Guest post written by Joyanna Adams
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Back when I was young, and I thought of visiting California, I dreamed of walking around Hollywood, kicking sand up on the beach, dancing to happy Beach Boy songs, watching young men ogle young girls in bikini’s and soft summer nights driving around in my rented convertible looking for a great place to hang out. I haven’t been to California in years, but I have a feeling I wouldn’t recognize it. In the last decade or so, California has become the big fat canary that is dying with a loud screeching annoying squawk in the deep government pension mines of America. I no longer want to go there.

This video explains what I mean…it’s not only the Hollywood stars that are getting rich:

Now when I think of California, I think of Nancy Pelosi, Los Angeles as a place where no one speaks English, drag races, a well guarded Beverly Hills, liberal Hollywood idiots, and bankruptcy. Yesterday, yet another city, Stockton California, claimed bankruptcy.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Stockton slashed its police and fire departments, halted bond payments, cut employee benefits and adopted an emergency spending plan that cut many city services. But the city continues to pay into the state pension. At issue will be whether U.S. bankruptcy law trumps California law, which says the pension plan must be funded.

The $900 million Stockton owes to the California Public Employees Retirement System to cover pensions is its biggest debt -– as is the case with many cities in California.

So…while Obama declared this month to be “National Financial Capability Month” in which he wants to teach young people “How to budget responsibly,” maybe he should start with the adults that run all the democratic cities and states, and explain the fact to them, that a country that keeps paying great big pensions from a dying public sector, will soon kill the host.

Obviously, as we all know, that fact hasn’t dawned on Obama yet.

“My Administration is dedicated to helping people make sound decisions in the marketplace,” Obama said.

Sounds very noble, but unfortunately, his administration has no clue where the marketplace is. But one place it won’t be…is in California. The Canary has left the building.

*****
Guest post written by Joyanna Adams

Comments

35 Responses to “California:The Big Dying Canary in the Coal Mine of Government Pensions”

  1. Marshall_Will on April 2nd, 2013 12:10 pm

    And increasingly, gone are the days when public pensions were managed by stodgy, conservative to a FAULT starched collar bean counters. In order to somehow make these lavish perks at least 'look' to scale, more egregious rates of return are needed by the day!

    Now they function more like hedge funds, chasing out of the park, grand slam type returns on everything from longshot start-ups even the venture capital guys wouldn't touch to landmark commercial buildings that wind up in re-default.

    Ironically, elitist progressive dirtbags whose only solution to everything their entire adulthoods was; more government, are forced to turn to the pvt. sector to have a Hail Mary shot at keeping their taxpayer funded PONZI afloat! One, as Joyanna points out, has already been fleeced to near extermination.

  2. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 12:17 pm

    California truly is that dying Canary. The whole "fair share" mentality is thriving in CA to the point that the people of that state voted for an increase in income and sales taxes this past year (prop 30). Just talking to my wife's liberal family down there you could hear the glee in their voices over the passage of that huge tax package. Their claims of 'the rich are finally going to be forced to pay their fair share' and 'now the state can afford to help out those who have been taken advantage of by the corporations' is enough to see exactly why the politicians of CA keep getting re-elected and continue to drive CA into oblivion.

    CA has become one giant liberal petri dish for their social and welfare experiments, the same experiments that dear leader would love to unleash on the entire country.

  3. Marshall_Will on April 2nd, 2013 12:32 pm

    Right, like it's something to 'celebrate'. Typically the ploy is to counter punch with "Just look at the perks and pensions these CEO's are getting..! Besides, working for the State isn't a vow of poverty you know? Why *shouldn't* highly qualified top administrators receive benefit packages commensurate with those of similar qualifications in the PRIVATE sector..?!"

    But they'll never stop to weigh that for the most part, rubber stamping sewer permits doesn't exactly warrant a freaking 'Masters'? THEY are the ones that touted the "education inflation" TO justify those lavish salaries! And unlike the military where it's all based off "a percentage of BASE pay", wonky state administrators' pensions are based on TOTAL pay.
    http://www.pensiontsunami.com/

  4. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 12:41 pm

    I saw an article yesterday that said the state auditor for CA says the state is $127.2 billion in the red. Once you read through the article you find out it is much worse than that. Towards the end you find this little gem:

    "The list of long-term obligations did not include the much-disputed unfunded liabilities for state employees' future pensions, nor the $60-plus billion in unfunded liabilites for retiree health care."
    http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/0

  5. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 12:46 pm

    "But they'll never stop to weigh that for the most part, rubber stamping sewer permits doesn't exactly warrant a freaking 'Masters'?"

    No they don't, but in CA it does require you to be bilingual.

    Those same liberal family memebers complain about the government pensions as well. Basically, it is a I see something someone else has; therefore I should have it as well.

