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Blue Politics Strangling California

California is rapidly running out of money to pay for even the most basic services; it’s the perfect time, think some in the Assembly, to add to the Golden State’s fiscal burden.

According to this scathing Sacramento Bee editorial, Assembly Bill 2451, which is sponsored by the state’s highway patrol and firefighter unions, “removes the statute of limitations for job-related survivor death benefits for peace officers and firefighters.”

So, more benefits for the families of cops and firefighters who die because of job-related ailments—what’s not to like?

Plenty, as the Bee points out. Under the new rules, for example, if a state worker retires at 60 and dies of a heart attack 20 years later, his widow or even children could claim a benefit of $250,000. This effectively amounts to a taxpayer funded life-insurance policy for state workers:

Proponents argue this bill would help provide for a widow whose firefighter or police officer spouse dies prematurely of cancer six years after filing a workers’ compensation claim, just a little beyond the current 4 1/2-year statute of limitations for a death benefit. Supporters insist the widow should not lose the death benefit because modern medicine allowed her husband to linger beyond the statute of limitations.

But this bill goes well beyond that heart-tugging scenario. Its practical effect is to give every police officer, every firefighter, every prison guard or park ranger a taxpayer-funded life insurance policy. To pay for that extraordinary benefit, services will have to be cut. In some jurisdictions, even police and firefighters could be laid off to pay for it.

But surely a bill like this would never pass, you say. On the contrary, it has already passed the state Assembly by a 69-4 vote with strong bipartisan support and has had a similar response in early tests in the State Senate.

Apparently, the public union backlash we saw a few months ago in San Diego and San Jose hasn’t spread to Sacramento yet. But if unions continue to push programs like this while schools are closing and prisons are failing, the backlash will come soon enough.

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  • Jim.

    If even the usually Left-leaning “Bee” papers have picked up this story as bad news, the backlash has already started.

  • Michael K

    Looks like when push comes to shove the CA GOP is the Cowardly Lion. Just to remind the readers, the horrid pension increase that has gotten the state and the cities in such water was passed with almost an unanimous vote except for now Congressman Tom McClintock.

  • stephen b

    Somewhat off topic, but related…
    On radio yesterday in Los Angeles, I heard a political ad for Proposition 32 which will be on our November ballot. Nothing in ad itself could give a clue as to what prop actually was, although speakers in ad mentioned “corporations supported it” and it “must be defeated.” Then at end of ad it mentions who financed ad. When they got to fact it was partially paid for by a local SEIU chapter, that was all I needed to know, and resolved to support it without even knowing what it was. Since then I have found out it is known as “Paycheck Protection Act” and likely will remove a lucrative siphon of payroll dollars from organized labor. No wonder they oppose it.

  • Darth Chipmunk

    California continues off the cliff. Three cities have declared bankruptcy. People and businesses have fled the stifling regulatory environment of California by the millions. The State grossly over-estimated revenue. All are reason for grave concern.

    But nobody skipped a beat. It’s no secret that pension burdens are killing municipalities and the state. Yet they have the shameless audacity to double down and offer this life-insurance policy on my dime. It’s breathtaking.

    When spending cuts aren’t even a part of the discussion, only revenue generation, what will be the end game? California meet Cliff.

  • vanderleun

    No surprise here. California will have to go to the wall, be shot to ribbons, fall on the ground, and be buried by backhoe before any shred of hope for a meaningful reform will be found. It’s DOA every day.

  • Gene

    The second link in this post “scathing Sacramento Bee editorial,” is wrong — it sends us to another Via Meadia post. Please correct.

  • Kevin

    I think everyone would be sympathetic to those who succumb to injuries sustained in the line of duty. Why not just craft it so that to collect the cause of death must be from a service related injury and the benefit declines 4% per year after retirement to avoid the issue of the very attenuated causality from injuries suffered decades earlier. Of course that would not be nearly such a generic pot of gold for all union members so would not be popular.

