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The California Economy

October 20th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

The California Economy
Those of us who live, own property, vote and pay taxes in California we are dealing with a very Bad Economy, Politicians who can’t make hard choices, and decreasing services.
Governmental offices are closed, there is no phone service in many offices, social services are slashed, and revenues are not forthcoming. Because of the thoughtlessness of legislators who passed ballot initiatives mandating fixed funding for prisons, education, and homeland security the poor and needy are being thrown to the wolves.
One of my meager skills is managing businesses on a tight budget. I was thinking: “If the State of California was a small business, what would I suggest they do?” I came up with a few things.
State Employees: Travel & Entertainment
No Travel & entertainment. Have you heard of companies who cancel the Christmas Party when times are tough? Well, if times aren’t tough NOW, I don’t know what would be tough. Ipso facto: it is definitely not the time to travel, not the time to party. I use Skype for meetings, why can’t you? You have no need of Expense account lunches, unless they are dutch and everybody buys his/her own. And, come to that, there is a wonderful Internal Revenue Form that State EE can use for their own lunches: Form 2106 Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses.” Use it. Otherwise brown bag it, you’ll lose weight to boot. Oh, and don’t drive the State car home. That’s not State business, that’s your business.
State Employees: Retirement Funding
Retirement. Very few private Industry employers offer defined benefit retirement plans. One of the few who do is the government, along with full healthcare ( dental & optometric included) low co-pays, and dependent coverage. If times are so tough why is the government paying benefits we as employers could not offer? This reality check needs to start somewhere.
If the State is bound by contracts, then the new hires don’t have the same benefits. The Unions have to realize this Budget Drama will make any pensions disappear in a few years if they- AND THE STATE, do not come home to Jesus. What I mean is you cannot pay people what you cannot afford. Period.
Am I cold hearted? Not at all. My father was a government Employee, and now lives on a very nice retirement with benefits and full reimbursement of his medical co-pays. We can’t do it anymore.Time to get real.
The Film Industry
Next, the Film Industry. Does it seem strange to you that our Governor (I will not use Governator, ever) came from the Film Industry and most movies are made in Canada? Why can’t he call a few of his old Buds (have you ever seen Cigar Afficinado?) and offer the same deal as Canada? Since movie people don’t like traveling North (Canada is still North, isn’t it?) unless they are on Holiday, I bet if the Margins are the same they would rather stay in State. There are even legal pot clinics for the crew. No hunting for meds in those cold, dark streets. And when the Film Industry comes back we need to ask the Film Unions for some love. Not kvetching, kvelling: but Love. The hundreds of millions of dollars that would be spent in California might make the Unions be grateful (unlikely, but it’s a thought) and loosen their ridiculous rules that helped drive the Film Industry out of State. No, I am not anti-Union.
Ahem, about the prisons. We are paying a lot of money to lock up marijuana offenders. We should try to have job training (CalWorks could use the funding) to employ them in an Industry they already know : marijuana. They certainly know the market price for an Eighth, and probably already have a patients’ ID cards. Employer tax benefits exist for hiring former offenders, and if they are on Unemployment the training salary in on the State viz-a-viz EDD. Really. Why do you think I study Payroll Accounting? Because it’s fun? Not so much. But it does help nice people stay in business.
Lawyers Fees
About the lawyers. Have you ever seen the big buildings downtown San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacto owned by the major law firms who do business with the State of California? How do you think they bought those big scary edifices? You are right, taxpayer dollars.
Lawyers, ad naseum, ad absurdo: Ideas: hammer them on their rates, deny T&E reimbursement, disallow Travel Time (Skype again). Another idea: have them employ lower labor rate paralegals and law school seniors for lower level work (anyone knows interns love the training, do it for free). Have you ever seen the charges for Xeroxing as $135.00 an hour? I have. You cannot tell me the person who does the Xeroxing is actually getting paid ( including OH, Social Security, Medicare, ETT, SDI taxes, Workers’ Compensation and the 401K they don’t match) one hundred and thirty-five dollars an hour. Where do you think the money goes? The difference between what that xeroxer DOES make and the one hundred and thirty-five dollars an hour goes? Yup, to the bottom line of the lawyers. Bad idea. If we are gonna hurt, let’s spread it around. Many people who are doing the work of three employees hear “You’re lucky to have a job.” Someone with a spine who can count should use that one on the Law Firms.
“I’m not feelin’ it”, as the kids say.

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