Special Commentary: Pretending to Be Something I Am

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Clinton with Sodexho Workers
Former President Bill Clinton met with Sodexho Food Service workers in support of their labor efforts in January 2008 during a campaign stop at the ARC stumping for his wife, Hilary Clinton.

 Someone this week asked how I kept my sanity writing on the Vanguard every day and my short answer was playing with my children quickly grounds me in reality, but, at the same time, one of the biggest job requirements for this job is to have really thick skin.

If you care about each barb and criticism thrown out by the readers, you are not fit to be writing in the public on a forum where the readers can respond.  Still, I was taken aback and then bemused by a comment from a regular poster who accused me of “pretending to be something you are not, a liberal.”

The genesis of the discussion was a piece I wrote this week that the budget crisis in the city is worse that we feared.  I got accused of wanting to “balance the budget with pay cuts and outsourcing.”

In actuality, what I wrote is that “in the short term the city will put a tax revenue measure on the ballot. In the longer term, the city is looking at economic development strategies to increase the tax base. But by the time that kicks in the city may be in far more hurt than we have ever anticipated.”

For that I got accused of being “on the edge of right wing Neverland.”

What became clear is that his view of what a liberal meant was very narrowly focused as “an unabashed champion of the labor movement.”  By that Mr. Toad apparently means that being an unabashed champion of the labor movement means never having a wage, pension or benefit increase that you oppose.

I have a different view of the world.  I once read an article about Ron Dellums and why he decided to become chair of the armed services committee. He did it because he wanted to free up money for the types of social spending programs that he championed.

Ron Dellums, as Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, became an expert on the budget for military weapons, so respected during his prime that even people who disagreed with him acknowledged his expertise.

That left an impression on me that we if want money for schools and social services, then we need to be budget hawks on the left, and we cannot allow public monies to be sunk into enriching already well-paid public employees.

The biggest failure of Mr. Toad is that he fails to differentiate between support of the labor movement and supporting groups which are largely manipulating the policies meant to benefit the average worker, not to serve the community, but to enhance their own bottom line.

At the local level we see this most clearly with the firefighters’ union who make, as an entry level, total compensation of $175,000 annually and that is before overtime.  At the state level, we see that with the prison guards.

Moreover, with these large amounts of compensation comes corruption, and a good deal of focus that we have had is not on the firefighters, not even on the rank and file in their union, but rather on the corrupt activities of their union boss.

I am a strong supporter of defined benefits pensions.  I believe that most public employees, especially those at the state level, took jobs with the belief and understanding that they would be taken care of at retirement.  However, six figure pensions threaten to undermine the defined benefit system.

It undermines the system to provide public safety employees 3% of their final pay at an age of retirement of 50.  One of the most pervasive myths in the debate over pension for public employees has been the justification for receiving the enhanced safety benefits.

In actuality, public safety employees and miscellaneous workers, according to a 2009 report by CalPERS, actually have the same life expectancy.

It undermines the labor movement to increase pension formulas without funding them.  It undermines the labor movement to create unfunded liabilities by failing to properly fund retiree health care plans.

I also remain a strong supporter of unions.  Historically, without unions we would not have the forty-hour work week, the eight-hour day, child labor laws, workplace protection laws, and all sort of other protections that we take for granted today.

The history of the labor movement shows us that those things were not given to the workers.  They have to fight for them – literally.  Even one hundred years ago, a strike was met with armed militias and strike breakers, and there were frequent clashes and violence.

Being pro-union and pro-labor movement does not mean blindly supporting everything that is labeled as union or labor.  Supporting people who make $150,000 to $200,000 is not the same as supporting those who are fighting paycheck to paycheck for decent wages and benefits.

In fact, I believe that supporting people who make that kind of compensation does more harm to the cause of labor than good.

The question at this point is what we have to do going forward.  This week, I have laid out the mistakes that have been made to get us to this point.

Mr. Toad argues, “A sales tax increase therefore of $3.4 million gets us a long way towards solvency. Increasing our revenue stream by a few million dollars a year through economic development should get us to the finish line.”

Mr. Toad is wrong here.  In fact, he is not even close.  A sales tax increase that generates $3.4 million only gets us 68% of the way to a balanced budget in the best of circumstances.

The numbers we are looking at far exceed that $5 million.  As we demonstrated this week, those numbers do not account for things like roads, parks, water, and building infrastructure.

By way of example, just to keep the roads at the current level over the next five years will add between $5 million and $8 million annually.

As we argued this week, the city balanced the budget from 2008 until 2011 through attrition and failing to fund infrastructure needs.  So while the city has, through contract restructuring, addressed a number of structural issues, the policies of the previous council are undermining what should be fiscal sustainability.

Mr. Toad’s solution does not begin to address the problem in the short term.  It is my view that laying off additional city employees to balance the budget is far worse than asking all city employees to take additional pay cuts – but that may be where we need to go.

Unfortunately, the “pro-labor” council in 2009 made agreements that did not go nearly far enough.  That is not Monday-morning quarterbacking – we were arguing this point at the time, and were ignored.

