Category Archives: Politics

Political commentary (i.e. rants) from Ed Ruth

A Solid Article on Black Culture That You Should Definitely Read

I normally consider just about anything published in the New Yorker to be neo-liberal drivel, ideological droning detached from the real world.  But every once in a while they
produce a true gem.  This recent article definitely falls into that category: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/09/dont-like

I have to give them credit just for writing the article.  All too often, anyone that even attempts to talk about issues that may be adversely hitting a large percentage of a minority group are immediately cast as racist.  This article dives into some deep waters that many publishers usually fear to tread.  Here’s a sample paragraph of the article that covers much of what it is about:

“After the Times described Brown as “no angel,” the MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry accused the newspaper of “victim-blaming,” arguing that African-Americans, no matter how “angelic,” will never be safe from “those who see their very skin as a sin.” But, on the National Review Web site, Heather MacDonald quoted an anonymous black corporate executive who told her, “Michael Brown may have been shot by the cop, but he was killed by parents and a community that produced such a thug.” And so the Michael Brown debate became a proxy for our ongoing argument about race: where some seek to expose what America is doing to black communities, others insist that the real problem is what black communities are doing to themselves.”

The article covers the famous government report written by the late Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan titled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. ” and W. E. B. Du Bois book   “The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study.”  Both tackled truths you rarely find discussed in politically correct 2015.  It uses these as a foundation upon which a new, even more challenging book was written called “The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth”, written by a Jamaica-born sociologist named  Orlando Patterson and Ethan Fosse, a Harvard doctoral student in Sociology.  I haven’t read the book but if it’s as interesting as this article, I will have to make sure I do so.  If you have a few moments, I highly recommend this article.

Ed Ruth

 

Congress Really Can Nix Obama’s Illegal Immigrant Plan

The non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) has confirmed that Congress has the authority to defund any Obama Administration efforts to issue green cards to millions of illegal immigrants, as he attempted to do by imperial edict last week.

Beitbart.com reported that the CRS, a legislative authority on Capitol Hill, wrote “In light of Congress’s constitutional power over the purse, the Supreme Court has recognized that ‘Congress may always circumscribe agency discretion to allocate resources by putting restrictions in the operative statutes,’” in a report sent to incoming Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

President Obama, declaring last week that he had authority that he had previously had emphatically claimed he didn’t have, announced last week that he would order federal agencies to not enforce America’s immigration laws.  He further stated that he would have the  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a subagency of the Homeland Security Department, issue green cards and work permits for up to 5 million illegal immigrants in the US.  But printing those green cards and other documents costs money.  The report makes it clear that  Congress can legally strip funding from America’s immigration enforcement agency – including funds the agency raises on its own through fees.  This is a key point because it is these internally generated fees that Obama and many on the left were saying could be used regardless of Congress to pay for the immigration edict.  By making it very clear that even those fees are subject to Congressional approval, Obama’s big announcement on immigration just became very toothless.

Here’s a comprehensive article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2850882/Nonpartisan-Congressional-Research-Service-says-lawmakers-power-fund-Obama-s-immigration-push.html

And here is Huffpo’s usual Leftist swing response:  Click here

 

It Is Time to Admit We are at War with Radical Islam

Before I begin, let me start with the obligatory “of course not all Muslims are bad” statement. I have friends who are Muslim, including some that will be reading this article. I would never want to hurt my Muslim friends by in any way associating them with those I refer to when I speak of a “war with Radical Islam”.  My Muslim friends are just as threatened by those believers of Radical Islam as my Christian friends for reasons I’ll delve into below.

So what do I mean by “War with Radical Islam”?  I am referring of course to an ever-increasing conflict among those who believe in democratic and religious freedoms and the sanctity of life that are opposed by those who engage in Radical Islamic belief. Which further necessitates me to define “radical Islam” as those who follow the Islamic faith in a fashion in which if you do not follow their exact form of observance of that faith then they consider you to be against God and an enemy worthy of either conquering or killing. And with 1 billion or more Muslims in the world, even if only one out of a 1000 is a member of radical Islam, then we’re still talking about 1 million members who believe it is okay to kill or conquer those who do not believe the way that they believe.

