Feb 11 2012

Attorney General Eric Holder’s stonewalling on “Fast and Furious”

I posted this earlier, but it accidentally went to a PAGE instead of a POST. I’m fixing that now.

KUHNER: Obama’s Watergate – Washington Times

A year ago this week, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered. He died protecting his country from brutal Mexican gangsters. Two AK-47 assault rifles were found at his death site. We now know the horrifying truth: Agent Terry was killed by weapons that were part of an illegal Obama administration operation to smuggle arms to the dangerous drug cartels. He was a victim of his own government. This is not only a major scandal; it is a high crime that potentially reaches all the way to the White House, implicating senior officials. It is President Obama’s Watergate.

Operation Fast and Furious was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and overseen by the Justice Department. It started under the leadership of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Fast and Furious enabled straw gun purchases from licensed dealers in Arizona, in which more than 2,000 weapons were smuggled to Mexican drug kingpins. ATF claims it was seeking to track the weapons as part of a larger crackdown on the growing violence in the Southwest. Instead, ATF effectively has armed murderous gangs. About 300 Mexicans have been killed by Fast and Furious weapons. More than 1,400 guns remain lost. Agent Terry likely will not be the last U.S. casualty.

Mr. Holder insists he was unaware of what took place until after media reports of the scandal appeared in early 2011. This is false. Such a vast operation only could have occurred with the full knowledge and consent of senior administration officials. Massive gun-running and smuggling is not carried out by low-level ATF bureaucrats unless there is authorization from the top. There is a systematic cover-up.

Congressional Republicans, however, are beginning to shed light on the scandal. Led by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Rep. Darrell Issa of California, a congressional probe is exposing the Justice Department’s rampant criminality and deliberate stonewalling. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, who heads the department’s criminal division, helped craft a February letter to Congress that denied ATF had ever walked guns into Mexico. Yet, under pressure from congressional investigators, the department later admitted that Mr. Breuer knew about ATF gun-smuggling as far back as April 2010. In other words, Mr. Breuer has been misleading Congress. He should resign – or be fired.

Instead, Mr. Holder tenaciously insists that Mr. Breuer will keep his job. He needs to keep his friends close and potential witnesses even closer. Another example is former acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson. Internal documents show Mr. Melson directly oversaw Fast and Furious, including monitoring numerous straw purchases of AK-47s. He has admitted to congressional investigators that he, along with high-ranking ATF leaders, reassigned every “manager involved in Fast and Furious” after the scandal surfaced on Capitol Hill and in the press. Mr. Melson said he was ordered by senior Justice officials to be silent regarding the reassignments. Hence, ATF managers who possess intimate and damaging information – especially on the role of the Justice Department – essentially have been promoted to cushy bureaucratic jobs. Their silence has been bought, their complicity swept under the rug. Mr. Melson has been transferred to Justice’s main office, where he serves as a “senior adviser” on forensic science in the department’s Office of Legal Policy. Rather than being punished, Mr. Melson has been rewarded for his incompetence and criminal negligence.

Mr. Holder and his aides have given misleading, false and contradictory testimony on Capitol Hill. Perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power – these are high crimes and misdemeanors. Mr. Holder should be impeached. Like most liberals, he is playing the victim card, claiming Mr. Issa is a modern-day Joseph McCarthy conducting a judicial witch hunt. Regardless of this petty smear, Mr. Holder must be held responsible and accountable – not only for the botched operation, but for his flagrant attempts to deflect blame from the administration.

Mr. Holder is a shameless careerist and a ruthless Beltway operative. For years, his out-of-control Justice Department has violated the fundamental principle of our democracy, the rule of law. He has refused to prosecute members of the New Black Panthers for blatant voter intimidation that took place in the 2008 election. Career Justice lawyers have confessed publicly that Mr. Holder will not pursue cases in which the perpetrators are black and the victims white. States such as Arizona and Alabama are being sued for simply attempting to enforce federal immigration laws. Mr. Holder also opposes voter identification cards, thereby enabling fraud and vote-stealing at the ballot box. What else can we expect from one who, during the Clinton administration, helped pardon notorious tax cheat Marc Rich and Puerto Rican terrorists?

