Saturday, June 30, 2012

The True Size of Government Debt

The True Size of Government Debt? It's truly scary--

Niall Ferguson: If the young knew what was good for them they'd join the Tea Party - Telegraph: "Professor Ferguson argues the true size of government debt in Western democracies is many times larger than "deeply misleading" figures issued in the form of bonds because they do not record unfunded liabilities of social security and health care schemes. "The last corporation to publish financial statements this misleading was Enron," he wrote."


Friday, June 29, 2012

Sizing up Penn State's liability in abuse scandal

Sizing up Penn State's liability in abuse scandal | Reuters: "It's impossible to know what the cost to Penn State ultimately might be. There is no formula for damages in sexual abuse cases and there are no caps on damages. Lawyers who specialize in sex abuse cases say damages can vary widely from case to case, depending on the harm done to the victim."


Thursday, June 28, 2012

More on private prison corporations

Immigration Detention Center Proposal In Florida Pits Town Against Town: "The suburban spat in South Florida sheds light on how local financial incentives tie in to national policy on the detention of undocumented immigrants. Private prison corporations have captured hundreds of millions of dollars from the immigrant detention business over the past decade as the government has embarked on a campaign of increased border security and immigration enforcement. As the private immigrant detention business has expanded, companies such as CCA and the GEO Group Inc. have entered into revenue-sharing arrangements with local counties and municipalities that agree to house the prisons. In Southwest Ranches, for example, CCA and town officials had an agreement for the town to receive up to 4 percent of the revenues generated every day from the housing of immigrant detainees. There are similar agreements at other private facilities in Texas and Arizona, according to county documents in those states."

Hogs at the Trough


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Prisons, Privatization, Patronage

Prisons, Privatization, Patronage --a must-read for liberals and conservatives:
Krugman and the New York Times both nail it and politicians of both parties are GUILTY:

The halfway houses from hell in New Jersey are part of a broader pattern in which essential functions of government are being both privatized and degraded.--" . . . follow the money. Never mind what privatization does or doesn’t do to state budgets; think instead of what it does for both the campaign coffers and the personal finances of politicians and their friends. As more and more government functions get privatized, states become pay-to-play paradises, in which both political contributions and contracts for friends and relatives become a quid pro quo for getting government business. Are the corporations capturing the politicians, or the politicians capturing the corporations? Does it matter? Now, someone will surely point out that nonprivatized government has its own problems of undue influence, that prison guards and teachers’ unions also have political clout, and this clout sometimes distorts public policy. Fair enough. But such influence tends to be relatively transparent. Everyone knows about those arguably excessive public pensions; it took an investigation by The Times over several months to bring the account of New Jersey’s halfway-house-hell to light. The point, then, is that you shouldn’t imagine that what The Times discovered about prison privatization in New Jersey is an isolated instance of bad behavior. It is, instead, almost surely a glimpse of a pervasive and growing reality, of a corrupt nexus of privatization and patronage that is undermining government across much of our nation."

Hogs at the Trough

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Illinois in poorest fiscal condition of all states

Looks like Illinois continues its "race to the bottom"--

Illinois in poorest fiscal condition of all states - Chicago Tribune: "Illinois in poorest fiscal condition of all states Auditor general's report cites pension, other liabilities - Illinois' financial condition continued to deteriorate in fiscal 2011, leaving it the state with the lowest level of net assets in the country, as its liabilities, including money owed for public pensions, grew, according to a report released on Thursday by the state's auditor general. Illinois' $43.8 billion deficit in terms of net assets at the end of June 2011 rose from $37.5 billion in fiscal 2010, when it also ranked the lowest among states. . . . "

While other states, including even California, are taking measures to restore fiscal sustainability, Illinois, apparently believes "ignorance is bliss"--ask the Greeks about that!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Warren Buffet on Public Pensions and the queen in Alice in Wonderland

Warren Buffet, in his 2007 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, wrote of anticipating an 8 percent return for public pensions: “Many [advisors] are apparently direct descendants of the queen in Alice in Wonderland, who said: ‘Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’ ”

