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Mark's Market Blog

2-6-09: A New Hope, California Deficit & Illegals

By Mark Lawrence

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Opening shot: small investor is fleeing, laser shots are tracking in on the investor from above screen. Suddenly the dreaded Death Market appears from above, a small portion first, the image growing, growing, growing to enormous size.

We had a very nice week in the markets, we're up this week by 7%. Most of us would be thrilled to get 7% per year on a savings account, but this week you could have gotten 7% in one week in stocks. The House has passed an $860B bailout package over the loud objections of Republicans, who want tax cuts. After all, the people who got laid off got tax cuts of 100%, why shouldn't the rest of us be included? Today the bill is in the Senate where it's being "fine-tuned." This means the $268M in tax cuts for Hollywood will likely evaporate, but lots of other democrat pet projects will get funded instead. Lord Maynard Kaynes famously said during the Great Depression, "We need to get people to work. If we paid them to dig holes and then fill in those holes, that would be an improvement." We're going to do a bit better than dig holes. How much better remains to be seen. Meanwhile, it's happy days on Wall Street as we await the Wizard giving us brains and hearts and a free trip home.

Researchers monitored resting heart rate in 129,135 postmenopausal women for an average of 7.8 years, during which time all hospital stays and coronary events were recorded. During the study period, 2,281 heart attacks and coronary deaths and 1,877 strokes occurred. Women with a resting heart rate over 76 beats per minute were significantly more likely to suffer a coronary event than women a resting heart rate below 62 beats per minute. The same result is already known for men.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had surgery Thursday after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her five year expected survival rate is no more than 20%.

California, which has a balanced budget clause in their constitution, is currently running a $28B / year deficit. In the current economic climate, California is effectively unable to sell bonds, especially as they are viewed as technically bankrupt. How bad is it? California is so broke tax refunds are being delayed, everyone who overpaid their taxes is now giving California an interest free loan. Of course, it's not so bad that the liberals in the legislature are stopped from doing "the right thing." The California Department of Social Services has partnered with The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Los Angeles County to promote and advertise a Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Family campaign that invites homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals to adopt children.

Popular opinion in California currently has it that the budget deficit is almost completely due to illegals. Arizona recently made it pretty much impossible for their businesses to hire illegals, with the result that a huge number of illegals have left their state. It's thought that if California did this, the budget deficit would go away and we could all go back to full time surfing and playing beach volleyball. Is this correct?

There were 2.8 million illegal immigrants living in California in 2006. That represented about 8% of the state's population and roughly a quarter of the nation's illegal immigrants. About 90% of California's illegal immigrants were from Latin America; 65% from Mexico.

There are roughly 19,000 illegal immigrants in state prisons, representing 11% of all inmates. That cost $970 million last year.

If you figure that the children of illegal immigrants attending K-12 schools approximates the proportion of illegal immigrants in the population, the bill currently comes to roughly $4 billion. That estimate is almost certainly low, as illegals tend to have larger than average families.

Illegal immigrants aren't entitled to welfare, but their children are. Roughly 190,000 kids are receiving welfare checks that pass through their parents. The cost is about $500 million.

CA is spending $775 million on Medi-Cal healthcare for illegal immigrants, according to the legislative analyst.

Total rough cost of maintaining our prized collection of illegals: about $6.25B, 22% of our deficit. In these times one can reasonably ask if this is money well spent, money we can afford. However, getting the illegals out tomorrow will only fix a fraction of the problem.

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