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The Case Against a California February Primary

by: paulhogarth

Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 13:54:43 PM PST

(Another no to the 2/5 primary. I think we're running about even. By the by, welcome to Paul, who does a great job at Beyond Chron, one of the best sites on SF politics around. - promoted by Brian Leubitz)

I wrote this for today's Beyond Chron, San Francisco's Alternative Online Daily.

As Ben Franklin said, the definition of "insanity" is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Once again, California politicians complain that our state never gets to choose a presidential nominee because the race is over by the time it gets here. Now the state legislature wants to push up our presidential primary even earlier than before - in the vain hope that we will decide from a wide-open field in 2008. But other states have the same idea too and we may end up having a national primary on February 5th - only one week after New Hampshire. While a February primary could be seen as a boon for progressive activists, the subsequent low-turnout June election poses grave risks, particularly given the attempt to qualify a statewide initiative to ban rent control.

paulhogarth :: The Case Against a California February Primary
The February primary is a bad idea for many reasons, and California should not fuel the madness. First, it is unlikely that California will get to decide the outcome of the presidential race, even with an earlier primary. Second, a front-loaded schedule puts insurgent candidates at an insurmountable disadvantage, virtually guaranteeing that the establishment candidate (i.e., Hillary Clinton) will win. Third, pushing the whole primary schedule further back forces candidates to campaign even earlier and raise even more money. Fourth, having two California primaries (the presidential one in February and the legislative one in June) will help right-wing propositions sail through in a low-turnout election.

It's unfair that Iowa and New Hampshire -- two rural, predominantly white states -- have an unreasonable say in picking presidential nominees and that California repeatedly gets left out. But 47 other states feel the same way, and we're not the only ones who want to move up our primary to "maximize" influence. If California moves its primary to February 5th, it will join Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina, Delaware, Missouri, New Jersey - and probably Florida and Michigan as well. To say that we will somehow have comparable influence in selecting the nominee as Iowa or New Hampshire is absurd, because candidates will have to split their time between here and eight states (some on the East Coast) within the short span of one week.

California has repeatedly pushed up its primary in the past - and it still didn't maximize our influence. In 1996, the state legislature moved it from June to March 26th - but with Bob Dole having beaten back Pat Buchanan's challenge a few weeks earlier, the race was effectively over by then. So in 2000, the legislature pushed it back to March 7th - putting California on the same day as Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont. The result? Al Gore already had the Democratic nomination in the bag, and George Bush finished off John McCain with an avalanche of campaign spending. In 2004, we saw the same result happen again.

The effect of moving California's primary is that it so front-loads the schedule that under-funded insurgent candidates have no chance of winning, and the establishment candidate quickly gets the nomination. In 2000, John McCain upset George Bush in New Hampshire, only to get overwhelmed within a month in other states. In 2004, John Kerry's early victories in Iowa and New Hampshire allowed him to solidify his establishment status, and he went on to win the nomination without much trouble.

The problem isn't that Iowa and New Hampshire go first - it's that so many states follow them right afterwards. If an insurgent wins one of the early states, they simply get overwhelmed later due to lack of resources. If an establishment type wins an early state, the insurgents have no chance later on because it gives the front-runner an insurmountable lead. Either way, the establishment candidate always wins.

In 2004, Howard Dean pursued the only strategy that an insurgent candidate could be expected to do. Because Iowa and New Hampshire were immediately followed by a series of front-loaded primaries, he spent resources ahead of time in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma -- which had primaries one week later. It could have worked, if Dean had won Iowa. But with his third-place finish in the Hawkeye State and his infamous "scream," Howard Dean had no money, no time and no momentum left to score a comeback and win the nomination.

A front-loaded primary season effectively ends the nomination process in early February. It's insane that in January 2007 we already have so many declared presidential candidates, but they're just facing reality - the nomination will be over in a year. That doesn't give much time to raise gobs of money to spend it at lightning speed when the front-loaded primaries start hitting next January. No campaign manager would tell a candidate not to declare right away.

