Posts Tagged ‘Welfare State’

Texas vs. California Update for January 29, 2014

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

To a certain extent, this Texas vs. California roundup is incomplete, since we’re hot and heavy into the new legislative session and I haven’t had a chance to fully digest the proposed budget numbers yet. By the Legislative Budget Boards numbers, they’re only projecting a 1.5% increase in the 2016-2017 biennium budget over 2014-2015. But see the first link…

  • Setting the story straight on the Texas budget. TPPF uses a different baseline…
  • California’s public employee unions would prefer that you not know how well they’re compensated.
  • How California’s public employees use sick leave to spike their pensions.
  • Supreme Court may take on California union mandatory dues case.
  • Though not nearly as bad as California, Texas state and local public employee pensions are also in need of reform.
  • California’s Kern County declares a fiscal emergency over dropping oil prices. “Collapsing crude prices are squeezing the finances of Kern County, home to three-fourths of California’s oil production.” Thankfully, oil and gas extraction is a lot more widespread in Texas.
  • The City of Sacramento’s unfunded liabilities have reached $2.3 billion. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Fresno? No one goes to Fresno anymore!” Except for job growth percentage, that is, where Fresno outpaced Silicon Valley.
  • Remember the Newport Beach police department firing a whistler-blower? Via Dwight comes a followup: “A husband and wife who sued Newport Beach and its police department for alleged retaliation and wrongful termination have settled their lawsuits for $500,000, according to city officials.”
  • “Physician-assisted suicide has returned to California’s political agenda.” Well, why not? California’s ruling Democrats have been attempting fiscal suicide for well over a decade now…
  • Toyota breaks ground on its new Texas headquarters.
  • A public school in California is having a Hijab Day.
  • Far-Left Syriza Wins Huge Victory in Greece

    Sunday, January 25th, 2015

    Greece’s far left-wing Syriza Party has won a big victory there, claiming about half the seats in Parliament.

    What does it mean? I took a stab at analyzing it before. Even with a majority, there’s a good chance Syriza will have to continue meeting the EU’s demands (which means pretending to impose austerity measures) if they want mean old Aunt Angela to keep loaning them money. Remember: Greece has never practiced real austerity. Not once since the European Debt Crisis hit has Greece balanced its budget, and its deficit for 2014 was 12.2% of GDP.

    But even the fake austerity imposed has been too much for the Greek people, who collectively want a cushy welfare state but don’t want to pay the sky-high taxes required to pay for it. Promising people something for nothing has been the left’s popular electoral strategy for more than a century, but reality can only be held off for so long. Germany is not due for a federal election, so it’s entirely possible Merkel might still underwrite another bailout or two if Syriza is willing to continue the farce. A Greece shorn of the Euro would still be broke and badly in debt, and newly Drachma-backed securities would likely be toxic investments for all but the most speculative of bond traders. (Perhaps Syriza should investigate how well that printing money thing is working out for Venezuela.) “Forgive our debts or we won’t let you give us more loans!” is a proposition Merkel would probably find quite easy to refuse, and I suspect the risk of a Greek exit from the Euro is already priced into European markets. If Syriza insists on anything more than (possibly) a token debt haircut, the EU will probably be willing to call their bluff.

    It’s generally best for the driver of a 1974 Ford Pinto to avoid engaging in a game of chicken with a Tiger tank…

    In Which I Point To Hot Air’s Venezuela Update and Say “What He Said”

    Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

    It was about time to do another update on Venezuela’s failing socialist economy when I dropped by Hot Air and saw that Ed Morrissey had already done all the heavy lifting for me:

    “The currency in what should be the richest country in South America has collapsed, as well as its economy, under the dual weight of falling crude prices and the Chavista socialism that has been choking the country for more than a decade.”

    More:

    Venezuela’s Chavista policies have always ignored economic reality. Socialism is a fantasy economic system, especially as implemented by Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro.

    The difference between Venezuela and the nanny-state petro-economy in Norway is that the latter preserves itself by respecting private property and foreign investment. From the beginning, Hugo Chavez attacked both, nationalizing oil production and criminalizing private investors as part of his “Bolivarian” revolution. When it did that, it chased off the talent needed to run oil production and the investment needed for all other kinds of goods and services. For a short period of time, their oil revenue allowed it to succeed in ignorance. When that failed, Chavez and now Maduro reacted to those predictable consequences by predictably imposing all sorts of rationing mechanisms which only decreased incentives for production and investment, especially in the legitimate economy. Now that the price of oil has collapsed, so has the official Venezuelan economy — and a populace used to a high standard of living now endures massive shortages and ever-increasing oppression to cover it up.

