Toothless Tiger: No Leverage for Jerry Brown

In the waning days of WW II, during a discussion of the future of Eastern Europe, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill cautioned Joseph Stalin to consider the views of the Vatican. To this the Soviet leader responded, “How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?”

Stalin’s brutal sense of humor demonstrated that he only respected force. Since the Pope had nothing he feared or wanted, Stalin would ignore him.

Now that Governor Brown has announced his intention to reform unsustainable government employee pensions that threaten to bankrupt state and local government, he finds himself in the position of the Pope. In the struggle to come with the public employee unions who will fight change, he has no leverage.

How did Brown come to this state of impotence when the government employee unions who will now oppose him, owe him so much? While governor in the 1970s, he signed off on legislation that significantly expanded the collective bargaining rights and power of the very groups that now threaten California with insolvency. This power has allowed government employees to become the highest compensated in all 50 states.

While running as a new incarnation of himself for governor, Brown relied on funding from his public sector union allies. In response to questions about how much influence state workers would have on his administration, he repeatedly assured voters he would govern independently. After all, he said, he is older and wiser, not interested in higher office and has nothing to prove.

However, upon assuming office, when Brown’s bargaining power was at its zenith, like a Santa on “Weight Watchers,” he set about fulfilling the government unions’ “Christmas wish list.”

Brown immediately agreed to five new contracts giving the unions nearly everything they wanted including, for the prison guards, the ability to “bank” unlimited vacation time that could be cashed in on retirement at the guards’ highest pay rate. And with only a few minor exceptions, the governor signed off on the unions’ legislative agenda, including postponing for two years a public vote on a reform requiring the state to maintain a prudent reserve to allow it to fund programs in difficult times. This vote on the rainy day fund was part of the deal that put in place the massive tax increases of 2009, but the unions now fear that if money is set aside, it would leave less in the pot for government worker raises and benefit increases. With Brown’s signature, the state has reneged on the deal it made with taxpayers and there is no reason to believe that the vote will not be postponed again and again, each time it is rescheduled.

Now that the governor has so thoroughly done the unions’ bidding, they no longer need or fear him. They have what they want, and he has no leverage to bring them to the table. The union bosses are free to thumb their noses at the governor because they know that through millions of dollars in campaign cash they still control the majority of lawmakers. The chances of the Legislature passing meaningful pension reform are slim and none, and slim is getting on his horse.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -– California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

An Insensitive and Oppressive Government

T2AR: The Second American Revolution, Part 4

In 1774, much like today, there was no clear plurality of opinion. Loyalists believed the colonies owed fealty and allegiance to the Crown. Others sided with the Sons of Liberty and believed the time for loyalty had passed. Many spoke the unspeakable and talked of a break from an insensitive and oppressive government. King George did little to support his loyal subjects. In response to the Boston Tea Party, King George imposed on the colonies four harsh measures that became known as The Intolerable Acts. These new laws became the trigger that changed public sentiment and launched America’s War of Independence.

The Boston Port Act closed the port of Boston until the tea destroyed by the Sons of Liberty was paid back. With this law, King George punished his loyal subjects along with rebellious colonists. The Massachusetts Government Act caused the Massachusetts government to be taken over by the British Parliament. All positions had to be appointed by the King. The Administration of Justice Act moved trials of accused royal officials to Great Britain or other colonies. Colonists could not afford to travel to Great Britain to testify in a trial. George Washington believed British officials would use the new law to escape justice and called this the “Murder Act”. The Quartering Act, the least offensive of the four, clarified the ability of the British to house British soldiers in vacant buildings. It neutralized a myth that the British were housing soldiers in people’s homes against their will.

Instead of listening to the complaints of his colonists, King George and the Parliament treated colonists like unruly children imposing harsher and harsher penalties. Slowly, over a period of years, public sentiment shifted. Fewer and fewer Loyalists remained. Many returned to England but many more joined the ranks of those clamoring for independence from an unsustainable relationship.

The present day Congress has an approval rating of 12%, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll. The vast majority of the American public no longer believes Congress responds to the needs of average Americans. From the right, the Tea Party movement has already impacted the 2010 election with a change of more than 60 Representatives. Now, from the left, comes the Occupy Wall Street movement. Both represent a primal scream against an insensitive and oppressive government. Like their predecessors in 1774, the majority no longer believe their government represents them.

SEE ALSO:
T2AR: The Second American Revolution, Part 3
T2AR: The Second American Revolution, Part 2
T2AR: The Second American Revolution, Part 1

(Robert J Cristiano PhD is the Real Estate Professional in Residence at Chapman University in Orange, CA, Senior Fellow at The Pacific Research Institute and President of the international investment firm, L88 Investments LLC. He has been a successful real estate developer in Newport Beach California for thirty years.)

Herman Cain: The Candidate for California and the Nation

Only one GOP candidate for President wants to get rid of the entire tax code and provides a tax plan to replace it. Even if you do not agree with every aspect, he is willing to make the plan transparent and leave it open for discussion.  In California, a State that is in a Depression, businesses are leaving the State, many for other nations.  The biggest reason they go to China and Mexico is because of our Federal tax codes and rates.

Herman Cain is also the only candidate for President willing to quote the founder of Planned Parenthood and the current results of her efforts.  Margaret Sanger wanted to use abortion to eliminate minorities from this nation. Currently over 37% of Planned Parenthood abortions are done on black women.  African Americans constitute 11% of the population.  Cain does not want to have government close down Planned Parenthood; he just wants to stop using your tax dollars for the policies of Planned Parenthood.