The result is that the next round of MOUs had to address the structural issues and therefore could not address the salary issues.

At the end of the day, I think everyone involved would prefer not to lay off another 100 employees, but right now the numbers are that bad.  Until we are willing to accept this, and figure out a way through, things are not going to improve.

For me, as we finally move into good times at some point, the lesson of this recession is that liberals need to become deficit and budget hawks.  If we wish to be able to sustain and fund social programs, revamp education and restore social services, we need to do so by finding ways to be more creative and more restrained in other spending.

It is ironic but the biggest threat to the labor movement is the labor movement being given too much during good times.  In order to protect the labor movement, we must be fiscally cautious, even in good times.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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113 thoughts on “Special Commentary: Pretending to Be Something I Am”

  1. Michael Harrington

    The water group members are doing their part to help balance the budget in the face of extreme pressure by wealthy interest groups that stand to make billions from the water plant while it sucks our community fiscally dry. The firefighters are only drops of water in the pond.

    The current rate structure takes from the poor and middle class and subsidizes the elites in town.

    1. Tia Will

      Michael

      I see this situation somewhat differently.
      It seems to me that the “water group members” seem to correspond to the previous “no new water source” members and the “no new tax” members and possibly the “no new growth” members. What I would ask of this group, just as I have asked it of the “grow as much as we can ” members, what is your realistic plan ( including projected numbers) for how to meet the economic challenges that we are indisputably facing ?

    2. John Baldry

      The water group members are doing their part to help balance the budget in the face of extreme pressure by wealthy interest groups that stand to make billions from the water plant while it sucks our community fiscally dry. The firefighters are only drops of water in the pond.

      Mr. Harrington, your statements are erroneous on a number of different levels.

      Your efforts to challenge the water rates will do nothing to help balance the budget because the unbalanced budget is in the General Fund and the rates you are challenging are in the Water Enterprise Fund. By California Law those two Funds can not be commingled.

      Your efforts to challenge the the water rates can not by law call into question the total amount of the costs of the surface project. Your challenge only calls into question the proportional distribution of those costs to individual rate payers. You are currently engaged in an exercise of trying to move around the deck chairs on an ocean liner that is under full steam proceeding to its designated destination.

      Until you challenge the legality of the actual surface plant costs you will not be saving the ratepayers as a group even one penny. You might end up moving money from one rate payer to another, but in each case that movement will always net out to zero.

      Since water doesn’t drop into General Fund budget balancing at all, the firefighters are in fact the biggest drop in the pond.

      1. Mr. Toad

        The firefighters are not the biggest drop in the pond because there are not that many. They could be the lowest hanging fruit but not the biggest drop in the pond.

        1. John Baldry

          That is one way of looking at it Mr. Toad, but when one firefighter position is cut from the budget the amount of money saved is a much bigger drop than when one DCEA employee or Police Department employee is cut.

  2. Mr. Toad

    “Yes, that’s precisely what I said, balance the budget with pay cuts and outsourcing.”

    David you forgot to include the above quote where you confirmed my assessment nor did you respond to my excerpt from E.J.Dionne’s piece about George Miller where he defends labor unions. Look you can declare you are a liberal all you want but if you need to defend it you probably are not. Its like the opposite of Nixon and Christie who denied being a crook or a bully. If you have to deny it you probably are a crook or a bully. Recently you have repeatedly written about your lack of sympathy for people taking pay cuts.

    As for a tax increase that gets us 68% of the way home on our operating deficit in an improving economy that might go a long way to getting us to the finish line. I also wrote at some length about other things we could do. The employees of Davis have either taken cuts or had them imposed on them. Its time to start looking at other solutions. You want to go right back to that well for more, you want to do things that under current conditions and law seem impossible like cutting pensions of current employees. But worst of all you want to rub it in the workers faces. It may come to more cuts or layoffs for city employees but your hard line in your face approach is not helpful in getting people to agree on a path forward. In San Jose where Chuck Reed went the initiative route they just had to raise the cops salary because they were all leaving for other jobs. Yesterday you were complaining about how few applicants we have for cop positions and how their pay doesn’t stack up against other local communities. So is this who you want to cut.

    You complain about the firefighters being over paid even though they don’t have the best salary in the region. Its still above average agreed but they just had a contract imposed and the city is outsourcing new hires to the university where the scale is lower. How much more of your supposed 13 million deficit do you think can be squeezed out of the fire department? We already reduced the crews to 3 and did the boundary drop, We already imposed a contract and raised their contributions to their retirement. You have argued that the health care cash out has been minimized (something I question). Now we have merged fire services with UC saving $20,000 per employee hired on that side of the ledger. So lets assume we got to austerity right wing neverland and cut our firefighters to the UC rates even though they make less than the area median that doesn’t even save us one million dollars a year in total compensation. Not even 20% of our deficit.

