WC Varones

Don't lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools

Game Theory: Leucadia

Here is the Redfin search for 3+ bedroom homes under $1 million in Leucadia, an eclectic North County beach town.



The green houses are houses for sale; the blue houses are house that have sold in the past six months. What, you don't see any blue houses?

That's right. Eight houses for sale in this area, and nothing sold in over 6 months. In fact, if you raise the price on your Redfin screen, you'll find several more listings: glue-sniffers trying to sell for more than a million, but still no sales.

But what really interested me about this picture is the cluster of five houses for sale within a stone's throw of each other on Sanford Street and Raintree Drive. And all within $70,000 in price. What do you do if you are one of these sellers and you actually need to sell? Current pricing is obviously not working. The first sale is probably the best -- go to $799,000 and beat your neighbors to the buyers.

These places in Leucadia are currently the best deals west of the freeway from La Jolla to Carlsbad, in my opinion. The fact that these places aren't selling is a very bad sign for sellers holding out for far more in Del Mar, Solana Beach, and Encinitas.

Uniquely American

The incompetent encounter the easily traumatized. Hilarity ensues.
An e-mail sent out by UCSD this week mistakenly invited everyone who had applied to the La Jolla campus to an orientation – even those whose applications had been rejected.
“We're thrilled that you've been admitted to UC San Diego, and we're showcasing our beautiful campus on Admit Day,” said the e-mail sent around 5 p.m. Monday.

[...]

Janet Robinson said her daughter, Katie McCray, a senior at La Costa Canyon High School, received a rejection from UCSD two weeks ago and was confused by the Admit Day e-mail invitation.

Her daughter has since been accepted by several other universities, including UC Berkeley. But the process has been “a roller coaster.”

“It is adding insult to injury for kids who have already been through the ringer. That's the sad part of it,” Robinson said.

Brown said every admissions officer on campus is staffing phones Tuesday to take calls from applicants and their parents. She said she stayed at her office until midnight Monday replying to e-mails and phone messages left about the brouhaha.
Some parents have complained that the mistake has hit hard for students already feeling emotional over the college application process.

“They are deeply concerned that we have been insensitive in that we already denied this student and then sent them a notice inviting them to Admit Day. They are upset that happened, and rightly so,” Brown said.

When asked if anyone has been disciplined for the mistake, Brown said the university was undertaking a complete review of the process.

San Diego Tax Revolt

Here's a promo video for the April 11 tax revolt downtown.



Dammit, I'm going to be out of town.

Quotations from Chairman Varones

There's a fine line between self and self-parody.

Bloodbath in Paradise: Commercial Real Estate in Solana Beach CRE

Due to overwhelming demand for our Del Mar CRE series, we've decided to expand to the neighboring town of Solana Beach. Solana Beach is less pretentious and more laid back than Del Mar, but the CRE scene is equally ugly.

We start with a couple of medical offices on Lomas Santa Fe, a half-mile uphill from the beach:





Then across the street, there's this huge, new office building, apparently totally vacant:



"New Ocean View Suites Available 2008." I can't wait!

And just a little further downhill toward the beach:



Further down the hill, we get to this place, which has been a lot of things over the years: a liquor store, a Greek restaurant, etc. Most recently, it was a high-end home electronics store. You can guess how well that worked out.



And next door, in the old Napa Auto Parts, more recently a home furnishings store:



A couple vacancies in the tacky strip mall across the street:





Now we arrive at the Cedros Design District, which has held up remarkably well, given that the premise for its existence is that people will always be able to suck out home equity to buy overpriced home furnishings. Nevertheless, things are starting to crack here. An upstairs office:



And some Cedros Design District retail stores:













Then there's this old house on the edge of a residential neighborhood that borders the Design District, which they are trying to rent out as commercial space:



Between here and Via de la Valle, there are plenty of For Rent signs on dumpy old houses in this neighborhood of drifters and rogues, but this post is already pretty graphic-intensive, so we'll skip those. On the corner of Cedros and Via de la Valle, though, it's always a sign of a motivated apartment complex when they welcome pets:



Now cruising up Old Highway 101:









This place not only has 78,000 square feet of dirt available, they've also been trying to give away this old trailer for months:






WTF is this next one supposed to be, a knocking shop?



Back at the corner of Lomas Santa Fe and Highway 101:







Bad karma!

Now circling back into town from the north on Highway 101:











And because there's obviously not enough commercial space in Solana Beach, they're putting up this big new building next to Pizza Port. Rented already? Nope. Available.



