Monday, December 29, 2014

Public Pensions, Pension Reform, Tweets

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pension Reform, Criticisms

Monday, December 15, 2014

Illinois, Public Pensions, Absurdity

 Judge rules that all benefits are forever, no matter the public cost--

Illinois’s Pension Absurdity - WSJ: "... The fiscally delinquent state has accrued a $111 billion unfunded pension liability—a 75% increase from five years ago—in addition to $56 billion in debt for retiree health benefits. Incredibly, the state is spending more of its general fund on pensions than on K-12 education. One in four tax dollars pays for retirement benefits. Last year the state had to defer $7 billion in bills to contractors. This is after Democrats in 2011 raised income and corporate taxes by 67% and 30%, respectively. Little wonder that Illinois has the nation’s worst credit rating... Yet Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Belz... rejected all pension trims as a violation of the state Constitution... According to Judge Belz, there is “no legally cognizable affirmative defense” for impairing pensions benefit. Except, well, 80 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Federal courts have established that states may invoke their police powers to impair contracts. In the 1934 case Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that emergencies “may justify the exercise of [the State’s] continuing and dominant protective power notwithstanding interference with contracts,” which the U.S. Constitution otherwise prohibits.... " (read more at the link above)


Monday, December 8, 2014

Pensions make investing too complex

How pensions make investing too complex: "Pricey consultants have convinced many pension funds to pile into private equity, real estate and hedge funds, which don’t necessarily promise higher returns or long-term investing. KKR & Co., a private equity firm, has threatened to bar the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System from investing in KKR’s funds if the Iowa system complies with a public records request for information on what it is paying KKR in fees."


Monday, December 1, 2014

Only 7 percent of employers offer new employees traditional pensions

Nearly a quarter of Fortune 500 companies still offer pensions to new hires - The Washington Post: "... Only 7 percent of employers studied offer new employees traditional pensions, which pay out a certain amount at retirement based on a worker’s pay and how long they stayed with a company. So where can you still get a job with a pension? The plans are more prevalent in some industries versus others. For instance, defined benefit plans are still offered by most large insurance and utility companies, according to Towers Watson. But the plans are nonexistent among aerospace, construction and tourism companies, which only offer defined contribution plans, such as a 401(k) plan...."


Monday, November 24, 2014

China's Military, More Bang for the Buck

In China, as in most of the rest of the world, Less is More, a Lot More--the inconvenient Truth of the US Defense Budget is that Most of it is spent on Waste, Excess, Political Pork--

China's Military Gets More Bang for the Buck - Bloomberg View: "... in recent years the military appears to have wasted huge amounts of money on programs of dubious value, like the F-35 Lightning jet fighter. That program has seen its costs balloon to $400 billion -- about 2.5 percent of one year of U.S. GDP -- and will undoubtedly see costs go much higher. But the plane still does not work. Nor is the F-35 particularly unique. Programs like the F-35 have provided Americans with jobs, but have often been of dubious value to our military while costs greatly exceed initial estimates. Meanwhile, new Chinese weapons systems continually exceed U.S. expectations...."

Monday, November 17, 2014

California, Bankruptcy, Public Pensions, Nothing is Sacrosanct

In the end, all the political "rigging" was for naught--

Bankruptcy Judge in California Challenges Sanctity of Pensions - "A federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday upended the widely held belief that public workers’ pensions have a special status in California that makes them impossible to cut, further chipping away at the idea that pensions are sacrosanct in a municipal bankruptcy. The ruling, which came during a hearing on a plan by the City of Stockton to exit bankruptcy, did not order the city to cut its pension plan or take any specific action. The judge said that he needed more time to reflect on Stockton’s situation and that he would decide Oct. 30 whether the city could emerge from its two-year bankruptcy or whether it still had more work to do. But the decision, by Judge Christopher M. Klein of the Eastern District of California, dealt a blow to California’s giant state-led pension system, known as Calpers, which has been leading efforts to preserve defined-benefit pensions nationwide..."


Monday, November 10, 2014

21st Century Death Chamber?

The 21st century death chamber: $100,000 for a civilised execution | World news | "State officials refused to discuss any aspect of the new execution protocols other than bare construction issues, on grounds that the matter was “being litigated”. When, for instance, the Guardian pointed to an entry among the renovation expenses listed as “electrode snap FM Wetgel 50s” and asked for a plain English translation, Crow replied: “That’s part of the protocol. I’m not at liberty to discuss that.”"


