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27 April 2012


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Earl Crabb

I might take issue that nothing has happened in Nevada County under the current leadership. There has been development, and a few businesses have expanded. Look what the "jobs at any price" mentality has done for Lincoln and Stockton. Grass Valley was right to scrutinize the four proposed SDA's. And its not like there is any shortage of available housing or properties to build single family homes on.
It's certainly true that Sacramento remains the biggest obstacle to prosperity in California, but that's something the locals have little control over.

George Rebane

EarlC 837am - the locals have all the control over providing a facile development environment in Nevada County. There is nothing that outfits like the ERC can tell prospective businesses and developers to attract them to these mountains. They get kicked in the nuts and leave for greener pastures - its all in the numbers.


One day, sitting in the Grass Valley airport lounge, I was privvy to an outburst by a builder absolutely fed up with Nevada County bullpoop that had made his life hell. He'd been building stuff for years in many different counties and thought Nevada County was the worst.

He swore up and down to the airport manager that he'd never erect another building in Nevada County.

The building in question was the new hangar at the airport. Chuck Yeager has one of the units, most of which were sold, some are leased. The last straw for the poor schmuck, who was already weeks behind, was he had to postpone leaving the area for a couple more days for a fire marshall inspection... it seems there was some fire equipment that his building was specifically exempted from requiring, but the inspection of the equipment that wasn't going to be there still had to be performed and signed off. That was just the final nail, the Nevada County comedy had been playing for the couple of years it took to get it all going.

What a town!

Todd Juvinall

The first part of the post regarding the flight of business from California is reflected in our county by the flight of young working families from our environs. That is reflected in the school population drop. We have a few service jobs that seem to be filled by inflow from people living in surrounding counties since the cost of living here is much greater. Gasoline prices are 25 cents a gallon higher here for instance.The county was able to maintain a balanced budget because the builders were building and all ships rose with their tidal work. Now we see the money going backwards and it will not stop since the kids under the dome won't even admit there is a problem and keep shoving more laws down our throats.

I just received my renewal form for my Contractors license yesterday. It rose $60 on a $300 dollar historic amount. What is that, a 20% increase in one year? The rise in fees is done without a vote I guess and I thought it required a 2/3 from the legislature. I will contact the Assemblyman on this. So, we have lost many thousands of contractors of all trades who fled to other state and the Contractors License Board raises the fees rather than laying off people like we would do in the private sector. Isn't this a microcosm of the overall problem? Yes, rather than do the cuts they raise the fees.

Regarding the pension issues. Brown and the unions are in control becasue the left has over time taken our state over politically. Welfare and all the social programs eat up a huge segment of the budget. We have 12% of the country's population and 38% of the welfare cases. Good weather? We het nothing but nothing and all the welfare/medicaid/housing assistance/etc. ids a double whammy on all the taxpayers. The pensions are too high and somehow, if they are not forced to be fixed the state is toast.

Todd Juvinall

Oh, and as far as the rules. Yes the state requires a "general plan" which has been litigated since their inception in the 70's to become the landuse "constitution" . CEQA too has been litigated ad nauseum to also become a "sacrosanct" mechanism to stop or delay most everything. Those two documents along with local "zoning" ordinance add millions to the costs and most of the time achieve nothing. The eco groups have long learned the joy of eco extortion using these laws to get something (money mostly). The Martis Valley developments and the Tahoe area developments are good examples of this extortion technique. The K-Mart that was approved in Truckee was my first experience in seeing the eco extortion succeed. Of course with the help of a wimp local judge. The KMart never was built.

George Rebane

None dare call it Agenda21.

Douglas Keachie

Greg, remarkably funny/sad story. Let's see, 20 years of service as a full time employee, with me paying in 1/2 towards STRS, results in $1,750/month pension, and that is too much? The ten years of off and on subbing gets no credit whatsoever. ALL of the social security paid in over 40 years (and still paying on self employed now, gets NOTHING, as that's the way the law is currently written for teachers.

You want more folks to go into teaching, you need to make sure that law changes, or effectively you get nothing from your teaching years or nothing from your social security years, except Medicare. Boo Hoo on a $60 increase for the contractors "credential." Most contractors make that in less than 2 hours. I certainly do on my tractor, but but state law, shy of a contactors license, I take on no jobs above $500, because of a law put in place by the de facto Contractors' Union, prevents me from doing so.

