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You thought you got away with it, didn't you?
Published on August 7, 2010 By Phil Osborn In Politics

Alexis de Tocqueville got a lot of things right in 1831, but I don't specifically recall him envisioning how the elected officials would conspire to vote themselves entitlement to the treasure of the nation.  Maybe it was just too obvious to mention.

The problem is that this has no easy legal solution.  These retirement funds are based on contracts mutually agreed to by bureaucrats for fellow bureaucrats, to be sure, but the elected officials who appointed the to-be-retirees or okayed the deals were probably acting legally.  The public voted them the power and they used it.

In point of fact, the retiree problem is only one of many in which the beneficiaries of state action include those who are voting for it or authorizing it.  What about the judges whose courts, regal judge's chambers and salaries and other perks are paid for by the tickets and fines they rule on?

The "Progressive" Left has long bemoaned the influence of corporate power to enrich itself and gain special advantage via bribes of various kinds to elected or appointed bureaucrats. Their take is certainly valid, but misses the total picture.  They would apparently like us to believe that somehow these poor, innocent public servants just HAD TO take that campaign money or those junkets to Samoa, or risk falling behind at the polls or losing favor with the elected officials who appointed them.

Just reign in corporate power via more of the boards, commissions, investigators, panels, Senate or House committees, laws, rules, standards, etc., and everything will be fine.  Never mind that the smarter of those appointed to those regulatory positions fast track into positions in the very corporations they are appointed to regulate.  In fact, right from the beginning of “Trust Busting,” it was the Trusts who were financing the very Trust Busting that was supposed to regulate and control them.  They certainly knew the score.

And, as for scores, how many California corporations have actually ever been taken to court over their failure to live up to the “operate in the public interest” clauses of the official documents of incorporation?   Until recently, at least, that score is “0”, ZERO, NADA, ZILCH.  Who controls who here?  Is REFORM the answer to total failure?

Nor are the neo-Progressives and their intellectual ancestors such as the Italian Fascists so stupid as to be unaware of this.  While the regulatory jungles they have created do little to prevent actual harm to the public, they are configured to create barriers to entry that allow the corporate dinosaurs the freedom to ignore efficiency, ignore customers, and spend their time gaming the system, guaranteeing those golden parachutes even as their shareholders lose their shirts.

And in this context of self-sustaining corruption we expect WHOM to be honest?

Just what IS the plan for dealing with the crushing burden of vast retirement entitlements, and who is going to be on what side?  Certainly, a vast MOB of retired or to be retiring bureaucratic vultures will be up in arms at any proposal aimed at reducing their stolen largesse, and many of them will be attorneys or former judges.  Will this Old Boy network give away its overwhelming advantage?  Is that a rhetorical question?

So, the change will have to come from outside and it will have to be radical. 

The only substantial group currently in the position of total outsiders and not on the payrolls in question are the Tea Partiers, bless their hearts.  This is a slim reed and could fall apart at any moment, but it’s all we have. 


Practical solutions? 

Solution 1:  BANKRUPTCY!  For the State of California.  Then the retirees will have to get in line with the other creditors for a small percentage of their original claim. 

Solution 2:  TAX THE RETIREES!  (And this comes from a long-time tax resistor…)  This only applies to State, County and Local, and – failing the bankruptcy option – it should be progressive.  Maybe, no extra taxes for those who are receiving less than $50,000, including any Social Security, and then a sliding scale of increasing taxes for those whose public trough funding is more, such that someone getting $200,000 will have to pay $100,000 in taxes on it.

Both of these solutions are about as fair and politically practical as we can expect in the circumstances.  Since the vast majority of public servants make less than $50,000 in retirement, or so I have read, most of them will be unaffected and should not therefore be adamantly opposed.   If we do go into bankruptcy it will likely be because we have no choice – and maybe we don’t, and then the cuts may be more substantial and hit more of the lower income retirees. 

So, we should probably shoot for Solution #2.  If it isn’t enough, so be it.

on Aug 08, 2010

California is already bankrupt, they are just waiting for the bailout-heisters to restock the coffers with billions of $$$ that we already don’t have. Are the financially suicide prone states like California and New York going tits up just because of the ridiculous union and government contracts? I think not. I do not even think this is a major part of the equation. Their problem is twofold.

First, the funding that was to be invested to ensure the future security for the union contracts and retiree benefits was not invested wisely at all, just like SS. There is much speculation that the funds were never really there at all having been used for all sorts of union stupidity like job security for incompetents, bribes to governmental sugar daddies and to make life as miserable as possible for non-union companies and their employees, you know the ones that actually turn a profit. We just cannot allow any of this self-sustaining garbage to go unpunished.

So this is what galls me. Those states in the worst financial straits are liberal beyond reason (or invaded by foreigners) and have spent massive amounts on programs the people of this country will not willingly fund. I believe the union funds (among other misappropriated funds) were used to pay for much of their debauchery and sanctuary programs in the belief that WHEN the state files bankruptcy, the working people of America will be FORCED to cover all those non-funded union benefits and programs and all the trillions spent foolishly on sanctuary and perversity will just be ignored and it will be back to business as usual.

The net result is that these bastard states will be getting away with forcing all working Americas (through our benevolent government) to finance their moral, social and financial irresponsibility’s. And when the restocking of the union coffers is accomplished, the abuses will just continue until there is need to steal more from the American Tax Payers. When is enough going to be ENOUGH? Bankruptcy is supposed to provide the opportunity to renegotiate the union contracts, like that has a prayers chance in hell of actually happening. But nary a desire to address the actual problems while all indicators show that these idiots are going to keep expanding their misguided practices of anti-American maleficence indefinitely.


on Aug 09, 2010

While I agree with your assessment, I am saddened by it.  Loss of retirement has been happening in the private sector since retirement originated.  But some do trust the government to be less greedy and more altruistic in its treatment of its employees.  Some do.  But that number is becoming fewer and fewer.  The innocent were lied to, and the liars are still pontificating.

Regardless of which solution (or #3 - do nothing and print vouchers???), the ones that spent their life working with an understanding that their retirement was at least secure are finding that is just a lie.  They held up their part of the bargain.  The government lied.  Big shock there.

on Aug 09, 2010

Thanks, guys.  Actually, BoobzTwo, the various levels of government own most of the land of the U.S.  Anthony L. Hargis did a lot of research on the hidden holdings of local (OC) municipalities and the State of California, and discovered that they were quite enormous.  Of course, once you've driven the real productive economiy into the ground via gaming the system, then the value of those property holdings plummets along with everyone else's, but the staggering size of the secret holdings means that there is still a lot of value sitting on the sidelines, much like the capital sitting in the banks, while businesses cannot get loans to sustain operations.

The problem is top-down.  The crooks rose to the top of a system that rewarded crooked bahavior, a vast ponzi scheme resting on debt and the power of the state and corporations to demand that you and I come up with those debt receipts known as dollars.  The crooks were bailed out and will continue to be bailed out so long as we don't do something to stop it.

The solution is bottom-up.  Most people are not crooks.  Most people are the victims of crooks who have stolen roughly half the value of their life's product over the past decade.  There is no simple and totally fair way to set things right, but we can sure do a hell of a lot better than we've seen to date.

I have previously - 2008 - made a simple proposal that would still go far in setting the scales back to reasonable equity and setting us back on the road to real recovery.  See my article "The Only Real Solution."