Monday, January 24, 2011

Where Is Nero When You Need Him?

He probably wouldn't have been so rash in San Francisco since there are so few Christians to blame things on. But at least Nero had a plan. If it meant burning down half the city so he could build a new palace, well, them's the breaks.

After having lived the major part of my life in Sodom by the Bay, I still read the latest news from there with drop-jawed disbelief every time they set a new record for stupidity. And they've just given me another one of those moments. The "City That Knows How" certainly does. It knows how to make a bad situation worse. San Francisco is facing a $755 million deficit for 2011. So naturally the city has given its municipal retirees $170 million in cost-of-living increases. The original controller's estimate of the deficit for 2011 was a mere $360 million (yes, I said that tongue-in-cheek). But he forgot to include two factors. First, the cost-of-living increase for retirees already living on benefits that would make Midas blush. But there's also the small matter of the moronic San Francisco public.

On the November ballot, the mayor had gotten a budget amendment certified which would have required city employees to contribute to their own pensions and benefits. In the midst of the worst recession in memory and the biggest city budget shortfall since the Great Depression, this cost-cutting measure (Proposition B) was soundly defeated. It certainly caused me to think of the old adage that a people gets the form of government it deserves.

In their zeal to protect their cushy jobs, every public official except the mayor himself and every union official declared that worries about the budget increase were "overblown." Yet each of those hacks and liars knew full well that the retirement fund was a scandalous mess. Not only were the retirement benefits outrageous by any standard, but any first-grader with a pencil and a piece of paper could tell you have a problem when you take in contributions of $414 million and pay out $819 million. And that was last year. It's not as if there wasn't plenty of warning.

An outside neutral actuarial firm agreed upon by the city government and the unions to determine the state of the health of the San Francisco Employees' Retirement System (SFERS) found that the fund now has an unfunded liability of $1.6 billion. When asked directly about this staggering liability, the SFERS chief refused to respond to any questions. He didn't even bother to lie--he just refused to answer.

That same chief officer, Gary A, Amelio, came into office knowing about both the deficit and the projected unfunded liability. Yet he and his cronies encouraged the defeat of Prop B, and bald-facedly told the public that the fund was in sound condition. Then, he quietly allowed the cost-of-living increase to go through. While many citizens of the city are struggling to meet their monthly mortgage obligations and pay their monthly bills, the government, the Pacific Heights gazillionaires and the unions managed to defeat one of the few measures which might have given the budget crisis a small chance to be fixed.

There is a simple solution for this problem which all Democrats, liberals, welfare recipients, union employees and "progressives" know. Raise taxes and fees, at least as fast as you raise expenses. It's the Laugher Curve in action (ignore that pesky Laffer Curve). There are already multiple bills before the Board of Supervisors to accomplish this. Double the price of all city services. Massively increase the taxes on the few major businesses which haven't yet fled town. Double parking fees (they're already triple the national average). Etc, etc, ad nauseam.

How the city plans to survive is utterly beyond me. Mayor Gavin Newsom has not yet officially assumed his new position as California's Lieutenant Governor because he actually tried to stay behind and get some budget cuts and fiscal sanity before he left for Sacramento. Instead, he got a swift kick in the teeth from the Board of Supervisors and the voters. On the other hand, maybe he stuck around just to appreciate the proportions of San Francisco's fiscal disaster before he went on to deal with the even more massive state deficit in Sacramento.


16 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk, I'm glad your out of the place. What a beautiful waste. Despite the fact you clearly described the citizenry in a manner violating the left's new civility code, it is accurate. They deserve what they get.

StanH said...

I wonder how long California can defy gravity? San Francisco is fast becoming the laughing stock of laughing stocks. I’m sure you miss your former home in many ways, family and friends, but now safely delivered to Caliente, you too can point and laugh.

Joel Farnham said...

I think there will be rioting in San Francisco. The problem will be no one will notice or people will assume it is one of those gay things and not respond. Also there is a big possibility no one will care.

Patti said...

when it all falls in on them, they will blame "us" and then demand our money to fix their carnage.

blech.

T_Rav said...

But, but, they have a constitutional right to those pensions! If you cut them off, you're violating their civil liberties! Tyrant! Murderer! Rapist! Other bad stuff!

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: The City's like a former beautiful prostitute. Now broken down and decayed. From a distance, she's still beautiful in her layers of makeup, but don't get too close. The cracks and degeneration become too obvious the nearer you approach. And she's suffering from a fatal disease.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: To change my metaphors, it's a bit like watching a beloved old family member descend into Alzheimer's. Once a brilliant leader and intellectual giant, the old girl now can't even remember where she is most of the time. And you're so right about my new home. Great people, self-sufficient, hardworking and loyal to each other and America. It's like taking a drink from the fountain of youth.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: They're like giggling idiots. They're so busy spending other people's money on "good deeds" and smiley face legislation that they don't realize the gravy train is about to fly off the bridge and into the sea. The riots will come when the bread and circuses can no longer be paid for.

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: Bankruptcy is almost inevitable. Talk about "unsustainable." That would at last put a receiver in to rewrite the city's contract with its public sector bum's army, but in the long run, it's still the outside taxpayer who will end up paying for their prodigality. It would be wonderful if some clever lawyer could figure out how to convict an entire city populace of misfeasance, malfeasance, and outright theft of the taxpayers' money.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: And those are the nice things my progressive friends call me. LOL

patti said...

law: best lol of the day: "It would be wonderful if some clever lawyer could figure out how to convict an entire city populace of misfeasance, malfeasance, and outright theft of the taxpayers' money."

just the thought of that delighted me!

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: Thanks. I have to admit I gave myself a chuckle with that one. Vanity, vanity, thy name is LawHawk. LOL

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk: I think maybe there's not enough oxygen getting to the brains of some...well, most of the people in CA. I was reading somewhere that Gov. Moonbeam wants California to take the lead in "marine protection" with a new plan to either ban or severely restrict fishing all along the coastline. It would turn the entire coastline into a fish sanctuary. That sounds like it will really help San Fran too! All the fishermen can gather and do nothing on the wharf.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: Well, at least now that the sea lions have left for greener pastures (bluer oceans?), there will be plenty of room at the Wharf for the unemployed fishermen to discuss the good old days. Too bad they weren't city employees so they'd have big fat pensions to live on.

AndrewPrice said...

I've got nothing against San Francisco taking itself to death. It could be fun to watch! Of course, as San Francisco goes, so goes California.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I held on as long as I could. There were still islands of sanity, but the seas of political insanity finally submerged them. I chose not to drown. It's a terrible shame, and a sad ending for a once great city. I guess they took the title of Queen City of the West a little too seriously.

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