Monday, November 3, 2014

Ireland, The Double Irish, Corporate Tax Inversions, Aversions or Avoidance?

Ireland Phases Out Tax Break as Overseas Pressure Mounts - Bloomberg: "... The “Double Irish,” which allows companies to avoid paying tax on much of their income, will be closed to new entrants from January, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in parliament in Dublin today, as he laid out the 2015 budget. Companies already enjoying the tax break can continue to do so until 2020...."

Aversion to Inversions: "In the face of inaction on comprehensive reform, and fearing that the Obama administration might crack down on inversions, corporations may be rushing to complete them as a form of “‘self-help’ territorial taxation,” according to Philip Cohen, a tax professor at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business. “Companies are witnessing other companies engaging in transactions that get around [Section 7874 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986], often by merging with a smaller foreign target, and asking, ‘Why not consider it, given the upside?’” he says."


Monday, October 27, 2014

States, Cities, Want to deplete your tax base?

Want to deplete your tax base? Give 'job creators' what they want - LA Times: "....Virtually all of the published research on the subject shows that most economic development incentives are a senseless waste of taxpayer money. The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, for example, studied the issue and found that “instead of creating new jobs or spurring employment, the main effect of incentives is simply to deplete a community's tax base.” Poorer, less advantaged communities often take the biggest hit, being more likely to gamble public funds on the hope of new factory jobs. My own analysis found no connection between incentive dollars spent per capita and such measures of economic success as wages, incomes, human capital levels or unemployment. It's time to put an end to incentive madness once and for all."--Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, a global research professor at New York University and senior editor at the Atlantic, where he co-founded CityLab.


Monday, October 20, 2014

John Oliver, Civil Asset Forfeiture (video)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Civil Forfeiture (HBO) - YouTube: "

Did you know police can just take your stuff if they suspect it's involved in a crime? They can!
It’s a shady process called “civil asset forfeiture,” and it would make for a weird episode of Law and Order. Published on Oct 5, 2014


Monday, October 13, 2014

Crony Capitalism, Deep Roots

Crony Capitalism Has Deep Roots | The Weekly Standard: "... House Republicans last week acceded to an extension of the Export-Import Bank for at least the next nine months. The Export-Import Bank is far from the worst example of government-business cronyism. I just completed a history of American political corruption and actually had to leave Ex-Im on the cutting room floor. Its cronies are pikers compared with the corporate moguls that take advantage of tax preferences like the G.E. and Apple loopholes. They also cannot hold a candle to the American Medical Association, which is basically free to write the reimbursement rates for Medicare Part B. And nothing compares to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from 1991-2008. The two mortgage giants kept the entire D.C. political class bent over a barrel for almost 20 years as its top executives reaped enormous bonuses while putting the broader economy at risk...."

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fixing Local Government, The Fed, New Rules

[T]he Federal Reserve, along with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, just changed the liquidity requirements for the nation’s largest banks. Municipal bonds, long considered safe liquid investments, have been eliminated from the list of high-quality liquid collateral. assets (HQLA). That means banks that are the largest holders of munis are liable to start dumping them in favor of the Treasuries and corporate bonds that do satisfy the requirement. (source infra)

Local Government and The Fed’s New Rules Washington's Blog:

"In the US, there is already a trend to force state and municipal governments into austerity measures, if not outright bankruptcy, in order to eliminate labor unions, pension obligations and social services. Bankruptcies can be involuntary, forced by the creditors who caused them. Detroit is the US model. Michigan’s Constitution protects pensions, so the emergency manager appointed by the governor could not unilaterally cut those funds. But in a municipal bankruptcy, a judge would decide the fate of city workers’ pensions, making it an attractive option for banking interests."

The era of theft of the public treasury and politicians' promises they can't pay? It may be over for Hogs at the Trough.