    Morrissey, in turn, quotes a big chunk of this Matt O’Brien piece in the Washington Post:

    Venezuela’s government is running a 14 percent of gross domestic product deficit right now, a fiscal hole so big that there’s only one way to fill it: the printing press. But that just traded one economic problem—too little money—for the opposite one. After all, paying people with newly-printed money only makes that money lose value, and prices go parabolic. It’s no wonder then that Venezuela’s inflation rate is officially 64 percent, is really something like 179 percent, and could get up to 1,000 percent, according to Bank of America, if Venezuela doesn’t change its byzantine currency controls.

    What he said. Er, both of them.

    Texas vs. California Update for January 21, 2015

    Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
  • The working poor benefit from a lower cost of living in red states.
  • Five of the top ten U.S. cities in economic growth in 2014 were in Texas: Austin, Houston, Ft. Worth. Dallas and San Antonio. (There were also two in California: San Francisco and San Jose.)
  • The Texas Comptroller has released the Biennial Revenue Estimate 2016-2017, which estimates $113 billion in general revenue-related funds available. The report details also notes that “In the past six years, Texas created two-thirds of all net new jobs in the U.S.”

  • By contrast, with the California budget more or less temporarily balanced, Democrats want to start spending like drunken sailors with a stolen credit card again. Legislative analyst: You don’t want to do that.
  • The average CalPERS pension is up to five times comparable Social Security payouts.
  • Jerry Brown says he wants to tackle California’s pension crisis. Good luck with that. While Brown has occasionally been willing to buck his party, and may feel he has nothing to lose in his last term, there’s no reason to believe the Democrat-dominated state House and Senate share his sentiments. I predict a few cosmetic measures passing combined with a whole lot more can kicking until actual default looms. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Central Valley farmers say farming is doomed in their areas.” California’s water regulations are driving them out of business.
  • Stockton’s bankruptcy judge: screw secured debtors, we’ve got to start paying retirees.
  • Key figure in CalPERS pension fraud case apparently committed suicide. Hmmm…..
  • California’s Set Seal retail chain files for bankruptcy.
  • John G. Westine of California convicted of 26 counts of mail fraud in a phony Kentucky oil well scheme.
  • Bankruptcy lawyers gone wild!
  • Texas vs. California Update for January 6, 2014

    Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

    Here’s your first Texas vs. California update of 2015:

  • Real personal income increased by 1.4% in Texas in Q3, the most of any state. And that with the oil bust just starting to bite, which I’m guessing helps explain why South Dakota’s personal income decline by .2%. (Well, that and getting six inches of global warming in September….)
  • Texas was the number one magnet state in the country for people moving here yet again.
  • “The real reason for the tuition increase is that the UC system needs funds to bail out the mismanaged pension system that covers retired employees of its ten campuses.”

    This is all the result of the regents’ irresponsible oversight. In 1990, UCRP had 137 percent of the assets it needed to meet its obligations, so regents suspended employer and employee contributions to the pension fund. State legislators also stopped allocating money to UCRP. This “pension contribution holiday” lasted 20 years. To top it off, during this period, university officials boosted pension benefits a half-dozen times. By 2012, more than 2,100 UC retirees were each collecting six-figure pensions for life.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Former Pasadena (California) employees arrested on 60 count, $6 million embezzling charges. (Hat tip: CalWatchdog.)
  • More on outrageous California pensions: “In 2013, an assistant fire chief in Southern California collected a $983,319 pension. A police captain in Los Angeles received nearly $753,861.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami).
  • California’s doomed high speed rail boondoggle breaks ground today.
  • More on the same theme from Twitter:

  • Opponents of California’s statewide plastic bag ban have gathered 800,000 signature for a referendum to overturn it, which will also keep the law from going into effect on July 1.
  • California charity hospitals to be sold to for-profit company to keep them open.
  • Texas vs. California Update for December 17, 2014

    Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • California’s unfunded health care obligations for retired employees hits $72 billion. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Meanwhile, the state comptroller says that California’s unfunded pension liabilities has hit $198 billion. (Ditto.)
  • California may extend benefits to illegal aliens taking advantage of Obama’s amnesty.
  • Speaking of which, both California and Texas are on the hook for providing education for illegal alien children. “Today, those figures are $14.4 billion for California and $8.5 billion for the Lone Star state.”
  • California will go broke if it doesn’t adopt pension reform.
  • Lessons for California from Texas’ boom.
  • Costa Mesa police union tries to pin false DUI charge on City Councilman. Hilarity ensues. (Hat tip: Dwight.) And what caused the police union to go after him? Pension reform.
  • Pension spiking widespread in Cosa Contra County. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s high speed rail boondoggle won’t work with the current tracks.
  • Health industry software company vitaTrackr announces relocation of its headquarters from Baltimore to Austin.
  • Builders FirstSource announces expansion in San Antonio and Conroe.
  • Texas vs. California Update for December 4, 2014

    Thursday, December 4th, 2014

    It’s another Texas vs. California update!

  • The real reason the University of California system is raising taxes: “The real driving force behind the tuition hike is the university’s woefully underfunded pension system, which currently serves 56,000 retired employees. It’s a generous system, despite some reductions the university made for new hires in recent years. An Associated Press analysis found 2,129 retired UC employees collect pensions of more than $100,000 a year; 57 receive more than $200,000; and three receive more than $300,000.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Here’s the rare Texas vs. California item where both Texas and California get dinged: “Calpers holds about 75% of its portfolio in stocks and other risky assets, such as real estate, private equity and, until recently, hedge funds, despite offering benefits that, unlike IRAs or 401(k)s, it guarantees against market risk. Most other states are little different: Illinois holds 75% in risky assets; the Texas teachers’ plan holds 81%.”
  • A look at the relative pension costs of three bankrupt California cities: San Bernardino, Stockton and Vallejo. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Magpul, is moving its headquarters from newly gun-hostile Colorado to Austin. This is on top of moving its manufacturing facilities to Wyoming.
  • “Something is happening in California. An unstoppable movement for reform is building, attracting support from conscientious Californians.” Much as I’d like to believe it, I remain skeptical that real education and pension reform can happen in California as long as it remains a one-party Democratic state… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How California’s three-decades old Proposition 65 is threatening to bankrupt small businesses and enrich trial lawyers.
  • California: Roads? We don’t need no stinking roads. 57% of San Diego County’s projected infrastructure spending is on mass transportation…and critics are saying that’s not enough.
  • I’m surprised that I stumbled on this piece on the Newport Beach Police Department before Dwight did:

    In recent years, daily examples of faithful public service inside the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD) have been overshadowed by alarming corruption. City officials ignore or downplay the misconduct, but NBPD bosses turned the agency into a darker, stupider version of Animal House. Court records and internal documents show the city’s boys in blue have accepted gratuities in exchange for favors, gotten frat-boy drunk at work, lied under oath, passed out confidential information to pals, encouraged oral sex from female job applicants, committed wild adultery on duty, doctored official reports, hurled feces, dished out horrific domestic violence against wives and girlfriends, engaged in intoxicated bar fights, issued criminal threats, vandalized property, converted powerful agency spy equipment to personal use, and rigged promotion systems to ensure mostly see-no-evil, management-loyal employees rise–and let the hijinks continue.

    Plus open war against whistle-blowers.

  • Speaking of public employees behaving badly, from Dwight comes this story of LA firemen being investigated for faking certifications.
  • Texas home sales reach their highest level in five years.
  • The headquarters of national buyer’s co-op NATM Buying Corp. is moving from Long island, New York to Irving, Texas.
  • Finally, in case you missed it a few days ago, three Texas budget links from the Texas Public Policy Foundation:

  • A detailed call for greater transparency in the Texas budget
  • A look at what an actual conservative Texas budget would look like; and
  • A real Texas Budget Worksheet, with historical budget data.
  • LinkSwarm for November 28, 2014

    Friday, November 28th, 2014

    Here’s a small LinkSwarm to tide you over for Black Friday:

  • 62% of voters oppose Obama’s illegal alien amnesty.
  • Barack Obama: Troll in Chief.
  • “If you want to see the end point of Barack Obama’s shining path, visit Detroit.”

    The Democrats, if they had any remaining intellectual honesty, would hold their convention in Detroit. Democratic leadership, Democratic unions and the Democratic policies that empower them, Democrat-dominated school bureaucracies, Democrat-style law enforcement, Democratic levels of taxation and spending, the politics of protest and grievance in the classical Democratic mode — all of these have made Detroit what it is today: an unwholesome slop-pail of woe and degradation that does not seem to belong in North America, a craptastical crater groaning with misery, a city-shaped void in what once was the industrial soul of the nation. If you want to see the end point of Barack Obama’s shining path, visit Detroit.

