Archive for the ‘Liberalism’ Category

Latest Casualty of Liberalism: 2010 FIFA World Cup

June 16, 2010

Good piece by Adam Shaw in the American Thinker on the developing calamity known as the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.  Why was it even awarded to a country w/ an infrastructure that can’t support the demands of an event such as the World Cup?  Liberalism is why.  Africa had never hosted one and the fact that it “felt good” to award an African nation the World Cup are the underlying reasons.  So what if they don’t have the infrastructure, or stability, to deal with such an event.  Who cares?!  As long as it feels good, that’s all that matters. 

The same could be said of Barack Hussein Obama’s election as President of the USA.  For many it simply “felt good” to vote for him.  So what if he had shady friends, an angry preacher, radical ties, and no real experience.  So what?  What could possibly go wrong? 

Everything. 

Only a week into World Cup 2010, the decision to hold the tournament in South Africa appears to be an unmitigated disaster. The blame lies at the feet of liberal elites who have politicized soccer.

Due to its size and worldwide appeal, the selection of the host nation for the FIFA World Cup has to take many factors into account. The host needs to exhibit a nation of stability and safety, a strong soccer record, and a highly developed transport infrastructure, as well as having approximately ten large stadia in order to host the various matches.

It is a tough task that causes even the most developed soccer nations, like England, to doubt their worthiness. Yet there have been exceptions that show that nations that do not meet these criteria can host a World Cup. Mexico hosted the tournament in 1970 and 1986, and the USA (then not a strong soccer nation) successfully hosted in 1994 — producing one of the best tournaments in recent years (Diana Ross aside).

Yet the choices were based on reasons to do with soccer. Mexico was chosen due to its position as a key soccer nation, and America was chosen with the knowledge that it had the infrastructure, the enormous stadiums, and the ability to provide atmosphere. But with the ascension of the bizarre Joseph “Sepp” Blatter — a man continually dogged by accusations of mismanagement and corruption — to the Presidency of FIFA in 1998, politics and liberal elitism have taken over the World Cup.

Blatter made no secret that he wanted an African World Cup as soon as possible, irrespective of its ability to host. He worked for an African World Cup in 2006, but when Germany was chosen to host it, a furious Blatter forced through a rule-change for 2010 so that an African nation had to be awarded the 2010 tournament, with no nations outside Africa even allowed to bid.

For fans hoping to attend in 2010, the prospects were grim. The candidates were Tunisia, Morocco, South Africa, Egypt, and — incredibly — Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya. With terrorist hotspot Morocco a close second, it was with some relief that relatively stable South Africa was chosen by the FIFA executives.

Immediately, serious concerns were expressed. Was the country economically stable enough to invest in such a venture? Also, despite apartheid being a thing of the past, the region still has immense political and racial problems that often turn violent, with over fifty homicides a day. Thus, was the nation safe enough for players and fans to travel? Serious questions were raised about whether the creaking South African infrastructure could cope with the tens of thousands of fans traveling between venues, and whether it could build the amount of new stadiums required. In addition, the question was asked why a nation was given the role of hosting the World Cup when its national team had ever qualified for the World Cup only twice and had ever managed to win only one game (the same number as Iran).

Key FIFA officials such as Franz Beckenbauer called for the cup to be moved to Germany, as it was becoming clear that South Africa could not cope with the demands being placed upon it. Yet well-intentioned officials such as Beckenbauer missed the point — the decision to give South Africa the biggest soccer event in the world had nothing to with soccer. It was a political decision, with Blatter thinking in terms of “legacy” and “new frontiers.” Other officials on the side of Blatter started talking about “transnational football communities” and the “remarkable community-building achievements” that such moves would bring.

It became clear that liberal politics were put in front of the interests of the sport, which was confirmed when, after three people were killed in an attack on the Togo national team in Angola in January, Blatter was asked about security concerns for the World Cup. He responded by labeling those with concerns as “colonialists” and anti-African. Now it was racist to have doubts about a weak soccer nation with severe economic and political problems hosting a World Cup.

It was hoped that these concerns would not come to fruition. Unfortunately, the first week of the 2010 World Cup has been a disaster, with some writers already describing the choice of South Africa as host as an example of “the greatest scandal of modern sports events.”

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How We Got Here: Federal Spending Since 1970

June 15, 2010

From the American Thinker’s Graph of the Day feature.

Hillary Clinton: “The Rich are not paying their fair share of taxes in any nation”.

May 30, 2010

SEIU Members Protest at Bank Exec’s Home, Frighten Teenage Son

May 23, 2010

SEIU protesters arrived at the home of a Bank of America executive last week for a protest but the only one home was the exec’s teenage son, who was so terrified he locked himself in the bathroom. 

From Hotair.com:

Big Journalism has been all over this, including the odd detail that D.C. cops evidently escorted the Purple People-Beaters to the Bank of America executive’s home in Rockville, Maryland. Fox News regular Nina Easton was on the scene, with good reason: She lives right next door. Quote:

Last Sunday, on a peaceful, sun-crisp afternoon, our toddler finally napping upstairs, my front yard exploded with 500 screaming, placard-waving strangers on a mission to intimidate my neighbor, Greg Baer. Baer is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), a senior executive based in Washington, D.C. And that — in the minds of the organizers at the politically influential Service Employees International Union and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action — makes his family fair game.