And don’t let anyone tell you that my “1 out of a 1000” (which I do use just as an example, not as any factual percentage) is exaggerated; that this is small sector of the followers of Islam and that people like myself are just “Islamaphobes” or whatever other excuse they want to use for dismissing this problem. They can dismiss all they want. Doing so only lets the problem grow. the reality is that, while it was only 20 Muslims that attacked us on 9-11-2001, they were backed by thousands. And they were cheered by tens of thousands on that sad day.

Look at poll after poll taken around the world and you’ll see that the teaching of Radical Islam has large percentages of many country’s Muslim populations taking radical positions.  For example, a 2013 Pew Research poll found 57% of Muslims worldwide disapprove of al-Qaeda. Only 51% disapprove of the Taliban. 13% support both groups and 1 in 4 refuse to say.  86% of Muslims in Pakistan, 84% in Afghanistan, 81% in the Palestinian territories and 80%in Egypt favor stoning adulterers to death.  40% of Muslims in the Palestinian territories and 39% of Muslims in Afghanistan said attacking civilian targets to defend Islam is often or sometimes justified. So while the vast majority of Muslims would never take up arms in support of Radical Islam, there is clear evidence that large percentages of them have been at least somewhat influenced by the teachings and publications of Radical Islam.

The danger of Radical Islam to the rest of the world should be readily apparent.   As I write this, ISIS, which is believed to have upwards of 30,000 fighters, controls land in Syria and Iraq equal in land area to the distance between New York and North Carolina.  ISIS’s self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi recently stated “A day will soon come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master… The Muslims will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism… and destroy the idol of democracy”.  This is not limited to ISIS.  Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas has also been quoted saying “We say this to the West… By Allah you will be defeated. Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world”.  We ignore their words at our own peril.

So, are we finally at a point where we can no longer deny that we are at war with Radical Islam? For many decades we’ve had to deal with the like of Hamas, Hezballah, the PLO, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups. But now with ISIS, we have a governing body with a growing army holding geographical area which they are committed to expanding to create what they hope will become a global caliphate. It is becoming a collection point for radicals from all over the world to come to get training and combat experience.  They are well-funded, organized and totally committed to their cause. 

The peaceful majority of Islam must accept some responsibility for the extreme members of their religion.  This extremism could not have grown to its present extent if not for the blind eye and, in some cases, active assistance of those who either share some of the ideological extremism but do not want to act in the extreme or those that do not share any of the extremist views but are too afraid to stand up to those extremist elements.

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand that they have every reason to be fearful.  The West rightly condemns the brutal beheadings of captured Westerners. But those acts, as horrible as they are, are a shadow of the mass killings of innocent Muslims that do not follow the path of Radical Islam.  Innocent Muslims are just as much in danger as the rest of the world because Radical Islam requires that you believe EXACTLY as they believe and swear allegiance to their cause.  Everyone else, including other Muslims, are to be conquered and subjugated.  The media really needs to start showing more of the Muslims that resist, and in many cases die fighting ISIS and other radical groups.  They need to show the mass killings of Muslims in Syria and Iraq.  They need to keep covering the story of the 273 muslim girls in Nigeria that were kidnapped by Boko Haram.  They are striking examples of why we must act now to protect our future and the future of the many innocent peaceful Muslims that are threatened by Radical Islam.

