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Assessing blame for water price

Published in the Monterey Herald – July 31, 2017

Assessing blame for water price

By Lawrence Samuels

Special to the Herald

      A report from the Food and Water Watch has Cal Am water rates as the most expensive in the nation. Maybe. But who is really responsible for the high rates?

      The story began with a 1995 proposed dam in upper Carmel Valley. The dam would have been the lowest-cost alternative since the fresh water is already free, naturally. Moreover, the dam would let the river flow during the dry summer months to accommodate the steelhead salmon, red-legged frog and other important species. Easy peezy. But no, the radical environmentalists said that a desalt plant would be better, although far more expensive. The dam was voted down. The cost of water seemed to be unimportant.

     When the dam was no longer politically viable, the radical environmentalists changed their tune. No, the desalt plant would not do. As for the temporary government agency—the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD), explicitly organized to resolve our water problems—they seemed impotent to do much of anything. After spending around $100 to $150 million dollars to find a new water source, there was little to show. In fact, the taxpayers’ money spent by MPWMD would have provided the lion’s share of the funds to build a dam. Ironic.

     Other alternatives to provide water got the attention of Clint Eastwood, who offered to donate a large parcel of land for a reservoir near Carmel River in early 1990, a project called the Cañada Reservoir Project, which most people wholeheartedly supported. That is, almost everyone except the MPWMD that had elected a number of radical environmentalists who opposed the lower-costing water gift. The project died. Apparently, cost was again no object.

     It took the local city mayors’ Monterey Regional Water Authority to get a desalt plant off the ground after almost 25 years of do-nothing. But here again, the radical environmentalists sued, obstructed, and delayed in every possible way to stop the desalt plant. This pattern only increased water rates. And even if Cal Am had been a public entity, the water rates would be still be high, since the State’s court order forced the water provider to get customers to use less water, thereby making the production of water more expensive per gallon.

     So, what is the game plan of the radical environmentalists? We know they don’t like water because it might inspire some growth, despite the harsh restrictions against building anything in Monterey County. Maybe they simply want to show their political muscles by actually stealing the water company before they eminent-domain whole neighborhoods into wildlands, returning Monterey to its pre-Columbian days. But that would bring up another problem; water would be fairly cheap then, and the make-water-expensive crowd could never allow that.

     Lawrence Samuels is author of the 2013 book, “In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action.” He lives in Carmel Valley.

Using eminent domain against Cal Am is like stealing

Published in the Monterey Herald, June 29, 2017

Guest Commentary

Using eminent domain against Cal Am is like stealing

By Lawrence Samuels

In an effort to expand the government sector, Public Water Now not only advocates a buyout of California American Water, but if the water company refuses to sell, an expropriation of their business. This ideology of stealing has an ugly history that few people today would publicly support.

The story begins with Willian Lloyd Garrison, leader of the American Abolitionist movement that eventually led to the demise of slavery. Garrison was famous for labeling slavery “manstealing,” a word that connected enslaved labor with a type of stealing. At the time, most Americans saw stealing as morally wrong, so Garrison’s association of slavery with stealing was a powerful argument against the theft of a man’s time, life and assets. So, in this sense, the ballot measure proposed by the pro-eminent domain ideologues to forcibly seize Cal Am, is reminiscent of antebellum slavery.

Garrison was also a proponent of “self-ownership,” meaning that people owned themselves and therefore cannot be stolen and enslaved. He worried that if government itself attained the authority to legally steal, it could take anything by force. Government law had already given private citizens that power, but if government itself engaged in such authority, to legally steal people and their belongings, another kind of enslavement would rise. John Locke had earlier addressed this issue, warning that without private property rights the individual had no rights whatsoever.

There were numerous ideologies in the 20th century that opposed classical liberalism by promoting stealing in the name of community good; plundering nations and minorities. In fact, these collectivists from the 1920s-1940s believed that the state could take anything from anybody, even their labor. One such social justice militant in 1920 Germany demanded the “nationalization of trusts” (corporations) and “the common good before the individual good.”