It didn't use to be that way. In 1992, the primary schedule was more drawn out and allowed more states to have a say in the Democratic nomination. After Tom Harkin won the Iowa caucus on February 10th, Paul Tsongas won the New Hampshire primary on February 18th. Bob Kerrey won South Dakota on February 25th and Jerry Brown won Colorado on March 3rd. Bill Clinton started racking up victories in the coming weeks, but on March 24th Brown stalled his momentum by winning Connecticut. Finally, Clinton sewed up the nomination on April 7th with the New York primary.

Of course, California didn't have a say in 1992 because its primary was in June. But a two-month marathon - rather than a one-week sprint -allows for a more dynamic process where more states can have their vote really matter. A longer nomination process allows candidates to hone their skills and get battle-tested. It would also generate more interest and excitement among voters.

But why does New Hampshire always get to be first? New Hampshire law requires that its presidential primary be first-in-the-nation. As other states try to get an early seat in the action, New Hampshire has pushed its primary further and further back -- from March 12th in 1968 to February 1st in 2000 to January 27th in 2004. That's not healthy for anyone because it forces campaigns to start earlier.

I think it's better to have a state like New Hampshire go first. New Hampshire is small enough that a presidential candidate can run a grass-roots campaign and talk to voters - rather than raise tons of money and throw it on commercials. New Hampshire allows insurgent candidates to get their foot in the door and expand the scope of debate. The problem is that they later get clobbered when the nomination shifts to a media war of mega-state after front-loaded mega-state.

So what's the solution? The national parties should sit down with their state parties and forge a compromise. They probably can't do anything about Iowa and New Hampshire - but they can prevent the leap-frogging and front-loading that happens every time. Establish a firm schedule stretching out over several months, so that each week you only have one or two state primaries.

This will allow each state to have a real voice in the nomination process. States that are unfortunately placed last will get a higher placement four years later, and states like California that have always been shut out would get a priority placement. It won't be perfect, but it will be better than what we have now.

Furthermore, California progressives should be alarmed at how a presidential primary in February could have a derivative effect on state politics. Speaker Fabian Nunez wants to place a proposition in February to relax the state's term-limits law (a good idea), followed by a legislative primary in June. But this will pose the danger of a low voter turnout in June, giving the right-wing an opening to pass dangerous propositions.

Already, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is gathering signatures to place a "son" of Proposition 90 on the ballot - probably for June 2008. While its language makes it sound less extreme than Prop 90, it is actually worse because of its retroactive effect and would eliminate rent control in California. The religious right will also try to place an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot - it would also likely be voted on in June 2008.

California's a very blue state - but past elections have shown that a low turnout can pass right-wing propositions. In March 2000, California had a low statewide turnout -- the average voter's age was fifty - and the state passed a legislative ban on gay marriage (Proposition 22) and a drastic juvenile justice initiative (Proposition 21) by healthy margins.

The same thing could happen again - if the state legislature foolishly pushes the presidential primary up to February, in the virtually nonexistent hope that California will better influence the next presidential nominee.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Paul Hogarth actively supported Howard Dean's presidential campaign in 2004. Send feedback to paul@beyondchron.org

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I don't trust Arnie's agenda or his Advisors... (8.00 / 1)
Even if I were an HRC supporter, I'd question the danger of the Redistricting tag-on. Unless all 50 States sign-on to go Non-Partisan on Redistricting we need to keep our edge in CA. To do otherwise would be potentially disasterous. The other tag-on Propositions in this deal could also produce negative results.
I do not support this proposal.

(-8.50/-7.44) Progressive Blue, An Oasis

Redistricting (8.00 / 1)
One of the interesting things about Prop 77 is that it would have likely yielded one or two add'l Dem seats.  However, I was against it, partly because Arnold was for it and partly because I'm against mid-decade redistricting.