The Cain campaign reminds me of the 1964 Goldwater effort.  Goldwater ran against the establishment darling, Nelson Rockefeller.   Rocky had all the legislators, but a few.  The corporate Republicans loved him, because he was one of them.  Worse, Senator Goldwater said complex problems had simple answers.  Cain has no establishment support, but he does have people, like Barry, who are willing to volunteer and work hard—they are self-starters.  As Pat Buchanan told his supporters,” don’t wait for orders from headquarters.”

Goldwater had all the volunteers he needed to win the decisive California primary in June, 1964.  So will Cain.

Cain makes the simple statement that the reason California, and other States have high unemployment is government rules and regulations.

Mr.Cain would repeal by legislative action or Executive Order the Obama health care plan.  This alone will save the Federal government more than one trillion dollars over ten years.    You can expect a Cain administration would not be exploding three dams in Northern California, which, if it happened would cause, farms and ranches to be closed.

Imagine a California where the Federal government would enforce our immigration laws and E-Verify must be used.

California does not need more studies, rhetoric or commissions to determine our need to create local sources of energy, but vouchers that create competition, and competition that creates better schools.

A Cain nomination would open the possibility of turning our State from blue to red.

He has a great story.  Recently he was interviewed on Fox News, while on his campaign bus.  The reporter asked him about growing up in the South during the 1950’s and 60’s.  Cain noted that as a kid he went on buses that had signs in the front, ”Whites enter here.” In the back of the bus the sign read, “Coloreds enter here”.  Cain noted that now he owns the bus, his picture is on the side of the bus and he is running for President.  It is his life experiences as a businessman, a builder of companies, a job creator for forty years that makes him uniquely qualified.  Why is he a leader in the polls? He connects with people.

Sadly, some prefer the establishment types. As Cain says, “how well is that going?” A nationally known GOP political consultant, Roger Stone said this, “The Brooks Brothers wearing inside-the-beltway Republican consultant class is orchestrating relentless attacks on Herman Cain and Mark Block simply because their campaign is working.”

Now we allegedly have three women claiming Mr. Cain “harassed them”. In what way are these credible charges? Can we question the woman? Can two of them explain why the investigations show their charges are baseless?  So far we have only heard from an attorney.  Then you have a woman who said she “thought” about filing charges, but didn’t—maybe because her charges were baseless as well.  At a time when unemployment is at a consistent record high, deficits cannot be controlled and terrorists are threatening us, anonymous charges are just that—nothing more than rumor. If these were honorable people, they would come forward, show their faces and tell their stories—then the American public could decide.

My first campaign was walking precincts for Nixon in 1960 in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles. For the past fifty years I have participated in every level of politics in the State.  Only two candidates related to real people, directly and honestly.  Senator Goldwater and President Reagan.  No lengthy proposals, simple language, no need to hire an attorney to figure out what they meant.   The same with Herman Cain.  Spending too much, no need for Commissions—we all know where the waste is; get rid of it!  Regulations killing jobs, review them, take a few days, and then make the right decision.

California needs a President that comes here for policy issues instead of being a vacuum for money.  Herman Cain is that person.  Herman Cain has lived a life that many in America have lived, up from the bootstraps, worked hard and smart.  He has lived a real life, learned its’ lessons and willing to serve us with common sense, reality based policies

That is why I support Mr. Cain for President.

(Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of the California Political News and Views and is a fulltime political consultant.)

Robbery by Fountain Pen: Unions Continue to Swindle the Public

Unions are still treacherous, but with a generous helping of legislative malfeasance, their tactics are more subtle.

“On the Waterfront” portrayed union power at its rawest. In the 1950s, the unions typically got their way with nothing less than brute force. But today the tactics are different. In “Pretty Boy Floyd,” Woody Guthrie sang, “Some will rob you with a sixgun, and some with a fountain pen.” The unions are well entrenched in the “fountain pen” camp and recently, Illinois has been in their crosshairs.

In September, the Chicago Tribune broke a story about Dennis Gannon, a former sanitation worker who became a president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. He went back to work for the city for one day, then took a leave of absence and was legally allowed to collect a $158,000 pension, about five times the average sanitation worker.

Shortly after that, again in Chicago, two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience similarly gamed the system by taking advantage of a new law.

“The legislation enabled union officials to get into the state teachers pension fund and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom. They just had to do it before the bill was signed into law.

“(Lobbyist) Preckwinkle’s one day of subbing qualified him to become a participant in the state teachers pension fund, allowing him to pick up 16 years of previous union work and nearly five more years since he joined. He’s 59, and at age 60 he’ll be eligible for a state pension based on the four-highest consecutive years of his last 10 years of work.

“His paycheck fluctuates as a union lobbyist, but pension records show his earnings in the last school year were at least $245,000. Based on his salary history so far, he could earn a pension of about $108,000 a year, more than double what the average teacher receives.

“His pay for one day as a substitute was $93, according to records of the Illinois Teachers Retirement System.”

In a higher profile case, Reg Weaver was a teacher in Danville earning $60,000 a year. He worked his way up the union food chain and became National Education Association president in 2002. Termed out in 2008, he now makes a yearly $242,657 teachers pension. Weaver has the audacity to defend his outrageous pension which is based on his salary as a union leader. He told the Chicago Tribune,

“I worked seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” Weaver said. “There was not a time when someone was not able to get in touch with me. You ask my family. I didn’t take vacation. I worked in the office long hours. I worked anywhere from 15 hours, 16 hours a day.

“If you want to divide that $240,000 into the amount of hours spent, I think you would find that the per hour was probably not much at all, considering the work that had to be done.”

But what Weaver and some others in Illinois don’t seem to get is that whatever work he may have done for his union, his pension should come from the union, not in large part from the average taxpayer who was never a part of that union. (Memo to the Occupy crowd in Chicago: Why are you not up in arms about this? Or does OWS really stand for “Obviously, We’re Stupid”?)

These cases are egregious, but not just limited to Illinois.

