11

Here is what you’ll find in Episode #39:

  1. Marta Ren and the Groovelvets – “It’s Today” (Stop Look Listen)
  2. Dreamers – “Little New Moon” (This Album Does Not Exist)
  3. Toy – “I’m Still Believing” (Clear Shot)
  4. Lost Animals – “Liverpool” (Fantastic Forrest EP)
  5. Purses – “Hitchhiker” (Obsess Much)
  6. Tiger Army – “Train to Eternity” (V *** -)
  7. Lydia Loveless – “Longer” (Real)
  8. Bouncing Souls – “Hey Aliens” (Simplicity)
  9. Glam Skanks – “Teenage Drag Queens” (Glitter City)
  10. Snowglobe – “Sid” (Snowglobe)
  11. The Few – “Exterminate” (Sleep Tight, When You Wake Up We’ll Be Gone)
  12. Rival Tides – “Bleed Me Out” (New Rituals EP)
  13. Ivan & the Parazol – “Cry” (The All Right Nows)
  14. Subhumans – “Dead at Birth” (Incorrect Thoughts)
  15. Jay Som – “Next to Me” (Turn Into)

People get on and they get off, sometimes we become friends but they cannot stay, for in the end our destinations aren’t the same . . . give me just a little bit longer to get over you


Just For Fun Concerts EP 2016-34 (Episode 38)

Another installment of Tales From the Dropbox! Episode 38 brings you my latest selection new(ish) type music that I am listening to as I toil away at the daily grind.  I suspect that some of you will find this episode a little quieter than the usual mix of tunes likely to be found in these podcasts, but I was feeling a little pensive, and perhaps a little sad, at the time I compiled the songs for this episode.No explanation really, life is good, and I am still as excited as ever about the state of music – as art. The music industry is a complete shit show but there is a glimmer of hope as vinyl continues to remain stable.

Perhaps it was the whole Colin Kaepernick side show that inundated almost every sports channel I viewed this week that has put me in the mood I am in. Perhaps it is the social issue that lies at the heart of this unfortunate situation that still remains unresolved that has finally gotten to me.

These notes attempt to articulate the important social issue raised in this “freedom of expression” moment. I believe that the social issue of import is not the one being discussed. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the issue raised by Colin Kaepernick’s seated protest. However, as usual, my view is a little sideways. Many commentators, including me, could easily identify the logical flaws in San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand during the playing of the National Anthem as a protest against a country that “that oppresses black people and people of color … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

I do acknowledge that Kaepernick truly believes that the flag is a symbol of a country that he does not respect because it oppresses black people (his words, not mine). This statement of an issue that may actually be factual is a difficult proposition for Kaepernick to sell because he – the carrier of this message – is simply not credible. Why? Because the bi-racial Kaepernick is going to make, as a backup quarterback, $11.9 million this year as an oppressed person of color.

Many commentators have and will continue to point out the obviously misguided method by which Kaepernick choose to call attention to an important social issue. But, what will not be discussed is the really and truly important issue that Kaepernick’s action and comments as to why he was protesting highlight:

the perception held by a significant number of persons that America (the land of the free and the home of the brave) oppresses minorities and prevents them from becoming successful because of their skin color.

It is easy for news commentators and pundits (and really everyone else who is likely to comment on the issue) to dwell on the reality that people of color are subject to a widespread and prevailing negative cultural bias resulting in racial inequality which influences and impacts every aspect of their social interaction and ability to gain affluence (See, for example, Contemporary American Society Chapter 14). However, this focus is tired and lazy. We can continue to point out that racism exists, but what the F$&&##!! are we doing about it?  Kaepernick’s “protest” as it is portrayed in the media will fail to address the power and role that the psychology of victimization holds in Kaepernick’s perception of oppression. The consequences of that psychology create and sustain the very perception we are discussing – that America is a racist and minorities will never be equal.

This psychology of victimization, a product of generations of minorities being taught that the “(white) man is going to keep you down,” is perhaps the key to breaking the hold that the perception has over the rational discussion of racism. Eliminating this victim mentality may also be the key to breaking the “power” of that perception in Americans, particularly when the perception that we are a racist society has become the reality. This is not to ignore actual racism exists and that people should rightly be pissed off and respond when they encounter actual incidents of racist attitudes and behavior. However, if we can eliminate the “false positives” then we can really target the elimination of the issue and focus our attention and action on those degenerates who continue to live in the stench of ignorance and intolerance.

Keep reading …the payoff is worth it. It’s not just psychobabble I’m positing. I’ve got the solution to the problem of racism in America.

