Ed Mendel’s report on CalPERS’ horrible investment returns over the past five years — 99 percent of big government pension funds did better — brings me back to the point I made two months back: No matter how badly CalPERS does, the bonuses keep flowing. I predict that later this year, we’ll find out this is still the case. It’s not like, yunno, CalPERS is hard up for cash. Groan.
This Sacramento Bee story pointing out that local governments in its region spent more propping up failing public employee pension plans than it would cost to build the Kings a new arena is interesting because it points to a part of the pension debacle that never gets enough attention. A central argument against public spending on sports facilities is that they’re simply not necessities and that they amount to giveaways to the politically connected. The exact same thing is true of ludicrously generous pensions. With the possible exception of police, they’re just not necessary to attract and retain public employees.
I hammered George Skelton as hard as I could in December when the L.A. TImes’ columnist wrote that it was “hard to find anyone around the Capitol outside the governor’s office who doesn’t think the promise [to seek voter approval before raising taxes] was wrongheaded.” Uhhhhh …. George? George? George? Have you heard about the majority of Californians opposed to tax hikes? But lookie here: Skelton is dumping on Jerry’s demagogic, nonsensical tax hike ballot compromise the day it is finalized! Did George’s career-long concussion finally wear off?
I giggled, I really did, when I went to Rough & Tumble on Thursday morning and saw this headline on an L.A. Times story: “CalPERS report undermines Gov. Jerry Brown’s pension overhaul plan.” Michael J. Mishak has only been with the Times a couple of years, but doesn’t he have access to archives? Doesn’t he have editors? Yo, Mike: CalPERS has less credibility on pension issues than Newt Gingrich does on family values. It largely created the crisis in 1999 with a series of lies that would have resulted in prison time if put forth by finance executives in the private sector. Ever since, it’s been trying to cover its tracks. For CalPERS to embrace pension reform now after 13 years of deceit and deception would be the institutional equivalent of waiving its Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Are Kamala Harris’ parents proud of her today? Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer specialist, and Stanford University economics professor Donald Harris had Kamala after emigrating to the U.S. from crypto-democracies in India and Jamaica, respectively. Is this what they hoped for from their daughter? That she’d use her law degree to move up the ranks of the state Democratic Party and help maintain California’s status as a crypto-democracy? That their child, in her role as the state’s attorney general, would betray democracy by writing slanted ballot language that doomed two pension reform measures that polls showed voters loved? The doctor and the prof must be proud. With this act of sabotage, Kamala Harris is now the equivalent of a made man in the mafia that run the Golden State. The sky’s the limit now. Who knows how much more Harris can achieve in her chosen role as union tool masquerading as public servant? She’s a thug in a dress.