Three things must happen soon.  One, Western journalists and others need understand that they are on a side of this conflict whether they want to be or not.  All to often, Western journalists and liberal “talking heads” on TV seem to be excuse makers for those that would gladly kill them if given the chance.  They need to stop try to equate the excesses of Radical Islam with the very justified self-defense actions taken by Israel.  They need to help educate the world on the consequences of western nations not taking a more forceful and united action against Radical Islam.  Bill Maher recently condemned liberals for being so afraid of being called Islamophobes that they won’t denounce brutality committed in Islam’s name.  He was widely criticized in liberal publications.  Hopefully that criticism does not hold back other liberals from recognizing that there is no Right or Left viewpoints in our war with Radical Islam.  ISIS will kill you just as gladly whether you read the New York Times or the Weekly Standard.

Second, the citizens of the western world must acknowledge that they are at war with Radical Islam.   We may not want to be at war with them but they want to be at war with us.  Not accepting that fact just makes us less prepared to defend when they take an offensive action.  We must learn more about the mentality of those that wish to conquer us so we can better prepare to counter them.  If you want a starting point, Google the following terms: Wahabis (also spelled Wahhabi), Dhimmi, Jizha, Sharia Law.  Learn what the goals of these people are and you will have a much better understanding of their actions.

And third and most difficult, we must take action against Radical Islam.  By “we”, I am being very inclusive.  It can’t be just the U.S. and the western countries of Europe taking action.  It must also include the peaceful Muslim countries around the world.  They must forcefully put an end to the schools that preach radical hate.  They must cast out and ostracize Muslim clerics that convince young Muslims that it is God’s will to fight and kill those that don’t believe exactly as they do.  They must examine bank accounts to search for and imprison those that finance extremist mosques and terrorist groups.  And they must use their militaries, supported by the USA and Europe, to destroy radical groups within their borders.  We must become stronger and more willing to take the fight to Radical Islam.  For as long as we have an enemy more lethal and committed to winning than we are, then we have no chance of winning this growing war.

Author: Ed Ruth

Democrats turn on Debbie Wasserman Schultz

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/09/democrats-debbie-wasserman-schultz-111077_Page3.html

Non-partisan news site Politico.com delivered a scathing article yesterday about local embarrassment Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  She is, I’m sad to say, my local Representative.  Republicans in the district have long found her to be extremely left-wing, shrill and self-serving.  Democrats are now also starting to see her for what she is.  The article mentions that even President Obama and Valerie Jarret are through with her.  I wish our district would send her packing in November.

 

Michele Obama’s Lesson to Kids about Liberalism

Michelle Obama’s Lunch Plan Bombs

I would like to thank Michelle Obama for the excellent government lesson she gave schoolchildren all over the country recently.  I would have been hard-pressed to think of a better way (although opportunities abound!) of illustrating to the children of this country the negative effects of big government liberalism.

All over the country, children were (and in some cases still are) being forced by the government to eat what the government considered a good and healthy lunch and what the children considered to be an awful lunch.

Like many liberal ideas, it was founded upon what sounds like a good intention:  Let’s make sure we have healthly lunches in schools.  Who could be against that, right?  I mean, if you are against kids eating healthy, you’re downright mean!  But also like most liberals ideas, it combines a big dose of “government knows best even when it doesn’t” with a huge chunk of “damn the consequences, we know better than you little people”.

The lesson begins with the federal government, or in this case Michelle Obama, dictating some rules on the content of school lunch programs that must be followed for school districts to qualify for recieving the federal funds the government gives to help finance school lunches in districts throughout the country.  That’s the beginning of the lesson, young pupils:  Liberals will tell you that they know better than you and that you have to do things their way or you don’t get the money they’ve made you dependent on to survive.  It’s the most important part of the lesson because it highlights both the liberal’s belief that they know best and the danger of taking government assistance because of how it puts you under the power of the government.

