Smugness on Parade

By Montecito Journal   |   March 15, 2018

The Hollywood crowd must be asking why the Oscar’s ratings continued to decline again this year? Why is it that more people don’t want to watch a bunch of glitzy starlets with boob jobs and drunk on their own self-importance trying to impress each other? Could it be that they can’t help themselves from using their 10 minutes of fame to spout their political views and crow about being more liberal than the next one? 

Many people in Hollywood are no doubt hard-working and certainly many are incredibly talented. I don’t mind seeing Joe Set Designer and Millie Makeup Artist get an award. Probably well-deserved.

But many of those big-name actors who started as children often don’t even have a high school education. And yet they somehow feel qualified to tell the rest of us what we should think and sometimes even how to vote. Do they have any idea that common, decent Americans hold these narcissists in low esteem? The only people they now impress are bored housewives and star-struck teenage girls and themselves.

Michael Sanchez
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Funny about all this, as it wasn’t that long ago that my wife and I held an annual “Academy Awards party” at our house; we are not in the business but have friends who are or were. Over the past decade, however, our interest in all things Hollywood has waned and we barely watch the show any longer. We are not alone, as much of the industry has written off a large section of its once ardent movie fans. – J.B.) 

Share Your Love of History

Become a docent to learn – and teach visitors – about Casa del Herrero, Montecito’s only National Historic Landmark.

The Casa is looking for new people to join its group of engaged docents. The training program begins with an orientation and informal tour of the grounds, followed by 10 weeks of lectures about the Casa’s fine and decorative art objects, architectural history, and horticulture.

Upon training completion, new docents will be able to lead guided tours with confidence in their knowledge of the estate. Classes start [Thursday] March 29. Contact Nichole Takeda at (805) 565-5653 or to learn more about this opportunity.

Jessica Tade

Use Reclaimed Water

Just read your editorial on rebuilding Montecito (“A New Montecito,” MJ # 24/10). This is the perfect time to install pipes for reclaimed water that would be used for irrigation throughout Montecito. I don’t know the exact percentage of potable water used to irrigate Montecito’s gardens; I believe it is between 70 to 80 percent. The benefits of installing pipes for reclaimed water would go a long way in securing an affordable and reliable water supply to Montecito.

Patrick Hall
Santa Barbara

First- Versus Third-Party Cases

A number of you have inquired about my opinion on third-party cases and the various lawyers who are representing Montecito clients in those cases. As previously mentioned, there are two types of claims that can be filed arising out of the fire and mudflow damage. 

The first type involves first-party claims filed with your own insurance companies. The second type involves third-party claims filed against defendants alleged to have been one of the causes in the damage. Both of the above types of claims can be filed. Neither is exclusive of the other.

The scope of your recovery in a first-party claim is determined by the coverage, exclusions, limits, and deductibles of your own insurance policy contract. The law requires that first-party claims must be fairly evaluated and fairly paid, without unreasonable delay. Your insurer owes a duty of good faith and fair dealing to you, it’s insured.

The scope of your recovery in a third-party claim is open-ended. You can recover for all damages actually caused by the third party. Not subject to the kinds of limits, deductibles, or exclusions that apply to first-party cases. However, a third-party defendant does not owe you a good-faith duty. It can delay, act unreasonably, and in evaluating claims can put its own interests ahead of your interests as a claimant. And, you have to prove fault that the third party has done or failed to do something that caused or contributed to the loss.

My firm is agreeing to handle selected first-party claims but not third-party cases. Because of the fact that some law firms are alleging that there is third-party liability, and because I want to oversee what is going on in those cases, I have explored the situation. Including who is alleging what; what their track record in such cases is; and whether they would accept my oversight on the handling and settlement of Montecito cases.

For now, I suggest that you withhold making any decisions or signing any representation agreements with anyone. If you have already signed such an agreement that may not prevent you from reconsidering, but if you have not done so, you may want to wait for my input. 

Ray Bourhis
Montecito/San Francisco

Looking for Help

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one completely confused by President Trump’s recent imposition of 25 percent and 10% on imports of steel and aluminum. Since Montecito is home to a great many successful and knowledgeable business thinkers, I’m asking if they can help us mere mortals more clearly understand President Trump’s advanced thinking. I can hardly wait to hear other’s thoughts on all the benefits soon to come our way.


