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Santa Cruz Sentinel

As You See It: Nov. 20, 2010

Your concern about our ever-growing network of international bases is well placed. We do need an open and honest dialog on just how much global empire we actually really want or can afford. However, not all overseas bases are part of some nefarious expansion. For background, Bahrain is ... MAP: http://usawatchdog .com/wp-content/up loads/2009/09/horm uz1.jpg * a small "moderate " Arab island nation * generally pro-Western * strategically located in the Persian Gulf * off the coast of Saudi Arabia * near Iraq and Kuwait * along a major oil shipping coridoor * inside the Straights of Hormuz, a major chokepoint for oil shipments http://www.eia.doe .gov/cabs/world_oi l_transit_chokepoi nts/background.htm l * across the Persian Gulf from Iran, who previously attempted to block the Straights of Hormuz * strategically important to the interests of the United States * home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. http://www.globals ecurity.org/milita ry/agency/navy/c5f .htm The U.S. Navy has had a presense in Bahrain since 1948. http://www.globals ecurity.org/milita ry/facility/bahrai n.htm I am not aware of the $580 million expansion so I cannot discuss its merits or flaws. Granted, $580 million dollars can buy a lot, like the nation's most expensive public school, located in Los Angeles. http://www.huffing tonpost.com/2010/0 8/22/robert-f-kenn edy-communit_n_690 497.html http://online.wsj. com/article/SB1000 142405274870395970 457545401385553892 0.html http://www.educati onnews.org/educati onnewstoday/99879. html In other terms, the $580 million expansion is about 15 days interest on this year's $1.4 TRILLION budget deficit, assuming we finance the debt at just 1% interest. Or, from the $6B current shortfall in the California budget alone, we could afford ten such expansion projects. Spending all comes down to priorities. However, because the United States and our Western industrial allies are heavily dependent upon the oil economy, I would say that the $580 million might be a worthwhile national strategic benefit. By the way, here are two excellent resources for monitoring or researching military projects. GlobalSecurity.org http://www.globals ecurity.org Federation of American Scientists (FAS) http://www.fas.org  (Nov 20, 2010 | post #6)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

As We See It: Bigger issue for immigrants

Your analogy is a bit off. I don't blame the jewelry dealer for having so many fabulous gems. But I wouldn't be surprised if there were far more jewelry robberies should the government decide not to prosecute jewelry heists. It's the fundamental distinction between LEGAL and ILLEGAL. Stopping prosecution encourages more illegal activity. The "theft" in this case is fraud against taxpayers. We initially supported taxpayer-provided benefits to California citizens. Politicians extended that authorization and extended the benefits beyond the limits intended by taxpayers. Politicians should not be surprised that taxpayers no longer are willing to provide more revenue. Politicians have proven once again that they cannot be trusted. The good faith between politicians and taxpayers is gone. Politicians MUST prove themselves trustworthy with open, honest, and prudent leadership.  (Nov 18, 2010 | post #64)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

As We See It: Welcome to Santa Cruz: $5

Silly me, here I thought that this was going to be some sort of "stimulus " program where Santa Cruz PAID people $5 to visit during the Summer peak. As a local, I avoid it like the Plague during certain times of the year. Alteranatively, you could use the Capitola approach and hire a few more Revenue Enhancement Officers, er, I meant Parking Nazis, er, I meant Meter Maids. Believe me, this has cost Capitola far more than it ever collected. Here's an idea. How about using the Disney approach and provide some sort of good or service that visitors just cannot live without. Disney, like Vegas, is awesome at performing full walletectomies and seemingly has many willing customers despite the associated pain.  (Nov 18, 2010 | post #6)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

As We See It: Bigger issue for immigrants

This seemingly nonsensical policy is yet one more example of why most taxpayers do not trust state politicians with our tax dollars! Politicians are seemingly incapable of rational thought. I will admit, the potential taxpayer exposure of this policy is currently small. I also agree that we should not punish innocent children for the actions of their parents. However, we should not punish innocent, law-abiding taxpayers for their parents' actions either. Neither should we BENEFIT the children of illegal immigrants ahead of U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Taxes from California taxpayers should first and foremost benefit the families of LEGAL California residents. It is the parents that typically pay tuition so the child's residence for the previous three years doesn't matter much. No benefit paid by California taxpayers should be given to out-of-state residents, legal or otherwise. Perhaps a more sane approach would be to have only ONE tuition level, regardless of residence. Then, the state could provide a voucher to the parents of legal residents and taxpayers usable only at California public universities. I don't blame illegal immigrants. Our politicians freely provide these benefits at our expense. Here is a visible example of where our insane policies lead. Is America A Great Country or What? http://soquelbythe creek.blogspot.com /2010/11/is-americ a-great-country-or -what.html  (Nov 17, 2010 | post #20)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Stanford study: American math achievement trails most ind...

