Mormons, Missions, Skyboxes

Sorry for the lack of free ice cream (inside blog joke). I’m busy as heck, all the stuff I want to blog is complex and long, and to be frank the (U.S.) news is too effing depressing to keep me very motivated. Between Jocko, Terri, and the news from Red Lake High School I’m having my fill of human frailty.

I’ll comment on them as I find time (and if they’re still of any interest to anyone).

But I saw something interesting I wanted to make sure people saw, and then something else that I think ties neatly to it – and summarizes a lot of my frustration – and hope – in domestic politics, anyway.

First, an article by Christopher Hayes called “How to Turn Your Red State Blue.”

It’s a paean to ground-level political organizing, and advocates, simply, that liberals copy Mormon youths on their missions. Literally.
I love it, in no small part because I believe that it would be transformative for modern liberalism – it would force liberals to get out and talk to their fellow Americans, and it just might result in some opened eyes on both sides of the ideological fence. It would, more than anything reaffirm the connection liberals have – and ought to have – with their fellow Americans and with America as a whole. I may disagree with some small parts of his program, but on a macro level, bring it on.

Hayes points out the struggle for relevance within the labor movement as an example of why his kind of ground-level organizing is necessary.

Then I read Dan Weintraub’s column in the Bee, on the defined-benefit pension plans in San Diego County.

But if San Diego County is a model of success, I would hate to see what failure looks like.

The county’s pension fund is facing a $1.2 billion unfunded liability. The shortfall is the result of generous benefit increases awarded when the stock market hit its peak earlier this decade, followed later by investment losses. The deficit has grown even though the county has borrowed money three times since 1994 – in increments of $430 million, $737 million and, most recently, $454 million – to help keep the pension fund afloat.

San Diego taxpayers, meanwhile, are paying about 23 cents on top of every dollar of county workers’ salaries to provide these benefits. And those taxpayer contributions don’t even reflect the money it takes to service the county’s debt, which is accounted for separately.

It’s relatively easy to keep a pension fund solvent if you are willing to borrow unlimited amounts – obligating future taxpayers – and pay one-fourth of the cost of salary in premiums to the plan. But that’s not evidence of success. It’s just the opposite.

What happened? The powerful local unions took the county for a ride – one that many other public agencies are taking as well.

And it gets worse.

Worse because, as Weintraub points out in his blog:

One interesting item I came across in my research but didn’t fit into the column:

Since San Diego County increased pension benefits by 25 percent to 35 percent three years ago, the average salary of county employees has climbed by 23 percent.

Doesn’t this call into question the argument that sweet pensions are necessary to make up for the lack of competitive salaries in the public sector? If pensions and wages were a trade-off, you wouldn’t expect to see them both soaring at the same time.

But they are, and they do (I earlier noted some crude studies that suggested that public sector employees were getting paid as well or better than employees in the private sector. Their pay has certainly risen faster.)

And to go back to Hayes’ article, what has happened is that the labor movement has abandoned the low-paid employees that it ought to defend in favor of high-wage public employees who are easy to defend. Hayes doesn’t see labor involvement in the lives of average working Americans because the labor movement is working hard for those who may need it least.

We have a Skybox labor movement to go with the Skybox liberals.

8 thoughts on “Mormons, Missions, Skyboxes”

  1. Agree with you the net effect would probably be positive. It might make “skybox liberalism” less tenable (or, it might reinforce it – depends on implementation).

    Where Hayes kind of misses the obvious is that the Democratic Party itself has transformed far more than the electorate has over the last 40 years. He believes that conservatives have significantly changed the populace’s views… but with the exception of a few cultural issues, this is not generally true. The Democrats have run away from views they once espoused, the GOP has either picked them up or used cultural issues as a proxy to make that point, and so we have the current transformation.

    If the Democrats had not moved themselves, Bozell’s efforts would have been in vain. As the most famous Republican, Ronald Reagan, so often said of the Democrats:

    “I didn’t leave the party. It left me.”

    And the Democratic Party of 2005 is very different even from the 1979 version Ronnie was discussing. As evidenced by all the “new independent” types you see around the blogosphere, many of whom don’t go back politically beyond 1979 and _still_ feel newly alienated.

    Hayes wants to sell the _current_ Democratic Party worldview to the American electorate… To do that, the analogy of a full religious conversion mission is perfectly apropos. And of course, the Democratic Party is already doing this. As it seeks its religious converts, America’s university system has become nothing less than a publicly-financed seminary for this purpose.

    The Mormon approach is far more honest, and far more likely to change the party in electorally productive ways. I recommend it instead… and pretty soon, conservatives are likely to start insisting.

  2. Can I stop laughing now? The biggest problem on either side of the equation is no one asks the people what they want. It is all an assumption of a belief in what they perceive the people to want or trying to sell to the people they should want vanilla instead of chocolate.