So what are these onerous rules?  The rules are too numerous to list here and are as boring to read as I’m sure the meals are to eat.  For example, one of the rules is that all pastas, biscuits, tortillas and grits in schools be whole-grain rich, or more than half whole grain, if they can demonstrate that they have had “significant challenges” in preparing whole-grain options.  The lack of availabile options that meet those criteria is causing problems with schools all over the country.  And kids often just don’t like the taste.  In July, the USDA suspended the rule for two years.  There are other rules on  fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits that are also causing problems.  The net result is that the cost of lunches is rising sharply while the number of lunches being eaten drops because kids refuse to eat them.  It is estimated that more than 1 million students have stopped purchasing school lunches and over $1 billion in good food has been thrown out since 2012.

SCnow.com reports: Sophomore Madeline Taylor noticed that hardly anyone was eating.  “The entire rest of the day all I heard about was how hungry everyone was,” she said. “I then became very concerned about what would happen if this continued everyday throughout the school year.”

School districts all over the country started reporting that kids were not eating the mandatory lunches and were instead either bringing lunches from home, buying lunch at fast food restaurants or just not eating.  This causes an additional financial problem for school districts.  If kids don’t buy lunch, the district loses money and has to dig into its general fund.  This takes money away from text books, computer labs and school facilities.  Another unintended consequence of liberal “good intentions” that result in bad results.  Keep paying attention kids…it’s a great lesson!

County school districts can opt out of the federal school lunch program but doing so results in forfeiting hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding.  Some of the richer areas of the country have school disctricts that are doing so.  This means that the poorer areas of the country will be stuck with providing inadequate lunchs to the poorer children of the country while the wealthier areas of the country give their children better lunches.  Also, how many poor families are now going to start sending their kids to school with lunch bags to supplement the inadequate school lunches?  This will add an additional financial burden on these already financially stressed families.  Did you get that part of the lesson, kids?

Another point on contention is that the new rules ban bake sales, severly limiting the opportunity for PTAs, school advisory councils, booster clubs and others to raise money for their activities.  All of these groups are recognized as being important to schools and to the development of students as young adults.   Dropping out of the federal school lunch program allows schools to maintain their vending machines, bake sales and cupcake birthday parties, which serve as profit-makers to subsidize the afore-mentioned school activities.  The school programs are going to have to go away or survive without any type of funds to do activities.  Did that reinforce the lesson, young pupils?

The net end result of this disaster of a program is that it proves that proper food nutrition and meal portion guidelines are best decided at a local level.  The program was a perfect example of liberalism. It encompassed good intentions, the thought that the government knows better than we do, and no consideration as to what the population actually wanted or what the negative consequences could be.   Michelle Obama actually did a great service to our country by providing this great example of failed liberalism to the youth of our country.

I hope that, as these children go through school and grow up to become the young people Michelle Obama calls “knuckleheads“, they remember this valuable school lunch lesson and understand that liberalism is all about control.   As they get older and see even more examples (like Obamacare) of failed liberalism, they will hopefully learn the wisdom of President Reagan’s famous quote “Government is not a solution to our problem…government is the problem.”

Ed Ruth

SOURCES:

http://eagnews.org/michelle-os-lunch-rules-sour-first-day-of-school-for-many-students/

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/education/2014/08/09/district-drops-federal-lunch-program/13847169/

http://www.bizpacreview.com/2014/09/06/seriously-insane-restrictions-causing-schools-to-drop-michelle-os-lunches-143807

For War on Terrorism, It Would Be Nice to Have a Real Leader

 

British Prime Minister Cameron

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a leader like Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain?   He recently gave a speech in which he stated:

“Adhering to British values is not an option or a choice. It is a duty for all those who live in these islands so we will stand up for our values, we will in the end defeat this extremism and we will secure our way of life for generations to come,”   After which, he told Parliament he’d be seeking an expansion of powers that he feels are necessary and which would probably not pass Constitutional muster in the U.S. but at least he (unlike President Obama) has a plan of action for addressing the problem of radical Islam.

Instead, America has a leader who doesn’t even seem that interested in being President anymore.  When it comes to the most important terrorist problem facing the U.S., he ” doesn’t have a strategy yet”.  It is to be expected that Republicans would be shouting in angst about his lack of leadership but now even many Democrats are calling the president to task for not leading when America and world need American leadership.