Of course, the pro-stealing cohorts don’t like being victims of stealing themselves. They would rather be the stealer, not the stealee. So, to avert this dilemma, they seek political dominance with the muscle to impose their brand of utopia upon society.

Nonetheless, one could argue that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander? If stealing becomes acceptable, should we eminent domain Public Water Now supporters, confiscate their homes and bank accounts for the common good, bulldoze their buildings for public parks? Wouldn’t this be the appropriate karma?

But alas, this scenario would lead to a kleptomaniac society where nobody owned anything and the bigger the brute the greater his violent plunder. Fortunately, America was founded on the idea of equal treatment for everyone, which would include the owners of Cal Am. That should be the focus of Public Water Now, not its political demand to steal from others.

Lawrence Samuels is author of the 2013 book, “In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action.” He lives in Carmel Valley.

Not a Good Example of a Public Takeover

The anti-freedom, pro-eminent domain (stealing) crowd is trying to use the city of Missoula’s government takeover of their water system in Montana as a shining example of success. But it turns out that this is not the case. Letter below from the Herald exposes their fairy tale claim. – Lawrence Samuels

Monterey Herald – June 8, 2017

Montana not a good Example, public takeover a bad option

     This week, a group held a press conference to talk about a government takeover of Monterey’s well-run, sustainable regulated water utility. Numerous faulty claims were made despite the many lessons learned from other communities where promises of an easy condemnation takeover have resulted in a long, complicated, and expensive legal process, and, unfortunately, higher costs for residents. Activists try to use Missoula, Montana as a poster child for a government takeover, yet anyone who looks at the facts from Missoula wouldn’t tout it as a success story. In Missoula, take over proponents estimated that legal costs for the acquisition would total just $400,000, yet the final legal bill has skyrocketed to more than $6 million. The total cost of the acquisition to Missoula taxpayers will exceed $100 million, more than twice the amount the city previously offered for the water system. The Monterey community should look at the facts of what has happened in Missoula and other communities and not be taken in by the fairy tale version told by takeover proponents. California American Water has served Monterey for more than 50 years and is committed to working with the community to solve urgent water issues through innovation and investment.

--Michael Deane, Executive Director, National Association of Water Companies

Unions in Italy and Germany during the Age of Fascism

Much of the material below comes from my forthcoming book on the political spectrum. It was published by the California Policy Center (CPC), which is a public policy think tank located in California that is active in pension reform and education reform efforts.

Unions in Italy and Germany during the Age of Fascism

April 12, 2017/by L.K. Samuels

It might be surprising to some, but both Italian Fascism and German National Socialism were closely related to and supportive of trade unionism. Historically, both French and Italian fascism emerged out of a major trade union movement known as “revolutionary syndicalism” (syndicat means trade union in French), which first came into prominence in France in the early 20th century. It was spearheaded by Georges Sorel, a French Marxist, who advocated street violence and thuggery during general strikes to overthrow capitalism. In his own words, Sorel wrote that violence is acceptable if “enlightened by the idea of the general strike.”

But Sorel was no ordinary Marxist. As one of the intellectual heavyweights behind revolutionary syndicalism, Sorel was an inspiration to both Marxists and Fascist alike, including Benito Mussolini, who referred to him as his mentor. Mussolini idolized Sorel, claiming: “What I am, I owe to Sorel.” And Sorel returned the favor, calling Mussolini “a man no less extraordinary than Lenin.”

Mussolini’s affinity with trade unionism is obvious; he was not only a leader of the Italian Socialist Party, but according to historian Denis Mack Smith, a hard-core Marxist, who “once belonged to the Bolshevik wing of the Italian Socialist party.” Interestingly, Mussolini was for about six years both a Marxist and a Fascist leader. He founded the Fascist Revolutionary Party in 1915, supported Lenin’s October Revolution in Russia in 1917 and called himself the “Lenin of Italy” in the 1919 election. In other words, Mussolini was what I call a “Fascist-Marxist.” Not until around 1921 did he begin to pull away from Marxism, mostly due to Lenin’s unpopularity over the economic collapse of Soviet Russia’s economy that had caused massive unemployment.

