Hope you’ve finished your taxes already! Time for another Texas vs. California update:
Archive for the ‘unions’ Category
National Journal has a piece up by moderate lefty John B. Judis on all the problems plaguing Chicago.
Perhaps more than any other major city in America, Chicago is facing a truly grave set of problems—problems that are essentially more extreme versions of the challenges confronting city governments across the country.
But there’s a vital piece of information omitted from that sentence: “problems that are essentially more extreme versions of the challenges confronting city governments across the country run by the Democratic Party.” Though Republican cities are not immune to such problems, make no mistake that the very worst examples are cities run by the Democratic Party, most for a very long time (Detroit hasn’t had a Republican Mayor since 1962, Chicago since 1931), and most are in states with solid (if not overwhelming) Democratic Party majorities.
The failure of America’s bankrupt cities is a microcosm of the failure of the Blue model of big government liberalism. And the reason I have spent so much time on covering California and Greece is that they are part of the same story: The failure of American liberalism is a microcosm of the bankruptcy of the welfare state, and the bankruptcy of the welfare state is a subset of the failure of socialism.
The quandaries begin with Chicago’s dramatic social divide. To an even greater extent than is the case in, say, New York or Philadelphia, Chicago has become two entirely separate cities. One is a bustling metropolis that includes the Loop, Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, and the Gold Coast, as well as the city’s well-to-do, working-class, and upwardly mobile immigrant neighborhoods. The other Chicago consists of impoverished neighborhoods on the far South and West Sides, primarily populated by African-Americans. These places have remained beyond the reach of the city’s recovery from the Great Recession.
As we have known since Charles Murray’s Losing Ground in 1984, welfare programs don’t lift the poor out of poverty, but keep them ensnared in it. Indeed, a cynic might observe that welfare programs are designed to create a voting clientele for the welfare state and the liberal party that runs it.
The problem, as Mark Steyn put it, is that “the 20th century Bismarckian welfare state has run out of people to stick it to. In America, the feckless insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they’ve reached the next stage in social democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over.”
As Steyn further noted:
A government big enough to give you everything you want isn’t big enough to get you to give any of it back. That’s the point Greece is at. Its socialist government has been forced into supporting a package of austerity measures. The Greek people’s response is: Nuts to that. Public sector workers have succeeded in redefining time itself: Every year, they receive 14 monthly payments. You do the math. And for about seven months’ work – for many of them the workday ends at 2:30 p.m. When they retire, they get 14 monthly pension payments. In other words: Economic reality is not my problem. I want my benefits. And, if it bankrupts the entire state a generation from now, who cares as long as they keep the checks coming until I croak?
The story of Detroit’s current bankruptcy is the story of Chicago’s coming bankruptcy, and the similar problems of California. All are dealing with bloated public sector pensions that are making their cities insolvent. All promised and spent money they didn’t have against their decedents, not realizing (or not caring) that the debt burden will ruin the worlds of those decedents before they could ever pay it off.
The theme with all is that deficit spending destroys, and the only cure is to force governments to pare back the welfare state and stop spending money they don’t have. As the example of Greece shows, there reaches a point in welfare state dependency at which actually curtailing welfare state spending, even at the point of financial ruin, is politically impossible. The looting of the public treasury cannot be stopped because that looting is the only thing that holds left-wing coalitions in power anymore.
One of the many reasons the Tea Party exists is to hold American politician’s collective feet to the fire to make sure the terminal phase of the welfare state Greece is now enjoying never gets that bad in America. (To this end, they’ve had the tiniest little glimmer of success.)
Chicago is Detroit is California is Greece is, eventually, America. It’s all part of the same story, and one any voting public ignores at its peril.
(Hat tip: Instapundit.)
Time for another Texas vs. California roundup. The Texas House passed a budget, but I haven’t had a chance to look at it in any detail yet…
The California rule distorts what the salary/pension mix would otherwise be, given employer and employee preferences, and given the tax code as it is. Because underfunded pensions are a popular form of deficit spending, public employee compensation may already be too pension-heavy, and the rule makes it more so by freezing pensions in times of retrenchment. The incentive effects of the rule, given the political economy of government employment, may well exacerbate this tendency. And the possible theoretical reasons for preferring a pension-heavy mix don’t go very far in justifying this particular distortion.
There’s a Joe R. Lansdale story called “The Pit” where two prisoners are forced to fight each other to death in a pit for sport. The story details suggest it takes place somewhere in the deep south. Who could have imagined that a real-life version of the story (thankfully minus the “to death” part) would take place in San Francisco?
San Francisco sheriff’s deputy Scott Neu is accused of leading a ring of corrupt jail guards who coerced prisoners into gladiatorial combat with threats of rape and violence.
