Entries by Ed Ring

California's 2014 Local Tax Proposals – The Costly Alternative to Pension Reform

On November 4th, along everything else on the ballot, California’s voters will be asked to approve local tax measures. A list compiled by the California Taxpayers Association, “2014 Local Elections,” shows that across California’s cities and counties, local tax increases proposed include the following: –  Tax increases requiring only a majority vote: 5 business taxes, […]

Watsonville, California – Another Tax That's Really Just For Pensions

The city of Watsonville lies nestled among some of the most verdant farmland on earth. Just a few miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, the moderate, moist air nurtures endless fields of strawberries, apples, fresh flowers, cauliflower, broccoli and artichoke. Fragrant forests of redwood carpet the Santa Cruz Mountains to the north; some of the most […]

Governor Brown – The Bailout King

“What a salesman,” he said, mockingly. “I guess that’s what you learned … selling that stock that went south.” – California Governor Brown, to challenger Kashkari, during televised debate Sept. 4th, 2014 (ref. SF Gate) If anyone wants to know what the theme of Governor Brown’s attacks on GOP candidate Neel Kashkari is going to […]

Reinventing America's Unions for the 21st Century

Critics have suggested that leaders of the labor movement suffer from economic illiteracy that has made them the architects of their own demise. The unwillingness of unions to make concessions in the face of global competition starting in the 1960’s was a major factor in Americans losing millions of union jobs. In the present day, […]

The Looming Bipartisan Backlash Against Unionized Government

Whenever discussing politically viable policy proposals to improve the quality of life in California, the imperative is to come up with ideas that strongly appeal to moderate centrists, since that is how most Californians would describe themselves. And there are two compelling issues that offer that appeal: making California’s system of K-12 education the best […]

Los Angeles Police Average Total Compensation $157,151 Per Year

Turns out the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension system return rate was 17.3 percent for 2013-2014, and other public pension funds reported similar double-digit returns and five-year returns exceeding their assumed rates.  – LAPPL Board of Directors on 08/07/2014, in their post “Misuse of statistics behind erroneous LA police officer salary claims.” The above quote […]

How Much Do Los Angeles Police Officers Make?

There’s a deep seated frustration and anger among the rank and file due to their low pay. Det. Tyler Izen – President, Los Angeles Police Protective League, July 28, 2014, KTLA Channel 5 Low pay, of course, is relative. It’s very difficult to objectively determine what a police officer should be paid. There aren’t jobs in […]

The Case for Adjustable Defined Benefits

Notwithstanding the fact that “adjustable defined benefits” might constitute an oxymoron, as a concept it represents the only way that defined benefit plans can be sustained. Rather than throwing new employees into individual 401K plans, while they effectively subsidize legacy defined benefits for veteran employees and retirees, why not adjust defined benefits down to a […]

Golden Gate Transit District Median Compensation $129,708 per Year, Union Threatening Strike

“No one wants the inconvenience associated with transportation workers taking action, but the District is leaving these workers little choice. This is about the middle class. We want the public to know what’s going on,” Tonisson said. – Alex Tonisson, co-chair, Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition, SF Appeal, July 24, 2014 If you were receiving a pay […]

How to Create Affordable Abundance in California

California has one of the highest costs of living in the United States. California also is one of the most inhospitable places to run a business in the United States. And despite being blessed with abundant energy and an innovative tradition that ought to render the supply of all basic resources abundant and cheap, California […]

The Financial Impact of Pension Obligations on Ventura County

“The rare problem of high pensions going to top public executives was solved last year by state legislation. Pensions will now be based on the salary cap for Social Security taxes: $117,000…  The highly exaggerated “unfunded liability” problem is resolving as the stock market and tax revenues recover from the recession. The Ventura County Taxpayer Association’s […]

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 […]

Examining the CalSTRS Shareholder Bailout

“CalSTRS has a $70-plus-billion unfunded liability – even with assumed investment earnings that Brown deems ‘highly unlikely’ – and says it needs about $5 billion more a year to regain solvency.” –  Dan Walters column, “Brown budget reflects state’s massive debt,” May 25, 2014, Sacramento Bee Those “investment earnings” that Walters quotes Brown as finding […]

California's Green Bantustans

One of the core barriers to economic prosperity in California is the price of housing. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Policies designed to stifle the ability to develop land are based on flawed premises. These policies prevail because they are backed by environmentalists, and, most importantly, because they have played into the […]

A "Left-Right Alliance" Against Public Sector Unions?

Consumer advocate and left-wing activist Ralph Nader has just written a book entitled “Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.” In a Salon interview published on May 2, Nader lists five areas where the left and right can agree on policy goals: (1) controlling security state overreach, (2) eliminating corporate welfare, (3) […]

Conservative Politicians and Public Safety Unions

As reported by investigative journalist John Hrabe, conservative gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly has accepted money from public safety unions in his legislative campaigns. His support from unions wasn’t a momentary lapse in judgement. As cited in Hrabe’s reports, his past candidacies have also benefited from independent expenditure campaigns funded by public sector unions. To not report […]

Evaluating Total Unfunded Public Employee Retirement Liabilities in 20 California Counties

Summary:  Using officially reported figures from the most recent financial statements available, this report calculates the total unfunded employee retirement liabilities for the 20 California counties with their own independent retirement systems. This study is the first of its kind to compile for these counties not only reported pension fund assets and liabilities, but also retirement […]

Public Pension Solvency Requires Asset Bubbles

The title of this post expresses what is probably the greatest example of a monstrous hypocrisy – that public employee unions, and the pension funds they control, are supposedly helping the American economy, and protecting the American people from “the bankers.” Overpriced “bubble” assets caused by banks offering low interest rates hurt ordinary working people […]

Evaluating Public Safety Pensions in California

Summary: To accurately assess how much pension obligations for current workers are going to cost, it is necessary to calculate average pensions for retirees who retired after 1999 when pension benefits were enhanced. Because public safety employees represent about 15% of California’s total state and local government workforce [1], but an estimated 25% of the […]