Not one presidential candidate, apart from Gov. Walker’s last-ditch rhetoric prior to dropping out, has discussed the problems with unionized government as a major issue. That’s too bad, because these problems are bigger than even most critics acknowledge.

When people discuss the need to reform, if not eliminate, public sector unions, the only reason typically cited is that their demands are bankrupting our cities and states. And reformers also usually fail to communicate the fundamental differences between government unions and private sector unions, or emphasize the bipartisan urgency of public sector union reform. Government unions don’t merely drive our cities and counties into service insolvency if not bankruptcy, they are distorting policy decisions of fundamental importance to the future of America.

With a focus on California, and in no particular order, here is an attempt to summarize how this is occurring:

(1) The Economy

California has the highest taxes and fees in the U.S., and is consistently ranked as the worst state in America to do business. California also has the highest paid public employees in the United States, and with state and local debt and unfunded retirement obligations now hovering around $1.0 trillion – nearly half of the state’s entire GDP – virtually all new state and local taxes and fees are to pay for services that have already been performed. The uncontrollable political power of state and local government unions, combined with their insatiable appetite for more pay, more benefits, and more members, has – across all areas of policy – shifted political priorities from the public interest to the interests of public employees. The primary reason for excessive taxes and fees, as well as fewer services and less infrastructure investment, is because California’s unionized state and local government workers receive pay and benefits that are twice what the average private citizen earns.

(2) Cronyism and Financial Special Interests

When government unions control the government, big business either gets out of the way or gets on board. The idea that government unions protect the public interest against big corporate interests is absurd. Government union backed policies create deficits that bond issuers earn billions underwriting. Excessive pension benefits create additional hundreds of billions in pension fund assets invested on Wall Street. Excessive regulations are enforced by additional unionized government employees, to which only the biggest corporations can afford to comply. Government unions enable and enrich the largest corporate and financial interests at the expense of small independent businesses and emerging competitors.

(3) Environment

When it comes to cronyism, the “clean-tech” sector has risen to the top of the list. Government unions are partnering with “green” venture capitalists to carve up the proceeds of California’s carbon emission auction proceeds, a tax by any other name that will eventually extract tens of billions each year from California’s consumers to fund investments that wouldn’t make it in a normal market. From high speed rail to side loading washers that tear up fabric, strain backs, and require expensive maintenance, “green” projects and products are being forced on Californians in order to enrich investors and corporations. But it doesn’t end there. A bad fire season isn’t because of normal drought recurrence, no, the cause is “man made climate-change,” so fire crews have a claim on CO2 emissions auction proceeds. A heat wave isn’t a heat wave, it’s global warming – and since crime is statistically known to increase during hot weather, police agencies also have a claim on CO2 emissions auction proceeds. Code inspectors and planners? Climate change mitigation via enforcing “additional” energy efficiency mandates and higher housing density. Transit workers whose conveyances replace cars? Ditto. Teachers who insert climate change indoctrination into curricula? Ditto.

An entire article, or book for that matter, could be written on the synergistic symbiosis between environmental extremists, big business/finance, and government unions. What about the artificial scarcity environmentalism creates by restricting development of land, energy, water, and other natural resources? When this happens, the wealthiest corporations and developers make higher profits while their smaller competitors go out of business. Utilities, whose margins are fixed, raise revenues which increases their absolute profits. Union controlled government pension funds, whose entire solvency depends on asset bubbles, ride investments in these artificially scarce commodities to new heights. Property tax revenues rise because home prices are artificially inflated.

(4) Infrastructure

California’s deferred maintenance on existing infrastructure – roads, bridges, rail, port facilities, utility grid, dams and aqueducts – has been assessed in the hundreds of billions. New infrastructure to solve, for example, water scarcity, would include toilet-to-tap sewage reuse, desalination, enhanced runoff capture, and – dare we say it – a few new dams. But none of these projects get off the ground, not only because environmentalists oppose them based on mostly misguided principles, but because artificial scarcity enriches established special interests, and because all the public funds that can possibly be found are instead perpetually needed to pay unionized government workers. More pay. More benefits. More government workers. Infrastructure? It’s environmentally harmful.

