Tag Archives: economy

Remember When Holidays Were Sacred?

In the quest to make a buck, retailers are open on Thanksgiving Day. It has been over four years since I wrote my previous column. I do not expect people to not shop on Thanksgiving, but what about family? It used to be 5-10pm when we were originally open, now it is 4pm-11pm. I think in the next six years the store will be open 24/7 until Friday at 11pm like how the Ontario Mills is open at 10pm on Thanksgiving and closed 10pm the next day. Sadly our competitor that is building a new store across the street will be closed on Thanksgiving, but at least they have good taste compared to other retailers these days.  I implore people to shop online on Thanksgiving and consider shopping on Friday or even Saturday depending on personal preference.  There has been numerous petitions to encourage businesses to reconsider their plans to be open that day, but frankly they will not listen unless people stop shopping.

When my father did retail in the 1970s, stores were closed on New Year’s Day, now they are open that day and people do not think twice that stores are open on New Year’s Day. It makes me hoping I can escape the retail industry and become a public school teacher soon. I have two more semesters left in my program and I am hoping to have a decent future. Perhaps with California’s tax and spend future the economy will crash so I will just learn to hold the line on consumption.

Equality Should Be a Bipartisan Issue

Its unfortunate that Republicans basically oppose anything positive to LGBT people, even though Democrats sadly chase away businesses where they are moving to Texas and overseas for their business needs. I feel frustrated that Democrats may kill the business climate in California, but Republicans fail to understand that they do not live in Alabama.

No matter if it is Seth’s Law (AB 9), FAIR Education Act (SB 48) or Foster Youth: LGBT Cultural Competency (AB 1856) Republican Party legislators generally run from these issues like the plague even though there is more acceptance of the community in our state and nation.

Since equality organizations sadly put their eggs in one basket, it helps to create the climate where the Republicans do not want the votes from equality supporters. Due to Top 2, equality supporters can make a difference. We could vote for the less noxious of candidates when it is a two Republican race and make these candidates fight for our votes.

I am not expecting politicians to suddenly becoming allies overnight, but as what Bob Dylan wrote awhile back, “The Times They Are A-Changin”. I do not really want to vote for Norma Torres, but I feel like voting for the Republican Kenny Coble will be a tough sell for me. Sadly with no ability for a write-in vote I will leave my vote blank.

I want a politician that will help bring back business, leave our state in fiscal sanity and respect me as a person. If he or she can not support something as simple as Seth’s Law or make foster care a welcoming environment for youth who get rejected by society, then how can I trust them? I do not want to wait for California to end up declaring bankruptcy before we get Republicans embracing equality, but maybe that is what will need to happen.

As what I have stated earlier, politics is about addition. If Republicans openly want support and votes from equality campaigners and Latino voters we might see California finally shining again.

Bring Our Local Economy Back To Life

Ontario, California’s airport is on a downward spiral all thanks to its owner the City of Los Angeles which manages our local airport. Airlines are reducing flights and flights are generally more expensive than flying to LAX.

An airport helps drive the economy of a region, without a vibrant ONT we will not have the ability to improve our economy to the fullest.

Local control of Ontario International Airport is vital. Now is the time to join the movement to Set ONTario free.

Feel free to visit their Facebook page to find out more information and LIKE it.

A Reflection on Student Loans

After I graduated in 2003 I was on auto-pilot. I was not ready for prime time after I got my degree from UC Riverside. I applied for graduate school but the people who were supposed to sign my letters of recommendation never bothered to and they never had the fortitude to tell me they were not going to sign them. Maybe it was a good thing that I did not go to graduate school then.

It took me five years to realize I should enter the teaching field, but the economy crashed and it took me another two years afterwards for me to start on my subject tests so I could enter a credentialing program. When I passed my second out of third subject test I was thinking I should start the program now.

I realized that Cal Poly Pomona needed extra requirements such as prior involvement in education like how the plumbers union asks only asks friends and family members of plumbers in order to get in. So I investigated Western Governor’s University. It sounded great that I could do most of my coursework at home at my own schedule mostly, but they had some prerequisites before I was able to start the process. So I got delayed for a good year and a half in trying to meet the prerequisites that I finally met.

Now the cost of college is going up thanks to congress and President Obama. I put both sides at fault because President Obama blew the piggy bank and Paul Ryan is too austere for his own good. I do recognize that it costs six billion to fund the subsidy, but if progress can not be made we can meet each other halfway at 5.1 percent.