Douglas Keachie

Pave the whole damn planet, and call it progress and jobs.

Russ Steele

Cabela wanted to build the store which is at Boom Town in Truckee. That was the companies first choice, but after trying to deal with Truckee and County Planning, they decided it was a better choice to just build it across the County line in Nevada. Just think about the millions of sale taxes that Nevada County will never get.

Douglas Keachie

We looked into buying in Placer vs Nevada, and found the building fees nearly 3 times higher in Placer back in 1997.

Douglas Keachie

"and now includes middle class workers who are priced out its real estate markets" so either there is too little inventory, or the supposed "middle class" is no longer making middle class wages, which means that the upper class is not paying them enough, or taxes are too high on the middle class? State incomes taxes are not significant. So which is it?

Todd Juvinall

It would be interesting perhaps to see how many people don't take out permits in California for a new business or even a remodel or upgrade. Also, how many permits get denied and what the cost of them are. I will call it the "discouragement factor" quotient to the state and local government planning processes.

Russ Steele

There are growing signs that California, the once Golden State, is in serious trouble. Tax revenues are in decline and the educated middle class is fleeing the state for more job friendly locals. The Governor's solution is to double down on green energy projects which are raising energy prices, which will push more manufacturing and other blue-collar energy users out of the state.

HERE are some of the scary numbers culled from my morning reading.

Douglas Keachie

And where are they finding better paying middle class jobs in quantity? I'll join them. But so far the land of OZ is still way over some rainbow, somewhere...

George Rebane

DougK 218pm - Tough as it is to accept, everything including unemployment rates are relative. And states with more sane governments do exist over the rainbow (aka the California border), but unfortunately not in kinds and numbers to employ unskilled people at the levels of yesteryear when technology had not advanced as much, overseas competition wasn't as high, and California was a much saner place to live and do business.

According to my calcs, our high unemployment is now structural (or systemic), and there is no possibility to lower it under the increasing friction that progressive public policies have in the pipeline for us. Minimally fettered growth is our only slim hope, and that is not in the cards.

Russ Steele

Steven Greenhut writng at Reason Online:

Four million more people have left California for other states than have come here from other states in the past two decades, according to demographer Joel Kotkin. The population growth has been coming mainly from immigrants and births from people already living here, but now the USC study shows that immigrants are going elsewhere. A cynic might say that California’s liberal elites have ended the state’s contentious battles over illegal immigration by destroying opportunities here.

Kotkin, an old-time liberal, sees troubling trends. “Basically, if you don’t own a piece of Facebook or Google and you haven’t robbed a bank and don't have rich parents, then your chances of being able to buy a house or raise a family in the Bay Area or in most of coastal California is pretty weak,” he said in a recent Wall Street Journal interview. “The new regime wants to destroy the essential reason why people move to California in order to protect their own lifestyles.” He says the state is run for the benefit of the very rich, the very poor, and public employees.

This is not a healthy society. And the demographic changes point to an aging population. Far from reducing the burdens on the state government, this will increase them. State officials are not building to meet future needs, but they have been squandering future dollars on excessive pay and pension packages for public employees. Look for a coming battle between services for lower-income Californians and retirement benefits for the most powerful special interest group in the state, public employees.

There’s no chance the state’s most serious fiscal issues will be solved or even addressed soon. Earlier this month, Democratic Assembly leaders announced that they have no time to deal with the governor’s modest pension reform plan. They do have time to deal with hundreds of other bills, most of which range from the silly to the crazy. What’s the chance they will handle any of the other issues restricting California’s economy?

Douglas Keachie

"Look for a coming battle between services for lower-income Californians and retirement benefits for the most powerful special interest group in the state, public employees."

The most powerful special interest group was, is, and always will be the very rich with investments in land, oil, banking and transportation. The octopus lives on, and now propagandizes to squeeze the remnants of the middle class as they move into old age, with a very direct objective of stealing their pensions. A serious and sane approach would be to say to all new hires, "no pensions for you , baby, as well the uberrich don't want to tax ourselves and our corporations to pay for them, and the fewer public employees, the less our money and our corporations' can be distributed." Who said the Robber Barons have died off? Their offspring continue the attacks from behind their foundations and trust funds.