(5) Immigration

No matter where one stands on this sensitive and complex issue, they must recognize that government unions win when immigrants fail to prosper or assimilate. While American culture retains a vitality that is almost irresistible to newcomers and may overcome all attempts to undermine and fragment it, if government unions had their way, that’s exactly what would happen. Because the more difficulties new immigrants encounter, the more government workers are required. If immigrants fail to find jobs, if they become alienated and traumatized, if they turn to crime or even terrorism, then we need more welfare and social workers, we need more multilingual teachers and bureaucrats, we need more police, and we need more prisons. The unpleasant truth is this: If we import millions of destitute immigrants into America – people with marginal skills from cultures that are hostile to American values – it is a meal ticket worth billions of dollars for government unions, and for every crony business who services the programs they administer.

(6) Authoritarianism

By over-regulating all activity that so much as scratches the earth, whether it’s to develop land, water, energy, minerals; to farm, transport, build, manufacture; to enforce these rules, more government powers are required. Similarly, by upending the cultural fabric that’s nurtured a social contract in America so strong that volumes of law never had to be written, but were instead the stuff of mutually understood courtesies and customs, we invite strife. To manage this, more rules and referees are necessary, enforced by more government. As society loses its cohesion, and as ordinary honest citizens rebel against excessive taxes and regulations, government unions benefit from training their members to mistrust the fractious and rebellious public. After all, unionized government workers are now a special class. As society fragments, they become more cohesive. As the middle class dissolves, they retain their economic privileges. Perhaps more than any other factor, government unions impel the growth of a police state.

(7) Education

To consider education is to save the most important for last. Because everything that is wrong with where our culture is headed can either be magnified or mitigated by how we educate our young students, regardless of their income or gender or culture or faith. As it is, in California’s public schools, students are taught that open space is sacred, that energy development will destroy the planet, that capitalism is innately flawed if not irredeemable, and that the legacy of Western European culture is a primary cause for most problems in the world. Instead of teaching children to develop functional skills in reading and math, they are being indoctrinated to believe that any failure or disappointment they ever encounter is the result of discrimination. Given the demographics of California’s youth, the union fostered educational environment currently imposed on them is nothing short of a catastrophe.

The reader may not agree with all seven of these assessments, but regardless of the scope of anyone’s reform advocacy, they must confront government unions. Because reform in all of these areas is stopped by government unions. Do you want to unleash California’s economic potential? Do you want to reduce the power of the financial special interests and crony capitalists? Do you want to restore balance to environmental policies, and build revenue producing infrastructure that eliminates scarcity and lowers the cost of living for ordinary people? Do you want to stop importing welfare recipients and instead admit highly skilled and highly educated workers who will enliven our economy and our culture with spectacular success? Do you want to avoid living in a police state? Do you want California’s children to be taught lessons that build their character and give them useful skills?

Reformers must recognize that government unions have a natural interest in preventing any of these reforms from ever happening. Addressing any of these issues without also taking on the government unions is futile. Conscientious members of government unions can play a vital role in reforms, by the way, if they are willing to make their personal interests secondary to their duties as a public servant. If California can be rescued from the grip of government unions, eventually everyone will benefit. And as goes California, so goes the nation.

*   *   *

Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Policy Center.

39 Responses to How Government Unions Are Destroying America

  1. S Moderation Douglas says:

    Interesting.

    Actually, California does not have the highest taxes in the U.S.

    And,

     Only four states had a lower ratio of government workers compared to population than California as of March 2011

     California did rank #1 in the country in 2011 in salaries for state employees, $70,777, compared to the national average of $54,976.

    But when you take into consideration the state’s higher cost of living and compare public employee pay to the state’s overall personal income, California’s rank is below average at #35.

    (allgov oct 4, 2012)
    —————————————And

    According to Beacon Economics:
    “More businesses are coming than going, which is why we have this positive job growth number,”

    And,

    According to PPIC:
    “California is responsible for about 15% of all jobs added nationwide over the last couple of years, above its 12% share of the population. Job recovery in California has outperformed national job growth since March 2012, ”

    Moderation says:

    “The glass is AT LEAST half full.”

    Damb unions.

    • Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

      Ed, please stop picking on Douglas, it is unfair to beat up, intellectually, an unarmed opponent.

      And I for one like Douglas, not withstanding his extremists wingnut views on public pensions. Same goes for seesaw. Love both of them, and hope I can cure their entitlement mentality one of these days….