  • “The group toward whom [Obama]‘s shown the greatest contempt, however, is low-skilled American workers, particularly blacks.”
  • “At what point do we stop enabling the grievance industry to override our core constitutional protections?”
  • Did Obama prevent Missouri from deploying the National Guard to prevent Ferguson rioting?
  • Communist agitators stirring up a civil rights protest sounds like a bad ‘60s flashback, but that’s just what happened last week in Ferguson.”
  • Jim Webb’s career show’s how badly Democrats have been hollowed-up in the Obama era:

    Consider: There will be only five red-state Senate Democrats left in the next Congress if, as expected, Sen. Mary Landrieu is defeated in next month’s runoff. Even more striking, there will be only five House Democrats left representing districts that Mitt Romney carried in 2012. The once-influential Blue Dog Caucus of fiscally hawkish Democrats is all but extinct. Republicans now boast twice as many blue-state senators (10) and five times as many blue-district representatives (25) than their Democratic counterparts in red territory.

    While lots of ink has been spilled charting the GOP’s drift rightward, the Democratic Party’s move toward ideological homogeneity has been shorter and swifter.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit, who notes “The Democratic Party has become an aging, regional party with a diversity problem.”)

  • It’s not that the Vietnamese communist leadership is good, it’s just less bad than all the other communist leaderships.
  • Ann Althouse is right: They really did choose a superbly illustrative picture for this Chuck Hagel resignation piece.
  • Only 50% of climate scientists think climate change is human induced.
  • Who should be Secretary of Defense? “America needs Dick Cheney. Now more than ever.”
  • You could read this Penny Arcade as a parable about Islam. Or trusting Obama.
  • Texas vs. California Roundup for November 26, 2014

    Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

    Who knows how many people will read this in the rush of Thanksgiving travel:

  • Texas’ economy continues to kick ass.
  • In fact, Texas set a record for new jobs for the third month in a row. (Hat tip: The Twitter feed of Texas’ incoming governor.)
  • Texas also leads the nation in oil and gas jobs created. (Hat tip: Texas’ incoming Comptroller.)
  • CalPERS retirees will soon soon outnumber active workers. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s death by pensions.
  • Bankrupt San Bernardino caves in to CalPERS.
  • Still, court rulings make it possible that bankrupt cities may shed pension obligations in the future.
  • You know how California’s Prop 30 tax hikes in 2012 were supposed to prevent university pension hikes? Guess what? “Despite the massive tax hikes ostensibly to keep higher education affordable, the University of California Board of Regents just announced a sizable increase in tuition.” Let’s hope that students at California universities learn the proper lesson: tax hikes are never temporary.
  • Indeed, tuition will increase around $15,000 by 2019.
  • The underfunded liabilities across all California pension systems adds up to $130 billion.
  • Pension crisis divides California Democrats on UC tuition hikes.
  • Demands from union-backed environmental group torpedo plans for a Japanese-owned factory in Palmdale, California.
  • Education reform loses in California.
  • California is spending $33 million to get rid of 800 non-endangered birds.
  • Costa Mesa motel residents sue over a law requiring them to move every 30 days.
  • Some Tweets:

  • LinkSwarm for November 22, 2014

    Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

    I had an entire set of stuff lined up for yesterday’s LinkSwarm, but in the rush of amnesty-related news I managed to forget to paste it into the right file. D’oh!

    So enjoy your rare complimentary Weekend LinkSwarm!

  • Support for ObamaCare continues to decline, with the law hitting a new low in approval.”
  • Among the many acts of Gruber: Scheming to remove insurance plan deductability by subterfuge (and without offsetting tax credits).
  • How do Democrats react to near-historic loses? By reelecting their entire leadership team.
  • “Democrats did lose the South, but they didn’t lose it because of the Civil Rights Act.”(Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Last year, illegal aliens were on pace to use $650 million in welfare benefits in L.A. County alone. And that was before Obama’s new amnesty.
  • Hillary Clinton seems to view Obama’s illegal alien “dreamers” as a permanent menial labor underclass as well.
  • 30,000 of Lois Lerner’s IRS emails have been miraculously found. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Some Twitter liberals decided it was a swell idea to lie about Instapundit. There’s a technical term for these people: Morons.
  • Putin is increasingly yanking NATO’s chain.
  • GamerGate: “A new, radical and dangerously illiberal left which marinates in a hideous quagmire of resentment, smugness, vacuousness and contempt for free discussion.”