Waving signs denouncing bank “greed,” hordes of invaders poured out of 14 school buses, up Baer’s steps, and onto his front porch. As bullhorns rattled with stories of debtor calls and foreclosed homes, Baer’s teenage son Jack — alone in the house — locked himself in the bathroom. “When are they going to leave?” Jack pleaded when I called to check on him…

Now this event would accurately be called a “protest” if it were taking place at, say, a bank or the U.S. Capitol. But when hundreds of loud and angry strangers are descending on your family, your children, and your home, a more apt description of this assemblage would be “mob.” Intimidation was the whole point of this exercise, and it worked-even on the police. A trio of officers who belatedly answered our calls confessed a fear that arrests might “incite” these trespassers.

According to Easton, Baer is … a lifelong Democrat. For her trouble in reporting on this, she’s naturally been smeared by the left. As for why SEIU is singling out Bank of America for thug tactics, supposedly it’s a protest of foreclosures by banks generally but Big Journalism notes that the union apparently owes BoA $90 million, which, per Easton, means $4 million in outstanding interest and fees. Terrorizing an exec’s family might make them think twice about being too insistent in collecting.

A Taste of What’s to Come: Greeks Riot Over Loss of Entitlements, Social Programs

May 11, 2010

Excellent read from Vasko Kohlmayer in the American Thinker on how the US, with our out-of-control-spending and record deficits courtesy of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid, may soon go the way of Greece.

What’s happening in Greece is this: The Greek people are angry because their government pledged to make cuts in social spending.

It is not that the Greek government is inherently stingy. Quite to the contrary, the Greek government has been one of the most generous when it comes to paying for social goodies…so much so that for years it spent far more than it could really afford. Fox News correctly observed that “Greece lived for years beyond its means, borrowing money and spilling red ink to finance excessive government spending, offer socialized health care and provide lavish wages for federal workers.”

Things, however, came to a head last year when the country’s budget deficit reached 13 percent of GDP and its national debt ballooned to 113 percent of GDP. Faced with these figures, investors lost faith in the government’s ability to service its debts. To compensate for the risk of further lending, creditors began to demand high interest rates on Greek bonds. With the source of cheap funding dried up and unable to raise enough cash, the Greek government found itself on the brink of default.

Broke and humiliated, the Greek government applied for aid to other members of the Eurozone. Not willing to let the whole monetary regime go into seizures, they promised a bailout of 110 billion euros. But the funds would be disbursed only if the Greeks agreed to bring spending under control. Not having any choice, the country’s officials agreed to a package of austerity measures. Then all hell broke loose. According to the Wall Street Journal,

[H]ooded protesters smashed the front window of Marfin Bank in central Athens and hurled a Molotov cocktail inside. The three victims died from asphyxiation from smoke inhalation, the Athens coroner’s office said. Four others were seriously injured there, fire department officials said.

It is something of a paradox that the Greek people still demand money even though their government is flat-out broke. Even the blind among them should be able to see that the state simply does not have the funds to meet the citizens’ demands. The country has only debts that it cannot pay. After years of profligate spending, Greece has gone bankrupt.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect in all this, from our point of view, is the fact that America’s finances are almost as bad as those of Greece. Lest you think it an exaggeration, consider these numbers. Last year our budget deficit reached a record peacetime high of 9.9 percent of GDP. Despite the fact that this was supposed to be a one-off contingency necessitated by the crisis of 2008, federal spending is accelerating.

In the proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2011, the Obama administration projected that this year’s deficit will reach 10.6 percent of GDP. This may come as a surprise, since the mainstream media have largely chosen not to publicize this disturbing fact. You can, however, easily see it for yourself by clicking on this link. It will take you to the budget’s summary tables. The first table is labeled S-1 and called “Budget Totals.” There you can see the figure in the third row of the table’s lower section. Also note that the table is tucked away toward the end of the long document (page 146 out of 179). So much for the promised transparency.

The situation is equally dire when it comes to our public debt. The present size of the American economy is just above $14 trillion. As of this writing, the total public debt of the federal government is nearly $13 trillion. This means that it currently constitutes more than 90 percent of GDP. Worse yet, the federal budget is poised to expand steeply in the months and years ahead. In a report the International Monetary Fund prepared last month, the agency estimated that the U.S. debt would jump to 110 percent of GDP by 2015. In light of this, the IMF issued an urgent call on the U.S. government to “move beyond health-care reform to restrain its yawning fiscal deficit.”

Stark as the IMF estimates are, the figures are understated. Given our current pace of borrowing, it now seems likely that our national debt will breach the critical 100 percent milestone early next year. The 110-percent mark will be then reached by the close of 2013 at the latest. And this does not factor in increased spending on health care, which will occur as a result of the recently passed health care reform bill.

