Denying Dana

By Montecito Journal   |   August 30, 2018

Dana Newquist stated in the latest MJ (#24/34) that the Montecito Sanitary District is “dumping partially treated sewage water just off shore at Butterfly Beach.” This is a false, slanderous statement. Secondary treatment is treated to the same level as tertiary treatment, but the salinity is modulated to match the ocean salinity. Tertiary is the recycle treatment for land irrigation use.

Didn’t I just make this correction last week when it was made by a Water District candidate? This is worse because it is being made by a Sanitary District candidate. It is obviously a slate talking point being mindlessly repeated for optimum effect. 

Dana Newquist has never attended a Sanitary District meeting.

Judith Ishkanian

(Ms Ishkanian is president of the Montecito Sanitary District.)

Why Not the Best of Both?

Jeff Harding (The Capitalist) offered a critique of Senator Bernie Sanders and his followers in the latest issue of the Santa Barbara Sentinel. He accused them of supporting a system of socialism that is a known failure. He said they just want free stuff.

Do you like public schools? Public safety services like fire departments and police? Are you happy we had a military to help win World War II? Do you use the Internet? Public roads? Do you appreciate having Medicare and Social Security? These are all “socialist” programs that operate outside of free markets.

On the other hand, do you agree that free markets can generate wealth and can improve efficiency and offer a range of choices?

If you said yes to both sets of questions, congratulations! You are like most people in this country. You recognize the value of government and of markets. In 2014, Bernie Sanders laid out a 12-point agenda that drew wide support across the political spectrum.

Those issues included: investing in public infrastructure; reversing climate change through investments in sustainable transportation and energy; universal healthcare through Medicare for All; strengthening unions through a democratic “Card Check” system; expanding public education to include college; restoring the progressive tax system to increase wealth equality.

He chose these issues because they will improve the lives of all Americans. And because they all poll at 65 percent or higher, regardless of party affiliation. Corporate media endlessly covers “wedge issues” that divide us. But on most issues that really matter to most Americans, there is broad consensus.

But I would like to say a bit more about “socialism.” Sometimes, great wisdom comes from the court jesters of our society. A couple of years ago, Amtrak had some terrible accidents, mostly caused by a lack of funding for well-established safety systems. This funding repeatedly had been blocked by Republicans.

Bill Maher asked why do Republicans hate trains so much? He explained that it is because trains are funded in part through tax money. “Whereas freeways are natural geological formations.”

The fact is, government has always picked winners. Jon Stewart pointed this out as well in 2012. Not only does government subsidize private motor vehicles and air travel far more than bicycles and public transit, he noted. He also noted that he was glad we picked a side to win in World War II.

Most people have no idea how much winners are picked in our supposed “free market.” We often hear of Americans’ “love affair with the automobile.” Using bikes and public transit is for weird people in Europe.

Do you have any idea how much we subsidize people to use automobiles? This Sierra Club fact sheet “America’s Autos on Welfare” compiled a variety of public and private studies: The numbers are on the order of $500 billion to over a trillion per year. The equivalent of $5 to $10 per gallon of fuel that we pay people to drive. Or about $5,000 to $10,000 per year per household. All so we can sit in traffic and crawl at speeds lower than bicycling speeds in many situations.

We can’t even have a debate about free markets versus socialism until we know the facts of how far we are from free markets. I would totally give up the billion-dollar-a-year subsidy for Amtrak if the thousand-times bigger subsidies for private motor vehicle use were abolished.

If we are going to subsidize transportation, how about if the government just gave people that $5,000/year subsidy and then let true free markets choose our transportation system?

But sometimes I do want government to pick winners. Markets are amoral. They have no human values. Markets prioritize profit. A wealthy person’s dog has more access to health care than a poor human being in a “free market.” In a democracy, it is one person, one vote. A market offers one dollar, one vote. In engineering terms, this is called runaway positive feedback. Those with more money have more market power. Wealth flows to those who already have wealth. That was the point of the Monopoly game. What happens when all the wealth is concentrated? Game over.

I will offer a positive solution: How about if we take the best of socialism and the best of markets? Socialism can provide the infrastructure that allows markets to thrive. That might include universal health care. Public education through university level, including medical school for those who qualify. Good public transit. Public parks. Support for sustainable energy. Ensuring that climate change does not destroy large parts of our country and create international conflict.

