Gavin Newsom earned his recall with failed leadership

With the California Secretary of State’s confirmation that voters have qualified a recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Golden State is one step closer to replacing the worst governor in state history and turning California toward a better future.

Despite blaming others, Newsom needs only to look in a mirror to discover who caused this mess. The California Constitution requires 1.5 million verified signatures to qualify a recall election, but recall proponents turned in 2.1 million from people of all political stripes, backgrounds and ideologies, unified by a recognition that the state is failing its people, and Gavin Newsom is only making things worse. They believe California is on the wrong track under this incompetent, hypocritical and desperate governor, and it’s time for him to go.

Newsom’s numerous failures have put California at the top of all of the wrong lists. Two and a half years into his term, California leads the nation in poverty, homelessness, highest income tax, highest gas tax, and the most people fleeing the state for more affordable and welcoming destinations. While these problems were all concerning before the pandemic, things have only gotten worse, and Newsom’s lack of leadership has been the last straw. People are mad and willing to take extraordinary action to try and save a state that they love.

California has one of the highest unemployment rates in America, thanks to Newsom’s far-reaching and perpetual shutdowns. More than 19,000 businesses have closed their doors permanently. Too many people find themselves seeking unemployment assistance or standing in line at food pantries for the first time in their lives. And Gavin Newsom must own this mess.

Voters expect that a governor can manage the basic functions of government, but Newsom can’t even do that. His unemployment department, the Employment Development Department (EDD), should have been getting Californians aid quickly and efficiently but instead has been riddled with fraud and mismanagement, paying up to $31 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims.

Death Row inmates got paid while out-of-work Californians couldn’t even get their calls answered. Today, more than a million claims continue to gather dust in a backlog; each representing a person who is struggling to make ends meet. Does Newsom even care? He couldn’t even mention the department’s failures during his campaign-style State of the State address, when he had a platform and audience to do so.

Instead of taking responsibility and fixing the EDD, Newsom attended an inside, unmasked, opulent dinner at the French Laundry with his campaign and lobbyist pals while hypocritically telling Californians to spend Thanksgiving without their families and be sure to wear a mask between bites. He only quit lying about the extent of his own rules being broken when pictures surfaced online.

Moreover, as school districts around the country slowly reopened and children went back to school, California dragged behind. Reopening schools was opposed by the state’s powerful teachers’ unions, and as top campaign supporters, Newsom didn’t have the backbone to demand they get back in the classroom to educate our children. California schools are still the slowest to reopen of any state in the nation. As a result, parents have had to leave their jobs to manage Zoom school, and millions of students have struggled to keep up behind a screen, while isolated at home.

The damage done to our children after a year of missing in-person instruction is unthinkable. And instead of fixing the problem by standing up to the unions, Gavin Newsom lied to score political points. He told CNN that he is also dealing with the challenges of “living through Zoom school,” when in reality, his children went back to in-person private school last fall. Again, that tells you who he is as a person.

As Newsom finally acknowledged the likelihood that his recall would go to a vote, instead of accepting the concerns voiced by 2.1 million Californians, the career politician attacked the people, suggesting the recall is fueled by racists and conspiracy theorists. Arrogant, incompetent, head-in-the-sand politician. That’s Gavin Newsom.

In reality, the 2.1 million Californians consist of Republicans, Democrats and independents. A plurality of the Latino community – a traditionally loyal voting bloc to California Democrats – supports the recall. Parents, workers, business owners, all have had enough of this governor’s failures.

California is on the wrong track, but later this year, we will fix that. Gavin Newsom earned his recall, and he should not be surprised when voters put an end to his incompetence by sending him to an early retirement.

Jessica Millan Patterson is chairwoman of the California Republican Party.

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You don’t need college to be successful

Americans took out $1.7 trillion in government loans for college tuition.

Now, some don’t want to pay it back.

President Joe Biden says they shouldn’t have to. He wants to cancel at least $10,000 and maybe $50,000 of every student’s debt.

“They’re in real trouble,” says Biden, “having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent.”

Poor students!

But wait: Shouldn’t they have given some thought to debt payments when they signed up for overpriced colleges? When they majored in subjects like photography or women’s studies, unlikely to lead to good jobs? When they took six years to graduate (a third don’t graduate even after six years).

Shouldn’t politicians also acknowledge that it’s taxpayer loans that let bloated colleges keep increasing tuition at twice the rate of inflation?