Monday, September 22, 2014

How Detroit Went South

Judge Steven Rhodes soon will issue a ruling on Detroit’s bankruptcy plan. However he rules, it is a safe bet that history’s verdict will be much harsher: Detroit’s leaders are guilty of murder in the first degree of a once-great American city.— Kevin D. Williamson (source infra)

".... So we have: a city council too short-sighted and beef-witted to understand what it was doing, a mayor who was an outright criminal, union bosses who never asked where the money was going to come from and union members who simply cashed the checks and never held their leaders to account, banks and financial firms that were happy to bet that they’d be comfortably seated when the music stopped, and lawyers and a court system happy to ignore the fact that the bankruptcy deals being worked out in Detroit are exactly as corrupt and destructive as the policies that put the city into bankruptcy in the first place. And a pox on the people of Detroit, too: They keep voting for this, over and over..."  (source: National Review)

Monday, September 15, 2014

DC Per Capita Income, Hogs at the Trough

DC Per Capita Income - Business Insider: "It shows the ratio of Per Capita Personal Income In Washington DC vs Per Capita Personal Income in the entire country. As you can see, the two decades from the 1990 to 2010 were amazing years for DC, as the ratio surged from just over 1.2x to 1.8x. Good times."


Monday, September 8, 2014

Aramark Correctional Services, Maggot epidemic, US prison food

Maggot epidemic in US prison food -
Aramark Correctional Services recently scored over $250 million in lucrative government contracts to feed prisoners in the states of Ohio and Michigan. In the few short months of Aramark's government service, both states have repeatedly fined the company for having maggots on their food service or prep lines, occasions of employees being drunk, harassing, and even kissing prisoners - the list of infractions is long. With so much money on the line, you'd think government contractors would all be the best in their field. Too often, it seems like the opposite is true. The Resident discusses. Published on Aug 12, 2014

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Public Pensions, Doing the Right Thing

Doing the Right Thing - Bloomberg View: "... In 2013, San Diego County spent $103.7 million in investment and administrative fees. It is one of the highest-cost pension funds in the entire country. To review: A pension plan is failing to save enough to meet its retirement obligations, and rather than save more, it ramps up leverage. I am not fond of forecasts, so instead, I will offer one of two likely outcomes: Eventually, San Diego County’s pension fund blows up. The losses are spectacular, and the county' taxpayers are saddled with billions in new tax obligations. Alternatively, the townsfolk figure out how much risk is being put on their shoulders, and fires everyone involved, from the pension board to the advisers to anyone who voted for these shenanigans. I have seen this movie before. I know how it ends."


Monday, August 25, 2014

South Florida, Viral ID Theft, Tax Fraud

IRS commissioner visits Miami to spotlight viral ID theft, tax fraud - Business - "“It has been spreading like a virus in South Florida,” Ferrer said. “Not only is it America's fastest-growing crime, it is a consumer's worst nightmare.” South Florida victims run the gamut: Holocaust survivors, U.S. Marines stationed in Afghanistan, hospital patients and senior citizens. Perpetrators routinely steal the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of people, including prisoners, the poor and even children. They are attractive targets because they don't file income tax returns. As a result, the IRS can't detect duplicate filings." (read more at link above)


Monday, August 18, 2014

Who Will Save Us from Big Government

Panel Discussion Big Government | Video | "Authors P.J. O’Rourke, Charles Murray, and John Allison, talked about the growth of the federal government. “Who Will Save Us from Big Government” was a panel at FreedomFest, an annual libertarian conference held July 9-12, 2014, at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada. " (video at link above)


Monday, August 11, 2014

Unfounded Expectations, Irrational Policies, Politicians

Getting Over Hedge Funds - Bloomberg View:  "... If anyone has an explanation for how these unfounded expectations came about, or why they persist, please let me know. I am well aware that politicians have embraced these false numbers, as it reduces the amount of contributions they need to make each year to public-pension funds. But it also kicks the can down the road, creating an even bigger hole in future budgets. At this stage, I shouldn't be surprised at irrational policies from innumerate politicians -- but I am. Regardless, this is a trend that bears watching. The top funds in each category of alternative investment -- venture capital, private equity and hedge funds -- likely have little to fear. The remaining 90 percent of the players in this space should pay close attention. Some changes might be coming." (read more at link above)


Monday, August 4, 2014

Sacks of Cash, Calpers, Pay-to-Play, California Pensions

Sacks of Cash, Wedding Funding the Pay in Calpers ‘Pay-to-Play’ - MoneyBeat - WSJ: ".... The cash bribes were among the new details about the long-running case revealed as part of a new plea agreement with U.S. prosecutors. Mr. Buenrostro and Mr. Villalobos were charged last year with a conspiracy to fabricate documents that duped Apollo into paying millions to Mr. Villalobos’s firm. The case highlights the sometimes-murky role of so-called “placement agents” such as Mr. Villalobos who collect fees from private-equity firms, hedge funds and other investment firms eager to manage pension funds’ money. Mr. Buenrostro is the highest profile former public official to plead guilty to pay-to-play charges since 2010, when former New York state comptroller Alan Hevesi admitted that he traded access to the state pension plan in exchange for personal gain. The former Calpers CEO said in the plea agreement he accepted the $200,000 in three installments while meeting at a hotel across from the state capital building in downtown Sacramento. He also let Mr. Villalobos pay for his November 2004 wedding, stays at two Nevada casinos and business trips to Dubai, Hong Kong and Macau, according to the documents..." (read more at the link above)