The revolutionary syndicalist movement was well steeped in the ideology of Italian fascism. According to Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, a leading authority on Fascism, “most syndicalist leaders were among the founders of the Fascist movement,” where “many even held key posts” in Mussolini’s regime. In fact, Marxist-inspired “Italian revolutionary syndicalism became the backbone of fascist ideology,” which means that a large sector of the trade unionism birthed fascism—to be later known as Fascist Syndicalism.

As a union organizer and agitator who instigated strikes and violent riots against Italy’s invasion of Ottoman Libya in 1911–1912, Mussolini sought an economic policy that was “productivist” instead of “distributionist” to fulfill Karl Marx’s prophecy that a nation needed “full maturation of capitalism as the precondition for socialist realization.” Marx argued that only an advanced industrial system could provide the productive capacity for the proletariat to bring about their historical worker-state destiny. In other words, to progress to a fully socialized worker state, Italy required a high level of industrialization, which, during Mussolini’s time, was stuck in a mostly rural, poor and underdeveloped condition. To increase industrial capacity, Mussolini permitted Edmondo Rossoni, a well-known revolutionary syndicalist leader, to head Italy’s General Confederation of Fascist Syndical Corporations in an effort to equalize worker and employer power under a corporate syndicate structure. Rossoni and his Fascist syndicalists believe in “fusing Nationalism with class struggle” and that workers should eventually take control of all industrial factories, once they had “mastered the requisite competence to take command.” Mussolini’s opinions towards fascist unionism had a similar ring, saying: “I declare that henceforth capital and labor shall have equal rights and duties as brothers in the fascist family.”

National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis)

What about the National Socialist movement in Germany? The Nazis not only courted workers and unionism, but they even put “Workers” into their official party name—National Socialist German Workers’ Party. They appeared so pro-worker that the foreign press during the 1920s simply referred to Hitler and his socialist party as the “National Socialist Labor Party.” The National Socialists went out of their way to get workers support. In some cases, the Nazis even allied with the Communist Party of Germany, demanding better wages for workers. Hitler’s “brownshirts” and red-flagged Communists marched side by side through the streets of Berlin in 1932, and violently destroyed any busses whose drivers had failed in participate in the worker’s strike. In fact, the biggest voter contingency for National Socialist candidates came from German factory workers.

Soon after Hitler became chancellor he declared May Day of 1933 a paid national holiday and threw elaborate celebrations with songs, speeches, marches and fireworks. The Nazi’s slogan for this people’s community celebration was “Germany honors labor.” The prospect of national unity with the Nationalism socialist seemed so high that even the German Free Trade Unions encouraged their members to participate in the activities. After Hitler rose to power, the National Socialists became the quintessential worker state, eager to identify Germany as a “proletarian nation” that would struggle against “plutocratic nations.” After all, Hitler repeatedly lauded the virtues of labor, pronouncing in the Völkischer Beobachter that “I only acknowledge one nobility—that of labour.”

Despite slews of pro-worker platitudes by the socialist dictatorship, the reality was that the state was now calling all the shots. In the case of trade unions, Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini did not just outlaw labor unions under their regime; they nationalized them as would any good socialist. Of course, such nationalization would be in accordance with orthodox Marxist doctrine which demanded state ownership and control over all independent organizations. But they were even more draconian. They made membership in the union mandatory. As noted by Italian historian Gaetano Salvemini “In [Fascist] Italy and [Nazi] Germany the official unions have been made compulsory by law, while in the United States, the workers are not legally obligated to join the company unions but may even, if they so wish, oppose them.”

Hitler and Mussolini were simply imitating Lenin, who had earlier closed down all independent labor associations, factory committees and worker cooperatives, banned strikes, walkouts, and lockouts. Lenin even forced workers to work a slavish 80-hour week. After the Bolsheviks banned all labor unions, one unionist “described the unions as ‘living corpses.’” Any Russian worker who participated in general strikes was arrested, imprisoned or shot. Under Lenin’s regime, workers had no real representation or bargaining rights and were treated like industrial serfs who were chained to their factories. Although Hitler and Mussolini followed Lenin’s nationalizing craze, their treatment of workers did not mimic their Russian counterparts.