  6. Marshall_Will on April 2nd, 2013 1:20 pm

    Precisely. I've had any number of otherwise reasonable people claim that to point out the egregious pensions of public employees is nothing more than making the same "class warfare" claims those on the Right purport to abhor?

    All the while oblivious to the fact it was never the DESIGN of democracy or economic freedom to "create a parallel public sector with all the spoils of a risk taking private sector..!" As in; ( how did we GET here? )

    Yet as Pension Tsunami has long pointed out, the avg. CalPers recipient only gets around $27k a year! Meaning unless they had adequate savings ( on a $35k a year DMV job in CALI? ) there's no WAY they could even afford to live in most parts of the State!

    Fiefdoms & Poverty, nothing in between.

  7. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 1:28 pm

    So very true. You see the same thing at the federal level. You have those in DC making 6 figures for being an "event planner" while the average rank and file makes a respctable $40k a year. Of course that is not including all the bennies. Once you add those in those $40k salaries jump a good $20k per year and make them much more attractive than their private sector counterpart. Not only are you making around the same (or more in some cases) as your private sector counterpart, you have much better bennies and the job security is incredible….cont

  8. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 1:29 pm

    One of the things I have always advocated at the federal level is to make it easier to get rid of the 'dead weight' employee. You have far too many career public sector employees who know it is next to impossible to fire them just hang around the water cooler all day socializing. They can be fired, but the paperwork it takes to get it done is so overwhelming that most managers will just look the other way. This is seen by other employees, so they start to emulate the same undesirable work habits, because "Joe' is getting away with it so why should I work hard. Before you know it you have the whole office chatting at the water cooler all day and nothing gets done.

  9. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 1:33 pm

    The bonus program was initaited to try to help combat that mentality. Actually give someone the incentive to work hard and get a bonus for the extra work. The only problem is you have "Joe" find out that he didn't get a bonus (cause he was at the watercooler all day), but "Bob" did (because he did both his and Joe's job). So "Joe" goes and files a discrimination complaint against his manager and it is actually taken seriously and investigated.

    So the manager either does not use the bonus program or just gives all their employees the same bonus, which defeats the whole purpose of the program in the first place and is just one reason I am against the program (besides the fact that you should not reward someone for doing the job they were hired to do in the first place).

  10. SignPainterGuy on April 2nd, 2013 1:44 pm

    Fascinating how such beautiful scenery and nice weather breeds such greedy lunacy !

  11. SignPainterGuy on April 2nd, 2013 1:50 pm

    In the `60s Hot Rod mags there were pix of unbelievable freedoms; driver serious hot rods that really weren`t street legal without repercussions, driving the PCH, miles of unspoiled beeches and mountains. Man, the people spoiled any desire I ever had to visit the state !

  12. Marshall_Will on April 2nd, 2013 1:51 pm

    We're encountering that very mentality down at the Base. Working on a fighter jet in S. OR ( on a -4 deg. day ) is tough enough on even the most hardened maint. troops.

    So in order to make our quotas, virtually all of the females wind up over by us on the mission support side. In short order even the more gung-ho gals find themselves being openly discouraged from doing (1) iota of actual work than is absolutely necessary!

    We've recently gone to scanning ID cards on entrance thru the gate and… I'm willing to bet they can tell when you've left too? After months of seeing the same ketchup stain on the breakroom table and same styrofoam cup gathering dust in the corner, it's pretty obvious the lazy virus is spreading!

  13. Marshall_Will on April 2nd, 2013 1:53 pm

    To combat, and I've no way of proving it but I think they were all sat down and told "at the end of 90 days we'll sit down again and go over your job performance and re-evaluate from there?"

    So the WHIP is def. coming down but I fear a few are electing the nuke path to claim 'discrimination'. We've gone from all kinds of awards to bottoming out on morale. And how long is it before the GUYS start dragging their feet, tired of carrying the load and THEN some?

  14. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 2:00 pm

    I proposed to my wife on one of those uspoiled beaches along the PCH. It was near a Davenport. There was a "hidden" beach there at one point. You had to cross the RR tracks and head down a step winding path to reach the beach, but it had an awesome break (you just had to watch out that you did not slam into the "mesa" the was smack dab in the middle of the break).

  15. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 2:04 pm

    What is just as bad is when the management has a "golden child" employee whom can do no wrong. They then get a bunch of new people to come help out on a project and have their "golden child" handle all the training. Of course the "golden child" is the one person in the office that makes 90% of the errors, so now you have a whole new staff that is making those same mistakes. But wait, it gets worse, if you say anything you are marked as being rude and need to "tone down the attitude", just fix the problems and move on (which does nothing to alleviate the errors). So it get to the point where the only way you can make a point it to allow the errors to continue and pretend you dont see them (after all the "golden child" can never be wrong) and wait for the denials to come rolling in and the higher bosses to ask WTF is going on.