And back on Cedros, across from the train station:



That's just a small portion of a small beach town. All those pictures were within a mile of the interesection of 101 and Lomas Santa Fe, and most of them were within a half mile. We didn't include the giant vacant Jenny Craig building, any of the office and retail space along Stevens Avenue, or anything east of the freeway.

This is a microcosm of California under Schwarzenegger's oppressive regime and in the aftermath of Greenspan's bubble. Bloodbath in paradise.

Push-polled on Prop 1A?

I got a call yesterday from a polling company on Prop 1A and the other measures on the May 19 California ballot. It came from the 925 area code, in the East San Francisco Bay Area. I'm still not sure whether it was a legitimate poll or a push-poll. It started off like a normal poll, but then got into a bunch of questions about "given that you're against these measures, how persuasive would you find this argument in favor of the measures?" They claimed that if I had been in favor of the propositions, they would have asked me about the persuasiveness of arguments against them (obviously, I have no way to know whether this is true). It wasn't as blatant as I've heard push-polls generally are, and it certainly wasn't persuasive.

In related news, this scary picture of Schwarzenegger shows that the syphilis has begun attacking his brain.

It's about time. The bastard deserves it.

UPDATE: I'm now fairly certain this was neither a legitimate poll nor a push-poll but a message-testing poll for the Yes on 1A side to figure out what spin would be most effective.

LA Times' George Skelton: making stuff up and deceiving his readers

Earlier this week I wrote, "The less the [L.A.] Times writes, the better-informed its readers will be." How quickly columnist and tax-increase advocate George Skelton obliges us with an example.

In his March 26 column, Skelton complains that bond rating agencies are being unfair, and claims that California has essentially zero credit risk.
Not only has California never defaulted on a bond, state law won't allow it. Bond-holders are second in line for all state revenue after schools. They rank ahead of the state payroll, prisons, poor folks . . .

If there were actually a law that made default impossible, don't you think someone other than George Skelton would have heard of it? And wouldn't the zero-risk California bonds be trading at yields less than Treasuries due to their tax-free characteristics, rather than at a wide spread over Treasuries? Oh, that's right. The rating agencies have the entire bond market fooled, and Skelton is the only one who knows that California munis are massively mispriced. Skelton should quit his day job and start a hedge fund to take advantage of this huge arbitrage opportunity.

I wrote to Skelton to ask about this amazing law that no one else had heard of:
Mr. Skelton,

You state "Not only has California never defaulted on a bond, state law won't allow it."

What law is that?

Best regards,

W.C. Varones

His response, in its entirety:
State law.
Oh, that explains it.

I've written to the Times readers' representative asking for a correction. I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks to Say Uncle for calling my attention to Skelton's whopper.

Some SoCal newspapers get it, part 2

While some accuse the Los Angeles Times of unquestioningly parroting lies, the Times continues to do its job (albeit in an ever-shrinking format). In a front page article today, the Times digs into corruption by Dems (and, at the end of the article, a couple of Rs) who hire relatives and friends for bogus consulting jobs.

State Sen. Rod Wright (D-Inglewood) was paid at least $27,900 by the state Senate last year for miscellaneous tasks as he was campaigning for his current job. And Californians pay Marisela Villar, daughter of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, $68,000 annually as a field representative for Democrats.

Lawmakers have broad powers to hire whomever they wish, and those they employ need not go through the Civil Service exam process that requires applicants to compete for jobs on merit. Some are paid as consultants, with vague responsibilities or assignments. Others have titles that bear little relationship to what they actually do.


Sure, the shenanigans in this exposé are small potatoes. But this is the kind of stuff that traditional news organizations have excelled at. Hopefully, they'll be around for a long time to keep holding those in power accountable.

South Park on the bailouts



HT: Blinko

Californians hate Schwarzenegger

... and they really hate the legislature:
Schwarzenegger's approval rating has dropped to 33 percent, his lowest ever in the poll, and the Legislature gets positive ratings from a mere 11 percent of likely voters.

Since the only thing of note that Schwarzenegger and the legislature have done recently is the budget deal, I think it's fair to say the public doesn't like the budget deal.

This is good news for those who want to defeat the deceptive tax increase Proposition 1A:
None of the key measures in the May 19 special election is garnering majority support among likely voters.

And the keystone proposal, Proposition 1A — which would boost the state's rainy day reserve and potentially rein in spending over the long term — is backed by only 39 percent of likely voters.

EU President: Obama spendfest is the "Way to Hell"

Wait a minute, weren't the Euros swooning over Obama just two months ago?

E.U. President Calls U.S. Stimulus ‘Way to Hell’:
Czech Republic Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek called the U.S. recovery plan "a way to hell," CNN is reporting.