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Judge: Feds can seize pension in Iowa scandal

Judge: Feds can seize pension in Iowa jobs scandal - BusinessWeek: "Ramona Cunningham's monthly pension of $2,700 from the Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System will go toward the $1.65 million she and another co-defendant have been ordered to pay in restitution, Judge Robert Pratt ruled. But after she is released from prison in 2015, only 25 percent of her pension can be seized for restitution under federal law, and Cunningham is entitled to the rest, Pratt ruled. Cunningham, the former chief executive of the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium, is serving a seven-year prison sentence handed down in 2008 for her role in a scheme in which up to $2.5 million in public funds were misspent on excessive salaries and bonuses for agency administrators between 2003 and 2006."

Agency administrators--and surely they were all hard working public servants.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pensions Under Stress Worldwide

It's not just the US--pensions are in trouble everywhere--

Pensions Under Stress, Worldwide - ". . . Because of the financial crisis, as well as the aging of the populations in many of the 34 O.E.C.D. countries, public pension funds are under intense stress. Many countries have changed the terms of their pension systems, including increasing the full retirement age, cutting benefits and giving people more incentives to work longer. Half of the O.E.C.D. countries, for example, will raise the full retirement age to 67 in the medium term, or have already done so. From September 2007 to February 2012, the report notes, most of the O.E.C.D. countries carried out changes in their pension systems, although the United States, along with Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Slovenia, introduced only minor changes. Luxembourg was the only country to make no changes in its pension system. . . .. the report noted that because of coming changes, “today’s retirees are living through what might prove to have been a golden age for pensions and pensioners.”"

In other words, pensions are "dinosaurs." Get over it!


Friday, June 22, 2012

In Stockton Bankruptcy May Not Fix The Problem

When does taking action but failing to fix the problem ever make sense?

In Stockton Bankruptcy, Pensions May Not Be Cut | PublicCEO: . . . A resident told the Stockton council Tuesday that if the city files for bankruptcy, there will be no attempt to cut pensions because CalPERS has a “big wallet” and would take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. . . . the retiree health care benefits offered by Stockton are “well above the labor market.” . . . annual retiree health care costs are $13.8 million ($9.2 million general fund) and are expected to double in ten years to $27.4 million. . . . Like the state and most cities, Stockton has set aside no money to invest and help pay for retiree health care. The debt or “unfunded liability” for retiree health care promised Stockton workers is an estimated $417 million in the decades ahead. . . . The city pays the full health care premium for the retiree and one dependent, with no cap on the cost. Because no minimum time of service was required for eligibility, an employee theoretically could work one month and be eligible for retiree health care. “Starting in FY 2013-14, the city will be spending more on health benefits for retirees than for current employees . . . ”


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Courthouse News Service: "San Jose claims in its complaint that its ability to provide vital services is "threatened by dramatic budget cuts caused in large part by the climbing and unsustainable cost of employee benefit programs, exacerbated by the economic crisis.". . . The city's payments for retirement benefits have increased by more than $100 million in the past year, and it expects the costs to increase to $319 million: roughly 24 percent of the general fund, according to the complaint. . . . That's why it put Measure B on the ballot, the city said. "Measure B is intended to adjust post-employment benefits in a manner that protects the city's viability and public safety, at the same time allowing for the continuation of fair post-employment benefits for the city's workers," the complaint states. "Without the reasonable cost containment provided in Measure B, the economic viability of the city, and hence, the city's employment benefit programs, will be placed at risk.""

In other words, face the problem now and start to "fix it" or go down the path of disaster--continue to ignore  the problem and hope it goes away. Unfortunately hope is not a strategy.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

End all Public Employee Pensions for New Hires?

