Let me state right up front that I love living in California. I’ve been to almost every state in the country – 44 out of 57 – and have loved
almost all of them. Between the weather, beaches, and mix of rural with urban areas, California is my favorite.
That being said, usually my state is a cesspool of political nonsense that quite regularly boggles my mind. Every rare once in a while, however, something wonderful happens. This last week was one of those times.
Last week I learned of a new statewide program that encourages residents to snitch on their neighbors. The state runs a website that allows citizens to anonymously report suspected excess water usage by their neighbors. Authorities will then investigate and bring charges or fines This is sheer genius.
As everyone knows, California is mightily suffering from a water shortage. Usually it’s described as a drought, but that is only part of the problem. To be sure, rainfall over the last few years has been well under average and the state’s reservoirs are at perilously low levels.
The water shortage is due to far more than just a lack of rainfall. The state hasn’t built any new major reservoirs or dams in decades. During this time, of course, the population has dramatically increased.
Furthermore, much of the water the state does have has been flushed into the Sacramento River delta in order to protect a protected baitfish. In an attempt to balance the salt water from the San Francisco Bay with the freshwater from the Sierras, so that the finger-sized delta smelt can successfully breed and live, massive quantities of water is released, ultimately flowing into the Pacific.
It would be insane to try to address either of these two issues, of course. No one wants a huge dam and reservoir in their backyard; and focusing precious water on a valueless fish that is perilously close to extinction is an obvious priority.
Hopefully, the state will expand this snitch-site to include various other offenses, as well. I’ve seen neighbors put recyclables in the wrong container, or put up political signs calling for less spending in Sacramento. I’ve even seen some picnicking on foods that are well outside recommended health guidelines. All of these people should be reported and a website portal would be an awesome tool.
A report about a statewide green jobs program also came to light this week. The results of this program are so successful that not only does the state need to double (or triple or quadruple) down on it, it should probably be rolled out nationwide, as well.
Three years ago a ballot measure was passed to increase taxes on corporations. As we know, corporations have all of this extra money that they withhold from everyone, and the state set up a scheme to get it.
Half the money raised was to go right into the general fund and the other half to pay for energy efficiency projects in the state schools. So far, almost $600 million has been raised. Unfortunately, that is only about 65% of what was anticipated, but that just means that the legislators need to come down even harder on businesses, forbidding them from adjusting to the tax code in order to unpatriotically avoid taxes.
The good news is that 1,700 jobs have been created! The creators of the ballot measure forecasted about 33,000 jobs, but that is a senseless metric by which to evaluate the program. 1,700 is way more than 0 and by that measure, it’s a success.
Furthermore, more than half of the $297 million spent by the schools has gone to consultants and energy auditors. Clearly, those business owners are thrilled with these results. Naysayers point out that the money was supposed to go to actual projects that result in actual energy savings for schools, but I think that’s a faulty perspective. The important point is that money was spent and that some people were on the receiving end of it. Again, success.
The final awesome thing about it is that the program’s success has been so obvious that the accountability board that was created to oversee the program hasn’t even had to meet yet. They were supposed to meet several times a year. My thought is that if there were a problem, they would have met to discuss and solve it. The members of that board probably have far better things to do, like looking after their energy consulting or auditing businesses, and that’s got to be good for Californians.
Is California great or what?