Street Journal asks the question today, “Public Unions: Is California Next? Serious
Californians, on the right and the left, know how much fiscal trouble they’re
in American politics,” writer Daniel Henninger notes
and LA just negotiated a deal with unions representing most civilian workers
for increased employee contributions for pensions and health care. (UnionsContractAnalysis.pdf)(CAO-ContractAnalysis.pdf)
of the story is
where Public Defender Jeff Adachi got an initiative on the November ballot with
support from former Assembly Speaker and Mayor Willie Brown a measure that
would have forced public employees to pay a lot more for their pensions and
health care. It failed but the coalition Adachi put together is trying again.
seen as a liberal progressive, a rage against the machine person,” Adachi
said. “If you care about social programs or the network of support
services, you have to understand that pensions and benefit costs are crowding
out all these services.”
talking with politicians on the left and right, the writer concludes: “Over the
years, the public unions ‘bought’ politicians from the smallest city to the
state capital in
a blue state all right, but it just may be that it is turning blue with rage at
the inexorable destruction of its public life.”
What’s broken in California isn’t a secret. We can’t afford the government we have, not in our cities, our counties, our state. Our tax system is inequitable, our public servants cost too much.
Yet our rage against the political machinery falls on the deaf ears of elected officials, beholden to unions, developers, contractors and other special interests.
As evidenced by the breakdown in negotiations on solving the state’s $26 billion budget deficit, it’s clear the politicians — left, and right– prefer gamesmanship to leadership no matter how much damage they do to the quality of our lives, our economic opportunity, our children, our futures.
They are more than willing to punish the poor, soak the middle class and enrich the rich.
But when it comes to solving the people’s problems, they are nowhere to be found. They disgrace themselves by their indifference to the public interest, their pandering to special interests.
Nowhere is this more evident than in LA where the annual renegotiation of civilian employee union contracts has left many in the workforce enraged at the prospects of making no financial progress when all factors are weighed over the next few years.
Like the last two contracts, this deal hailed by city leaders as a “landmark” does very little to actually solve the problem of soaring deficits and pension and benefit costs that can never be met.
The consumer-driven high-growth economy that masked the escalating costs of government for so long is never coming back.
The politicians cling to a hopeless fantasy of an economic miracle just around the corner. It isn’t going to happen. It is we who must change and face the new realities and rebuild our society in a more humane way that emphasizes the well-being of the people, all of the people.
Gov. Jerry Brown put on the table the outline of what must be done in this era of crisis: Waste and inefficiency must be reduced. The cost of entitlements must be reined in. The richest among us must pay higher taxes; it is their duty. Public workers must make major concessions, far greater than the ones they have so far been willing to take.
In the short term, we need to raise revenue and cut spending.
From what we see happening at City Hall, in Sacramento, in the nation’s capital, it seems clear enough that the politicians will not do what is right and necessary until they have created a catastrophe that awakens us to their folly.
It is only a matter of time whether we do nothing or continue our struggle to take back control of our government institutions and restore democracy to America. The only question is how much damage will be done, how much unnecessary suffering there will be, before the day comes when sanity returns.