Of all the fascists, Hitler was vigilant in keeping many of his promises to labor. Under the newly created German Labor Front (DAF), the Nazis set high wages, overtime pay was generous, and dismissal of workers by employers was difficult to execute, but inflation and stricter labor laws eroded much of that advantage. Headed by Robert Ley, the German Labor Front preferred nationalized enterprises over privately owned companies since it held a bias against liberal capitalism. But its main mission was also to satisfy workers enough to prevent rebellion against both industrialists and the national socialist state.

In any event, following the Nazis’ “Socialism of Deed” ideology, all sorts of revolutionary new social and entertainment programs were provided to German workers via the “Strength through Joy” (Kraft durch Freude, or KdF), considered the world’s biggest tour operators. The KdF program, which was designed to provide affordable leisure activities, included such amenities as subsidized domestic or foreign vacations, parks, ocean cruises, construction of worker canteens that provided subsidized hot meals, factory libraries and gardens, sport facilities and swimming pools, adult education courses, periodic breaks, orchestras during lunch break, tickets to concerts and operas, no-cost physical education, gymnastic and sports training. The DAF-subsidized holiday vacations were so popular that by 1938 over 10.3 million Germans signed up.

But the debt was piling up. After years of Keynesian-style deficit spending for expensive labor and welfare perks, along with military spending, National Socialist Germany was at the brink of bankruptcy. Many historians, such as Götz Aly, argue that as Germany’s economy faltered, Hitler was forced to resort to military adventuring just to prop up his dying, bankrupt economy. The failing economics of socialism and coercion resulted in a horrific war that compelled the Nazis not only to plunder conquered nations, but to rob and liquidate minorities in order to pay for Nazi Germany’s exploding deficits.

Despite all of the special programs lavished on German employees and citizens, the DAF was still considered the most corrupt of all institutions under Hitler’s administration. Obviously, to mandate union membership and compel workers to pay union dues without recourse is a recipe for abuse and corruption. This is exactly what happened to the Nazis. Soon after Robert Ley took command of the German Labor Front in 1933, he freely embezzled union funds for personal use, despite an exorbitant salary. He lived high on the hog with a luxurious estate, a handful of villas and a fleet of cars. Ley was arrogant, often drunk, and prone to womanizing. He ran his department like a personal fiefdom, ordering around his subordinates and workers. He even secured bribes from party officials, politicians and industrialists to meet his high standard of living. Sounds familiar?

Conclusion

Many American unions, especially those of government employees, mirror the exact policies and tactics of Fascist syndicalism, giving employees little representation, especially as to where and how their dues are spent. Whether in Nazi Germany or America, when the state forces workers to pay a union bribe just to work in an industry, tremendous power has been transferred from the individual employee to a coercive collectivity—nothing short of how the fascist-socialists emasculated their workers. And this is where the distinctly American idea of freedom of choice has been abandoned to the violent thuggery and corruption that has shadowed many labor movements.

Sadly, today’s unionism is actually no different from yesterday’s Fascist syndicalism, where union bosses were officially granted a monopoly of power sanctioned and backed by governmental laws. Someday the American public will wake up and recognize these dreadful similarities, but will it be too late?

L.K. Samuels is author of In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, and a forthcoming book on the political spectrum. Much of this matter comes from his new book, which has over 1,000 footnotes by many of the leading experts on fascism.

Nationalizing energy without public consent

Below is my letter-to-the-editor in the Monterey Herald (Feb. 22, 2017) going further into the Trojan House scheme to nationalize an electric utility company.

I have been attending City Council meetings concerning Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) and it is worse than I thought. If the city or county joins this Joint Power Authority (JPA) agency, all clients of PG&E will be automatically enrolled in the MBCP program. People will be billed through PG&E, but the money will go directly to MBCP. If MBCP prices become uncompetitive, and you want out, you will have to pay a likely monthly opt-out fee. This is not a fair choice.

With PG&E hamstrung, the MBCP will become a government monopoly operated by 11 politicians without any outside regulatory oversight. Moreover, it will be virtually impossible for a city or county to back out. This ploy is exactly the type of nationalization that Mussolini would have imposed—no public election, no democracy, only deception.

