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Is the state trying to regulate small businesses into insanity?

You have to wonder if it’s the goal of Sacramento lawmakers to see how much business will take before snapping.

That thought occurred to me as I was standing at the counter at the Mitchell Road Carl’s Jr. on Thursday afternoon and explaining to the manager that her business would have to stop watering that berm of nice green turf. New state mandate, I explained. Bless her heart, she said, “but it’s not turf, it’s grass.” Same thing, I replied.

Oh boy was her response.

I was handed my soda cup and walked over to the soda bar. There was a sign that read: “As of June 1, the state of California single use service item policy changed. This is a courtesy notice regarding the new policy that any utensils, straws or condiments are to be requested by the customer.”

I wanted to let out some expletives.

There were lids out but I had to go ask for a drinking straw?

I was so livid that Sacramento would dictate how a straw is handed out. If this isn’t an example of state government overreach I don’t know what is.

Later in the day I learned that all cemeteries will be mandated to replace all gas-powered commercial mowers and trimmers with electric ones. Remember they also want to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035 – if the state doesn’t start electing people with common sense until then. Never mind that the state’s electrical grid can’t handle the load we already have and Democrats refuse to build any new dams that could be harnessed for CLEAN hydroelectric power.

I’m frankly surprised some San Francisco Democrat hasn’t mandated that we all have to weigh our excrement and keep records to report the data so they can tax us on the volume of waste we produce.

* * * * *

Gene Yeakley has been asking for some kind of apology for the council allowing a host of his neighbors to attack him at the May 9 Ceres City Council meeting.

Yeakley stood up at the May 23 council meeting to say the council should have stopped some of the speakers who called him out for reporting loud parties and music, squawking birds and other disturbances. He repeated his request for an apology last week and got one. Councilman James Casey offered his apology for what took place on May 9. That was a nice gesture but the others don’t issue the courtesy of a reply.

* * * * *

You don’t need to be a journalist to realize inexcusably biased news reporting when you read it. Take the MSN report posted last Wednesday, titled, “Pro-Trump Republicans’ primary wins raise alarm about US democracy.” This article by Lauren Gambino was so pointedly off the mark that you have to wonder if she’s on the payroll of the Democrat National Committee.

Her first paragraph reads: “In pivotal primary races from Nevada to South Carolina on Tuesday, Republican voters chose candidates who fervently embraced Donald Trump’s lie about a stolen election, prompting warnings from Democrats that US democracy will be at stake in the November elections.”

Really? Republicans chose Republican candidates solely because they believed in the notion of a “stolen election”? How does one even come to such a screwball conclusion?

What is this nonsense about “democracy at stake”? If Republicans win by majority rule – and not cheating – is that not democracy at work?

Ms. Gambino may be so far removed from the reality facing most Americans with massive inflation, plummeting stock market and product shortages. Maybe – just maybe – those Republican voters (and some Democrats I am sure) enjoyed the prosperity under Trump. Companies were returning to American shores, taxes were lowered, interest rates were down, black unemployment was the lowest ever and needless to say gas prices were about half of what they are now. Maybe that’s why pro-Trump voters liked Trump.

I can stomach Trump’s ego and “mean” tweets all day long – I’d prefer that he never made them in the first place– if it means American prosperity again. I can endure an egomaniac proclaiming he’s the greatest in everything – like the late Muhammad Ali – any day if it means we have more freedoms. As it stands, Americans may have committed the biggest blunder in history when they dumped Trump for Biden.

We are on a collision course for economic disaster with a certain recession on the horizon!

* * * * *

My dream as an average, hard-working common-sense Californian would be to have a governor and state Legislature to govern with common sense on a part-time basis.

Not that he’s running but Vince Fong would make a great governor. Bakersfield born and raised, Vince is a Republican state Assemblyman from Kern County and vice chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. The 42-year-old earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and master’s from Princeton University. He has a lot of common sense, which is the least I can say for Gavin Newsom.