The belief that people of color are oppressed in America is so powerful that examples of non-oppression (Kaepernick himself is an arguably successful wealthy bi-racial athlete) are ignored because they do not fit the perception. That is, perceptions of racial discrimination constitute significant risks to the psychological adjustment of minorities. Colloquially, we know this powerful psychological construct as “selling the myth” until it becomes the reality. As a consequence of racially biased perceptions, the successes of millions of persons of color are diminished. And not only are those successes diminished but those successful individuals are abused because of their success. Significantly, when a person of color is successful they are often, in turn, victimized by persons of their own color as being “too white” or not “fill-in-color” enough.

This is the central issue in the psychology of race – the perception of racial oppression is an expressed manifestation of the “crab in the bucket syndrome” i.e. a metaphor used to describe the mentality and behaviors of individuals belonging to or identifying with a particular community or culture, who ‘hold each other back’ from various opportunities for advancement and achievement despite incentives and expectations for collaboration. (See Miller, Carliss D., “A Phenomenological Analysis of the Crabs in the Barrel Syndrome”, Academy of Management Proceedings, Academy of Management (January 2015)).

This observation is not new. As noted in a 1994 story on how young people are unable to escape their circumstances this metaphor predominates as the student’s inability to be “successful” is correlated to their social circumstances – like crabs in a bucket – because their social influences hold them back. (Shanker, Albert, “Where We Stand: The Crab Bucket Syndrome”, The New York Times, June 19, 1994)). The psychology of victimization is powerful and when fanned in the flames of discontent, e.g. #BlackLivesMatter – the impact on young people of color is powerful and continues the self-victimization cycle preventing reasoned discourse and action aimed towards ending racial bias. Why? Because these movements falsely imply that they are oppressed by the “masses” when they are not.

To that end, the practical consequence of this “crabs in the bucket” phenomenon is two-fold: the oppressed perpetuate their thinking that they are oppressed and the oppressors blame the oppressed for being oppressed. There are a large number of studies that suggest that this blaming the victim occurs by way of ‘racial micro aggressions’ – i.e. racism that is so subtle that neither victim nor perpetrator may entirely understand what is going on—which may be especially toxic for people of color. (See DeAngelis, Tori “Unmasking ‘racial micro aggressions’,” Monitor on Psychology, Vol. 40 No. 2 February 2009.); See also, Sue, Bucerri et al., “Racial Microaggressions and the Asian American Experience,” Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, Vol. 13, No. 1, 72–81 (2007)).

So, back to Kaepernick. Yes, racism exists. However, it does not mean that African Americans are oppressed in America, or by Americans, or even by white people. Nor does it mean that Kaepernick’s perception that America is a racially oppressive country is entirely inaccurate. What this latest discussion of race issues should engender in the aftermath of Kaepernick’s misguided effort is the acknowledgment that the issue is complex psychologically, that eliminating racism in America is worth discussing and taking action, and that all persons – all Americans – have a role to play in ending race based discrimination.

If we are going to end the cycle of self-victimization and re-victimization that fuels the fire of Kaepernick’s viewpoint – then stop talking about the speech issue or identifying that racism is bad ( really are we that freakin stupid?) and focus on making things better by taking the appropriate action. Nothing will ever be accomplished by merely sitting on your ass. (See Colin Kaepernick, supra.)

Change always starts in the same place – with each of us deciding that race is not going to play a role in the actions we voluntarily choose to make i.e. to treat each other with love and respect. Stop blaming. Stop looking at every obstacle to success as an obstacle created to F__ you over because of your skin color. Stop being racist.

It really is simple – be a good human. Put that plan in action. It will eventually be all right.

P.S. Bet you thought I was going to write about the 1st Amendment, eh? I have got you covered…check out track 14 by the Dead Kennedys. Talk about freedom.

Here is what you’ll find in Episode #38:

  1. Field Mouse – “Over and Out” (Episodic)
  2. Cotton Mather – “Never Be It” (Death of Cool)
  3. The Orange – “Such a Drag” (Sharing Vitamins)
  4. AJJ –“American Garbage” (The Bible 2)
  5. Dead Ships – “Big Quiet” (Citycide)
  6. Porch Lights – “Nothing Means Nothing” (Street Gaze)
  7. Ricochet Rabbit – “Blow” (I’ve Been Here Before)
  8. Preoccupations – “Anxiety” (Preoccupations)
  9. Asylums – “Missing Persons” (Killer Brain Waves)
  10. Blossoms – “Misery” (At Most A Kiss)
  11. Angel Olson – “Shut Up Kiss Me” (My Woman)
  12. The Rifles – “Time in Hand” (Big Life)
  13. Hockey Dad – “Hunny Bunny” (Boronia)
  14. Dead Kennedys – “Halloween” (Plastic Surgery Disasters)
  15. Dollyrots – “Because I’m Awesome (Acoustic)” (Pledge Music B-Sides)

If I were one of the things, I’d be American garbage a most beautiful thing … But what’s in between where are your ideas you sit around and dream for next Halloween