ISIS/ISIL are only going to get stronger unless decisive and coordinated efforts from a coalition of governments from around the world can stop them.  For the first time ever, we are facing a terrorist threat from a group that controls a land base, a huge stockpile of modern weapons, all the financing it could want and a popularity among Radical Islamists that gains them a steady flow of new recruits (many with Western passports that will make it easier for them to attack the West).  To build an effective coalition, the world needs U.S. leadership.  Sadly, we do not have that leadership available.

Sadly, we do not have an American President capable of saying “”Adhering to American values is not an option or a choice. It is a duty for all those who live in this land so we will stand up for our values, we will in the end defeat this extremism and we will secure our way of life for generations to come,”.  No, instead we have a president who derides American values.  A president who dismisses American exceptionalism.  A president that believes America is fundamentally flawed and who say it as his mission to fundamentally change those flaws to fit into his left-wing ideology.

I said when America first elected the empty suit that is Barack Obama that we as a country were in danger when we could elect a weak socialist like him in these troubled times.  When America reelected him, I said we were beyond “in trouble” and that only a large scale danger could get America back on track as a leader of democracy.  President Obama’s weakness and lack of capable policy decision making and implementation have created such a danger.  Let’s hope America recognizes the danger it’s votes have helped create and begins correcting itself in November and in 2016.

 

Washington Redskins and Political Correctness

Those offended by something as frivolous as a sports team name or logo really need to grow up.

Washington Redskins Logo

On June 18th, 2014, The U.S. Patent Office announced that it was stripping the NFL’s Washington Redskins of their trademark registration.  Nevada Senator and Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that now the Washington Redskins would have to change their name.  This was something that the liberal “Politically Correctness Police” had been championing for sometime now.  But a Federal Court threw out a identical ruling 5 years ago so it seems very likely that the Redskins will retain their name and their trademark.

So what brought about this latest ruling?  The case, which appeared before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, was filed on behalf of five “Native Americans”.  I use the quotes because there is no such thing as a Native American.  No humans evolved on the North American continent.  Those being called such in today’s politically correct world just had ancestors that arrived a few thousand years before mine did.  Most would prefer you call them by their tribal name but have no problem being called American Indian.  Regardless, the case was filed “on behalf of” those five individuals because the liberal groups wanting to enforce Political Correctness needed to have some sort of legal standing to file the case.

The reality is that many if not most of those referred to as Native Americans don’t really care.  They honor their culture but are too mature to be offended by the logo of a sports team.  They worry more about how the Indian Health Service (IHS) provides terrible healthcare where their kids wait years for glasses and dental work.  The worry more about how Indian women are 5 time more likely to be the victims of sexual assault and murder than the national average.  They worry about their high teenage suicide rate, which is more than twice the national average.  And they worry about how their substance abuse and unemployment are 10x higher than the national average.  It is mainly just the Politically Correct on the Left that have any problem with the Redskin name or logo.

Political Correctness is one of my pet peeves.  I am offended by those that are so easily offended.  I am a bald white guy and wouldn’t care the slightest if the NFL had a team called the “Bald White Guys”.   Or the “Bald Honky’s”, “Bald Whitees” “Follicle-Challenged Pale Dudes” or whatever.  When do we tell those who are so easily offended to grow up?  When do we tell them that there’s nothing in the Constitution that says you have a right not to be offended?

And what is next if the Redskins lose their legal fight?  Will the Notre Dame “Fighting Irish” have to lose their iconic Leprechaun if a few people of Irish descent decide they’re offended?   Will the Florida Seminoles or the Atlanta Braves be the next target?  The liberal Huffington Post published a list of teams it found most offensive and I frankly found most of them rather amusing.  Talk about not taking yourself too seriously when you name your team the “Butte Pirates” or the “Nads”.   Some might call team names like these childish. I find being offended by something this frivolous to be even more so.