Douglas Keachie

"no pensions for you , baby," and at the same time inform them that they are responsible for paying for the pensions the state has already promised in exchange for lower wages in years past. Love to see the quality of employee you would get under those circumstances. Abolish new members of PERS and STRS and make the newbies join social security, but continue to pay down those who have already been in the system (and at least in my case as a teacher, have paid 50% of what went into the system for my retirement) Quality teachers for all! Whoopi Do! The uberrich had better wise up before they totally wreck their own social infrastructure to meet their needs for greed.

George Rebane

DougK 425pm - You really are a dyed in the wool socialist aren't you? Every once in a while I forget, but then you bring us all current and life goes on. Your class warfare über rich 1% pay more than 40% of California income taxes in addition to investing their monies in risky job creating ventures, but not much any more in this state.

Do you have some upper limit they have to pay before they are judged by you and yours to be upstanding citizens carrying their share of the state revenue burden. In the meantime, over half of Californians don't pay any state income taxes, and for kickers while Californians make up about 12% of country, they comprise 33% of the country's welfare recipients.

And, of course, socialists never understand that corporations and government workers don't pay any taxes on their income. The corporation's customers pay that in the higher prices they are charged, and the private sector tax payers pay the taxes of government workers. And collectivists still keep screaming about the private sector's greedy earners.

In the meantime, Kotkin has shown that in the last 20 years the policies of butt stupid California socialists have driven driven out a NET of over 4 million middle class Californians. And after all this, you people keep wanting more devastation?

Douglas Keachie

George, you and the others seem to be missing something.

What I do is to try to get people to wake up the the fact the the whole system is upside-down at this point and that things will only get worse, rather like driving a car deeper and deeper into a road that's flooded, if people simply pretend that the current economic situations is all the fault of the stupids and that if they'd just wise up, everything would be fine. I don't think this is going to happen.

I think that California may be reduced to a state owned for the most part by only the wealthy and very wealthy, and just enough workers and contractors to meet their needs for improvements and maintenance. Everyone else will be surplussed out to God knows where, one way or the other. In short, the state will become a very fancy gated community, at least in the areas where it is most pleasant to live.

I do see a lot of effort to scapegoat the whole mess on the backs of the unions and public employees. I find the notion that you would argue that my pension be reduced as abhorrent as you would find arguing for laws that allow the Treasury to unilaterally reset the interest rates on all government bonds and notes, to say, 1/2 of what they are now. Theft is theft, suddenly you can see it, no?

You want to call someone a socialist for expecting the government to keep its end of the bargain, go right ahead, but don't be surprised if you are called a Commie for demanding the interest rates be left alone, in the hour of your country's need. But keep in mind, you cut my pension, I'll demand cuts in interest rates with the same fervor you are aiming at my pension.

Instead of either road, we need to consider how society can restructure itself in the face of 21 Century automation and the Global Economy. Pretending that we are in a 19th century economy is just plain stupid. That dog don't hunt no more.

billy T

I just had this flash go through my mind. I envisioned a horde of people in some Sierra Club approved density cluster crowded together in their metro-sexual urbanite garb, all thinking one thought: The dude with the big house on the hill overlooking the barrio has a pot of gold. How can we get our hands on it? Its so close, almost in reach. Its all ours.

Todd Juvinall

BiilyT, right on the mark. Fidel was in the barrio and with some guns (Keachie hates guns) he booted the people out of the house on the hill and "occupied" it. We all have got to see that success of his endeavors haven't we? What fascinates me is these real world examples are never cited by the "progressives" when they are right there in front of them. The "disadvantaged" plus guns equals equality.


The miracle of bankruptcy is that it wipes the slate clean. California is on the path to receivership, and there will be a new deal that revises existing pension expectations. No, the state will not shut down to insure all pension promises can be paid; there is a pile of money in the pension funds. The state employee pension funds can't rely on the extra infusions that may be required to keep promises made while they were pretending a nearly 9% interest rate could be earned over the life of the fund.

On a related issue, there was a story aired on a local NPR affiliate this morhing about a job training program (for car mechanics) in South Central LA that started in the wake of the Rodney King cop trial verdict... the program is no more.... it required reading at an 8th grade level. In short, just because we're paying for quality schools and quality teachers doesn't mean we're getting them. Or that we've been getting them in the last 20 years.