A more fair redistricting plan would lessen the power of the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Leader, but would likely yield a couple more seats (likely Latino opportunity seats).

I think?

[ Parent ]
Here's a better idea... (8.00 / 1)
I opposed 77 as well because 3 retired judges can't do it alone behind closed doors, along with the fact that it would be relying on then-5-year-old data not including the 3 million who had moved here since

Why would you oppose it partly because Arnold supported it? How is standing against something because someone else stands for it the right thing to do?

"Stand with anyone who stands right. Stand with him when he is right and part with him when he goes wrong"
-Abe Lincoln

Anyways, here's the best redistricting reform:

A computer-neutral program, where all that is entered is a head count. No race, no party, no socioeconomic status, nothing. The computer would then have 40, 80, or 53 equal-sized polygons as round/square as possible (NO TENTACLES!) for the state senate, house, and congress, respectively. Then, each polygon would either shrink or grow to ensure each district represents an equal amount of people

Having an independent commission draw the lines is bound to fall victim to the same thing now: self-interest partisan gerrymandering. A computer would maintain its neutrality forever, with only a head count to work with

For the record, an independent commission is still better than what we have now, but not the best idea

The Silent Consensus

[ Parent ]
A unified message in the special (8.00 / 1)
I was opposed to the special that Arnold called, so I was opposed to all of his props. I put the principle of the special pretty high.

Now, as for redistricting, it's not a bad idea.  bolson drew some maps with some software he wrote.  I'd like to attempt to keep cities together when possible, and a few other geographic boundaries should be considered, but in general I'd prefer tighter districts.

So, yeah, I'm with you for the most part.

I think?

[ Parent ]
Are you speaking of Redistricting Reform for all 50 (8.00 / 1)
States or just California? Because unless all 50 States get on-line with the same type of Non-Partisan system it will never be fair. And, we need to maintain or increase our advantage to compete with States like Florida & Texas & PA,Virginia etc. etc. where the Gop has a lopsided advantage.
Agree that Prop 77 was not even a viable plan. "3" Retired Judges chosen in a really convoluted system, think not. That was an example of an "Arnie" plan BTW.

(-8.50/-7.44) Progressive Blue, An Oasis

[ Parent ]
Let's start... (0.00 / 0)
with California and then other states will feel the need to follow

The Silent Consensus

[ Parent ]
No Thanks (0.00 / 0)
I'll wait for all the other States to get on board (esp. those that are Gop controlled), throw the Supreme Court in the mix too:
the Supreme Court approved a racially focused congressional gerrymandering on the grounds that the drawing was not pure racial gerrymandering but instead partisan gerrymandering, which is constitutionally permissible.


(-8.50/-7.44) Progressive Blue, An Oasis

[ Parent ]
Then we won't get anywhere... (0.00 / 0)
It will never happen with your attitude. California does not follow other states. Other states follow California. We are supposed to be ahead of the nation. Two wrongs don't make a right... When other states see that we are willing to give up this power in spite of the Democratic stronghold, others will follow our lead, figuring "if they're willing to, why not us?"

If we don't start, not only will other states continue to neglect this problem, but we're no better than the rest of them.

The Silent Consensus

[ Parent ]
I don't have an "attitude" (0.00 / 0)
It will never happen with your attitude

I have a realistic way of looking at the problem, which is that if all the States and the Supreme Court do not come on line with the same fair non-partisan methodology, it will not be fair or equal accross the board. That is the point isn't it?

I support redistricting reform and do not support the continued Supreme Court system mandating partisan Gerrymandering. But unless it is accross the board equality here, the California Democratic Party will just be doing itself a disservice by agreeing to this limited type of reform.

(-8.50/-7.44) Progressive Blue, An Oasis

[ Parent ]
Your attitude of... (0.00 / 0)
"Let's not do it until other states are on board" is an attitude, whether that's a good or bad thing

I get what you're saying, whereas I say that other states will follow

The Silent Consensus

[ Parent ]
It is not an "attitude" It is called a Plan, don't distort (0.00 / 0)
if all the States and the Supreme Court do not come on line with the same fair non-partisan methodology, it will not be fair or equal accross the board. That is the point isn't it?