Monday, July 28, 2014

Crony Capitalism, Corporate Executives, Hogs at the Trough

In fact, political activity and connections do not lead to higher profits for the vast majority of firms or industries, with the only notable exception being banking-related firms. Using firm-level data spanning a decade, we see no statistically significant correlation between firm or industry profitability and firm (or industry) lobbying or political action committee activity. If lobbying and political efforts do not increase returns for firm shareholders, why would firm executives channel resources in this direction? Our research suggests that — while measures of firm performance and profitability are not correlated with political activity — the compensation of top firm executives is strongly correlated. (source infra)

Crony Capitalism Pays Well For Rent-Seeking Corporate Executives - "In the wake of the financial crisis, businesses have rushed to ensure that their interests were and continue to be heard in Washington. With more than 12,000 registered federal lobbyists seeking influence in policymaking, the reported expenditures on lobbying federal government in 2013 topped $3 billion. Remember Solyndra This is perhaps no surprise, given that programs such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (or the "stimulus") doled out more than $1 trillion in federal subsidies, grants and contracts directly to specific private businesses. It's now a common belief that business success depends partly on a company's ability to secure favors through political connections. Known as "cronyism," in this system the government — rather than consumer-driven market forces — picks the winners and losers in the marketplace." (read more at the link above)


Monday, July 21, 2014

Defined Benefit Pensions, Enemy of the Poor

Across the U.S. and around the world, defined benefit programs are in decline because corporations and governments can't handle the uncertainty and because millions of workers prefer the control and portability that comes with an individually controlled defined contribution (DC) account. Despite the popularity and simplicity of DC plans, the public sector in America remains largely entrenched and unwilling to shift away from DB plans.(source infra) 

Defined Benefit Pensions Are An Enemy of the Poor | RealClearMarkets: "... The system sounds outrageous and unbelievable, and liberals should be among the most outraged: A sacred progressive program of theirs is no And, easy, obvious solutions that empower the poor through personal accounts are available and have worked in the private sector and in some states. Like most problems involving the poor, the problem is not a theoretical one or a policy problem per se, but, rather, a political one: entrenched interests have strong incentives to protect the status quo against change. And, when those in power dig in put their own well-being ahead of fact and truth, the result for us is that important issues for the poor and younger people--financial security, poverty alleviation, leaving our children something better--get evaded and ignored." (read more at link above)


Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Discussion on Fixing Illinois

Book Discussion Fixing Illinois | Video | "J. Thomas Johnson and James Nowlan, co-authors of Fixing Illinois: Politics and Policy in the Prairie State, talked about their book. They spoke with Chicago Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson. This event took place in the north auditorium of Jones College Prep High School at the 2014 Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest." (go to link above)


Monday, July 7, 2014

David Brat, Elizabeth Warren of the Right

David Brat, the Elizabeth Warren of the Right : The New Yorker: "What was useful to Brat about the Wall Street Journal article was not that it echoed his own views, but that it clarified for him everything that Cantor was for and that Brat was against. “Stability,” for Brat, was simply code for a status quo in which companies like AT&T fleece the government... Instead of lecturing the most vulnerable about the moral beauty of the marketplace, Brat targets the most well off. “Free markets!” he declared in Hanover, like a teacher about to reveal the essence of the lesson. “In a nutshell, what does it mean?” It means no one is shown favoritism. Everyone is treated equally. Every firm, every business, and you compete fairly. And no one, if you’re big or small, is shown special attention. And we’re losing that." (read more at link above)


Monday, June 30, 2014

The US Prison Epidemic, Taxpayers in the Red

Orange is the New Black in real life is a prison epidemic of too many women in jail – and taxpayers like you in the red | Sadhbh Walshe "Orange is the New Black in real life is a prison epidemic in the US of too many women (and men) in jail – and taxpayers like you in the red The US imprisons more women (and men) than any country – and most of them for low-level crimes of poverty and addiction. But there is a better way...." (read  more at link above)


