By Ed Ring, executive director, California Policy Center
Back in February 2014 the California Policy Center publicly announced the Transparent California website, developed in partnership with the Nevada Policy Research Institute. An article covering this announcement was posted on the Forbes Magazine website, entitled “Hundreds Of California Government Employees Are Paid Over $400,000 A Year,” which a review of 2013 Transparent California data (2014 data is still being assembled) easily confirms. As a matter of fact, in 2013, total compensation in excess of $400,000 was paid to 1,292 public servants in California. A staggering 2,818 of California’s public employees collected total compensation in excess of $300,000 in 2013.
Some have argued that it is misleading to claim people are making, for example, over $400,000 per year, when in fact the $400,000 being referenced is total compensation, not regular earnings. We reject this argument categorically. It is incumbent on anyone who assesses compensation to treat total compensation as the only valid measurement both for comparative purposes and, especially, when considering employer costs. Total compensation represents the actual cost to the employer, and it represents the actual value earned by the employee. Every penny of total compensation, whether it’s to fund future retirement benefits or to pay for current benefits such as health insurance, is something a worker will have to pay for themselves out of their regular earnings, unless it is instead paid for by the employer.
When talking about how much we pay our public servants, we contend that it is misleading to reference anything but total compensation.
Airbnb isn’t just making New York affordable for tourists, it’s making it (more) affordable for people who live in the city.
Have an extra bedroom? Why not rent it out a couple of nights a week to help make ends meet? The rent is $5000/month so every little bit helps.
But the hoteliers don’t like people doing this and they, like the cab companies battling Uber are fighting Airbnb in the courts and at City Hall instead of tailoring their product to a new, more competitive marketplace.
When crony capitalism gets really really serious on a personal level.
Oil got hammered over 8% today. Stocks in the US 3% roughly.
This is largely driven by reality hitting China, the Ultimate Crony Capitalist State, and reality hitting investors around the world who have ridden the Fed driven asset inflation of the last few years. As we have said there are huge, massive, pockets of monetary cotton candy in markets which will collapse sooner or later.
But don’t worry, supposedly China has another dose of “stimulus” on the way. That ought to make things better.
Below are a few of the articles we have done on markets and China in the past 6 months or so for your information.
Socialism is death. It is sold as life of course. It is sold as a way to get even with those nasty capitalists with their “greed driven” profit motives. A way to bring heaven to earth. Better to let the cronies in government manage things than the people in a free economy. The cronies only have your best interests in mind.
Socialists prey on the ignorant and hopeless.
Socialism is a kind of religion. It has many offshoots and schisms, but fundamentally it is about all too fallible cronies telling other people what to do, and these same cronies thinking that they are smarter than the market. This is the faith.This is the religion. It is about power OVER people. But again, it is sold as liberation.
The way out of poverty is through capitalism, free enterprise, free markets, and free prices. But so many people who I believe honestly want to do good do not understand this. They believe that central planning and aid from “rich countries” will solve the world’s problems even though they have only worsened things in aggregate around the world for decades.
Where poor people can build wealth and enjoy property rights and honest pricing the tendency is toward prosperity. Where there is government intervention, where the government or connected cronies can just seize the limited wealth of the poor (often in the name of “justice”), where prices are obfuscated, there is poverty and misery.
We do not believe in free prices and free markets because we want to keep “what’s ours.” We believe in them because we know, and have seen, how much better capitalism is for everyday people than state intervention and its associated cronyism.
In order for a society to truly proper people need both personal liberty and economic liberty, which are actually one and the same. Capitalism allows for both and offers a path out of poverty. (Not that it is always easy.) But many people just refuse to see this. It fundamentally conflicts with everything they’ve been told, to date.
Why have we focused so much attention on China as of late? First because the Chinese economy is huge and hugely important to the overall world economy. Second because China is, as we say, The Ultimate Crony Capitalist State. It is an economy built on fiat. It is an economy built on commands from on high. It is an economy with massive potential, potential which to some degree has been actualized, but which is undermined by cronyism and central planning.
China in many respects is a cautionary tale.
China will continue to grow. It will continue its rise as a great power. But it is increasingly obvious that the Chinese model is not one to emulate.
China is going all coo coo bananas here lately. Not that arresting journalists and other people is outside the norm for The Ultimate Crony Capitalist State, but still. Tianjin, the yuan devaluation, the stock crash, this new explosion, the big military parade on the 3rd. Lots of stuff going on. Lots to keep the jailers busy.
The EPA in many respects, and certainly in this case, is out of control. Truly, there seems a massive divergence between the sane, rational people out in America and the environmental agency in Washington DC which thinks crushing a private citizen under the wheel of the state is perfectly OK.
This is abuse. Actually it’s worse than that.
Will the FCC under “Net neutrality” kill an important and promising area of innovation in medicine, “mobile medicine”?
The FCC may not kill such innovation completely but it may slow it down, likely by a lot. This is a particular shame as the people who may benefit most from “mobile medicine” are the poor and otherwise isolated and marginalized.
We say often that fundamentally there is little real difference between the establishments in the Democratic and Republican parties. The below graph sums it up pretty well.
So it makes sense to have a lobbying firm which is comfortable dealing with whomever. Because in the end, Republican or Democrat it really does come down to just getting paid.
(From The Intercept)
The founders of Rokk Solutions, a new political consulting firm that serves corporate trade associations and other lobbying ventures, offer their clients an unusual value proposition: whichever party triumphs, they’ll have had a hand in a big-money group that can claim victory.
While bipartisan political consulting firms are a dime a dozen in Washington, D.C., what makes Rokk noteworthy is that it is comprised of campaign operatives with major roles in two big-money groups — one Democratic, one Republican — expected to play major roles in the 2016 elections.
Click here for the article.
And as reported in the below article many of these very powerful and monied groups lobby on issues which are of little importance from a business perspective to their members.
Calls to reform, audit, and even eliminate the Federal Reserve have been growing in recent years. We certainly call for an end to the Fed and I encourage anyone interested in monetary policy and the Federal Reserve to read Free Prices Now by ACC co-founder Hunter Lewis. Hunter is a scholar of the highest order and a remarkably successful financier. If you want to understand the sins of the Federal Reserve read his book.
But many people already understand the sins of the Fed and many of these people gathered in a counter summit to the party the Federal Reserve was having this week in Jackson Hole Wyoming. One of the people criticizing the Fed was Benn Steil who, believe it or not, is a director of international economics at The Council on Foreign Relations.
The rule of law (and not man or woman) is vital to a free society. If might makes right there is little room to do business, to invest, to build wealth, to be secure in one’s person, to be an actualized human being. If contracts can be dismissed and government officials and their cronies (in government and the nominal “private sector”) can do as they please because of their connections, we have a problem. And that is what we have now, and it’s getting worse.
China is, as we say, The Ultimate Crony Capitalist State. Business and government are an amalgam. Long a crony paradise where a premium was placed on compliance and government favor and not on real pricing.
It looks like reality is finally starting to hit however.
About 6 months ago I was talking to a China energy markets analyst and he explained the complexities of implementing a carbon tax regime in the country to me. One bit I found particularly interesting. He explained that no one knew what the real price of energy coming from a particular plant actually was. A mandate from Beijing had been handed down, that energy would cost X amount, and that was the number used for “business.” Everyone knew the official price was way below the actual market rate but it sounded like no one really knew what the market rate was.
One can’t keep running a country like this. One must have real pricing for long term prosperity. The problem is that real pricing can create problems for the political establishment, anywhere, but particularly in China.