  • Tom Holsinger


    Take a look at the imminent implementation of California’s unilateral carbon credit trading scheme. IMO this has inherent massive fraud potential which overseas scammers will exploit, and run up California’s state debt by at least another $50 billion within 3-4 years of use before the crazy scheme is shut down.

    A clear majority of the voters of California are basically bug-**** nuts. IMO not even official state bankruptcy will change their opinions, which have deep psychological roots. See Jonathan Haidt’s _The Righteous Mind_.

    IMO meaningful political change in California requires that the majority of its current voters plain die of old age, a la Thomas Kuhn’s paradigm theory in his _Structure of Scientific Revolutions_.

  • Rand Millar

    Mr. Holsinger,

    Thank you(?)ever so much for alerting or reminding others of us of this especially Enron-esque feature of the California financial landscape. It is not possible to rationally dispute your colorful characterization of the California electorate when you consider the longevity of Mrs. Boxer in the U.S. Senate. Alas, if the Marxist madrassahs within California higher education continue to set the moral and philosophical standards by which California teachers and thence future California voters are formally educated, then the problem may conceivably survive bankruptcy. The recurrent travail of Latin and Mohammedan countries may illustrate the possible future for California. Suppose however in the time to come of weeping and gnashing of teeth as it were Californians, and Americans, gave themselves in faith and obedience to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Then with a very different view of their obligations to each other, they could make themselves suitable for the Madisonian form of government that is still the epitome of temporal achievement in the realm of “Caesar”.

  • Tom Holsinger

    Rand, it’s not just California. The voters here are merely farther down that road than in most states. These days it is more evident that American voters in general use voting as a means of validating their psychic and social identities, in an almost tribal fashion, than voting their other interests, but this has been going on for a long time.

    WRM, I here point out that electoral politics has a major component of the truly irrational in it. Consider that you may err in this regard.

  • Luke Lea

    Food for thought:

    The demise of the Roman Empire or any other similar empire had nothing to do with “physical limits” imposed by the Earth that are de facto infinite (i.e. vacuous) for all practical purposes.

    Instead, the demise of the Roman Empire had complex reasons but they were indeed analogous to the reasons we see today (because the Roman Empire was indeed analogous to the West in many respects) – the main pathological processes underlying the demise were the culture of dependency and entitlement (people expecting too many things for free), overbloated bureaucracy (the public sector) with too many layers of parasites hired to “centrally solve problems” whose income is disconnected from their actual contributions to their countrymates, insufficient protection against immigration, suicidal unrealistic social-engineering projects to incorporate and “elevate” new underdeveloped ethnic groups (no, Roman folks, your success wasn’t just about your system: some other ethnic groups simply didn’t have the potential to live in your Western lifestyle and you should have allowed those savages to remain savages), unrealistic yet intrusive “planning” by the central government in general, and so on. Hard natural limits played no role and they are playing no role today. It’s always the growth of the tumor of the left-wing thinking – the denial of the fact that things cost something (or must cost something) and life is ultimately a competition – that kills civilizations such as the Roman Empire or maybe ours in the future.

  • Glen

    No, “the public union backlash we saw a few months ago in San Diego and San Jose hasn’t spread to Sacramento yet.”

    Nor is it “com[ing] soon enough.”

    San Diego is an outlier city in California. Generalizing based upon what happens in San Diego is guaranteed to lead to the wrong conclusions.

    And while San Jose isn’t anywhere near as odd (compared to the rest of California) as San Diego, it nonetheless is populated with fairly level-headed and intelligent people. But more importantly, it benefits from a truly iconoclastic mayor in Chuck Reed. Reed is the type of Democratic politician that some thought they were electing when they voted for Jerry Brown or even Barack Obama.

    But the overall trend in California is still to emulate Greece as quickly as possible. Victor Davis Hanson writes frequently and very accurately about how California is already a failed state. Things will get much worse in California before the “backlash” begins.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    “Things will get much worse in California before the “backlash” begins.”

    It is not ordained that there will be backlash.

    Did Detroit have “backlash” while it went from one of the most dynamic and prosperous of American cities to gangs controled zombie of a city?

    If you boil frog slowly enough, the frog will never jump out.

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