Next comes the shocking kicker—prices will skyrocket because the MBCP wants to use mostly alternative energy which costs more. Under the guise of environmentalism, the MBCP will have nationalized electrical energy without the public’s consent. You need to call your elected officials and expose this scam, or this project will become an expensive Trojan Horse of historical proportions.

Trojan Horse: Monterey Bay Community Power

There are political forces that are trying to nationalize PG&E through the Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) program. The Monterey County Supervisors will meet this Tuesday FEB. 14 at 1:15 PM in Salinas (168 West Alisal Street) to let people have their say. The other side has already set up a phone bank to get their loonies to speak. We need people to oppose this proposed state-owned monopoly. I will be there to speak and hand out flyers. We need more speakers—each speaker gets 3 minutes. The MBCP program is an opaque ploy to slowly emasculate a private sector power company, making citizens beholden to bureaucrats, officialdom, politicization, and higher prices without a vote from the public. In fact, all customers of PG&E will be automatically handed over to MBCP lock, stock and barrel, without authorization or client choice. Yes, you can eventually opt-out of MBCP, but it will be difficult. The MBCP will eventually strangle PG&E through state subsidizes and legislation, becoming a full-fledged government monopoly with no outside oversight, no supervision by the California Public Utility Commission (PUC). They can easily jack up rates. They will have to since they plan to use only high-priced alternative energy. Plus, they will likely not allow new competition. What a scam! Guess who have been some of the biggest proponents of nationalization in the past? Benito Mussolini. His fascist government nationalized three-fourths of Italy's economy. And look what happened. (“Three-fourths of Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state.” – Mussolini boasted in a speech to the Chamber of Deputies on May 26, 1934) There will also be a similar meeting in the city of Seaside on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7:00 PM at their City Hall (440 Harcourt Ave.) They want all cities and the county to vote for energy nationalization.

Another scheme to destroy the working middle class -- letter to editor

Published in the Monterey Herald, Dec. 10, 2016

Another scheme to destroy the working middle class There is an active plan through Monterey Bay Community Power to have the government take control of the energy industry. The leaders of this scheme say it will cost nothing to have a local government agency provide an “energy choice.” They say there will be no taxes, no bonds, no cost to operate a costly system.

Oh?

Of course, we know there will be hidden taxes, no-voter-approved bonds and funds generated by taxes levied through national, state and local coffers, probably including Monterey County and the various cities. And what will this tax money be used for? Most likely it will pay for extremely high salaries, generous pensions and health care plans for the management and workers.

Since much of the money will come from taxes and fees, Monterey Bay Community Power can indeed claim lower electricity prices to consumers. Anybody can reduce prices when costs are secretly being paid by someone else: a slew of government agencies.

This is just another scheme to destroy the middle and working class, and socialize America.

— Lawrence Samuels, Carmel

It’s Party Time or Go Crazy! –Tuesday, Nov. 8

Since 2016 has been such a CRAZY election year, we’ve got to have an Election Eve Party or go Berserk! Sponsored by those dudes at the local Libertarian Party, Seaside Taxpayers Association and various workers on the No on Measure E, X, and Y campaigns. It is near the mouth of Carmel Valley, starts around 6 PM and Prof. David Henderson (NPGS) will provide lots of pizza. Others will bring cases of beer and other munches. Let me know if you are interested. Come and watch election results on a big TV screen while downing beer, wine and pizza.

Contact me (Lawrence Samuels) at: Lawsam1951@hotmail.com
We need to know how many crates of pizza to buy.

Statewide and Countywide Ballot Measure Recommendations

Below are the statewide and local recommendations for ballot measures from the Libertarian Party of California and the LP of Monterey County.