Monday, June 23, 2014

Southern US Jail, Squalor and Unconcern

Seeing Squalor and Unconcern in Southern Jail - "Photographs taken during the tour and obtained by The New York Times showed charred door frames, broken light fixtures and toilets, exposed electrical wires, and what advocates said were infected wounds on prisoners’ arms and legs, offering an unusual window into a prison at the center of a legal controversy." (read more at link above)


Monday, June 16, 2014

California, State of Delusion

RealClearMarkets - Is California a State Defined by Delusion?: ".... California's overburdened economy - from government regulations to high taxes - is holding back the Golden State's potential. Instead, to shift California's economy out of neutral and press on the gas, Sacramento needs to focus on pro-growth policies. Otherwise, Sacramento leaders will continue to tout a "California comeback" that few Californians actually believe is happening." (read more at link above)


Monday, June 9, 2014

The Real Problem Is Inept Governance

Good Governance is Hard and Rare --

RealClearMarkets - Deficits Bother You? The Real Problem Is Inept Governance: "....The silence from the White House and Congress on the long-term debt is a sign that politicians are tired of dealing with a tough problem. They know that solving the debt will require Republicans to accept increased taxes and Democrats to accept reductions in the projected spending on entitlements for the elderly. Neither party is willing to compromise on these basic elements of their political agenda. It's enough to make a person think that we have an even more fundamental problem than growing debt. Maybe the real underlying problem is inept governance."


Monday, June 2, 2014

The Truth About Chicago Crime Rates

Letting politics get in the way of the truth --

The Truth About Chicago’s Crime Rates | Chicago magazine | May 2014: "On November 30, a pathologist deferred the cause and manner of Walker’s death “pending police investigation.” That means the autopsy is inconclusive until the police further investigate the circumstances of his death. Walker’s death certificate, filed with the Cook County clerk’s office, says that he was murdered. No one disputes that he died from a bullet in his brain. But at presstime—four months after the shooting—the public record shows Walker’s case inexplicably classified not as a homicide but as a death investigation. That means, according to the department’s own records, Walker’s killing is not included in the city’s 2013 homicide total."


Monday, May 26, 2014

Big Government, Cronyism, Toll Roads

The Privatization Backlash - Molly Ball - The Atlantic: ""Privatization has potential rewards, but a lot of it is really just about shifting money around for political reasons," said Phineas Baxandall, a senior analyst at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and author of a report on toll roads called Private Roads, Public Costs. "There are a lot of dangers in terms of loss of control over public policy, not getting enough revenue for these assets, as well as a lack of transparency." Many of the ideological proponents of privatization are libertarian conservatives who believe tasks like operating roads and schools are better performed by the private sector. But in Texas, one of the most prominent activists against private toll roads is a San Antonio Tea Party activist named Terri Hall. She has started a petition to change the city charter to require that any toll project be put to a vote, and she blogs relentlessly on toll-related issues. "If there's anything Texans hate, it's big government and cronyism, and toll roads deliver both," she wrote recently."


Monday, May 19, 2014

Fund War Like College Tuition

It is all about priorities --

If War Was Funded Like College Tuition Washington's Blog: "....Mr. Beaverton would have a point.  Some other nations that don’t invest in wars and war preparations the way the United States does also make college education free or affordable — and still have plenty of money to spare for frivolous luxuries like healthcare or energy systems that don’t render the planet unlivable. What would our lives be like if college were as free and unquestionable as military spending is now, but military spending arrived as an optional bill? Those who didn’t want it could choose not to pay.  Those who wanted a coast guard, a national guard, and some anti-aircraft weapons could chip in a few bucks.  Those who wanted a bit more than that could pay a bit more...."


Monday, May 12, 2014

Illinois Tax Increases, Exploitation of Faith Communities

Heather Wilhelm: In Illinois, Tax Increases Become an Article of Faith - "...Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, noted that "some faith communities are being propelled into this debate to provide moral cover in order to raise more revenue for state programs. The thing is, we've seen this movie before. We're in a state where fiscal responsibility has not been paramount." Mr. Gilligan asked: "Where is this additional money going to go? How can we be sure it will go to help the poor and vulnerable?" The argument that the Fair Tax will help the poor is, at best, murky. Illinois's last income-tax hike, in 2011, was touted as a temporary fix to raise $31 billion for the state's astronomical debts and struggling schools. In reality, the bulk of the money—$25 billion—went to state-employee pension coffers and interest payments. The state budget is still $3 billion in the hole. Not coincidentally, high-profile members of public-employee unions like the Illinois SEIU are actively engaged—some as "faith leaders"—in the fight for a progressive tax...."