Yes.

But they don’t.

“Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe points out that students’ demand for loan forgiveness is “kind of self-involved.”

“I know guys who worked hard to get a construction operation running.  Some had to take out a loan on a big old diesel truck. Why would we forgive the cost of a degree but not the cost of a lease payment?”

It’s a good question.

“For some reason,” continues Rowe, “we think a tool that looks like a diploma is somehow more important than that big piece of metal in the driveway that allows the guy to build homes that you … are in.”

The political class does focus on subsidizing college.

“Now everybody is armed with a degree. What kind of world is that?” asks Rowe. “Everybody dreams of being in the corner office, but nobody knows how to build the corner office?”

Lots of good jobs in skilled trades don’t require a college degree, he points out. “The push for college came at the expense of every other form of education. Shop class was taken out of high school. We have denied millions of kids an opportunity to see what half the workforce looks like.”

It’s a reason America now has a shortage of skilled trade workers.

Yet, plumbers, elevator mechanics construction managers, etc., make $100,000 a year.

MikeroweWORKS Foundation gives young people scholarships to schools where they learn such trades. He seeks to make skilled labor “cool” again.

One Rowe scholarship recipient, Chloe Hudson, considered college but was shocked at what it cost.

“I was like, ‘I can’t afford this!’ I don’t want to be saddled with student debt the rest of my life!”

Instead, thanks to her Rowe scholarship, she learned how to weld, and now she has no trouble finding work.

“I’ve been under nuclear plants … been in water systems,” Hudson recounts. “Those jobs make me appreciate what I have now so much more.”

“What do you make?” I ask Hudson.

$3,000 a week,” she responds.

She’s appalled by today’s college student’s demand for loan forgiveness.

“There is not a single loan I have ever taken out where I didn’t have an expectation put on myself that I was going to repay it,” says Hudson. “That’s getting up at four o’clock in the morning and making sure I’m at work on time. That’s staying late. That’s working weekends.”

But now she will have to help pay for all those college students who won’t pay their debts.

“I am taxed heavily,” complains Hudson. “It’s not a good feeling to know that the government thinks that they can spend my dollars better than I can.”

Right. Government doesn’t spend our dollars better than we do. “Forgive student loans” really means workers must pay for privileged students who don’t.

John Stossel is author of “Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media.”

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Replace gas tax with more efficient, fairer mileage fee

California policymakers have spent years debating how to pay for road and highway repairs. President Biden’s current infrastructure plan brings that debate to the national stage.

Like its peers, California relies on a gas tax and registration fees to pay for infrastructure. But policymakers should cut registration fees and replace the gas tax with a better way to fund infrastructure: a mileage-based fee.

As the recent Pacific Research Institute study “Nickel and Dimed” shows, California drivers pay the nation’s highest gas tax. Registration fees are above those in Texas, Oregon, and many other states. But even though they spend hundreds of dollars a year in government-imposed taxes and fees, Californians have little to show for it. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave California roads a “D,” and the Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report ranked the state’s infrastructure an inexcusable forty-third out of fifty.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Gas tax and registration fee revenue doesn’t entirely go toward fixing roads and bridges. Some of it supports public transit; some subsidizes the California Highway Patrol; some goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles; and some trickles down to local governments, who use it to pay for social programs.

The gas tax and registration fees are also inefficient, unfair methods to generate infrastructure funding. Internal combustion engines are more economical than ever before, propelling vehicles farther while consuming less fuel. Traveling longer distances between fill-ups has environmental benefits, but it also means drivers pay less in gas taxes, even though they’re still adding just as much wear and tear to California’s infrastructure. Of course, electric vehicle owners pay no gas taxes at all, even though they use the same roads and bridges. California recently imposed a special fee on those vehicles, but the amount depends on its value, not how far the owner drives it.

With talk of rising infrastructure repair costs, it’s time for California policymakers to get things right. The state should cut its vehicle registration fee to the amount necessary to maintain ownership records, no more and no less. Most importantly, California should repeal its gas tax and replace it with a mileage-based fee. That way, people who drive more pay more, and those who drive less pay less. This is not a novel concept; the state tested it back in 2016.