    In my assessment David you are bitter and can’t accept the reality that its not possible to strangle the fire department employees to economic death. I accept this and want to take a more gradual approach to getting things under control. As Nancy Pelosi said about the Paul- Murray recent budget deal “Embrace the suck.” Now that is the voice of a liberal.

    1. Tia Will

      Mr. Toad

      Liberals do not speak with a single voice. I have no animosity to any group, or any individual for that matter, in the controversy over police/ firefighter compensation. However, I believe that you are either not seeing or choosing not to see the nuances in David’s position. One does not have to approve 100% of every action of a union official in order to be over all pro union. I firmly believe that each individual’s actions should be judged separately. It is certainly true that in our community, firefighter union leadership has chosen to take a non evidence based approach to trying to maintain their previous mode of operation and benefits despite being asked many times in different venues to support that position with facts.

      This is surely worth some degree of criticism without broad judgements about the overall political ideology of the individuals doing the criticizing. I also have spoken out about the tactics of current union leadership. I also consider myself to be a liberal. Do you honestly believe that my lack of willingness to take what the firefighter leadership is selling on face value without evidence makes me a conservative in disguise ?

    2. Matt Williams

      Mr. Toad said . . .

      “As for a tax increase that gets us 68% of the way home on our operating deficit in an improving economy that might go a long way to getting us to the finish line.”

      Toad, you mathematics once again falls well short of the mark. Our 5-year deficit in the General Fund is $31 million (producing a General Fund Reserves deficit balance of $28 million at the end of that 5-year period). In addition, based on the information presented to Council on 12/10 we have an additional $40 million deficit in streets, bringing the total 5-year deficit to $71 million.

      How close does your tax increase get us to that finish line? It generates $11 million to $12 million oer 5 years, which gets us less than 17% of the way to that $71 million finish line.

      I ask you, is 17% out of 100% equal to “a long way there”?

      1. Mr. Toad

        Matt you keep claiming I’m wrong on my numbers but you and David don’t offer any other solutions beyond cutting. Maybe we need to put in a parcel tax too. We also need to foster economic growth. As i have said an improving economy, economic growth and a parcel tax can make up a lot of ground. As for the roads we are not going to spend 40 million we don’t have fixing the roads in the next five years without borrowing and amortizing out those costs over time. Its just not possible and you know it. Even doing it your way you can’t cut your way out of this so the answer is a mix of solutions but we just cut city workers through negotiation or imposition so are you suggesting we cut them some more? If so what would you cut to raise your 71 million dollars?

        1. Matt Williams

          Toad, I have said that the ramp up time for Innovation Park Economic Development is probably 3 years, so in the short run we have no choice other than to add 1/2% to the Sales Tax and a $400 per year Parcel Tax, and both those tax increases should be on the June ballot. Those two incremental Tax increases need to be considered as permanent until, and unless, the voters of Davis pass a measure J/R vote entitling either the East Innovation Park or the West Innovation Park in November.

          Additional cuts in the short run face two challenges. First, all the unions just agreed to, or reluctantly acceded to, wage cuts, so at least a little bit of time will have to pass before we ask the unions for further cuts. Further head count cuts may be possible, but not without the elimination of services … unless Steve Pinkerton can identify further outsourcing opportunities.

          So the only choice that has any certainty is the increase ofg the two Taxes in the short run and a very clear commitment to crafting a messge to the no-growth part of this community (and the silent middle) that unless we commit to economic growth on the Innovation Park Task Force sites, the Taxes will be permanent.

        2. David Greenwald Post author

          “Matt you keep claiming I’m wrong on my numbers but you and David don’t offer any other solutions beyond cutting. ”

          I’ve offered short term taxes and longer term economic development. I’ve done so many times in the last few months. You are being dishonest here when you say I don’t offer “any” solution beyond cutting.

          However, “As i have said an improving economy, economic growth and a parcel tax can make up a lot of ground.”

          Longer term, an improving economy and economic growth development can make up ground. A parcel tax or a sales tax, will not get us to $5 million this year, and $5 million is not enough.

          So we are going to have to cut more in the short term, there is no way around it.

          1. Mr. Toad

            Problem is you lead with your chin while trying to punch workers in the nose. We may need to cut more and a $400 dollar parcel tax may be the number in addition to a sales tax increase or perhaps a combination of both or maybe economic growth and financing the road funds over a longer term will lessen the blows. Doing both taxes on the June ballot is a bitter pill and politically hard to do especially when the decision makers and the finance people, the people who actually are responsible for making these decisions, haven’t figured out how much to turn the dials on each variable.

            Pinkerton has laid out the problem and the Council knows they need to grapple with a tough reality when they get to the budget but you guys think you know the answers and spout off without the popular support of the voters and in Matt’s case without even living in the city where he would be subject to the parcel tax he proposes.

            David’s constant, bitter and flippant attacks on the city employees in general and the firefighters in particular doesn’t help the community reach a consensus about what needs to be done. These employees either willingly or through contract imposition have recently taken a hit so asking them for more should be near the back of the line among our choices yet you lead with that issue on an almost daily basis. Verbally punching the workers in the nose with your crass insensitive attacks on a regular basis and your constant demands for austerity calls into question your political philosophy. Saying you support the poorest workers is not enough to call yourself a liberal if you are gleeful about balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class workers whose public sector jobs have wages that may not even allow them to afford to live in the town where they work.