Beyond his Ideology, President Obama is an Empty Suit

President Obama’s ideological disconnect from reality leaves him incapable of providing the leadership America needs.

President-barack-obama-empty-suit

On Fox News’s “O’Reilly Factor” on June 13th, 2014, Bill O’Reilly said:

“When Putin invaded Crimea, the Administration was “surprised”.  When terrorists killed 4 Americans (one a U.S. Ambassador) in Benghazi…the Administration was surprised.  When the VA Scandal came to light…the Administration was…caught by surprise.  When thousands of illegal children started crossing the border…the Administration was…caught by surprise.   Now Baghdad is failing and the Administration…is caught by surprise.”

Bill O’Reilly was talking about the President having an incompetent team that was not advising him on important matters.  I believe the problem is much worse that that.  I believe President Obama is so committed to his ideology that he only listens to those in his Administration that share that ideology and together they make an echo chamber that makes them deaf to the realities that crash up against that ideology.  I believe that he and his core followers within his administration believe that it is best for America for them to implement the far left agenda as much as possible during his time left in office regardless of Constitutional restrictions or other laws of the land and regardless of how bad their actions hurt the average American taxpayer.

There are many examples of the President putting his ideology ahead of the law and America’s interests:

The Keystone XL Pipeline:  His ideology tells him that opening up this pipeline will just enhance our use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels and that it is better for America not to get the benefits of the Keystone pipeline, which would add tens of thousands of jobs and reduce our dependency on Middle Eastern oil.

Releasing the 5 Taliban from Gitmo:  Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl being released in exchange for 5 Taliban despite the law requiring Congress to be notified 30 days prior to any such release.

The EPA Mandates-by-Decree:   The liberals have given up the idea of using the Constitutional process to enact laws to force America to accept their Man-Made Global Warming ideology on America.  They realize that too many Democrat Senators and Representatives will vote against that type of legislation because it would cost them their jobs come the next election.  So now they just put fellow ideologues in positions of power within the EPA  and have them issue decrees such as new carbon emission requirements for coal power plants that Congress has always refused to pass.

Using the IRS as a political tool:  It has been proven now that the Obama Administration used the IRS to prevent groups opposed to his reelection from completing their registration process as a non-profit.  This prevented them from doing the activities they wanted to do during the 2012 campaign.   Meanwhile, the IRS processed many pro-Obama nonprofits so they could assist with his reelection efforts.  Using the IRS as a weapon against political opponents is as bad or worse than what was done during Watergate.

Dozens of Changes-by-Decree to Obamacare:  He has unilaterally made numerous changes to the law without any regard to what the disasterous law he pushed through actually says.  Regardless of how horrible the law is for America, it is a law passed by Congress.  A president that can take a law and enforce what parts he chooses and make unilateral changes to it without bothering to follow the Constitutional process is a danger to our country’s future.

The Benghazi Cover Up:   The administration is covering up their attempts at portraying the attack as protests over a video other than a large, coordinated Al-Qaeda linked terrorist attack. They knew from the moment it was happening that it was a terrorist attack…but that would have undermined Obama, who was in the middle of his reelection campaign and was saying in speech after speech that he’d beaten Al-Qaeda.  It wouldn’t do at all to have to admit that a major Al-Qaeda terrorist attack had killed a US Ambassador and 3 SEALS.  So the Obama Admin began the cover up while the attack was still going on..,not even allowing the military to try to save them. THAT is the true cover up.

It  is expected that presidents, the highest level of a politician, act political.  It is expected that they decide that they were put into office by those that felt they were the best candidate to lead our country.  But there is also an expectation that a president will surround themselves with capable staff members who will provide them with the information they need to lead.  It is expected that the president will have those on his staff who can go up to the president and tell him that what he is doing is actually harming the country regardless of what their ideology tells them.  It is expected that the president will take the lead in international affairs to ensure America’s best interests are met.   Several recent polls show that pretty much everyone other than those that share his far left agenda have concluded that President Obama is incapable of meeting these expectations.  And America and many other parts of the world are being hurt by his inability to be an affective leader.