But before rolling out a statewide, mileage-based fee, policymakers should make two critical enhancements. First, heavier vehicles should pay a higher fee. After all, a 5,000-pound SUV inflicts exponentially more wear and tear than a 3,000-pound sedan. Second, revenue from each driver’s fees should go back to fixing the infrastructure those drivers actually use. If 90 percent of a driver’s mileage is on the I-5, then 90 percent of their mileage fees should pay for maintaining the I-5. The easiest way to ensure that happens is with geotargeting – using GPS data to track which streets a vehicle uses and then earmarking fees for those streets only.

Of course, that raises understandable privacy concerns. But it’s worth noting that the necessary GPS data is no more invasive than the information many Californians willingly disclose to Facebook, Apple, and Google and that navigation apps already collect. Still, there’s an easy workaround: vehicle owners can opt-out of tracking and instead have their mileage fees allocated to fixing infrastructure within their zip code, and officials can allot a portion of that revenue to nearby highwaysl

California’s roads, highways, and bridges need costly repairs. Switching to a mileage-based fee could go a long way toward providing sufficient and stable funding to critical road improvements in communities across the state and the rest of the country.

Michael Thom is an associate professor at the University Southern California, an adjunct fellow in public finance at the Pacific Research Institute, and author of the PRI study, “Nickel and Dimed.”  Download the study at www.pacificresearch.org. 

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Credit unions are a better solution for unbanked than AB 1177

Now, more than ever, solutions are needed to help decrease the number of unbanked and under-banked individuals in the state of California and across the country. Assembly Bill 1177, however, is definitively not the answer. The proposed legislation by the BankCal NOW coalition would put in place a risky, high-cost government banking system that is unnecessary for Californians. Plus, the program would be a massive undertaking for the state.

Why would we prop up the proposed banking structure when our state already has tools in place that can support these individuals?

Credit unions’ explicit and sole purpose is to serve our members as not-for-profit, member-owned cooperatives. We are truly the financial institution of the people, and serve communities by providing affordable financial products, services and education. This is proven by the reliable system of nearly 300 total credit unions in California, of which more than 100 are low-income designated and reach every corner of the state.

Orange County’s Credit Union is one of these 100 low-income designated credit unions – and has been designated a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) as well. As a CDFI, we have a commitment to providing fair, affordable, and accessible services that address challenges faced by low-income families and communities. In total, 61% of Orange County’s Credit Union’s membership qualifies as being at least low-income. More than half, 55%, are considered very low income, while 21% are extremely low-income, based upon sample testing of the credit union’s loans performed for our CDFI certification application. As part of our commitment, we’ve developed specific products to help our communities, such as low-rate emergency loans, first-time auto loans and zero-down home loans.

By working in partnership with credit unions to educate the unbanked population on the benefits of community lenders, the State of California could spend a fraction of the high cost of instituting AB 1177 and achieve even greater results in reaching these individuals. Credit unions also bring the added benefits of having a large presence and being local representatives in the communities they serve, which makes a greater and more lasting impact than a hierarchical government system.

Additionally, many of the major banks and credit unions in the state participate in the BankOn program, a nonprofit that ensures everyone has access to a safe and affordable savings or checking account. This program is a tangible example of how seriously California’s existing financial institutions take accessibility, and the ways they’re already bringing unbanked or under-banked individuals into the financial mainstream.

Those assisted by this program receive low entry costs, little to no fees, and unrestricted customer service access – all selling points of this new, proposed financial structure, but already in existence through the BankOn program statewide.

The legislature should help lift up and promote the BankOn program, which again offers a less expensive and safer alternative to the proposed banking structure presented in AB 1177.

AB 1177 has a commendable goal – but the proposed bill is not the right solution and is not in the best interest of those it aims to help, or our state as a whole. Instead, we need to invest in the reliable and substantial solutions that already exist through the state’s credit unions.

Shruti Miyashiro is CEO of Orange County’s Credit Union.

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President Biden’s expansive and expensive vision for government

President Joe Biden’s spending binge is far from over. On Thursday, the president outlined his vision for a larger, costlier government fueled by higher and costlier tax increases. The president regrettably affirmed his idea of turning “crisis into opportunity” is to ram through a partisan agenda solely aimed at growing power of the federal government.

Since taking office, the president has called for $6 trillion in new spending. This is in the context of a federal government that, pre-pandemic, was already set to spend $1 trillion per year more than it was projected to take in for the next decade.

After passage of the $1.9 trillion spending package presented as pandemic relief, the president pitched the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, which he spoke about at length on Thursday.