But there is a bigger, more insidious union-involved scandal that is nationwide and ongoing: “release time” from school for teachers who are union reps. These teachers are regularly given time off from their teaching duties so that they can do union business on school time and still be paid…by the district, i.e. the taxpayers. For example, in New York,

The Department of Education pays about 1,500 teachers for time they spend on union activities — and pays other teachers to replace them in the classroom.

“It’s a sweetheart deal that costs taxpayers an extra $9 million a year to pay fill-ins for instructors who are sprung — at full pay — to carry out responsibilities for the United Federation of Teachers.”

“The UFT reimburses the DOE only about $900,000 of nearly $10 million it spends to replace the teachers, officials said.”

Far away from New York, in California’s conservative Orange County, there is a district that has this wording as part of their contract,

“The Association President or designee may utilize one (1) day per week for Association business. The District shall bear the cost of the substitutes.”

Just about every teacher union contract has this kind of screw-the-taxpayer clause written into it, usually in the area that deals with “Association Rights.” Yeah, every time the “Association” asserts a right, the taxpayers take it in the shorts. And all the while students are subject to a steady barrage of subs, which is never a winning formula for a good education.

Yes, “fountain pen” robbery is rampant. The question is when will the people who are footing the bill for these union abuses wake up and demand that their legislators put an end to it. And vote them out if they don’t.

(Larry Sand is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.)

Lawsuit: Evaluate teachers on how much students have learned

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, a group of parents and taxpayers sued the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to make the district follow the law, by evaluating teachers based on how much their students have learned. The judge said in effect that, since this suit was a long time in coming, he would allow the district some time to prepare its response. Therefore, the judge decided not to grant a temporary restraining order. At the same time, he re-stated the contentions of the plaintiffs (technically, petitioners) in a way that shows he has a solid grasp of what is at stake in the suit, and he decided that the case would receive expedited consideration.

LAUSD is being sued by a group that includes Alice Callaghan, a member of the Episcopalian clergy and the manager of Las Familias del Pueblo, a community center for the poor and homeless in downtown Los Angeles. Back in 1996, Callaghan organized 70 Spanish-speaking immigrant parents, who boycotted the Ninth Street Elementary School — calling for an end to failed bilingual-education methods and instead demanding that the school system teach the children of immigrant garment workers academic English as soon as possible.

Callaghan and this different group of parents are suing to enforce the Stull Act.  The law goes back four decades and says that the board of trustees of each school district shall evaluate teachers, at least in part, as reasonably measured by their student’s performance on the state’s standards-based tests. The law says “shall,” not “may.” It is mandatory that each district do this.

(The law is named for its sponsor, now-deceased Republican Assemblyman John Stull of San Diego, who received bipartisan support at the time for this statutory requirement that teachers be held accountable for the academic achievement of their pupils.)

The attorneys for the plaintiffs are Kyle Kirwan, a prominent Los Angeles litigator, and Scott Witlin, both partners at the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg.  Their request for a court order was drafted in consultation with EdVoice, a Sacramento-based education-advocacy group.  Before going to court, the plaintiffs sent a letter on Oct. 26 asking the district to comply. The letter stresses that for years the district has engaged in wanton lawlessness. In the letter, the plaintiffs’ attorneys say that the district “refuses to implement the Stull Act in complete abdication of its responsibility to its students, their parents, and the taxpayers of the district.”

The letter says that the district has never evaluated the teachers using student test scores, and, as a consequence, has never told teachers where they stood and counseled them on how to improve in terms of increasing their students’ learning – all of which are required by the law.  “In short, the district has never complied with the Stull Act.”

The letter also points to the involvement of the teachers’ union United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) in this lawbreaking. Compliance with the law, the letter says, has been “deliberately evaded” through a series of “complicitous” collective-bargaining agreements between the LAUSD and UTLA, at the expense of students — who deserve effective teachers.

Specifically, the district has been pretending that it can avoid compliance with the Stull Act by making collective-bargaining agreements with the teachers’ union that overrule a statute (the Stull Act) passed by the state legislature.  It doesn’t work that way.  Valid contracts are written under and within the law, not in violation of the law. The lawsuit seeks to end this make-believe in the service of lawbreaking.

In their Nov. 1 petition for a court order, the plaintiffs’ attorneys say that the UTLA has treated the public school system in Los Angeles as “a taxpayer-funded jobs and entitlement program” for adults, even when a teacher‘s performance would be considered “demonstrably unsatisfactory” when judged by pupil results.

The petition described how the teachers’ union adopted a strategy of “stonewalling” when it came to putting the Stull Act into effect. “In collusion with the District‘s governing boards and superintendents,” the petition says, the teachers’ union has blocked lawful evaluation of teachers and the “corrective action” needed to ensure that students get effective teachers.

As a consequence, “the adults‘ collective employment and political interests” are turning the children’s opportunity for learning while in school “on its head” and instead the system is providing job guarantees to teachers as well as “preserving the political power of the Board and the Superintendent.” All of this comes at the expense of children — particularly the “socio-economically disadvantaged.”

These shenanigans by the district and the union have been presented to the public in a way that is designed to pull the wool over people’s eyes: “The result has been a perversion of the evaluation system and a knowing effort to deceive the public using educational jargon.”

Witlin, one of the attorneys, told education policy analyst and blogger  RiShawn Biddle: “The school district is supposed to exist for the benefit of the children and not for the adults.”

The teacher evaluation program that is in place in Los Angeles, according to the petition, “does not comply with the Stull Act” and “perpetuates a fraud on the community” by letting teachers get high evaluation ratings whether or not their students are learning the material listed in the curriculum-content standards.