It is important that we keep in mind that these numbers refer only to the outstanding public debt of the American federal government, which is only one part of the government’s total obligations. A far greater portion of our national debt is made up of unfunded liabilities inherent in entitlement programs, which, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve, amount to some $104 trillion. 

When we consider all these numbers, we will quickly realize that our government’s balance sheet looks rather similar to, if not worse than, that of Greece. In any case, it is patently obvious that like the Greek state, the American federal government will not be able to make good on its obligations.

Welfare State in a Death Spiral

May 11, 2010

From Rick Moran in the American Thinker:

Wise old Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post on the real crisis facing Europe; it’s not Greek debt but the overpromises of the welfare state:

Euro coins and notes were introduced in 2002. The currency clearly hasn’t lived up to its promises. It was supposed to lubricate faster economic growth by eliminating the cost and confusion of constantly converting between national currencies. More important, it would promote political unity. With a common currency, people would feel “European.” Their identities as Germans, Italians and Spaniards would gradually blend into a continental identity.

None of this has happened. Economic growth in the countries using the currency averaged 2.1 percent annually from 1992 to 2001 and 1.7 percent from 2002 to 2008. Multiple currencies were never a big obstacle to growth; high taxes, pervasive regulations and generous subsidies were. As for political unity, the euro is now dividing Europeans. The Greeks are rioting. The countries making $145 billion in loans to Greece — particularly Germany — resent the costs of the rescue. A single currency could no more subsume national identities than drinking Coke could make people American. If other euro countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy) suffer Greece’s fate — lose market confidence and can’t borrow at plausible rates — there would be a wider crisis.

But the central cause is not the euro, even if it has meant Greece can’t depreciate its own currency to ease the economic pain. Budget deficits and debt are the real problems; they stem from all the welfare benefits (unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, health insurance) provided by modern governments.

U.S. Taxpayers Bailing Out Greece?

May 9, 2010

Good read by Mike Pence and Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the NY Post on how the US Taxpayers could be bailing out Greece, whose self-inflicted problems are due to years of rampant socialism. 

US taxpayers will be helping to foot the bill for the Greek bailout, via the Interna tional Monetary Fund. And if the Obama administration doesn’t draw a clear line, Uncle Sam may soon be on the line for even more and larger European “rescues.”

The Greek government, with its high taxes and profligate spending to support large bureaucracies and social programs, is bankrupt. Its bonds have been downgraded to junk status.

As economist Milton Friedman once said, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.” Greece has run out of sand.

 Concerned that the fiscal damage could spread throughout the EU and the world, other European Union members and the IMF have pledged $145 billion to bail out Greece. And since the United States is the largest contributor to the IMF budget, our government will be funneling billions of American tax dollars to Greece.

No one wants to see Greece fail — the economic stability of Europe is important. But US taxpayers have funded bailout after bailout, and our country faces a debt crisis of its own.

Our unemployment rate stands at nearly 10 percent. The public debt now stands at $9.2 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that America’s debt held by the public will reach 90 percent of gross domestic product within 10 years under President Obama’s budget. Without dramatic spending restraints, America is on a path like the one that led to Greece’s financial catastrophe.

The Latest Casualties of Socialism: Greece, Spain, and Portugal

May 4, 2010

Excellent read from Dexter Wright in the American Thinker on how years of rampant Socialism (and Liberalism) have resulted in financial disasters in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and therfore to the EU.  Take note California.  You’re to the U.S. as Greece is to the E.U.

At the close of April the worst of the PIGS, Greece, was bailed out financially by the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by borrowing money mostly from Germany. The agreement that permitted that transaction to occur forced the Greek government to agree to austerity programs reducing social services and pensions.  This essentially means that the massive socialist programs instituted over the last forty years in Greece are being rolled back simply because these programs have run out of money.

Margret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, once said “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

Clearly Greece has run out of its own money and is now using German money to prevent total collapse. Bonds covering Greek debt have been degraded to junk bond status.

The next of the PIGS to start squealing looks like it will be Portugal followed very closely by Spain. Both countries will have to issue new debt to support their socialist programs because they have run out of their own money. The combined debt of all the PIGS is $3.7 Trillion. This exceeds their combined Gross Domestic Product by 63%. They are upside down in their debt. They owe more than they are worth. The citizens will ultimately pay for the years of over spending. In order to float the loans to cover the debt, these nations have offered their own citizens as collateral. 

If the story of the financial collapse of the PIGS seems familiar that is because we have seen this story unfold before throughout the twentieth century. Most recently, this script was played out upon the world stage when the Soviet Union collapsed, before that the Weimar Republic and before that Tsarist Russia

Continued:

The events that are transpiring in Europe are what a script writer would call foreshadowing of the events that will take place in America if the government continues to spend more money than the U.S. Treasury takes in. But these lessons are seemingly lost on American socialists as they push ahead at top speed to institute the Obama socialist agenda by packing the federal budget with huge amounts of pork.  At the current rate of spending the United States will be upside down in its debt obligations by next year. That is to say that America will owe more than its annual GDP. Currently the national debt is $12.9 trillion, and our GDP is $13.7 Trillion. Next year, the federal government will have to borrow $1.4 trillion to cover all of the expenditures in the budget. The collateral the government will use to secure these loans is the American tax payer. The taxpayers may not know it, (and the politicians hope they never find out) but the share of the national debt that each taxpayer owes right now is $117,380.00, essentially two years of engenderment, working off the debt for each household based on annual household incomes. 

