Ponder This:

Real public servants are free enterprising individuals who, inspired, embrace challenge, take risks, and create, sometimes big, and often, they create jobs in the process, all out of their ideas, and self initiative...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Newsflash: "Dems Prepping State For Tax Hikes" Say whaaa? No... Say it ain't so!

DEC. 22, 2010
“The governor needs to add a third (or perhaps fourth) voter option to his false ‘either-or’ choice,” explains Richard Rider, chairman of the San Diego Tax Fighters association. “It’s not just less services or more taxes—the issue he’s dodging is how best to deliver desired public services.”

They should listen to Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters, who wrote, “We should, for instance, find out why, with 12 percent of the nation’s population, we have 32 percent of its welfare cases, and why we’re spending three times as much on prisons as Texas, which has almost as many inmates.”

And Californians should ask why there are more than 15,000 members (and growing) of the $100,000 pension club (in all California retirement systems), and why lists of state salaries are filled with police and fire officials and city managers earning $250,000 or more.

We are asked to choose between fewer services or higher taxes. Yet no one wants to look at the inefficiencies in the current system, at the way the state misspends its resources. Where’s the talk of privatization? Or pension reform? Or reduction of public sector salaries?
As the year ends, let’s review where Californians stand with its busted budget. This piece was published in PublicSectorInc.

California’s Democratic leaders would have you believe that our state’s budget has been cut to the bone. They contend that the state’s never-ending budget deficit—currently estimated at more than $28 billion over 18 months—is the inevitable result of an unusually bad economy, and that more revenue is needed to avoid devastating service cuts. This is a false choice—there remains fat to cut in California’s budget, if politicians are willing to overcome union objections to doing so.

Governor-elect Jerry Brown (D) held a budget briefing earlier this month and fiscal conservatives took heart that the new governor was dealing forthrightly with dismal budget realities.Click here to read more
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Steven Greenhut posted this on CalWatchDog.com's Blog: L’Aristocracy de CalPERS

As he notes in his post, it's long but well worth the time if you handle the darkness of truth told. I suggest you read the comments at the end of the post on CalWatchDog's blog. I hope someone posts a reply to the public employee retiree who gives the pat excuse and rational that it's not their fault and it's only fair given what someone of their same education background gets in the private sector. First, that's a myth, second, if it were true, public servants were supposedly sacrificing the "higher" pay and benefits of the private sector to serve and in return would be assured a modest but secure pension. Ha! We have been had! A link to CalWatchDog.com is at the bottom of the video. Click here to read the comments on CalWatchDog's Blog.
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While many baby boomer private sector employees face financial depression and bankruptcy as their only viable option for retirement, public employees are now the Aristrocracy among us.

California’s Crippling Brain Drain
DEC. 5, 2010
Three articles caught my eye Sunday morning, and what a tale they tell!
The first article said that Donald Lamm, 57, has announced his retirement as city manager of Westminster, an Orange County city of 88,000, where he was taking down a $207,000 annual salary. Lamm said he was going to start his own business.

The second article said David Freeland has announced his retirement as deputy P\police chief of Irvine, which is routinely rated as one of the safest large cities (pop. 208,000) in America. Freeland, 59, appears to have been paid close to $200,000 a year. Now he plans to teach martial arts, write a book and spend time with his family.Click here to read more.
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Layoffs come to L.A. Schools and the losers are the poor minority children, the kids who need great teachers the most. We cannot save our Republic if we don't have an educated electorate.

When layoffs come to L.A. schools, performance doesn't count
After the budget ax fell, hundreds of the district's most promising new instructors were laid off. Campuses in poorer areas — such as Liechty Middle School in the Westlake neighborhood — were disproportionately hurt.

December 04, 2010|By Jason Felch, Jason Song and Doug Smith, Los Angeles Time

John H. Liechty Middle School opened in 2007 in Los Angeles' impoverished Westlake neighborhood with a seasoned principal, dozens of energetic young teachers and a mission to "reinvent education" in the nation's second-largest school district.  Click here to read more.

Whitney Tilson, a national education reform activist wrote in his newsletter regarding this article: The LA Times just published the best article/research I’ve read to date on the impact of layoffs purely by seniority (last hired, first fired), focusing on one school in LA, and the results are exactly what one would expect: such an utterly insane policy destroyed the promising turnaround at the school and has been DEVASTATING for the school’s poor and minority students (who else? This kind of sh*t doesn’t happen to wealthy or white kids):
But when budget cuts came in the summer of 2009 — at the end of the school's second year — more than half of the teachers were laid off. Among those dismissed were Gascon and 16 others who ranked in the top fifth of district middle school instructors in boosting test scores, The Times' analysis found. Many were replaced by a parade of less effective teachers, including many short-term substitutes.

By the end of the last school year, Liechty had plummeted from first to 61st — near the bottom among middle schools — in raising English scores and fallen out of the top 10 in boosting math scores.

"Everything we worked those two years to instill is gone," said Amanda Uy, a math and science teacher who was laid off and now teaches part time at a private school. "It's really tragic."