The petition cites damning statements from LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy in which he condemns his own evaluation program for teachers. For example, he recently said: “I would argue that nobody has told me that the current system of evaluation, which is performance review, helps anybody. It is fundamentally useless. It does not actually help you get better at [your] work and it doesn‘t tell you how well you’re doing.”

Superintendent Deasy also stated: “One would have to argue: ‘So … there are schools where 3 percent of the students are proficient at math and 100 percent of the teachers are at the top rating performance.’ That doesn‘t make sense to me whatsoever. And it doesn‘t make sense because the rating performance does not actually help teachers get better.”

In terms of what actually happens, the district is condemned out its own mouth.

Back on March 13, 2011, retired Los Angeles school district teacher Doug Lasken and I wrote an opinion column for the San Francisco Chronicle about non-compliance with the Stull Act in Los Angeles and other California districts – so I could not be happier about this lawsuit, which may finally bring some justice for Los Angeles schoolchildren after years of the district’s deliberate dodging of the law.  Success in Los Angeles will mean that districts across California will have to begin evaluating teachers properly and getting struggling employees the extra help they need to become effective teachers.

LAUSD has been negotiating with UTLA to try to put in place a pilot program with three percent of district teachers, who would be evaluated in part on student performance on the state’s standards-based tests. But these negotiations are deadlocked because of the refusal of UTLA to even study the idea of complying with the law.

The plaintiffs in this case reject the proposed pilot program, which has no guarantee of ever having meaningful evaluations that actually count, even for the volunteer participants in the pilot. They point out that LAUSD has a record of “years of non-compliance” with the Stull Act and that there is no reason to believe that the pilot would even expand to the other 97 percent of teachers. “Sadly, the District has abdicated its duty to the children.” The plaintiffs demand instead that LAUSD comply with the Stull Act as soon as practically possible “in its entirety.”

(Bill Evers is a research fellow and member of the Koret K-12 Education Task Force at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development from 2007-2009.)

The Rich Aren’t Dispossessing The Rest

The Congressional Budget Office’s  just published Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007 found an increasing concentration of income over that period, ranging from 275 percent income growth for the top 1 percent of households and 65 percent growth for the rest of the top 20 percent down to 18 percent growth for the lowest 20 percent of household incomes.

The CBO report was instantly used by liberals to repeat their “the rich are getting richer at everyone else’s expense” mantra.  Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) called it “just the latest evidence of the alarming rise in income inequality in America,” and the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson called the result “a nation starkly divided between haves and have nots.”

One obvious issue is whether a year during a housing bubble and stock boom provides valid information about inequality in the current very different post-bubble world.

Unfortunately, there is also a far larger problem.  The CBO report cannot support such conclusions.  As Thomas Sowell explains, ”Although discussions have been phrased in terms of people, the actual empirical evidence cited has been about what has been happening over time to statistical categories–and that turns out to be the direct opposite of what has happened over time to flesh-and-blood human beings, most of whom move from one category to another.”

In other words, the increasingly unequal rich versus poor class warfare rhetoric (e.g., the OWS imagery of the 1% versus the 99%) falsely equates individuals with statistical categories, although they behave very differently.

Perhaps the clearest rejection of the increasingly unequal classes interpretation is in a 2007 Treasury study, titled Income Mobility in the U.S. from 1996 to 2005.  Following individual tax return data over a time period when statistical categories showed increasing income concentration at the top, it found far different results.

The Treasury found that those with the very highest incomes in 1996—the top 1/100 of 1%—had their incomes halved by 2005 (missed by using statistical classes, because such decreases move people out of the top category).  That hardly shows a class of rich growing ever richer at the expense of other classes.

Other income categories revealed a similar story.  From 1996 to 2005, the incomes of those originally in the top 1% and 5% both declined; the incomes of those originally in the top 20% increased 10%; but those originally in the bottom 20% saw a 91% increase in income (missed by using statistical classes, because such increases move people out of the lowest 20%).

A 2003 Treasury study of the top 400 income earners from 1992 to 2000 found similar individual mobility between income categories, including “the rich” migrating downward (thus dropping out of the top 400), rather than forming a permanent overclass.  Over those years, thousands of different people made it into the top 400, with less than one in seven in that category more than twice, and less than one in four in it more than once.

Earlier studies also found a great deal of income mobility.  W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm found that between 1975 and 1991, only 5% of those with incomes originally in the bottom 20% were still there at the end.  In contrast, that same group was more than fifteen times as likely to have been in the top 40% in at least once and almost 6 times as likely to have been in the top 20 percent at least once.

The liberal interpretation of the latest CBO study is little more than a verbatim repetition of what they have claimed for years.  Unfortunately, considering people instead of statistical categories rejects their “the rich increasingly dispossessing the rest” interpretation, as well as its implied need for ever-more government redistribution.  Why do they keep ignoring that more relevant evidence?  Because misrepresentation lets them sell their preferred story line more effectively, buying them more elective offices and power.

(Gary Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University.)

Eliminate College Tenure – Flunk the Faculty

There are two solutions to the problem of the high cost of college.  The first:  just don’t go.  It’s crazy expensive, you’ll be buried in student loans, and the return on investment for a college education today is highly questionable.

The second solution is to eliminate tenure.  Why should some professors, adept at playing politics, have job security, and others not?  Who can demonstrate that tenured professors are better educators?  Take the average professor, just add tenure, and nine times out of 10 you’ve got the academic equivalent of Vernon Wells.

“Publish or perish” is no joke to academics: if they don’t have at least one published book, or a bunch of articles in prestigious journals, or at least some interesting Twitter posts, they will not get tenure. If they don’t get tenure, they’ll have to do what the rest of us do for a living: make sense. Create value. Justify their existence to their employer.  Or get a real job.