Monday, May 5, 2014

Chicago Parking Ripoff, Privatization Backlash

Hogs, Parking Meters, Chicago --

The Privatization Backlash - Molly Ball - The Atlantic: "If the meter situation seemed like a bad deal for Chicago's parkers, it would soon become clear that it was an even worse one for the city's taxpayers.
An inspector general's report found that the deal was worth at least $974 million more than the city had gotten for it. Not only would the city never have a chance to recoup that money or reap new meter revenue for three-quarters of a century, clauses buried in the contract required it to reimburse the company for lost meter revenue. The city was billed for allowing construction of new parking garages, for handing out disabled parking placards, for closing the streets for festivals. The current bill stands at $61 million, though Mayor Rahm Emanuel has refused to pay and taken the case to arbitration instead. How did this happen? The meter deal passed the city council just four days after then-Mayor Richard Daley—desperate to fill a recession-caused budget hole—presented it. There were no public hearings, and the aldermen never saw the bid documents. Afterward, some aldermen who voted for it said they wished they'd known more of the details, but it was too late. "We're stuck with it for the next 71 years," Alderman Roderick Sawyer told me recently."

Monday, April 28, 2014

Four Horsemen Feature Documentary Video (Official Version)

Four Horsemen - Feature Documentary - Official Version -

FOUR HORSEMEN is an award winning independent feature documentary which lifts the lid on how the world really works. As we will never return to 'business as usual' 23 international thinkers, government advisors and Wall Street money-men break their silence and explain how to establish a moral and just society.

FOUR HORSEMEN is free from mainstream media propaganda -- the film doesn't bash bankers, criticise politicians or get involved in conspiracy theories. It ignites the debate about how to usher a new economic paradigm into the world which would dramatically improve the quality of life for billions.

"It's Inside Job with bells on, and a frequently compelling thesis thanks to Ashcroft's crack team of talking heads -- economists, whistleblowers and Noam Chomsky, all talking with candour and clarity." - Total Film
"Four Horsemen is a breathtakingly composed jeremiad against the folly of Neo-classical economics and the threats it represents to all we should hold dear."
- Harold Crooks, The Corporation (Co-Director) Surviving Progress (Co-Director/Co-Writer) - Published on Sep 13, 2013


Monday, April 21, 2014

Detroit Bankruptcy, Public Pensions, Hogs at the Trough (video)

Cate Long on Detroit Bankruptcy Proceedings - YouTube: "

Cate Long discusses the speed of Detroit's municipal bankruptcy proceedings. She talks about the litigation between those who owe and who are owed. Cate also talks about Puerto Rico and the debts that they owe.
Published on Apr 6, 2014


Monday, April 14, 2014

US Government Police Expansion, Out of Control

When is enough enough? "Never" if you are the US government -- heck its just more deficit spending and money wasted --

Under attack: Depth of federal arms race should surprise, shock citizenry « "....“There’s no question there’s been a proliferation of police units at the federal level,” said Tim Lynch, director of the Project On Criminal Justice for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, D.C. “To me, it’s been a never-ending expansion, a natural progression, if you will, of these administrative agencies always asking for bigger budgets and a little bit more power.” It’s been estimated the U.S. has some 25,000 sworn law enforcement officers in departments not traditionally associated with fighting crime. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and in a tabulation compiled by the Wall Street Journal in 2011, 3,812 criminal investigators are working in areas other than the U.S. departments of Treasury, Justice, Defense and Homeland Security...."


Monday, April 7, 2014

Detroit Pension Looting, part 2

The Looting of Detroit’s Pensions — The American Magazine: " . . . Public employee pensions also need better oversight. Unlike corporate pensions, public plans are unregulated except by the governments that sponsor them. And many pension trustees are either union representatives or the appointees of politicians who gained office through union support, giving a fox-regulating-the-henhouse aspect to pension oversight. Pension boards are anything but neutral players in the current debates over pension reform. While pension governance is complex, simple changes — such as making employees help pay off unfunded liabilities, as Nevada’s pensions do — would align incentives toward better management. Detroit’s pensions present a lesson: public employees won’t turn down a good deal. It’s elected officials who have to learn to say no."