          2. Mr. Toad

            Correction:

            Saying you support the poorest workers is not enough to call yourself a liberal if you are gleeful about balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class workers whose public sector jobs have wages that may not even allow them to afford to live in the town where they work.

          3. Matt Williams

            Mr. Toad said . . .

            “Problem is you lead with your chin while trying to punch workers in the nose. We may need to cut more and a $400 dollar parcel tax may be the number in addition to a sales tax increase or perhaps a combination of both or maybe economic growth and financing the road funds over a longer term will lessen the blows. Doing both taxes on the June ballot is a bitter pill and politically hard to do especially when the decision makers and the finance people, the people who actually are responsible for making these decisions, haven’t figured out how much to turn the dials on each variable.

            Pinkerton has laid out the problem and the Council knows they need to grapple with a tough reality when they get to the budget but you guys think you know the answers and spout off without the popular support of the voters and in Matt’s case without even living in the city where he would be subject to the parcel tax he proposes. “

            I completely agree that seeing both on a June ballot will be a bitter pill to swallow, but it is the reality that we face. We are “kicking the can down the road” if we choose to either increase the already overwhelmingly large inventory of deferred expenses, or incur debt so that we can pay over 65% more for the exact same end result with our streets maintenance.

            The problem is that by law the City can not operate with a negative General Fund balance (unlike both the Federal Government and the State). So the 5 million deficit in 2014 that exists before adding any streets expenditures has to be covered. That isn’t something we have any alternatives for.

            Pinkerton and Staff have indeed laid out the problem, but because of very understandable time management of a very busy Council schedule, the information has been presented in pieces over the two meetings on December 10th and December 17th. A single consolidated picture of the Budget including the Deferred Streets Maintenance annual costs has not been as yet presented to the Council. That is in part because the Council hasn’t formally chosen which Streets Scenario to pursue.

            One option could be to further defer the streets maintenance, but the fiscal implications of that decision are frightening if you look at the graph below:

             photo ConditionCurve21.png

            http://vanderhawk.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/ConditionCurve21.png

            The Pavement Condition Index (PCI) of our streets is already at the level of the low 60’s, which is right on the border between Fair and Poor, which is also the point where the cost curve changes dramatically as the graphic clearly shows. Choosing not to spend $1 now in exchange for spending $4 to $5 in the very near future is not a fiscally wise decision.

          4. Mr. Toad

            Why do you say we? Will El Macero be paying the parcel tax that you say we need to fund up front for the roads?. Cannery, Nishi and an innovation park are off in the future but a an improving economy is likely to generate some additional revenues over the conservative numbers Pinkerton used in his report.

          5. Matt Williams

            Toad, you appear to be catching hpierce disease. “We” are a community. I volunteer within the non-El Macero part of the community at more than a half dozen different places that benefit Davis citizens almost exclusively. Further, my taxes maintain the County roads that your taxes do not maintain, but you use. If you want to get parochial, please be my guest, but rest assured that the public healthcare services that my taxes pay for, but yours don’t (because those public healthcare services are provided by the County and not the City) are part of a give-and-take services provision system that balances out in the end.

          6. Mr. Toad

            Yes Matt but I don’t tell the county what taxes they should impose on you and imagine if I suggested a massive tax increase in El Macero without concern for what the citizens there might think about the need for a longer payment schedule.

          7. Matt Williams

            Toad, I am not telling anyone what they should do. That responsibility first falls on the shoulders of the Council and then on the shoulders of the voters. All I am doing is candidly and dispassionately sharing the cold, hard facts of the City’s fiscal situation. Are you saying that the citizens of Davis should make an underinformed, or uninformed, decision about the City’s fiscal present and future? If you are saying that, then you are perpetuating the long legacy of underinformed and/or uninformed decisions that have littered the past 10 years of City of Davis fiscal decisions.

  3. Mr. Toad

    Wait wait maybe you are a Liberal.

    “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” was written by Ochs, Phil.

    I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
    Tears ran down my spine
    I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
    As though I’d lost a father of mine

    But Malcolm X got what was coming
    He got what he asked for this time
    So love me, love me
    Love me, I’m a liberal

    I go to civil rights rallies
    And I put down the old D.A.R.
    I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
    I hope every colored boy becomes a star

    But don’t talk about revolution
    That’s going a little bit too far
    So love me, love me
    Love me, I’m a liberal

    I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
    My faith in the system restored
    And I’m glad the commies were thrown out
    Of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board

    I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
    As long as they don’t move next door
    So love me, love me
    Love me, I’m a liberal

    The people of old Mississippi
    Should all hang their heads in shame
    I can’t understand how their minds work
    What’s the matter don’t they watch Les Crain?

