Two recent stories out of California show that what is already the most stupidly governed state is slipping into outright insanity.
The first is a new illustration of the crazy compensation levels of all too many state employees. It turns out that the chief psychologist for the state’s prison system earned $838,706 — last year alone! To be precise, the shrink earned somewhere between $261,408 and $308,640 in salary, with the remainder coming from bonuses or cashing in unused sick leave.
This is not an anomalous case. Of the ten highest-paid California state employees (all earning more than a half-million bucks a year), seven worked for California’s grotesquely dysfunctional prison system. Of those, four were prison doctors or dentists.
Other high-paid officials include the federal receiver who monitors the California prison system, Clark Kelso, at $508,140, and CalPERS chief investment officer Joe Dear at $548,142.
Clark Kelso, by the bye, was hired because in 2005, a federal judge actually took over the California prison system’s medical system. This development came on the heels of lawsuits on behalf of several dozen convicts who died in prison, allegedly because of poor medical care.
California’s prison system is a poster child for the folly of government monopolies. It is a sprawling system, housing 163,000 prisoners, and it is so overcrowded the U.S. Supreme Court recently ordered that it release 37,000 prisoners. It is a deformed creature completely created by Jerry Brown, the worst governor in California’s history. Brown was the lunatic who in 1978 allowed California public employees to unionize, and he has diligently done the bidding of the prison guard union ever since. This has included refusing to allow private prisons to compete with the inefficient government ones or send inmates to prisons run by other states (both forms of “outsourcing”) — all the while allowing their compensation packages (including lavish pensions and health care benefits) to grow explosively. (“Outsourcing” here is a misleading term for contracting with private companies to perform government work.)…
Saturday, September 10th, 2011
There’s been much speculation that President Barack Obama will spend $1 billion to get reelected. Turns out those guesses were off by $446 billion.
What Americans heard last night was a $447 billion political plan, not an economic one. It’s purpose was to a) fire up the demoralized Democratic base and b) show independents that Obama is trying to do something – anything – to reduce unemployment, not just slash needed “investment” like those heartless, pro-austerity Republicans.
Now all the usual suspects will claim the American Jobs Act will create more growth and more jobs through $250 billion in temporary payroll tax cuts and $200 billion in infrastructure spending, unemployment benefits and aid to state and local government.
Take Moody’s economist Mark Zandi, a favorite of the White House and congressional Democrats. Zandi’s research says the original $800 billion Obama stimulus created or saved some 2-3 million jobs. And he likes Stimulus 2.0 just as much. He claims it would “add two percentage points to GDP growth next year, add 1.9 million jobs, and cut the unemployment rate by a percentage point.”
1) Of course, such analysis is based on garbage in, garbage out, Keynesian economic models. The results were already baked into the cake. Better to see what actually happened as gleaned from government statistics. In a recent paper, Stanford University economist John Taylor simply looked at whether, as a result of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, consumers actually consumed and whether government actually spent in a way that produced real growth and jobs. Turns out, they didn’t:
Individuals and families largely saved the transfers and tax rebates. The federal government increased purchases, but by only an immaterial amount. State and local governments used the stimulus grants to reduce their net borrowing (largely by acquiring more financial assets) rather than to increase expenditures, and they shifted expenditures away from purchases toward transfers. Some argue that the economy would have been worse off without these stimulus packages, but the results do not support that view.
2) Economists from George Mason University also looked at the real-world results of the ARRA by surveying employers. Their findings:
Hiring isn’t the same as net job creation. In our survey, just 42.1 percent of the workers hired at ARRA-receiving organizations after January 31, 2009, were unemployed at the time they were hired. More were hired directly from other organizations (47.3 percent of post-ARRA workers), while a handful came from school (6.5%) or from outside the labor force (4.1%). Thus, there was an almost even split between “job creating” and “job switching.” This suggests just how hard it is for Keynesian job creation to work in a modern, expertise-based economy: even in a weak economy, organizations hired the employed about as often as the unemployed.
3) And let’s not forget what Milton Friedman might have to say about this sort of deal, which (more…)
This is so stupid. PBS altered the transcript of Obama’s speech to fix a mistake.
The gaffe was minor. It wouldn’t even be worth a mention had not Sarah Palin been pilloried for her (historically correct) Paul Revere comment.
PBS would risk it’s already tarnished reputation for this?