Education, like healthcare, increases in cost far in excess of inflation, because both education and healthcare are driven by two powerful market forces: salaries and waste. Society pays much attention these days to the bloated, overcomplicated, creaking medical system.  That’s because we’re all getting older.   Not to be overly depressing, we’ll all get sick and die, and we’d rather someone else pay our medical bills.

Less attention is paid to the burgeoning cost of higher education because most voters have already completed their education. Unless we have college-age or almost college-age children, the high cost of education is immaterial to our lives. The problem is that most young people come out of college and especially graduate and professional school so saddled with debt that they can barely afford to get their adult lives started. It’s hard to get a home loan when your debt-to-income level makes your balance sheet look like a South American banana republic.  Or a European democracy, for that matter.

I taught freshman English for several years at a small, private college south of Boston. There, I made a startling discovery: most people in college shouldn’t even be in college. They should be working, learning a trade, or just getting married and starting a family. Unfortunately, we have fallen prey to the hype that without a college degree, your child will be ill-equipped to face the rigors of the marketplace. Now, too late, we discover that even with a college degree, our kids are so deeply mired in debt that they can’t pursue their dreams and must therefore grab practically any job that comes along. Or go camping on Wall Street.

And while your college educated kid is sleeping on the couch in your basement, or Occupy-ing something, his or her tenured professors are buying rental property.  With your money.

Ah, but what happens to professors who don’t get tenure, often because they are the wrong gender (male) and possessed of the wrong political views (conservative)?

The “lucky” ones find stable, non-tenured positions at colleges and universities often at some distance from their homes. They become academic nomads, but at least they’re teaching regularly and, even more important, eating regularly.

Others, less fortunate, pick up class hours at various community colleges, commuter schools, and other places of questionable academic repute and thus cobble together an all-too-often meager living educating the next generation.

They may be just as effective in the classroom, or even more effective, than their research-and writing-oriented brethren and, um, sistren. Let’s say they make $50 an hour teaching in a community college. With benefits, let’s call it an $75 an hour. The average class lasts thirty hours, so they gross $2,250 a class. If they teach four classes in a semester, their earnings work out to about $11,000 a semester.

You can hardly feed a cat on $11,000 a year, let alone pay off your own college and grad school loans, rent a share of an apartment somewhere west of Riverside, and lease a Kia.

But what’s that we see in the college on the hill? Tenured professors making $150,000 to $170,000 a year, teaching the same number of classes or fewer–and burning considerably less gas–than their community college colleagues?

If it is a public college or university, then we the taxpayers are paying for those cushy lifestyles. If it is a private college, the money is coming out of Mom and Dad’s 401(k), now a 201(k), or the student is taking out a loan, or both.

College educations have been sold to Americans as a necessity in order to compete in the economy. In actuality, they consist of a massive wealth transfer from the savings accounts of older Americans and the future income potential of younger Americans and taxpayers to those individuals tenacious, politically astute and politically correct enough to get tenure.

Maybe those professors know something the rest of us don’t know:  how to charge five to ten times the value of what they provide, with Mom, Dad, Junior, and Uncle Sam footing the bill.

Back to publish or perish.  Academics live and die for a book deal with an academic publisher.  No money involved; just the peculiar prestige of publishing a book that few will ever read.  That professor is thus able to charge five to ten times as much as a non-tenured prof for teaching the same class.  Add in salaries, benefits, and pensions, and the tenured crowd isn’t just eating their lunch.  They’re eating yours.

(Michael Levin is a New York Times bestselling author and runs www.BusinessGhost.com, America’s leading provider of ghostwritten business books.)

An Insatiable Appetite for Taxpayer Dollars

Halloween is almost here and like a hoard of ravenous zombies, the politicians, the bureaucrats and government employee union bosses shamble along groaning “more, more” — more taxpayer dollars, that is. They are accompanied by ghoulish cadre of minions including the occasional academic from a taxpayer supported institution and a handful of left-wing think tanks, followed by a gaggle of columnists and reporters who long ago abandoned objectivity when writing about Proposition 13.

But the zombie army with its insatiable appetite for other people’s money is being held in check by the general public’s overwhelming support for Proposition 13, with its limitations on annual property tax increases and its mandate that new state taxes be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. A September Field Poll reveals that Proposition 13 enjoys the same or a greater level of support than it received when it was passed by a nearly two-thirds vote 33 years ago.

The response by the minority with the great hunger for tax dollars has been to launch even more desperate and shrill attacks on Proposition 13.

In the last week we saw one opinion piece, disguised as a news article, that parrots the arguments made by those who would repeal Proposition 13’s protections for taxpayers. The story, appearing in Bloomberg News, repeats the canard that Proposition 13 is responsible for California’s decline in educational excellence. Nowhere does it mention that the California Supreme Court ruled in 1971, seven years before the passage of Proposition 13, that property tax revenue could no longer be used as the basis of education funding. Also unmentioned is that in inflation adjusted dollars, California now spends 30% more per student than it did prior to the passage of Proposition 13.

Moreover, the same slanted piece of journalism regurgitated the favorite theme of the “progressive left,” that business is not paying its “fair share” under Proposition 13. Why don’t we read that when taken as a class, business properties have been assessed at closer to market value than residential properties? This is due to the fact that business properties are improved more frequently and that these improvements trigger an upward reassessment.

The article repeats charges that corporations are gaming the system by not reporting changes in ownership that would trigger reassessment to market value under Proposition 13. Yet the example provided as proof, a Santa Monica beach front hotel, actually reports that the Assessment Appeals Board ruled against the hotel owners and they are now compelled to pay taxes based on change of ownership. No gaming the system here.

The article quotes an assistant school superintendent as saying funding is a “nightmare” — again nothing to do with Proposition 13, as education funding is provided by the Legislature — but nowhere is the “nightmare” for homeowners, many of whom were losing their homes to the tax collector prior to Proposition 13, described.