 

Liberal Idiocy: Opponents of AZ Immigration bill boycott AriZona Iced Tea, which is made in… Brooklyn

April 28, 2010

The Liberal opponents of Arizona’s Immigration Bill have taken idiocy to a new level, though I’m sure by this time tomorrow they’ll have surpassed today’s temporary standard.  They’re boycotting AriZona Iced Tea, which is made NOT in Arizona, but in Brooklyn, NY.  The only connection it has with Arizona is its name. 

From Vanity Fair:

In response to the state of Arizona’s polarizing new immigration law, thirsty, misguided activists have decided to boycott AriZona-brand iced tea. The problem, as the New York Daily News reports, is that the beverage is brewed in New York. This has not dissuaded the Twittering masses from condemning the tea. “I’m going to even boycott Arizona Ice Tea. I mean Freedom Ice Tea,” wrote one dissenter. “It is the drink of fascists,” the Daily News quotes another as saying.

2 Illinois Lawmakers Want National Guard Deployed to Quell Violence in Chicago

April 26, 2010

Weren’t Chicago’s strict gun control laws supposed to decrease gun violence?  Sadly this is yet another example of why such laws don’t work.  

From the Star Tribune:

Two Illinois lawmakers say violence has become so rampant in Chicago that the National Guard must be called in to help.Chicago Democratic Reps. John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford made a public plea to Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday to deploy troops.

The request comes amid a recent surge in violent crime, including a night last week that saw seven people killed and 18 wounded, mostly by gunfire.

Fritchey says Chicago has had 113 homicide victims this year. He says the police department has done a commendable job, but its resources are stretched thin.

Projected Federal Spending in 2020 per Director of CBO

April 25, 2010

From Randall Hoven in the American Thinker:

“Given current law and certain changes to that law that are broadly supported by the Administration and Congress, the budget deficit and debt are on a worrisome path-unsustainable in the long run and posing growing risks even during the next several years.”  Douglas Elmendorf, Director of the CBO, April 23, 2010.


Bill Ayers: We were never a terrorist organization

April 25, 2010

Mr. Ayers must have a pretty bad memory.  He also has a good friend in our Dear Leader, Barack Hussein Obama. 

SEIU Illinois Members Chant “Raise My Taxes!”

April 24, 2010

With such rampant idiocy in the Land of Obama, it’s no wonder Moody’s lowered Illinois’ bond rating.

Bertha Lewis, CEO of ACORN, discusses Conservatives and the Tea Party

April 22, 2010

From her speech to the Young Democratic Socialists on 3/25/2010. 

Republican Staffers Brutally Beaten in New Orleans, Mainstream Media Silent

April 21, 2010

Typical.  Were it Republican protesters who beat 2 Democrat staffers, it’d be the Mainstream Media’s headline for months.  Instead, it’s ignored since it doesn’t fit their template.  From Scott McKay in Pajamas Media:

A brutal beating in New Orleans following the Southern Republican Leadership Conference — held in that city from April 8-11 — has challenged the myth regarding the preferred residence of political thuggery.

Circumstantial evidence is piling up that far-left anarchists viciously attacked a staffer to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, putting Allee Bautsch and her boyfriend Joe Brown in the hospital with broken bones. The story has been, unsurprisingly, ignored.

Bautsch, a rising star in Republican politics and just 25 years old, helped organize a $10,000-a-plate GOP fundraiser at the legendary Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans. Jindal attended the affair, as did Republican Governors Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Rick Perry of Texas.

The event drew a hostile protest from a group which had initially assembled to protest the SRLC at the Hilton Riverside Hotel, a half-mile away. That protest, which had purportedly focused on state budget cuts to higher education and health care, was organized by the Iron Rail Book Collective. The Iron Rail is a self-described anarchist commune, boasting of holding book-study groups on violent revolutionary literature and having vandalized French Quarter banks in recent months.

Iron Rail members engaged in rhetoric which, had it been used by conservative protesters, would have headlined that week’s coverage.

Video of their demonstration at Brennan’s shows a protest barely short of a riot. Attendees at the fundraiser were subjected to intense verbal abuse upon arriving and leaving the restaurant.

After Jindal, Barbour, and Perry had departed the restaurant from a rear entrance, an employee of Brennan’s announced to the demonstrators that the three were no longer present. The protesters refused to either leave or to cease the abusive chanting. Sometime either before or shortly after the New Orleans Police were called in a semi-successful effort to break up the protest, Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere found himself blocked from exiting the restaurant’s front door. When Villere then tried to exit through the rear, he was chased by protesters. He made a narrow escape into a waiting taxi.

About an hour later, Bautsch and Brown exited through the front door into what appeared to be a dwindling demonstration. The duo were immediately “catcalled” by the remaining protesters, and were followed by a group of approximately five white males bearing a “counterculture” appearance. The pursuers made repeated insulting comments based largely in class-warfare rhetoric: “little blond bitch,” “you think you’re f***ing special.”

