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 on: August 26, 2014, 02:43:13 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Calpers's Play for Pay
Jerry Brown wanted to stop 'pension spiking.' So much for that.
Updated Aug. 26, 2014 3:12 p.m. ET

When one door closes, government unions crack open a window. So it was last week when the labor-controlled board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers) approved counting 99 categories of supplemental pay toward workers' pension calculations.

One objective of the de minimis reforms Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2012 was to curb egregious abuses such as "pension spiking." Defined-benefit pensions in California are calculated as a percentage of the average of workers' highest compensation over three years multiplied by the numbers of years worked. Many employees have goosed their pensions by loading up on overtime and cashing out vacation and other add-ons during their final working years. In one famous example, a fire chief in Northern California who made $186,000 retired after 26 years with an annual pension of more than $230,000.

Mr. Brown's reforms ostensibly closed these loopholes by defining "pensionable compensation" as "base pay" for "services rendered on a full-time basis during normal working hours." The law explicitly bars overtime as well as unused vacation and sick leave.

Calpers has now tried to end run the law by including 99 other salary boosters such as "incentive pay" for "local safety members, school security officers and California Highway Patrol officers who meet an established physical fitness criterion."

Public-safety officers can earn up to $1,600 annually for taking annual physicals. Employees earn "longevity pay" for merely sticking around for more than five years, which comes on top of "step" increases and annual raises. Workers can also boost their salaries by up to 10% if they are "required to obtain a specified degree" such as a bachelor's and for "maintaining a license required by government or regulatory agencies to perform their duties."

Some governments even award extra pay to firefighters "who are routinely and consistently assigned to administrative work" and to prison guards who are given the onerous job of "responding to questions from the public." Police are paid premiums for handing out parking tickets and patrolling streets. Librarians can earn more if they have to "provide direction or resources to library patrons." If only journalists could earn bonuses for writing.

Calpers did graciously exclude from its list pay boosts for public-safety officers who wear their uniforms and the monthly allowance they receive for keeping their clothes clean. But it's inevitable that government unions will soon find ways to exploit these 99 other pay bumps to pad their pensions. For instance, they could negotiate greater "longevity pay" or larger "physical fitness" premiums for workers over age 50.

Gov. Brown has chastised Calpers for undermining the reforms and asked his staff to "determine what actions can be taken to protect the integrity of the Public Employees' Pension Reform Act." The truth is that government unions and Calpers will always find ways to manipulate defined-benefit plans that are run by their political allies. The only way to protect taxpayers is with 401(k)-style plans that are individual property that can't be politically exploited.

 on: August 26, 2014, 02:39:52 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

The Neo-Neocons
ISIS makes liberals rediscover the necessity of hard power.
Bret Stephens
Aug. 25, 2014 7:22 p.m. ET

So now liberals want the U.S. to bomb Iraq, and maybe Syria as well, to stop and defeat ISIS, the vilest terror group of all time. Where, one might ask, were these neo-neocons a couple of years ago, when stopping ISIS in its infancy might have spared us the current catastrophe?

Oh, right, they were dining at the table of establishment respectability, drinking from the fountain of opportunistic punditry, hissing at the sound of the names Wolfowitz, Cheney, Libby and Perle.

And, always, rhapsodizing to the music of Barack Obama.

Not because he is the most egregious offender, but only because he's so utterly the type, it's worth turning to the work of George Packer, a writer for the New Yorker. Over the years Mr. Packer has been of this or that mind about Iraq. Yet he has always managed to remain at the dead center of conventional wisdom. Think of him as the bubble, intellectually speaking, in the spirit level of American opinion journalism.

Thus Mr. Packer was for the war when it began in 2003, although "just barely," as he later explained himself. In April 2005 he wrote that the "Iraq war was always winnable" and "still is"—a judgment that would have seemed prescient in the wake of the surge. But by then he had already disavowed his own foresight, saying, when he was in full mea culpa mode, that the line was "the single most doubtful" thing he had written in his acclaimed book "The Assassins' Gate."

Then the surge began to work, a reality the newly empowered Democrats in Congress were keen to dismiss. (Remember Hillary Clinton lecturing David Petraeus that his progress report required "a willing suspension of disbelief"?) "The inadequacy of the surge is already clear, if one honestly assesses the daily lives of Iraqis," wrote Mr. Packer in September 2007. The title of his essay was "Planning for Defeat."

Next, Mr. Packer pronounced himself bored with it all. "By the fall of 2007, my last remaining Iraqi friend in Baghdad had left," he wrote a few years later. "Once he was gone, my connection to the country and the war began to thin, even as the terror diminished. I missed the improvement that came with the surge, and so, in my nervous system, I never quite registered it." This was Mr. Packer in Robert Graves mode, bidding Good-Bye to All That.