Mr. Holder clearly knew about Fast and Furious and did nothing to stop it. This is because the administration wanted to use the excuse of increased violence on the border and weapons-smuggling into Mexico to justify tighter gun-control legislation. Mr. Holder is fighting ferociously to prevent important internal Justice documents from falling into the hands of congressional investigators. If the full nature of his involvement is discovered, the Obama presidency will be in peril.

Fast and Furious is even worse than Watergate for one simple reason: No one died because of President Nixon’s political dirty tricks and abuse of government power. But Brian Terry is dead; and there are still 1,500 missing guns threatening still more lives.

What did Mr. Obama know? Massive gun-smuggling by the U.S. government into a foreign country does not happen without the explicit knowledge and approval of leading administration officials. It’s too big, too risky and too costly. Mr. Holder may not be protecting just himself and his cronies. Is he protecting the president?


Oct 09 2011

Tom McClintock telling it like it is

RealClearPolitics

Note: Congressman Tom McClintock delivered the following speech to the Council for National Policy: 

I want to welcome this groundbreaking scientific expedition to the savage lands of the Left Coast. You are here in California to answer an important theoretical question and now you have your answer.

Yes, this is what Barack Obama’s second term would look like.

Study it. Fear it. And then go home and make sure that it never happens to the rest of the country.

Of course, in spite of all of its problems, California is still one of the best places in the country to build a successful small business. All you have to do is start with a successful large business.

Laugh if you will, but as you whistle past this cemetery, do heed the medieval epitaph: “Remember man as you walk by, as you are now so once was I; as I am now so you will be.”

Mark that well, because if we lose this struggle for the future of our country, you too someday will live in a California – only without the nice climate.

Bad policies. Bad process. Bad politics. Those are the three acts in a Greek tragedy that tell the tale of how, in the span of a single generation, the most prosperous and golden state in the nation became an economic basket case.

When my parents came to California in the 1960’s looking for a better future, they found it here. The state government consumed about half of what it does today after adjusting for both inflation and population. HALF. We had the finest highway system in the world and the finest public school system in the country. California offered a FREE university education to every Californian who wanted one. We produced water and electricity so cheaply that some communities didn’t bother to meter the stuff. Our unemployment rate consistently ran well below the national rate and our diversified economy was nearly recession-proof.

One thing – and one thing only – changed in those years: public policy. The political Left gradually gained dominance over California’s government and has imposed a disastrous agenda of radical and retrograde policies that have destroyed the quality of life that Californians once took for granted.

The Census bureau has reported for the better part of the decade that California is undergoing the biggest population exodus in its history, with many fleeing to such garden spots as Nevada, Arizona and Texas. Think about that. California is blessed with the most equitable climate in the entire Western Hemisphere; it has the most bountiful resources anywhere in the continental United States; it is poised on the Pacific Rim in a position to dominate world trade for the next century, and yet people are finding a better place to live and work and raise their families in the middle of the Nevada Nuclear Test Range.

I submit to you that no conceivable act of God could wreak such devastation. Only acts of government can do that. And they have.

We conservatives espouse principles of individual liberty, free markets, constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, the protection of natural rights – not out of some slavish devotion to ideology, but because all human experience has shown these principles to be the most certain means to achieve a prosperous and happy society. If you want to see the opposite of that – come to California.

James Madison said the trickiest question the Constitutional convention confronted was how to oblige a government to control itself. History records not a single example of a nation that spent, borrowed and taxed its way to prosperity; but it offers us many, many examples of nations that spent and borrowed and taxed their way to economic ruin and bankruptcy. And history is screaming this warning at us: that nations that bankrupt themselves aren’t around very long, because before you can provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty – you have to be able to pay for it.

California may not have invented deficit spending but we certainly refined it into a science. Before the crash of 2008, when California was taking in more money than ever in its history, it was already running a nine billion dollar deficit, under a Republican governor elected on the pledge to “cut up the credit cards.”

Federal spending increased 26 percent in the last three years literally consuming and squandering the wealth of the nation at the worst possible time. Yet consider this: from July of 2005 to July of 2008, California increased its spending by 31 percent, under a Republican governor elected on the pledge to “stop the crazy deficit spending”. You can see how well that’s worked for us.