Then there is State Senator Kevin deLeon, who is given space in the Los Angeles Times to campaign for the elimination of the two-thirds vote for tax increases imposed by the Legislature, that is a requirement of Proposition 13. The senator makes the absurd claim that voters are clamoring for higher taxes, but they are thwarted by a “tyrannical minority.” But when the voters are actually asked if they want higher taxes, they repeatedly vote no. In fact, in 2009 voters rejected by nearly 2-1 a $16 billion tax extension proposal that deLeon still wants to impose. California voters have rejected every statewide tax increase proposal on the ballot since November of 2004.

Relying on urban myths, the underlying assumption in both Palmeri’s and deLeon’s pieces is that Californians are under taxed. But voters in this state know better. We rank 6th in overall tax burden relative to other states, have the highest state sales tax rate, have the highest gas tax and, even with Proposition 13, we rank 14th out of 50 in per capita property tax collections. In addition to being an indisputably high tax state, our economic woes are compounded by the fact that we have the highest paid public employees in all 50 states, we repeatedly rank dead last as a place to do business due to high taxes and suffocating regulations, and our Democrat Governor and Legislature are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the government employees unions. Halloweens come and go, but sadly, Sacramento’s tax increase zombies remain in place.

That, more than anything, is why California voters have rejected the last several proposed statewide tax increases and why there is a nearly universal cry to “Leave Prop 13 Alone!”

(Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association – California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.)

Principles of Plenty

We are in the third year of policies predicated on the assumption that if Government just injects enough money into the economy, it can jump start consumer spending and therefore, economic growth.

For three years, this administration has squandered more than a trillion dollars of the nation’s wealth in pursuit of this assumption.

In so doing, it has incurred a debt greater than that acquired by this nation from the first day of the George Washington administration to the last day of the George H.W. Bush administration.

It has cost our nation its triple-A credit rating and it now threatens to bankrupt our country.

And not only have its policies not worked, but they have needlessly prolonged and deepened our economic suffering.

These policies have not worked because they CANNOT work.  Government cannot inject a single dollar into the economy until it has first taken that dollar out of the very same economy.

It is true that if I take a dollar from Peter and give it to Paul, Paul’s going to have an extra dollar to spend.  He is going to take that dollar into a local shop – maybe a car dealership – and buy something.  The shopkeeper is going to order more inventory, the manufacturer is going to order more resources, and that dollar will, indeed, ripple through the economy.

The problem is that they completely ignore the other half of the equation – Peter now has one LESS dollar to spend in that very same economy – one less dollar to ripple along.

In some ways, this is counter-intuitive, because we can SEE the job that is saved or created when the government puts that dollar back into the economy.  What we can’t see as clearly are the jobs that are destroyed or prevented from forming because government has first taken that dollar OUT of the economy.  After all, you can’t see something that doesn’t exist.  But we do see those millions of lost jobs in a chronic unemployment rate and a stagnating economy.

Much of the money for this folly is borrowed – as if somehow that has no detriment to the current economy.  But where does that borrowed money come from?  It doesn’t magically materialize as a gift from the future – it comes from the same capital pool that would otherwise have been available to loan to small businesses seeking to expand, or to homebuyers seeking to re-enter the housing market or to consumers seeking to make consumer purchases.

We all know from our personal experience, that when you borrow money, the people you borrow it from generally like for you to pay it back. In fact, in my experience, they insist on it.

Thus, as a matter of inescapable reality, if you live beyond your means today, you will have to live below your means tomorrow.   That is the tomorrow that we are creating for our posterity.  In a very real sense, we are witnessing the biggest intergenerational transfer of wealth in our nation’s history, deliberately impoverishing our children and grandchildren to pay for our own folly.

Economists tell us that income transfers always, ever, and in all cases will produce zero economic growth in theory.

In practice, such income transfers net to much LESS than zero economic growth – because we are transferring huge amounts of capital from investments that would have been made by investors calculated strictly on economic return to politicians calculated strictly on political return.

Government cannot create jobs, because government cannot create wealth.

Government can transfer jobs from the productive sector to the government sector by taking capital from one and giving it to the other.  It can transfer jobs from losers to winners in the market by taking capital from one and giving it to another.

Solyndra, for example, created 1,100 jobs as it was raking in a half-billion dollars of taxpayer money.  Eleven hundred jobs for half a billion dollars.  That was $450,000 for every job.  Of course, when the money ran out, those 1,100 Solyndra jobs ran out too – and at the end of the day we are a half-billion dollars poorer as a nation and those same people are once again out of work.

And Solyndra is not alone.  Evergreen Solar, a stimulus contract recipient, declared bankruptcy in May.  Spectra Watt, a stimulus contract recipient, declared bankruptcy in August.  EVP Solar declared bankruptcy in February.  BP solar and Solon North America both closed major facilities.  I don’t know how many millions of dollars each of them took out of job formation.  I know this: the government claimed it was saving or creating jobs with this money.  Now the money is gone and so are the jobs.

Allow me to give you another example, closer to home: “Cash for Clunkers,” the $3 billion program to pay people to buy new cars and to destroy the used cars.

How did that one work out?

Economists at Edmunds.com asked that very question.  And they discovered that of the 690,000 cars sold under “Cash for Clunkers,” 565,000 sales would have happened anyway.  That means that the taxpayers ended up paying $24,000 for every genuine sale it actually “stimulated.”

It gets worse.  All that the program accomplished was to entice people to move up their purchase decisions by a few months – which then caused below-normal sales in the months that followed.  In other words, Congress spent $3 billion creating a car bubble.

And by destroying 690,000 used cars, they artificially drove prices higher for the hundreds of thousands of lower-income buyers who would have otherwise purchased those cars, along with all the transactions that would have created.