    But if you ask me to bus my children
    I hope the cops take down your name
    So love me, love me
    Love me, I’m a liberal

    Yes, I read New republic and Nation
    I’ve learned to take every view
    You know, I’ve memorized Lerner and Golden
    I feel like I’m almost a Jew

    But when it comes to times like Korea
    There’s no one more red, white and blue
    So love me, love me
    Love me, I’m a liberal

    I vote for the democratic party
    They want the U.N. to be strong
    I attend all the Pete Seeger concerts
    He sure gets me singing those songs

    And I’ll send all the money you ask for
    But don’t ask me to come on along
    So love me, love me
    Love me, I’m a liberal

    Sure once I was young and impulsive
    I wore every conceivable pin
    Even went to the socialist meetings
    Learned all the old union hymns

    Ah, but I’ve grown older and wiser
    And that’s why I’m turning you in
    So love me, love me
    Love me, I’m a liberal

    Songwriters
    OCHS, PHIL

    Published by
    Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

    Read more: Phil Ochs – Love Me, I’m A Liberal Lyrics | MetroLyrics

    1. Frankly

      LOL. Yes, this song can be named “Liberal By Guilt”. Their support of left ideology stops short of real or perceived material impacts to their happiness, and starts where it results in real or perceived supplements to their happiness.

      It is a fundamental difference for the well-off liberal versus the well-off conservative. The former feels guilty about being well-off while also being consumed with a perpetual need to protect and supplement personal happiness from external validation. The well-off conservative is not consumed by guilt, and has no need for external validation to protect and supplement personal happiness.

      This makes the well-off conservative prone to being perceived as apathetic by comparison. But the drive to pursue happiness from external validation makes the well-off liberal prone to bad decisions and hypocrisy.

      I see the rise of Democrat political power being driven by a demographic voting bubble comprised of the standard young idealist voter (that tend to vote left until they start earning a living), a big increase of minority voters (that tend to vote left until they assimilate) and lastly a phenomenon of middle-aged baby boomers racked with emotional and psychological deficits resulting from an abundance of unresolved childhood issues that derived from parents of a Great Depression and a great World War. And these are the people consumed with a perpetual need for external validation.

      1. wdf1

        I see the rise of Democrat political power being driven by a demographic voting bubble comprised of the standard young idealist voter (that tend to vote left until they start earning a living), a big increase of minority voters (that tend to vote left until they assimilate) and lastly a phenomenon of middle-aged baby boomers racked with emotional and psychological deficits resulting from an abundance of unresolved childhood issues that derived from parents of a Great Depression and a great World War. And these are the people consumed with a perpetual need for external validation.

        And by stupid alternatives offered by the Republican party, including hanging on to an irrational opposition to same-sex marriage, blanket opposition to healthcare reform without articulating a clear alternatives, and in general *not* presenting a positive platform rather than opposing whatever Obama is for. These points I offer are the biggest reason for the demographic voting bubble.

          1. Frankly

            The facts are that true conservatism has been lacking for decades, and is directly attributable to our economic and social decline
            LOL.

            Should have written:

            The facts are that true conservatism has been lacking for decades, and the lack of true conservatism is directly attributable to our economic and social decline.

          2. Don Shor

            Now I’m very curious. Can you identify any political figure of the last several decades who meets your definition of a ‘true conservative’? Because now I have no idea what you think conservatism really is.

        1. Frankly

          That is your opinion, but then you are ideologically biased. So you naturally don’t value what the GOP presents as a “positive” platform.

          And of course you continue to believe that what the Democrats are delivering is a positive platform even as the negative impacts continue to build.

          The recent political success of the left is simply explained by two things: one – their corresponding success to falsely brand conservatism as the ideology of failure, when the truth is that conservatism had corrupted itself to be another form of neo-liberal-progressivism. And two – their success using the corrupted-left media to falsely brand conservatives as highly racist, gender-biased and homophobic.

          The facts are that true conservatism has been lacking for decades, and is directly attributable to our economic and social decline, and true conservatism is the most accepting and integrating of any superficial group-isms based on a common expectation of socially beneficial behavior.

          And this gets back to my previous point about the increase of emotionally and psychologically underdeveloped voters having so many unresolved childhood issues. The voice of conservatives demanding common decent behavior reminds them of the ghosts of their parents. If feels like rejection, and the human animal, because it is so helpless as a child, is naturally wired to respond strongly to any feeling of rejection.

          It is this lack of real struggle that has led us to this point, IMO. But the cycle will continue. The lack of struggle results in underdeveloped adults that perpetually demand external assistance and validation to maintain their happiness and this results in a declining society that eventually causes another era of real struggle than then causes in well-developed adults that earn their confidence of self-sufficiency and demand the same from others.

          Tocqueville wrote: “Democratic institutions awaken and foster a passion for equality which they can never entirely satisfy. This complete equality eludes the grasp of the people at the very moment they think they have grasped it . . . the people are excited in the pursuit of an advantage, which is more precious because it is not sufficiently remote to be unknown or sufficiently near to be enjoyed.

