Greenhut Dissects State of the Union

John Seiler:

Writing on Bloomberg, our colleague Steven Greenhut dissected President Obama’s State of the Union speech. You can read the whole thing there. But here’s the part on California:


Steven Greenhut:

He called for a new era of responsibility, yet his aid packages have promoted irresponsibility, as local officials vie for added federal dollars rather than make the hard choices necessary to deal with their debt burdens. The president spoke about underpaid public servants, referring to teachers in particular, but here in California it has been the unsustainable growth in public-sector compensation that most threatens the government programs and infrastructure-building efforts the president says are so necessary to saving our nation.

The president sees a starving public sector unable to adequately meet the needs of the public, a world where heroic teachers must dig deeply into their own pockets to pay for school supplies. But public schools are short on cash not because of a lack of taxpayer support, but because of misdirected priorities driven by a lack of competition, bureaucratic inertia and union demands….

California Schools

In California, education is guaranteed by constitutional amendment to receive at least 40 percent of the general-fund budget. Yet the system is a mess, and some of the highest-funded districts are the ones most plagued by corruption and incompetence. Obama should talk to the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles or a former Democratic state senator who leads an education-reform group about obstacles to reform, which revolve around union intransigence and bureaucracy more than funding.

Here in California the lush pay and benefit packages that many local officials have secured over the past decade are putting cities deeply in the hole, with compensation to police and firefighters often consuming 70 percent to 80 percent of their budgets. One liberal editorial page quipped that public agencies are becoming pension providers that offer public services on the side.

This threat is not just financial. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, told Vanity Fair that “Our police and firefighters will earn more in retirement than they did when they were working.” He continued, “It’s staggering. When did we go from giving people sick leave to letting them accumulate it and cash it in for hundreds of thousands of dollars when they are done working? There’s a corruption here. It’s not just a financial corruption. It’s a corruption of the attitude of public service.”

The president railed against inequality, but doesn’t mention the growing retirement chasm between workers in the public and private sectors. He criticized “bad debt and phony financial profits” but wasn’t speaking of the multibillion-dollar government pension debt or the phony rate-of-return projections used by pension funds to mask the growing debt burden.

Jan. 25, 2012



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  1. David H
    David H 25 January, 2012, 19:58

    Definitely nailed that one.

    Reply this comment
  2. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 25 January, 2012, 20:24

    Another speech where the words are polar opposites to his behavior for the last 3 years. Fairness? heh. For the last 3 years Wall Street has financially raped Main Street and been rewarded for it by our government. Ordinary people who follow all society’s rules have been forced to bail out rule breakers and criminals of the worst kind. And none of the main crooks have been arrested, indicted, prosecuted or jailed. All protected and rewarded by Obama, et al. And he has the nerve to talk about “fairness”? Gag me.

    What you witnessed last night was more Kabuki theater. A system that masquerades as a two-party adversarial system when all you really have is one-party rule. Obama = Bush. A stranglehold on power. Don’t you find it strange that even when we are in the deepest of turmoil as a nation as both the dems and pubs fail us – that third parties make little or no progress in American elections or politics? Look at how the Tea Party and it’s leaders were effectively morphed in the mainstream Republican party.

    To give you an idea of how apathetic the American public is becoming – the Obama SOTU TV ratings from 2011 to 2012 were down by 12%. From 2010 to 2012 the ratings were down 21%. From 2009 to 2012 the ratings were down 27%.

    At least Americans are starting to catch on slowly. Won’t be long and the government will have to provide free food at the voting polls just to get us to show up and cast a ballot – just like they had to do in the old Soviet Union.

    Reply this comment
  3. Bob
    Bob 26 January, 2012, 00:14

    I haven’t listened to a State of the Empire speech in years.

    If I was forced I’d probably stab ice picks through my eardrums and gouge my eyes out with a grapefruit spoon.

    I just don’t see how you people do it. I just can’t stomach it so I don’t watch or listen to it at all.

    Reply this comment
  4. Eric in SR
    Eric in SR 26 January, 2012, 13:19

    10-4, Beelzebub. But why fritter away valuable time watching the SOTU (unless you’re participating in a drinking game in which you must take a swallow every time Obama says “fair,” “fairness,” or “Let me be clear”) when you can just turn the radio on the next day and listen to Mark Levin or other radio talk show hosts tell you everything you need to know about the SOTU (or make that SOTE, Bob, as the case may be) farce?

    Reply this comment
  5. Eric in SR
    Eric in SR 26 January, 2012, 13:20

    Or read Steven Greenhut’s take on it–I was remiss in not mentioning this in my last post!

    Reply this comment

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