Douglas Keachie

"The state employee pension funds can't rely on the extra infusions that may be required to keep promises made while they were pretending a nearly 9% interest rate could be earned over the life of the fund. "

Well golly hoity toity Tee, I guess we will just have to bite the bloody bullet and admit that the promised interest rates on all the government loans and bonds just cannot be met, so we will slash all future payments, based on the newer lower interest rates that we just have to accept as a fact of life. Pensioners FIRST investors second....and I'll bet most Americans feel the same way. Who cares what it does to the bond and loan ratings, as, according to the Tea Party Patriots, "we should not be borrowing one damn dime further!"

George Rebane

DougK 108pm - you seem to be maximum confused. The earnings of a portfolio made up of a mix of securities that are predicted by a selected funds manager (here CalPERS or CalSTRS) is TOTALLY DIFFERENT from the commitment made by a borrower (US Govt) contracting the interest to be paid on its secured ('by the full faith and credit ...') debt (e.g. 10yr Treasury) for the term of the loan.

Your pension fund manager was not a good speculator in the markets (and is still a sleazy operator), and you and your union should, perhaps, have made them stick to Treasuries or other less risky assets. But you didn't, and now YOU will have to suffer the consequences in the same way that the Rebanes will if they screw up investing their retirement funds.

The bond markets operate on a contractual basis which must remain sacrosanct if there is to be future borrowing at affordable rates and the world's financial markets are to survive. This knowledge should be near and dear to the heart of Keynesians and other collectivists the world over since it is they who spend and borrow as if there were no tomorrow. But alas no.

That progressives can't tell the difference between contracted bond interest rates and predicted returns on speculative portfolios easily explains away how poorly such ideologues do in managing the economies of countries, and in surveys measuring basic understanding of economics.

Douglas Keachie


You mean they are orthogonal?

Douglas Keachie

There is one minor detail that you are overlooking: On the opening day of the 2005-06 legislative session, Assembly Member Keith Richman (R-Northridge) introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, which would change the public employee retirement provisions in the State Constitution to:

Require anyone hired or after July 1, 2007 as a new employee of a state or local government agency, including a school or community college district, to participate in a defined contribution plan as their primary employer-sponsored retirement program; and prohibit membership in any existing defined benefit retirement plan such as the CalSTRS Defined Benefit (DB) Program.

Such an amendment has yet to pass, and note that it won't ever pass if an attempt is made to make it retroactive.

Douglas Keachie

Could the use of bankruptcy at the state or local level be used to roll back the CalSTRS benefit?
Apr. 13, 2012 Jack Ehnes

A lot of hyperbole has been written about what "ought" to be done with regards to reforming, or lowering the cost of, public pensions. However, that’s very different from what "can" be done, legally.

California case law and the California and U.S. constitutions have enshrined the concept of legally binding contracts. Under that concept, once a public entity enters into a contract with employees, it cannot rewrite that contract without the agreement of the employee. Therefore, according to current law, CalSTRS core pension benefits (retirement, disability and survivor benefits) are guaranteed by both the U.S. and California constitutions.

billy T

Pensioners FIRST investors second. My my, somebody feels threatened. There seems to be some confusion here. Pensioners are investors. The teacher's pension is not CALPERS. For Calpers to be set up, Federal Law mandates that the state (any state) is liable for the funding of the state pension fund. So, the tax payers are on the hook. But, the teacher's pension fund is not a state pension and for any outside infusion of money for the pension plan the money must be approved by the California State Legislature. Teachers are in a separate system. Separate but not equal, especial when you consider the outrageous fees the fund's managers charge. The private sector would scream price gouging if my plan offered so little for so much. 2nd, most bonds and bonds funds in pension plans have to be AAA and an insurance premium is tacked on the guarantee against loses. If the plan's bonds were downgraded to AA, then the pension must sell them...if they skipped the insurance, they took it in the shorts like many smaller plans did. Insurance is sold to pension plans by the likes of AIG and others of their ilk that Doug rails against often. Currently bonds sold by the Spanish Government are fetching 6%. The insurance for buying 10 millions bucks of Spanish Gov't bonds is a mere $500,000. Not bad. I have more faith in Spain that I do in California issued bonds. The teachers already get 50% of the states entire general fund. What more do they want? Cream in your coffee lately?

George Rebane

DougK 210pm et al - My 139pm stands as is. The parenthetical refers to examples of pension fund managers - STRS (as I've explained in previous posts) for teachers, and PERS for other state and local jurisdiction employees.