Noted the following from another source--

End all Public Employee Pensions for New Hires | The View from the Other Side of Chicago Politics: "Last week, the City of San Diego passed Proposition B with 66% of the vote. This proposition effectively replaced the public pension system for all new hires (except the Police Department) with a 401K program. If Illinois did the same, we could fix a lot of our budget woes very quickly. Any new hire of the state, city, or county would not participate in the pension program, with the exception of first responders such as Police and Firefighters. Instead, they would be given a 401K matching contribution of, say, 6% of their base salary. The benefits to this are plentiful. . . . "

Why except "first responders?"


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Liberal Denial about Wisconsin and Public Debt

The Establishment’s False Solution to Public Debt « The Greenroom: "Establishmentarians like Brownstein want to avoid the ugly reality that the Wisconsin budget battle was about reforming a system in which: (1) government unions forcibly extract dues from employees; (2) government union officials enrich themselves; (3) government unions kick back donations and in-kind contributions to Democrat pols who defend them and promise substantial pension and medical benefits; and (4) legislatures fail to adequately contribute to public pensions and medical plans, while looking the other way at public pension accounting that would be criminal in the private-sector. Progressives will complain that public-sector union-busting harms women and African-Americans, who make up a disproportionate share of the public-sector workforce. They rarely mention that the establishment has been effectively defrauding the public-sector workforce for decades, let alone protest the Democrats and moderate Republicans most responsible."


Monday, June 18, 2012

Former Metro Workers Sentenced in Fare Theft

You know those coins and cash you put in the farecard machines? Guess what happened to it?--

Former Metro Workers Sentenced in Fare Theft Case | NBC4 Washington: "Two former Metro workers are going to prison for stealing more than $500,000 in coins and petty cash from farecard machines and using much of the money to buy lottery tickets. On Friday, a federal judge in Alexandria imposed a 37-month sentence on former Metro police officer John Haile, 52, of Woodbridge, Va., and a 30-month sentence on revenue technician Horace McDade, 58, of Bowie, Md. The two were arrested in January, and pled guilty March 19 to theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and conspiring to commit money laundering."

$500,000--That's a lot of lottery tickets!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chicago-Style Politics is America’s New Normal

More Hogs at the Trough--

Why ‘Chicago-Style Politics’ is America’s New Normal - In These Times: ". . . . In 2009, Chicago Alderwoman Arenda Troutman was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for tax and mail fraud. During her “five-year crime spree,” as the prosecution put it, she demanded payoffs for everything from zoning changes to land-use requests to alley access. “The thing is,” she once explained in a secretly taped conversation, “most aldermen, most politicians, are hos.”. . .  Corruption is no less a problem at the state level. You’ve heard of Rod Blagojevich? . . . What connects virtually all of the corruption cases in Chicago and Illinois is money – “the mother’s milk of politics,” as Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh famously put it. Politicians and government officials have the power to grant favors and tilt the playing field this way or that. . . . The more money in play, the more corruption there will be. It isn’t that complicated. . . . So it’s curious that, while Illinois has been embarrassed into action and is actually trying to reduce the influence of money in its politics, we’ve embarked as a nation on an experiment in virtually uncontrolled political spending. And the people who stand to benefit know a good investment when they see one. An analysis of the American Jobs Creation Act, passed in 2004, found that corporations saved $220 in taxes for every dollar they spent on lobbying for the bill. That return on investment may be exceptionally high, but there’s a good reason that the lobbying expenses of politically active organizations by one estimate from nearly $1.5 billion to nearly $3.5 . . . The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling takes that process of corruption to a whole new level. Unaccountable super PACs, funded largely by corporations and the wealthy, will invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the election process over the next several months. You can bet that the returns on their investments will be substantial. That’s what “Chicago-style politics at its worst” actually looks like. Except that in Chicago and Illinois, corruption is still illegal. People are actually put on trial and convicted for it. Then they go to prison. In Washington, D.C., the corruption is called free speech, and it’s business as usual. And business these days is very, very good."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Does Obama Know Why the Public Sector Isn’t ’Doing Fine’?