    That is what I am dealing with right now.

  16. SignPainterGuy on April 2nd, 2013 2:11 pm

    It`s much that way here in the paper mill, especially after it unionized. Now, paper mills mostly run themselves once everything is set to go, so there`s naturally a lot of sitting around reading or doing make-work. No one does anything that isn`t there expressed job, so lots doesn`t get cleaned up. The Co. sold twice, incl. an employee buy-out/ -up (?) of like 15% of the Co., so now there are fewer employees, no threats of strikes, no firings even for drug offenses (they just pressure offenders to leave). No one likes being there except for the pay; even the bennies are slipping.

    Years ago, a Co. exec. was being interviewed by a local news outlet after a plant upgrade. When asked how many people worked there, he paused a moment and then said, "About half of them !"

  17. SignPainterGuy on April 2nd, 2013 2:23 pm

    So you`re saying, the steep climb and the beauty reached was a metaphor for your lives to come ? She saw it, recognized it and entered well prepared and willing ? How utterly romanticalish !! ;-)

  18. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 2:24 pm

    Yep, that about sums it up ;)

  19. jeffythequick on April 2nd, 2013 2:28 pm

    I'd love to see a realignment in the way we look at jobs:

    If you want a no-risk job, be a government bureaucrat. The price of this security is 70% of the median wage (max), a pension that is 70% of that wage at retirement. The other 30% of your wage goes to your retirement pension fund. Oh yeah, to make this work, your retirement age is 90% of the lifespan of your age when you start working there. (ie. If you're a guy, and start fresh out of college at 25 in 2006, your retirement age is 69 1/2 (life expectancy: 77 years). Retire sooner, it's -20%/year retired early. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus11.pdf#fig32
    Oh yeah, no public employee unions.

    Private Sector: Whatever you negotiate.

  20. Marshall_Will on April 2nd, 2013 2:30 pm

    SPG said,

    "No one does anything that isn`t there expressed job, so lots doesn`t get cleaned up."

    Or looked at or THOUGHT about or..? You've described the problem perfectly! Particularly dangerous attitude when it comes to G.I's.

    Sure, I have my specialty but it doesn't mean much? When I was assigned to Inventory, there'd be whole MONTHS where there was (1) "inventory". You'd drive across Base, take a quick gander at the serial #'s on an engine test stand and say; Yep! ( It's still 'here'? ) then drive back to do your report?

    That doesn't mean I can sit on my DUFF the bal. of the month. You go where you're needed. You'll learn a lot more and uh.., the time goes by a little quicker. But I fear, as is the problem w/ so many non-uniformed gov-types is they have al DAY to think about what they're 'not' getting?

  21. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 2:34 pm

    My favorite inventories were the building inventories. You would go out and make sure the building was still there (complete with bar code). Never understood why they thought a building would go missing, but by God we had to makes sure that it didn't!

  22. SignPainterGuy on April 2nd, 2013 2:35 pm

    O/T: You`ve all seen the red square with pink equal sign that people are taking for commenter avatars ?! Yesterday I saw a great counter; the same red square, but with pink baby footprints. What a great anti-abortion statement !

  23. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 2:37 pm

    The funny thing is that the Fedeal Employee union has been scaled back drastically. It doesn't have the power to negotiate wages or bennies (mainly just there to represent in complaints by the employee or against them). The Federal govt is even a "right to work" employer, so you don't even have to join or pay dues.

    Makes me laugh when I hear the Dem's talk about how the public sector would fall apart without the unions.

  24. SignPainterGuy on April 2nd, 2013 2:52 pm

    Dang, I proofread and still missed "there" ! S/B, "their" ….

    The county sends forms for property taxes. I did the first one in some detail as far as equipment is concerned, but there was no way I was gonna count every piece of scrap mat`l or piece of paper and paper clips, so I checked the "minimum fee" box and have since. Each year I add any new tools, but for the rest I write over it , "No changes from last year" ! They may not like it, but that`s what they get. It keeps my tax bill lower and they know it !

  25. SignPainterGuy on April 2nd, 2013 2:56 pm

    :-)

  26. Marshall_Will on April 2nd, 2013 3:23 pm

    I didn't realize that, it's a positive development to have those AFSCME memberships debate important stuff like; getting reimbursed if your job requires you to wear steel toe boots?

    As Housing Bubble bloggers we openly questioned if PEU members knew full well the weight of their pension obligations wouldn't put us ALL in the poor house ( but they thought it was all 'worth' it as they'd be just a little less poor? )

    At this point, and not to seem selfish but my most immediate concern IS; what does all this mean for retirees that take the Ex-patriot route? Will the Fed's continued QE#279 mean our retirement checks will be basically worthless!?

