“The pandemic was a mass death event. It was also a very messy one for determining the effects of particular public policy interventions on COVID transmission, death, and economic performance. It’ll take years of research to get anywhere close to definitively answering big questions about what policies worked and what didn’t.”
“When California legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, the state had more than 3,000 weed shops. They ostensibly served the medical market, but the rules were so loose that pretty much anyone who wanted pot could buy it legally. Six years later, California had less than half as many licensed marijuana merchants, accounting for between a quarter and a third of total sales.
Something clearly has gone wrong “when you try to legalize weed and accidentally end up illegalizing it instead,” note University of California, Davis, economists Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner. In their book Can Legal Weed Win?, they explain how burdensome licensing requirements, regulations, and taxes have frustrated plans to displace the black market.”
“California will ban the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles, just as it has banned the sale of new lawnmowers and other power equipment that’s powered by gasoline engines. It’s the state’s latest attempt at technology forcing—”a strategy where a regulator specifies a standard that cannot be met with existing technology, or at least not at an acceptable cost,” as Science Direct explains.”
“the same week that California policy makers announced an ambitious plan to shift California’s 27-million drivers into electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, they also announced that Californians who currently own electric vehicles better not charge them for several days because the grid can’t handle the load.”
“Most people in California know what a disaster legalization has been. Most people know that the black market still accounts for the majority of marijuana purchases in California. Most people (especially those who live outside the big cities) are well aware of all the illegal grow operations. What this series does is provide specific examples of the dangerous environment that still exists, full of threats, violence, and even murder.”
“There is the assumption in these stories that the breakdown in the system is due to a lack of control and enforcement by police and regulators. The stories are reluctant to address the real sources: The extent of state and local taxes drive up prices, and the ability of local officials to decide who can participate in cannabis is a huge factor in the persistence of the black market. While the stories do bring up these issues to provide some context, they really don’t contend with how much of the California black market is a result of the exorbitant costs to do business legally in the state.
Instead, the illegal grow operations and unlicensed dispensaries are presented as a failure of enforcement.”
“The real failure here is that the state and local officials have put in so many regulatory barriers and taxes that the market cannot function properly within the boundaries of the law. Illegal grow operations flood the market with cheap goods, and licensed operations can’t compete because they have to give so much money to the government. The same holds true for dispensaries.”
“As the pandemic recedes, elected officials across deep-blue California are reacting to intense public pressure to erase the most visible signs of homelessness. Democratic leaders who once would have been loath to forcibly remove people from sidewalks, parks and alongside highways are increasingly imposing camping bans, often while framing the policies as compassionate.
“Enforcement has its place,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who has spent much of the past year trying to soothe public anger in a city that has seen its unsheltered homeless population surpass that of San Francisco — 5,000 in the most recent count compared with San Francisco’s 4,400. “I think it’s right for cities to say, ‘You know, there are certain places where it’s just not appropriate to camp.’””
“Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced the state had cleared 1,200 encampments in the past year, attempting to soften the message with a series of visits to social service programs. But without enough beds to shelter unhoused people, advocates say efforts to clear encampments are nothing more than cosmetic political stunts that essentially shuffle the problem from street corner to another.”
““No one’s happy to have to do this,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said earlier this summer as he discussed ticketing people who refuse shelter. “We’re doing everything we can to provide people with better choices than the street.”
Other Democratic leaders around the country, facing similar pressure, have also moved to clear out encampments and push homeless people out of public spaces. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a former police captain who won his office on a pledge to fight crime, came under fire this year for his removal of homeless people from subways and transit hubs. The city’s shelter system is now bursting at the seams.”
“A recent court decision requires local governments to provide enough beds before clearing encampments — a mandate that does not apply to state property. But that’s easier said than done in a state where there are three to four times as many homeless people as shelter beds.
California’s homelessness problem has deep, gnarled roots dating back decades, but has become increasingly pronounced in recent years. Tents and tarps on sidewalks, in parks and under freeways have become a near-ubiquitous symbol of the state’s enduring crisis. A pandemic-spurred project to move people from encampments to motels has lapsed, and eviction moratoriums have dissolved. Homelessness is a top concern for voters in the liberal state, and as Democrats prepare for the midterm elections, Newsom and other leaders have been eager to show voters they’re taking action.
But the practice of clearing out camps can be a futile exercise, particularly when the people being forced to pack up their tents have nowhere else to go or simply end up doing the same thing just a few blocks away.”
“Addiction and mental illness can drive people into homelessness and keep them there, which has fueled Newsom’s push for a civil court system that would create treatment plans for those with the most critical needs and allow involuntary commitment for people who do not participate. The CARE Courts program, which Newsom is expected to sign into law soon, is estimated to help between 7,000 and 12,000 people — a small portion of the more than 160,000 Californians without stable housing.”
“Most states have laws allowing for some form of criminal record clearing. Eligible individuals — generally those with no convictions, or who were convicted of a low-level offense — are typically required to petition a judge or state agency for clearance. Most don’t, whether because of the cost, complexity, or simply from lack of information. One University of Michigan study published in 2019 found over 90 percent of those eligible didn’t apply.
As a result, the “Clean Slate” movement was born — a recent push by criminal justice reformers to automatically clear, or seal from public view, records for eligible offenses.”
“In the face of impending power blackouts, the California State Assembly and Senate did abrupt turns toward sanity and voted to extend the operating life of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. “This is a victory of pro-civilization values, including love of humanity and reason, over the forces of pro-scarcity nihilism,” tweeted Michael Shellenberger, founder of the pro-nuclear power activist group Environmental Progress.
Due to pressure from anti-nuclear activists, California’s Public Utility Commission voted 5-0 in 2018 to shut down both of the Diablo Canyon reactors by 2025. The new legislation reverses this ill-advised decision and extends their operating life by at least another five years. The Diablo Canyon reactors generate enough electricity to supply power for 3 million of the Golden State’s 13 million households.
Growing dependence on unreliable wind and solar power generation led not only to rolling blackouts in California in 2020 but also increased the price of electricity for California’s consumers. Shutting down Diablo Canyon’s reactors is counterproductive for those people who are concerned about the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. A point made, according to the New York Times, by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a letter sent to California state legislators: “The alternative to the closure of the reactors at Diablo Canyon will most likely be additional natural gas generation, which would reverse progress on emissions reductions and worsen air quality,” she wrote.”
“”While safe injection sites may sound counterintuitive to some people as an effective means to combat addiction, there’s no arguing with the data. Results from other countries have shown that safe injection sites lead to a reduction in overdose deaths and transmission rates of infectious disease and an increase in the number of individuals seeking addiction recovery.””
“Newsom’s presidential ambitions, or simply his desire to appear less soft on crime, might be getting in the way of a safe and effective public health strategy for preventing drug overdoses.”