  2. wesmouch says:

    Moderation Douglas
    A good recitation of Union propaganda. The angelic Unions need a pay raise. I get it

  3. S Moderation Douglas says:

    Thanks for reminding me:

    “The primary reason for excessive taxes and fees, as well as fewer services and less infrastructure investment, is because California’s unionized state and local government workers receive pay and benefits that are twice what the average private citizen earns.”

    Not even the most conservative studies will go anywhere near that far. That’s Rush Limbaugh wacko territory.

    • Cindy Ewald says:

      go to http://transparentcalifornia.com and you can see for yourself what state workers in CA are paid and also their pensions.

      • S Moderation Douglas says:

        Now, if you can only find a similar database for what private sector workers are earning in wages and benefits, and make a side by side comparison, you will find what every major economic study has found.

        At the lower education levels, public and private wages are similar, but the better benefits result in the total compensation of lower level public workers being much better than their private sector peers.

        At the higher levels, (PhDs and professionals) public sector wages are lower, and pensions and benefits are not enough to make up for the difference.

        The only argument is about where the middleground, or average difference is. The more liberal studies say state and local government workers earn, on average, 4% less than private. The most conservative, (AEI) says that nationwide, public workers earn 10% more than private, on average. In states like California and New Jersey, that is 23% more than the private sector, on average, or 34% above, if you accept their computation of job security.

        No one except Ed Ring and Rush Limbaugh say that public workers earn twice as much. Ed stands by his claim. I’m sure Rush does also.

        Let us just say I am extremely skeptical.

        • Tough Love says:

          Quoting S. Moderation Douglas …. At the higher levels, (PhDs and professionals) public sector wages are lower, and pensions and benefits are not enough to make up for the difference.”

          Yes, but those 2 groups(PHDs and professionals) make up (nationally) only 10% of State Gov’t workers and only 3% of Private Sector workers …..

        • Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

          Now, if you can only find a similar database for what private sector workers are earning in wages and benefits, and make a side by side comparison, you will find what every major economic study has found.
          Douglas, your fantasies that the private sector makes more than the public knows no bounds. The AVERAGE trough feeder is compensated over $100K, AVERAGE. For the average GED cop and firewhiner is over $200K before any OT is added in, which can be another $100K plus, which pus these GED Wonders in the 2%-3%er category;

          The top Americans make:
          Top 1%: $380,354
          Top 5%: $159,619
          Top 10%: $113,799
          Top 25%: $67,280
          http://www.financialsamurai.com/how-much-money-do-the-top-income-earners-make-percent/#sthash.6zG5Twno.dpuf

  4. Ed Ring says:

    SMD – it’s probably fair to wonder how you find all the time to respond with several, if not dozens of comments on every post we put up. If you are a paid “influencer,” a not uncommon position these days especially on the part of the government unions who have far, far more money than fledgling think tanks, what you’re doing would be a legitimate tactic. Dominate the discussion, repeat your key points over and over, and undermine the impact of whatever points the author was trying to make.

    We’ll get to all of your points, if we haven’t already. But we can’t drop everything to do so every time you make a comment. And it would be appreciated if you could drop the completely unsupportable references, i.e., “No one except Ed Ring and Rush Limbaugh say….” How would you know? I certainly don’t, because I don’t have time to listen to Rush Limbaugh. And for that matter, my cable company canceled Fox News at my level of monthly payment several years ago. So I’m not regurgitating any of that, either.

    We have work that proves that state/local workers in California, on average, make twice as much in pay and benefits as private sector workers. And thanks for the suggestion – time permitting, we will release an updated study proving that yet again.

    We appreciate your comments, SMD. But try to contribute your “fair share” instead of posting as many as everyone else put together.

  5. S Moderation Douglas says:

    On a recent Unionwatch article “California’s Pensions Are An Economic Burden, Not Benefit”
    Their were 54 documented comments. Seven were mine.

    On the Jack Ehnes article (Aug 25) I had 23 comments of 77. (“S Moderation Douglas is wrong again” had 10 comments)

    I don’t comment on “every post” you put up. Only a very select few, actually.

    I am not, nor have I ever been a paid influencer. (Although I wouldn’t be averse, if the opportunity presented itself. )

    “undermine the impact of whatever points the author was trying to make.” Guilty as charged. That’s kinda the whole point. I have seen no serious economic studies that come anywhere near “twice the pay and benefits the average private citizen earns.” And I been lookin’. For years.

    As far as I’m concerned, there is no need for you to answer “all my points”. You stated your position; I respond where I disagree, and when I can, give links to opposing evidence. I appreciate the opportunity to respond. Sometimes the discussion evolves into a disagreement between myself and another commenter.