(Editor’s note: I don’t agree with much of the following, being among those who agree that the U.S. has made some really stupid trade deals [Ross Perot’s comment regarding the “giant sucking sound” of job losses to Mexico after NAFTA was signed into law became reality]. I also believe President Trump is a “free trader” but is looking to impose “fair trade.” 

However, Jeff Harding is our resident capitalist and professes some expertise on the subject, so his response, which follows, likely represents the opinions of many:

President Donald Trump just opened the first salvo in a trade war by imposing tariffs (taxes) on steel (25%) and aluminum (10%). It won’t end well.

Trump has a long-standing hostility to free trade. He recently tweeted, “The United States has an $800 billion Yearly Trade Deficit because of our ‘very stupid’ trade deals and policies. Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more.”

His ideas on trade are, unfortunately for us, based on ignorance. He believes that when we buy things from folks in other countries that our economy suffers. That concept is pretty far from reality.

Here is what a “trade deficit” is: if you buy something from someone and that person doesn’t buy something from you, you have a trade deficit. Foreign trade is the same thing but between people in different countries. It is a meaningless number because both parties benefited from the transaction: the seller received your money and you received some goods. Win-win. If trade deficit accounting included the value of the goods you bought, it would balance out. Also, you should know that these dollars always come back to America as investments in our economy or to buy federal debt our politicians create by overspending. And, “countries” don’t have trade deficits: “countries” don’t buy and sell things, people (or companies) do. 

The argument raised against this trade with foreign sellers is that it is “unfair” because “they” didn’t buy anything from “us.” Or, because “they” have cheap labor. Or, because “they” are dumping goods on the market at below what they cost to make. Or, because “they” are getting richer and “we” have to borrow money from them. Because of this “unfairness,” American jobs are lost and we are in debt.

If only.

You only hear these arguments from inefficient manufacturers and their unions who are afraid of competition and the politicians who are awarded their votes. Almost every economist, left and right, understands that free trade is a boon to all nations who participate in it. Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations (1776) refuted protectionism (then known as mercantilism) and demonstrated that free trade among nations creates greater wealth for all those involved. History has proven him right.

If free trade is so bad, then why did President Trump tweet a couple days before he announced the tariffs that, “Manufacturing growing at the fastest pace in two decades!”; and “Jobless claims at a 49-year low!” You can’t have it both ways.

The beauty of free trade is that we have manufacturers all over the world competing to satisfy our needs. It makes sense that some manufacturers can produce things more efficiently than we can here in America. Economists call this “comparative advantage.” These lower cost imports translate into lower cost products for us consumers. As a result, we have more money available to buy more goods, or to add to our savings, or to invest. One could argue that lower cost imports are helping the economy on its road to prosperity. Everyone benefits.

Well, except for American workers of inefficient steel companies. But foreign competition is only one factor in the long decline of American steel jobs. The main driver of lost manufacturing jobs, including steel, is technology. Investment in automation and computers and software has increased productivity and fewer workers are needed to make things. The result has been positive: American manufacturing output, adjusted for inflation, has increased 40% over the past 20 years. But technology and innovation are nothing new. The history of business is that old industries fail, new industries rise, and more jobs and opportunities are created. No one laments job losses from the decline of VHS, Beta, CDs, and 75-pound TV sets.

Protectionism is all about politics, not economics. Politicians like Trump only see the losses. They don’t see the benefits of trade, they only count the votes. There are 327 million Americans and only 140,000 steel workers. Who benefits from tariffs on steel imports and who suffers?

It is the rest of us who will suffer from protectionism. If imported steel costs 25% more as a result of Trump’s proposed tariff, then, all things being equal, consumer products will ultimately cost more. Because of that, consumers will have less money to spend on other goods, and the economy will slow down. Even worse, it is likely that steel-producing countries facing these tariffs will impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports to their country. Exports are a significant 12% of our GDP and account for almost 11 million U.S. jobs. These are the kinds of things that cause recessions. Even worse, Trump’s misguided policies could start a trade war, which was one of the major causes of the Great Depression. Everybody loses.

We’ve been facing foreign competition since the late 1970s and our economy keeps growing. If China wants to restrict U.S. imports or subsidize its inefficient producers (dumping), it is Chinese consumers and taxpayers who will suffer, not us. 