And then came Mr. Obama. Was ever a political love more pure than what Mr. Packer expressed for the commander in chief? Mr. Obama, he wrote in 2012, was "more like J.F.K. than any other president." Or was T.R. the better comparison? "On foreign policy, Obama has talked softly and carried a big stick." He had "devastated the top ranks of Al Qaeda." On Iran, he had done a "masterful job." On Syria, "the Administration was too slow in isolating Assad, but no one has made a case for intervention that has a plausibly good outcome."

As for Iraq, Mr. Obama withdrew "after eight years of war in a way that left the U.S. with almost no influence—but he could have tried to force matters with the Iraqis and left behind far more bitterness."

Elsewhere, Mr. Packer has written that "American wars in Muslim countries created some extremists and inflamed many more, while producing a security vacuum that allowed them to wreak mayhem." This is the idea, central to the Obama administration's vision of the world, that wisdom often lies in inaction, that U.S. intervention only makes whatever we're intervening in worse.

It's a deep—a very deep—thought. And then along came ISIS.

In the current issue of the New Yorker, Mr. Packer has an essay titled "The Common Enemy," which paints ISIS in especially terrifying colors: The Islamic State's project is "totalitarian." Its ideology is "expansionist as well as eliminationist." It has "many hundreds of fighters holding European or American passports [who] will eventually return home with training, skills, and the arrogance of battlefield victory." It threatened a religious minority with "imminent genocide." Its ambitions will not "remain confined to the boundaries of the Tigris and the Euphrates." The administration's usual counterterrorism tool, the drone strike, is "barely relevant against the Islamic State's thousands of ground troops."

"Pay attention to other people's nightmares," he concludes, "because they might be contagious."

Correcto-mundo. Which brings us back to the questions confronting the Bush administration on Sept. 12, 2001. Are we going to fight terrorists over there—or are we going to wait for them to come here? Do we choose to confront terrorism by means of war—or as a criminal justice issue? Can we assume the cancer in the Middle East won't spread so we can "pivot" to Asia and do some more "nation-building at home"? Can we win with a light-footprint approach against a heavy-footprint enemy?

Say what you will about George W. Bush: He got every one of these questions right while Mr. Obama got every one of them wrong. It's a truth that may at last be dawning on the likes of Mr. Packer and the other neo-neocons, not that I expect them ever to admit it.

Write to

 on: August 26, 2014, 01:38:35 PM 
Started by HUSS - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Yesterday Sen. Paul called Hillary a "War Hawk".

I gotta say the idea of the architect of the black hole formerly known as Libya as Commander in Chief gives me the willies.  I would not want my son under her command!

As much as I like Rand on many issue, the idea of him as Commander in Chief also gives me the willies , , ,

 on: August 26, 2014, 01:37:26 PM 
Started by G M - Last post by G M

 on: August 26, 2014, 01:35:19 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Sen. Paul yesterday called Hillary a "war hawk" and called for a new coalition in American politics.

 on: August 26, 2014, 01:34:05 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Most people think backwards, they choose the position that makes the statement about themselves that they wish to make, then they learn the facts and reasons to justify the position.  This is why reason does not work in persuading people to change their minds.

I disagree with what some of what you say.

Name me positions where the right is in the lead against external diseconomies?

Off the top of my head I cannot think of any-- and most people would take the absence of such examples as proof of an underlying attitude.  Here we have a perfect issue to illustrate free market environmentalism and where are we?  Quibbling about the definition of gyres , , ,

 on: August 26, 2014, 01:29:20 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

 on: August 26, 2014, 01:13:05 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by objectivist1

Anyone who seriously considers arguments on the right regarding environmental concerns already knows that we DO care about the environment, and that we have no interest in promoting pollution.  The very idea is absurd - as we obviously have children and grandchildren as well, who will suffer the ill effects.

Those that are driven solely by emotion - which you estimate at 60% - are utterly unreachable with reason, especially in light of the fact that the establishment media and popular culture accept radical environmentalist claims uncritically.  "The science is settled," as they like to say.  To expect that an acknowledgment of concern about this issue or any other leftist dogma on our part will convince these people is beyond naive.  There are plenty on the right who do and have expressed genuine concern about pollution over the last 50 years.  That hasn't changed the situation with regard to those 60%. 

I'm not rejecting outright the idea that humans have and continue to take "environmentally - unfriendly" actions from time to time.  However - the worst offenders - by orders of magnitude - are totalitarian societies such as China.  Thus my contention that the vast majority of the people making these extreme claims are motivated not by concern for the planet, but by their political agenda.

 on: August 26, 2014, 12:28:31 PM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Faisal I of Iraq

 on: August 26, 2014, 12:16:56 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

"The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail." --Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1775

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