    I’m actually surprised you didn’t mention the (few) times when I have used your blog to segue into a rebuttal of articles in other publications, as with Mr. Moore and Mr. Bucher in the Aug 25 (Ehnes) article. Sometimes blatant misstatements appear in sites where there is no opportunity to respond.

    I do appreciate the forum, but of course it is yours to do with as you will.

    If I may, one more “completely unsupportable” opinion: the idea that public sector unions are destroying California and/or America is absurd, although there are apparently a lot of believers. That is my opinion.

    • Tough Love says:

      For what it’s worth, I have been of the opinion that Public Sector Unions have been extremely detrimental to America’s best interests for a VERY long time, often expressing that by stating:

      “Public Sector Unions are a CANCER inflicted upon civilized society”

  6. Jody Morales says:

    I live in what is often touted as one of the highest income earner counties in the United States. True, there are some pretty wealthy people living here, but the average household income is about $90,000 (more than one wage earner) while the average public employee income for the County of Marin is about $90,000, also (single earner). While the executive officer for the biggest public employee union, Marin Association of Public Employees, screeches endlessly about pension reformers (that’s me) trying to destroy the middle class, the truth is that the average private sector residents in our county ARE the middle class. I’m forever stunned that public sector unions fall back on old slogans, old arguments and wage differentials that are now only history, not fact in today’s world. If indeed public sector workers toiled long hours for less money and a fair but limited pension (think Social Security), the arguments might make sense. Based on hard, cold numbers and facts, however, they are ludicrous and insulting to anyone with a brain.

  7. john m. moore says:

    Calculate unfunded pension debt utilizing a 3.75% discount rate and include interest over the life of pension bonds. The sum is a true analysis of the size of the obligations for work already performed.
    Yesterday there was an Article about San Leandro and its $158M(using a 7.5% discount rate)unfunded deficit. Using the conservative discount rate its unfunded deficit is $318M and growing annually. San Leandro is liquidating its city assets, revenues and services specifically to pay pension debt(which grows at just over $11M a year).
    Marin and Sonoma counties are worse off than San Leandro. Their situations, like San Leandro’s is hopeless. The process of liquidating public agencies assets, revenues and services is a state wide experience. Even Mendocino county!
    SMD, your discription of a “rosy scenario” is simple ignorance of the financial state that exists for defined benefit pensions. As such, henceforth whenever you blather, the only allowable response by any one is “you are unbelieveable.”

  8. No Union Watcher says:

    Hang in there S Moderation. Your comments add a much needed different perspective. In the brief time I have been visiting this site it seems to me that the posts of Tough Love, Surf Puppy and a few others far outnumber yours, and Ed Ring seems to be OK with that as they generally support his views and utilize name calling and other unprofessional tactics to attack contrary views. Unfortunately, this site seems to be turning into a name calling, mud slinging fest vs. any kind of intellectual discussion. BTW, my guess is that the present value of most any government’s future income over let’s say a 30 year period far exceeds the present value of estimated pension obligations for the same period of time, using the same discount rate to calculate both.

    • john m. moore says:

      WMD mocks us. The Pension Tsunami site deals with the “pension crisis.” WMD says there is none, just raise taxes. We get his point of view, but it is a waste of time to take his references seriously if he does not believe(or wishes) that there is a crisis.

    • Tough Love says:

      Quoting No Union Watcher ….. “BTW, my guess is that the present value of most any government’s future income over let’s say a 30 year period far exceeds the present value of estimated pension obligations for the same period of time, using the same discount rate to calculate both.”

      Of course, because that “income” has to pay for employee’s salaries & healthcare, road maintenance, capital improvements, debt service, education, medicaid, etc., etc., etc.

      I’m guessing that you not a financial wizard, and that’s not “name calling”, just an observation.

  9. Mark Hill says:

    No Union Watcher – So you, in your apparent public employee union tower “think” government future returns will take care of the problem? And who,may I ask, should pay if your pie in the sky prediction (not backed by one iota of evidence while we see cities/special districts and now counties teetering or in fiscal insolvency? Its precisely this type of dumb dumb, self serving, completely void of rationality while the FACTS are here today and now – present a “its not white, its black” reality. You are attacking taxpayers and our children left with all your “wizard of oz” thinking — as a financial advisor and former municipal banker – I know the numbers and they are devastating. We now have 30,000 plus public employee retiree millionaires ( $100k – $400k FOR LIFE plus free medical) and the number is accelerating beyond 30% a year. At some point, no amount of additional taxation can resolve this issue – and, to Mr. Ring’s excellent points, the “me first” consequences create a wrecking ball scenario of how to keep the monster alive – your logic suggests – just keep piling on children and taxpayers, who you seem fine hating. The worst of a generation.

