Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Told You So

It would be nice to read articles like these that validate things I have said before, if it weren't for the fact that the validation takes the form of drought and water shortages.
"The demand for water has gone up," Christy says. "The demand has skyrocketed in places like California and New Mexico because they've tried to grow crops in deserts."

Unclear what we will do about it. The farm lobby is very powerful in California, but they can't create water from thin air.
“Given that agriculture accounts for about 80% of Delta water consumption, no economic, environmental, or policy assessment can be complete without a serious examination of agricultural water withdrawals from the Delta,” said Heather Cooley, senior research associate at the Pacific Institute (original article)

Maybe rice and alfalfa aren't such great crops for California after all?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Where My Tax Money Goes

I often have discussions (or perhaps gripe sessions would be a better term) with Jon and others about where all my tax money goes. With sales and income taxes that are both among the highest in the nation, and property tax to boot, it feels like we're getting dinged at every turn.

So, after a little coffee-time debate at work, I decided to harness the power of the internet and find out. What I found were these links.

First, a study of the California total tax burden versus that of other states concludes that while we pay more than the national average in taxes, it's not a lot more (11.5% versus 11% average for the nation). This article on wikipedia argues that prop 13 has had a disruptive effect on the state economy by making it more advantageous to hold on to your property than to sell it, thus chilling the housing market in many areas.

As for where the money goes, the Governor's budget office has a nice income/expense graph. This shows that, for all their complaints, schools get about 41% of the state budget, with the next biggest item being health services at 25%. Bond funding isn't shown on this graph, elsewhere I found a figure of $4.4B, which would put it at around 3% of the budget. Corrections is also a big chunk of the budget at 7.3%.

However, all of this may be moot if the legislature can't break the deadlock and come to some agreement on the state budget for next year; otherwise the budget for everything will be zero.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Goodbye Performance Review?

Article by a professor and management consultant that performance reviews are counterproductive. Given the way they are run at most companies I've been in, I'd have to agree -- the good managers I had either glossed over the performance review process or ignored it entirely.