Politics- Geography matters!

I just returned from a week long trip to the west coast. I had alot of fun and got to see a large part of California including San Fransisco and Los Angeles. I also was in Las Vegas, Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.Obviously on vacation I wasn’t able to blog because I was so busy. I got home yesterday and literally slept for 20 hours. However, now that I’m well rested and been able to contemplate about my travels; I’ve come up with an idea for a post. In the spirit of the upcoming primaries in California and spending time in California with locals. I realized that California has its own set of unique political issues. I knew before that California was in a drought. I knew before that it was the most populous state in the nation. California is absolutely huge. This post will first detailed the water situation in California and the absurd taxes in California. I will explain how a solution might look if politicians ever get their act together. I also want to preview the nomination race for both sides because two clear winners are emerging.

If you aren’t aware already then you should know that California is in the midst of a four year massive drought. A drought by definition is the lack of something, in this case water. But the word drought could be used in a sport context, for example, the New York Jets have a 43 year drought of Superbowl appearances and wins. (This example makes me very angry) So how bad is the drought currently? Well, the answer depends on where you live in California. Here is the link to a website that keeps track of drought conditions in California. If you click on the first picture, its a picture of California with different colors representing the severity of drought. The darkest red indicates that an area has an exceptional drought. According to this website if you scroll down, it captions the picture with a breakdown of the percentages: As of April 19, 25% of the state is under severe drought, 28% under extreme drought, and 21% under exceptional drought. Its well known that if you live in California there are many different restrictions on water use. For example, I experienced the short showers (low water pressure) and the restriction or ban of watering lawns. Water usage is carefully monitored with fines for going over.

If not having enough water was bad enough then Californians have it even worse with their taxes. Here is a breakdown of the taxes there:

For single and married filing separately taxpayers:

  • 1% on the first $7,850 of taxable income.
  • 2% on taxable income between $7,851 and $18,610.
  • 4% on taxable income between $18,611 and $29,372.
  • 6% on taxable income between $29,373 and $40,773.
  • 8% on taxable income between $40,774 and $51,530.
  • 9.3% on taxable income between $51,531 and $263,222.
  • 10.3% on taxable income between $263,223 and 315,866.
  • 11.3% on taxable income between $315,867 and $526,443.
  • 12.3% on taxable income of $526,444 and above.

A 1% surcharge, the mental health services tax, is collected on taxable incomes of $1 million or more, making California’s highest marginal rate 13.3%.

Now compare that with the tax rate for neighboring Nevada. Nevada is known for its tourism in Las Vegas. I would encourage everyone to go to Las Vegas at least once. Its a really awesome experience. Nevada has low taxes due to tourism. Its not like California doesn’t have tourist, its just that Nevada also has a lower population. Its still pretty crazy to see the differences.

Personal income tax

The Nevada Department of Taxation does not levy a state income tax.


Sales taxes

The state sales tax in Nevada is 6.85%.

Counties can assess option taxes as well, making the combined state and county sales taxes rate in some areas as high as 8.1%.

If you look at California’s sales tax its very similar about 7.5 percent. New York is also on the same level as California tax wise. However, Nevada is a very tax friendly state. Of course there is a lot of factors that make it possible. It’s amazing to think that tourism funds pretty much the whole state.
So the real question is how can we fix California’s water problem without raising taxes any higher? I think the answer lies in using some libertarian views. For example, re-working the state budget to cut out unnecessary government spending. Many of the social programs could be privately funded. Once the budget to cut down to a minimal amount of spending then you have room to pay for a fix to the water problem. The main issue in California has not been the way to fix the drought but how to pay for it. I believe that the easiest and probably most expensive way to fix the drought is through desalinization. The basic process of desalinization is the removal of salt from the sea water. California sits next to the biggest ocean in the world. The pacific ocean has plenty of water. California just needs to build the appropriate amount of desalinization plants to offset the lack of natural water. These plants are costly to run because of energy consumption with 264 gallons costing approximately a dollar. You can learn more here.
I feel like this solution may be costly but there is no immediate fix for either global warming or the current lack of water. California may not have a choice soon. Even with the extreme water conservation, which I believe should be kept in effect. If they actually try desalinization, then the goal should be to store as much water as possible. If the plants get too expensive then water storage could ease the costs. For example, run the desalinization plants for 8 months to store up water. Then shut them off for six months. If they cycle an on and off pattern, it could potentially cut costs of running them all the time.
***
Let’s transition into some nomination politics. Currently it looks Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will win the nominations. Of course, there is still a few major primaries to take place such as California. However, even with sweeping victories by Bernie Sanders or Ted Cruz, there is little chance that either candidate will win. With that being said, its almost time to look forward to the general election. I think that Clinton will have a significant advantage in the general election because of voter base and her political name recognition. Clinton makes one of the most intriguing candidates not because of her politics but because she could be the first woman president. She also is insanely corrupt and scandalous. As for Donald Trump, I think that he is doing something that no one expected. I have even heard from his advisors that Trump himself didn’t really think he would be this successful. In the end, I think that Clinton can easily make people forget shes a corrupted politician. Trump will be unfortunately tied to his controversial comments on abortion, women and Mexicans. Ultimately, there is always a chance of something unexpected happening.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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