Does Obama Know Why the Public Sector Isn’t ’Doing Fine’? - Bloomberg: "On Friday President Barack Obama spoke about why the economic recovery has been so slow. People are focusing on his gaffe -- saying “the private sector is doing fine” -- and Ezra Klein admonishes us to focus on the president's substantive point, which is that job losses in the public sector have undermined the recovery overall. Unfortunately, Obama didn’t mention a major barrier to job growth in the public sector -- and neither did Ezra: unsustainable compensation structures. This problem existed before the recession, but it’s gotten worse during the recession, because public pension systems are designed to have very rapid rises in current-year cost in the years following a recession. . . . the main reason is that costs for a full-time equivalent employee are astronomical and skyrocketing. San Jose spends $142,000 per FTE on wages and benefits, up 85 percent from 10 years ago. As a result, the city shed 28 percent of its workforce over that period, even as its population was rising.

A lot of that increase is due to rising required pension payments, as the assets in the city’s pension funds have lost value. But much also had to do with what Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, describes as “irresponsible policy actions” over the last 15 years. Here’s his list:
1. Giving out raises faster than revenues were growing.
2. Giving out raises and increasing benefits when revenues were falling.
3. Giving out raises and benefits retroactively.
4. Allowing employees to cash out unlimited amounts of sick leave when they retire.
5. Providing lifetime health care for retirees. . . "

Need one say more? Hogs at the Trough.


Americans Support Comprehensive Government Union Reform

After Wisconsin, now what?

Actually, Americans Do Support Government Union Reform - "a comprehensive analysis of public opinion data collected since 2011 reveals the American public actually favors public sector union reform, even perhaps curbing public unions’ collective bargaining power. This openness is likely driven by declining union membership and favorability toward unions, perception of unions’ negative economic impact, and compensation inequality between public and private sector workers. . . . Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly support reforms that require public employees to contribute more toward their own retirement benefits and pensions. A February 2011 Wisconsin Policy Research Institute poll found 81 percent favor “requiring public employees to contribute to their own pensions.” Similarly a January 2012 Marquette Law School poll and a Reason-Rupe poll found upwards of 70 percent favor increasing public employees’ required contributions to their own pensions and health benefits. According to Rasmussen, 57 percent of Wisconsin voters oppose requiring school districts to buy health insurance from a union-created insurance company. This suggests voters would favor allowing states and municipalities greater flexibility to re-negotiate union contracts. According to the same poll, upwards of 60 percent of Wisconsin voters oppose initiating disbursement of lifetime retirement benefits before early-retired government workers are about 65 years old. This also suggests these voters would oppose “double-dipping,” in which retired government workers collecting lifetime retirement benefits in their 40s and 50s go back to work and receive a paycheck in addition to the retirement benefits. Wisconsin voters are also open to voter referenda before implementing enhancements to public union benefits. . . . .don’t think workers should be required to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Essentially, these results suggest openness to right-to-work laws. . . .

One could call all of the above "comprehensive government union reform" but isn't it really part of the "comprehensive entitlement reforms" everyone in Washington talks about? Is there anyone in America who actually is more "entitled" than a government worker? They draw salaries, health care,  pensions, and other benefits paid almost entirely by someone else--the taxpayer (and most of those taxpayers have nothing coming close to the same lavish benefits!)


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Collective-bargaining reforms

Wisconsin gov’s collective-bargaining reforms have been resounding success - Chicago Sun-Times: "Collective bargaining for government employees can never survive much scrutiny. Their unions are by their nature in conflict with the interests of taxpayer. Unions use their numbers, their voting booth clout and their members’ dues to elect politicians who then return the favor in contract negotiations. Liberal good government types constantly advocate bans against government contracts for businesses that make significant campaign contributions to politicians. But they fall silent on the inherent conflict of interest in labor contracts negotiated by public employee unions and the politicians they help elect. Talk about a corrupt bargain — that’s the very definition of one. Taxpayers have grown weary of financing generous benefits that most of them never see in their lives."