I did not say we should wait for the other States, I'm saying that it has to be accross the board equality on this issue at the same time, equivalent to a Constitutional decree mandating this with agreement/enforcement coming from the SC.

Unless all States are performing the act of Non-Partisan Redistricting at the same time, your proposal would leave California out in the cold. I'm saying that the method to acheive Non-Partisan Redistricting should be different than what you attempting to propose here. Because under the methodology you are proposing, Texas, Florida & Virginia will still be sending more Republicans to Congress.

(-8.50/-7.44) Progressive Blue, An Oasis

[ Parent ]
Giving up power (0.00 / 0)
If we give up power in spite of our Democratic stronghold, the GOPigs will laugh, smell blood, and move in for the kill.  Giving up power is foolish.

[ Parent ]
Tonight I spoke with Leland Yee Asst. Sen. Pro Tem. (0.00 / 0)
I relayed my concerns about moving the Primary date. Frankly he seemed more interested in seeing that a new Term Limits Proposition is passed and would probably be more than willing to support a Feb. Primary deal based on that issue.
If this is dangled in front of our elected representatives as part of the package, I think they will jump at it.

(-8.50/-7.44) Progressive Blue, An Oasis

[ Parent ]
Leadership (8.00 / 1)
Our "leaders" in Sacramento need to put the Democratic Party first and themselves last.  I doubt that term limits will be adjusted but their willingness to leap at the possibility seems high to me, too.  Maybe we need new leadership at the top of the California Democratic Party?

The real danger is not so much a February primary, but a second primary in June with low turnout and a high likelihood of reactionary GOPigs ballot measures.

[ Parent ]
"More fair"? (0.00 / 0)
A "more fair" redistricting plan would maximize the number of Democrats in the state capital and minimize GOPigs.  The objective is POWER, not partisan equality.

[ Parent ]
A National Primary (0.00 / 0)
Moving California up is the first step toward a National Primary which is the only fair system anyway.  If it means the insurgent candidates suffer then all the more reason for campaign finance reform.  But to keep the system of small states first and then build doesn't take into account the changes that have taken place in the structure of the Media, how we get our news, and the influence of the internet.  We are more connected and rely on National outlets more and more so than our local newspaper.  The world has changed, our country has changed.  The present Primary system is akin to releasing a movie in one small Art House and then slowly building an audience.  It doesn't work that way anymore.  Times have changed. 

National primary (0.00 / 0)
Tweaking the dates of state primaries is a waste of time because a national primary will never happen without a constitutional amendment.  We would be better off seeking some state legislators who are willing to introduce resolutions calling for a Constitutional Convention as permitted under Article V.  That would open the door to real reform in every area, from elimination of corporate personhood to copyright and net neutrality to war-making authority and everything else. 

Our political structure has not kept pace with technology, as you note.  We need at least the information-age equivalents of what the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were for the dawn of the industrial age.  If this does not happen top-down (from Congress), then we need to make it happen from the bottom-up (the people working through the state legislatures).  That is one reason why keeping the California state legislature under Democratic control is so important.  Crafting a sly redistricting measure, which Governor S+13 seems to what to do, is not good, and neither is a third election in 2008.

[ Parent ]
Interestingly... (0.00 / 0)
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is circulating the initiative right now to get the legislature to act. I would love for the legislature to put something that addresses eminent domain on the ballot. Things can be corrected in the legislature after input, whereas propositions are dumped on the laps of the voters for a take-it-or-leave-it vote

I don't like the retroactive portion of this. 90 specifically allowed all current regulations to stay, and that was one good distinction from Oregon's Measure 37

If the legislature doesn't act and I decide to vote against this, it will be with a heavy heart. Government taking the property of one owner so a Starbucks can set up shop there is legalized robbery

By the way, rent controls are totally counterproductive. If you support rent controls, give me a logic-based reason why.