If stimulus spending, massive deficits and burgeoning government bureaucracies were the path to economic prosperity, California should be leading the nation from the top rather than from the bottom. After we lost the nation’s triple-A credit rating this summer specifically because of chronic deficit spending, it should surprise no one that California suffers the lowest bond rating in the nation for precisely the same reason.

 


Our regulatory burdens are also years ahead of the rest of the nation – we’ve had our own version of Cap and Trade on the books for five years now, and even though the bulk of these restrictions yet to take effect, investors make decisions every day anticipating their impact.

 

This has already proven utterly devastating to energy generation, cargo and passenger transportation, cement production, construction, wine making, agriculture and manufacturing. When he signed this legislation, Gov. Schwarzenegger promised that this would produce a cornucopia of new green jobs.

How’s that working out? Up until the autumn of 2006, California’s unemployment rate tracked fairly steadily with the national unemployment numbers. But beginning in that quarter, California’s unemployment rate moved steadily beyond the national numbers. Today it stands at 12.1 percent – three full points above the national rate. You can’t blame the national economy for that – you have to find something specific to California that occurred in the autumn of 2006 to explain this divergence. I submit that the only significant event in that period was the signing of AB 32.

And I should note that although we’ve devastated California’s once recession-proof economy with these ridiculous regulations, the Earth stubbornly continues to warm and cool as it has for billions of years.

I mentioned water and electricity so cheap that some communities didn’t meter the stuff. There’s a reason for that: California had embarked on an aggressive program of hydroelectric and nuclear power construction that promised an era of clean, cheap and abundant electricity. But beginning with the first “small is beautiful” administration of Jerry Brown, these programs were abandoned in favor of “green energy.” We now have the most stringent renewable energy requirements in the nation.

Which helps explain why California is the home to such stunning green energy success stories as Solyndra. We have among the highest electricity prices in the continental United States. We have the lowest per-capita electricity consumption in the nation as well. And every day, our government spends part of our sky-high electricity bills to lecture us to conserve more.

We completed our last major dam in 1979. Last year, environmentalists diverted 200 billion gallons of water from central valley agriculture for the enjoyment and amusement of the Delta Smelt – a three-inch long minnow that has become the environmental left’s pet cause. This single action destroyed thousands of jobs and laid waste to a half million acres of the most fertile farmland in America. It is no coincidence that four of the ten metropolitan areas suffering the highest unemployment rate in the country are all in California’s Central Valley.

Meanwhile, up north on the Klamath River, California has found a new partnership with the Obama administration as they proceed to tear down four perfectly good hydroelectric dams capable of producing 155 megawatts of the cleanest and cheapest electricity on the planet — enough to power 155,000 homes. This is due, we are told, to the decline of the salmon population. The Iron Gate Fish Hatchery on the Klamath produces 5 million salmon smolts each year – 17,000 of which return as fully-grown adults to spawn – but they don’t include them in the population count. To add insult to insanity, when the Iron Gate Dam is destroyed, we will lose the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery.

We have the most aggressive mass transit program in the country – although we have not added significant capacity to our highway system in a generation. Californians consistently pay among the highest taxes per gallon of gasoline in the country and yet make among the lowest per capita expenditures on our roads. And what a surprise: we also have among the highest congestion rates in the country.

We have the largest population of illegal aliens in the country, consuming somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 billion in direct state expenditures. A few years ago, the Los Angeles County Sheriff reported that fully 25 percent of the jail inmates were illegal aliens. For years, California has provided in-state tuition for illegal aliens at the expense of California taxpayers – and with the signing of the California Dream Act four days ago, they will also have access to taxpayer-financed grants. Meanwhile, CSU has increased tuition 22 percent in just two years.

I’ve noticed a few of you on your cell phones no doubt checking to be sure that your return reservations are confirmed.

But I need to remind you that the Obama administration is pursuing exactly the same policies nationally – and so far with the same results. When you step off the plane back in your home state, just remember that all your plane trip will buy you is a couple of years if we lose the fight in 2012.

The second act of this morality tale is how bad process accommodated and amplified bad policy.