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Doom For Public Sector Unions

Governor Walker's Victory Spells Doom For Public Sector Unions - Forbes: ". . . The governor’s recall election victory sends a clear message that should resonate around the nation: The fiscal cancer devouring state budgets has a cure, and he has found it. The costly defeat for the entrenched union interests that tried to oust Walker in retribution for challenging their power was marked by President Obama’s refusal to lend his weight to the campaign for fear of being stained by defeat. We’ll see how well this strategy of opportunistic detachment serves in the fall as Obama reaches out to unions for support. This fight is not without precedent. Progressive patron saint Franklin Delano Roosevelt . . . knew that public sector unions would be the death of the social welfare state he worked so hard to create. Hence, he consistently opposed allowing government employees to unionize. Today, Greece sets the example of what happens when public sector unions gain the upper hand."


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wisconsin and the Democractic Party

What no one in the mainstream media (New York Times, CBS, ABC, NBC, etc.) will report:

RealClearPolitics - Walker Changes Attitudes on Public Employee Unions: "A defeat in a state where public employee union bargaining was authorized in 1959 has national implications. Unions spent $400 million in the 2008 election cycle to elect Barack Obama and other Democrats. More than half of all union members nationally are public employees. Public employee unions insist that dues money be deducted from members' paychecks and sent directly to union treasuries. So in practice, public employee unions are a mechanism for the involuntary transfer of taxpayers' money to the Democratic Party. Walker's law ended this practice and gave public employees the choice of whether to pay union dues. The membership of AFSCME, the big union of state employees, fell from 62,818 to 28,785. That's what liberal columnist E.J. Dionne was referring to when he wrote last week that Walker's laws "sought to undermine one of the Democratic Party's main sources of organization." Dionne wants continued taxpayer financing of campaigns -- for his side only."


Monday, June 11, 2012

More on Wisconsin and what it means

More on Wisconsin and what it means--

The “People United” Go Down In Flames | Via Meadia: "The American left as we have come to know it suffered a devastating blow in Wisconsin last (Tuesday) night. The organized heart of the left gave everything it had to the fight against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker . . . The tribes of the left danced and rallied in the streets of Madison. They knocked on doors. They staffed phone banks. They passed fliers. They organized on social media. They picketed. They sang. They brought in the celebrities and the stars; they marched seven times around the city blowing the trumpets and beating the drums. They hurled invective; they booed; they cheered. And they failed. . . "

Here's the question going forward: Do the public unions understand why they failed in Wisconsin? It has nothing to do with being "outspent." Why does it matter? Because if the public unions do not understand why they failed in Wisconsin, they are doomed to failure everywhere.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Reality After The Wisconsin Recall Election

Some are celebrating, some are still in denial,  but the reality after the Wisconsin Recall Election is--

What's Changed After Wisconsin - "Governors and local leaders will now have help in controlling budgets. Down the road there will be fewer contracts in which you work for, say, 23 years for a city, then retire with full salary and free health care for the rest of your life—paid for by taxpayers who cannot afford such plans for themselves, and who sometimes have no pension at all. The big meaning of Wisconsin is that a public injustice is in the process of being righted because a public mood is changing."


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wisconsin and the Future of Public Unions

The Future of Public Unions? Wisconsin changes the game:

Wisconsin changes the game - "On Tuesday, a majority of the voters who for a year and a half have spent the most time weighing those sorts of numbers reaffirmed that they think their Wisconsin governments had grown too elephantine, too expensive. There's another elephant in the room: Act 10 ended the compulsory collection of union dues by government employers. It turns out that when workers have a free choice of whether to keep paying, many decide that it isn't worth the money. We were surprised last week by a Wall Street Journal report that Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees plummeted from 62,818 in March 2011 to 28,745 in February 2012. At the American Federation of Teachers, 6,000 of 17,000 Wisconsin members have walked away. Drop-offs that stark have implications not only for the unions, but also for politicians who rely on union donations to fund their campaigns."