Topolanek may have reason to be bitter: his government collapsed yesterday after an embarrassing vote of no-confidence. The Czech Republic currently holds the rotating office of the presidency of the European Union, but Topolanek's comments significantly break ranks with the rest of Europe.

Topolanek said the Obama administration is following the same mistakes made by FDR that lengthened and worsened the Great Depression -- a view held by some U.S. free-marketers and political conservatives.

The Czech p.m. said he is "quite alarmed" at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's toxic asset plan.

"He talks about a large stimulus campaign by Americans," Topolanek said. "All of these steps, their combination and their permanency, is a way to hell."

Maybe they are just bitter that he beat them to the printing presses in the global game of competitive devaluation. No matter, they'll join him soon.

Sing it, boys!

Livin' large



Aren't central bankers so darned cute! Coming soon to a currency near you.

User's guide to ripping off the Treasury

Timmy the Tax Cheat's plan is so brilliant it only took one day for someone to illustrate in great detail how banks and hedge funds can game the system and rip off every penny the taxpayers contribute.



HT: T-Dub

Whatever happened to...

... the United Nations? You know, those guys who used to wreak havoc around the world, raping refugees and coddling murderous dictators?

We haven't heard much from them lately. Kind of like bin Laden. Wait a minute. Did you ever see bin Laden and Kofi Annan in the same place?

Just not your day

Union-Tribune:
A 63-year-old motorist was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving Sunday after he crashed a GMC pickup into a neighbor's house in Pacific Beach.

The crash, however, revealed a small marijuana farm within the damaged house, and police said they have a few questions for the residents.

The crash was reported at 3:48 p.m. on Morrell Street, said San Diego police Sgt. David Jennings. After the marijuana farm was spotted through a gaping hole in the side of the house, police obtained a seach warrant and then confiscated more than 20 pot plants, police said.

It was unclear Sunday where the residents of the home had gone, nor when they would return. A neighbor said they had gone skiing, possibly at the Mammoth Mountain ski resort.

Economist: home ownership is bad for the economy

One of the great strengths of the American labor force historically has been its flexibility and mobility. The Economist says that excessive home ownership is destroying that mobility. People stuck in houses they cannot sell cannot move to a new town to get a better job:
Some cannot sell their homes at all. Others could, but don’t want to take a big loss on an investment they thought was safe as houses. Either way, they are stuck. If a good job comes up in another town, they cannot take it. This effect is partly offset by the impact of foreclosures. Last month alone 291,000 homes received a foreclosure notice. The newly evicted are not merely free but obliged to move. This is unfortunate, but although jobs are in short supply nearly everywhere, being mobile at least increases the odds of finding one.

And it's not only during a real estate downturn that home ownership hurts the economy:
A decade ago Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in Britain argued that excessive home-ownership kills jobs. He observed that, in Europe, nations with high rates of home-ownership, such as Spain, had much higher unemployment rates than those where more people rented, such as Switzerland. He found this effect was stronger than tax rates or employment law.

If there are few homes to rent, he argued, jobless youngsters living with their parents find it harder to move out and get work. Immobile workers become stuck in jobs for which they are ill-suited, which is inefficient: it raises prices, reduces incomes and makes some jobs uneconomic. Areas with high home-ownership often have a strong “not-in-my-backyard” ethos, with residents objecting to new development. Homeowners commute farther than renters, which causes congestion and makes getting to work more time-consuming and costly for everyone. Mr Oswald urged governments to stop subsidising home-ownership. Few listened.

America subsidises more than most. Owner-occupiers typically pay no tax on capital gains and can deduct mortgage interest from their income-tax bills. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-backed mortgage firms, have squandered a fortune promoting home-ownership among the uncreditworthy.

Maybe we should do away with the mortgage deduction and give big tax credits to renters!

Some SoCal newspapers get it

While the Los Angeles Times unquestioningly parrots the lies from Schwarzenegger and the Democrats about the California budget, some Southern California newspapers actually look at the facts and use critical thinking skills. The San Diego Union-Tribune:
State leaders' focus should be on spending, not revenue. The conventional wisdom about the budget compromise – that it had more spending cuts than tax hikes – is wrong. Instead, more than half the $15 billion in “cuts” were actually a reduction in projected future spending increases. If federal aid is large enough, actual cuts might be mostly canceled.

The state government can readily handle such cuts. Consider the Sacramento Bee report that the state has added roughly 2,000 jobs since last June even as the budget picture went from grim to catastrophic. So much for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's claim to have implemented a hiring freeze.

