Streetwise Professor

January 31, 2018

Hoist the Stars and Bars Over Sacramento!

Filed under: Economics,Politics — The Professor @ 7:56 pm

California voted overwhelmingly against Trump in 2016, and today, butthurt losers that they are, California’s government is now leading the “resistance” against him.  As described by its cheerleader–the all-but-unreadable Financial Times–it is taking up the standard for states rights in its resistance campaign:

From immigration, to tax policy, to internet regulation and environmental standards, a growing number of California policies confront or contradict federal policies — a test of states’ rights that will ultimately play out in court.

For example, a state Senate committee will discuss this week a measure that would in effect reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s new policy on internet regulation. The measure would require internet service providers in California to adhere to the net neutrality standards governing internet traffic that were enforced during the Obama administration, which had been supported by much of Silicon Valley.

Similar efforts are under way on tax, with a legislative proposal designed to partially circumvent the federal tax bill that was signed into law by Mr Trump in December. The federal bill raised the burden for many people in high-tax states such as California, because they will no longer be able to deduct state tax payments from their federal income tax return

Raise the Stars and Bars over Sacramento!

The tax issue is particularly amusing. Leftist bastion that it is, coastal California has been a huge proponent of soak-the-rich-taxation and income redistribution.  Except California’s rich. Soak other states’ rich (like where, Mississippi? West Virginia?), not ours!

More generally, California has been obnoxious in its use of its own economic heft to force its policy preferences on the rest of the country.  Regulations regarding automobile emissions and safety standards are a prominent example. California quite deliberately imposes standards preferred by its coastal elites precisely because it knows that automakers are not going to build cars that do not meet California standards for sale outside the state.

States rights advocates 1.0–in the South, pre-1861–were also notable for their highly situational–not to say hypocritical–adherence to this principle.  At the same time they breathed fire in denunciating even the prospect of Federal government interference with their “domestic institutions”, they demanded that the self-same Federal government enforce the Fugitive Slave Act and chase down escaped in states whose domestic institutions explicitly rejected slavery.

California’s most aggressive states rights stance relates to immigration, where it has basically said “nice little business you got there–shame if anything happened to it” to any firm in California that is even thinking about cooperating with Federal law enforcement of immigration laws:

The state’s top cop issued a warning to California employers Thursday that businesses face legal repercussions, including fines up to $10,000, if they assist federal immigration authorities with a potential widespread immigration crackdown.

“It’s important, given these rumors that are out there, to let people know – more specifically today, employers – that if they voluntarily start giving up information about their employees or access to their employees in ways that contradict our new California laws, they subject themselves to actions by my office,” state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a news conference. “We will prosecute those who violate the law.”

Becerra’s warning comes as fears spread of mass workplace raids following reports that immigration agents plan to target Northern California communities for deportations due in part to the state’s “sanctuary” law, which seeks to restrict local law enforcement agencies’ ability to cooperate with immigration authorities.

In essence, the State of California is avowedly nullifying Federal immigration laws, a la South Carolina and tariffs circa 1832.

In fact, California does some things that go beyond what the Gamecocks did 186 years ago.  The main mechanism in the 1832 Nullification Ordinance was a prohibition on state and Federal employees acting “to enforce the payment of duties imposed by the said acts within the limits of this State.”  California hasn’t attempted to impose its authority on Federal officials, but it has gone beyond South Carolina in its imposition of steep fines on private citizens who cooperate with Federal authorities. Why pick a direct fight with the Feds, when you can grind down the little guy?

This is beyond audacious, and beyond hypocritical for a political class that was largely an advocate for increasing the power of the national government–until it lost sway with the election of Trump.

Immigration has been recognized as the exclusive preserve of the Federal government since 1876, when the Supreme Court so ruled. This made sense even when people were less mobile–it makes all the more sense today. Yet California advocates nullifying Federal immigration law, and is willing to bring the full force of its own police powers to bear against anyone who flouts its nullification.  Somewhere in the nether regions, John C. Calhoun and Robert Barnwell Rhett are smiling.