Neu serves at County Jail No. 4 at 850 Bryant St despite having settled claims that he raped a woman prisoner and two transgendered prisoners while working at the jail. He sports a tattoo reading “850 Mob,” believed to describe the name used by the corrupt deputies to describe themselves. At least four other deputies are implicated in the program of sexualized torture.
Neu and his co-conspirators gambled on the outcome of fights. One fight pitted the smallest inmate in the jail against the largest, and the fighters say they were threatened with rape and beatings by the guards if they didn’t spar. Neu is also said to have coerced prisoners into training for the fights with threats of rape and violence. Neu has a reputation for sadistic practices overall, including making prisoners gamble to receive their food, clothes and comfort items. Even when prisoners won the games Neu forced on them with the red dice and the deck of cards he carried, he would sometimes take away their “winnings” and give them to other prisoners.
Well, just sounds like a lovely fellow all around, doesn’t he?
Of course, these are just accusations, and Mr. Neu has not yet been proven guilty in a court of law. Maybe his attorney will offer up evidence of his innocence.
The Deputies’ Union attorney Harry Stern claims the Public Defender is making a big deal out of nothing. He says that the prisoners were encouraged to “wrestle to settle disputes about who was stronger,” and were “encouraged” to work out. He dismissed the entire affair as “little more than horseplay.”
Holy crap! When a guy’s defense attorney starts out essentially admitting the basic charge against him but dismissing it as “horseplay,” you’ve got to think the guy is guilty as sin.
And he doesn’t even have the excuse of being in a “high stress, low pay” job since this is, after all, California. According to public records, Scott Neu pulled down a cool $150,912 in the 2012-2013 timeframe (and I’d bet more last year).
Evidently paying unionized public employees more than the market demands doesn’t lead to a higher quality of employee…
Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:
The missed payments illustrate the trend among cities in bankruptcy to favor payments to pension funds over bondholder obligations, which has increased the hostility between creditors and municipalities.
San Bernardino declared last year that it intends under its bankruptcy exit plan to fully pay Calpers, its biggest creditor and America’s largest public pension fund with assets of $300 billion.
The city continues to pay its monthly dues to Calpers in full, but has paid nothing to its bondholders for nearly three years, according to the interest payment schedule on roughly $50 million of pension obligation bonds issued by San Bernardino in 2005.
If you’re a bank, a retirement fund, or a hedge fund, why on earth would you buy California municipal debt when there are safer alternatives? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ Doom roundup.)
Time for another Texas vs. California update:
“Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday signed into law a measure that prohibits requiring a worker to pay union dues, striking another blow against organized labor four years after the state effectively ended collective bargaining for public-sector employees.”
National unions poured tens of millions into Wisconsin trying to defeat Walker, and only succeeded in making him stronger and losing worse than they would have otherwise.
Wisconsin lawmakers voted Friday to make their state the 25th to enact right-to-work legislation, pushing a fast-tracked bill through the Assembly after an overnight debate and sending it on to Gov. Scott Walker for his promised signature.
The Republican governor, a likely 2016 presidential candidate who rose to national prominence by taking on public-sector unions four years ago, plans to sign it Monday. Walker planned to be in Iowa for an agriculture summit on Saturday that’s attracting other likely Republican presidential candidates.
The Assembly passed the bill 62-35 after a marathon session that included about 20 hours of debate. It was a straight party-line vote, with no Democrats backing the measure.
You come at the king, you best not miss…
Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:
The passage of Right-to-Work legislation in the Republican-controlled senate is no surprise, but the quick, efficient manner they’ve done it in is gratifying.
A right-to-work bill passed through the Wisconsin State Senate with a 15-17 majority and no amendments Wednesday as union-backing protesters gathered inside the Capitol building.
The vote comes after a rushed Senate Labor Committee hearing Tuesday and upcoming State Assembly debates to come next week. If the bill passes, Wisconsin will join 24 other right-to-work states and would abolish laws making union dues mandatory, which critics say would dissolve private sector unions.
Republican lawmakers unexpectedly announced on Friday they would take up the legislation in an extraordinary session to pass the bill as quickly as possible
Majority Leader Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Wednesday at the Senate debate it is time for Wisconsin to modernize its economy to keep up with competing states in the Midwest. He said passing right-to-work legislation is a step toward this goal and toward individual freedom.
Also: “Two gallery members interrupted Fitzgerald’s testimony to loudly express their opposition to right-to-work and as a result, Capitol Police escorted them out of the parlor. Senate President Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, warned gallery members another interruption would lead to the expulsion of the entire gallery.”
It’s almost as if the ridiculous recall circus completely united the Republican majority against union bullying!
Republicans hold a 63 to 36 edge in the Wisconsin Assembly, so Right-to-Work legislation should pass easily there and go on to a quick signature from Governor Walker.
Nice job, Wisconsin union goons and left-wing allies! If you hadn’t alienated so many ordinary Wisconsinites with your embarrassing, hysterical temper tantrum, none of this would have been possible…