Yet President Trump seems oblivious to the risk. A trade war is one of the most dangerous things now facing our economy. The rise of economic nationalism and trade barriers are a threatening echo of the 1930s, and we all know how that ended. – Jeff Harding)

Good Words

Awesome comments in the Letters to the Editor (MJ #24/10). Just started reading the letters and such emotional recollections, past and present. Words don’t do it and thinking good thoughts for all.

Jean von Wittenburg

(Editor’s note: We certainly do have a good number of very intelligent readers. – J.B.)

Gracious and Warm

I have been enjoying all of Sigrid Toye‘s columns, but I particularly want to thank her for her wonderful article about the two new school superintendents at MUS and Cold Spring School (Meet the Supes, MJ #24/10). I am a Cold Spring School grandparent. My grandson is in Lisa Ishikawa‘s kindergarten class. (“Mrs. Ish” is another treasure, but that’s another article for another time).

I don’t know Mr. [Anthony] Ranii at MUS, so with apologies I can’t speak about him. But I do want to say that Amy Alzina is every bit as wonderful as Sigrid’s article attests, and then some.She walked into a situation no one could ever have imagined. It has been incredibly difficult in an ongoing way, and she has handled it with grace and warmth and professionalism. We are so lucky to have her.

Jill Finsten 

In Search of the Source

Regarding your assertion, in response to William Lancaster’s letter (“Voters In Peril,” MJ #24/10), that “more than 103 percent of all inner-city Philadelphia registered voters marked ballots in the 2016 election,” do you have a source that might be considered more authoritative than “as I recall”?

It’s a bold claim, with maybe a wee dog-whistle embedded in the “inner city” reference, so it would be good to know that there’s a factual basis for it. With luck, if you have a source, it will be more reliable than the nonsense that vote-suppression specialist and Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach is struggling to present in the trial going on now in Kansas City, where’s he’s once again demonstrating that someone acting as his own attorney has a fool for a client.

Thanks for the Journal’s very valuable local coverage over the past three dreadful months, particularly online. It’s been a great resource to this community.

Cotty Chubb

(Editor’s note: So far, we’ve been unsuccessful in finding the source of that info. I do believe that, while it may not have been all of Philadelphia, many Philadelphia precincts reported voting in excess of the number of registered voters but have not been able to find confirmation… yet. You are correct in asking for a factual basis, and I should have had one handy before putting such an assertion in print. – J.B.)

All Fired-up

I’ve lived in Santa Barbara most of my life. I often hiked in the mountains behind Montecito. I watched Channel 3 all during the Thomas Fire. The TV cameras showed a lot. One thing I noticed was the absence of the Super Scooper water dropping planes, until the last couple days of the fire. They hold a lot more water (1,600+ gallons) than the helicopters, except for the Quebec 247 helicopter at 2,650 gallons of water. The planes have a quick turnaround time for their water drops.

Where were these planes?

I was thinking they were sitting in some hangar down in L.A. These planes should have been activated right after the fire started but were not. I heard it was some kind of budget and red tape issue. I think if these planes and the Quebec 247s were activated sooner. the outcome of the fire may have been a lot different. The fire may have never reached Santa Barbara County. Nothing can be done now, but maybe if there’s a next time, let’s get these planes and big Quebec helicopters in the air. What’s the price tag on people’s lives? There is no price tag. At a recent lecture at the Santa Barbara Library, it was said that if the mountains behind Montecito hadn’t burned, there would have been no mudslides. My condolences go out to all the people affected by this fire and the mudslides.

Bill Henderson
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: You are correct, of course: without the fire, there would have been no mudslide. – J.B.)

Baby Talk

I, like David McCalmont, wish Katy Perry a terrific shove-off into motherhood (“Good Luck to Katy,” MJ #24/9). Somehow, Katy’s anticipated maternal endeavor reminds me of Howard Hughes taking time out to show the world that the Spruce Goose could indeed fly, that the thing was more than just a showpiece. If one were to Google “Katy Perry baby” one might notice she’s been talking baby for nearly 10 years. The conversation has become so routine, it’s like grandpa promising to get his split tooth fixed. And husband  number 2 will be an Englishman too? I guess it all makes sense, England being such a Utopia.

Matt McLaughlin
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Haven’t followed the baby conversation, but did hear Ms Perry sing at the recent Ash Bash at Pat and Ursula Nesbitt‘s place in Summerland and have to admit that the lady has one impressive set of primo pipes. – J.B.)


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