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Edward Ring

Los Angeles Police Union Attacks Messenger Rather Than Confront Pension Crisis

On May 17th the Los Angeles Police Protective Leagues “Board of Directors” authored a post on their LAPPL blog entitled “Inventing the headline number,”attacking the research and the motives of California Public Policy Center. Here’s how the post began:

“The playbook is familiar now—gin up a study on public pensions and government debt to be released to media outlets with a headline-grabbing number shrieking doom for public finances. The latest exhibit is a propaganda piece tossed out to the media by the anti-public employees group California Public Policy Center (CPPC) purposely inflates pension debt.”

Despite claiming the CPPC study was mere propaganda, the LAPPL failed to convincingly refute any of its findings, including the estimate that California’s state and local government debt totals between $648 billion and $1.1 trillion, depending primarily on what assumptions one uses to discount future pension obligations. The “discount rate” used to estimate a present value for future retirement payments – already earned… Read More

Edward Ring

The Public Sector Union Campaign to Own the Mayor of Los Angeles

One week from today in what is predicted to be a low-turnout election, voters will elect a new mayor to lead California’s largest city. Because the mayor manages the 47,000 employees of the City of Los Angeles, at least 47,000 voters employed by that city have a strong interest in who wins. But these workers will wield clout beyond their numbers, because no source of mayoral campaign contributions is anywhere close to those coming from unions representing Los Angeles city employees.

Here is a link to a graphic from the Los Angeles Times “Campaign contributions by special interest,” showing reported direct and independent expenditures on behalf of the two major candidates, Eric Garcetti and Wendy Gruel. Over $6.0 million has been spent by labor unions, more than twice as much as the next four largest categories of contributors. And that’s only partly why these unions are buying this election.

Using data from the LA Times graphic, we’ve come up with our own table, one that shows what percent of each contribution – by category – went to each candidate.… Read More

Ron Nehring

Citizens of foreign countries on California juries? A terrible idea.

Republicans must be sensitive about falling into traps set by our opponents designed to make our party look like we’re being unfair to particular groups. Yet, there are times when we must stand on the side of sound public policy because at the end of the day, someone has to.

The Democrats who run the California State Assembly have passed a bill that would take the radical step of opening jury service to citizens of other countries who legally reside in the United States. If passed by the Senate and signed by Governor Brown, AB 1401 would make jury duty open to any legal resident.

This is bad public policy and should be opposed.

My parents emigrated from Germany in 1961. For seven years they went through the naturalization process, learning English and about our system of government. Ultimately they both needed to pass English and Civics tests to earn their citizenship, which they did in 1968.

This process takes time because acclimating to America’s language, culture, and government cannot be accomplished overnight, especially when it comes to… Read More

Edward Ring

California’s State/Local Governments Confront $1.0 Trillion in Debt

A study released earlier today by the California Public Policy Center entitled “Calculating California’s Total State and Local Government Debt” has estimated that state and local government debt is somewhere between $848 billion and $1.12 trillion. This is the first attempt we’ve ever seen by anyone to provide an estimate.

Small wonder. If Californians understood that their local city councils, school districts, redevelopment agencies, special districts, county supervisors, and state legislators had managed to put them on the hook for over $80,000 of debt per household, they might vote down the next new taxation or bond measure that appears on the ballot. Imagine how much debt this equates to pertaxpayinghousehold.

Quoting from the study’s summary, here are the categories of government debt confronting Californians:

When, along with the $27.8 billion “Wall of Debt,” long-term debt incurred by California’s state, county, and city governments, along with school districts, redevelopment agencies and specialRead More

Edward Ring

What If Every Worker Made What City of Irvine Workers Make?

“Jennifer Muir, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Employees’ Association, which represents more than 18,000 public employees in Orange County, said the California Public Policy Center’s study was a politically motivated attack on public employees and unions.Aside from promoting the center’s anti-public employee union agenda, Muir said, the reports are misleading and shift focus away from the discussions that matter most. Union leaders have long urged for people to consider the possibility that private-industry employees are being undercompensated and should receive retirement benefits and health coverage.” Orange County Register, April 19, 2013

The study Muir refers to, entitled “Irvine, California – City Employee Compensation Analysis,” was published on April 8th, 2013, by the California Public Policy Center. To call this study“a politically motivated attack on public employees and unions,”as Muir alleges, is itself a distraction. It’s easy, and necessary, to impugn the motives behind information when the… Read More

Edward Ring

Adjustable Pension Plans

Professor Barnhardt: “So it was only when your world was threatened with destruction that you became what you are now?”Klaatu: “Yes.”Professor Barnhardt: “Well that’s where we are. You say we’re on the brink of destruction and you’re right. But it’s only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve.” -The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2008

One might paraphrase Professor Barnhardt’s plea, excerpted from the 2008 movie potboiler “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” to suggest that pension plans will evolve once it is clear to a sufficient number of participants that they are truly on the precipice.

In the private sector, where fewer laws shield employers and their workers from financial reality, evolution is well under way. And what has emerged is is a mutation of the Defined Benefit Plan that preserves many of its virtues, while avoiding most of the financial risks. Being pioneered by the east coast actuarial consulting firm,Cheiron, Adjustable Pension Plans can be structured in various ways, but all of them share certain… Read More

Edward Ring

Public Sector Compensation: The Facts Speak for Themselves

“Forget about logic,” Jack advised. My analytics instructor says that all logic is mere tautology. She says it is impossible to learn anything through logic that you did not already know.” Robert A. Heinlein, Tunnel in the Sky

What about facts? There are certainly facts we don’t already know. According to the logic of the labor union spokespersons who relentlessly lobby and negotiate for higher wages and benefits for public sector workers, they are still underpaid because they have higher levels of education than the average worker. According to the logic ofAFSCME Local 3336, the only reason anyone might think public sector employees are overpaid is because of right wing propaganda. Yet it seems the many studies that fund their own analyses come from taxpayer supported institutions staffed with unionized faculty, or think tanks funded by grants from public employee unions.

But why impugn the sources? Why consider their logic? Why not just present the facts and let journalists, policymakers, and voters employ their own logic to form an opinion?

That is… Read More

Edward Ring

The Prosperity Agenda

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Contrary to a common misconception, it was not Charles Duell, the Commissioner of the US patent office, who said this back in 1899. According, and a host of other debunking sources online, this line was actually part of a parody that appeared in an 1899 edition of Punch Magazine. But it was a common sentiment of that era.

Over a century later, with innovations in recent years that were entirely unimaginable back in the great era of steel and steam, we might be hesitant to think everything that can be invented has been invented. But reputable economists are on hand to diminish the potential of information technology to continue to yield advances in productivity –Robert Gordonof Northwestern University, for example, “downplays the role of computer technology in the economic growth of the latter 20th century and questions the actual productivity of such technological… Read More

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