Disclosure, With A Kicker

The system is broke, no doubt about it. Many of the OWS crowd believe that it is broke beyond repair. I think it is repairable, nothing that some honesty and integrity in our leaders would not fix. But here’s the rub, much like Abraham bargaining with God over the fate of Sodom, where finding only 10 righteous men would have saved the city, finding leaders, anywhere with honor and integrity is proving difficult.

We all remember the Bell, Ca. scandal, where the mayor, city manager, and several city council members were all arrested for corruption, having inflated salaries, 4-5 times what would be considered normal for that job. But this isn’t like robbing a bank, they got their money semi legally (hence, the broken system), you can bet their defense will be as simple as this, they negotiated in good faith with the city to obtain those salaries, nobody put a gun to the heads of the city officials that accepted their contracts, the city was willing to get robbed and handed over the money month after month.

Shortly after the Bell scandal California controller John Chiang decided he would post all public employee salaries on his website, so now if you are a public employee anywhere in California, citizens have instant access to what you are making, about damn time.

But just because that information is available does not mean that some public employees want it disclosed, and some will even go extra ordinary lengths to keep their gravy train under wraps, including threatening those that ask the ridiculous, a little transparency wrt their employees:

It goes like this: Libby questioned the high salary and benefits of the city manager in the small Riverside County town of Indian Wells and was subsequently fired by his private employer after the city manager complained about him. Libby needed to learn “that such public discourse comes at a price,” the city manager wrote in a letter to Libby’s employer.

The price Libby paid was to lose his job as a bank vice president.

When Libby started poking around Indian Wells, population 5,000, in August, the city manager, Greg Johnson — who has since resigned — quickly went on the offensive. How dare Libby inquire about Johnson’s $283,000 salary and lucrative benefits, which that included free carwashes and something called “VIP” medical treatment at a hospital should he need a doctor.

Haddon Libby is a guy just like all of us, he lives within the system, takes pride in his community, and cared about that community. Whatever the impetus was for him poking around to see what his city officials were making (all citizens should be as curious) once he found out it became instantly apparent that the city could not afford such a lavish salary with benefits, many of those benefits are enumerated in the article.

When Libby filed a Public Records Act request with the city for more information, Johnson replied to it, copying Libby’s boss at First Foundation Bank, calling the $8 million estimate a lie and saying, “I guess we have a problem.”

Then, according to his lawsuit, Libby’s boss told him to “tread carefully” and that he would get fired if he exercised his right to sue the city for more information about Johnson or even just met with the manger.

The City Manager is the CEO of the city, he is not elected like the mayor, he has to have the education and training to do the job, he is the most powerful city official. And you would be surprised how much city managers get paid, I was. But salaries for this position do vary widely, usually commiserate with the size (population) of the city. Indian Wells, population 5000, should fall within the low end of the spectrum, it doesn’t. My little town, pop. around 25,000, pays it’s CM 237K (it’s the Bay Area, figures). The low end of most Ca. cities is around 180K with what Johnson was making as the Cadillac plan.

The amount in of itself is not that outrageous, it is in the ball park of other cities, but clearly, Johnson knew that there were too many cookies in his hand and was willing to do whatever it took to keep the information private.

Libby persevered (good for him) and was subsequently fired. The good news is that Johnson resigned (scumbag) and Libby is suing both the city and his employer for wrongful termination. Here is hoping he wins a boatload of money in judgment.

But governmental corruption is like cockroaches, for everyone one you see, there is a half a dozen hiding behind the refrigerator. This stuff goes on all the time and there are probably hundreds of Johnson’s out there, and we can’t count on Haddon Libby to visit every city in America spotlighting government malfeasance for us, we have to do this ourselves.

The smaller the government, the more transparent it is, that is why the Tea Party has it right, reducing the size of government and limit their power to only what they need to do their job, and most of the OWS is not. Destroying capitalism, or perversely perverting it (forgiving your debt to the detriment of the loaner) is not the way to go.

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  1. CM

    The OWS protests are (partly) about the fact that a large percentage of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few, and that the inquality of wealth is becoming greater, not less. They can’t see how allowing less regulation will do anything else but make that even worse still. They certainly don’t believe the rhetoric from the right that inequality of income is either irrelevant or the result of the perversion of capitalism. They don’t accept that less regulation will improve behaviour (with or within the law). They believe it will allow the badly-behaved to behave even worse, and open up opportunities for new badly-behaved people.