The Left loves to throw the term “dysfunctional” at our governing institutions. In the last week, the Democratic governor of North Carolina seriously opined that we ought to postpone congressional elections so that congressmen would “do the right thing.” Peter Orzag this week wrote of wanting to shift even more decision-making from our elected representatives to elitist boards appointed by our betters.

We have reached this point not because of a failure of our republican institutions, but because of a failure to respect those institutions.

 


Again, California is a pioneer, but the rest of the country is fast catching up. In the 1960’s, California’s legislature was respected throughout the country as the model for others to follow. It was professional, it respected process, and it worked. It did a few things, but it did them exceedingly well. It left local schools, local governments and local revenues in local hands. But beginning in the 1970’s this began to break down.

 

The humility that kept Sacramento from sticking its nose into the business of local governments gave way to the hubris that the state knew better what was important to local communities than those communities themselves. The appalling breakdown of federalist principles at the national level now geometrically compounds this problem.

But at the core of this breakdown was the abandonment of our basic republican structure of government – and it began right here.

Our parliamentary institutions have evolved over centuries to distill diverse viewpoints to a common direction within constitutional boundaries. When this process is applied, it works extremely well.

For a quarter of a century, I watched as these brilliant checks and balances that had produced reasonably punctual and reasonably balanced budgets for over a century, and nurtured the most prosperous economy in the nation, were gradually abandoned in the name of liberal efficiency.

Slowly, inexorably, decision-making that had been done broadly and independently by the two houses of the legislature — involving the active participation of every elected representative — was usurped by an extra-constitutional abomination called the “Big Five.”

See if any of this sounds familiar: The “Big Five” is essentially a super-committee that meets behind closed doors outside the scrutiny of the public, sidelining the legislature, short-circuiting the independent judgment of the two houses, and then in the eleventh hour drops its decision into the laps of the legislature for a take-it–or-leave it vote that cannot even be amended.

I know I don’t have to connect the dots for anybody here. Ladies and gentlemen, it does not work. California’s plague of chronically late and chronically unbalanced budgets coincides quite clearly with the disintegration of the legislative process and the replacement of parliamentary institutions with handpicked super-committees.

Which brings me to the third act of this Greek Tragedy – bad politics.

Last November, while the rest of the country was celebrating historic Republican gains (including a shift of 63 U.S. House Seats, six U.S. Senate Seats, 680 state legislative seats, 19 state legislatures and six governors), the statewide Republican ticket in California – despite massively outspending the Democrats in the best Republican year since 1938 – lost every statewide race and even lost ground in the state legislature.

Republicans nationally now hold more state legislative seats than in any year since 1928. In California, they hold fewer than at any time since 1978!

That is not because the voting population of California has lost its collective mind and it is not because the state is divinely ordained to be run by morons.

It happened because Dick Armey is right: “When we act like us we win, and when we act like them we lose.”

Republicans lost the 2006 and 2008 elections not because voters abandoned Republican principles, but because they looked at the Republicans and concluded that the Republicans had abandoned Republican principles.

During the Bush years, Republicans had increased federal spending at twice the rate of Bill Clinton; they left our borders wide open; they approved the biggest increase in entitlement spending since the Great Society and that turned record budget surpluses into record deficits to launch this brave new era of stimulus spending.

I last visited with the CNP in Washington in May of 2009. What a depressing meeting that was! Obama enjoyed 66 percent public approval. The week before, a conference of self-appointed Republican leaders had concluded that “we had to put the Reagan era behind us” and we had to be “mindful and respectful that the other side has something and that we have nothing and you can’t beat something with nothing.” (I won’t mention names, but his initials were Jeb Bush.)

Thank God House Republicans didn’t take that approach.

In the aftermath of that debacle, House Republican leaders resolved to restore traditional Republican principles as the policy and political focus of the party and they achieved something no one at the time thought possible: they united House Republicans as a determined voice of opposition to the Left and they rallied the American people.

Republicans rediscovered why we were Republicans, and Republican leaders rediscovered Reagan’s advice to paint our positions in bold colors and not hide them in pale pastels.

The result was one of the most dramatic watershed elections in American history.

California Republicans did exactly the opposite, and ended up replaying the disaster of 2008 while the rest of the country was enjoying one of the greatest Republican landslides ever recorded.