Friday, June 8, 2012

FDR, George Meany and Public Unions

There are real important reasons why both George Meany and FDR did not support unionizing government employees--

Ann Coulter - June 6, 2012 - THE RECALL HEARD AROUND THE WORLD: "There's a reason both FDR and labor leader George Meany said it would be insane to ever allow government employees to unionize. People who work for the government don't have a hard-driving capitalist boss on the other side of the bargaining table demanding more work for less pay. No one is worried about the profit margin because there is no profit -- it's government! Rather, the only people on the other side of the table are the unions' co-conspirators: Democratic politicians willing to spend the public treasury on union members, who will repay the politicians by mobilizing voters. This is why Walker's victory Tuesday night was an amazing, miraculous, transformative event in the history of the nation."


Thursday, June 7, 2012

GSA employees under IG investigation received $1.1M in bonuses

GSA again--you can't make this stuff up!!--

GSA employees under IG investigation received $1.1M in bonuses - " . . . An ongoing congressional investigation reveals $1.1 million in bonuses were awarded to 84 employees of the General Services Administration since 2008 — while the inspector general was probing these individuals for wrongdoing or misconduct. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who is heading the investigation, said the overall number of employees receiving bonuses while under investigation is likely to be "far higher" since not all information for current investigations is now available, according to a release from the senator. Of the 84 GSA employees, each received an average of eight bonuses, totaling $13,000. One program officer received more than $38,000 in bonuses since 2008, despite being reassigned for abuse of authority. Another employee, a GS-14 level supervisor, received more than $20,000 in bonuses, even after being reprimanded for interfering with an IG investigation, according to the release. "It doesn't pass the smell test to be awarding huge bonuses in taxpayer dollars to officials who are being investigated, or have already been found responsible, for fraud and waste of those very taxpayer dollars. . . "

And to think the Obama administration did nothing until this whole sorry mess was uncovered by Congress!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Public Pension-Inflating Spiking

Hogs at the Trough--unbelievable!--

California Teacher Fund Targets Pension-Inflating Spiking - Bloomberg: ". . . The practice of inflating pay rates in the last years of employment to boost retirement income helps drive pension costs higher. It was so pervasive in San Francisco, a grand jury concluded in 2009 that one in four retiring police officers and firefighters in the previous decade got raises of at least 10 percent in their final year on the job, pushing up pension costs by $132 million or more. With John Bayless, who left the Cabrillo Unified School District near San Francisco in 2007, the fund took action. Payment Cut In his final full year of nine as superintendent of the 3,500-student system 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of San Francisco, Bayless got a $61,000 raise. When he retired in 2007 at 56, his annual pension topped $154,600 -- exceeding his salary before the 45 percent increase, retirement system records show. After its review, the fund cut the payment by 26 percent last year to just under $114,600. The teachers’ fund determined that the raise to almost $197,700 was designed to inflate his pension, Duran said, without providing details to avoid tipping off abusers. . . . "


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rescuing Illinois - and local governments

More disclosure is a good thing when it comes to the fiscal mismanagement rampant at local, state, and federal levels--

Rescuing Illinois - "The perils caused by decades of lawmakers' overspending, overborrowing and overpromising aren't just threatening your state government, which now has nearly $200 billion in debts and unfunded obligations. Many of the 7,000 local governments statewide also are sick with debts and busted budgets. . . . County Treasurer Maria Pappas has been relentless about requiring Cook County's 553 municipalities, school districts and other taxing bodies to disclose to citizens the full extent of taxpayers' debts. Her newest, most ambitious online database exposes how dramatically these governments' debts have outpaced their rising tax collections. Check out Pappas' numbers at She told us Monday that credit rating agencies also are inspecting her data; that could lead to downgrades of the sort state government again will face if it doesn't address its debts. The site's most useful feature allows you to type in your 14-digit property index number and see how well, or how poorly, all the local governments you support with your property taxes have performed. Countywide, these governments have run up $140 billion (yes, billion) in debts — including more than $33 billion in unfunded pension obligations."