It was recently calculated that if the economy had taken the same path as it did after Ronald Reagan inherited even worse unemployment from Jimmy Carter, 15 million more Americans would be working today and per capita income would be $4,000 higher than it is today.

Government cannot create jobs. But it can create the conditions in which jobs either flourish or whither.

It is freedom and freedom only that creates jobs.

It works the same whether it’s a multi-million dollar business deal or simply purchasing a cup of coffee.

What happens in that transaction?

When I hand you a dollar for a cup of coffee – I’m telling you that your cup of coffee is worth more to me than my dollar.  And at the very same time, you’re telling me that my dollar is worth more to you than your cup of coffee.  We make that exchange, and both of us go away richer than we were – both of us go away with something of greater value than we brought.

But now suppose some third party butts its nose into this transaction.  “The coffee must be served between 100 and 130 degrees; it must be in a biodegradable container; condiments must be available within ten feet of the point of sale, it must be covered if it is to be consumed more than 25 feet from the point of sale or the point of condiment dispensing, whichever is farther,” and on and on.

Every one of these restrictions will reduce the value of that transaction for one or both parties until the value is gone and the transaction no longer takes place.

Freedom creates jobs: the ability of two individuals to make exchanges that benefit both.  When that freedom is suffocated by an avalanche of regulations, jobs disappear.  That’s what we’re watching in real time: thousands of pages of new regulations from Obamacare, from Dodd-Frank, from the EPA stifling American jobs.

The congressional budget office estimates that Obamacare by itself will cost the economy a net loss of 800,000 jobs and the Medicare actuary estimates it will cost us $300 billion more than we would otherwise spend.

A few weeks ago, the Natural Resources committee received testimony that just by getting out of the way and opening up American oil and gas resources to development, the government could generate 700,000 jobs and $600 billion of revenues to the national treasury, along with $60 billion to state governments.

Repeal Obamacare and open up American oil and gas resources – there’s 1.5 million jobs right there – not only does that not cost the government a penny – it saves consumers $300 billion in health care costs and generates $660 billion of state and federal tax revenues without raising taxes.

It’s no secret why business isn’t expanding – just ask a businessman.

They’re scared to death of the additional taxes and regulations they may be facing in the next few years and are pulling back to see what happens.  Ask bankers why they’re not lending and you’ll hear the same answer.

And the real danger is this: History offers us not a single example of a nation that has ever spent and borrowed and taxed its way to economic prosperity.  But it offers us many, many examples of nations that have spent and borrowed and taxed their way to economic ruin and bankruptcy.

And today, history is screaming this warning at us: “Nations that bankrupt themselves aren’t around very long.”  Because before you can provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty – you have to be able to pay for them – and the ability of our nation to do so is now coming into grave question.

Here’s the good news, and there’s a lot of it.

We know how to revive an economy – because we’ve done it many times before.

When people say this is the worst economy since the depression, I remember a time when we not only had double-digit unemployment but double-digit inflation, mile-long lines around gas stations and interest rates at 21 ½ percent.

Maybe we don’t remember those times as vividly because they didn’t last very long.  That was the end of the Carter administration.  We had just elected Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan diagnosed the nation’s problems very differently than the current administration.  In his inaugural address, Reagan declared, “In this economic crisis, government is not the solution to our problems, government IS the problem.

He reduced the tax and regulatory burdens that were crushing the economy and produced one of the biggest economic expansions in American history.

There wasn’t anything new in this.  John F. Kennedy did the same thing in the early 1960’s, with the same result.  Warren Harding did the same thing in the early 1920’s, with the same result.

In 1945, Harry S. Truman abolished the excess profits tax.  He slashed federal income taxes.  In Fiscal Year 1946, Truman cut federal spending from $85 billion to $30 billion in a single year.  He fired ten million federal employees.  (It was called war demobilization).  The Keynesians at the time predicted 25 percent unemployment and a second great depression.  Instead, we had the post-war economic boom that produced unprecedented prosperity for America’s middle and working classes.

When Bill Clinton received an election drubbing in 1994, he proclaimed that “the era of big government is over.”  He reduced federal spending by a miraculous three percent of GDP.  He attacked entitlement spending and abolished the open-ended welfare system of the time.  He signed what amounted to the biggest capital gains tax cut in American history.  He turned in the only four budget surpluses in 40 years and produced a prolonged era of economic expansion.

Clinton was followed by George W. Bush.  Bush increased federal spending by a full 2 percent of GDP.  He approved the biggest expansion of entitlement spending since the Great Society.  He turned in record budget deficits and began the era of stimulus spending in the spring of 2008 that was supposed to jump-start the economy. And he presided over an unprecedented era of government intervention in the housing and financial markets that created the massive housing bubble and the bailouts that followed.

That’s the flip-side.  We also know what doesn’t work.  The problem is, that’s what we keep doing.

Herbert Hoover responded to the recession of 1929 with massive government intervention, starting with the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, a steep tax on some 20,000 imported items.  He increased federal spending by 60 percent in just four years.  He increased federal income taxes from 25 percent to 63 percent.

And he managed to turn the recession of 1929 into the depression of the 1930’s.

Franklin Roosevelt simply doubled down and amplified on those mistakes.

After nearly a decade of Keynesian experiments with massive deficits and unprecedented stimulus spending, unemployment stubbornly hovered above 17 percent.

On May 9, 1939, Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, made an anguished and heart-felt admission during a meeting with Democratic Members of the House Ways and Means Committee.

He said, “No gentlemen, we have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.  And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong as far as I am concerned, somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous.  I want to see people get a job.  I want to see people get enough to eat.  We have never made good on our promises … I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started … And an enormous debt to boot!”

Benjamin Franklin once observed that experience keeps a dear school but fools will learn in no other.  The last few years in Washington have proved that there are some people who can’t even learn from experience.

