Pop Fizz Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is back to harassing the majority to pander at interest groups.

Related:

Starting in July, the mayor has decreed that cash, consisting of cotton with no intrinsic value and subject to the whims of an unconstitutional, unaudited Federal Reserve that is appointed to manipulate the money supply, must be accepted at all* city businesses or they will be fined as “discriminatory.”

Perhaps because they gave more money to his campaign, certain industries are exempted, of course:

[P]arking lots, garages, and businesses who sell goods through a membership model – such as gyms – [are] able to continue operations as normal.

And guess who’s back under the microscope by daring create jobs from the efficiency of cashless transactions??

Councilman Allan Domb said Amazon issued a warning that they would re-consider implementing an Amazon Go store in the city if the bill passed.

[…] Amazon Go stores have no cashiers and only accept digital forms of payment.

Admittedly, the jobs will be for filthy, NSA-style behavior monitors leering at you through surveillance cameras as you negate your cashless Planet Fitness workout with a cheesecake cupcake. WE SAW YOU BRENDA GET BACK ON THE TREADMILL.

According to Tech Crunch, the store’s 100ish cameras track your body movements, but employ no facial recognition. Yet.

How is Philly’s recent push for “universal pre-K built by soda drinkers” shaping up, anyway? Likely, with generous curves.

MarketWatch reported in January on a four-year Stanford University study of Philadelphia beverage sales (including two years prior to the start of the shake down). Scanning the paper turns up some good nuggets, from the mayor’s spokesperson admitting the main objective was to raise cash, not improve health (justifying the taxation of diet drinks, but not sugar-laden juices), to the mayor’s initial demand of $0.03/ounce that was trimmed to $0.015.

While the tax successfully moved some sales to just beyond the city limits, [t]he 46% reduction in quantity sold of taxed beverages [in city limits] leads to an equivalent percentage reduction in tax revenue relative to the case where consumers continue to consume at pre-tax levels.

Also, there was no increase in the city’s sale of untaxed beverages (like water), and the artificial drop in consumption (since people just stepped outside the city to buy soda or Gatorade merely hit by sales tax, not an additional sweetened beverage tax) was decrease[d] less in low income (and high obesity) neighborhoods.

[…]

After taking into account cross-shopping, the total demand reduction is equal to only 22%. We do not detect a significant reduction in calorie and sugar intake.

Read more here:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/residents-of-philadelphia-found-a-novel-way-around-the-citys-unpopular-soda-tax-2019-01-11

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3302335

*

The California Bullet Train has been delayed again by governor Gavin Newsom (below, left). Perhaps to preempt bad publicity that his family was too good for the historic California governor’s mansion in Sacramento (which Newsom reportedly ditched after holing up there for three weeks so $4.1 million in renovations could wrap on his new crib in Fair Oaks), the newly-minted Democrat, via a “State of the State” publicity appearance, bemoaned that completing the $100 billion disaster, begun during the George W. Bush administration under outgoing governor Jerry Brown, “would cost too much and take too long.”

Newsom and ex-wife Kimberly Guilfoyle

California will complete just the leg between Merced and Bakersfield (for now?). The original plan to link San Francisco and Los Angeles with a “bullet” speed locomotive was sabotaged from the beginning by pressure to slow down and stop in politicians’ backyards, as even far-left Vox pointed out:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/2/15/18224717/california-high-speed-rail-canceled

Also,

[California] set about to construct the segment connecting Bakersfield and Merced, two smaller cities in the middle of the state, as the initial segment. The idea was basically that a Bakersfield-Merced high-speed rail was so obviously ridiculous that nobody would be content to build just that and end the project, so future governments would go find billions of extra dollars somehow.

Did Newsom intend to cut his losses?

“Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it […] And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”

Guess what. The evil orange man has attempted to cut off massive federal funds ($929,000,000, which is actually a fraction of the tens of billions the completed slog would consume) towards finishing the train.

Trump tweeted that California owed the federal government about $3.5 billion for the canceled project. “We want that money back now,” he wrote. “Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”

The Department of Transportation indeed announced they seek to recoup $2.5 billion granted for fiscal year 2010. (The 3.5 billion figure comes from 929 million + 2.5 billion = way too much to spend on a vanity project.)

“I can’t recall of any precedent,” [sic] said Art Bauer, a longtime state Senate Transportation Committee staffer who was deeply involved in the early planning on the high-speed rail. “They never claw back money. They are saying you are not getting money we committed to you.”

[our emphasis]

Incidentally, CNN argues Trump cannot repossess the funds appropriated to California High-Speed Rail Authority by Obama’s
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They need only
complete a 120-mile high-speed train track for the “initial central valley section” by the end of December 2022.

No actual trains required! Not unreasonable expectations for thirteen years of heavily-subsidized “reinvestment” in a failing industry.

Newsom bitched that Trump pulling the project plug after the Governor indicated he, himself was mostly pulling the plug constituted retaliation.

“It’s no coincidence that the Administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the President’s farcical ‘national emergency,’” Newsom said in a statement, referring to Trump’s emergency declaration to secure funding for his wall on the Mexican border. “The President even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”

Earlier in the day, Trump had declared on Twitter, “The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!”

*

The Governor continues to lay down some statist policies. According to Inside Higher Ed,

Newsom is calling for a $10 million investment into a data collection system that will track Californians from kindergarten all the way into the work force.

[our emphasis]

According to Ed Source reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn, the governor’s January budget proposal publicly proposed a new layer to the state choke hold on young citizens’ prospects:

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6788865/Philadelphia-city-ban-discriminatory-cashless-stores.html

https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/21/inside-amazons-surveillance-powered-no-checkout-convenience-store/

https://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Gavin-Newsom-Sacramento-Fair-Oaks-home-13556456.php#photo-16816028

https://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickgleason/2018/12/14/jerry-brown-leaves-california-with-100b-train-debt-as-texas-pursues-its-own-rail-boondoggle/#7bbfc012b65d

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-gavin-newsom-high-speed-rail-train-scale-back_us_5c632372e4b0a8731aeae3d0

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/19/politics/california-high-speed-rail-cancel-grant/index.html

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-high-speed-rail-20190219-story.html

https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/just-visiting/dont-do-it-gavin-newsom