Here are the state-level results from the test. You have to position the cursor of a state to see the results. http://educationne xt.org/teaching-ma th-to-the-talented -map Among the U.S. states, California tied for 34th position.  (Nov 14, 2010 | post #33)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

As You See It: Nov. 13, 2010

Or subsidizing and guaranteeing home mortgages for low-income borrowers, which inflated home prices making it so that even middle-income earners could no longer realistically support the debt load for an average home. Subsequently, many couldn't pay and defaulted on their loans, sparking a crisis. Then, using borrowed money, bailing out the banks and Wall Street who traded on these federally-guarante ed mortgages (TARP). Then, the unelected and unaccountable Federal Reserve depreciating our currency by printing money to buy our own debt (QE2). Aaaarrrrgh!!!  (Nov 14, 2010 | post #37)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Stanford study: American math achievement trails most ind...

Here is a much better link to the study, including an audio podcast discussing the results. CHART: Test Results by Country http://educationne xt.org/files/ednex t_20111_TeachingTa lented_fig1.jpg Country results shown in blue. Results by USA state shown in red. USA country average shown in green. Massachusetts had the highest score of any U.S. state. If it was its own country, it would rank 17th. California ranks below the U.S. average. Massachusetts educational spending is toward the top, but it is not the highest-spending state. California's results are below Arizona and Utah, which are at the bottom on per pupil expenditures, adjusted for cost of living. Texas and California spending per pupil used to be about the same, but Texas ranked above the US average. PODCAST: "High-Achievi ng Math Students in the U.S. and Abroad" http://educationne xt.org/high-achiev ing-math-students- in-the-u-s-and-abr oad ARTICLE: "Teaching Math to the Talented" http://educationne xt.org/teaching-ma th-to-the-talented If we Californians want to maintain our high-value, tax-generating technology industry, we need to invest more in education--but wisely. Either that, or we need to be more welcoming to high-achieving, legal immigrants. Or likely both! Let's not wait until the next Sputnik.  (Nov 14, 2010 | post #32)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

As You See It: Nov. 13, 2010

Okay, so the government uses our tax dollars to ... * subsidize dairy farmers, * fund a government-sponsor ed program to increase cheese consumption, * subsidize and empower the U.S. sugar cartel, * subsidize corn producers that produce inexpensive high-fructose corn syrup to replace overly-expensive sugar, and * subsidize business loans to "stimulate " a local ice cream shop. Simultaneously, we ... * ban Happy Meals and sugary sodas, * pay to fight childhood obesity, and * pay the increased medical costs associated with increased diabetes. And people wonder why I'm against government intervention in the economy or our lives and why I support free-market principles.  (Nov 14, 2010 | post #35)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Ice cream shop owners get sweet call from the vice presid...

Well said. Here's a case where we can all scream together, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream." I LOVE good ice cream and can't wait to try it. There truly is a formula in the new economy for real wealth generation. To see it at work, just look for the nation's richest counties (unfortunately Santa Cruz isn't on the list yet). "You live in nation's richest counties" http://wtop.com/?n id=25&sid=2115 275 Funny thing, seven out of the top ten counties surround Washington, D.C. I wonder, what wonderful product or service do they make there?  (Nov 12, 2010 | post #78)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Ice cream shop owners get sweet call from the vice presid...

Things you just can't make up ... "Obama panel probes stimulus waste -- at Ritz Carlton" http://www.washing tonexaminer.com/op inion/blogs/beltwa y-confidential/Oba ma-panel-probes-st imulus-waste----at -Ritz-Carlton-1072 36598.html Yes, I understand that the November 22nd meeting is during Thanksgiving week and the feds likely received a great discount, etc. Despite all that, I'll bet there are less expensive or even FREE government meeting facilities available. I guess we could look at this as "Stimulus " for luxury hotels, which of course are a national priority. :-)  (Nov 11, 2010 | post #39)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

As You See It: Nov. 9, 2010

See, Gdude. We actually agree on many things. I would rather that all government subsidies and incentives end and have lower corporate and income tax rates. Businesses should live or die on a level playing field. Prices for some items would likely increase but others would fall. This would also likely decrease the amount of lobbying and corporate spending in elections. The downside is how to manage foreign companies whose home governments do subsidize their products. There likely will be some "squishiness " for national security-related items. It's hard to build aircraft carriers in the U.S. if you don't have a competitive ship-building yard.  (Nov 10, 2010 | post #67)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