Or consider that Census Bureau figures showed that the number of state and K-12 full-time employees went from 718,897 in 1997 to 894,678 in 2007. This 24 percent increase came even as large private-sector bureaucracies continued their productivity revolution, doing as much or more with far fewer workers.

The LA Times has announced plans to cut down its news coverage. Good. The less the Times writes, the better-informed its readers will be.

Lesbotism at the FDIC?

You know that no one appreciates the sapphic arts more than I do, and no one is more supportive of people's right to choose their own lifestyle.

But look at:

1) how ridiculous it is for a bankrupt federal agency to hire celebrity shills,
2) cheesy huckster Suze Orman's lies about her bio, and
3) Sheila Bair

and you have to wonder, is Orman's FDIC gig a result of Lesbotism?
sheila bair lesbian suze orman

California is Doomed!

There are many reasons one could suggest that statement, and they are well documented on this Blog. I used to believe this was the future; I supported the conclusion that California was finished. Today I realized it is indeed a foregone conclusion. I went to the local Safeway to buy milk and OJ, and pick up some beer. A 22OZ. of Lagunitas IPA now costs $4.20!

So I went the register and asked WTF? The response was that there was an increase in a couple of taxes associated with beer.

Now here's what the dbag liberals don't understand because they don't understand math. They assume that I'll say, 'oh that's fine, here's my $4.20 + .05 deposit' for the bottle. What I actually said was FUCK THAT! I came home with only milk and OJ.

See IDIOT LIBERALS, when you raise taxes, I STOP BUYING. How does revenue increase when the tax increase reduces consumption? SU, maybe you can help me with the math? Please provide the readers with the model that supports an end result where raising taxes on consumption goods raises state revenues. Please try to use the mathematical base 10 system instead of such liberal abstracts as hope + happy = success.

See Sacramento you are reducing the little things that make people happy in order to pay for your corruption. Once the little things are gone, and happiness is destroyed.......we'll I'm sure you'll just say 'let them eat cake.'

BFF Triple Play: Teambank of Paola, KS; Colorado National Bank; and FirstCity Bank, Stockbridge, GA

Happy Bank Failure Friday, everyone! After taking a week off for spa treatments, Sheila came back strong with a triple play today:

Teambank, N.A., of Paola, Kansas
Colorado National Bank, Colorado Springs, CO
FirstCity Bank, Stockbridge, GA

Bonus question: if the FDIC is losing billions of dollars and is asking for a $500 billion taxpayer bailout, why are they spending money on celebrity hucksters like Suze "rhymes with floozy" Orman?

CEO survey: California worst state for business

Not a surprise:
As the nation’s unemployment figures continue to reach new heights, Chief Executive magazine's 2009 "Best & Worst States" survey took CEO's pulse on what the best and worst places for jobs and business growth are. For the fourth year in a row, CEOs rated Texas as the #1 state to do business and California as the worst.

Chief Executive's fifth annual survey asked 543 CEOs to evaluate their states on a broad range of issues, including proximity to resources, regulation, tax policies, education, quality of living and infrastructure. Providing additional insight to the evaluations, CEOs were also asked to grade each state based on the following criteria: 1) Taxation & Regulation, 2) Workforce Quality, and 3) Living Environment.

Highest taxes, highest cost of living, horrible schools. To think that those ungrateful businesses won't put up with that for the ocean breeze.

Sure, Silicon Valley has some structural advantages, with a critical mass of techies, but even that can't overcome California's disadvantages. Silicon Valley companies are now opening new facilities not in Silicon Valley but in places like Austin, Texas, and the North Carolina Triangle -- places with similar populations of highly educated people, but with less oppressive government and more affordable living.

We noted last year that Shutterfly has Shutterflown. Now Bay Area favorite chocolate factory Scharffen Berger is closing to move operations to Illinois. Anecdotal cherry-picking? Maybe. But can you find recent examples of businesses leaving other states to come to California? I didn't think so. And there's this:
[Bain] interviewed chief executives or senior managers of about 50 small, medium and large companies with extensive operations in the state.

About 40 percent said their companies have an explicit policy to move jobs elsewhere in the United States, with Texas cited as the most frequent destination. Not counting those companies that must stay in California, such as retailers or health care providers, the proportion of businesses that said their policy is to move jobs rose to 55 percent.

Another group of executives, just under 20 percent of those interviewed, said their policy is to avoid adding jobs in California, except when absolutely necessary.

Note that the survey was from 2004, when the economy and the state budget were still being carried along by the wealth and employment from the real estate bubble. Imagine the numbers on a similar survey today.

But you'd have to be an unreasonable ideologue to oppose further tax increases, right?

The brighter side of the Depression

Strip clubs are upgrading their talent.

