Entries by Ed Ring

Californians Overwhelmingly Support New Local Bonds and Taxes

Two weeks ago, using information supplied by the California Taxpayers Association, we called attention to “$6.2 Billion in New Borrowing on June 7th Primary Ballot.” As noted, “Next week voters will be asked to approve 46 local bond measures totaling $6.18 billion in new debt, along with 52 local tax proposals. If history is any […]

Populist Candidates Still Ignore Government Unions

Nearly every objection that supporters of presidential candidates Trump and Sanders raise to the establishment are intimately associated with government unions. But neither the people’s voice, or that voice as it is reflected back to them by their populist heroes, articulates this fact. (1) Do you want to reform Wall Street? You’ll have to go […]

$6.2 Billion in New Borrowing on June 7th Primary Ballot

They are overshadowed by one of the most tumultuous Presidential primary campaigns in decades, but California’s June 7th primary ballot has local tax and bond proposals in numbers that, in aggregate, ought to be generating vigorous public debate. Next week voters will be asked to approve 46 local bond measures totaling $6.18 billion in new debt, along […]

Government Unions and the Financialization of America

Financialization – “a pattern of accumulation in which profit making occurs increasingly through financial channels rather than through trade and commodity production.” –  Greta Krippner, University of Michigan (source Wikipedia) If you want one word to describe the biggest threat to the American economy, “financialization” would be the prime candidate. This is a threat that […]

The Coming Public Pension Apocalypse, and What to Do About It

When the next market downturn hits, every public employee pension fund in the United States will face severe challenges. Because public employee pension funds are not subject to the same rules that private pension funds have to adhere to – namely, the restrictions on risky investments as specified in the federal Employee Retirement Income Security […]

Unionize the Personal Assistants to the One-tenth-of-one-percenters

It came as a shock to learn that some of those who were around when unions first started infiltrating local and state governments actually welcomed the process. These were the days when unions were driving jobs overseas because of their unwillingness to negotiate new contracts in the face of foreign competition. “Let them come,” some […]

The Bell Syndrome Afflicts More Cities Than Just Bell

Remember Bell, California? Back in 2010 the Los Angeles Times reported that Bell city officials were receiving unusually large salaries, perhaps the highest in the United States. For example, Robert Rizzo, the City manager, had received $787,637. By September of that year, as reported on CNN, the California Attorney General filed charges against eight former and current city officials. […]

Average Orange County Firefighter Made $236,155 in 2014

The City of Stanton contracts with Orange County for public safety services. Like many cities in Orange County, and in an arrangement that is typical of many small cities in California, it makes financial sense for the city to pay the county in exchange for an allocation of police and firefighters who protect the citizens […]

Sacramento's "Secure Choice" Pooled 401K – Too Frugal for Public Workers

In a move of breathtaking hypocrisy, California’s legislators have unveiled a financially sustainable retirement security program for private workers, while keeping financially unsustainable pensions for public workers. What private sector employers and private sector workers need to ask, more than anything, is if this new retirement security scheme is so great, why aren’t public employees going […]

California's Economically Illiterate Legislature

California’s minimum wage is set to rise to $15/hour over the next six years. While this topic has been beat to death, it is seldom pointed out that the inflation-adjusted minimum wage, based on 78 years of precedent, at most should only be around $10 per hour. A recent UnionWatch post “Raise the Minimum Wage, or […]

Practical Reforms to "Right-Size" Government Unions

Rolling back the power of government unions in a state like California is almost impossible. Their power has been unchallenged for so long that they now virtually control the state legislature, and their grip on local politicians extends to nearly every city, county, school district and special district. But there have been reforms in some […]

The Challenges Facing Conservatives Who Support Public Safety

Everyone supports public safety, but conservatives are a special case. In modern times, it was conservatives, reacting against 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 […]

The Hypocrisy of Public Sector Unions

During the industrial age, labor unions played a vital role in protecting the rights of workers. Skeptics may argue that enlightened management played an equally if not greater role, such as when Henry Ford famously raised the wages of his workers so they could afford to buy the cars they made, but few would argue […]

Investing in Infrastructure to Lower the Cost of Living

California’s civil infrastructure was once the envy of the nation. During the 1950’s and 1960’s the state wisely invested in transportation, water and power infrastructure, delivering capacity well in excess of the needs of the state’s population at the time. Even today, the scale of California’s network of aqueducts and pumping stations to transfer water […]

The Unsustainability Lobby

“The creation of the mortgage bond market, a decade earlier, had extended Wall Street into a place it had never before been: the debts of ordinary Americans.” –  Jared Vennett (played by Ryan Gosling), The Big Short (2015) Along with another superbly authentic movie Margin Call (2011), The Big Short provides a vivid look into the rigged, Darwinian, ruthlessly […]

Public Unions ARE the Political "Establishment"

The successes 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 tough job these days, with few historical precedents to offer guidance. Earlier this week an essay published in the […]

The Future of Unions in the Post-Scalia Era

“The ‘Scalia Dividend’ Is a Rare Opportunity for Unions.” – Shaun Richman, In These Times, February 16, 2016 The implications of Antonin Scalia’s sudden and tragic death have already been painstakingly explored by anyone involved in union reform. There’s not much to add. But what members of the labor movement have to say about this new […]

California Initiative Would Require Legislators to Wear Logos of Donors

If you are bemused by the success of populist candidates for President, if you think national politics in America is at risk of becoming a circus spectacle, get ready. Because that circus is coming to California. Southern California businessman John Cox is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that will require state politicians to wear the logos […]

California's Pension Contribution Shortfall At Least $15 Billion per Year

“Pension-change advocates failed to find funding for a measure during the depths of the 2008 recession and the havoc it wreaked on government budgets, so they won’t pass (a measure) when the economy is doing well.” –  Steve Maviglio, political consultant and union coalition spokesperson, Sacramento Bee, January 18, 2016 It’s hard to argue with […]

In Search of a Legitimate Labor Movement

Sarah has worked for a major grocery store chain for the past 25 years. Adjusting for inflation, she makes less now than she did over a decade ago, especially since her hours were cut in order for her employer to avoid being required to offer her health insurance. Even more difficult, she is “on call” […]

Why Investment Realities Will Compel Pension Reform

“For the first time in the pension fund’s history, we paid out more in retirement benefits than we took in contributions.” –  Anne Stausboll, Chief Executive Officer, CalPERS, 2014-2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report There are few examples of a seemingly innocuous statement with more significance than Stausboll’s admission, buried within her “CEO’s Letter of Transmittal,” summarizing the performance […]

Friedrichs vs. the CTA Ruling Could Restore Free Speech Rights of Government Workers

In less than one week the U.S. Supreme Court will begin to hear arguments in the case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, to determine whether unions can force public employees to fund speech through collective bargaining with which they might disagree. The case could result in a landmark decision impacting the First Amendment rights of millions […]