    • Sean Ryan says:

      Absolutely correct! As an active investor, AND a former public high school teacher, I promise you, NO ONE in the public sector gets it. Every single one of them is in the justify, minimize, and rationalize frame of mind at all times. They simply do not understand the magnitude of the problem. Not even close. Further, they have come to believe in the “new normal” of calling say, a 72% funding ratio as “healthy.” Sorry, but if, after a six year long bull market, you are less than 125% funded, you are TOAST. Future recessions and bear markets will deal the crushing blows, along with the accelerating growth of the expense of all the spiking, cost of living raises, and free health care. Just take health care alone. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature can see that the skyrocketing cost of healthcare, by itself, is completely unsustainable. They simply refuse to believe reality. Oh well. Denial cannot divert reality forever.

  10. Ed Ring says:

    No Union Watcher – thank you for your comment. If you are implying that we have a specific perspective on this website that is critical of unionized government, you would be right. But you are mistaken if you think we are trying to apply a double standard.

    First of all, we accept all comments unless they veer into extreme profanity or physical threats. That is not universally the case – most government union sponsored blogs or news sites don’t even have comment sections, and the ones that do quite often screen the dissenting comments, or, worse, edit them to change their meaning in order to discredit their critics. We do none of that.

    Second, we try to be fair with all everyone who comments, regardless of whether or not they agree with our positions. We have repeatedly urged all participants in these comments to try to minimize the insults and stick to a debate regarding the facts. Tough Love has been asked to tone it down. Rex the Wonder Dog has been asked to stick with one name instead of using many (we can see the IP address of whoever comments so it’s easy to see if someone is using multiple names). These admonishments were served to people who generally support our point of view. Are we prohibited from admonishing someone simply because they DON’T agree with us?

    We don’t want this forum to devolve into people trading insults, although it is hard to avoid when dealing with topics this contentious. For what it’s worth, once again, EVERYONE please try to stick to comments that focus on facts and principles.

    • No Union Watcher says:

      Thanks Mr. Ring. It is nice to know you are trying to maintain civility. You might direct a little of your effort to Mr. Hill to tone it down a little.

      • Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

        You might direct a little of your effort to Mr. Hill to tone it down a little.
        Oh brother, you have to be kidding us…Pot, meet Kettle 😉

        • Ed Ring says:

          Rex – While I haven’t yet done an exhaustive search, it appears that “No Union Watch” has not commented before, under any other name. And their comment seems civil enough to me. If this person is truly new to the site, they might legitimately think our editorial policy is to favor those who agree with us. While we agree with those who agree with us, Rex, we do not favor them.

  11. Shelby says:

    Mr. Hill speaks the truth.

  12. Shelby says:

    Cindy Ewald is correct. All this debate ends when the public goes to Transparent California.com and sees for themselves the outrageous retirement costs for these public employee retirements.

    • Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

      All this debate ends when the public goes to Transparent California.com

      Of course it does, Mr. Math does not lie.

      But public employees sure do

    • Tough Love says:

      The Transparent California.com website is a great source of pension data, but it’s FAR FROM the complete picture…….

      The DOLLAR AMOUNT of a pension is only one of 3 important elements to a pension’s “value” (think of that as what the pension is worth as a lump sum payment upon retirement). The other 2 elements are the youngest age at which a full/unreduced pension can be received, and whether the pension is annually COLA-increased.

      Lets consider 2 pensions, BOTH paying $100,000 annually, but with pension “A” starting at age 55 (with no early retirement payout reduction) and WITH annual COLA increases, and pension “B” starting at age 65, and WITHOUT post-retirement COLA increases. Pension “A” is typical of the pensions of many PUBLIC Sector workers (especially Safety workers), while pension “B” is typical of the lucky few PRIVATE Sector workers who still get ANY Final-Average-Salary DB pensions.

      Clearly Pensions “A” and “B” are NOT of equal “value”, and in fact they are of VASTLY differing “values”.