Meanwhile, let the market offer an array of goods and services to build on that infrastructure. I don’t need or want government to grow my food, make my computer, or decide which shoes I should wear.

Government also offers solutions where markets utterly fail. Big Pharma does not invest in drug research and development where it helps the most people. It will prioritize a “lifestyle drug” that makes billions in rich countries. Whereas it will direct little or no funding to treat the ills that threaten billions of people: malaria, tuberculosis, or even finding new antibiotics in a world of growing antibiotic resistance. Those things are not as profitable.

But government can do so much more than that: long-range visionary investment. Investment in pure science and exploration. Neil deGrasse Tyson is famed as an astrophysicist and as a science educator. People assume he would prioritize funding for science education. He said that is not actually his top priority. If you increase spending for science education, you might get a new generation of engineers who make a new version of a smart phone. But if you invest in visionary projects like space exploration? You will inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers who will solve problems we never even thought of before.

Instead of creating a false dichotomy between socialism and free markets, why not harness the best of both for a better future?

Robert Bernstein

(Editor’s note: Best leave this for a future response from Mr. Harding. – J.B.)

Letting it “Slip”

Thank you to whoever let Cotty Chubb‘s letter (“More Liberal Observations,” MJ #24/34) slip into your ignorant and morally corrupt editor’s hands. We can’t believe he even printed the letter, but, of course, he had to add he’s (sic) laughable opinion.

Wendy Smith
Santa Barbara

Who Pays for “Free” Stuff?

I am conservative but have voted for Democrats in the past. I vote for politicians who seem to have a grasp on financial reality, regardless of political affiliation. Unfortunately, neither major political party presently has a plethora of individuals with financial foresight.

Many Republicans are spineless and inept. But at least the party supports the theme that our young, just-over-200-year-old country became the greatest country in the world as a result of individual effort and hard work. We can acknowledge that mistakes were made along the way and that our society was never perfect. It never will be. But we need to stop attempting to erase portions of the past and apologizing for, or degrading those who came before us. Free things weren’t provided to our ancestors. They had to work to survive.

Unfortunately, modern-day Democrats require a permanent needy class of people to survive. Among other things, they offer free health care, free education, guaranteed annual income and free entry into the U.S. to receive wonderful benefits. Why should anyone have to work or worry about survival in the USA? 

I am fascinated listening to Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and some of my cherished liberal Carpinteria friends explain how all this “free stuff” will be financed. Basic response: higher taxes on the wealthy and more money from the government. Some don’t realize that government money comes from taxes. And, we tax income, not wealth. Even if wealth was heavily taxed, we would come nowhere near to obtaining the approximate $25 trillion needed over the next 10 years to pay for “free stuff.” 

Please research Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s attempts to answer the question, “Who is going to pay for the free stuff?” And help your children and grandchildren realize the correct answer is “Me.”

Sanderson M. Smith, Ed.D.

Leave It to Science

Scientific Method: An obstacle to proving a theory via the Scientific Method: An obstacle to proving a theory via the scientific method is the lack of a control* group. For example, to prove global warming** is caused by X, one would need an identical Earth (preferably several), minus X. It is likewise daunting to prove a political-social-economic theory without comparing identical population groups, except for one variable.

It’s fair to propose a theory and present evidence to support it… but absent a control… there should always be skeptics. That said, how can anyone seriously believe human beings won’t blithely take advantage of other human beings, especially when it’s presented as a legitimate law or right***, as in progressive taxation, welfare, or free education? And how can it be denied that such injustice won’t lead to irresponsibility, cynicism, economic instability, division, and strife?

*”Controlling an experiment also means setting it up so it has a control group and an experimental group. The control group allows the experimenter to compare his test results against a baseline measurement so he can feel confident that those results are not due to chance.”

**Conveniently overlooked in the AGW debate is the fact that while CO2 was rising, the earth’s temperature cooled from c 1940-1975. This created an ice age scare culminating in hysterical reports from a number of respected magazines and scientific organizations. 

Now, even this does not disprove the AGW theory, but it does indicate there are climate factors that dwarf the effect of CO2, and that “science” research and reporting are often fallible. That said, I support reasonable, cost-effective efforts to reduce man’s impact on the environment.

Only man has the hubris to believe he can make the oceans rise without even trying.