In California, the Democrats attacked Republicans for imposing the biggest state tax increase in American history. The Democrats attacked Republicans for obstructing pension reform to protect the prison guards union. These attacks had the unfortunate element of being true.

Meanwhile, the Republican ticket attacked Arizona’s immigration law. Republicans attacked the Proposition that would have stopped AB 32 – California’s version of Cap and Trade.

The sad truth is that we were more like the Democrats than the Democrats.

A few days after the election, a Republican leader whose mission in life has been to redefine the Republican Party in the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger said he just couldn’t explain the results.

I can. We didn’t need to redefine our principles. We needed to return to them. House Republicans did. California Republicans did not. Any questions?

Great parties are built upon great principles and they are judged by their devotion to those principles. Since its inception, the central principle of the Republican Party can be summed up in a single word, Freedom.

The closer we have hewn to that principle, the better we have done. The farther we have strayed from that principle, the worse we have done.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln warned the nation that two incompatible and irreconcilable philosophies, freedom and slavery, competed for our future and reminded us that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” “I do not believe the house will fall,” he said, “but I do believe that it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Today two incompatible and irreconcilable philosophies — freedom and socialism — compete for our nation’s future and the stage is set for one of the greatest debates in the history of the American Republic.

We are winning that debate. But we have to stand firm.

What has happened to California and now is threatening our country is the inevitable consequence of bad policy, bad process and bad politics – and the good news is, that’s all within our power as a people to change.

I believe that if Californians rediscover these self-evident truths, Jerry Brown will be to California what Barack Obama has been to the rest of the country – a giant wake-up call. And if Americans rally behind these truths, together, we will write the next great chapter of the American Republic: that just when it looked like America would fade into history as just another failed socialist state, this generation of Americans rediscovered, revived and restored those uniquely American principles of individual liberty and constitutionally limited government, rallied under a bold banner held high by the traditional party of freedom, and from that moment America began her next great era of expansion, prosperity and influence. 

Tom McClintock is the U.S. Representative for California’s 4th congressional district.


Aug 24 2011

Two stories on the disaster that is the California public employee pension morass

If you’re a lefty, you might be inclined to dismiss this first story, since it’s posted at BIGOVERNMENT.COM, and so biased to the right (although lefties continue to trust the New York Times and the LA Times… funny, that). But the second story, below, is based on a Standford University study…. and we all know what a hotbed of ultra-rightwing radicalism is found at Stanford.  I hate that the state has done this, because I have some family members who are counting on the state system to work properly.  That is, however, what comes of trusting Democrats to run a budget, let alone make financial projections into the next decade.

» California Admits to Almost $1 Trillion in Unfunded Pension Obligations

 

The three largest California public retiree plans (CalPERS, CalSTRS, and UCRS) that administer pensions of approximately 2.6 million State and Local public current and retired employees have been under tremendous scrutiny since last year’s release of the Stanford University Institute for Public Policy report: “Going For Broke”. The study concluded that California retirement plans liability was under-funded by over $500 billion.

The report blamed most of the shortfall on the pension plan’s expectation of future annual investment returns of 7.75%; versus a realistic expectation of a 4.14% annual return. The cabal of California politicians, bureaucrats, and crony consultants that justified granting lucrative benefits to employees while failing to contribute enough to support the true pension costs; solemnly dismissed the Stanford report as unsophisticated reflections by academics. But now that a swarm of local governments want to abandon the floundering retirement trusts; the State plans are only willing to credit a 3.8% expected return. If the California State pension plans adopted the same 3.8% rate they are only willing to credit when participants want to leave; their published $288 billion in pension shortfall would metastasize into an $884 billion California State insolvency.

It doesn’t take a Stanford MBA to realize producing consistently high investment returns since 2007 has been a difficult in the extreme. The California State pension plans that currently control $432 billion in assets, suffered a $109.7 billion in losses during the 2008 to 2009 recession. Pension plans normally require employers and their employees to mutually increase contributions to make up pension shortfalls. But public pension plans are notorious for not requiring employees to make significant contribution. California police, prison guards, firemen, and lifeguards can retire at age 50, but have never been required to contribute to fund pensions. With headlines that California plans are in big trouble; many government agencies applied to withdrawal from the State plans. But as calculated below; compounding investments at 7.75% grows to more than three times the amount of compounding investments at a 3.8% rate of return.