Fong gets that policies from the governor and Democrat-controlled state Legislature are killing the average Californian.

Read what he said about the recent Newsom budget: “This budget is incomplete and unsustainable. It is kabuki political theatre to meet a Constitutional deadline, and Californians should rightfully be frustrated. It is a framework that does not deal with the state’s pressing crises.

 “With nearly $100 billion in surplus, the proposal before us today does not address critical and core crises facing the state – from a devastating drought to historic inflation to catastrophic wildfires to a potential crippling power shortage.

 “The average family is paying $5,200 more for the same amount of goods as last year. Rising prices are crushing family budgets.

 “An average gallon of gas cost $6.43 – that’s about $100 to fill up a tank for many California commuters. There’s nothing in today’s proposal to bring immediate relief for commuters. No gas tax suspension even though there is bipartisan agreement.

“These are not small issues. 

“There needs to be political will to solve California’s crises.

“Let’s be honest. We will be here throughout the summer to vote on more budget bills – budget bills that magically appear without transparency, without accountability, without public input.

“There must be more transparency. More public participation. More hearings and discussion. California’s budget is too important to exclude input from all sides.”

* * * * *

If you think food is expensive now, more bad news came recently from Smithfield Foods which is shutting down its California plant because the state has become unaffordable in which to operate. Smithfield Foods spokesperson Jim Monroe said “it’s increasingly challenging to operate efficiently there.”

This is the largest pork processor in the country and they are scaling back production!

Why are costs up for Smithfield? Chain supply problems, lack of labor, record-high inflation, soaring grain prices because we are importing a lot of our wheat from the Ukraine now fighting a war with Russia; and utility costs being 3.5 times higher per head than the 45 other plants. Oh, and factor in that ridiculous Proposition 12 which voters passed in 2018 requiring that food processers confining pigs and sows must have adequate spaces for the animals to lie down and move around. That also pushed up production costs.

* * * * *

Have you ever noticed how Democrat lawmakers are quick to run to the rescue of college students with debt, illegal immigrants without health insurance, and fast-food workers with higher wages but they don’t seem to give a flip about the working stiffs who cannot afford to put gas in their tanks to get to work to help pay for all the freebies Democrats hand out? It’s mind blowing.

The Democrats have stifled any Republican attempt to pass a gas tax holiday to lower gas prices in the Once Golden State while they sit on a $100 billion budget surplus. A bipartisan group of lawmakers suggested suspending the gas excise tax for one year and ensuring gas companies pass 100% of the savings on to consumers. Democrats (minus Adam Gray) voted the proposal down.

Democrats act like they care, calling for an investigation into why Californians pay more at the pumps than they used to and encouraging companies to stop “unfairly increasing gas prices.” Strange language coming from a group that won’t suspend the gas tax of 53.9 cents per gallon come July 1. It’s easy for them to tell gas companies to drop their costs but won’t do it themselves.

On Monday Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher issued the following statement in response: “If Capitol Democrats were really doing everything in their power to lower gas prices, they would support our call to suspend the gas tax and halt the scheduled July 1 increase. Californians don’t need another dead-end study, they need relief now.”

* * * * *

I don’t think I’m being unreasonable when I say that President Biden is either delusional or totally trying to mislead people. At his address to the AFL-CIO, he said “I don’t want to hear any more of these lies about reckless spending.” He went on to say “we’re delivering the biggest drop in deficit in the history of the United States of America.”

Dan White, the senior director of Moody’s Analytics said: “The actions of the administration and Congress have undoubtedly resulted in higher deficits, not smaller ones.”

And consider that our national debt is now at $30 trillion! When Reagan left office in 1989 it was $2.1 trillion.

When Biden took office on Jan. 20, 2021, inflation was 1.4 percent, but today is raging at 8.6 percent. Home mortgage rates were at 2.6 percent, now they are up over 6 percent. And real wages that were up 4 percent in 2020 are now down 3 percent the past 12 months.