The plan, which cobbles together some infrastructure spending with a grab bag of miscellaneous spending and crony capitalist giveaways to select industries, was described by the president as “ a blue-collar blueprint to build America.”

It’s less a serious blueprint and more of a wish list. And worse than that, it’s mostly unnecessary. The federal government does not need to be doling out hundreds of billions of dollars to the manufacturing sector or electric vehicles sector, for example.

And most of the infrastructure spending proposed in the plan could be better handled at the state-level or by the private sector.

But, to bolster his supposed blue-collar bonafides, Biden used both the American Jobs Plan and his speech Thursday to reiterate his call for federalizing California’s Assembly Bill 5 by calling on Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.

He also called for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, despite the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimating that doing so would put 1.4 million people out of work.

The president also took the opportunity to unveil yet another wish list bill, the so-called American Families Plan, which comes at a $1.8 trillion price tag.

Clearly, the president is not letting the now-fading crisis of the pandemic go to waste.

The president’s approach to governance was well-described by Reason Magazine’s Peter Suderman: “Point to the pandemic. Declare that it’s an emergency, and that something must be done. Then insist on an expensive, expansive policy overhaul that Democrats have pushed for years—first, in some cases, as a temporary measure, and then, inevitably, for much longer.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, offered a necessary counterpoint to Biden’s vision.“Our best future won’t come from Washington schemes or socialist dreams. It will come from you — the American people,” he said.

He’s right.Americans do not need more interventionism, more spending, more taxes or more debt out of Washington, D.C.

Biden should pump the brakes on his expansive vision for big government.

It’s only a matter of time before more Americans begin realizing the costs and deleterious trade-offs of the president’s agenda.

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As people vote with their feet, California to lose a representative

Every ten years the Census Bureau counts the residents of the United States and determines the number of representatives in Congress that each state will have, based on its population. The total number of representatives will continue to be same, so states that gain population relative to the others gain additional representatives at the expense of states that have lost population.

This year for the first time in California’s history, the state has lost a representative. It is hard evidence of the lack of growth, even the exodus, of the state population. This cannot be dismissed as political spin or a talking point. The Golden State is flaking off.

In all, seven states lost a representative in the reapportionment, while five states gained one and Texas gained two.

Where did everybody go, and more importantly, why?

Along with California, the states that lost population relative to the others are New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The states that gained, along with Texas, are Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Montana and Oregon.

From the perspective of residents, the success or failure of a state government’s policies may be indicated by factors such as tax rates, unemployment and housing starts.

The top marginal income tax rate in California is 13.3%, the highest in the nation. In New York, it’s 8.82%; in Illinois, 4.95% (flat rate), in Michigan, 4.25% (flat rate), in Ohio, 4.797%; in Pennsylvania, 3.07% (flat rate); and in West Virginia, 6.5%.

Among the states that gained population, Texas and Florida have no income tax. Colorado’s state income tax rate is a flat 4.55%; North Carolina has a flat rate of 5.25%; Montana’s top rate is 6.9% and Oregon’s is 9.9%.

California’s top tax rate applies to incomes above $1 million, but the state isn’t shy about grabbing money from people who are barely surviving. Taxable incomes above zero and up to $8,932 are taxed at 1%, then 2% up to $21,175, 4% up to $33,421, 6% up to $46,394, and it just gets worse from there. Relative to California, the tax rate of zero in Texas and Florida is highly attractive.

Texas and Florida are also building more new housing than California. In November 2020, for example, Texas issued nearly 20,000 building permits for new housing, while Florida issued about 11,000. California, despite a significantly larger population, issued just 9,000 building permits for new housing. Scarcity drives price increases, which helps to explain why the median home values in Florida and Texas are about $215,000 and $173,000 respectively, while in California the median home value is now above $500,000, according to data from Zillow.

Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, California’s unemployment rate in March was ranked 47th at 8.3% tied with Connecticut and New Mexico, and New York was even worse at 8.5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Florida, at 4.7%, ranked 19th.

While no single factor explains why people leave one state for another, California ranks badly in category after category, including the Census Bureau’s ranking of the highest poverty rate in the nation when the cost of living is taken into account. State residents are paying the highest taxes and the highest prices, and struggling with high unemployment. It’s long past time for state lawmakers to recognize that California is competing with other states for businesses and residents, and it’s losing.

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The cruelty of detention for young migrants

In response to an influx of young migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is opening large-scale facilities in convention centers and stadiums in Dallas, San Diego, San Antonio, and most recently, Long Beach.

