Toothless regulations in topless bars: California and the U.S. are in the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic. Every day, more Americans are dying from the disease than the number killed on 9/11. ICU capacity in Southern California is reportedly at zero percent. Countless Californians are about to have their worst Christmases ever.
Yet policymakers must resist the temptation to make matters worse with unnecessary restrictions on safe business activity. There doesn’t seem to be a clear correlation between economic shutdowns and contagion. So California business owners are doing their best to earn a living.
This week, San Diego County announced it won’t enforce Covid-19 restaurant closures after a judge ruled on Wednesday that bureaucrats can’t use Covid restrictions to close two local strip clubs:
San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil, who previously granted a similar temporary restraining order for Cheetahs Gentlemen’s Club and Pacers Showgirls International, wrote in his nine-page ruling that the state of California and San Diego County have not provided evidence tying the spread of COVID-19 or lack of intensive care unit bed capacity to live adult entertainment or businesses with restaurant service.
The Wall Street Journal this week showed how some California business owners are coming up with creative solutions to stay in business without breaking the law:
Rodney Worth has had to shut down five of his seven restaurants in the Bay Area as sales plummeted while he complied with California’s lockdown orders. In order to help save the other two, he recently decided to flout the spirit, if not the letter, of the state’s latest ban on outdoor dining. He left chairs and tables outside his restaurant Peasant and Pear and had customers pick up their own food at a reception desk, rather than serving it to them, because takeout is still legally allowed. “I’ve never broken a law in my life, but I’m in survival mode right now,” Mr. Worth said….
“We are the sacrificial lambs to the Covid gods, because we are not as politically influential as the multinational retail stores,” said Fred Jones, legal counsel for the Professional Beauty Federation of California. He estimates that one-fifth of his organization’s 53,000 member businesses have closed this year. Many of the beauty salons that remain open, Mr. Jones said, are providing services in a black market. Rosey Ibarra said she is still seeing hairdressing clients in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale because she otherwise would face bankruptcy….
“The economic impact of Covid can be way more harmful than the physical impact,” said Brandon Brocia, owner of The Eatery restaurant.
Government unions are calling for a broad lockdown: Yet in the bizarro world where California’s government unions operate, the current restrictions on business and socializing are not strict enough. This week, government unions called on state and local officials to implement a fuller lockdown of Los Angeles County and its 10 million residents in January. As the LA Times reports:
The union coalition called for what it described as a “circuit breaker” in a letter Wednesday night to the county Board of Supervisors and in an online petition. The letter demands stricter health orders, stronger enforcement and an infusion of aid from the state and federal government to keep workers and their employers afloat….
A main organizer of the union initiative was the teachers union, which also represents nurses, counselors and librarians in Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest school system. ”Let’s be clear — we are not in a real lockdown,” said UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz.
Biden eyes a bad pick for Education Secretary: President-elect Joe Biden is reportedly considering union boss Lily Eskelsen Garcia as his Secretary of Education. If nominated and confirmed, Eskelsen Garcia would be the most anti-school choice Ed Secretary in U.S. history. Tens of millions of American families who can’t afford to move to a wealthy zip code would be consigned to their failing public schools under an Eskelsen Garcia reign. As CPC Education Director Cecilia Iglesias noted in a statement this week:
Eskelsen Garcia as Education Secretary would amount to the fox guarding the henhouse, as she would implement her radical union agenda for American schools under the guise of “investing” in public schools. This strategy has failed a generation of kids. Parents and students must demand a nominee who supports school choice, the best educational hope for students failed by teacher union leaders like Eskelsen Garcia.
Biden eyes a bad pick for Labor Secretary: Biden is also reportedly considering Julie Su, the head of California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency, as his Secretary of Labor. As any California employer will tell you, Golden State labor law is a minefield. The labor code is over 1,000 pages and filled with bureaucratic minutia that only unions and trial lawyers could love. Why export this economic ball and chain nationwide?
Consider something called the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), a unique California labor law that deputizes ordinary employees – and, more importantly, their attorneys – to play the role of the state labor commissioner and sue employers over arcane labor law violations like not putting the employees’ address on a paycheck, allowing employees to work through their breaks and finish their shifts early, and not factoring in bonuses to base rates of pay for purposes of overtime. PAGA has scalped thousands of small businesses in the state, while enriching trial lawyers. As anti-PAGA warrior and LA-area businessman Tom Manzo writes in a recent Morning Consult op-ed:
[In addition to presiding over California’s broken unemployment insurance system, Su] also stood by for years while countless California businesses were unfairly targeted by lawsuits under the Private Attorneys General Act, a California law that encourages extortionate behavior by trial attorneys. That means businesses already struggling during the current pandemic are exposed to these harmful and often frivolous lawsuits. The LWDA’s failure to properly review all PAGA claims has directly led to the current broken system.
The Oracle of outmigration: Last Friday, the technology giant Oracle, a Fortune 100 firm, joined the parade out of Californians moving to Texas. New migration figures show that California is losing its resident population at a historic rate. Between mid-2019 and mid-2020, there was an overall net migration loss of 135,600 residents. As demographer Joel Kotkin writes in City Journal this week:
The corporate exodus accompanies a human one. The state’s population, notes demographer Wendell Cox, is now virtually stagnant, with more people leaving and fewer people coming. Millennials, particularly as they ponder family formation… are following a similar pattern. Today, suggests Cox, California, once the ultimate land of youth, is now aging far faster than the rest of the nation.
Hell for Swalwell: On the latest episode of National Review’s Radio Free California, CPC President Will Swaim and board member David Bahnsen discuss how the entire time he was blasting Trump on Russian involvement in U.S. politics, NorCal congressman and House Intelligence Committee member Eric Swalwell knew he had spy problems of his own.
Will ballot measure success entice more political investment from big biz? In his latest analysis, CPC contributor Edward Ring discusses how big businesses and tech companies were able to defeat government unions in the ballot measure matchups on Election Day: “The real story on November 3 is that California’s tech moguls, and big business, in that order, are willing and able to spend California’s unions into the ground when they decide that’s what is necessary to protect their interests.”
The indirect correlation between teacher wokeness and real knowledge: In his latest piece, CPC contributor Larry Sand highlights how schools are putting a higher priority on teachers’ political correctness than teaching skills: “At the same time educators have gone woke, between one-third and just over half of teachers grades K-12 have not received any training on civic education, and just one in five social studies teachers in U.S. public schools feels prepared to teach civics, according to a recent Rand Corporation study.”
One less eye on California’s clucking hens: Today marks the last day of publication for Fox and Hounds Daily, a widely read California conservative blog that has done much for the cause of freedom and liberty in the Golden State over the last 12.5 years. Editor Joel Fox chalked up the decision to a lack of resources. Its loss will be felt. We hope Fox and Hounds readers will migrate to the Cal Policy Center blog, where we’re also keeping a watchful eye over California’s government unions and the politicians they fund.