Brown told Bautsch to hurry towards their car. When they reached the 600 block of St. Louis Street, a block and a half from Brennan’s, Brown turned to gauge their progress.

At that time, the attack began.

Brown was immediately set upon by four of the assailants, thrown into a wrought-iron fence. Another assailant attacked Bautsch, knocking her to the ground and stomping on her leg. She suffered four breaks in the leg, requiring a steel rod during extensive surgery on April 10, and faces three months of recuperation.

A Taste of What’s to Come: Out of Control Entitlements

April 19, 2010

This is the perfect example of where the U.S. is headed unless major changes (reduced entitlements) come about.  From the Daily Mail:

The Davey family’s £815-a-week state handouts pay for a four-bedroom home, top-of-the-range mod cons and two vehicles including a Mercedes people carrier.  Father-of-seven Peter gave up work because he could make more living on benefits.  Yet he and his wife Claire are still not happy with their lot.  With an eighth child on the way, they are demanding a bigger house, courtesy of the taxpayer.

‘It’s really hard,’ said Mrs Davey, 29, who is seven months pregnant. ‘We can’t afford holidays and I don’t want my kids living on a council estate and struggling like I have. 

Continued:

Mrs Davey has never had a full-time job while her 35-year-old husband gave up his post in administration nine years ago after realising they would be better off living off the state.

At their semi on the Isle of Anglesey, the family have a 42in flatscreen television in the living room with Sky TV at £50 a month, a Wii games console, three Nintendo DS machines and a computer – not to mention four mobile phones.  With their income of more than £42,000 a year, they run an 11-seater minibus and the seven-seat automatic Mercedes.

But according to the Daveys they have nothing to be thankful for.

‘It doesn’t bother me that taxpayers are paying for me to have a large family,’ added Mrs Davey.  ‘We couldn’t afford to care for our children without benefits, but as long as they have everything they need, I don’t think I’m selfish.  ‘Most of the parents at our kids’ school are on benefits.’  She added: ‘I don’t feel bad about being subsidised by people who are working. I’m just working with the system that’s there.

‘If the government wants to give me money, I’m happy to take it. We get what we’re entitled to. I don’t put in anything because I don’t pay taxes, but if I could work I would.’

Finally:

Despite filing for bankruptcy 18 months ago after racking up £20,000 of debt on mail order catalogues they still insist on splashing out on four presents per child at birthdays and last Christmas spent £2,000 on gifts alone.  ‘Santa is always generous in our house,’ said Mrs Davey, who once applied to join the police but was turned down.  She insists her husband would do any job ‘as long as we could still afford the lifestyle we have now’. 

Mrs Davey, who spends £160 a week at Tesco, says she does not intend to stop at eight children. Her target is 14.  And she adds: ‘I’ve always wanted a big family’.

The Latest Casualty of Liberalism: California’s Pension Funds

April 10, 2010

Thanks to former Liberal Democrat Governor Jerry Brown, who signed the Dill Act in 1978 which gave public unions collective bargaining rights, California’s pensions are grossly underfunded.  In the case of the teachers’ pension fund, California has resorted to firing current teachers in order to pay for those who have long retired.  While state residents will again be forced to pay for the pension differences, its current and future students who will pay the most by way of larger classrooms and less funding.

Governor Brown – who is currently the Attorney General and running for Governor again – is like the Jimmy Carter of California in that his short-sighted, detrimental policies continue to negatively affect the Golden State long after his exit.

From Jane Jamison in the American Thinker:

California is the nation’s shameful example of what happens when Democrats influenced by big-government labor rule the statehouse for forty years.With 12.5% unemployment (up from 4.5% a mere three years ago) and a “recognized” budget deficit of $21 billion, California has just found that out it is in much, much more financial trouble than anyone, especially a Democrat, really wants to admit.

California’s governor Schwarzenegger commissioned a study by Stanford University, which has found that California’s three public employee pension funds (The California Public Employees’ Retirement System [CalPERS], California State Teachers’ Retirement System [CalSTRS], and University of California Retirement System [UCRS]) lost $109.7 billion in portfolio value in one year (June ’08 to June ’09) and are currently in shortfall of “more than half a trillion dollars.”

By law, California taxpayers are required to pay the public employees’ pensions shortfalls that may occur. Local governments cannot “print money” as the federal government does to cover budget deficits.

What should have been considered a huge scandal in the state pension fund system in the past year got little attention but is more pertinent now: The two largest plans, CalPERS and CalSTRS, were reportedly near bankruptcy in 2009 after it was learned the funds had lost from 25%-41% of their value due to risky investments in real estate and the stock market. Former employees of the state plans were accused in January of getting huge fees to direct pension investments to certain banks or ventures.

There are outrageous examples of abuse in the California public pension system.

PensionTsunami.com, which has been tracking the pension fund liability issue for five years, has found that 9, 233 retired members of CalPERS or CalSTRS receive more than $100,000 per year in retirement benefits, amounting to more than a billion dollars a year. 