***Bastiat: “But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect them. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.”

Politicians’ promises are as honest as the ones made in the back seats of cars on sizzling summer nights… and with the same objective in mind.

Steve King

Inverse Condemnation

PG&E and SCE are actively lobbying the California Legislature to get rid of inverse condemnation, which holds utility companies strictly liable for all damage from wildfires caused by their electrical equipment. The utility companies want judges to be able to consider global warming and climate change as a defense to lawsuits filed against them by victims of wildfires. A special committee has been formed in the Legislature to determine who should pay for utility-caused fires. The governor is fast-tracking a plan that would shift the cost of these fires to victims and ratepayers, while stripping victims of their constitutional right to fully recover for their loss under inverse condemnation, making it even more difficult and time-consuming for victims to sue utilities.

There is a [Friday] August 31 deadline for any legislation to be passed in this session, so a vote could happen within the next few weeks.

SCE and the other investor-owned utilities have already spent over $5 million this year lobbying in support of the governor’s plan, and are spending millions more on advertising.

You and other victims must be heard now — otherwise, your rights and the rights of future wildfire victims will be steamrolled.

Please call or email your legislator today — and the other legislators listed below.

Respectfully ask that they:

1) Stand with victims like yourself, not with the utilities that harmed you. Tell your personal story as a victim and describe the impact on your life.

2) Hold Southern California Edison and other utilities accountable for their actions, so they pay when they cause damage, instead of making ratepayers and victims pay.

3) Focus on preventing fires by requiring the utilities to properly maintain their equipment, follow safety rules, and take action to protect lives, property, and the environment — with climate change, it’s even more important that they follow the rules.

To make things easier for you, we have prepared a sample email and attached it to this update. All you need to do is copy and paste it as an email and send it to the following Legislators, who are on the special committee considering this legislation proposed by Governor Brown:

Senator Bill Dodd (Napa and Sonoma Counties): Phone: 916-651-4003,

Senator Anthony Cannell (Central Valley): Phone: 916-651-4012; Email:

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (Ventura & Santa Barbara counties): Phone: 916-651-4019;

Assembly Member Chris Holden: Phone: 916-651-4007,

Senator Ben Hueso (San Diego and Imperial counties): Phone: 916-651-4040: Email:

Senator Jeff Stone (Riverside): Phone: 916-651-4028;

All together:; ;;;;

It’s vital that your voice is heard today. The utilities are moving fast at the State Capitol. We need to move fast too.

Marlis M. Sonnen

(Editor’s note: Ms Sonnen can be reached at:

Closing the Hot Springs Trail

(The following letter was sent to the apparent owner of the property at the trailhead.)

I sent the letter below to one of the people that live on Hot Springs Road. I have also contacted many others, including the Montecito Association and the Montecito Trails Association, and the media as well.

My concerns have been the following:

1) Someone might not have noticed the rinky-dink cardboard signs on the fence behind the Hot Springs trailhead that was destroyed by mudslides. A backpacker might have come back and had his or her car towed away. People have been parking there for many years, and this signage was new. These kind of barely noticeable signs seem unprofessional. Were any cars towed away?

2) I and my friends have noticed a security guard in a vehicle following hikers back and forth and onto Riven Rock Road. If the guards were supposed to patrol the parking lot, why was this happening? It is scary and intimidating, especially if someone doesn’t know what’s going on. It also seems unprofessional. Also, will you please let me know if Steve is still working for your company? 

I would like to know if your company is still patrolling the trailhead parking lot in front of the fence. If this parking lot is truly private property, it would be a good idea to have appropriate signage. It’s interesting how signs warning of vehicles being towed away are no longer there. So, either the parking lot that has been used by hikers for many years is not private property, or the property owner has decided not to enforce the parking lot restrictions, and go back to how things were since the ’70s.

I totally respect any and all efforts to protect private property. I shouldn’t have been in such disbelief that the trailhead parking lot in front of the fence was private property. It seems it would be, or your company wouldn’t have been enforcing the parking lot. Would your company be willing to put in writing that the longstanding trailhead parking lot is indeed private property, and that your company has been patrolling it? Are you still going to enforce restrictions on parking in the trailhead parking lot?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Bryan Rosen 

(Editor’s note: Mr. Rosen is producer of Meet America Television Series, TV SB.)


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