Despite ongoing media attention, the public knows frustratingly little about the profound health and social consequences of this detention.

“A nightmare I can’t escape.”

I have interviewed nearly 200 children within ORR facilities for my research. Young people experience these facilities as “lost time,” “traumatic” and “a nightmare I can’t escape.” They are  places where “I am treated like a criminal … a threat” and where “I have no rights.”

Children describe constant surveillance, limited communication with family, lack of fresh air and green space, and, most disturbingly, overmedication.

From 12-bed group homes to 500-bed institutions, unaccompanied children struggle to cope with the uncertainty of family reunification, ongoing legal proceedings, and the possibility of deportation.

Given limited federal oversight and high staff turnover, abuse within ORR facilities is also well-documented. As 15-year-old Lisette from Guatemala explained to me, “This is not care. It’s detention.”

Children aren’t the only ones reaching these conclusions.

Decades of research underscores that care in large-scale institutions can cause severe harm especially to young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics identifies that detention results in high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. These symptoms do not disappear upon release. Even brief detention, experts concur, can cause psychological trauma and induce long-term mental health risks.

The federal government has codified that children in domestic children should be placed in the least restrictive setting appropriate to their needs, prioritizing family and small group care. Yet, federal facilities for immigrant children continue to grow in size.

It’s no wonder that these facilities are bypassing state child welfare licensing or abiding by the Flores Settlement Agreement, a longstanding pact that requires federal facilities to meet basic standards for the treatment of immigrant children.

Reunification amid pervasive distrust.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has promised that the federal government will work quickly and diligently to reunify children with family members or sponsors. Here, too, we might learn from other experts: family reunification specialists who describe an often-lengthy sponsorship process. Phone numbers tucked in socks or sewn into clothing get lost en route. Children may be separated from family during the journey or upon apprehension by Border Patrol, never knowing their final destination. If identified, sponsors (including undocumented parents) must come forward with a series of documents, disclose where and with whom they live, and provide fingerprints to the FBI.

With adequate infrastructure and trained staff — resources not in place in these impromptu facilities — fast-tracked reunification with a bare minimum of safeguards takes 47 days on average. Family reunification specialists describe contending with considerable distrust of potential sponsors not only because the Trump administration enlisted the reunification process as “bait” to detain undocumented parents, but also because President Biden alongside Obama deported a record 5.3 million immigrants. As a result, families are reluctant to come forward. Meanwhile, children remain detained.

The San Diego Convention Center evidences these challenges—only one of the 1367 detained children has been reunified in the two and a half weeks since opening.

Instead, Mayor Garcia and the Long Beach City Council must ask critical questions, defer to child welfare experts, and importantly, listen to children.

So too, city leadership should question how the Biden Administration’s policies are producing this latest influx by preserving the use of Title 42 — a Trump-era policy that instructs Border Patrol to refuse entry to all new asylum-seeking adults. As families are turned away under Title 42, many parents make the difficult choice of sending their children to cross into the U.S. alone, rather than remain in Mexico under dangerous conditions.

In effect, the Biden administration is rendering children unaccompanied, while reopening the very “baby jails” that drew public ire under Trump.

Whether under Republican or Democratic leadership, migrant children continue to experience more of the same — family separation and detention. Although it is politically uncomfortable, Mayor Garcia and the Long Beach City Council must act in the best interests of children.

Lauren Heidbrink is an associate professor of human development at California State University, Long Beach and author of “Migranthood: Youth in a New Era of Deportation.”

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A carbon border tax will harm the poor world the most

To tackle climate change, rich nations are promising to end fossil fuel use in 29 years. As this becomes excruciatingly costly, the G7 is now thinking about making the world’s poor pay for it with carbon taxes. That will go badly.

The rich world has seen an incredible development on the back of enormous increases in mostly fossil fuel energy. A couple of hundred years ago, most available power came from backbreaking human work. Even by the end of the 1800s, human labor made up 94% of all industrial work in the United States. Today, it constitutes just 8%.

If we think of the energy we use in terms of “servants,” each with the same work power as a human being, every person in the rich world today has access to 150 servants who clean, cook, drive, heat and do almost everything else for them.

Despite green protestations, rich people still get 79% of their energy from fossil fuels. Ending that will be hard, socially destabilizing and surprisingly ineffective.

