Entries by Edward Ring

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 […]

A Pension "Pledge" for State Politicians

Earlier this week, noted pension reformer John Moore published “The Mechanics of Pension Reform,” listing specific principles of pension reform. Moore’s article focuses on state policy; he intends to focus on local pension reform policies in a later article. The list he has produced for state legislators is quite detailed; here’s is a partial summary […]

How the Pension Reactionaries Mislead the Public

re·ac·tion·ar·y, rēˈakSHəˌnerē, adjective 1. (of a person or a set of views) opposing political or social liberalization or reform. –  Source:  Google search “what is a reactionary” When it comes to civic financial health and quality public education, “reactionary” is a word with increasingly bipartisan connotations. But the other qualities connoted by the word all still apply; shrill […]

The Alliance Between Wall Street and Public Unions

“It’s [private equity investments] generating real returns for our members, which is exactly what it’s supposed to do,” said Joe DeAnda, a CalPERS spokesman. “It’s real value that we don’t feel there’s another way to achieve.” –  “Are private equity investments worth the risk?,” Los Angeles Times, November 14, 2015 The alliance between government unions […]

Why Aren't Unions Fighting California's Bullet Train Boondoggle?

Back in 2008, voters in California approved Prop. 1, a statewide initiative to spend, “$9 billion for building a new high-speed railroad between San Francisco and Los Angeles.” Total cost, $9.5 billion. Remember that? Quoting further from the original initiative’s ballot language: “Bond Costs. The costs of these bonds would depend on interest rates in effect […]

How Project Labor Agreements Elevate Costs to Taxpayers

When considering the labor movement in the United States, there is a huge distinction between government unions and private sector unions. Government unions elect their own bosses, they operate within agencies that collect taxes instead of having to make a profit by enticing consumers to buy their products, and they operate the machinery of government […]

Why Pacific Grove Matters to Pension Reformers

UnionWatch has just released the fourth and final installment of “The Fall of Pacific Grove – The Final Chapter,” written by John Moore, who is a retired attorney and resident of Pacific Grove. This four part series constitutes an extended epilogue to a eight part series on Pacific Grove which was published last year on UnionWatch. Links […]

CalPERS "Myths vs. Facts" Propaganda Will Not Change Reality

California’s largest state/local government employee pension system, CalPERS, has posted a page on their website called “Myths vs. Facts.” Included among their many rather debatable “facts” is the following assertion, “Pension costs represent about 3.4 percent of total state spending.” This depends, of course, on what year you’re considering, and what you consider to be […]

When Will Unions Fight to Lower the Cost of Living?

A report issued earlier this year from California’s Office of Legislative Analyst “California’s High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences,” cites the following statistics:  “Today, an average California home costs $440,000, about two–and–a–half times the average national home price ($180,000). Also, California’s average monthly rent is about $1,240, 50 percent higher than the rest of the country ($840 […]

Pension Reform Requires Mutual Empathy, not Enmity

Attending a high school reunion after more than a few decades ought to be a memorable experience for anyone. Hopefully the occasion is filled with warmth and remembrance, rekindled friendships, stories and laughs. But as our lives develop and we build our adult networks based on shared values and common professions, a high school reunion […]

Moral Values That Underlie Opposition to Government Unions

Often missing from entirely legitimate criticism of government unions is an accompanying explanation of the moral values that underlie the criticism. Last month we published a post entitled “Deceptive and Misleading Claims – How Government Unions Fool the Public,” which listed ten myths that government unions use repeatedly in their propaganda campaigns. Missing in that […]

Silicon Valley Moving Toward Alliance With Big Labor

Back in the late 1970’s something happened to the Santa Clara Valley. Increasingly it became referred to as the Silicon Valley, because the emerging silicon based semiconductor industry found its first home in plants nestled along the southern shores of the San Francisco Bay. Boasting what are among the finest universities in the United States – […]