Quality-blind layoffs are just one vestige of seniority rules introduced decades ago to promote fairness and protect teachers from capricious administrators. Enshrined in state law and detailed in teachers' union contracts, the prerogatives of seniority continue to guide many of the key personnel decisions made in public schools across the country, including pay and assignments. The effects are most keenly felt by students during layoffs.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Return of Stagflation

November 24, 2010
Alvaro Vargas Llosa
Washington Post Writers Group

Stagflation will likely come back into our daily lexicon. The political effect of the previous stagflation was the Reagan-Thatcher movement in the 1980s. The effect this time promises to be equally momentous. Let us hope it is peaceful, legal and reasonable. The danger that it will take a messianic, populist and authoritarian form cannot be discarded, given the signs we are already seeing at the ballot box in some European countries where anti-immigration far rights have polled strongly.
We are entering an era of high inflation, to judge by the massive growth of the money supply in the United States, Europe and Asia, and the stubbornness of central bankers who insist that high unemployment demands the creation of even more money. The last time the world went through a similar period was the 1970s. The term that defined the era was “stagflation.”
Pull quote

In a nutshell, stagflation back then was the result of a recession partly caused by stratospheric oil prices followed by the decision to print tons of money in the hope of inflating the economy out of unemployment. In other words, stagnation was not so much because of oil prices; rather, it was the result of the monetary response to the stagnant environment that the high energy costs had helped create. Inflation simply added a new ill to an already grave situation.

What is happening today is in essence not all that different. The response to high unemployment caused by the recession has been a massive increase of the money supply. Since the end of the housing bubble, the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet (assets and liabilities) has almost tripled while in Europe the money supply has increased annually by double digits. Click here to read more.
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Regarding a news story many friends have sent to me: Latino leaders swirl around idea of Tequila Party--Here's the article and my reply to my friends...

This Tequila Party Proposal is gaining international attention. Latino leaders in Nevada and nationwide are quietly debating whether to sever their traditional Democratic ties and form an independent grass-roots political group.

The idea, born of frustration over the party’s inaction on immigration reform and fears that as a voting bloc they’re a political afterthought, Latino leaders have discussed the idea among themselves locally and in conference calls with colleagues across the country.

The unlikely model for the movement they would like to launch is the Tea Party — not in substance, of course, but in its grass-roots organizational style. Acknowledging the source of their inspiration, Latino leaders have dubbed the proposed movement the “Tequila Party.” (Click here to read more of the article, Tequila Party

My response--I’m only interested if Francisco d’Anconia will be its symbolic leader. (He's one of the heroic characters of Atlas Shrugged) Women shouldn’t form their own party to support abortion rights, and Latinos shouldn’t form a party around the issue of immigration. Too bad the Libertarian Party is so fringe.

Richard Nadler tried to enlighten his fellow conservatives and he left a treasure trove of powerfully insightful and persuasive analysis concerning the Latino Vote and Immigration. He’s the best on this issue and he’s departed. Here’s a small excerpt from his work analyzing the 2008 elections, in his comprehensive published report called The Edge of the Wedge--Immigration and the Congressional Contests of 2008:

The deal breaker between Latino voters and conservatives isn’t border security, or official English, or future immigration levels. A Republican can run right on any of these, and sustain significant Latino support. The deal-breaker is deportation.

A mass of evidence explains this.

There is the fact that 40% of Hispanic citizens fear a deportation action against a friend or family member.

There is the fact that 44% of Latinos hear their clergy preach against “enforcement only” in the churches they attend.

There is the fact that 80% of Latinos favor comprehensive immigration reform.

But forget all that. Use your common sense. I have yet to meet a conservative who doesn’t understand the dynamic of the Elian Gonzalez incident in 2000 – how a SWAT team, on orders from a Democratic attorney general, invaded an ordinary Cuban home, and tore a screaming child from the arms of his protector. That sight, revisited nightly in Miami-Dade, carried Florida (and the presidency) for George W. Bush. What Republican didn’t understand that?

But due to our commitment to enforcement-only immigration policy, Hispanics are treated to Elian Gonzalez-style incidents nightly on Univision and Telemundo. In living color, viewers watch huddled Latinos cuffed by ICE raiders at their place of work, moms clutching their rosaries, priests pleading for mercy. It’s not rocket science to understand how Hispanic citizens react. Only now, the villains are Los Republicanos rather than the Clintonistas.

We all enjoy happy talk about the natural affinity between Republicans and Latinos. But given this broadcast bombardment, it is increasingly irrelevant that Hispanic opinion on right-to-life, or marriage, or school choice mirrors that of conservatives. The linked prospects of ICE raids, persecuted clergy, ruptured families, and mass profiling spooks the legal, working-class Latino. As long as the prospect of mass deportation remains in our playbook and in our platform, Democrats will clobber us with it.

Now, some of you think that we can lose the Hispanic vote by 40 percent, and make it up among non-Hispanics. I say: think again.

First, it didn’t happen. In 435 contests, not a single Congressional district with a historical trend of voting Democrat elected a Republican “enforcement only” advocate. But dozens of enforcement-only Republicans went down to defeat, most of them in historically Republican districts.

Some wedge issue, huh? (Click here to download a pdf of the full 138 Page Report, Edge of the Wedge)

By the way, I love Tequila too! It’d be a fun party, so long as we stayed away from policy issues while enjoying the spirits. Never safe to drink and drive.

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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database


Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.