Now in your "CalSTRS core pension benefits" there is a little problem of definition, the operational word being "core". That you (teachers) have put your funds with a NGO management company that is basically dysfunctional in its ability to keep track of and issue timely reports on the status of its portfolios, is a sad state of affairs that encumbers us taxpayers through the equal ineptness of our elected officials who have negotiated these pension 'contracts' and assured their timely funding. Here we have and had dodos dealing with dodos with some perfidy thrown in for good measure.

The state of the current system is (and has been for some time) such that you will not get your 'core benefits' in the dollars you expect. There is no way that bankrupt California can muster up sufficient firepower (because that is what it will take) to collect from taxpayers enough to make up for the astronomical unfunded liabilities that are now on the books. Moreover, if California tries to do this through borrowing, then as billyT frames it, its borrowing costs will achieve trans-Greek levels. And the feds are in a position to 'help' only through federalizing the bankrupt states, and then lending them the freshly printed nominal dollars because even they will not be able to borrow the amounts needed due to the screaming interest rates that sovereign states and banks will charge.

And the more socialist crap that comes out of Sacramento, the higher will be those rates. In the end even the socialists will see what doesn't work, and most certainly California doesn't work. So, at best, be prepared to spend only the promised nominal dollars that have been 'financially eased' and inflated beyond comprehension.

Douglas Keachie

Tale of the economy. Parents bought house new in 1949 for $14,000, just up Euclid from Cordonices Park and the Rose Garden. Dad was making $4,500 year as an associate prof. In 2006 the house would have sold for nearly $900,000. Show me the associate prof that makes 250,000 today? There's the economic history of the last 60 years in a nutshell.

And if that isn't inflation beyond comprehension, I don't know what is.

More and bigger gardens, of the veggie kind, under construction, when not one web.

Douglas Keachie

"The teachers already get 50% of the states entire general fund. What more do they want? Cream in your coffee lately?"

They do, the retired teachers do, how nice, what exactly does that work out to per retired teacher? By God, 1/2 of 90,000,000,000 would be 45,000,000,000 and there are all of 185,860 retires, about 30,000 more than active teachers, thanks to our cost saving high numbers of kids per classroom. If you divide the 45,000,000,000 by the 185,860 you get 242,118 or so, per retiree, per year. Great deal! I'll take it.

Or were you talking about the cost of the whole California educational k-12, including buildings and grounds, administrators, secretaries, books and so on? Oh, I almost left out, regular teachers' salaries, which pay into CALSTRS, until we hit the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and stick Marvin the Sad Robot with the check?

George Rebane

DougK 430pm - Please share with us how you see all this shaking out so that everyone gets their "core pension benefits"; in short, at what kind of future are the retired and defined benefit working teachers looking?

Re your 414pm - You cite the $900K price at the top of real estate bubble that inflated the trend prices at least 50% (i.e. without the bubble the house would have sold for $600K). At $900K the house would have appreciated 6.8% annually over the 63 years. At $600K it would have appreciated 6.1% annually, both decent rates over that period.

A $4.5K annual salary at these rates would have a grown about $284K and $199K respectively. Today at research universities my professors and peers in academe have no problem pulling down those kinds of numbers. The universities bid highly for being able to list them in their stables of world class academics. And their contracts allow them to consult at least one day a week which makes their total incomes very attractive.

The problem is that you have to have skills that are not a dime a dozen, skills that are universally recognized and sought after by universities accruing tuitions and honors, and companies that can create new wealth, whole industries, and the trickle down jobs that go with them.

Douglas Keachie

"At $600K it would have appreciated 6.1% annually, both decent rates over that period." Yes but a beginning prof, the kind referred to, today's adjunct instructor, almost, does NOT get that kind of salary. Yes, the base salary of a teaching doctor at UC med Center is $160,000 or so. Big difference.

Douglas Keachie

"and companies that can create new wealth, whole industries, and the trickle down jobs that go with them. " aye, there's rub. By your own admission nowhere anywhere in the country is this happening, in numbers that are worthy of predicting or even hinting at a growing and prosperous future. of course if we were to make a breakthrough in sunlight to electricity, we might have something.