The retired city administrator of Vernon, California, Bruce Malkenhorst, receives an annual pension of $449,675 from CalPERS. Vernon, a Los Angeles suburb, has 92 residents.

California’s state employee pension fund liabilities have ballooned for years with increased numbers of state employees, many of whom can retire at age 50, can “spike” their last years’ income with overtime to increase their retirement, and can then move on to other government or private jobs without losing their pensions.

Continued:

Approximately 22,000 California teachers have just received “pink slips” indicating that they may be laid off due to budget cuts next fall. An additional 20,000 were laid off last year. California is cutting “live” teachers out of classrooms in order to pay for retired teachers.

California schools have gone from number one in the country in the 1970s to at or near the bottom in performance and funding.

Who is to blame for this ticking-time bomb of unfunded public pension liability?

“Thank” Jerry Brown. As Governor “Moonbeam” of California in 1978, he signed the “Dill Act,” which gave California public employees the right to collective bargaining. 

Brown, who has been governor, Oakland mayor, and attorney general, now wants to be California governor…again. Four big, grateful government labor unions are backing him…again.

Speaking recently to the Service Employees International Union, Jerry Brown “the populist” said he was proud to have given state employees “the choice” to belong to unions in the ’70s, and he will “take a look” at the pension funds to make sure that they are actuarially sound. Big applause line.

Speaking to another union group in Sacramento, Brown was caught on videotape asking the labor leaders to “do the dirty work” and “attack” Republican candidates who oppose him in the governor’s race. (Hear it here.)

Who else is to blame?

Since Brown gave them a green light in the 1970s, public employee unions have become a muscular, dominating force in California politics. State employee unions spent a whopping $31.7 million on state races just from 2001-2006, according to the California Fair Political Practices commission — higher than any other group, including corporations. The majority-Democrat California legislature has voted accordingly.

What can be done?

Jerry Brown the rerun, who is running technically unopposed by any other candidate in the Democratic primary, has been oddly silent on his state’s dire budgetary woes. His campaign site news releases do not mention budget problems.

At the same time, it has been noted by the tabloid media that Jerry Brown has been weirdly over-involved as California’s attorney general, his current job, in the celebrity death investigations of Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson, and Corey Haim. His office spent several months investigating ACORN employees who were caught in a videotape sting organizing houses of prostitution in government housing. Brown has just determined that there will be no prosecution of ACORN in his state.

Almost Half of U.S. Households Don’t Pay Income Tax

April 8, 2010

It’s the households that don’t pay income tax that, on the whole, use and benefit most from Government services and entitlements.  While this article deals with Federal income taxes, the same applies to states.  It’s no wonder our deficit is out of control and cities such as Los Angeles are beginning to buckle.  From AP via Yahoo!Finance:

Tax Day is a dreaded deadline for millions, but for nearly half of U.S. households it’s simply somebody else’s problem.About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That’s according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization.

Most people still are required to file returns by the April 15 deadline. The penalty for skipping it is limited to the amount of taxes owed, but it’s still almost always better to file: That’s the only way to get a refund of all the income taxes withheld by employers.

In recent years, credits for low- and middle-income families have grown so much that a family of four making as much as $50,000 will owe no federal income tax for 2009, as long as there are two children younger than 17, according to a separate analysis by the consulting firm Deloitte Tax.

Tax cuts enacted in the past decade have been generous to wealthy taxpayers, too, making them a target for President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. Less noticed were tax cuts for low- and middle-income families, which were expanded when Obama signed the massive economic recovery package last year.

The result is a tax system that exempts almost half the country from paying for programs that benefit everyone, including national defense, public safety, infrastructure and education. It is a system in which the top 10 percent of earners — households making an average of $366,400 in 2006 — paid about 73 percent of the income taxes collected by the federal government.

The bottom 40 percent, on average, make a profit from the federal income tax, meaning they get more money in tax credits than they would otherwise owe in taxes. For those people, the government sends them a payment.

The Latest Casualty of Liberalism: City of Los Angeles’ Credit Rating

April 7, 2010

From Bloomberg via BusinessWeek:

Los Angeles had the rating on $3.2 billion of debt cut to Aa3 from Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service a day after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for a twice-a-week shutdown of “nonessential” services that might last until July.The one-level downgrade cited the difficulty of balancing the budget of the nation’s second-largest city by population. The mayor, whose workforce totals 35,000, told CNN today that 2,400 employees would retire early and 1,000 other positions would be eliminated.

View the full article here.

The Latest Casualty of Liberalism: City of Los Angeles

April 7, 2010

The City of Los Angeles, led by its ultra-Liberal Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, is projected to run out of money in early May.  How does this happen in a city so vibrant and seemingly rampant with money?  The answer is simple.  Liberalism has struck again.  From LAist:

“The question I have been asked most often during the budget crisis is ‘When will the City run out of money?’ Unfortunately, we finally have the answer,” announced City Controller Wendy Gruel this afternoon after the L.A. Department of Water & Power said it would not transfer $73 million to the city’s General Fund, which pays for police and other basic city services. “Without the full Power Revenue Transfer I now project that if the City remains on its current path, the City’s General Fund will be out of money – in fact it will be negative $10 million – on May 5th, 2010.” Ouch.