When I was elected as Orange County, California Treasurer in 2006, I was flabbergasted to discover that the County’s $8 billion of retirement investments was covertly leveraged up by $22 billion of derivatives. I quickly learned that many unions see pension benefits as contracted rights; and pension investing as a no risk crap-shoot for extraordinary returns.

 

If the pension investment returns sky-rocket, the unions will bargain for increased benefits. If the pension investment returns crash; the public employees are protected by rock-solid contract law that prevents any reduction in benefits. In 2007, I was fortunate to gain the support of enough OC Pension Trustees to reduce speculative derivative use by 90%. At the time, Trustees for the California public pension plans solemnly dismissed Orange County as unsophisticated. Shortly thereafter the stock market crashed and the State Pension Trustees stopped making comments.

Once famous as the Golden State for leading the nation in high tech growth industries that provided excellent wages; California is now tarnished for having the second highest unemployment and worst state credit rating in the nation. Forbes recently quoted a top venture capitalist that compared the California business climate to France: “I try not to hire here, and I certainly would not launch a company here. But the wine is good.” Tripling of the burden for under-funded pension liability to almost $1 trillion will probably ruin the taste of California wine for most taxpayers.

 

California state pension funds going broke, Stanford study finds

 

California state pension funds going broke, Stanford study finds

New calculations by Stanford graduate students show that California’s three main public employee pension funds are in more dire financial trouble than previously believed.

L.A. Cicero
Howard Bornstein and Lisha Wang 

 

Students Howard Bornstein and Lisha Wang spoke with reporters after a news conference where they and the other members of their research group announced their findings about the state retirement system.

BY GWYNETH DICKEY

California public employee pension systems are worse off than anyone previously projected, according to a new report generated by five graduate students in Stanford’s graduate Public Policy Program. The result could be greater pressure on the state budget and a shortage of pension funds in the future.

“This is a really dire situation,” graduate student Howard Bornstein said today at a press conference at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), which is publishing the students’ findings. “If we don’t do something now, we’re going to have major issues in just a few years.”

Bornstein and his fellow graduate students examined public records of past performance of three pension funds – the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the University of California Retirement System (UCRS), which together administer pensions for approximately 2.6 million Californians.

The students ran computer simulations to predict the unfunded liabilities of the pension funds over the next 16 years.

Major investment needed

“The simulation shows that the state would need to invest more than $200 billion, and possibly as much as $350 billion, today to return the fund to a minimum responsible level of funding,” said Bornstein, who noted that the figure is approximately four times the current state budget.

“It’s an enormous number,” said Joe Nation, a public policy lecturer at SIEPR and the adviser for the research team. He said it’s important to look at the shortfall relative to state resources. Pension funds fluctuate with market performance, but state employees are guaranteed a fixed pension regardless. If the market performs poorly, the state is obligated to step in and provide the missing pension funds. That takes money away from other public projects, such as education and healthcare, Nation said.

“The students did an amazing job providing a better sense of unfunded liability for those three pension funds, and I hope observers out there will begin to understand that this is a financial train wreck that is not very far down the tracks,” Nation said.

In the report, Bornstein and his fellow graduate students suggest policies to fix the shortfall and prevent a similar one in the future.

They propose that the managers of the pension funds project more realistic rates of return, which would indicate higher liabilities in the future.

“The whole approach that the state currently uses is inherently flawed. They look at averages as opposed to a fan of outcomes,” said Bornstein. “If you instead look at the range of outcomes in the future, you’d see there’s over a 60 percent chance of a deficit greater than $250 billion for CalPERS alone. This is something that really scares us.”

The students suggest that the minimum level of caution should be for the pension systems to aim for an 80 percent probability of having at least 80 percent of the funds necessary to cover the pensions. They also advocate investing more conservatively, taking fewer risks.

“Funds in other parts of the country are in similar situations, and they are beginning to invest in riskier assets,” Nation said. “That’s exactly the wrong thing to do. If the market doesn’t perform well, the taxpayer ends up paying.”