Here's a fun little game to play next time you visit one of these establishments: try to identify the REALTORS® on stage. Bonus points if you can get one to wear her gold jacket for a lap dance.

Greedy public employees earn far more than the taxpayers who pay them

Ecoworld discusses the obscene benefits packages given to public employee unions -- the same unions that are bankrupting California:
Back in July 2004 I recall reading an ad in a local newspaper placed by someone who held regular classes to teach people how to get jobs with the State of California. The ad said “Land a State Job and Become an Instant Millionaire.” I read the ad closely, and kept a copy.

Space and copyright laws prevent publishing the entire text of this ad, but it was factual, and filled with comments like the following: “The California state government provides a “defined benefit” pension plan to each of its employees. Such “defined benefit” pension plans are far more generous than any 401K or defined contribution pension plan available from any other employer in the state! In fact, the plan is so generous that it makes the average state employee a millionaire after only 22 years of work!”

In this ad and others, written with an astonishingly complete lack of irony, the writer explained in detail how much an employee would have to save every year in order to acquire sufficient wealth to retire with an annuity this generous. In other ads, the writer explained how many days off California’s state workers receive - holidays, personal days, vacation, comp. time, and the “9/80″ program where they get yet another day off every two weeks by working nine hour days for nine working days in a row. Show me an example of a conscientious salaried worker in the private sector who doesn’t work nine hours a day! In all, most state workers get between 50 and 75 paid days off per year. There is a staggering cost for all this.

As you look at your plummeting 401(k) balance, think of your overlords, the public employee unions, to whom you must tithe 10% of your income. If their pension funds drop, they don't care. Their retirement income is guaranteed and you have to make up the difference.

Wildlife alert

The photo below captures a disturbing trend beginning to affect wildlife in theU.S.

Animals formerly self-sufficient are now showing signs of belonging to the Democratic party. They have apparently learned to just sit and wait for the government to step in and provide for their care and sustenance. This photo is of a Democrat black bear in Montana nicknamed "Bearack."



HT: Tim Sheithner

Fed Gone Wild!!!

The slow puncture ain't so slow anymore.

The Fed announced that they are going to print hundreds of billions of dollars to buy mortgage securities and Treasuries. That's right. Treasuries. The Treasury Department can spend as much money as it wants without worrying about borrowing costs, because the Fed will print all the money it needs to buy all the Treasuries and keep interest rates low. It's essentially a perpetual motion machine of macroeconomics.

Junior Deputy Accountant has more detail and an appropriate picture.

1 Mile per Dollar is for Suckas

My primary purchasing device is my Citicard American Airlines Mastercard. I've used it since 1995 and have gotten a few flights out of it.

Citi just sent me a notice that they are raising my interest rate to 25%. I never carry a balance so that alone doesn't bother me. But I checked on my mileage accrual schedule and it turns out that American Airlines has drastically raised the miles required to earn flights. That and the bailouts that they are getting got me to give them a call and cancel my card. I am tens of thousands of miles away from the next flight so I might as well just get a card that gives a year end rebate like what HSBC offers.

I told the poor phone rep that I wanted to cancel my card. She asked why and I went off in a Walstreetpro sort of way, without the profanity. I stated that she probably shouldn't have a job right now if it weren't for the bailouts and yet the CEO just got a $10 million bonus. I asked her why shouldn't I cancel this card. She said, because we'll give you double miles. So now I get 2 miles for every dollar I spend.

I highly recommend giving a call to your credit card miles provider. And when the next bailout happens I'm going for 3 miles per dollar.

Lip Service Christopher Ruppmann and Kate MacKenzie

FinAlternatives:

Christopher Ruppmann alleges in a lawsuit that his boss at recruiting firm Broadreach Group recommended that he have sex with a client, namely one Kate Mackenzie, a former Olympic rower who works for hedge Fund Two Sigma Investments.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, says the suggestion was given to the 27-year-old Ruppmann by Broadreach founder Brian Grover after just a year on the job. Ruppmann had already been promoted to vice president after just six months with the company.


Dude, you porked an Olympic rower and you're complaining about it? Oh, now I get it!

Osama bin Toast

I've been saying for years that Osama bin Laden is at least irrelevant (1) (2) (3), if not dead.

Now the Spectator agrees... with the dead part.

Foil the Taxinator's evil plot!

Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to tax the crap out of you if you work, drive, or spend in California. Perhaps we can organize to defeat Prop 1A and recall Schwarzenegger's band of tax-hiking legislators. But there are things you can do immediately to cut your own taxes and foil Schwarzenegger's evil plot.

