A Member of the Unionized Government Elite Attacks the CPPC

Edward Ring

Director, Water and Energy Policy

Edward Ring
November 19, 2013

A Member of the Unionized Government Elite Attacks the CPPC

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 includes opposing … 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. One of the reasons the California Public Policy Center is being taken seriously by journalists and policymakers in California is because we produce work that has intellectual integrity. And the CPPC is absolutely independent, founded by Californians in 2010, with less than 5% of its funding to-date coming from out-of-state. And while we were pleased to have our application for SPN membership approved in July of 2013, they have had zero impact on either our independence or, unfortunately, our funding status. So much for the great right-wing conspiracy.

If you want to really get at the problem that the CPPC is trying to educate Californians about, the agenda that our UC professor critic ascribes to us only address the symptoms. The core problem is unionized government. While unions have earned a heroic historical legacy in the United States, and even today can play a legitimate role at times in the private sector, they have corrupted our public sector with a self-serving agenda that is bankrupting our state and local governments, oppressing taxpayers, and, ironically, empowering the monopolistic crony capitalists and casino banking interests these unions rhetorically oppose. There are no partisan “wings” to that perspective.

To personify this, let’s examine the employment circumstances of our critic, who is a public sector employee. Because they were honest – or naive – enough to provide us their name and email when they submitted their comment, we will repay the favor by not identifying them by name, campus, or department. But we found them. And they live a life of extraordinary privilege.

The person who feels we are, apparently, not looking out for “working people” is a tenured UC professor who collected a salary of $132,981 in 2012 (ref. “State Worker Salaries” to look up any UC employee). In exchange for this, we may assume that our professor is not working during the summer, nor during Christmas or spring break. We can safely assume they work during the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters, which run from Sept. 23 through Dec. 15 (Fall), Jan. 7 through March 23 (Winter), and April 1 through June 16 (Spring). That is, taking into account six holidays that fall within those dates, they work 33 weeks per year.

For those of us who work, taking into account vacations and holidays, 46 to 50 weeks per year, 33 weeks seems like a pretty good deal. But maybe this professor works really hard during those 33 weeks. Or not. A review of their faculty profile – verified by a call to the University – confirmed they are teaching one class during the Fall 2013 quarter. This requires our champion of working families to be present for office hours for one hour per week, from noon until 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, then to teach their class from 1 p.m. until 3:50 p.m on Tuesdays. Got that? They work four hours per week.

Ah, but perhaps our idealistic friend of the downtrodden does research. Perhaps they write books that bequeath seminal insights onto humanity? Well, maybe. A review of this professor’s resume indicates they published three articles in professional journals during 2010, consuming a total of 70 pages. In 2011, they published two articles consuming a total of 26 pages. They presented one research paper in 2010, and one in 2011. According to their resume, they haven’t conducted a workshop since 2009. We don’t know about their 2012 activity, because their online resume hasn’t been updated.

It would be unfair to jump to conclusions. Perhaps these research papers, workshops, and “reviewing and refereeing activities” consume a monstrous amount of time. Not to worry however. Our professor who is looking out for the little guy is almost certainly eligible for retirement soon, since they got their Ph.D. back in 1991. At 2.5% per year times 23 years, they’ll get a pension equivalent to 57.5% of $132,981 if they retire at the end of this academic year; that’s $76,464 per year. And in the real world, that is an awful lot of retirement income for someone whose formal working hours were four hours a day, one day per week, 33 weeks per year.

A primary educational agenda of the CPPC is to expose exactly why unionized government is making California unaffordable for ordinary people. Our altruistic critic has helped further that agenda, by providing another opportunity to expose their own all-too-common world view that mingles economic illiteracy with rank hypocrisy.

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Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Public Policy Center.

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