Monday, March 31, 2014

Detroit Pension Looting, part 1

The Looting of Detroit’s Pensions — The American Magazine: ".... consider a Detroit city employee who retired after a full career of 35 years on the job. He would receive a traditional “defined benefit” pension of around two-thirds his final salary. Adding Social Security benefits, that Detroit worker could retire at around 95 percent of his prior earnings. This is a better pension than most Americans will receive and more than adequate by financial advisors’ standards. While private sector workers must finance most of their retirement, and the average state or local government employee contributes around 6 percent of pay toward his pension, Detroit workers contributed nothing to the GRS. And Detroit workers got this pension on the cheap: while private sector workers must finance most of their retirement, and the average state or local government employee contributes around 6 percent of pay toward his pension, Detroit workers contributed nothing to the GRS...."


Monday, March 24, 2014

Dashcam Video Saves Man From False Police Charges

Police Dashcam Video Saves N.J. Man From False Charges - Business Insider: ".... Describing the incident, Jeter told ABC he was afraid he might have been shot if he got out. Later in the video, another police car joins the scene — actually smashing into the front of his vehicle. In that second dashcam video, an officer smashes the driver's side window glass and punches him in the face while telling him to "stop resisting" and "stop trying to take my gun." While all charges were dropped against Jeter, two officers were indicted for falsifying reports...." (read more at the link above)

Dirty Cops, Hogs at the Trough


Monday, March 17, 2014

Illinois Employment Collapse, Unemployment Rate, Collective Bargaining, Right to Work Laws

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Close-Up Look at Illinois' Unemployment Rate, Collective Bargaining, and Right to Work Laws; Illinois Employment Collapse: "Close-Up Look at Illinois' Unemployment Rate, Collective Bargaining, and Right to Work Laws; Illinois Employment Collapse" (read more at the link above)

Illinois is a basket case-- a prime example of crony capitalism, Democrats, Public Unions, hogs feeding at the trough.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Red-Light Cameras Money Grab

“All it is is a money grab,” said Joe Brazil, a St. Charles County, Missouri, councilman jailed last year for failing to pay a $100 fine in the St. Louis suburb of St. Peters. “It’s almost like racketeering. It’s not about safety.” (source infra)

Red-Light Cameras Click Less as Cities Get Orwell Off Road - Bloomberg: "...“On a gut level they are fundamentally abhorrent,” he said. “It’s a system being abused.” A Missouri Court of Appeals judge ruled last December the law’s “primary and fundamental purpose” was profit. Several St. Louis area suburbs suspended their camera programs until legal issues are settled. Although St. Louis obtained a stay of the circuit court order, fines are being placed in an escrow account until the state’s highest court rules...."


Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Bottom 5 States in Fiscal Condition, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, California

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Bottom 5 States in Fiscal Condition: New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, California: "In terms of long-term solvency (the most critical issue), New Jersey and Illinois are at the bottom of the heap. Pension plans and union activism are to blame. All five states at the bottom of the list have one thing in common: they got that way via "progressive" extreme-liberal politics, fueled by union activism, and promises that cannot possibly be met." (read more at link above)


Monday, February 17, 2014

Highland Park Michigan, Bankruptcy, Public Union Pensions

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Highland Park Michigan Skids Towards Bankruptcy, Public Union Pensions to Blame as Usual; Fifth Third Bank and Highland Park in Pension Funding Lawsuit: "...There is no question regarding the bankruptcy of Highland Park. The only open issue is when the city files. Those running the city ought to understand that and do what's right for taxpayers. The sooner the better. How many more "winning propositions" can residents take? Since city officials are resisting bankruptcy, one can only suspect they are out to protect their own pensions." (read more at link above)


Monday, February 10, 2014

Police, Firefighters, Disability Scams

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: 102 Police and Firefighters Caught in Disability Scam: " . . . At best the union will choose not to respond. More likely, the union will protest the arrests when the story dies down, just as unions protect child molesters in LA and New York.
See the LA Times article L.A. Unified pays teachers not to teach.
Also consider Student exodus in Michigan school district where teachers defended child molester.
Please check out the above link, it's really quite amazing."
(Read more at links above)