To see how difficult, take the UN’s recent pronouncement that our Paris promises really mean reducing world emissions 7.6% every year this decade. The UN cheerfully notes this was almost achieved in 2020 with the global COVID shutdowns.

But this year, we need twice the reduction, equal to two shutdowns. And three in 2022, ending with the equivalent of eleven global shutdowns every year from 2030. Economic models show this will cost tens of trillions of dollars annually.

It will also destabilize rich countries. They have seen their per-person growth rates decline — in Europe, it is now edging toward zero. As climate policies reduce growth further, this will threaten long-term social coherence as people realize their children won’t be better off and pensions wither.

Moreover, the cuts will matter little for the climate. Even if all OECD nations cut their entire CO₂ emissions today, the standard climate UN model shows it will reduce warming by 2100 just 0.8°F.

The reason? Six billion not-rich people also want access to plentiful and cheap energy, lifting them out of hunger, sickness and poverty. They are more concerned about economic growth that will create welfare and resilience against disease and even climate change.

Unfortunately, climate policies harm the developing world. Because they increase energy costs, they slow economic growth. Implementing the current Paris Agreement will mean lower growth and that fewer people will get out of poverty. If we aim for 2°C, a recent peer-reviewed study shows it will mean at least 80 million fewer people will escape poverty by 2030.

Now, rich countries want the world’s poor to pay the costs through carbon taxes. The UK is pushing such tariffs as a key priority of its G-7 presidency, and the proposal is falling on sympathetic ears in the United States, Europe and Canada.

As the United States and Europe drive up energy costs, more businesses will escape to less-burdened areas like China, India and Africa. Slapping a border tariff on imports according to their underlying emissions reduces that move.

But such tariffs also make it harder for the developing world to compete, because most rich countries use carbon more sparingly. Globally, these tariffs are inefficient and make climate policies even costlier. But crucially, they act as back-door protectionism for rich countries.

For the rich world to cut 20% of its emissions, a standard model shows it will cost them $310 billion a year. Using carbon tariffs, the rich world can instead end up $400 billion better off, making $90 billion by forcing businesses to move back to the rich world. Instead, they impose more than half a trillion in extra costs onto the world’s poor. As one highly quoted study concludes, “the main effect of carbon tariffs is to shift the economic burden of developed-world climate policies to the developing world.”

The EU and others believe that higher tariff threats will force the developing world to adopt their own costly climate policies. This could be a disastrous misjudgment.

If the US were to implement a national $40 tax per ton of carbon, one recent study shows this would cost $73 billion yearly in lost growth. If the US also decided to force Chinese exports to pay tariffs equivalent to this carbon tax, it would confer a loss on China of $24 billion. But this wouldn’t help push China to implement its own $40 carbon tax domestically, because that would cost the Chinese an eye-watering $210 billion a year.

Instead, it is likely that forcing developing countries to choose between losing billions and losing even more billions will lead to profound resentment with a rich world that claims to implement climate policies to help, but really shifts the costs onto the world’s poor. It could lead to a tariff war and the developing world shaping their separate free trading regime.

The effective way to address the real problem of climate change is to dramatically ramp up investment into green energy research and development. If the price of green energy could be innovated below fossil fuels over the next decade, everyone would happily switch.

The G7 need to come to their senses and fund green innovation. Depriving the world’s poor of the twin drivers of development, abundant energy and free trade is unacceptable.

Bjorn Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus and Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His latest book is “False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.”

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Protecting natural resources without disrupting housing construction

There is certainly room for robust discussion around how best to address a housing crisis that threatens to destroy our economy and quality of life, as it widens the equity gap and puts entire populations deeper into poverty. If we’ve learned anything these past few years it’s that there are no easy solutions.

Even so, I must respectfully take issue with Jeff Montejano’s recent op-ed and his mischaracterization of a new conservation mapping initiative that will provide critical information to effectively plan future transportation and development projects – including much-needed new housing.

The initiative, called SoCal Greenprint, will provide the scientific data needed to make informed decisions when it comes to protecting Southern California’s diverse natural and agricultural resources. This strategic mapping website is being produced by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and will help both public and private sector entities identify priority locations for growth and development that can reduce or eliminate conflicts with sensitive natural areas. Developed in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Greenprint will assist land owners, developers and local governments to avoid potential litigation by identifying and assessing environmental issues early in the planning process.