    The other issue people are quickly finding out is it boils down to $$$. It doesn’t matter what side of the equation you are on when it comes to $$$ either. I have yet to meet a politician that will say such and such will cost such and such and you can expect such and such service for your $$$. No more than this will be spent and no more than this will be asked for in the future.

    Grandiose ideas on either side of the isle require $$$. To fund those grandiose ideas it requires asking the general public for $$$. Here lately all I’ve seen is we need more $$$ from you for our grandiose ideas.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go to the government and say I want but this is all I’m willing to spend for my wants.

  3. Where Hayes kind of misses the obvious is that the Democratic Party itself has transformed far more than the electorate has over the last 40 years. He believes that conservatives have significantly changed the populace’s views… but with the exception of a few cultural issues, this is not generally true.

    40 years ago people believed that paying taxes was a scourge on their lives? 40 years ago, people believed in deficit spending? 40 years ago people believed it was perfectly fine to invade a country that didn’t attack you and wasn’t about to attack you? 40 years ago people believed that religion in government was absolutely appropriate and necessary?

    I could keep adding to that list if you like, but I think you get the point.

    Conservatism and it’s accompanying echo chamber has fundamentally changed the American viewpoint. I would argue very much not for the better.

    Hayes is dead on correct on that particular point.

  4. 40 years ago people believed that paying taxes was a scourge on their lives?

    I think that attitude goes back to, oh, the Stamp Act.

    40 years ago, people believed in deficit spending?

    If they were Keynsian economists–which would be the majority of left-wing economists and FDR acolytes, and the majority of economists generally until the supply-siders and Friedmanites came along, they certainly did think that deficits were the way to escape from recessions.

    40 years ago people believed it was perfectly fine to invade a country that didn’t attack you and wasn’t about to attack you?

    Well, I suppose our interventions in Europe (1917) North Africa (1942), Europe(1944-present), Korea (1950-53), Vietnam (1961-1975 or so) were all in response to direct threats or attacks on American soil, eh? We lost a few citizens on the Lusitania, but wouldn’t an invasion of Mexico have been a more logical response to the threat posed by the Zimmerman telegram?

    40 years ago people believed that religion in government was absolutely appropriate and necessary?

    I give you…John F. Kennedy: “[T]he rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God…With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” (and featuring two biblical quotes!)

    Give us a couple more examples carla, your first 4 don’t look so good for you.

  5. A.L, said:

    >We have a Skybox labor movement to go with the
    >Skybox liberals.

    No. It is less a matter of elitism than it is a matter of the _Government-Client Meme._

    The Democratic Party has abandoned or purged anyone and everything that isn’t a client of domestic government services.

    Academia, the Labor movement (public employee unions), the civil rights movement (affirmative action quotas), feminism (quotas and title IX), etc are all creatures of the state and reliant on state regulations, rules, laws and tax payer money for their existance.

    The only reason the American military-industrial complex has been rejected by this Government-Client Meme construct I mentioned above is that
    1) it is viewed as a competator for domestic resources and
    2) it runs smack dab into the middle of a Democratic Party Vietnaam era cultural values cluster about the reality of the outside world and the use of American power to futher American interests.

    The short hand name for this is the Vietnam Syndrome.

    The Republicans have moved beyond Vietnam and the Democrats haven’t. As a result the Democrats will not regain power at the Federal level until the War is over.

    Carla,

    During the Democratic Clinton Administration we were invaded, bombed, or occupied 1) Haiti, 2) Bosnia, 3) East Timor, 4) Kosovo, and 5) Iraq.

    This also does not include the bi-partisan drug war in Latin America and South Asia that has been on-going since the Reagan Administration and includes thousands of “military services contractors” (AKA mercenaries) in foreign contries on the American government pay roll.

    The major difference with Bush43 and previous Administrations is that bush is dead serious about destroying foreign tyrannies as a threat to America’s homeland.

  6. If a union ruins a company the company goes out of business.

    If a union ruins a government what happens?

    A.L. there is a reason unions focus on government rather than helping the poor.

    The iron rice bowl.

    The unions do not see tax money as coming out of the pockets of their fellow citizens. They think the money always comes from “somewhere else”. i.e. the next larger unit of government.

  7. The Democrats will be easy to brand as the party of parasites. It is happening already. It will accelerate.

    The Dems have to accept capitalism and business – big and small. At minimum.

    I live in a town currently run by Democrats and we are very hard up for jobs. Did I mention the business climate sucks? Nothing gets done here without a “campaign contribution” of sufficient size. The Red tape to do anything “official” is incredible. The underground economy without all that impedimentia is doing fine. Our crime rate and murder rate are highest in the state.

    The Dems as parasites like to bleed the victim to death. The Rs at least understand that a live host is more profitable long term.

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