The biggest drop in deficit was due to spending less money on the COVID crisis and not because of any action taken by Biden. In fact, it was Sen. Joe Manchin and the Republicans in the Senate who refused to spend an additional $3 trillion on Build Back Better, with Manchin noting that inflation was out of control due to reckless spending. Incidentally, the White House Office of Management and Budget projects that 2022 will have the third largest budget deficit in American history at $1.4 trillion.

The inflation we have today is a result of massive spending of the American Rescue Plan. Inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods.

Even with his sometimes embarrassing tweets, Donald Trump was more of an adult in the room that Biden and his cackling “I did inhale” veep.

* * * * *

The Left has pushed this narrative that kids should be able to identify with whatever gender they feel. Biology is hard to ignore but progressives have been pitching science denial by saying there is more than male and female genders and kids should be given hormone blockers and other drugs to reinforce their twisted and confused thinking.

I saw a meme that lays out some basic common sense. It was a quote attributed to the comedian Bill Maher: “If kids knew what they wanted to be at age eight, the world would be filled with cowboys and princesses. I wanted to be a pirate. Thank God nobody took me seriously and scheduled me for eye removal and peg leg surgery.”

* * * * *

As mandated by the federal government, Stanislaus County recently did its Point in Time count of homeless and the results were hardly accurate or dependable.

The Stanislaus Community System of Care (CSOC) released its Point-In-Time (PIT) homeless count identifying 1,857 homeless persons in Stanislaus County as of Feb. 24. That number was down by 1,070 from last year’s figure of 2,927. Don’t be fooled. The 2021 count was a partial estimate and a number of factors affected the new count. Fewer homeless people were found because of the freeze on the morning of the count (Feb. 24). Another factor: sweeps of homeless camps were conducted prior to the count and outreach and engagement teams were unable to locate them.

Empirically we know the numbers are up. County officials would like nothing more than to see the homeless numbers drop but those of us who see what’s going on knows the numbers are going the other way. It probably exceeds 3,000 by now – the equivalent of nearly four times the population of the unincorporated town of Hickman near Waterford.

The homeless are now everywhere – some even living in the landscaping strips of Modesto’s Village One where homeowners pay high assessments to keep that area looking well groomed. In Turlock and Modesto the encampments in trenches along Highway 99 are environmental and blight disasters. In the airport area north of Ceres they have been setting fires along the river that have cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in firefighting costs.

Last week, as I walked beneath the Service Road overpass to get a photo of the abated wrecking yard, I was startled to see a shirtless man passed out in a nest of debris and cardboard. The leathery man – I’m assuming he was passed out on drugs – didn’t stir once from the crunch of gravel under my weight.

Last night on the way home an obviously able-bodied man, matted hair and shirtless, was standing on the center median at a stoplight with a sign begging for money. Despite this being illegal, a Modesto cop rolled right past him. Police don’t want to deal with this problem.

This morning on the drive to the Courier office, a disheveled woman was in the roadway, giving me a ghoulish stare.

You probably have your own encounters.

Indeed, the homeless numbers are growing everywhere and if Gavin Newsom thinks this is acceptable, I would like a new governor. What the state is doing isn’t working and quite frankly it’s depressing to see this happen.

California has 161,548 homeless among 39.35 million residents but I’m betting that number is woefully underestimated.

Literally millions of our taxpayer dollars are being spent and little results to show for it.

Newsom’s Homekey program of buying up motels and spend millions to rehab and house homeless is like putting a Band-Aid on cancer. Maybe the state should consider building large-scale homeless camps with cheaper temporary shelters and relocate to them the bombed-out-of-their-mind zombies now tweaking and screaming about the public landscape. How does anyone think this is acceptable that a so-called cutting edge state has to endure this?

This column is the opinion of Jeff Benziger, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or 209 Multimedia Corporation. How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at