As You See It: Nov. 9, 2010

I'm right there with you regarding the importance of a well-educated state and education spending is indeed PART of the equation. Here's a good report on California's school spending. On a variety of different measures, the state is below the national average, including teacher salaries and students per teacher. Warning, the report is from 2008 so some of the numbers are even worse than shown. http://www.ed-data .k12.ca.us/article s/article.asp?titl e=california%20com parison So why does this matter? The low unemployment that you wrote about previously is for high-technology, knowledge-based occupations, most requiring college degrees. However, California ranks 14th in the nation for college graduation rates and 48th(!!!) in the nation on high school graduation. http://www.associa tedcontent.com/art icle/5562698/state _education_ranking s_graduation.html How does California compare nationally and internationally? Nationwide, THE best performing U.S. state on an internation math test was Massachusetts, who placed 17th behind the national averages of countries like Taiwan, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, German, Hong Kong, etc. Perhaps not surprisingly, Massachusetts spends more per puil than California. However, it's not all about money as demonstrated by Finland. Texas (above U.S. average), who spends about the same per student, outperformed California (below U.S. average). Utah and Arizona are at the bottom of the list on per pupil spending in the U.S., yet they still beat California. CHART: http://educationne xt.org/files/ednex t_20111_TeachingTa lented_fig1.jpg ARTICLE: "High-Achievi ng Math Students in the U.S. and Abroad" http://educationne xt.org/high-achiev ing-math-students- in-the-u-s-and-abr oad/ Indeed, if we want to maintain our high-value, tax-generating technology industry, we also need to invest more in education--but wisely. Either that, or we need to be more welcoming to high-achieving, legal immigrants. Or likely both!  (Nov 10, 2010 | post #64)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

As You See It, Nov. 11, 2010

Ouch! I was way off on my estimate. We're NOT another $12 BILLION short. We're another $25 BILLION short! http://lao.ca.gov/ laoapp/PubDetails. aspx?id=2365 CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE ANALYST'S OFFICE California’s Fiscal Outlook: The 2011-12 Budget November 10, 2010 "Our forecast of California’s General Fund revenues and expenditures shows that the state must address a budget problem of $25.4 billion between now and the time the Legislature enacts a 2011‑12 state budget plan. The budget problem consists of a $6 billion projected deficit for 2010‑11 and a $19 billion gap between projected revenues and spending in 2011‑12. Similar to our forecast of one year ago, we project annual budget problems of about $20 billion each year through 2015‑16. We continue to recommend that the Legislature initiate a multiyear approach to solving California’s recurring structural budget deficit. In 2011‑12, such an approach might involve $10 billion of permanent revenue and expenditure actions and $15 billion of temporary budget solutions. In 2012‑13, 2013‑14, and 2014‑15, another few billion of permanent actions each year could be initiated, along with other temporary budget solutions, and so on until the structural deficit was eliminated." Read the full report here: HTML http://lao.ca.gov/ reports/2010/bud/f iscal_outlook/fisc al_outlook_2010.as px PDF http://lao.ca.gov/ reports/2010/bud/f iscal_outlook/fisc al_outlook_2010.pd f  (Nov 10, 2010 | post #33)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

As You See It: Nov. 9, 2010

Okay, you are correct, Mr. Otellini did speak about the U.S. and not California in the specific. However, are California's taxes greater or less than the U.S. average? Is California general more or less business friendly than the U.S. average? The question comes down to PRIORITIZING the state's spending. As I've written in the past, a primary reason for California's education spending cuts is because we're spending too much in other areas. Education is the big pot of money that the Legislature steals from. It's the same reason why Willie Horton supposedly robbed banks--it's because that's where the money is. http://soquelbythe creek.blogspot.com /2010/03/problem-w ith-california-edu cation.html It hasn't made big news, but most of the planet is reducing their corporate taxation levels. The U.S. corporate tax rate is higher than most of Europe and was second only to Japan among major industrialized countries. Even Japan plans on cutting their corporate tax rate to be competitive with other OECD countries. http://www.taxfoun dation.org/blog/sh ow/26470.html http://www.busines sweek.com/news/201 0-10-27/japan-must -cut-corporate-tax -to-halt-exodus-ex -minister-says.htm l  (Nov 10, 2010 | post #60)

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