Also, Proposition 21 was a good thing. Getting out at age 25 with no criminal record for being a teenage murderer is too lax

The Silent Consensus

Haves versus Have Nots: Basic Economic Survival 101 (8.00 / 3)
If you support rent controls, give me a logic-based reason why.

Lets see:
1. Because the Real Estate Prices in CA for homeownership are outrageous and not everyone can afford a home.
2. Because the economic class of those of us who are Tenants need protection from a system that automatically favors a market system which favors the inherent wealth of property owners.
3.The working class and Middle Class are being squeezed out of existence, especially in cities like San Francisco.
4.There are too many people living on the edge or homeless, it creates a f'ed up Social System which has few if any safety nets after 6 years of Republican governmental control with a bad attitude about those who are less fortunate.
5. Basic Survival requires a system such as Rent Controls. The Cinderella syndrome is not a reality for a great many.

(And yes I've been Landlord/Property Owner & now a Tenant. and, have spent decades working in the Real Estate Field and have a clear understanding of the many points of view on this subject.)

(-8.50/-7.44) Progressive Blue, An Oasis

[ Parent ]
Economics 101? (0.00 / 0)
You wanna talk about Economics 101? Rent controls are part of the reason housing costs are so high in California

It's supply and demand. With rent controls, there are builders who figure "forget it. I'm not going to build houses when the price won't be able to adjust according to market forces." Therefore, supply of houses is down, which leads to increased prices, and more homelessness

What else is causing high prices? Other regulations that make it harder for builders to build. The inefficient bureaucratic red tape, other regulatory barriers, building codes that have nothing to do with public health or safety (I would love to live in a big home with nice kitchens and extra bathrooms, but if I had to pick whether to live in no house or one without those luxuries, I'd pick the latter), and prevailing wage laws

Bottom line: our housing prices are high because the supply is shorter than the demand. This is something the demand will not and should not go down for, so what should we do? Increase the supply, and part of the solution to do that is get rid of rent controls

The Silent Consensus

[ Parent ]
Market Forces (6.00 / 2)
Yes, laissez-faire policies relying entirely on supply and demand will, in fact, produce actions and reactions.  However, those corrections are usually, if not always, unnecessarily extreme.  Why have a housing market that fluctuates wildly between downtown being expensive to cheap to expensive to cheap?  To what benefit would this goal aspire?  There's a lot to be said for maintaining a population's ability to remain stable.  It fosters community ties, political involvement, the healthy kind of nationalism, small-business growth, and many other things.

More specifically to your point though, perhaps it's different down here in San Diego, but where is it that you're talking about in California that real estate developers haven't been building houses as fast as they can get the permits, if not faster?

[ Parent ]
Why should the... (1.00 / 1)
landlords not be able to respond to market forces? As I have said, rent controls have proven time and time again to be counterproductive

Where am I talking about? California. I'm not talking about any specific area here

The Silent Consensus

[ Parent ]
Econ 101 is exactly right (8.00 / 2)
Supply and demand are very different than Econ 101 tells you.  Really, I wish people would learn this.

More important, state law already prohibits rent control on buildings built after 1978, so rent control has exactly nothing to do with the construction of new housing. Try again.

[ Parent ]
What ass are you pulling this out of? (1.00 / 2)
state law already prohibits rent control on buildings built after 1978, so rent control has exactly nothing to do with the construction of new housing. Try again." WRONG. There is nothing that says that. I don't say this to many people but I'll say this to you: If only you knew what you knew what you were talking about

Quit trying to inject bullshit into me! You're fooling no one but yourself. Whether it be the falsity that California law prohibits rent control for buildings built after 1978, the notion that you're unprincipled unless you oppose spending mandates and the supermajority requirement, or whatever else, it's been bullshit.

