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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My First Tea Party

I attended my very first tea party this evening. I've been with them in spirit for awhile now, but this was my first actual meeting. What got me out of the house, into my car and over to the meeting was a chance to hear Chelene Nightingale speak and as it turned out, to meet her afterward. I also volunteered for her campaign. I figure I have to vote for somebody for governor,  and it sure isn't going to be somebody who is a big fat liar or nutty Jerry Brown.

Here's a funny little story about Jerry Brown which has absolutely no significance whatsoever other than it is my funny little story and I get to name drop. Way back in the day, 1988 or so, I was at an interview that would land me my first real job - the kind where they no longer refund all of your taxes. We were in the middle of the interview when all of a sudden the door opened suddenly and a man stuck his head in wanting to know where he could find more printer ink. My future boss told him, and he closed the door and scurried off. My future boss chuckled and said something about Jerry Brown and it took me a few seconds to realize that the man in desperate need of printer ink was, in fact Jerry Brown, the former Governor of California and soon to be candidate for president. Turned out he attended Jesuit seminary together with the the big boss who was letting him use an office for a spell. Later that year, Governor Brown turned up as the keynote speaker at a symposium my company hosted and gave a hilarious talk, although now I can't remember a word he said. We all got to shake his hand and say howdy afterwards, which at that time I thought was really neato.

Told you it was irrelevant.

But back to the tea party. Contrary to how the tea party is portrayed in the Messed Up Media, those in attendance were simply normal, everyday people - most of them a good 10 or 20 years older than I am. They sat in chairs and listened to the speakers and then asked questions during the Q&A session when a given speaker had finished. We raised our hands, waited to be called on, then asked our question. Some people shared stories about how our Final Solutions Act, AB 32 is going to put them out of business. So much for right-wing terrorists plotting to blow things up. I recommend you attend a tea party before casting your next vote or forming an opinion on the tea party movement. Your vote does matter, especially when you consider that fewer than 500 people voted in the city of Bell election that allowed their Council members to raise their salaries to 100K a year. Out of city of around 40,000.

I learned a few interesting little factoids, too - of particular interest was the fact that I am most likely going to spend at least the next 30 years working to fund the cushy retirement of the thousands upon thousands of public employees who have taken this state to the cleaners. Here in my town we had four such employees retire this year, and each one got lump sum payments of $324,000 from accrued sick and vacation pay (they will get pensions on top). Did I mention they shut down a public library? One of those payments could have kept it going. In fact 80% of  government expenditures in this state goes to pay our public employees.

Next time you vote, consider these figures:

  • Average salary in the public sector $75,000 + $30-$40K in benefits 
  • Average salary of public safety employees $90,000
  • In Ventura, there are only 6 firemen making less than $100,000 year (rookies)
  • 50% of our police retire on disability - which means that 50% of their pension is tax free.

Chelene Nightingale for California Governor 2010
Chelene Nightingale - candidate for the California Gubernatorial race of 2010
Chelene Nightingale for California Governor, 2010
The state of California has roughly $600 Billion in unfunded liabilities related to all these pensions. This means the money we would normally use to pay for schools, roads and paper clips will increasingly be gobbled up by pension costs. They will want you to pay more, of course.

That's why I'm voting for Chelene. She is the only one willing to address the bloated monster that is California government.


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