I am expected to borrow $10,000 and with the unsubsidized rate it is going to be a regressive 56 bucks in interest each month. Perhaps I am spoiled by my fixed 2.875 percent rate from my degree I am still paying for, but if tax cuts for the wealthy do not need to be paid for how come student loan subsidies have to be paid for? At least with my low yet reasonable rate I am still able to pay down that loan abet slowly.

I understand we want people to follow their dreams, but dead end degrees cost both the taxpayer and the student big time. Not all degrees are dead end degrees, but if the student is not going to do much with the degree then we are going to cause more problems in the long run. One of my Facebook friends is a big advocate of the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics fields where if you enter in a field that has ties to these sectors you will do very well. History or Sociology may not give people the big pay, but I would not be as selective when people choose bachelor degrees in various humanities fields.

When we have limited resources we have to make sure we can give people the maximum opportunities for the least possible price. I would like to see better counseling services so we can maximize the opportunities for both the students and the taxpayer. We need to ask students the big question, what profession or what job opportunities do you expect if you obtain this degree? It may be nice to have a barista at Starbucks that you can chat about Election 2012 with, but that is a waste of potential.

I would like to see the student loan system restructured to state, the more you borrow the higher the interest. Borrow from 0 to 15k in a year you would get a 3.4 percent rate, anything from 15001 to 30k would be like 4 percent, anything 30001 to 50k would be 5 percent, and 50001 and above would be 6 percent. So if you borrow 16500, the first 15 thousand would be at 3.4 percent and the last 1500 would be at 4 percent. The more you borrow, the more you would need to pay.

And since we can not escape these loans with bankruptcy, we should make these loans easier to pay off. We do not want to cripple people to where they end up causing more trouble than they are worth. And we give banks lower rates than students, what a crime.

Disneyland Is Simply Unaffordable Again

Disneyland decided to do another price increase for their park, maybe they are trying to recover money for the flop John Carter that was released earlier this year. I did lament the price increases in 2008 in an earlier blog post. However, the price will rise to $87 on May 20th. Going to Disneyland seems more of a pipe dream for me since I last visited fifteen years ago for 40 dollars a ticket. I know Disney wants to get Californians to buy a yearly pass, but for casual tourists who may want a full days visit  it does not seem like a good deal. Frequent visitors may just visit 2-3 rides and just go home, but the casual visitors who spend a whole day there end up buying food and drink and gifts which should help the bottom line just as much.

I do lament the fact that I did not visit the park during the register your birthday for a free ticket promotion, but perhaps they should have a feature where if you have a family member buy a ticket at full price, you can get in for free on your birthday where they would still make the money.

California Adventure is still under construction where a good percentage of the park is in limbo and they still ask for full price as well. Maybe as a concession, they should charge $59 for California Adventure until most of the new rides and attractions are up and maybe they could help boost attendance at the same time, while keeping customers happy.

I guess we have countless entertainment options such as sports events, music events or even going to Las Vegas for some amusement. Disneyland’s price increases remind me of Jerry Brown’s fiscal policies, raise fees to get revenue and then get less revenue in the long run.

Sixteen Billion Ways to Be Ambivalent

It seems California is now in a sixteen billion dollar budget deficit instead of an expected nine billion dollar deficit and Governor Brown wants to make sure cuts are not going to be as austere so he wants voters to pass the tax increase that Republicans will refuse to approve since they have the 2/3rds veto for tax increases.

Proposition 25 was expected to be the solution to get our legislators to pass budgets that do not have kabuki tricks that have such rosy projections where the amount of legislators to pass a budget bill was going to be lowered to 50 percent plus one, but legislators still passed budgets with accounting tricks because they did not want to sacrifice their paychecks when Democrats and political consultants used the threat of not passing a budget on time with legislators not being paid.

Democrats pass a budget in 2011, State Controller John Chiang refuses to pay the legislators because the budget violates another proposition passed by the voters in 2004, Proposition 58 “The California Balanced Budget Act”. The budget legislators passed in 2011 did not balance revenues and expenditures and state legislators ended up suing the State Controller to get their money that was withheld and a judge sadly sided with the legislators to state that the legislators not the State Controller are the arbiters if a budget is balanced because Chiang overstepped his powers.

So we have a budget that gave us ten billion dollars in the red and now it is sixteen billion. Problem is we have a government dominated by the public employee unions where heads would literally be scalped if they went against the wishes of the labor unions. Voters got bamboozled thanks to a judge who gave what the Democratic Party wanted, no checks and balances to make sure legislators passed a balanced budget. Then the Democrats added Trojan horses where they could add tax increases and other revenue enhancers without the voters being able to use the referendum to overrule them such as bills that tie into the budgets.

