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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Your Contribution Is Appreciated

Have ya heard about the latest bailout?  It hasn't gotten a lot of press - strange dat (not) -  but was just reported in of all places, the LA Times.

It seems that 32 states have borrowed a total of $41 BILLION to pay state unemployment claims.  Not surprisingly, California is leading this borrowing parade, having sucked up $8.6 BILLION of the money.

For those of you without a calculator, that equals about 21% of the money.  California only has about 12% of the US population.  Oops.

Our current, ongoing borrowings?  $40 MILLION A DAY!  This is just for the shortfall in unemployment payments.

There are reasons for this, of course.  None of them good.

Up for consideration for The Understatement Of The Year award -
"You can increase your contributions, decrease money going out of the fund as benefits, or do a combination of both," said Employment Development Department spokeswoman Loree Levy. "But the hole will keep getting bigger the longer that we go without addressing the problem."
Indeed.  And we do like our holes here in California.  We've got Pot holes, Deficit holes and A-holes - the latter are running the joint.  Spineless A-holes.

The solution never seems to be paring back the government.  It is always to raise taxes.

Our state has one saving grace:  To increase any taxes, it takes a 2/3 vote of both of our state houses, or a 2/3 vote by the citizens.  So far, the handful of Republicans in our state government have held firm.  But the special interest groups are hard at work -
Getting any tax increase through the Legislature is a daunting task because of the constitutional requirement that it be approved by a two-thirds vote in both the Assembly and the Senate.

"It's a high bar," said Angie Wei, a lobbyist for the California Labor Federation. "But, somehow the system has to get more money into it."
Angie, how about this?  Let's cut, oh, 20% of the 284,000 state employees (PDF) (state workers and CA State University workers) and see if we can still function.  Our tax receipts have dropped around 14%, so let's do the extra in anticipation of more hard times to come.

This group is getting paid about $1.5 billion a month.  That's $18 billion a year.  Twenty percent would be $3.6 billion.  In salary.  It's a start.

Look at Corcoran State Prison.  It holds about 5,800 inmates.  It has 2,150 guards.  Over three shifts, that would be about 700 guards per shift, or an 8.25:1 guard to inmate ratio 24/7.  Kinda high, no?  The guards have guns and cell blocks and all of that, right?

On top of that, there are an ADDITIONAL 1,994 Substance Abuse Treatment staff.  93% of which are full time employees.  WTF?  Clearly, you don't hold drug treatment classes for EVERY inmate, and you only hold them during one shift.  Even if every inmate were in the program every day, that would be a ratio of 2.9:1!  Bigger classes, maybe?

We could move on to dropping special interest stuff.  The Afro-American Museum.  The Native American Heritage Commission.  The California Commission on Aging.  Why would the state pay for these things?  Guilt?  Get over it.

And we can slash pretty deep in a bunch of other areas.  The Department of Motor Vehicles has 9,300 employees.  Would service go down if one third of them were jettisoned?  What is less than zero service?  Maybe it would add a bit of "job insecutity" like the rest of us have and they'd actually provide some customer service (dreamin', I know).

We've got nearly 2,000 in something called, "Rehabilitation".  If it's about drugs as I suspect, isn't that something that should be handled by the counties?  Nope, gotta build a bigger bureaucracy...

Our Transportation department has around 22,000 employees, over 5,000 of which fall under "Headquarters Operations" or Administration.  Really?!  Any private business of that size that had nearly one-quarter of its employees in management and administration would not last long.

But of course, state government isn't private business.  No incentives to be efficient.  In fact, the only way you advance is by growing your budget.  It's designed to fail.

And by that standard, it's incredibly successful.

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Anonymous said...

A lot of us don't pay any income taxes and it is easy to ignore our debt. People on welfare or low paying jobs simply don't care. But congress is right now conidering a $.25 per gallon tax increase on gasoline. Some of that will be used to pay for road infrastructure (since they diverted the highway trust fund to light rail and other pet projects) but a good portion of that is supposed to go to pay down the debt. So all of you who think it doesn't matter because you don't pay any taxes, guess again! This is just the beginning...

Chief Instructor said...

Anon, yep, I think we've got a ton of fees, levies, taxes and fines in our future. I'll be shocked if we don't get a VAT sometime in the next 5 years. Probably sooner.

suek said...

Looks like a coming all cash economy to me...

GunRights4US said...

The political class has been buying votes with other people's money for generations. The recipients of all that vote buying are addicted to the entitlements as surely as a doper is addicted to his poison of choice. Each generation of politicians knows that some future generation will face the whirlwind, but always the expectation is that it will be somewhere out beyond their own tenure. But now it appears that the whirlwind long sewn is about to render its harvest of chaos and destruction. Atlas may just shrug, but then again he may do more than merely shrug. Some parts of Atlas feel like kicking some ass!

Chief Instructor said...

Sue, I think cash and barter are going to become huge parts of our economy. Much larger than they already have become. People simply will not continue to be gouged like this.

We have conversation with customers every single day - multiple times - how crazy it is for them to have to pay a tax when they buy money. Any purchases under $1500 must be taxed. Think about how insane that sounds.

Guns, addicted to entitlements, indeed. When that morphine line starts getting choked off, they're going to be cranky - to say the least. It's gonna blow quickly, and big-time.

suek said...

>>Any purchases under $1500 must be taxed.>>

Seems like you'd pass that pretty quickly...what about _over_ $1500? other special requirements??

Found someone selling "junk" silver coins on our local Craigslist - anything to watch out for? (Not that I don't want to come to your store, but you're a bit of a drive away...)

Chief Instructor said...

The limit used to be $1000, but the Pawn Shop lobbyists (OMG) got it raised to $1500 to put pressure on coin shops a couple years ago.

The only other thing that comes into play is the $10K cash reporting guidelines.

Craigslist: Bring a friend and make the cash/coin exchange in a public place like a Starbucks. You will want to verify the coins are silver (you can quickly hold a bunch of the "stacked" in your hand and look for the tell-tale copper strip instead of looking at the date on each coin), and you will want them counted.

DON'T just review a few coins or rolls. Check every single roll or bag when dealing with a private party. No place to go back to if you get stuck. You should do the same with a coin dealer, but if you don't, at least you have someone to report to the police.

If they give you grief about "this is taking way too long", just leave. You're spending a lot of money and don't allow yourself to be pressured into NOT verifying what you've bought.