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Environmentalism Provides Moral Cover for New Taxes to Fund Pensions

There are two intertwined themes that define unionized government in California. First, funding government retiree pensions will soak up every new source of tax revenue they will ever collect. Second, cloaking new taxes and fees – and new agencies – in the virtuous raiment of environmentalism will deflect criticism and demonize critics. Here’s why:

Now that Democrats have a super-majority in California’s state legislature, expect to see plentiful new taxes to pile onto the$5.0 billion in new state and local taxesthat were approved by voters on November 8th. After all,California’s projected 2017-18 state budgetstill has a $1.6 billion deficit. And that’s nothing. Here is a look what sort of deficit challenges California’s state and local governments are actually facing:

California State/Local Pension Funds Consolidated Est. Funding Status and Required Contributions at Various ROI

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The Credibility of Public Service

California’s government unions are nothing like private sector unions. Their bosses are selected via elections where these unions are the dominant campaign contributors. They get their money through compulsory taxes and therefore don’t have to run efficient operations. They run the machinery of government which lets them intimidate their opponents and act as gatekeeper to business interests. Their agenda – more government workers and more pay and benefits for government workers – is intrinsically at odds with the public interest, which must focus on achieving an optimal government, not bigger government for its own sake.

For these reasons, government unions are not only drivers of government inefficiencies and financial challenges, they discredit government itself. In three parts – local, state, and federal – here are ways that government unions have taken away much of the credibility once enjoyed by government agencies, and the good people who staff these agencies.

Part One – Local Government Credibility

A friend of mine just got a ticket for making a right turn on a red light. They weren’t… Read More

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The Challenges Facing Conservatives Who Support Public Safety

Everyone supports public safety, but conservatives are a special case. In modern times, it was conservatives, reactingagainst the rebellious sixties and the lawless seventies, who supported law enforcement when it was fashionable for liberals to see them as pawns of a discredited establishment. It was also during the 1960’s and ’70’s that we saw public safety unions acquire far more political power and influence,a rise fueled in part by an entirely justifiable resentment they felt at how theyweretreated by the media and in popular culture.

It’s a different world now. The riots of the sixties and the crime waves of the seventies have been replaced by new threats. Now we have global terrorist groups with access to new technologies that can unleash destruction at a scale unimaginable a generation ago. We have organized crime of unprecedented sophistication; drug cartels, cyber criminals, modern-day slavery networks. The United States, statistically, is a safer place than it’s ever been, but it doesn’t feel that way, and continual reminders at home and abroad reinforce these feelings of insecurity.

Conservatives have traditionally focused on… Read More

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Public Unions ARE the Political “Establishment”

The success of anti-establishment presidential candidates are a powerful reminder that mainstream politicians are not managing America’s political economy or cultural evolution in a way that satisfies most of the electorate. That’s no surprise – it’s a toughjob these days, with few historical precedents to offer guidance.

Earlier this week an essay published in theAsia Times,A Millennial conundrum: Communism and youth,” offered a concise set of reasons why so many millennials are supporting democraticsocialist candidate Bernie Sanders.The author, Chan Akya, didn’t chastise these youth for their selfish naivete, causedby receiving too many participation trophies during their sheltered childhoods. Instead he gave the following reasons:

“(1) Sharing economy: Technology has propelled sharing into new markets, from cars and vacation homes after opening up personal space on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For people with itinerant lifestyles driven by mobility in jobs, such a sharing economy may end up shaking theRead More

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Government Employee Unions – The Root Cause of California’s Challenges

Spokespersons for California’s government employee unions perpetuate a myth of staggering absurdity and tragic consequences – that they are protecting working Californians from wealthy corporations and wealthy individuals.

The reality is that government employee unions are focused on one thing: Expanding government employee pay, benefits and privileges. This requires expanding government, and that priority comes in front of everything else, including the cost to society at large.Expansive environmentalist regulations have made prices in California for housing and utilities the highest in the nation.Expansive compensation packages for unionized government workers have resulted in chronic deficits and accumulating state and local government debt that by some measures already exceeds $1.0 trillion. Expansive taxes and regulation have made California consistently rank as the most inhospitable place in the nation to run a small business.

Exactly how does any of this protect the poor from the wealthy?

It doesn’t, of course. But the deeper story is how government employee unions are not only failing to “protect” California’s… Read More

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A Member of the Unionized Government Elite Attacks Pension Reform and other “Stink Tank Propaganda”

Shame on You! I am appalled to see your “quick facts” focus almost exclusively on public pensions. This is not the stuff of an independent, non-profit think tank. It is clear to me that you are pursuing an “agenda [that] includes opposing … [universal] health-care and climate-change regulations, reducing union protections and minimum wages, cutting taxes and business regulations, tightening voting restrictions, and privatizing education.” As Tracie Sharp, the president of the SPN, noted, your collective goal is apparently to “win in your state.” Californians will not accept your push back to the 1920’s (and look what happened then); we are on to your partisan goals and funders.

Submitted via the CPPC “Contact Us” form by a University of California professor on 11-16-2013

There are myriad ways to respond to these accusations. For starters, they don’t question whether or not our “Quick Facts” are factual. That’s too bad, because they are.… Read More

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Exponential Technological Advances and the Role of Unions

“Robots will steal your job, but that’s ok.” Federico Pistono

Anyone who has recently driven through Mountain View, in the heart of Silicon Valley, is likely to have had the memorable experience of sharing the road with a car that has nobody inside. Google’s “autonomous cars” are being tested there, and apparently they drive better than people do – they are smart, safe, sober, and tireless. They have the potential to eliminate 3.6 million full-time jobs in the United States.

Anyone purchasing materials at a Home Depot store, or their local grocery chain store, without interacting with a human cashier, has seen the future of retail employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 3.4 million people working as retail cashiers in the United States. Most of those jobs are also at risk.

What about agriculture? New robots are coming that can do anything a farm worker can do. As noted in this report, “Robot harvests on the horizon; farm owners predict machines will revolutionize costs,” a machine… Read More