          Democratic institutions strongly tend to promote the feeling of envy, which leads to a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom.”

          Tocqueville foresaw exactly how this regulatory state would suffocate the spirit of free enterprise: “It rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces the nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.”

          So this is the trajectory. And our children will pay the price with eventual catastrophic failure. My expectation is that a US constantly weakened by the demand of the growing population of under-developed adults will lead to the US being overthrown by military conquest.

          History backs this prediction. Especially since the US is such a young country and its people are stupid in truly understanding the source of the countries greatness and the risks to its eventual decline.

      2. Don Shor

        …the former feels guilty…external validation… racked with emotional and psychological deficits resulting from an abundance of unresolved childhood issues…

        That’s right, I forgot you were a psychologist. Lots of training that makes it possible for you to analyze people you don’t know and come to sweeping conclusions about what motivates them. Clearly you have insight into the minds of liberals! Please, keep it up.

        1. Frankly

          Common tool of the politics of the left… eliminate all opinions except those from “qualified” academics.

          Of course I was generalizing. Exceptions always exist. For example, the conservative racked by unresolved childhood issues.

          1. Don Shor

            You always generalize, and oddly enough your mock-psycho generalizations about “the left” are always derogatory. Evidently, in Frankly’s world, leftists are wracked with psychological issues, while conservatives are well balanced and emotionally healthy. Or something. Possibly a little projection going on? But I wouldn’t know. I’m just a plant guy.

          2. Frankly

            There are plenty of factual studies that prove that conservatives are generally much happier than liberals even when controlled by economic class.

          3. wdf1

            Frankly: There are plenty of factual studies that prove that conservatives are generally much happier than liberals even when controlled by economic class.

            And there’s this study that says:

            Political ideology had no bearing on overall life satisfaction, but the most conservative men on average shut down their sex lives around age 68, while the most liberal men had healthy sex lives well into their 80s.

            If I vote liberally, it’s perhaps because I hope to have sex in my 80’s. 😉

          4. Frankly

            LOL. Thanks for the chuckle!

            Me too… since that is about 5 years after I plan to retire given that liberals have taxed me to death to enable all those gubment workers to retire in their 50s.

            I think the reason conservatives are not having as much sex late in life is that they tend to work harder and live harder and flame out earlier. I’m fine with that because sex at 80 really does not sound too exciting from my perspective. Although maybe if and when I reach that age I might feel different about it… but I doubt it.

          5. B. Nice

            “There are plenty of factual studies that prove that conservatives are generally much happier than liberals even when controlled by economic class.”

            I don’t know, those people on Fox News always seem pretty pissed off to me.

          6. growth issue

            I love all the liberals that supposedly claim to watch Fox. Oh wait, maybe they do, that’s why Fox News has such high ratings.

          7. B. Nice

            What is the average age of Fox News viewers again?

            All of us younger, hipper liberals are busy, so we don’t gave time to watch the ill informed, fear mongering, sensationalized news that is provided on 24 hours news channels. We just watch Jon Stewart, who at times provides a scary peak into the world of Foxx news. Plus my 73 year old mother always has it blaring in the background when I visit her house, and lowering it never seems to work. Given the average age of their audience maybe they have to broadcast it loud to make surer viewers know when the Obama death panels are coming for them.

          8. Frankly

            Funny you should bring this up, because I know have to watch Keith Oberman on ESPN after he got fired from MSNBC for one too many of his steady stream of angry rants.

            And if you really did watch Fox News and you really did give this point some reflection, you would agree that all the Fox News people are happy, happy, happy… and it is you that is scowling because you don’t like what they say.

          9. B. Nice

            I don’t watch any 24 hour news channel, from the little I’ve seen, their coverage is “crappy”. When they are not at commercial they are mostly talking about what they are going to talk about after the commercial.

            My point is that the people broadcasting the crappy news on the Foxx channel don’t seem like a particularly happy bunch.

          10. Jim Frame

            ” you would agree that all the Fox News people are happy, happy, happy”

            I especially enjoyed watching happy, happy, happy Karl Rove on election night. That was just plain fun!

          11. growth issue

            You’re right Jim that Karl Rove was long faced that night, he reminded me of how the whole MSNBC panel looked on the 2010 midterm election night.

          12. Don Shor

            Apparently, conservatives are happier because they are better able to rationalize, and thus accept, inequality. At least, according to these (very likely liberal) researchers: http://www.psych.nyu.edu/jost/Napier%20&%20Jost%20(2008)%20Why%20are%20conservatives%20happier%20than%20libe.pdf

            I’m sure their argument is cogent, but I didn’t get all the way through the article because I really don’t care all that much about this kind of thing. But since I’m certainly not a liberal, at least not by Mr. Toad’s definition, that all makes sense.

          13. Frankly

            I don’t know any liberals that meet Mr. Toads definition. If David is a conservative, you too must be one. Welcome to the club!

            I do agree that conservatives are better able to rationalize. And they do accept inequity… as do most liberals… except when it come to money… which gets me back to one of my original points that liberals tend to have a weird emotional relationship with money. Liberals are afflicted with class stratification related to money. Conservatives just see it as money.