Greenprint is not, as some have suggested, a deterrent to new housing, but a tool to ensure that our natural landscapes remain an invaluable asset to the millions of people who call this region home. In addition to desert, mountain and coastal habitats, some of the highest concentrations of native plant and animal species on the planet are found within our region– resources that ensure a robust economy, provide clean drinking water, protect our air and provide countless recreation opportunities.

On a grander scale, if we truly care about where and how we live, understanding and highlighting the benefits of natural lands and waters, access to parks and trails, habitat protection and increased resilience to climate change must be part of our local and regional planning processes.

Greenprint is being designed to do just that, using the best-available scientific data and delivering that information in an easily accessible and publicly available way. Those objectives were a key directive of Connect SoCal, SCAG’s 2020-2045 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy which was approved overwhelmingly this past year by the organization’s Regional Council.

Add it up, the SoCal Greenprint doesn’t increase our exposure to expensive and time-consuming litigation around development and transportation decisions; in fact, it offers the opportunity to mitigate the risk considerably.

As for The Nature Conservancy, this highly respected nonprofit organization was chosen to work with SCAG in the development of Greenprint due to its vast experience in developing similar tools for large-scale regions such as ours. The Nature Conservancy

is uniquely qualified to develop and deliver a product that meets the needs of our six-county region. It also has considerable experience conducting public outreach and working with public and private sector stakeholder groups, like private landowners, representatives from the building industry, state conservation entities, as well as local jurisdictions, county governments and others.

Indeed, thorough public outreach and stakeholder engagement with the private and public sector is key to a constructive regionwide Greenprint, as outreach activities comprise more than 25% of project funding and have included members of the building and development community extensively.

Again, we appreciate a healthy debate, and we don’t pretend to claim that the SoCal Greenprint will solve our housing shortage. But we also strongly disagree with the premise that this data-driven initiative will undermine efforts to build more housing units. Better understanding our conservation and environmental landscape will only help lead to better solutions.

We encourage the building and development community to join with us in this endeavor.

Rex Richardson is president of the Southern California Association of Governments and is vice mayor of the city of Long Beach.

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Hope returns to Anaheim as California reopens

Anaheim is back.

Disneyland, a place of joy and inspiration for all Californians, is about to reopen after more than a year.

Fans are back in the stands cheering on Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

The Anaheim Ducks are closing out their season with fans behind the glass at Honda Center.

And now we have a path forward for reopening the Anaheim Convention Center, host to some of California’s greatest events.

As mayor of one of the hardest hit cities in the coronavirus economic downturn, I’m happy to have hope again.

But the Anaheim comeback is no accident.

We have worked since Day One of the pandemic, alongside Orange County and California, to fight COVID-19 and to restore our economy.

Throughout this crisis, I have strongly advocated for Anaheim, which sometimes meant respectfully challenging the decisions of our state partners.

But I believe we always had the same end goal in mind: Protect our neighborhoods, especially those most impacted, get people safely back to work and beat COVID-19.

We all agree now we’re in a much different place. We’ve made great progress together.

Advancing our city and regional recovery effort is Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to move beyond the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and end the color-coded tier system for closures and openings.

This puts us on track to fully reopen our economy on June 15 with some common sense public health measures.

It allows for the continued, safe reopening of businesses and gives visitors confidence to return to Anaheim, as cases continue to go down and vaccines increase.

Anaheim has played a significant role in the effort to vaccinate all Californians, including in hard hit neighborhoods.

At the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland Resort, we are vaccinating thousands each day.

So far, 400,000 vaccines and counting have been given in our city.

In our priority ZIP code, 92805, we work with the county of Orange and trusted partners to bring shots to those who may need a little extra help getting vaccinated.

All with the goal of saving lives and moving past this pandemic.

The pandemic’s toll on Anaheim has been tragic.

Sadly, 850 Anaheim families have lost someone to COVID-19, a sobering reminder of the true cost of this virus.

While necessary, the economic impacts of coronavirus restrictions have been devastating to Anaheim’s working families and small businesses.

In 2020, Anaheim peaked at 30,000 residents out of work, surpassing what we saw during the Great Recession.

Thousands of businesses have closed, some for good.

In response, our city has provided more than $65 million in rent assistance, small-business grants and aid to families, seniors and children, in part with funding from our state partners.

But the best assistance we can provide is economic recovery. We join California in forging a path forward to put this crisis behind us for good.

Brighter days are ahead for Anaheim and all of California.

Harry Sidhu is mayor of Anaheim.

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