Fortunately, the American people have learned, and from the decisions they made last year and will make again next year, we may yet avert the tragedy of another Treasury Secretary admitting mistakes that cost America a completely avoidable decade of distress.

I agree with President Obama on one thing: 13 months is a long time to wait for relief.  But unless and until he reverses his policies, I’m afraid that’s the immediate future for our country.

The last thing we should do is to take his advice and massively increase taxes on 88 percent of small business net income – which is at the core of his so-called jobs bill – at just the time when we’re depending on small businesses to produce 2/3 of the new jobs in this economy.  To massively raise their taxes and expect them to respond with an explosion of new jobs is simply insane.

Lincoln put it best when he said, “the voters are everything.  If the voters get their backsides too close to the fire, they’ll just have to sit on the blisters a while.”

It’s a painful experience – but it’s a learning experience.  And at the end of that process, we emerge sadder and wiser.

And that’s what we must constantly bear in mind – that our nation hasn’t been struck down by some mysterious act of God.  These are all acts of government and are fully within our power as a people to change.

We have already seen the results of that awakening last November in one of the greatest watershed elections in American history.  In that single night, the nation saw a net shift of 63 U.S. House seats from Democrat to Republican, 6 U.S. Senate seats, 19 state legislatures, 6 governors and more than 680 state legislative seats.

But, for some very good reasons, our constitutional system is specifically designed NOT to turn on a single election, but on a series of elections.

The last election, despite its dramatic results, only changed one half of one third of the decision making apparatus of the federal government.

The next election is 13 months away, and upon the outcome of that election depends the future of our nation and the prosperity of our people.

The good news is that that day is coming, and the economy is very dynamic.  For good or ill, it responds rapidly to changes in public policy.

So I must tell you that I cannot offer you a great deal of optimism over the next year, because of the policies now in place.  I think it will be difficult.

But I have great faith in our political institutions, in the judgment of our people when they are paying rapt attention to events – as they now are – and in the resilience of a free economy.

Two years from now- I believe we will be able not just to tell our children what it feels like when it is morning again in America – but to be able to show them.

(Speech by Congressman McClintock given to the California Independent Automobile Dealers Association.)

Make a Difference – Join Innovators and Friends to Fight Pancreatic Cancer

On October 5th, I found myself in Washington, D.C. as part of a delegation of 60 California business leaders who met with twenty-two members of Congress to discuss what Congress is doing to help promote a more business-friendly environment for my state and the nation as a whole.

The trip happened to coincide with a “grass-tops” lobbying day for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the national organization fighting this disease in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure . The organization is working to pass the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act – S.362 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 733 in the U.S. House of Representatives, which will ensure that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) develops a long-term comprehensive strategic plan for developing early diagnostics and treatment options that will increase the survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients.

I spent most of October 5th in the U.S. Capitol talking about pancreatic cancer research, the need for innovation, and a strategic plan of action. On the plane ride back to California, I learned that Steve Jobs passed away from a rare form of pancreatic cancer (pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors).

Several days earlier, Dr. Ralph Steinman, who won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine, also died of the disease.  His life had been extended thanks to the immune therapy for which he was being awarded the Nobel Prize. Dr. Steinman believed in human clinical investigation and criticized how slowly the process was moving forward.  He devoted himself to research with the hope of making a difference in the lives of other people.  He wanted to break down barriers and advance effective treatments.

Unlike Jobs’ form of cancer, Dr. Steinman had the most common kind of pancreatic cancer.  Roughly ninety-five percent of pancreatic cancers are classified as adenocarcinoma tumors – with a 5-year survival rate of only six percent.  They begin in the exocrine cells that produce enzymes to aid in digestion.  This is different than pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor – also known as islet cell tumors – the type that Steve Jobs had which accounts for less than five percent of all pancreatic cancer tumors.

Whether it’s connecting with your member of Congress or participating locally in events and fundraising to battle the disease, something needs to be done that will make an immeasurable difference for those who are fighting the disease or for those who lose their battle with pancreatic cancer like Steve Jobs and Dr. Ralph Steinman and thousands of mothers, fathers, husband, wives, and loved ones did. Now is the time take a moment to learn and another to act.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s talking points on the legislation they’ve proposed begins: “We’re not making progress on pancreatic cancer and the consequences are deadly.”

I know this to be true – not just from Jobs and Steinman – but from having the very sad and personal experience of losing my own mother who was stricken with the disease a year ago this month.  Her journey from diagnosis to death was a short three and a half months.  It led me to this greater calling and action.

When I started Mom’s journey with her, I thought of pancreatic cancer as a disease that strikes the very old.  Through her journey and over the last six months, I have gained a greater sense of awareness of the disease and its nearly always fatal outcome.  It strikes young and old.  Of the five top causes of cancer death in the last ten years, pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cancer killer and continues to be the least funded among the top five.

This chart shows the lack of progress on pancreatic cancer funding.

If you’re looking for a way to honor those lives that have been touched by pancreatic cancer, consider joining thousands of people across the country and participate in one of over 55 PurpleLight National Vigil for Hope events on November 20, 2011. The Bay Area Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network PurpleLight event will be in San Jose at the James P. McEntee Sr. Plaza at the Santa Clara County Administration Building and will honor loved ones fighting pancreatic cancer and those who have lost the fight like my Mom, Steve Jobs and Dr. Ralph Steinman.  You can email me at [email protected] to learn more or visit our national website at www.pancan.org.

Whatever you do, take a moment to make a difference to fight this disease and support our efforts to promote scientific progress in a strategic way.

(Judy Lloyd is a senior manager and strategist specializing in government affairs, community outreach, development and public relations. She has served in notable leadership roles in government, the private sector and her community for more than 28 years.)