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  2. Poosh

    I have no problem with the bulk of the “wealth” being in the hands of the few. Why shouldn’t it be? What magical principle, do tell, says that that shouldn’t be the case?

    Of course, there is a rather stupid fallacy that these OWS degenerates make, that is, that there is a fixed amount of wealth in a given country, and that the “rich” merely grabbed it all due to their greed. As if fucking Zeus magically zapped big bags of money on each country and said “Ready, steady, go!”

    Wealth is created > see Israel for a good example

    The tea party had issues with certain banks and their enablers in government and investment bankers: people who don’t necessarily produce a good. The OWS scum have a problem with the whole system. The tea party have an issue with investment bankers and their “trade” which seems increasingly less to do with skill. The OWS just want all the rich to give more, as if this was morally right. The OWS, of course, do not have a coherent message – anyone who says otherwise is liar. They are a nexus of various left-wing groups all with their own agendas. They are united by the standard leftist hatred of the rich and their religious beliefs concerning how those rich became rich.

    Fuck them.

    “Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter.” – Ayn Rand

    > and it should be no surprise that a small number of the OWS are stealing eachother’s shit (and a rape no less! Any rapes at tea-parties? Didn’t think so).

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  3. CM

    I have no problem with the bulk of the “wealth” being in the hands of the few. Why shouldn’t it be? What magical principle, do tell, says that that shouldn’t be the case?

    Of course, there is a rather stupid fallacy that these OWS degenerates make, that is, that there is a fixed amount of wealth in a given country, and that the “rich” merely grabbed it all due to their greed. As if fucking Zeus magically zapped big bags of money on each country and said “Ready, steady, go!”

    Of course there is a finite amount of wealth to go around. Otherwise there would be constant chronic inflation and the concept of ‘wealth’ would lose all meaning. The only reason wealth exists is because there is an ability to accumulate it. There are finite opportunities (only one person can be POTUS at any one time, not everyone can do it). There are winners and losers (otherwise, again, the terms would be meaningless). These are fundamental components of capitalism. Not everyone can be rich. The system doesn’t allow it. It’s impossible for everyone “to get ahead” at the same time. If someone does get ahead, it means that others haven’t. I think THIS is the real fallacy.

    So I think the argument (as I see it) is that the fewer the limits the system has in terms of wealth accumulation (i.e. the means by which it can be accumulated, and the amount) the greater the gap between those that “make it” and those that don’t. And because the system requires both as a necessity, the argument is that it’s somewhat immoral to let that happen beyond a certain point. Where that point is and how the system is changed to acknowledge this, I don’t know (and don’t claim to know).

    BTW, it would be nice if we could keep the discussion reasonable and not result to personal attack or vague abuse. Your “pray tell” comment warns me that it could go down that path pretty quickly unless we don’t let it.

    Wealth is created > see Israel for a good example

    1. Wealth still requires accumulation of something finite.
    2. I think you’d be struggling to argue how $3 billion a year from the US doesn’t factor in.

    Those two factors combine to create a very false sample. Israel has $3 billion coming in each year and a population of only 7.4 million. So the available wealth in the system is far far beyond what could be generated internally.

    The OWS scum have a problem with the whole system.

    The OWS just want all the rich to give more, as if this was morally right.

    Which is it?

    The OWS, of course, do not have a coherent message – anyone who says otherwise is liar. They are a nexus of various left-wing groups all with their own agendas. They are united by the standard leftist hatred of the rich and their religious beliefs concerning how those rich became rich.

    That’s essentially counting yourself out of any reasonable discussion on the issues. What you’re doing is what happens here constantly. You can’t seem to conceive of the notion that people that think differently are sincere in their beliefs. They always have to just be arseholes or retards.

    Fuck them.

    And they would say, as a result of refusing to consider their beliefs as sincere (and therefore not even giving yourself the opportunity to understand them), fuck you. Although I’m sure a lot of them are idiots who don’t have a coherent argument, that doesn’t mean that a coherent and reasonable and sincere argument doesn’t exist.

    As for the Ayn Rand quote, who is saying that money is evil? Again, if you aren’t able to consider other beliefs as sincere, you’re not going to be able to understand them. That quote would be consistent with that.

    and it should be no surprise that a small number of the OWS are stealing eachother’s shit (and a rape no less! Any rapes at tea-parties? Didn’t think so).

    Yep, dismiss everything entirely on that basis. That makes sense.

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