            And if you want to argue against my point that liberals also do not have a problem with non-monetary inequity, then explain how grading, SAT scores and giving GPAs are not forms of inequity.

          14. Frankly

            For a plant guy it never seems to stop you from delivering strong opinions on a number of subjects. For example, economic development. I would not discount your opinions because you lack a degree in business, economics or public policy.

            I tend to find a lot of compelling insight in deep-thinking people outside of the bubble of their singular-credentialed expertise. In fact, I often see creative and objective malaise in people too vested in their professional identity.

          15. wdf1

            Frankly: For example, the conservative racked by unresolved childhood issues.

            And “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”.

            -debatably attributed to Sigmund Freud

      3. Tia Will

        Frankly

        “It is a fundamental difference for the well-off liberal versus the well-off conservative. The former feels guilty about being well-off while also being consumed with a perpetual need to protect and supplement personal happiness from external validation. The well-off conservative is not consumed by guilt, and has no need for external validation to protect and supplement personal happiness.”

        In my opinion, this ranks as one of the most ridiculous posts you have ever made. First you are not even bothering to pretend that you have any basis for such a generalization. Secondly, you choose to ignore evidence to the contrary. What evidence?

        Well what about a personal anecdote. I happen to be one of those well off liberals. As such I can guarantee you that I do not feel the least bit guilty about being well off nor do I feel the need for any external validation of my happiness or lack thereof. What I do have is an immense gratitude for the public assistance I received that enabled me to use my own talents and ambition to further my material well being. I also have a keen awareness that the success I have achieved was not the result only of my own efforts but by the social system that provided for me when I would have been in abject poverty without such assistance. What I also have is a desire to see the same advantages that were extended to me during my childhood extended to all who are in need of help to achieve their dreams. What I really believe distinguishes me from some very vocal well off conservatives is that I do not pretend that I did everything all by myself thus depending on a delusion for much of my assessment of my self worth.

        1. growth issue

          Tia Will:
          “What I really believe distinguishes me from some very vocal well off conservatives is that I do not pretend that I did everything all by myself thus depending on a delusion for much of my assessment of my self worth.”

          Hmmmmm, and to think that Tia Will posted just yesterday:
          “It seems to me from many of your posts that you may believe this because you automatially assume that when someone of a differnt political persuasion than you makes a criticism it must be because of their political ideology rather than because of an honest assessment of the facts before them.”

        2. Frankly

          I get that Tia. You were helped by the system and so you naturally model what you know and want more to be helped by the system.

          I think it is unfortunate that you believe that you would have not been as successful without all that help of the system. I know several people that were born poor from a broken family and did just fine.

          But today, with all the Obamanomics in play, it is probably true that fewer can lift themselves up the same way. Seems to me that Obama and the Dems are helping you be right about your worldview. That must feel good for you. It does not for me.

          1. Tia Will

            Frankly

            Once again, you offer a confident assertion about how I “must” feel without the slightest bit of knowledge of how I do feel. It must be nice to be so completely confident that you understand the inner workings of the minds of other human beings. Have you ever considered that this false confidence about your incorrect assumption about others might be at least part of the reason that conservatives rank themselves happier than others?

          2. SouthofDavis

            Tia wrote:

            > Once again, you offer a confident assertion about
            > how I “must” feel without the slightest bit of
            > knowledge of how I do feel.

            Frankly and I have no idea how Tia “feels” and can only go by what she posts and I remember him saying a while back that she “felt” bad living in a huge North Davis home so she moved to a smaller more modest East Davis home. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m pretty sure if you talk to people that bought smaller cars and smaller homes (when they had the cash to buy bigger ones), you find that most call themselves liberal and if you talk to people that buy bigger homes and cars than they need, you will find that most will call themselves “conservative”. Sure there are exceptions (like Al Gore with his 10,000sf home and John Kerry with his fleet of more than a half dozen Land Rovers and other SUVs) but for the most part when you see a single guy driving a Suburban who lives in a 6,000 sf home he is probably not a “liberal”…

          3. Tia Will

            Here is the problem that I have with Frankly’s statement. I did not move from North Davis because I “felt bad living in a huge North Davis home”. I moved from North Davis to Old East Davis because I did not need the space, liked a cozier personal environment and wanted to live where I could walk rather than drive nearly everywhere I want to go in town during my time off work. These are two very different reasons and yet Frankly assumes that I made the change because of a sense of guild. It is this assumption that he knows why “liberals” do what they do that is bothersome.

          4. Frankly

            You have to remember Tia that I have been a conservative around liberals and debating liberals for all my adult life. I am an somewhat of an expert in their behavior from observing their views and behaviors. You, unfortunately, do not have the same benefit of observation since conservatives have fled the state and you are surrounded mostly by people that think as you do.

            Like I said, there are exceptions.