It's your typical "blame Prop 13 first" attitude. I'm sorry you don't think the truth is more important

The Silent Consensus

[ Parent ]
OK, correct me then, with some cites (8.00 / 1)
Because I looked at a lot of rent control ordinances today, and I recall that they all said that buildings built after 1978 (or 1979, I'll give you that), were exempt from rent control.  Checking again, that's certainly true in SF and LA, two of the biggest rental markets.

And the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act gives landlords the right to set rents as they like for any buildings already exempted under a new build law (SF or LA as examples), or with the residency permit issued after 2/1/1995.  So at the very *least*, the cutoff date is Feb 1, 1995.  And landlords under Costa-Hawkins can set the rate at market rates every time they re-rent.

I'm not even particularly pro-rent-control.  I rent, but have never asked whether a building was or wasn't rent-controlled when I signed a lease.

As far as the bullshit thing, well, I'm thinking that someone who blames regulation for every single thing that goes wrong, is oversimplifying to say the least, and may be bullshitting.  That's what I respond to in your libertarian-rhetoric posts.

I'm beginning to think that you have a substantial personal interest in this.  Are you a landlord?  If so, how substantial are your holdings?  I think that might be a worthwhile disclosure.

(Incidentally, if one is so keen on allowing landlords to raise their rents with the market whenever they like, why would one be opposed to allowing the government to tax based on market pricing for property?)

[ Parent ]
No... (0.00 / 0)
I do not have any self-interest in this. If I did, it would be irrelevant

I'm not blaming regulation for everything. That's your oversimplification. I am for this case, because it is.

As an example of how I'm not anti-regulation completely, I supported AB 32

With regards to your last question, what we end up having in that case is people able to afford their homes one year and having to move out within the next few years because they can't afford the tax anymore. With only letting reassessments go up 2%, it gives them predictability when buying a home. Reassessments used to go up 10% one year, 3% the next, for example.

Also, the tax is based on the market pricing, since that's likely the price it sold for and it's based on what it sold for.

If you think Prop 13 hasn't helped you, take the CURRENT value of your home and multiply it by .0267. At least if you're just buying a home now, it's multiplied by .01.

The Silent Consensus

[ Parent ]
So, you're in favor of rent control? (0.00 / 0)
With regards to your last question, what we end up having in that case is people able to afford their homes one year and having to move out within the next few years because they can't afford the tax anymore. With only letting reassessments go up 2%, it gives them predictability when buying a home. Reassessments used to go up 10% one year, 3% the next, for example.

If you cap rent increases at 2% every year, it gives the renter stability and predictability when renting an apartment.  Sauce for the goose and all that.

Also, the tax is based on the market pricing, since that's likely the price it sold for and it's based on what it sold for.

So, rents when controlled are based on market pricing when the apartment was first rented.  Sauce for the goose and all that.

If you think Prop 13 hasn't helped you, take the CURRENT value of your home and multiply it by .0267. At least if you're just buying a home now, it's multiplied by .01.

Well, I pay property tax.  I just happen to do so through rent (and again, I have no particular love for rent control).  But a naked appeal to me through "your taxes would be lower" is not going to work.  Taxes are the price for living in a civilized society.  Mine are actually very high, and I do not object.

I think Prop 13 (and progeny) has made it impossible to actually govern the State.  It makes the state dependent on an unpredictable revenue stream.  It makes it very difficult (impossible, as we've seen) to do anything that might require money.  It's created a boatload of perverse incentives for development strategies, and has generally been a train-wreck.  But to argue that it's good and creates stability and predictability for homeowners, while arguing that the same thing is bad for renters is disingenuous.  If your argument is "it's bad when the gummint takes money, and it's good when landlords take money", that's a very different thing, which relies on a lot of assumptions that are far more controversial.