Suggested fixes

The students suggest either reducing pension benefits or moving to a hybrid system in which retirees receive a smaller fixed pension combined with a 401(k)-style plan. This would relieve some of the burden on the state and give employees more responsibility for their retirement. Two-thirds of Californians would support such a plan, according to a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

“The biggest challenge with this is making sure elected officials understand the severity of the problem,” Nation said. “It’s a political hot potato and most politicians shy away from the issue because you offend a lot of the constituencies by acknowledging the problem exists.”

But, he said, citizens and institutions are increasingly aware of the situation and are speaking out.

“The University of California is engaged in this debate because they finally understand that as pension fund benefits grow, there will be fewer dollars for higher education,” Nation said.

The report was prepared for the Office of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of the Graduate Practicum in Public Policy, a two-quarter sequence required for master’s degree students in the Public Policy and International Policy Studies programs.

In addition to the masters’  program in Public Policy, Bornstein will earn his Masters in Business Administration degree this June.

SIEPR conducts research on important economic policy issues facing the United States and other countries. SIEPR’s goal is to inform policymakers and to influence their decisions with long-term policy solutions.

What’s funny is the heading above, “major investment needed.”  The left wants to make a major investment, alright.  An Obama-style investment, called enormous tax hikes to fund impossible promises made to public employee unions.

Something will have to give.  Higher taxes to fund impossible-to-fulfill promises will just postpone the disaster, and not by very long.  A complete, structural, top-to-bottom readjustment is needed, and people have to lose the idea that they can work for 30 years and retire at the age of 55 and still get paid till they die at 95.


Aug 19 2011

Britain, R.I.P.? Part Seven

Category: government,guns,justice,left,liberty,societyharmonicminer @ 9:09 am

The previous post in this series is here.

Powerline has a brilliant article by Professor Malcolm from George Mason University Law School.  Normally, in these series, I don’t merely link, and I try to provide some original content and analysis.

But this article so perfectly captures the supine British attitude towards evil that I had to include it here.

 

 

 

 


Aug 12 2011

it’s not AVON Calling

Category: Congress,economy,government,legislation,liberty,mediaharmonicminer @ 2:53 pm

Will this be part of the census soon?


Aug 10 2011

The “mock the spending” youtube channel

Category: Congress,economy,funny but sad,government,Group-think,liberty,mediaharmonicminer @ 11:46 am

Here is the youtube channel that explains in very simple, short videos, what the problem is with government spending, regulation, and general uncalled for interference in our lives, with equal time spent on nannystaters, regulators, and general busybodies.

 

It’s called “Mock The Spending,” obviously a takeoff on “Rock the vote.”

 

Here’s one of the videos, but there are many, and the whole channel is pretty entertaining.

This is an especially funny one called, “If the government patched World of Warcraft”:

 

 


Aug 04 2011

Money Madness!!

Tum da de tum, here is another entry in the Powerline Prize contest. This one didn’t win anything, but it has the singular distinction of having been a project of my family, with my son, “A. Shack,” composing the rap and performing the song, my wife (Mrs. Miner) performing some pseudo “baby voices,” with some music production and amateur video editing from me, Harmonicminer.

You can see many more entries in the Powerline Blog YouTube Channel, along with Money Madness.


Aug 01 2011

Time to stop digging

Category: Congress,economy,government,Group-think,liberty,mediaharmonicminer @ 3:05 pm

Another of the great entries from the Powerline Prize contest for media to illustrate and dramatize the great danger of our national debt.

 

 


Jul 30 2011

Passing the buck

Category: Congress,economy,government,legislation,liberty,mediaharmonicminer @ 11:00 am

Well… passing the terabuck is more like it.

Here is another of the great entries to the Powerline Prize contest to create media that dramatizes or illustrates the enormous danger of the 14 trillion and growing national debt. We really have to stop deficit spending. Right away.


Jul 29 2011

Shovel Ready?

Category: Congress,economy,government,Group-think,legislation,liberty,media,Obamaharmonicminer @ 12:00 pm

Another of the Powerline Prize entries, this one a music video called “Shovel Ready, Not Shovel Ready Enough”. Very funny, and very effective… and very sad. A TRILLION dollars for essentially nothing very helpful….

Somebody was shoveling something, alright.


« Previous PageNext Page »