I know the Democrats want to raise taxes to pay for the public services we value, but how much taxes is enough to feed the emaciated sow of the SEIU, CTA and CCPOA? We threaten voters by stating that the shelter animals will be culled if we don’t pay the taxes, we threaten voters by stating that state parks will be padlocked, but it might have to take some tough leadership to make things right.

I have not been comfortable voting for Republicans because I am afraid that they will want to enforce their social issues instead of focusing on the pocketbook issues such as Senator Huff’s attempts to undo LGBT youth civil rights legislation. However it might take one or two elections where we will send the legislators such as Norma Torres who represents my district out of Sacramento and if candidates such as Kenny Coble end up focusing on theocracy instead of economy I will be happy to throw him out of office.

Maybe it might take the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers association to make a proposition that repeals Prop 25 because we absolutely got scammed and since we did not prepare a proper budget, the Democrats helped to cause this misery that we will end up enduring. My idea for a compromise is a 60% vote for budgets and tax increases and a rule that we stop using baseline budgeting and make zero-based budgeting the rule of law in Sacramento. I would also add a clause that pays the legislators minimum wage instead of no pay. Lastly I would remove the Trojan horse provisions that prevents voters from overturning egregious provisions with referendum passed by the legislature as well.

Continue reading Sixteen Billion Ways to Be Ambivalent

Transportation Options Should Expand For More Students

The Go Smart campaign has been a successful effort to help get cars off the road and help encourage new customers when the subsidy wears off when students graduate. When I was reading a flyer promoting the Go Smart program it did not openly advertise that in 2013, that college students will be paying full price if they do not belong to a Go Smart program participating campus.

There is one issue that Omnitrans transportation planners and the board fail to recognize that there are students who attend schools such as Cal Poly Pomona and UC Riverside which would still appreciate the student price or some savings in their fare. Perhaps we could do what Riverside Transit does and offer a youth fare that would be the
current student pass and keep the college fare at five bucks more than youth monthly pass. So I would suggest 35 for student, 40 for college (adult student).

Providing opportunity to help people get to their school or workplace is an investment. Discontinuing the student fare for non participating go smart institutions would be a huge disservice. Encouraging more people to utilize Omnitrans services would be a better goal. Offering passes to those who have a valid course of study at San Bernardino County private colleges such as University of Redlands or public colleges that Omnitrans customers travel to such as University of California Riverside would be a plus. I remember traveling from Ontario to Riverside three times a week going to school without express bus connections like the RTA Route 204 which could of made my life easier.

I hope that an Omnitrans executive or a board member from the agency reads this posting.

My letter to the UC Riverside Chancellor

What happened at UC Davis does lead towards hostility which came to UC Riverside. Yes, there are people who helped led to these riots, but its the UC system. This activism (peaceful and violent) has happened since the days of the 1960s for better or worse.

I may not be living in an utopia like the far left folk who want free rides, but fees going upto 20k a year does frustrate us all.

From prior experiences for the last five years, I think the best idea might be web conferences. No matter what campus the UC Regents meet, it should be done via teleconference because demonstrations are going to happen until we get back to stable fees that the average Californian can afford.

It might mean we might have to pare down the layers of administration, maybe have a 30% Online, 70% in campus degree program to save on costs. It might mean begging the state legislators to be pro-business so we can bring forth the revenue to make UC affordable instead of taxing our way to salvation.

Student Loan Default Protest Counter Productive

The people involved in the occupy movement are working on a misguided effort to sink the credit ratings of those who participate in this protest. However there is one way we could share the message to the colleges and governments about the increasing costs of education and how they pass the buck with student loans. Do not enroll for a semester. If we make the schools empty, then that would also spread a message.

I think the best solution is personal responsibility, if you can not pay the loans off in a reasonable fashion or at least pay half of the cost back you should reconsider the program you enroll for.

Borrowing 100,000 for a BA degree is silly if you are not going to have the ability or future potential to pay the fees. Yes, we need to reasonably fund our state universities. Fees went up 125% since I last went to UC Riverside. Yes, I believe we should not give free rides entirely. However fees should go back to 7 or 8 thousand instead of 12 thousand for the University of California as an example.

Basically all I am asking for is people to borrow what they can reasonably pay off. I know student loan debt is a crippling burden and the legal rules stating that students can not declare bankruptcy makes it hard for students to write off this debt. I think limiting how much students can borrow in exchange for being allowed to declare bankruptcy after all avenues are exhausted would be a good idea.