City Journal Summer 2014

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Summer 2014
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Chris Reed
San Diego’s Union War « Back to Story

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Much is made of California's vaunted referendum process. The voice of the people, democracy at its purest, our state version of the New Hampshire Town Meeting, and all that. But the truth is, no matter how overwhelmingly the voters pass a ballot measure, if there are powerful enough forces opposing it, it ain't gonna happen.

Our legislature is considering tripling our annual auto license tax (we had a significant increase just a few short years ago). That would raise the amount for one of our vehicles to a cool grand with the other vehicle not so very far behind it. It would mean that the various taxing agencies in the state will relieve our bank balance of well over $5,000 a year. And we're retired! These people are flat-out crazy to think this can go on.

California politicians work for two groups, themselves and the public employees unions (and, by extension, the public employees). I can't help wishing the state's collapse would accelerate so that it happens on Moonbeam's watch. He would most deserve the ensuing chaos because it's he who, with a mere stroke of his pen, gave us public unions in the first place. It was by executive order (same as JFK) so neither we citizens nor our elected representatives had any say in the matter.

I'm sorry to hear this about San Diego. I had hoped they'd managed to start pulling themselves out of the fiscal quagmire. Silly me. I guess we're all going to sink into the slimy abyss formerly known as the Golden State together.
I guess this is bushes fault...
This my simple view.
Government needs paring back, pensions need to be made affordable, but it must be combined with not baling out Wall Street. Born poor with few career chances or likelihood of getting decent medical insurance, you vote for someone who offers universal health care and some relatively low paid public jobs, but that have security and a pension - why do people think they vote for this. Would you vote for a massive tax cut to a banker, who sold ninja loans bundled up with ratings that were not correct, this great and good employee gets mega wages (to often employed by netopism) and a bale out when they bankrupt the company.
A fish rots from the head, if Republican ever want to get back into power they need to deal with that rotting head, not give it ever more tax cuts and help. I vote to the right, but I am tired off the rich getting too many tax cuts and help, while the middle must always do the cutting to wages and benefits.
BTJ: Then how do you explain the fact that California public sector unions donated more money in 2012 than any other group - ALL of it, every penny to Democrats? Why do you think that is?

The answer is that the unions do it because they know that in return for funneling money that originated as taxpayer funds to political leaders, they will get wages and benefits in return that far outweigh the money spent on the political donations. The one thing about politicians - they are cheap, and the money spent by public unions is anything but cheap. And that money buys lots and lots of influence.

Don't you find something wrong with that? Or to put it another way - let's say that the money was going to Republican politicians - would it then be a concern?

The power given to public unions as a result of their ability to donate money to the very people who employ them has corrupting the entire process. Labor costs have become insane, and out of all proportion to the work performed. It used to be that public work was low paying, but in exchange for low pay there wasn't much heavy lifting involved and there would be decent vacations and pensions. None of this is true any longer - the work is still light but the pay and benefits have well exceeded the private sector, which is being bled to pay for those benefits.
As a result of public unions the system has become completely corrupt, and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight.

And it's one of the reasons why California has a perpetual fiscal crisis and why town after town in California is declaring bankruptcy.

Right now, in my state, so much money is owed for pensions that there is virtually no chance that the state will ever be able to pay. However, the courts have ruled that the state must pay. So, the alternatives are either that the state enacts confiscatory taxes, or what? Declare bankruptcy?

But going back to my main point - don't you see anything wrong with public unions making enormous donations to only one political party? Since this money originates from taxes, isn't this really corrupting?

I've never heard a defense of the system of allowing political donations by public unions (or their nominees). Somebody please tell me why this is a good idea, and tell me who protects the interests of the taxpayer when the biggest donors to the people running city hall are the people working at city hall.

Isn't there something deeply wrong with the foregoing? Doesn't it deserve a "Frontline" or "60 Minutes" piece? Or would that only be if Republicans were the beneficiary of this corrupt taxpayer largesse.

Because what this corrupt system leads to is governmental failure - sooner or later the money simply runs out, sooner or later the town is closing the libraries - the standard Democratic tactic when money is tight - never lay off workers, always close the libraries and parks.

Great, right?
So it is somehow ominous that a Libertarian was defeated by a Democrat? Libertarians ALWAYS lose because they do not embody a philosophy of government as much as a point of view, which is that there should be less government than YOU might wish there to be.
OMG: "In short, government doesn't exist in California (and other places where Democrats are in charge) for any other purpose but to feather the nest (sic) of those who are on the payroll."

If any part of that was true, public employees would be the one voter tranche supporting Democrats.

It's rank paranoia. Similar to Romney's "Sore Loser" comments on his conference call yesterday.

Like maybe Romney's 14% tax rate -- while working professionals pay twice that -- is anything but a gigantic political pay-off to his personal rich-contributor Upper Class.
In Marin County CA the Local school districts and and Con-artists Councils bunko their citizens for false fees in order to maintain the lavish public union paychecks.
I read an article like this with amazement at how those who work for government now run government in a manner such that the sole purpose of government is to benefit those who work for it. In short, government doesn't exist in California (and other places where Democrats are in charge) for any other purpose but to feather the nest of those who are on the payroll.

Insane, right? But, ultimately it is the voters who have decided this, and if places like Detroit, Camden, Atlantic City, Newark (NJ) and other places are any example, then the normal rules do not apply. In other words, in a healthy system bad and/or mismanaged government should lead to a change of those in charge. For whatever reason, including at least in part the fact that the means of communication are in the hands of the one party that is guilty of mismanagement and (now, legal) corruption, the voters do not get rid of those responsible for the mismanagement. This is true even when those responsible, as in the case of Marion Barry for example, end up going to jail.

The lunatics are now in charge of the asylum.

And that's really where we are - the Democrats use the unions as a means to obtain enormous pots of of public money. ENORMOUS. It may be legal, but it is the very definition of corruption, and it always ends with bankruptcy, people leaving etc. Democrats try to slow this process by pouring in money from other places, but it only delays the ultimate result of this unworkable system.

These people are like locusts, who destroy then move on. And it will not end until we have three classes - the very rich, the almost rich government workers and party apparatchiks, and hordes of poor. This is the future for California, and probably the United States - it can't end any other way since the system of governance put in place in areas where Democrats reign supreme simply does not work. And democracy - our Republican form of government does not work in this climate, either, as we will all find out soon enough.

Logic, reason, all of the rational arguments for good government, none of that matters anymore. I feel for the reasonable people of San Diego, since they appear to be fighting a losing battle against the forces of corruption, which are now institutionalized and provide the foundation for community destruction. Sooner or later those who are not part of this system will have to leave.

It's a sad situation, but well, there you have it.
I am pretty sure both will be thrown out the window. Filner will say oh I was ready to implement the props but the court threw them out. Too bad because I was ready to do the will of the people if it was not for the courts.