      First, the TRUE actuarial reduction for EACH year of age that you can collect a FULL/UNREDUCED pension before age 65 reduces it’s annual payout by about 5% (noting that Social Security uses 6%). Hence, the $100,000 Pension “B” (starting at age 65) has the same “value” as a $50,000 (non-COLA) pension starting at age 55. With pension “A” being $100,000 annually beginning at age 55, it is worth DOUBLE (yes DOUBLE) that of pension “B” just from this one adjustment.

      Second, we need to adjust for the fact that pension “A” is COLA-increased, while pension “B” is not. A pension (starting at age 55) with a 3% annual COLA increase has a “value” about 30% MORE than an otherwise identical pension WITHOUT COLA. Therefore, the COLA-increased $100,000 pension “A” is equal in “value” to a $130,000 non-COLA-increased pension starting at age 55.

      To summarize, EVEN IF the DOLLAR pension payouts are identical (as is true in THIS example) the “VALUE” of pension “A” (typical of many Public Sector worker pensions) is $130,000/$50,000 = 2.6 times or 260% of that of pension “B” (more typical of Private Sector worker pensions …. mostly gone nowadays).

      Lastly, but a separate issue, is that PUBLIC Sector pension “formulas” (as expressed by their per-year-of-service formula-factors) are always more generous than those granted comparable Private Sector workers, typically 50% greater for non-safety workers and 100% greater for safety workers.

      Adding in the impact of the greater PUBLIC Sector “formulas” TYPICALLY results in a PUBLIC Sector non-safety worker pension advantage multiple of 2.6 x 1.5 = 3.9, and a PUBLIC Sector Safety worker pension advantage multiplier of 2.6 x 2 = 5.2.

      So there we have it, the development of what I have stated in many Blog comment …..

      “Public Sector pensions are ROUTINELY 3x-4x (4x-6x for safety workers) greater in value upon retirement than those of comparable Private Sector workers retiring with the SAME pay, with the SAME years of service, and at the SAME age.”

  13. john m. moore says:

    Ed makes a good point. His article raised an inquiry about whether the present government collective bargaining system is lop sided in favor of the workers and to the destruction of government services, but SMD hi-jacked the discussion and an opportunity to reflect on government unions was lost. Another big win for SMD (the virus) and a loss for intellectual discussion.

  14. S Moderation Douglas says:

    I hope that was cathartic.

    There is a simple concept expressed to me several times when I had jury duty, “If you decide that a witness deliberately lied about something significant in this case, you should consider not believing anything that witness says.”

    So, whenever I read “California has the highest taxes and fees in the U.S.”, it raises an automatic red flag. Why gild the lily? It only undermines your credibility. We have all heard this so many times, we seem to take it for granted. We DO appear to have the highest marginal tax bracket. The most “progressive” (don’t you just hate that word?) personal income tax.

    Some of the California rankings may surprise you…

    http://taxfoundation.org/article/facts-figures-2015-how-does-your-state-compare

    What’s more, if you earn the “average” income or less in California, you probably pay LESS than the national average in state and local taxes and fees.

    http://www.itep.org/whopays/

    To be fair, I suppose we should blame that on the unions.

    john m. moore, I had no intention to mock anyone, and I insist that you do not waste your time reading any of the data I referenced. (Okay, maybe THAT was mocking.)

    Tough Love, no complaints about your math, but your logic is still faulty. All that work for nothing. Still GIGO.

    john m. moore, if three simple, verifiably correct posts somehow thwarted your opportunity to reflect on government unions, perhaps “intellectual discussion” is not your forte.

    Damb unions.

    Moderation,“fair share”

    • Tough Love says:

      S Moderation Douglas,

      There is no fault with my Math OR Logic in my comment above (time-stamped September 25, 2015 at 4:42 PM).

      When one seeks the TRUE “value” of a Public Sector pension (vs that of a comparable Private Sector worker), simply comparing the DOLLAR monthly payout provides an incomplete and misleading comparison. A PROPER comparison requires factoring into that comparison NON-dollar-amount pension Plan differences which effect value, such as:

      (a) the MUCH younger FULL/UNREDUCED retirement ages universal to PUBLIC Sector pension Plans, and
      (b) the inclusion of, and specific provisions for COLA increases, again, almost universal to PUBLIC sector Plans, but almost unheard of in Private Sector Plans.