– Lawrence Samuels, Vice Chair

ELECTION 2016 -- Recommendations on Statewide Ballot Measures

At the August 6 meeting of its Executive Committee, the Libertarian Party of California considered the statewide propositions on the November 8 ballot, and took the following positions:

51 NO School bonds

52 NO State fees on hospitals

53 YES Voting on revenue bonds

54 YES Legislative transparency

55 NO Income tax hike extension

56 NO Cigarette tax increase

57 YES Parole for non-violent felons

58 NO Changes in bilingual education methods

59 No position taken Advisory vote on Citizens United repeal

60 NO Condoms required for adult film actors

61 NO State prescription drug purchases

62 YES End the Death Penalty in California

63 NO Extensive new gun control measures

64 NO Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) (While the Libertarian Party has been a strong supporter of ending marijuana prohibition for over 40 years, this proposition would do more harm than good, damaging medical availability, and creating additional criminal offenses and regulations.)

65 NO Directs grocery bag money to wildlife fund

66 NO Makes death penalty easier

67 NO Grocery stores can't provide plastic bags (referendum)

These recommendations are also posted on the LP California web site, at Ca.LP.org/measures

Monterey County Ballot Measures—LP of Monterey County

--Taxaholics Run Rampant in Monterey County

Measures A, J, L, O, W, Y: NO – Government greed knows no bounds. These measures levy heavy taxes on marijuana farmers in many cities and Monterey County, at rates up to $25 per square foot of farmed land, etc. Cannabis is already subjected to sales taxes. With high taxes and regulations, many growers will instead invade public parklands and illegally grow marijuana, threating the environment and hikers.

Measure E: NO – Tax for Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District. The MPRPD mismanaged the money from the last tax increase. Their former manager’s salary was more than the Governor of California, although he supervised only 16 workers. He is now making over $177,000 a year in retirement benefits. This measure has no sunset clause and the tax amount can increase without a public vote. See: http://www.montereypeninsulataxpayers.org/ballot-arguments/taxpayer-argu...

Measures G, H (city of Monterey): NO – Utility tax on cell phones, and the other measure will likely increase business license fees, which will be then passed on to consumers. Measure P (city of Pacific Grove): NO – Proposal to levy a 5-percent tax on non-profit organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Non-profits are always having a hard time getting donations to help the community. Why punish them?

Measure T (city of Salinas): NO – $167 million dollar bond for Hartnell College. Only one-third of the money goes to the college. Two-thirds will go to the bond company and bond-holders. When adding up the interest on the 30-year bond, the cost will be two or three times the original amount--$334 to $501 million dollars. Wasteful and unfair to taxpayers.

Measure X (TAMC transportation sales tax increase—countywide): NO – This tax will cost each taxpayer $1,400 for the term of the tax. TAMC was recently fined by the state of California over $800,000 for mismanagement. Federal funding through the recent “Fix America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act” will bring massive amounts of money for public transportation projects. We do not need both! See: http://votenoonx.com/

Measure Z (countywide): NO -- The oil industry in southern Monterey does not use chemical fracking. This is an effort to force fuel companies out of business. The problem here is that the extreme environmentalists also oppose solar power (Sierra Club sued the proposed solar plant in Lockwood, CA—and got $10 million) and wind turbines (kills birds). They oppose all forms of energy! Chevron already treats wastewater before putting it back into salt water aquifers deep underground. If wastewater was a problem, why do farmers and ranchers in the area oppose Measure Z?

Vote NO on Measure X

Measure X has enormous shortcomings. Sales taxes are highly regressive and will disproportionately impact low and middle-income residents. Plus, if this new road tax passes, many communities will be paying over a 10 percent sales tax.

One of the most important reasons to reject this new tax is that the recently enacted Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act guarantees a massive investment into American roadways with existing federal monies. The infusion of money into our local road infrastructure during the next 5 years will dwarf what measure X could collect, rendering it unnecessary.

The Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) should focus its efforts on collecting those dollars from the federal government instead of greatly expanding its mission into becoming a taxing and bonding agency.

Another annoying fact is that TAMC, like most government bodies, use huge amounts of taxpayers’ money to support its proposed tax increases. Moreover, TAMC was recently fined over $800,000 by the State of California for mismanaging its procurement contracts. Why give more money to an agency that has a habit of wasting taxpayers’ money?

Taxes on gasoline at the filling station pumps are more than enough to pay for road infrastructure and repairs. But politicians instead spend gasoline-generated taxes on non-road projects. This is why they need want more of our money.

More Info. on Measure X: http://voteNOonX.com/