Douglas Keachie

Maybe we should just offer cheap rooms with tv's and free food to those who agreed to be rendered, at least temporarily, unable to reproduce? We will have to come up with a solution for what to do with the thumb twiddlers our over-funded efforts at education are producing, in your brave new hitech world, where only the very best engineers survive and thrive?

billy T

Catastrophic unfunded liabilities is a hot button topic for those who are effected, i.e., every single taxpayer. It is informative to look around at other large states to see what they are doing to get pension reform. Illinois is a large Democrat controlled state with 54 billion in unfunded liabilities. They can't mess with current contracts, but the Gov is trying to save the poor taxpayers by messing with retiree health care benefits. Might be a way to go. Cut some dental plans, cut subsidies for retirees health care, and tax the crap out of cigarettes. I guess we have to pay the crooks in the legislatures and Washington their pensions even through they ripped off the taxpayers. Some are sitting in prison collecting their retirement. I suppose some are stuck paying pensions for teachers that have destroyed our education system over decades. There ought to be a law.

George Rebane

DougK 621pm - "By your own admission nowhere anywhere in the country is this happening, in numbers that are worthy of predicting or even hinting at a growing and prosperous future." I don't think that I have asserted anything of the sort. The STEM teachers and graduates are continuing to keep things humming, it is happening constantly and has never stopped. What do you think has kept this economy going and the technologies advancing during the economic downturn, Obamanomics?

The recession hits those at the productive margins who were added/employed last when the economy was roaring. For good or ill, it is those who also get laid off first. And the others who are easy to replace go next as costs must be cut in order to survive. Only government will hire you if all you can do is fog a mirror. Private industry whose employees pay the wages of such public workers must demonstrate that they contribute to the bottom line, else there is no economy. Sadly, socialists believe none of this.

Russ Steele

ExxonMobile in the UK gives job applicants Numeracy Tests. Here is the advice they give Test takers:

Numeracy tests typically assess your ability to evaluate numerical data by using facts and figures presented in various statistical forms. Doing this in a limited time period can be daunting for some people so here are my top tips:

• Take the time to complete practice test papers (usually available from your Careers Service). Similar test papers can be found on various graduate recruitment websites.
• Read each question and answer carefully - sometimes multiple choice answers are deliberately similar so take time to check each option. Pay particular attention to things like the unit of measurement or the number of decimal places.
• Practice your mental arithmetic - especially how to calculate percentages and ratios quickly
• Read financial reports in newspapers and study tables of data
• Check how long you will have to complete the test and practise completing tests in this time.
• Prepare yourself on the day of the test - make sure you have a calculator and paper to work out answers. It is worth making sure that there is a clock visible when you complete the test so you can keep a track of time.
• Remember to work quickly and accurately - and good luck!
• Please ensure that you read the instructions carefully on the invitation email as you will only be allowed to complete the test once.

Douglas Keachie

At 3:10 p,m George said "DougK 218pm - Tough as it is to accept, everything including unemployment rates are relative. And states with more sane governments do exist over the rainbow (aka the California border), but unfortunately not in kinds and numbers to employ unskilled people at the levels of yesteryear when technology had not advanced as much, overseas competition wasn't as high, and California was a much saner place to live and do business.

According to my calcs, our high unemployment is now structural (or systemic), and there is no possibility to lower it under the increasing friction that progressive public policies have in the pipeline for us. Minimally fettered growth is our only slim hope, and that is not in the cards."

So, the rainbow is a mirage.

If everything is automated, there will not be enough jobs to go around. Again we are back to my, "Maybe we should just offer cheap rooms with tv's and free food to those who agreed to be rendered, at least temporarily, unable to reproduce? We will have to come up with a solution for what to do with the thumb twiddlers our over-funded efforts at education are producing, in your brave new hitech world, where only the very best engineers survive and thrive?"

Douglas Keachie

In short, economics is built not only on having a purchasable product, it is also built on having purchasers. If you economically disenfranchise everyone except those with Gregs's favorite hard science degrees, and talent using them to boot, you're not going to have enough customers to keep the wheels of the economy turning. Your health care pros simply are not numerous enough to take up the slack.

Douglas Keachie

Oh, I forgot. We already have a solution in place for our thumb twiddlers, where they get fed, get tv, and can't reproduce. It's called a prison. USA is a world leader in this field.

