Entries by Ed Ring

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 […]

San Jose's Public Safety Pensions – Reduce Now or Slash Later

“Once people get the facts, they do not support slashing people’s pensions.” – Dave Low, chairman, Californians for Retirement Security (Washington Post, February 25, 2014) Really? Making sure “people get the facts” is difficult when most “facts” the public sees are promulgated to the media by pension fund PR departments eager to preserve the torrent […]

Construction Unions Should Fight for Infrastructure that Helps the Economy

One primary reason California has the highest cost-of-living (and cost of doing business) in America, combined with a crumbling infrastructure, is because California’s construction unions have allied themselves with environmental extremists and crony “green” capitalists, instead of fighting for what might actually help their state. California’s construction unions ought to take a look around the […]

Add ALL Public Workers to Social Security

“I think expanding Social Security benefits is incredibly important… the current Social Security benefits are not covering the cost of living for seniors.” – Shenna Bellows, Democrat, candidate for U.S. Senate, Maine, as quoted in Fiscal Times article “Liberal Dems’ New Goal: Boost Social Security Benefits,” The debate over what role, if any, government should […]

Retirement Security in America – A Tale of Two Contracts

Two people walked into a bank, somewhere in California. Both individuals needed to prepare financially for their retirement. Both of them earned about $80,000 per year. The first individual, Mr. Jones, was presented by the banker with a contract called “Social Security.” The contract read as follows: For as long as you work, you will […]

How Much Do CalSTRS Retirees Really Make?

Summary:  The California State Teacher’s Retirement System (CalSTRS) is California’s 2nd largest public employee pension fund, serving roughly 2% of California’s population. At present, its unfunded liability is officially estimated at $71 billion. While much of the discussion over pension reform focuses on projected rates of investment returns, which greatly affects the required annual contributions […]

How Much Does Professionalism Cost?

When discussing the sensitive subject of public employee compensation, there are several important dimensions that must be considered – can we afford it, is it appropriate and fair, how does it compare to the private sector (if comparisons can even be made), what are the additional costs for employer paid benefits, and how do we […]

Public Sector Pension Plans Do Not Pass the "Smell Test"

“Pew’s relationship with the Arnold Foundation does not pass the smell test,” said Meredith Williams, Denver-based executive director of the National Council on Teacher Retirement. –  “Pension Funds Press Pew to Cut Arnold Foundation,” Philanthropy Today, March 4, 2014 If you’re looking for an example of how, increasingly, political debate in America is framed as […]