  27. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 3:43 pm

    Pretty much. Its one of those deals where the Fed's QE's are making the dollar so worhless that in the long run it is cheaper for the govt to pay off the debt. Of course it also makes our paychecks/retirement checks worthless as well meaning it wont be long till we need a wheelbarrow of cash to buy a loaf of bread.

  28. Marshall_Will on April 2nd, 2013 3:56 pm

    TS,

    It's possible we're not the only Fil-Am couple frantically trying to "offshore money" as quickly as possible! Without applying for dual-citizenship you can only [legally] stay in the P.I for a max of (6) mos ( in any given 12 mo. period )

    Course lots of guys say to hell w/ that and keep having their ret. checks EFT'd there on a monthly basis. That's all fine and well until, as you note, you throw your back out when you had to get a bigger wheel barrow?

    Def. a dangerous approach living month to month, hand to mouth and ILLEGALLY to boot! We'd obviously prefer to steer CLEAR of that risky scheme and we've been buying up smaller biz's, boats and farmland. Anything tangible that way down the road we'll be able to liquidate at [current] inflation hedged asset values.

    Again, did ya' ever think it would COME to this..!?!?!

  29. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 4:33 pm

    I hear you there. We have been trying to diversify as best we can between tangible assets and traditional investments. It really is a scarry time to think that the boat may be the only thing you have that you could barter or sell down the line once the govt decides that you no longer need to keep your Roth IRA.

  30. Truesoldier__ on April 2nd, 2013 4:48 pm

    Speaking of unions, I saw this out of Seattle:

    SEATTLE (AP) — Short-haul truckers who work at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 30 are threatening to sue for access to a restroom with running water.

    Port officials, terminal operator SSA Marine and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union say the truck drivers should use portable toilets. They say it's a safety issue because of moving equipment.

    The non-union, low-income truck drivers who haul containers from the terminal to trains are mostly immigrants from east Africa. They told The Seattle Times they need access to running water to wash their hands before eating or prayers, but they have been blocked from using the restrooms used by the longshoremen.

    A lawyer for the truckers' association, Lawrence Hildes, compares the unequal restroom situation to "Jim Crow" racial segregation. He plans to file a lawsuit.

    http://www.myfoxny.com/story/21856356/seattle-lon

  31. Marshall_Will on April 2nd, 2013 5:04 pm

    After seeing the BATH so many 'aficionados' took on "vintage guitars" ( the one thing I know BEST ) we're scared to throw a DIME at them!

    Best advice I'd heard lately on that was "But a NEW one ( put it back in the case ) and LEAVE it there for 10 years..!" I'm good w/ that. If you're interested in 'proof' of how that played out; look back to the Housing Boom?

    Those that BILKED 'equity' out of their homes for everything from Harley's to RV's, boats and quads were actually able to SELL those luxuries and generate ( tax free ) CASH. Whereas those that played the game straight and LEFT the equity in their homes ( as we should ) were locked OUT by lenders that now refused to make any home equity loans!

    So they were essentially cut off, at the KNEES. Trust me, I learned a LOT from that one!

  32. SignPainterGuy on April 2nd, 2013 7:33 pm

    While the objections stem mostly from their non-union status, the union members could very well have legit concerns. I watched a program a few days ago talking about cultural differences, cleaning / washing themselves for prayers or eating isn`t an issue, it`s how they leave the facilities that stirs ire. In many western restrooms, there are diagrams to illustrate proper AND improper use of the toilet. A diagram showing; Do Not Stand ON or Astraddle Of the Toilet, Sit ON It ! Use TP, Put It IN the Toilet, FLUSH the Toilet !

  33. Granny55 on April 2nd, 2013 8:30 pm

    We all want a comfortable retirement but what Calf has provided their govt workers is highway robbery of taxpayer dollars. With that in mind….

    I am starting my count down to my retirement in 4 and half years, if I can survive what the Oblamer's policies and go back north. With that in mind… a song of the day!
    http://youtu.be/UCmUhYSr-e4

  34. SignPainterGuy on April 3rd, 2013 1:53 am

    I wish you luck with your plan !

    In the early `70s, exploring around the river that runs thru Camp Daniel Boone, our local Boy Scout Camp, with some younger scouts, I spotted a black disk shape on the river bottom. That was such a strange place to find a 45 rpm record of Otis Redding`s "Sitting On the Dock of the Bay" ! It was a bit scratched, but they made it sound like waves.

  35. rosa on April 3rd, 2013 10:52 am

    Is it possible that if enough states teetering on the verge of BK actually declare it, the Feds will bail them out at the cost of ceding state sovereignty?

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