      The inclusion of (a) and/or (b) adds great value (as I demonstrated in my earlier comment), and SHOULD BE considered in any comparison of Public VS Private Sector pensions.
      ——————————–
      Your propensity (when you have no effective response)
      of simply waiving accurate and meaningful commentary by calling it “illogical” or “GIGO” fools only the most uneducated/intellectually-challenged readers.

  15. SeeSaw says:

    @John M. Moore–Who is it trying to shut down intelligent discussion here? The one who worked in the “trenches”, earned a pension, in a union or not, which is irrelevant in obtaining a pension, and keeps up daily on published material which is relevant, or the boob who has nothing to do but call each poster who has been in the public-sector a liar, trough feeder, old hag, whatever. I did not know that there was a limit here on how many knowledgeable comments may come from one individual poster, vs a limit on the number of posts that will be accepted from the resident “three-year-old”. You put the kicker on everything by referring to SMD as a virus! Is there a limit on vitriol?

    • Ed Ring says:

      SeeSaw – John Moore has more than paid his dues and earned his right to comment, criticize, and perhaps even indulge in a little bitterness. He watched the unions pretty much financially destroy the town where he lives, and with his background in bankruptcy law and his record of activism he is knows what he’s talking about. Read this – it’s good investigative reporting – and he wrote it:

      http://unionwatch.org/the-fall-of-pacific-grove-part-1-how-pension-enhancements-created-unmanageable-debt/

      Also, SeeSaw, and everyone – please tone down the insults. There’s nothing wrong with having strong opinions and even questioning each other’s facts and motives, but it would be better to do this without descending too far into the depths of useless personal attacks.

      Finally – SM Douglas – comments get held up in moderation when you add links. The system does that automatically to screen out spam, then they have to be manually released.

    • Rex the Wonder Dog! says:

      … or the boob who has nothing to do but call each poster who has been in the public-sector a liar, trough feeder, old hag, whatever…vs a limit on the number of posts that will be accepted from the resident “three-year-old”.
      I have never called you a “hag”. Or a “boob”.

      And your gov. workfare “job” is hardly one most people would compare to “working in the trenches”. And last, I am now 4, I had a birthday recently(was that last one for me or TL ??).

  16. wesmouch says:

    I love the term trough feeder. More gentle than blood sucker. Both are accurate. I hope to see they day their fat pensions are defaulted on.

  17. Hal Bray says:

    Ed;

    Ed, Let me break the spell of this conversation to thank you for the breath of your article. Public Sector Unions are not only destroying the financial viability of the state, but impact every other aspect of life. And I think that is your point. We are so busy fighting the financial ramifications (which are easy to see if one only looks) of public sector unions that we don’t see their reach and effect in every aspect of our lives. My county, Contra Costa, paid $141 million in 2005 for pensions; in 2014 it paid $289 million (CCERA CAFR), but can’t find $4 million to keep fire stations open in East Contra Costa (although it will pay $87,270,100 per year for 30 years just to fund the UAAL). Its OPEB liability is $794,422,000 and is 14% funded (from the County Administrator’s budget talk in April of this year). Our services are declining annually as a result. My water distict raised its rates 35% to “fix infrastructure” when it is actually covering added pension costs (think “money is fungible”).
    The governor’s Local Funding Formula is adding social workers and other “wraparound” (unionized) public sector workers to “improve” the school system, while much of the extra money is also going to save a CalSTRS pension system going bankrupt. Yet test scores are going down and will continue to do so. One of the biggest boondoggles in California education, “transitional Kindergarten” will add thousands of union teachers for little, in any “bang for the buck” as it, in effect, unnecessarily pays for pre-school for many people.
    At the local level if one wants to see the effect of public sector unions one only has to read the financial disclosure statements of candidates to see that most candidate donations come from the public sector unions active in each town. Or go to a “town hall meeting” on a service, such as police and fire, and see that most of the people in the room are in uniform and will shout you down if you disagree with them. In many cities in California today, the government workers in that city are paid more than the average resident of that city. The median household income of a resident in my city is $92K (according to City Data); the City’s new compensation plan only has 4 employee positions that start with total compensation of less than $100K.

    Your 7 areas of impact in your article is right on the money. And until we can get more people to understand the total reach of the unions it will not stop. Thanks for the article.

  18. Tough Love says:

    Curious, will Taxpayers EVER revolt …. or just leave, ?

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