[ Parent ]
Excuse me... (0.00 / 0)
Don't put words in my mouth or thoughts in my head. I never said I was for rent control. I was talking about reassessments for tax purposes, NOT RENT CONTROL. We don't need rent controls for stability. The market prevents the landlord from making the rents unpredictable. Taxes on the other hand are taken by force and no market can stop that*

Taxes are the price we pay for civilization? Yes, and collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery. That's not civilization. Ever since Prop 13, revenues have consistently grown at a higher % than inflation and population combined. This isn't a revenue problem, it's a mismanagement problem

"So, rents when controlled are based on market pricing when the apartment was first rented"? That's aside the point. The point is that rent controls are counterproductive, so are unpredictable tax increases

I wasn't arguing that stability is bad for renters. I was arguing that rent controls are bad because they are counterproductive. There's a difference. If you wanna talk about instability, that same unpredictability would be passed on to renters in the form of higher rent if not for Prop 13.*

*You really need to stop drawing a square and telling me you see the whole box

The Silent Consensus

[ Parent ]
Dude, enough with the libertarian rhetoric (0.00 / 0)
The market prevents the landlord from making the rents unpredictable.

Prove it.  With something that's not from Cato or a similar outfit.

Yes, and collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery. That's not civilization. Ever since Prop 13, revenues have consistently grown at a higher % than inflation and population combined. This isn't a revenue problem, it's a mismanagement problem.

Prove each of those assertions.  Then show the revenues relative to the costs of the things they actually pay for (For example, labor generally does not scale with the CPI, as universities have learned.)  And show sufficient mismanagement (not just programs you don't like) to make up the difference, because "absolutely necessary" is in the eye of the beholder.  The "magic asterisk" will not be accepted.  Oh, and the "legalized robbery" stuff is just pure libertarian rhetoric.

There's a difference. If you wanna talk about instability, that same unpredictability would be passed on to renters in the form of higher rent if not for Prop 13.*

Yeah, so?  It's a relatively small percentage of the overall rent, just as it's a relatively small portion of the overall value of property.  This really doesn't bother me.  I know you really want to freak people out about "boogie boogie higher taxes", but it's not gonna work on me.

I know you're all hopped up on the libertarian sophomoricisms, but really, your argument boils down to:  "it's bad when the government does it".  And hey, that's fine.  Just be upfront about it.

I'm done in this comment thread.  It's too long already.

[ Parent ]
Since you're not going to read this... (0.00 / 0)
I'm not going to bother giving you proof

The Silent Consensus

[ Parent ]
Just so you know (0.00 / 0)
I've had instable rents, with them going up 10% in one year.  So, stabilized? Uh...not so much.

I think?

[ Parent ]
Blow-by-blow response (0.00 / 0)
1. The substance of your argument seems to focus on the sad plight of Tenants who cannot afford a home. Are you therefore advocating controls on rents on residential properties, but not on commercial properties or industrial properties? If yes, why discriminate against the owners of residential properties as opposed to the owners of commercial or industrial properties? If no, what is your argument in favor of controlling the rents on commercial and industrial properties?

2. Would you advocate the control of rents on properties existing at the time of the introduction of the controls? Would you advocate the control of rents on properties constructed after the introduction? As to existing properties, the owners of such properties can make a strong case against the government for compensation on account of fractional seizure under the rules of eminent domain. (Part of the rights included under the right to own property is the right to obtain income from rental. If a government limits that right, it has seized valuable property). As to properties constructed after the introduction of the controls, you won't have to worry about that, because no builder is going to build anything if he knows that he will be unable to realize the full fruits of the investment of his time, capital and skill. What happens then? Supply goes down, prices go up!

3. How, and on what basis would you fix the amount of rent that can legally be charged on each particular property? How will you deal with alleged inequities as between the rents allowed to the owner of Property A and the rents allowed to the owner of (similar) Property B? How will you deal with the complaints of Tenants who claim that they are being illegally charged excessive rent? The probable answer (based on the cases where rent controls have been used) is that you will have no choice but to set up an administrative bureaucracy of some kind which will waste huge sums of money and which will be a ripe breeding ground for corruption. Thousands of lawyers will get rich (unless you decide to set up another bureaucracy controlling their fees)

4. The sad plight of those unable to afford decent housing was not caused by the owners of rental property. Why do you seek to have these owners pay the cost of fixing a problem that is not their fault? Why not get the owners of stocks and bonds to contribute? Is one kind of "rich" person holier than another, depending upon the form of their investment?