The huge tax increases go into effect April 1, so that would be a good day to start implementing as many of these as possible:

Sales tax: cut consumption of taxable goods as much as possible
- No more restaurants. Buy untaxed groceries instead. You'll save far more money than just the sales tax amount, and you'll eat healthier and learn to cook as well!
- Buy used stuff from private parties (e.g. on Craigslist) rather than new stuff. You can find just about everything you need there.
- No more soft drinks. Unlike most food, they are taxed, plus the state has outrageous recycling deposits on bottles and cans.
- If you must make a big purchase, make it out of state. What a good excuse for a trip to Vegas!

Car tax: keep your old car, and if you must buy, buy used
- Schwarzenegger has doubled the car tax, which is an annual tax based on the value of your car. Obvious solution: drive a cheaper, older car. This also cuts your sales tax on the purchase transaction.

Income tax: cut your taxable income where it makes sense
- Max your 401(k). If you do a Roth 401(k), consider switching back to a traditional 401(k) for the immediate deduction.
- If you are a consultant, run your own business, or otherwise have flexible income, consider cutting back your hours and enjoying life a little (with your old car and reduced consumption, you don't need as much money any more!).
- If you are a two-income family paying for child care, consider dropping one income and staying home with the kids!

If you look at this list, most of these are things that you should do anyway. Maybe we should thank the evil Schwarzenegger for inspiring us to do what we should have been doing all along.

Fight socialism and save your family finances at the same time!



NOTE: I'm not the artist responsible for this photoshop, though I've been given credit for it around the interwebs. I don't know who created it, but would love to give credit where credit is due.

Question of the Day on TurboTax Live Community

"Where do i enter losses from my 401k acct"

Your tax dollars at work

... paying more than $400 million in bonuses to the guys who blew up AIG.
Insurance giant American International Group will award hundreds of millions of dollars in employee bonuses and retention pay despite a confrontation Wednesday between the chief executive and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.

Timmy the Tax Cheat is so ineffective that he can't even stop multi-million-dollar bonuses to failed executives of a bankrupt company that is only in existence due to serial multi-billion-dollar cash injections from the taxpayers.

California Proposition 1A is a fraud and a massive tax increase Prop 1A

California's legislators have put a massive tax increase on the ballot disguised as a "spending limit." What Proposition 1A really does is extend for two more years the largest tax increase in history.

The legislative analyst's office tells the truth:
Measure Results in Tax Increases. If this measure is approved, several tax increases passed as part of the February 2009 budget package would be extended by one to two years. State tax revenues would increase by about $16 billion from 2010-11 through 2012-13.

California voters often rely on the ballot summary to decide how to vote. The lying weasels in Sacramento know that a tax increase proposition would not win, so they have written a ballot summary that doesn't mention the tax increase at all. The biggest tax increase in history and they don't even mention it! Worse, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg selected pro-tax Democrats to write the ballot argument against Prop 1A, so the real opponents don't have any voice in the ballot arguments.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is a great resource on this.

The Sacramento Bee has a calculator to estimate how much this tax increase will cost your family.

Please help expose the fraud and pass this on to all California voters you know.

UPDATE: Is Secretary of State Debra Bowen trying to hide the fraud? She's removed the ballot summaries from the state web site.

Stupid Chinese don't listen to W.C. Varones

In today's news: China 'worried' about US Treasury holdings.

I tried to warn them. Well more than a year ago, I wrote about The Slow Puncture that we were giving them.

Some people just have a death wish.

The stupid Chinese join the ranks of Verizon and Bank of America management who ignored W.C. Varones' advice. How's that working out for you, Ken Lewis?

California Budget $8 Billion Short

That didn't take long, did it? Only a few weeks from passing the emergency budget that raised our taxes while at the same time adding to the state's debt, this comes out:

California’s revenue over the next 16 months will fall at least $8 billion short of what Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers assumed when they passed a budget in February, the state’s fiscal analyst said.

The shortfall would leave California with a $6 billion deficit by June 2010, after a $2 billion budget reserve is spent, state Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor said in a report to lawmakers today. The shortfall would grow to $12 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2010, he said.


So I ask - WHAT HAPPENED? I thought we as tax payers of the state were going to make the sacrifice to cover the deficit. I was told that I would personally pay $1000 MORE A YEAR because of this budget deficit and now it seems they are going to need more of my money?!? WTF?!?

Say Uncle, please chime in here. You were communicating that time was short and we needed to trust our politicians. We needed to let them pass this emergency measure with the promise that they would fix the problem in the future. Well now we know they didn't fix it and they have had over 40 weeks to work on it. How much you want to bet the same thing that happened this time is going to happen next time? Every year they scare us, raise our taxes and call for unity. The only unity I see is the unity of the politicians deciding to take more of my money.