Douglas Keachie

In the meantime, our tax structure is set up to encourage: Report: Apple legally sidesteps billions in taxes | Comcast
A published report says Apple Inc. uses subsidiaries in Ireland, the Netherlands and other low-tax nations as part of a strategy that enables the technology giant to cut its global tax bill by billion

billy T

Doug, first let me apologize to you personally for poking my finger in your eye when it comes to teachers in general and you in particular. Giving you a few jabs to get you going is not nice or fair and breaking my own rule of "saying what I mean and meaning what I say". I talked to a former high school teacher just 4 years after I graduated from a public school in CA. He told me way back then how things have radically changed as his students were sitting there in class zoned out of there minds on pot. He said he could tell which ones were stoned and how pervasive it had the mid 70's. So, I have always blamed the drug culture more than the k-12 teacher who is between a rock and a hard place. Taking corporal punishment out of the hands of the teacher forces teachers to be a finger wagging babysitter instead of taking control of the classroom. Add to that the school administrations with their hare brained ideas and the teachers get screwed. When Dr. McAteer was running the county superintendent's office, Nevada County added 1 staff member per every 9 students added to the enrollment for the entire district. And he complained his office was multitasking. My gripe is with the power of the union's and their excess influence on the political process. BTY, it is all legal and just the way it is. I feel strongly that education dollars are no longer about the pupil; rather the education dollars are about the unions and administration and teachers. That lady in DC did some great things before she got canned. She cut the DC public school administration expenses from a billion a year down under 400 million without any loss of productivity or efficiently. She axed poor performing teachers. The result was higher grades, lower drop out rates, better school attendance. Yes, she was vilified by the unions and was shown the door after turning around one of the most costly and poor performing school districts in the nation. I hope the Minneapolis School in next on the chopping block for much much needed reform.

George Rebane

DougK - I and I'm sure others would sure appreciate it if you could pull your thoughts together into a complete whole before you hit the 'post' button. It seems like every time you complete a sentence you want it posted as a separate comment.

Re you correct concerns about the future role and allocation of labor in these pre-Singularity years - I have already given my take on what your "thumb twiddlers" should be positioning themselves for, and it has been discussed extensively in these pages. I will gladly go forward with the discussion, but will not start from the beginning (others may want to).

Unfortunately the needed intelligence is not on their side, and they will continue voting for demagogues who can present them the only solution they can grasp - 'take it from the rich'. That solution has already been applied in the USSR, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, now working in Venezuela, and setting up in Chile. Equality and freedom are on opposite ends of the see-saw.

Ultimately, the world's population will have to decrease by a large fraction, hopefully through enlightened birth control. If not, then the more draconian horsemen are waiting in the wings to impose their solutions.

billy T

What Apple and other are doing is legal. Moving their I-Tunes sales office to Nevada with a handful of employees is nothing wrong. Nevada has no corporate tax. In this digital age, if I download a song no physical item has exchanged hands and running the sales through Nevada makes sense. Setting up offices in Ireland or the Netherlands to avoid the high EU taxes is good corporate exercise of fiduciary responsibility, a legal must and requirement. Same as Bono and the Rolling Stones setting up offices in the Netherlands. People will always look for bargains which is why so many locals drive down the hill. Apple seeking low tax rates is not even one single reason why California is in dire straights, although the New York Times has been going bonkers over APPLE in a negative way lately. I knew it would not take long until after Jobs's body was room temperature before the attacks began. Its like they discovered something new that has been happening for years, lol. When Apple wanted to build a new facility in Cupertino, they were told they had to supply free wifi for the entire town. Jobs replied that maybe he is kind of old fashioned but he believed that is why he pays taxes and if the city wanted free wifi, they should build it with their tax revenue. The new facility is being in the USA, but not in Cupertino. Apple is now public enemy number one and I am certain there will be protests signs slamming Apple at tomorrow's May Day rallies. Mayday, Mayday.

Douglas Keachie

A wormy Apple for the teacher dissuades many from even thinking about entering the profession.

George Rebane

Re teachers dissuaded - I wonder what will happen to K-12 education when we have so few teachers that the unions will have no money ergo no political clout. Will the educational system collapse (how could we tell?), or will millions of retireds leap in along with innovative uses of online education and machine learning? Will it be a new world where kids can really read, write, and cypher?

Douglas Keachie

It will be a lot of kids growing up with a Clockwork Orange attitude towards life. As a matter of principle I would not take on teaching as a scab. And frankly, at this point in my life I have no desire to spend a full year in a classroom with today's students, parents, administrators, and voters, and I suspect most other retirees would feel the same. Good luck with a teacher and their unions bashing society, it will make such a great world for your grandchildren.

