American Elephants


Walter Russell Mead on Public Pensions and Municipal Bankruptcies by The Elephant's Child

As long as we’re talking about Puerto Rico, I should include a link to this informative article about a conversation with Walter Russell Mead on public pensions, a problem coming close in Puerto Rico, all over California, in Detroit.

People say: ‘A defined benefit pension from my employer, there’s no risk.’ A big risk is that your employer will go broke.

Adam Shapiro: Well, in the case of public pensions, we’re seeing that happen. And yet, there’s a resistance to reform the process by which we fund these pensions, by which we set the actuarial standards for these pensions, and to have an honest discussion with taxpayers about these pensions, why?

Walter Mead: It is interesting, normally you think of liberals and Democrats as being people who really want to regulate, and particularly they want to regulate the financial markets, in order, as they say, to protect the “little guy.” Well here’s a case in which cities and states are not held to the same standards for their pension funds that any private employer is held to. If in fact, employers did what routinely a lot of cities and states do, they would go to jail.

Shapiro: So why is there no public outcry over this?

Mead: There’s some public outcry. But, unfortunately there’s a kind of a conspiracy between government officials, politicians, and union leaders often. The deal is this: Union leader wants to show the union members, hey belonging to the union is a good thing, I get you benefits. You get more with me than you’d get on your own. So I go into the negotiations with management of the city or the state government and I come back so you’ll say, “wow he’s a great union leader, I don’t begrudge him a penny of his salary because this union is working for me.” Well here’s the problem: If you’re asking for a big raise for members this year, the politicians have to pay it this year. And that means they have to tax the voters, voters don’t like to be taxed to pay for your raise, or they got to cut spending on something else to get the money, well voters don’t like it when politicians cut spending on their favorite programs.

It’s a very interesting conversation, and a video. Walter Russell Mead is a most interesting man of the left.  Do Read or watch the whole thing, or both. There’s a lot more to the video, you may be surprised.

 



Progressive Policies Fail in Puerto Rico by The Elephant's Child

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Puerto Ricans move to the United States all the time, but now Puerto Rico has joined New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois and California as tax-and-spend blue states that are losing residents because of government policy. More than 450,000 Puerto Ricans have left over the past decade, with 1.000 arriving in Orlando, FL every 10 days.

More Puerto Ricans— about 5 million—now live in the continental U.S., according to media reports, than live in Puerto Rico. Doctors are leaving, teachers are leaving, lawyers and engineers are pulling out. Unemployment at 15.2% is higher than the bottom U.S. state (Rhode Island, 9.2%) and far exceeds the national average of 6.7%. Only 35% of the working-age population in Puerto Rico actually works.

The economy is in its eighth year of recession and is expected to contract by another 2% this year. It has plunged roughly 14% since 2006. To solve the commonwealth’s problems—a public debt of $70 billion, a downgraded credit rating, and talk of default—the government has done what the left always does, and has hiked taxes.

They might look to Texas as an example of what to do. Low taxes, no personal state income tax, a light regulatory role and an inviting business climate that encourages 52 Fortune 500 companies, and jobs —252,000 jobs created in 2013 alone. And it has added more than a half-million people, 148,000 from California. Even commonwealths can benefit from such policies.



Navy’s Retention Rates Are Hurt by Focus on Social Issues. by The Elephant's Child

Commander Guy Snodgrass, a Navy F-18 fighter pilot and former Top Gun instructor, wrote at the Naval Institute website that the relentless focus of the senior leadership on social issues — things like women in combat, sexual assault prevention — has demoralized junior and mid-grade officers alike. He said the Navy “has a looming officer retention problem” and added that special operations forces, such as Navy SEALs had their “worst year in history” for retention.

He lists long wartime deployments as a leading retention negative.

He also tackles a touchier issue, what some sailors have referred to as “political correctness,” such as the banning of uniform patches that might offend someone. [...]

“Put simply, there is no dollar amount that can be spent, or amount of training that can be conducted, that will completely eradicate complex issues such as suicide, sexual assault, or commanding officer reliefs for cause—yet we continue to expend immense resources in this pursuit,” he says. “Sailors are bombarded with annual online training, general military training, and safety stand-downs—all in an effort to combat problems that will never be defeated.”

Snodgrass partially attributed the growth of the military’s social conditioning programs and political correctness to pressure from Congress.

I have read elsewhere that contrary to all the flap about women in combat, and the questions about adjusting standards so women could qualify, that few women are actually interested in serving in combat. The president’s interest in downsizing the military both in personnel and equipment, as indicated by his FY 2015 budget request, surely plays a part in retention problems.



If You Can’t Get Enough Americans Signed Up, Go for Illegals.. by The Elephant's Child

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President Obama announced today that 6 million people had enrolled in ObamaCare. There is no evidence that this is true, nor no evidence that any of them have paid up. But he did announce that, and the media reported his words.

Breitbart helpfully reports that:

The Obama administration has been helping to facilitate a series of events nationwide at Mexican Consulate offices to enroll people in ObamaCare — and a key activist says the efforts are “our responsibility” regardless of citizenship.

Health Care insurance navigator groups hosted an ObamaCare enrollment fair on Tuesday in the Mexican Consulate’s Brownsville, Texas, office, the Rio Grande Guardian reported last Friday, where Mexican nationals among other wer counseled about enrolling in the ACA.

According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) undocumented immigrants aren’t supposed to be receiving government-run health benefits or subsidized coverage. The president told Latinos in early March that the Healthcare.gov website would not be used to find out about an individual’s immigration status. “None of the information that is provided in order for  you to obtain health insurance is in any way transferred to immigration services.” he said.

Mexican Consulates are being used to enroll individuals into ObamaCare  in Chicago, Las Vegas, and other cities.

During a speech today at a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event, Vice President Joe Biden said that undocumented immigrants should be given the chance to become citizens and contribute to the country.

These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to be able to contribute fully. And by that standard , eleven million undocumented aliens are already Americans in my view.

Those oaths about faithfully executing the laws — nevermind.

A spokesman for Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said:

One, the possibility that illegal immigrants could fraudulently access federal subsidies; two, that such promotions provide a financial inducement to unlawfully enter the U.S. (or overstay a visa) by offering households headed by illegal immigrants federal subsidies through their legal relatives or dependents; and three, that these activities widen an existing flaw in our legal admissions process by continuing to subvert the principle that those seeking to lawfully enter the US should be financially self-sufficient,” Miller said.

Mexican Consulates have been used previously to advance USDA assistance programs like food stamps to Mexican nationals, The Daily Caller reported in July of 2012. Mexico promoted the program to 50 of its consular offices in the U.S.

These activities certainly cast a bit of suspicion on the White House numbers. If they have plenty of people signed up, they are certainly going to some strange (and probably illegal) efforts to dredge up some more people.



March Afternoon, Unbearable Ennui by The Elephant's Child


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