The second my career allows me to leave the socialist, bankrupt state, I will be gone! It's literally not worth it.

A day no banks would die

Leave it to Sheila. Friday the 13th ends her eight-week streak. 5:45 PM on the west coast and no banks have been seized.

Maybe they're just preparing for the big one: FDIC Failure Friday! Just kidding -- you and I both know that the FDIC will get as much taxpayer money as it needs. Thanks for contributing!

Quotations from Chairman Varones

Be not like Sheriff Little Bill. Peace at the expense of justice and freedom is no peace at all.

We have one. It's called "gold."

Nobel-prize winner backs world currency

In related news, the Swiss refuse to be left out of the global game of Competitive Devaluation. Bernanke is all-in, the UK is all-in, and Switzerland calls short-stacked. Anyone actually think Jean-Claude will fold to preserve his Euros for another day? Fat chance.

Everything old is new again

The Economist on how to stop the drug wars: the same way we stopped the alcohol prohibition wars.
Legalisation would not only drive away the gangsters; it would transform drugs from a law-and-order problem into a public-health problem, which is how they ought to be treated. Governments would tax and regulate the drug trade, and use the funds raised (and the billions saved on law-enforcement) to educate the public about the risks of drug-taking and to treat addiction. The sale of drugs to minors should remain banned. Different drugs would command different levels of taxation and regulation. This system would be fiddly and imperfect, requiring constant monitoring and hard-to-measure trade-offs. Post-tax prices should be set at a level that would strike a balance between damping down use on the one hand, and discouraging a black market and the desperate acts of theft and prostitution to which addicts now resort to feed their habits.

Greenspan's feeble denial of responsibility

Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Alan Greenspan denied responsibility for the housing bubble.

Caroline Baum of Bloomberg and Tim Iacono of The Mess that Greenspan Made rip his denial to shreds.

The Biggest Loser

... is the guy who spends an hour watching fat people exercise on TV.

Bank of England governor reveals plans

News from across the pond:
Mr King and chancellor Alistair Darling agreed to increase the money supply after noticing how Britain was still not quite similar enough to Germany in 1932, or Zimbabwe this morning.

Mr King said: "Once we've laid the groundwork for hyper-inflation everything else should fall into place including the emergence of a strong, insane dictator, a nice new motorway network and our eventual annihilation."

Later today the government will release details of a scheme where people can hand in their wallets and purses in exchange for a shiny, new wheelbarrow to carry their money around in.


HT: DV

The new Citibank

The joy of nationalization.

Great moments in urban planning



Long before Alan Greenspan put in place easy money policies that would lead to a bubble of epic proportions whose bursting would cause widespread civil unrest, the San Diego Zoo had the foresight to install a sniper tower in the parking lot.

Sunday morning scripture

A false balance is an Obamanation to the Lord...
- Proverbs 11:1

Repeal, recall, revolt!

Thousands show up to tax protest.
They're revolting. Families with children, bikers, seniors, pirates - by the thousands they descended on a Fullerton bar Saturday to join talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of KFI in protesting tax increases recently approved in Sacramento.

Police estimated that some 8,000 people came to the Slidebar Café in downtown Fullerton to listen to a three-hour live broadcast of The John & Ken Show.

Some wore buttons. One man brought a bloody effigy head of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and waved it from the end of a pike, while the crowd joined their hosts in a chant of "Repeal, recall, revolt."

Others directed their outrage at less personal synechdoche: "Total Recall" laser discs, action hero lunchboxes and other memorabilia from the governor's Hollywood career, which they piled up and smashed with a sledgehammer.

Like many others, Kimberly Smith, 29, of Tustin, sported a button showing how much more she'll have to pay in taxes: $1,645.

I think we may have a movement here. The next steps are ballot qualification of recall movements for tax-raising legislators, and the defeat of the deceptive, tax-hike-extending Prop 1A in May.

We can’t look for salvation in the current, disgusting crop of elected leaders from both parties. If we’re going to fix things, it’s got to start at the grass roots. The tea parties springing up across the country are an encouraging sign. And the Fullerton event appears to be the biggest yet in a growing popular uprising.

The wisdom of children

Obama has a lot of the adults fooled, but not this bright youngster:



For the record, the artist has not been exposed to the rantings of W.C. Varones or Negocios Loucos, and has two normal parents of quite moderate political views.

Nobody wants to work with Timmy the Tax Cheat

Thank goodness nothing significant is happening in the economy that would require Treasury Department attention.