The world cannot afford to have an American president that is incapable of leading efforts of both war and peace on the world stage.  It makes that world a much more dangerous place and hurts America in many long-lasting ways.  Beyond his ideology, President Obama is an empty suit, incapable of leading and uncaring of the consequences of his agenda.

At this point, all we can hope for is a Republican House (and hopefully Senate come November) that can limit the amount of damage caused by this failed leader.  Let us hope that the voters of 2016 are not so enamored of a “cool” candidate that they forget to see if the candidate is actually capable of the job.

Retirement Pensions for Public Workers

Sub-Title: How to immediately get into an argument with your otherwise very reasonable cop and firefighter friends.

Like many people, I have lots of cop and firefighter friends and several other friends that otherwise work in city or state job.  One thing I always approach with some trepidation is the subject of retirement pay for public workers.   I mean, who wants to say that cops and firefighters shouldn’t have a nice, generous retirement after serving their community for many years?   But the subject does have a way of coming up pretty often, especially when we hear story after story of cities going broke over public pension plans.

Before getting into the actual retirement pay that public workers get, it is important to note that many retirement plans for public workers enable them to receive a percentage of their full-time pay as their ongoing retirement pay.  For example, a worker may have an arrangement in which they receive 70% of their highest wage year.  Since they have been working for many years and have seniority and often management positions that offer higher pay than when they are younger, their last year is often their highest paying year.  And it is a common practice for many public workers to work overtime on their last year to bump that last year or two of salary even higher to maximize their retirement pay.

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal highlights the end result of this practice.  The actuarial fact is that if a worker starts working at 22 as a firefighter and retires after 30 years at the age of 52, then they are most likely going to be receiving retirement pay for about another 20-25 years.  If they are receiving 70,000 a year in retirement pay, then multiply that by 20 years and you will see that they could potentially receive up to $1.4 million in retirement pay.  So basically, every public worker that works that many years and is able to game the system to maximize their last year or two of salary effectively wins the lottery.

So each year, as more people retire, a city racks up even more recurring debt.  Taxes can only be raised so high before you get a diminishing return (i.e. individuals and businesses tell you what you can do with your taxes and move elsewhere.)  And yet public unions have been coming to city leaders each contract renewal time, wanting more and more, like some sort of less-than-polite Oliver Twist.  No doubt the city leaders knew their cities could not inevitably support more but they also knew that they’d be long gone before some successor had to address the issue.

If you mention that pension plans are one of the largest reasons for cities going broke, your union friends will often say that is not the case.  They will say that it is bad management or something along the line of “They have the money but they’re wasting it on other things.”   While it is true that spending priorities vary from city to city and there is obviously some waste, there is no denying that pensions are a huge reason for many cities poor financial state.  Houston, TX for example, our country’s fourth largest city, reports pensions account for 11 percent of their $2 billion budget, up from 6.9 percent ten years ago.  In San Jose, CA, the tenth largest city in the country, pension costs are 20 percent of their $1.2 billion budget, up from 9 percent in 2004.  These increases are unsustainable.

So now we see situations arise all over the country in which public workers “want what they were promised” while city leaders explain to them they were promised too much and explain to angry citizens why their cities are going broke.  Different cities around the country are handling the situation in a variety of ways.  In those states where union support is strong, cities leaders often do nothing and several, including Detroit, Michigan, have declared bankruptcy as a means of implementing the otherwise politically non-negotiable option of pension reform.