Greuel says balancing the budget is likely out of realm at this point and the city’s reserve fund balance “could be anywhere from $0 to negative $43 million on June 30th.” The consequence of that would leave the city with “no room to cover any additional shortfalls or unexpected emergencies.” (So if Mulholland Drive closes again, city emergency funds may not be around to fix it)

“This is the most urgent fiscal crisis that the City has faced in recent history, and it is imperative that you act now,” Greuel said in a letter to the City Council and Mayor, asking for an immediate “transfer $90 million from the City’s Reserve Fund to the General Fund.” If city employees cannot be paid, the city cannot “legally permit” them to work. “Unless you take action to transfer $90 million from the Reserve Fund, beginning April 19th, 2010, my office may not be able to pay the salaries of all City employees and/or make payments to vendors.”

Air America Selling Its Users’ Email Addresses

March 26, 2010

Air America – the Left’s sad attempt at Liberal Radio in which their curious business model consisted of hate-speech, no audience, and therefore no sponsors – is auctioning off  their users’ email addresses to the highest bidder as part of their bankruptcy filing.  So though they repeatedly stated that their users’ info was safe, it turns out that wasn’t the case.  Yet another hard lesson to be learned for those on the Left. 

On the positive side, they had a pathetically small audience to begin with and I imagine the same could be said of the number of users who submitted their email addresses.  So it’s probably not as bad as it seems.

From Geekosystem.com:

It’s been reported that since progressive radio network Air America filed for bankruptcy on January 25th, 2010, everything has been for sale in the companywide liquidation that’s followed. The auction began today at 11:00 EDT.

While there may be something poignant about that for fans of the network, there’s one thing on the auction block that’s likely to bother them more than the broadcast equipment and cubicles: Their e-mail mailing list, which auctioneers are billing at “intellectual property.”

This in spite of the fact that Air America’s privacy agreement said that newsletter e-mail addresses “[would] not be divulged to any third party” as recently as January 17th of this year.

View the entire post here.

Greece: The Latest Casualty of Liberalism

February 28, 2010

Excellent piece from Mark Steyn in the National Review on Greece’s troubles and how the U.S. heading in the same direction due to Liberalism, the current Congress, and The One (without a clue).

While Barack Obama was making his latest pitch for a brand-new, even-more-unsustainable entitlement at the health-care “summit,” thousands of Greeks took to the streets to riot. An enterprising cable network might have shown the two scenes on a continuous split-screen — because they’re part of the same story. It’s just that Greece is a little further along in the plot: They’re at the point where the canoe is about to plunge over the falls. America is farther upstream and can still pull for shore, but has decided instead that what it needs to do is catch up with the Greek canoe. Chapter One (the introduction of unsustainable entitlements) leads eventually to Chapter Twenty (total societal collapse): The Greeks are at Chapter Seventeen or Eighteen.

What’s happening in the developed world today isn’t so very hard to understand: The 20th-century Bismarckian welfare state has run out of people to stick it to. In America, the feckless, insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany, and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they’ve reached the next stage in social-democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over. The United States has a fertility rate of around 2.1 — or just over two kids per couple. Greece has a fertility rate of about 1.3: Ten grandparents have six kids have four grandkids — ie, the family tree is upside down. Demographers call 1.3 “lowest-low” fertility — the point from which no society has ever recovered. And, compared to Spain and Italy, Greece has the least worst fertility rate in Mediterranean Europe.

So you can’t borrow against the future because, in the most basic sense, you don’t have one. Greeks in the public sector retire at 58, which sounds great. But, when ten grandparents have four grandchildren, who pays for you to spend the last third of your adult life loafing around?

By the way, you don’t have to go to Greece to experience Greek-style retirement: The Athenian “public service” of California has been metaphorically face down in the ouzo for a generation. Still, America as a whole is not yet Greece. A couple of years ago, when I wrote my book America Alone, I put the then–Social Security debate in a bit of perspective: On 2005 figures, projected public-pensions liabilities were expected to rise by 2040 to about 6.8 percent of GDP. In Greece, the figure was 25 percent: in other words, head for the hills, Armageddon outta here, The End. Since then, the situation has worsened in both countries. And really the comparison is academic: Whereas America still has a choice, Greece isn’t going to have a 2040 — not without a massive shot of Reality Juice.

Is that likely to happen? At such moments, I like to modify Gerald Ford. When seeking to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, President Ford liked to say: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” Which is true enough. But there’s an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn’t big enough to get you to give any of it back. That’s the point Greece is at. Its socialist government has been forced into supporting a package of austerity measures. The Greek people’s response is: Nuts to that. Public-sector workers have succeeded in redefining time itself: Every year, they receive 14 monthly payments. You do the math. And for about seven months’ work: For many of them, the work day ends at 2:30 p.m. And, when they retire, they get 14 monthly pension payments. In other words: Economic reality is not my problem. I want my benefits. And, if it bankrupts the entire state a generation from now, who cares as long as they keep the checks coming until I croak?

