A roundup of perspectives and opinions I’ve come across:
• In an interview with San Diego News Room, repeat mayoral candidate Steve Francis says he hasn’t decided whether he’ll run again. Francis, co-founder of AMN Healthcare Services, has ideas about fiscal reform at the ready, though. In general, he’s not in favor of raising taxes nearly as much as he is in favor of cutting costs.
Do we really need to be putting — I know this is controversial and I’m not saying it’s not worthy — $6 million a year into arts programs in San Diego? Well, the arts programs are very important and I’ve been on some arts boards in the past, but when it’s a choice between having arts funding and having police protection, it’s a no-brainer.
He’s not the only one who has suggested cutting arts funding.
They treat [the sewage] to a certain level and then they send it out in a pipe and it goes out three or four miles out into the ocean, and that’s where all the sewage of San Diego goes. We’ve had for a long time now these mandates by the EPA by federal law to upgrade the treatment of that facility to treat it to a higher level before it goes out into the ocean. And it’s going to cost about a half a billion dollars to make this conversion. So they’ve consistently not dealt with this, and they ask for these five-year waivers, and they got another waiver which was a miracle — nobody thought they would get it — but I’m not sure that they’re still adequately planning for this.
This is the pipe, actually 4.5 miles long, that broke 1000 feet from shore in 1992. The waivers Francis mentions are granted when municipalities prove to the EPA that the sewage discharge isn’t harming human health or the ocean environment.
• In a spirited fight against conventional wisdom, Ruben Barrales, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, writes in the Huffington Post that Tijuana and San Diego are safe for tourists.
Disparaging, hyperbolic rhetoric on border security and safety in the region must stop. It is not only inaccurate; it’s damaging the economic well being of San Diego and every other Southwestern town that borders Mexico.
The virtue of a conservatively tailored pension plan is that contributions, appropriately invested, will be sufficient to pay the promised benefits in perpetuity. The vice arrives, firstly, from that modifier, “promised.” Unlike that of a 401(k), a pensioner’s annual stipend is guaranteed. If the fund is insufficient, the responsibility to make up the deficit falls solely on the employer. The government — the taxpayer — is the party at risk.
Of course, the promise is even harder to keep if you don’t even set aside the money in the first place — or can’t. He adds, “Human nature being prone to exuberance, the problem of pension insufficiency (or irrational expectations that lead to insufficiency) has proved chronic.”
In his book While America Aged, Lowenstein wrote that in San Diego “pension abuse flowered into its fullest form.” The city “fell far behind on funding its pension plan,” he writes in his article, “which has been further depleted by successive Wall Street crashes.”
A commenter on Lowenstein’s story remarks,
If the City Council had set the money aside in a timely manner, this may not have happened. On the other hand, if they had, cities would have generated a huge pool of cash, perhaps more than could be wisely invested. Excessive savings can be a curse as big as excessive debt, as many Japanese and Chinese are learning. And savers get ripped off by inflation, too. After all, one person’s savings is another person’s debt. They are two sides of the same coin, because that money MUST be invested somewhere. Money is a flow, not a thing.
Here’s an explanation of the pension problem.
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