No doubt any action to enforce its nullification laws would result in a legal challenge.  Given the realities of the 9th Circus, and a Federal judiciary that is willing to grant convicted fraudsters a “right to say goodbye” (heretofore undiscovered in almost 230 years of Constitutional jurisprudence), it is quite possible that the state will prevail in court–for a while.  But I can’t imagine that it would prevail in the end, especially when the broader ramifications of a “victory” dawn even on leftists.

For a victory would be a classic example of “be careful what you ask for–you might get it.”  California liberals might gloat at prevailing over the hated Trump administration, but the precedent would live on long afterwards, and provide a road map for other states (and even local jurisdictions) to thwart the Federal government even when liberals are in control of it–as California’s elite believes is the natural order of things, an order which has been violated by Trump’s presidency. Such an outcome, of course, would be a cue for California to go all situational and reject its current states rights position.

Which would prove yet again, as if further proof is necessary, that if politicians didn’t have double standards, they’d have no standards at all. Especially on the Left Coast (a phrase that is descriptive in more ways than one).



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  1. AS always, a cogent and insightful message found in these electrons. However, it would appear that the SCOTUS is going to take up the 10th amendment again, and try to reconcile the 10th with the federal supremacy political dichotomy this coming session. NJ vs sports gamblers should be an entertaining, if not enlightening judiciary tool on which to lay it’s hands. As for CA being an avante-garde state, and doing things their own way – this has been going on for a long, long time. Distance, and economic muscle give CA a certain amount of liberty that can’t be found in say – MD, or FL, or OH, where backwardness is more a function of the proletariat, and not the oligarchy found in Sacramento.

    The 10th amendment has for a long time languished in the shadow of the more visceral 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th. However, a clear reading of the 10th amendment could go a long way to stripping back the federal control over the states, and allowing things that CA is contemplating to stand. The 10th is – in it’s clarity a giant, heavy, dangerous monkey wrench which can twist the nuts off things like – immigration. Interstate commerce. Education(where the feds have started to tread dangerously). Social/cultural justice(liberal free speech good – conservative free speech bad, etc). Even international trade and policy.

    We know that the Logan act is a toothless tiger. No prosecutor with an ounce of constitutional sense would try to bring case under the Logan act. But – suppose Gov Moonbeam starts negotiating with – say, N Korea(that bastion of oligarchic utopia), or Kazakhstan, or Somalia? If the US immigration policies are not to be followed, and CA has several open ports, as well as several intl airports, what’s to stop CA from designing and implementing its own open borders system? Why have a federal at all, as the CA also has the larges state National Guard in the nation? Hmmmmm. This has been the danger of the 10th amendment all along, and why SCOTUS has taken a generally seen but not heard stance on it. Remember “those powers…” in the Constitution are frighteningly small, and that which is not a power defined therein becomes the purview of the states, and the people.

    Scary stuff! I think that within my lifetime, there will be another short and ugly armed insurrection, and coastal CA from about LAX up to the Golden Gate, and inland maybe 70 miles will be the zone of pressure. I lived there for many years of my life, and now that I’ve been gone for more than 12 years, I can finally see what a f@cked-up, twisted, and bizzarro land of whack jobs it really has become with the perspective of time and distance. The Coastal Eddy’s out there have been steeped in their own stew for so long, they are starting to believe that which is so cockamamie to the real world, that they fight for everything against the gain of their nation, and their brother citizens. I admit to bafflement, and am gobsmacked that things like a useless train through the desert is an actual ‘thing’ in the day and age of 500MPH planes. gulp….

    Comment by doc — February 1, 2018 @ 12:59 am

  2. In other news, Putin’s strategy to terrorize the West into submission seems to be working as expected:

    Comment by Ivan — February 2, 2018 @ 2:21 am

  3. One important difference between Californicession and the situation in 1830-1860 (or 1776) is that the California oligarchy hasn’t even considered the military strategic situation. Who will fight for the Bear Republic today? How do they expect to keep the port of LA open? How do they keep the electricity in Si Valley on? Do they really expect their National Guard remain loyal when sent against the inevitable insurrections inland?

    Comment by M. Rad. — February 2, 2018 @ 6:14 am

  4. Hey, in Illinois the state Democrats are doing the same thing. Sometimes with a complicit governor. Illinois is now a sanctuary state.

    Comment by Jeffrey R. Carter — February 2, 2018 @ 11:57 am

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