The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

San Jose

I suspect that tonight's Democratic debate will be relatively predictable:
  • Media moderators will not pit one candidate against the other as they did in the GOP debates. It's highly unlikely that there will be a question to Bernie Sanders like: "Are you troubled that Hillary Clinton has so many high level connections with Wall Street?" or "Do you think that Ms. Clinton's use of a private email server shows any contempt for transparency?" It's equally unlikely that Hillary will be asked, "Do you believe that Senator Sander's proposed spending program will add to the national debt?" I hope I'm wrong about this, but we'll see.
  • The candidates (with the possible exception of the only moderate, Jim Webb) will focus their attention on class warfare. The "income inequality" meme will be used ad nauseum, and calls for "taxing the rich," contributing "fair share" will fill the air, along with proposals for more and more spending programs to "help those in need."
All of this income redistribution and spending talk will make the progressives in the audience beam. But before they get too excitied, let's allow a little reality to invade the progressive's big intrusive government (BIG) utopia.

San Jose, CA is a blue city that has done what all blue cities do. Over the years, it has negotiated very generous pensions for it public employee unions in exchange for unreserved support for Democratics. It works. Since 1967, every elected mayor in San Jose has been a Democrat. Every one.

There's only one problem—San Jose is going broke.  Lawrence McQuillan reports:
San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley, is home to eBay, PayPal and Cisco. Yet despite its enormous wealth, a San Jose house right across from a fire station burned down in 2013 because the station lacked fire trucks.

This year, police staffing is down in San Jose. Its roads are pocked with potholes. And again, fire engines are mothballed. How is all this possible?

The answer is that nearly 25 percent of San Jose’s budget pays for generous pensions — called “defined-benefit” plans — that guarantee retired city workers as much as 90 percent of their former salaries for life. That has left too little for core city services like policing and firefighting ...

In San Jose, pension costs exploded from $62 million in 2003 to nearly $210 million in 2013. So even though the San Jose Police Department budget skyrocketed nearly 50 percent during the past decade, police staffing fell 20 percent — because so much of the money was eaten up by the pensions.
San Jose is only one many blue cities that are in similar trouble—blue governance provides generous perks for a select few at the expense of services for all citizens. San Jose, along with Chicago, Detroit, and dozens of other blue cities, is a harbinger of what will happen nationally if the country adopts the kinds of tax and spend programs that will be proposed by the Democrat candidates tonight.

But hey, that's reality, and class warfare is a dominant progressive fantasy. As I've said many times in this blog, when reality and fantasy collide, reality wins every time. Tonight, there will be lots of fantasy. The problem is that reality will win in real life, even if the fantasy folks win elections. Don't believe me? Just take a look at San Jose.