Monday, February 3, 2014

Civil Forfeiture Abuse

Unlawful taking has been legalized in the US --

Sarah Stillman: The Use and Abuse of Civil Forfeiture : The New Yorker: "... One result is the rise of improbable case names such as United States v. One Pearl Necklace and United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins. (Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson’s forfeiture was slugged State of Texas v. $6,037.) “The protections our Constitution usually affords are out the window,” Louis Rulli, a clinical law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a leading forfeiture expert, observes. A piece of property does not share the rights of a person. There’s no right to an attorney and, in most states, no presumption of innocence. Owners who wish to contest often find that the cost of hiring a lawyer far exceeds the value of their seized goods. Washington, D.C., charges up to twenty-five hundred dollars simply for the right to challenge a police seizure in court, which can take months or even years to resolve..." (read more at the link above)


Monday, January 27, 2014

Defunct NASA Project, Mississippi, Pure Pork

Do not pretend either Democrats or Republicans care about the gross waste of national taxpayer funds -- it is epidemic and systemic, and who knows where or when it will end --

NASA’s Defunct Project Survives on Mississippi Pork | The Big Picture: "NASA will complete a $350 million tower to test rocket engines for a program that was canceled in 2010. The A-3 test stand will be finished early this year at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Its funding survived thanks to Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican from that state who supported the test stand’s completion even though NASA doesn’t need it."


Monday, January 20, 2014

Police Misconduct Condoned, Justice Denied

Post-Katrina Police Prosecutions in New Orleans Face Setbacks - "Legal experts say that successful prosecutions of police officers are always difficult. But the drumbeat of failures and setbacks has left even some of the most vocal proponents of police reform disillusioned." (read more at link above)

Police tase, shoot and kill 90-pound schizophrenic teen | MSNBC" . . . According to Wilsey, as the first two officers were restraining Vidal, the third officer walked into the family’s house and said “I don’t have time for this. Tase him. Let’s get him out of here,” Wilsey said. At that point, one of the officers used a stun gun on Vidal. The young man hit the ground and “this guy shot him,” Wilsey said. Vidal was taken to a local hospital where he was declared dead. When Wilsey asked why the officer had shot the teen, he said the officer replied, “Well, I’m protecting my officers.” “He reached right up, shot this kid point-blank, with all intent to kill,” Wilsey said. “Keith was not threatening anybody, Keith did not want any part of it. He was having a bad day,” Wilsey said. “He was flat out murdered, there was no need for deadly force. No reason.” The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the killing, standard practice in police-involved shootings, and prosecutors have vowed to seek the truth of the matter “wherever the truth leads.”. . . ." (read more at link above)


Monday, January 13, 2014

Former New York City Mayor Bloomberg decries labor-electoral complex

In other words, end collective bargaining for government employees (FDR never supported government employee unions having "collective bargaining" rights), end public pensions, treat government employees like all other white-collar employees -- 401K plans, etc.

NYC's Bloomberg decries 'labor-electoral complex': " . . . Especially since Detroit's recent bankruptcy, mayors in many cities around the country have begun pushing to change the pensions that have long been seen as a prized — sometimes the primary — benefit of government jobs. Some have proposed replacing or reducing traditional pensions in favor of what are called defined-contribution plans, like a 401(k), at least for new employees. Bloomberg suggests New York City employees should have a choice between the two types of plans. In New York, the annual pension cost has risen from about $1.5 billion a year to $8.2 billion a year in 12 years, draining money that could otherwise have gone to affordable housing, tax cuts, schools or a host of other purposes, Bloomberg said. And health insurance costs have doubled since 2002, to $6.3 billion this year, he said this summer...."


Monday, January 6, 2014

Unions Betrayed Detroit, public pensions

What you will never read in mainstream media --

Who Really Betrayed Detroit? by Steven Malanga - City Journal: "Most press accounts note that city-worker pensions in Detroit are modest. They rarely mention that, for two decades, the city supplemented those pensions with annual, so-called “13th checks” for retirees—an additional monthly pension payment. Pension-fund trustees—themselves city workers, retirees, city residents, and elected officials—handed out nearly $1 billion in these annual payments to retirees in the city’s general pension fund. ... Some reform-minded Detroit officials tried to halt the payments, understanding that they undermined the pension system’s finances. When he succeeded Coleman Young as mayor in 1994, Dennis Archer grew alarmed at the extra payments. He was rightfully concerned—as the Free Press noted, the pension system “was largely controlled by union officials acting as trustees...." (read more at the link above - Steven Malanga is the senior editor of City Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His latest book is Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer.)

In other words, the Unions betrayed themselves and Detroit.