Just finished a conversation with an old high school friend on FB, She's in Utah, and the school district (no unions) just abolished her pension altogether, with a small lump sum payment. The goal of school districts is to pay as little as possible and get as much as possible, just like any corporation. The goal of teachers' unions is to avoid teachers getting beat up in this voter installed and controlled blender.

George Rebane

DougK 1010am - I am a longtime proponent of meritocracy in teaching. Public K-12 systems eschew that attribute, or at least make it low on the list of desiderata for teaching. That's why vouchers and tax credits for education are better solutions. The well run public K-12 systems will then do much better when they have to compete for students.

Douglas Keachie

I too believe in a meritocracy for teachers, but you cannot evaluate teachers just on test scores. As a teacher of over 30 years experience, I have written up a system that allows for fair evaluations, and improvements.


The goal of teachers unions is to maximize pay and benefits, and ensure no dues paying teacher gets fired without a fight. School boards try to do more than pay lip service to rewarding good teachers and removing bad ones, but it isn't easy.

It certainly is both possible and fair to use student test-based value-added analysis for teacher evaluations. Leave it to Keachie to design a teacher evaluation system that relies only on teachers; what is important is how much students learn, not whether a teacher can impress other teachers while on stage.

"I am beset with a brain that comes up with outside-the-box observations, and ideas about improving things..." -Keachie

Indeed. Outside the box is good, if it's a small box constraining good practice. If inside the box is reality and outside is fantasy... not so good. Keach, you've the wrong box to be outside of.


"As a matter of principle I would not take on teaching as a scab." - Keachie

I think that shows Keachie puts Union membership above teaching, as if there was any doubt.

Douglas Keachie

No Greg it means I put quality teaching in a quality environment, above simply getting a paycheck, like engineers who will not design equipment for human or animal torture.

Douglas Keachie

"School boards try to do more than pay lip service to rewarding good teachers and removing bad ones, but it isn't easy."

Of course it is easy. You just make sure your charter school teachers can get higher salaries than your regular school teachers, and preferably a higher salary that the principal at their school, and that no superintendent makes more than double the top teacher's salary. Piece of cake! but alack and alas, they just don't do it, despite all the handwringing over rewarding teachers, which is all just so much Bushwah.

There is plenty of room in my system for test scores, and parent and student input. Easy enough to make part of: "would have the results of the initial judging reviewed by 3 professional judges, teachers already rated excellent, on leave for a year of judging, who rate the teacher in 10 to 20 areas, on numerical scales."


Sorry, Keach, but you're even more incoherent than usual. Word association football. In the last century, teacher's unions in California have presided over a tanking of quality, putting union members in charge of teacher evaluations would make things even worse. As in Lake Woebegone, all teachers would be above average unless they were, shall we say, "scabs".

Then there's the statistic that 94% of teacher's union political donations have gone to Democrats, which points out where all those dues go. The state going bankrupt would just about destroy the politicians they have invested in so diligently over the years.

There is no role in your "system" for the adult supervision that is in place. Just ask Principals and Superintendents about your idea and they'll laugh all the way to the next board meeting.

Douglas Keachie

Do you want teacher evaluation, or school site politics? I've seen the beast from the inside, and that's why I set it up the way I did.

You want to take one of your imaginary super teachers and put them in a real school, and here is what would happen. Little Johnny McNasty and his parents would get totally upset as your super teacher righteously flunks the little twit, and then the begin pounding the table, in the principal's office, and at the school board meetings. This will happen repeatedly, and the teacher will be identified as a "problem," not by the Union at first, just the principal and school board. Eventually the latter two will start to lean on the union, and eventually the wheels will roll to get the teacher to leave.

Case in point. A student at a nearby school flunks everything but music during the fall semester, but wants to play in the spring. The parents lean on the music teacher, the principal, and the school board. The teacher now feel his job is threatened, and gives the student a chance to make up some work, and raises his grade. The upshot of it all is that the student takes a shot at a coach on an away game, and soon a major fight breaks out, and the entire team is suspended for the season.

Neither the teachers nor the unions are in control, and your shining knight teachers will hit the same walls the rest of us do. BTW, the story is true, and happened just this year, and got extensive news coverage. That's how the schools roll today, and it is not the fault of the teachers or their unions. It is the fault of principals and school boards caving into parents of highly dysfunctional students.

You know so little about the insides of public schools that you should disqualify yourself immediately from taking any more such silly stands.

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