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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: Wisconsin and State Budget Deficits

Plus, California's public pension crisis and economic woes

February 25, 2011

- Wisconsin Shows What a Broke Democracy Looks Like

- How Public Pensions Killed California

- California's Ailing Economy

- President Obama's WTF Tour

- Don't Take the Oscars Too Seriously

- The Mind of a Police Dog

- Losing the Brains Race

- India and China Have Nothing OUs  

Wisconsin Shows What a Broke Democracy Looks Like
"Wisconsin is an early sign of the stresses that will either shift our system of government action and spending to something unrecognizable to those who lived in the post-WW II boom years or tear that system apart," Reason magazine's Brian Doherty writes. "And everyone seems ready to fight about this necessary shift. The White House has its hands in. The AFL-CIO is reviving the old anarcho-syndicalist dream of the general strike to show that all labor is feeling the pain of Wisconsin's public unions. People all over the globe are delivering pizzas in solidarity. Both sides of the larger debate about government spending are busing in their forces. Progressives are calling for national anti-austerity protests this weekend. We may not be France yet, but there are disturbing signs that Americans may be ready to take to the streets angrily in defense of their government deals and giveaways. (Some polls showing a lack of support for the very idea of public employee unions are encouraging, but it doesn't take a majority to cause civil unrest.) Wisconsin may be the first sign that, no matter how much support one can gin up for shrinking government, actual attempts to restrain a free-spending government will be met with strong political counterforce-even when that interest is overpaid teachers and big-money unions. The threat of federal government shutdown, happening simultaneously with the Wisconsin crisis, demonstrates that the fiscal crisis is multileveled, and no one wants to allow it to be dealt with seriously."

More Wisconsin Coverage:
Matt Welch on Gov. Walker's "Koch" Phone Call
Evil Koch Bros Support Drug Legalization, Gay Marriage, Reduced Defense Spending
Steve Chapman: How Public Employees and Taxpayers Got Scammed
Peter Suderman Discusses WI on Freedom Watch
Welch: We Are Living in Andy Stern's "Ugly" Democracy  

How Public Pensions Killed California
In his cover story for the March issue of Reason magazine, Tim Cavanaugh writes: "In the next 10 years, taxpayers will most likely be on the hook for somewhere between $325 billion and $500 billion [in pension liabilities]. (Over the past five years, state revenues averaged $94.5 billion per year.) How did this happen?  California's state and local governments employ somewhere between 1.5 million and 2 million workers, representing 4 percent to 5 percent of the state's total population. When they retire, all of those employees are contractually entitled to generous pension benefits-so generous that, collectively, they can't be paid even by a pension system that ladles out more than $20 billion a year and is one of the largest investment pools on Wall Street. California is not the only state infected by pension liabilities, but the size of its economy (generally described as the eighth largest in the world) and its union-dominated politics make it a gravely stricken, and potentially contagious, patient."
Matt Welch Discusses Pensions on KPCC Radio
 

California's Ailing Economy
"California provides a pure test case of interventionist economics in the United States. With effective one-party rule under the Democrats, the most restrictive environmental laws in the country, a rapidly growing public sector, and regulations on virtually every aspect of human behavior, the Golden State is the perfect laboratory for the managed economy the rest of the country rejected in November. When the experiment inevitably fails, perhaps the self-defeating mind-set that created it will finally dissipate. Or that hope may prove to be the biggest fantasy of all." - Reason's Tim Cavanaugh

President Obama's WTF Tour
"President Barack Obama is sliding deep into a 'Win the Future' (WTF) tour, during which he battles economic stagnation and his own ruinous spend-and-regulate-til-the-cows-come-home policies (and those of his immediate predecessor) by the profligate use of clichés. His latest stop was in Cleveland, Ohio, dubbed 'the most miserable city' in the U.S. just last year by Forbes magazine. In search of support for a budget that even his fans found pathetic and some votes in 2012, Obama spoke as if he had transported back to 1950, when 'the Mistake on the Lake' was peaking in population growth." - Reason.com Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie
 

Don't Take the Oscars Too Seriously
In his Reason.com column, Kurt Loder says, "The Oscars, like such less-exalted entertainments as dwarf-tossing and butter-eating contests, are inconsequential fun. They may reflect only the dubious judgments of a self-selected group of movie-biz insiders, but amid the raucous, taunting merriment in our living rooms, we happily ignore that."
Video: Academy Awards Alert! Why You Might Be a Fashion Criminal
 

The Mind of a Police Dog
Reason magazine's Radley Balko writes that professional "dog/handler teams correctly completed a search with no alerts in just 21 of the 144 walk-throughs. The other 123 searches produced an astounding 225 alerts, every one of them false...Dogs can be valuable investigative tools. They are great, for example, at following a scent in searches for suspects or sniffing out survivors after a disaster. The bomb-detecting dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan are successful because their handlers have no preconceptions about where bombs may lie. Indeed, they are putting their lives in the dogs' paws. With no cues from their masters to cloud their judgment, the dogs are free to go about their task unbiased. But while Canis domesticus retains many of its wilder relative's sensory abilities, it is in many ways a man-made animal. When we don't take that reality into account, a dog can be worse than useless. But that's not the dog's fault. It's ours."
Balko Talks Police Dogs With Andrew Napolitano   Losing the Brains Race Reason magazine columnist Veronique de Rugy examines why more education spending isn't resulting in better results.

India and China Have Nothing OUs
In her column for the The Daily iPad publication, Reason Foundation's Shikha Dahlmia suggests looking at the bright side: America does not have India's infrastructure deficit or China's civil society deficit; America does not have grinding poverty; and American education is vastly superior to India's or China's.

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