Timmy the Tax Cheat is running Treasury all by himself:
The person Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wanted as his chief deputy withdrew from consideration Thursday, dealing a setback to the agency as it struggles to address the worst financial crisis in decades.

Annette Nazareth, a former senior staffer and commissioner with the Securities and Exchange Commission, made "a personal decision" to withdraw from the process, according to a person familiar with her decision.

[...]

Geithner has been criticized for staffing his department too slowly as it grapples with a banking crisis that has crippled the economy. Uncertainty about Treasury staff also has unnerved financial markets.

Five weeks into his tenure, he has yet to name a single top deputy or assistant secretary. This has left Treasury with too few people authorized to make decisions or represent the department in meetings with stakeholders.

Thank goodness we got rid of the incompetent Bush Administration, eh? Heckuva job, Timmy!

Marc Faber: Default or Hyperinflation



HT: Skeptical CPA.

This is exactly what I was talking about in the October post "What comes next":
As the recession deepens, job losses mount and business activity drops, cutting tax revenues and making debt service on the $11 trillion+ debt impossible. Uncle Sam becomes Casey Serin, and Treasury bonds are no-job, no-income, no-assets liar loans. The government faces two choices: default or the slow puncture of inflation. Inflation is probably the lesser of two evils, but it's no picnic, as Argentina, Zimbabwe, and Weimar Germany can attest.

Fullerton Tax Revolt - Saturday, March 7, 2009



Wish I could make it. It will be fun, and it could be the start of something big.

Obama Nation

The state of Illinois has issued temporary license plates for the nation’s hero, Barack Obama.


Abe Lincoln normally adorns the standard Illinois license plate, as seems appropriate. I'd prefer Walter Payton but that's me.


People, democracy is not about idolizing those you believe in. Democracy is about having the power to judge your leaders critically and hold them accountable for their actions. Giving Obama the recognition of a great president betrays the purpose of the system our founding fathers gave us. It also gives him the license to do whatever he wants. And in the words of Spiderman's Uncle, or Lord Acton:

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
Democracy is not a religion. If you make it one, it becomes tyranny. For more information please see Cuba, Venezuela, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Zimbabwe.

Just won't sell: 144 North Rios Avenue, Solana Beach 140 N. Rios 144 N. Rios 146 N. Rios

Some joker is trying to sell condos at 144 N. Rios in Solana Beach 92075 for more than $1.5 million.

The place has been listed for 8 months and still no action. It's in a complex with three other units, and it's not clear if any of them have sold. This is a town where houses over $1 million are having trouble selling. Good luck trying to sell a condo for $1.5 million.

Just one example: this place, a quarter mile south, is a real house, not a condo, has better views, an actual yard, and is not across the street from a strip mall. You make the call: $1.3 million for the house, or $1.5 million for the condo?

Things that make you go hmmmm....

If the stock market is back to 1996 prices, why are people still asking for 2003 prices on their houses?

Greespan's Body Count: America's Finest Massacre

I read the news today, oh boy.


I gotta get some of these and slap them on some big obnoxious Hummers and Escalades around Del Mar. Then watch as a family of four driving an old beater Corolla rolls by.

Order them here

HT: IPFreely.

Diversification

... is adding Chinese Pandas and Canadian Maple Leafs to your Krugerrands and Eagles.

Young prophets Obamanation

Back around election day, we brought you The Wisdom of Children:




The force is strong within you, young Skywalker.

GD II

We've been talking about the depression for a while here. Back when we started, it was a kooky idea. Now it seems to be more and more the consensus. Even permabull Warren Buffett now says "the economy will be in shambles throughout 2009 -- and, for that matter, probably well beyond."

The optimists can hope for something like Japan, a long stagnation without too much pain. But Japan actually produces things people want. All we produce is debt and derivatives. The world's appetite for those is not what it used to be.

We've had a couple discussions on navigating the depression here and here. The same sentiments still hold, and I'd add that it would be a good idea to get a government job. As businesses are downsizing, Schwarzenegger is giving state employee unions generous new no-layoff deals. And nationally, Obama plans to crush businesses with additional taxes while ramping up government jobs. If you can get into a cushy government job, you'll be on easy street through this depression while your poor neighbors in the private sector really struggle.

Here's the ideal positioning for the depression. Obviously, not everyone will be able to achieve all of these, but work toward as many as you can:

* Government job
* Own a home with a 30-year-fixed mortgage (because those dollars will be worthless by the time you pay them back)
* 12+ months of expenses saved, equally split between cash and gold
* Canned and dry bulk food stockpiled
* Guns and ammo stockpiled
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