Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A way out of the California pension mess?

First, my plan. I call it the "Graduated Postponement" law.

Under this proposal, which could hypothetically be effective 1-1-2011, every state employee covered by a publicly funded pension plan who had been initially hired full time before 1-1-1985 would not have their pension conditions and benefits changed; they would simply remain in effect as currently written.

Those first hired on or after 1-1-1985 through 12-31-1989 would have their retirement conditions and benefits modified in such a way as to add the requirement of serving one additional year [12 months] beyond their existing target date before they could go into effect.

Those first hired on or after 1-1-1990 through 12-31-1994 would have the same conditions and benefits modified in such a way as to add the requirement of serving two additional years [24 months] beyond their existing target date before they would become effective.

Those first hired on or after 1-1-1995 through 12-31-1999 would have the same conditions and benefits modified in such a way as to add the requirement of serving three additional years [36 months] beyond their existing target date before they were to become effective.

Those first hired on or after 1-1-2000 through 12-31-2004 would have those conditions and benefits modified in such a way as to add the requirement of working four additional years [48 months] beyond their existing target date before seeing the effective date.

And those first hired on or after 1-1-2005 and thereafter would have the same conditions and benefits modified in such a way as to add the requirement of working five additional years [60 months] beyond their existing target date before retirement might be implemented.

Retirement target ages would not be mandatory and provisions would be continued in place or modified that enable the accumulation of additional retirement credit for each year worked past a target age. At their discretion agencies would be permitted to reassign or transfer without relocation or hardship, but they could not demote, employees working past 15 or more years past their target dates.

Nothing in this law would modify or alter any other existing conditions or requirements for state employment, including health, physical condition, etc., etc.

Whatever their current target dates, a law like this would simply set-back most full time state employee's retirement options for a given number of months - based on when they first began full time state service. In this way the change would maintain early retirement perks public safety officers enjoy, and the net effect would be to spread the hurt fairly evenly among agency employees based on the ever-loved "seniority" modality, which at the very least should make it slightly more palatable it to employee unions.

Meaningful comments and suggestions are welcome but moderated. Others are treated with the respect they deserve.

PS: Update 6/10/10. To date four off topic responses have been very gently deleted.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How I see the problem…..

No matter how tempting to think so, what follows is not intended as a “hit” on diversity per se,. Instead, it is a constructive comment inviting informed and reasonable dissent or comment. Also, it is meant as a general statement, recognizing quite well there have been and will continue to be many, many exceptions.

None-the-less, if the illegal immigration/open borders issue is to ever be resolved, at least one factor of the dilemma must be faced and fixed: a perceived lack-of-assimilation pattern within too large a segment of the extant Hispanic community. It's a dilemma compounded both by lawful and unlawful residents. Some express the problem differently. In a recent interesting and perceptive article in the Washington Times Ivan Kenneally wrote:
However, the deepest and most important issue that underlines the current imbroglio is what precisely it means to be an American citizen.
In most cities and towns where they live these families are seen to cluster in tight, inclusive barrios. Obviously, at the very least, the reasons for this include economic, cultural, security and convenience factors. There very likely are other forces in play.

Clustering is understandable and for the most part an historical and positive way for new-comers to the US to begin entering the mainstream. The problem is too many Hispanic families who are here lawfully seem to stop right at that point and hesitate to take the next step. Add to this the unlawful resident and it only compounds the problem. Thus over time a barrio becomes third-world-ish, and its inhabitants become further sheltered from the “regular” world about them. Shopping, commercial services, government is all provided in their own language and the incentive to “Americanize” is not compelling enough for many to break through from their tiny worlds and test the bigger outdoors by dipping their toes in public waters, so-to-speak.

The negative societal result includes an extra heavy burden, usually well beyond acceptable per-capita norms, heaped on the educational, medical, commercial and governmental service providers involved. It is amplified and made even more tragic because far too many resultant students seriously underachieve in school, or become frustrated and drop out early, not because of lack of ability, but because their parent(s) fail to be involved due to unassailable language and cultural barriers. And the majority of those children seem to be forever damaged and short-changed.

The situation also tends to encourage maintenance of closer ties with family members in the “old country”, which contributes to a regular massive outflow of “support” currency to residents of third world nations which seriously shorts the interests of local economies.

Another serious factor is the ease with which barrio residents are influenced and victimized by unscrupulous persons and criminals. For example the city of Phoenix, AZ, is now the kidnapping capitol of the USA almost exclusively due to criminal Hispanic gang activities targeting non-English speaking immigrants who are either surreptitiously passing through the area or have already settled nearby. Some of the latter have lived there for years without integrating into the local culture, and have proven to be extraordinarily “easy pickings” for kidnappers. Successful prosecution of these crimes has turned out to be a nightmare.

A major part of the lack of assimilation problem is likely caused by a high degree of adult illiteracy among those coming from Mexico and Guatemala, as well as other nations. For persons who can barely read or write their own language a “savior” of sorts becomes the local electronic media. Spanish language radio and TV is almost ubiquitous in the southern US, and indeed has spread now to virtually every state. Plus, if one lives beyond the range of over-the-air broadcasts there is always cable and satellite TV.

I have two questions. One, is the programming currently available from Spanish language electronic media contributing to the non-assimilation situation? Does it tend to continue the cultural separation factor? Two, are conservatives and/or tea party organizers taking the opportunity that particular medium provides to reach into the quasi-isolated Hispanic community with effective messaging that provides an alternative point-of-view together with incentives and encouragement towards the assimilation process? Or is there a field here that may be ready for cultivating?

Comments are moderated but encouraged.