5. Owners of residential real estate are obligated (to some extent, by law, and to some extent by the terms of their lease contracts with their tenants) to service and maintain their leased properties. This typically means that the Landlord is obligated to fix the roof, if it leaks, to keep the plumbing and electrical systems in good repair, to keep landscaping in good repair, to shovel snow, to remove garbage and trash, etc. etc. Put simply, those who best maintain their properties get the best returns on their investments, in the long run; as compared to those more shortsighted who pinch every penny needed for repairs and maintenance. The "good" landlords have waiting lists of prospective tenants while the "bad" ones have trouble finding prospects when they had a vacancy. The imposition of rent controls would have a tendency to kill the motivation that residential landlords have to keep and maintain their properties in great condition, thereby adversely affecting their Tenants' quality of life.

6. Your argument seems to imply that all owners of residential properties belong to the upper classes. This is false. Residential rental properties include not only large apartment projects but also individual properties of one or a few units. Sometimes people who own a single dwelling house, for instance, are forced by circumstances to move to a different area on account of job changes, etc. If they try to sell their old house in a weak market they may well end up renting it out instead. This is, in fact, happening quite a lot in today's relatively weak market. In such cases, a person of quite limited means becomes a landlord, perhaps against his will. Would you protect a "poor" Tenant as against the rights of a "poor" Landlord?  If yes, why? If not, why not? If you decide to discriminate as between a "rich" landlord owning multiple units and a "poor" one owning a single dwelling, what would the justification be, and how would you go about doing it?

7. More important than all of the above, the simple answer to your argument is that free enterprise is clearly the best system yet devised by man to promote the financial well being of a given society, taken as a whole. Communism has been a terrible failure, in the long run, wherever it has been tried.  Read the economic history of the Soviet Union and its satellites for a major example of that statement. Look at the current plight of the underclass in Cuba. Despite your aversion to the Cinderella story, the fact is that equal opportunity for economic advancement has been found to be the single most powerful factor available to motivate individuals to work hard for their own benefit. You can tinker with free enterprise, up to a point, around the edges, without shutting down its power. This is why progressive tax rates and minimum wage laws, within reason, can co-exist with free enterprise. But rent controls (and price controls, of any nature) are beyond the pale. Government-financed public housing, intelligently conceived and designed, is probably a better, and more tolerable, method of achieving most of the objectives included in your argument.

The Silent Consensus

[ Parent ]
Agree. (0.00 / 0)
The idea of three -- repeat three -- elections in one year started with Gov S+13 ... reason enough to be suspicious.

The real danger is the decoupling of the Presidential Primary from the June primary.  If decoupled, California would have three elections in 2008, with the Presidential primary costing about $90 million.  Since the Presidential primary is the big draw, turnout in the June election would be very low and the right-wing nut cases could ram through some very bad propositions.

S+13 is also interested in pushing another redistricting initiative that would go into effect immediately and be based on aging 2000 census data.  I think the idea of a measure on a potential February ballot loosening term limits was a "bribe" to get support for an early primary (the first of three elections) from the legislators so they could file in time for the June primary (the second of three elections).

Something smells rotten here.

This issue was brought up at my county's central committee meeting.  The idea of three elections in one year did not get a warm reception. A rep from one of our elected officials recommended that we write letters to our Assembly Members and State Senators on this.

Please join me in contacting our Assembly Members and State Senators to oppose this very bad idea.

Instead of moving to February... (0.00 / 0)
let's secede from the nation. Think about it:


By the way, a February primary is a good idea as long as we are not seceding

The Silent Consensus

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