U.S. City Bankruptcy – From PBS.ORG

The reality is that public workers are going to have accept retirement plans that are more in line with those offered by private businesses.  And many already do.  But those areas of the country that lack the public will for reform of pension plans that have been negotiated by unions will continue to see their cities financial state degrade.  At some point, each city will be forced to do so or declare bankruptcy.

So as you carefully have that conversation with your cop or firefighter friend about their retirement, be forewarned that being correct in your assessment of the lack of sustainability of their pension plans will not help you.  They are great friends but they “want what they were promised” and resent cities “changing the rules mid-stream” and no blunt truth is going to change their mind.  And you’ll probably end up nodding your head in agreement that those who risk their lives throughout their career serving their communities deserve a good retirement.  Do so, change the subject like so many city leaders have in the past and order another drink for them on your tab.  Then remind yourself not to have another talk with your friend the firefighter or the cop about their retirement plan being unsustainable.

Ed Ruth

Minimum Wage Increase Hurts Poor, Helps Unions

In January, President Obama used a portion of his State of the Union speech to talk about his efforts to increase the federal minimum wage.  He, and other Democrat Party leaders, are hoping this issue will gain traction and make voters in November think about their paychecks instead of their more expensive healthcare or outright loss of healthcare that resulted from Obamacare.  Democrats will tell you that raising the minimum wage helps poor families. But don’t think for a second that there is any truth in that or in their motivations.  The real reason for the attempt to hike the minimum wage is to help their union allies.

Before getting into the real motivations for the Democrats reasons for trying to raise the minimum wage, let’s do some Business 101 basics.  If you increase the cost of a product, or the cost of getting a product to market, you are going to see those costs passed onto the consumer.  If it costs $1.00 more to get a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread to your local store, you are going to pay a $1.00 more to take the milk or bread home.  It might break down to 25 cents more per hour to get the truck loaded, or the shelf stocked but where ever the costs are increased, you the consumer are the one that is going to pay more for fulfilling your need for that product.

So that is why I say raising the minimum wage actually hurts poor families.  A rich person doesn’t care if a gallon of milk costs $7 or if they pay $6 for a loaf of bread.  They will pay it and probably not even notice the cost.  But a single mother raising her kids will definitely feel the pain of each increase.  When you raise the minimum wage, you hurt those who are making the lower wages. And let’s not forget that raising the cost of doing business also causes those companies to reduce full time job positions or to actually cause layoffs within the company.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that products become more expensive when you increase their cost of production and delivery.  So why do Democrats wish to make this their celebrated cause for 2014?  The truth is twofold. First, the know Republicans will fight it and in doing so look like they do not care about low income families.  And second, they know that many union contracts have wage increase clauses that are directly tied to the minimum wage.

So there are two points to remember about this push to increase the minimum wage:

1. IT’S MOSTLY ABOUT UNIONS: Many unions have automatic wage increases tied directly to the minimum wage rate. Raise the minimum wage and you automatically give many unions an instant pay raise. a very insightful article: http://online.wsj.com/news/art…

2. IT HAS VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH THE POOR, WHO WILL SUFFER FROM AN INCREASE: It doesn’t take a genius to understand that if you’re trying to sell something, you don’t usually do so by making it more expensive. The same is true with job creation. If you make it more expensive to have employees, employers will hire less and find ways of cutting jobs where they can. Make it so McDonald has to pay $10/hr for a starting employee and you’ll see even more of those jobs replaced by technology. “May I take you order” will very quickly be a computer generated voice thanks to the Left if they get their way. And in addition to it causing even grater labor problems, think of what raising the rate does the poor in how they live. If you raise the minimum wage, every company has to raise their prices of their products to be able to afford those increased costs. So getting a gallon of milk from a farm to a processing facility onto a truck and delivered to a store would have increases in the labor cost at each level of that process. A rich person doesn’t care if they’re paying $7/gallon for milk. But a poor person does.

If the Left succeeds in pushing through a minimum wage increase, remember that they are doing so to benefit their union supports and with the knowledge that they are hurting the poor.