And this is just one county in Illinois!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Oh, Oh, The Truth Is Out

Fair warning to all the "Hogs at the Trough"--the truth is out:

Ann Coulter - May 16, 2012 - SACRIFICIAL SCAMS: "The real class warfare in this country isn't rich vs. poor, it's government employees vs. we, the taxpayers, who pay their salaries. Working for the government is supposed to be a trade-off: You can't be fired and don't have to exert yourself, but you will receive smaller remuneration than in the private sector, where layoffs are common (especially in the Obama economy!). Instead, government jobs are safe, secure, pressure-free -- and now, amazingly lucrative! Whether it's in Wisconsin, Illinois, California or the nation's capital, today's public sector workers expect to do little or no work (I'm not counting partying in Las Vegas as "work"), and then be lavishly compensated. Often, the only heavy lifting they do all week is picking up their paychecks. When government employees mobbed the state capitol in Wisconsin last year, the upside was: They got to bully people. The downside: Voters finally found out what these public servants were being paid. Their compensation included not only straight salary, but also lavish overtime benefits, pensions, health care plans, sick days and vacation time (most of which they spent protesting). The unions thought they could fight back against Gov. Scott Walker's tiny rollbacks without anyone finding out the details. Most people saw what public employees were getting and assumed it was a misprint. Two years ago, seven bus drivers in Madison, Wis., made more than $100,000 a year. A few years before that, we found out that the city manager of little Bell, Calif. -- per capita annual income $24,800 -- was making $787,637, or including benefits: $1.5 million a year. The chief of police was getting $457,000 a year -- $770,046 counting benefits -- making him the first chief of police to commit highway robbery on the job. The assistant city manager was taking home $376,288 per year, for a total compensation package of $845,960. All were Democrats, the party of Big Government."


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Public Pensions: Unsustainable

That Which is Unsustainable Will Go Away: Pensions « SGTreport: "Publicly funded pensions and Medicare are two examples of unsustainable systems that will go away in the decade ahead. . . . Whether we like it or not, or are willing to accept reality or not, unsustainable public pensions will go away. What makes “defined benefit” pensions unsustainable? 1) Promised cash/benefits packages that are not aligned with the fiscal realities of what can be contributed annually to the pension funds 2) New Normal low yields on low-risk investments and 3) skyrocketing costs of healthcare benefits. This is easily illustrated with basic math. Recall that defined pensions are not “pay as you go” plans like Social Security . . . "

Hogs at the Trough: Are You Listening?


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Real federal deficit dwarfs official tally – part 2

Real federal deficit dwarfs official tally – "•Social Security had the biggest financial slide. The government would need $22.2 trillion today, set aside and earning interest, to cover benefits promised to current workers and retirees beyond what taxes will cover. That's $9.5 trillion more than was needed in 2004. •Deficits from 2004 to 2011 would be six times the official total of $5.6 trillion reported. •Federal debt and retiree commitments equal $561,254 per household. By contrast, an average household owes a combined $116,057 for mortgages, car loans and other debts. "By law, the federal government can't tell the truth," says accountant Sheila Weinberg of the Chicago-based Institute for Truth in Accounting."

By law the federal government can't tell the truth? And who makes the laws?


Friday, June 1, 2012

Real federal deficit dwarfs official tally – part 1

Good thing no one else keeps "books" the way the government does!--

Real federal deficit dwarfs official tally – " the government ran red ink last year equal to $42,054 per household — nearly four times the official number reported under unique rules set by Congress. A U.S. household's median income is $49,445, the Census reports. The big difference between the official deficit and standard accounting: Congress exempts itself from including the cost of promised retirement benefits. Yet companies, states and local governments must include retirement commitments in financial statements, as required by federal law and private boards that set accounting rules. The deficit was $5 trillion last year under those rules. The official number was $1.3 trillion. Liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and other retirement programs rose by $3.7 trillion in 2011, according to government actuaries, but the amount was not registered on the government's books."