Timothy Birdnow at the American Thinker:
The New York Times transcript has the following quote:
“We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. Founder of the Republican Party. But in the middle of a civil war, he was also a leader who looked to the future — a Republican President who mobilized government to build the Transcontinental Railroad — (applause) — launch the National Academy of Sciences, set up the first land grant colleges. (Applause.) And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set.”
But how does it appear in the PBS transcript?
“We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. But in the middle of a Civil War, he was also a leader who looked to the future – a Republican president who mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad; launch the National Academy of Sciences; and set up the first land grant colleges. And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set.”
A more substantive gaffe was citing a Georgia jobs program as an example to follow. That program is is flopping big time.
So much for a “recovery act success story.” Solyndra is now bankrupt and was raided this week by the FBI.
I also get excited when my odometer turns over to certain numbers.
So sue me.
Anniversaries — even those of such tragic events as 12/7/41 and 9/11/01 — are occasions which cause us to reflect and take stock. What the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Twin Towers should teach us is to be forever on the alert. Not since the days of the Redcoats have our nation’s enemies behaved like gentlemen, and it is high time that we learned that enemies often strike without warning. We should expect them to gouge our eyes and knee our groin, and if we’re not prepared to do likewise, we shall remain at the mercy of the unmerciful.
On a Sunday in 1941, America discovered that Japan was our mortal enemy, and we spent the better part of the next four years teaching them a well-deserved lesson. On the other hand, in the wake of 9/11, our leaders told us time and again that Islam was a peaceful religion. Moreover, the media tried to convince us that the Palestinians were the good guys in the conflict with Israel, that a mosque at Ground Zero would serve as a monument to good fellowship, and that it was a swell idea to elect as our president a left-wing bigot named Barack Hussein Obama.
If I read all this in a book, I’d be sure it was not only a work of fiction, but one of the goofier ones in the science fiction genre.
The fact that a mere seven years after being attacked by Muslims, we elected a guy who spent his early years in Islamic schools in Indonesia; his most formative years being raised in Hawaii by white socialists and tutored by a black communist; and his adulthood, attending a black racist church in Chicago, while hanging around with unrepentant radical terrorists, strongly suggests that America should have had its head examined.
How on earth did we elect a guy who can’t throw a baseball? For that matter, how did we elect a guy who is America’s number one celebrity but has never had a woman step forward to say she dated him in high school or college when we all know that such a person could get a couple of million bucks sharing her experiences with Diane Sawyer or the National Enquirer?
This was a guy who insisted that the problem with both the Founding Fathers and the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement was that neither group did anything about redistributing wealth. He also promised that his energy policy would not only destroy the coal industry, but send America’s energy costs soaring.
How shameless does a man have to be who spends months berating millionaires and billionaires, and then turns his 50th birthday party into a fund-raising event with tickets going for $35,000 and then spends his summer vacation with the very rich and moderately famous on Martha’s Vineyard? And let us not forget that all of this hobnobbing with the well-to-do comes on the heels of Michelle and the kids vacationing in Africa at a cost to the lowly taxpayer of $800,000.
In what was supposed to be a charming, self-deprecating, line, Obama said in 2008, after bowling a pathetic 37, “My economic plan is better than my bowling score.” But, as it turns out, he was mistaken. For one thing, his score was only an embarrassment to himself, whereas his economic policy has bankrupted the nation, increased unemployment, made us more dependent on foreign oil and cost us our triple-A credit rating.
Shortly after being elected, he said that if his policies didn’t turn America’s economy around, he would only be a one-term president. When he made that statement, unemployment stood at 7.1%. It is now 9.1%. If this were the real world instead of the world of politics, America’s CEO would be turning in his resignation.
Instead, in a desperate attempt to keep a job that he is totally unfit to have, he engages in class and race warfare, questioning the patriotism of Republicans, Tea Party members and every other rational American who rebels against modeling our nation after Europe’s left-wing nanny states. If only Obama spent more time keeping up with the news, and less time gazing adoringly into a mirror, he would notice that Europe has fallen prey to a cancer, socialism, that is every bit as malignant and dangerous as the Soviet Union ever was.
We can only hope and pray that on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, we will be on the verge of sending the Obamas back to Chicago, a city with a world-class zoo that houses a variety of odd critters, but none quite as odd or as loathsome as Barack.