View the entire article here.

The Case Against Tenure

February 13, 2010

Great piece from Bernie Reeves in the American Thinker on how tenure harms education.

As Ohio State University President Gordon Gee realizes in his recent call to study whether or not tenure should be modified or abolished, a guaranteed job for life for academics annoys most people. This negative feeling has been exacerbated in the last thirty years during the rise of the radical scholars in liberal arts departments in most colleges and universities. Once ensconced in their ivory towers, tenured activists are granted a free ride to propagandize students and make public pronouncements behind the skirts of the university. The Ward Churchill scandal at the University of Colorado is a sadly common example of professors politicizing and poisoning the commonweal.

But it is within academe and outside the glare of the media that radical scholars do the most damage. In case after case, qualified scholars are either refused tenure or never hired because they do not adhere to the leftist party line. At Duke in the mid-’90s, an American history professor — who served in the Army in Vietnam — assumed that his academic career was solid until the agitprop started to deny him tenure.

Radical professors set out to destroy him with innuendo, whispering that he was a chauvinist, a racist, homophobic, and imperialistic — the codewords that strike fear in university administrators. There was no proof that he deserved any of these labels, but the damage to his reputation became permanent as the drums grew louder. The professor picked up on the slander and decided to accept a position offered from the University of Kentucky to remove himself from the machinations of the Duke apparat.

Undeterred, the radical scholars intensified and transferred their campaign to Kentucky. With anonymous phone calls and unsigned letters, they mobilized their comrades in the Bluegrass State to vilify the professor. The president of the University of Kentucky capitulated, and the job offer was withdrawn. The professor finally found a position at West Point.

When radical scholars run off colleagues they don’t like, it advances their cause, but even more effective is the campaign to block potential heretics from entering the teaching ranks at all. This happened to a Harvard history genius who earned his Ph.D. at U.K.’s Cambridge University (where, by the way, there is no tenure), making him imminently qualified with enviable credentials. He applied to Georgetown and the Air Force Academy for an entrance-level teaching job, only to be told he “just wouldn’t fit in” — the euphemism adopted by the radical scholars that actually means “you are not one of us.” He now teaches at Marine University, and two schools lost the services of one of the country’s top military scholars.

Duke has allegedly weeded out some of the most pernicious of the radical scholars that infiltrated the school in the ’80s and ’90s, including the notorious radical Stanley Fish. But during the Duke lacrosse incident, a group from the remaining leftist culprits publicly attempted to destroy the reputation of the five team members by signing a newspaper ad as part of the now-discredited Group of 88 that allegedly represented the views of the Duke academic family. Thus, despite the effort at cleansing, it is clear that the school remains stuck with a phalanx of politically correct professors who hide behind tenure to affect university and public policy.

Professors are realizing the radical scholars are jeopardizing their cozy life sinecures, but it could be too late for them. The public is outraged at their antics and appalled that graduates from top-tier schools are functionally ignorant of the world around them. Instead, they have been inculcated with warmed-over anti-American and Marxist platitudes due to the intrigues of the radical — and often tenured — scholars who still hold sway in the liberal arts.

Gordon Gee’s courage to broach the subject is commendable. However, he does not mention that the concept of tenure reaches deep into the academic establishment to public school teachers. In my home state, a teacher is automatically extended tenure after only three years on the job. It is nearly impossible to remove bad teachers, and good teachers lower their standards and accommodate their often vociferous coworkers to protect themselves from attack.

It is no wonder that teacher unions have enormous sway. The mediocre gravitate to solidarity to mask their incompetence. And teacher unions are rarely interested in improving academic performance, instead focusing on legislative lobbying to increase salaries and benefits totally unrelated to educating kids.

 

Liberal Bigotry on Full Display

February 6, 2010

Great read from Bob Weir in The American Thinker on several recent episodes that highlight the bigotry, and hypocrisy, of liberals.

“For an hour, I forgot that Obama was black,” said Chris Mathews, the host of MS-NBC’s “Hardball,” after he finished watching President Obama’s State of the Union address. Did Mathews mean that he’s not used to hearing from articulate blacks who sound just like educated whites?

Recently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was quoted in the book Game Change as saying privately that Obama, as a black candidate, could be successful thanks in part to his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” Did he mean that Obama wouldn’t have reached the White House if he was darker-skinned or spoke with the African-American vernacular English known as Ebonics?

In the same book, it was reported that Bill Clinton, when he was trying to persuade Ted Kennedy not to support Obama, remarked to the senator, “A few years ago, this guy [Obama] would have been getting us coffee.” Did he mean that Obama’s race qualified him only for menial jobs? During the 2008 campaign for president, Senator Joe Biden, referring to Senator Barack Obama, said, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Evidently, these folks haven’t spent much time around black people. Hence, they’re shocked when they come across blacks who are physically attractive, well-spoken, well-dressed, and who bathe regularly.

View the full article here.

Not Thinking Ahead: Minnesota’s Wind Turbines Don’t Work in the Cold

February 1, 2010