            Liberals constantly demonize people that live certain lives… that have too much money, that live in too big a house, that drive too big of a car, that don’t bike or walk enough, that consume too much… so obviously a liberal is going to not do these things since they would fall into the category of people that they complain about. And in the case where a liberal does do these things – like Al Gore – they are racked with guilt and they do something else to atone…. like buy carbon offset credits.

          5. Tia Will

            “I think it is unfortunate that you believe that you would not…..”

            I live in the world that is Frankly. I see no point in speculating what I might have been had I not had enough to eat or a roof over my head. That is a story, not what actually happened. If you prefer to live in a story about what might be if everyone did things your way, fine. I just don’t believe that it is useful to pretend that individuals build their world by themselves independent of the system we live in.

    1. Mr. Toad

      “Still, I was taken aback and then bemused by a comment from a regular poster who accused me of “pretending to be something you are not, a liberal.’ ”

      You do realize David and i are friends and go after each other in pursuit of a good debate.

  4. Don Shor

    “Yes, that’s precisely what I said, balance the budget with pay cuts and outsourcing.”
    David you forgot to include the above quote where you confirmed my assessment…

    You do realize he was being sarcastic, don’t you?

    1. hpierce

      Perhaps he should have challenged the “outsourcing” part, as I don’t recall David recommending outsourcing, per se. Perhaps David should have taken a few deep, cleansing breaths, taken a brisk walk, and not “rise to the bait”. In my opinion, he was baited, took the bait, but the hook was not “set”.

          1. David Greenwald

            The broader point was the chance to lay out a philosophical vision more Broadly. To lay out the liberal basis for budget sustainability.

    2. Mr. Toad

      If this was the only time it would be one thing, but David recently wrote about how he doesn’t feel sorry for city employees who had to take cuts. There is a pattern here. David writes enough for regular readers to have a broad understanding of his view.

        1. Mr. Toad

          i got your point David but you do it over and over and when I call you on it you deny you are a conservative. If it were one time you could deny it but over a long period your political proclivities become clear.

          Why do you think you attract the people to your editorial board that you do? I wonder how many would think of themselves as liberal. Look at the regular posters here. Few are liberals. The fact of the matter is that the Davis Vanguard is a fiscally conservative scene with libertarian vies on social issues. It is anything but a full throated liberal voice for the community.

          1. David Greenwald

            Who on my board would you not call a liberal? Cecilia? Michelle? Tia? Robb (formerly)? Melissa? Brian Riley? The only one I might agree with you on is Matt Williams.

          2. B. Nice

            As a liberal, I want to protect unions, and will defend them against any negative forces, including internally generated ones, that might do them harm.

            Defending destructive union habits does nothing to help them, and does far more damage then anything David is doing.

          3. Matt Williams

            Toad, in the first few Vanguard Editorial Board meetings exactly that type of poll was taken. Tia and Bernie were the most left. Cecilia and David were a bit less left. Robb Davis came next, and I was clearly the least left of the Editorial Board. Robb has moved off the Editorial Board and Michelle has come on, and she fits into the Cecilia, David, Robb part of the political spectrum as best as I can tell. I am still the least left leaning member.

          4. B. Nice

            While I’m not one to toe a party line, my views on issues tend to line up with people who consider themselves liberal. But I’ve been known to stray from the pack.

  5. SouthofDavis

    Tia wrote:

    > Liberals do not speak with a single voice.

    We all know this but the number of “Liberal Democrats” that go outside the box and publically say that “maybe some members of public sector unions are overpaid” is about as small as the number of “Conservative Republicans” that say “maybe gay guys should be able to get married”.

    My liberal friends think I am evil since I think some (but not all) public sector workers are overpaid and my conservative friends think I am going to hell because I don’t care if gay people are “living in sin” and want to get married.

    Most people want to be part of a group and conform to that group. Since most adults don’t have the “thick skin” that David has (or want to deal with people in your group being mad at you) they (both liberals and conservatives) just take the easy way out and go with the “party line”…

    I commend David and the very small numbers of others in the media (like Armstrong & Getty on AM 650) that point out problems with BOTH the liberal and conservative “party line”…

    1. Mr. Toad

      Its why I wonder that David can’t simply admit he is not a liberal. Its no secret, years ago, in a post on this blog, Matt Rexroad offered to bring him a voter registration card so David could join the GOP.

  6. Don Shor

    why I wonder that David can’t simply admit he is not a liberal.

    This continues to be one of the funniest assertions I’ve seen on the Vanguard. Seriously: David Greenwald is clearly, unmistakably a liberal by nearly any definition of the term as used in American politics.

  7. SouthofDavis

    Toad wrote:

    > I wonder that David can’t simply admit he is not a liberal.

    Just because he is only about 98% liberal does not make him a conservative…

    A former college roommate who is a super conservative Republican (that agrees with Rush Limbaugh on just about everything) is shunned by many “conservatives” since as a “Log Cabin Republican” he “only” agrees with them on about 98% of the issues…

    1. Frankly

      You seem to know social conservatives, and not fiscal conservatives. I know a lot of conservatives living in CA, and very few of them would I count as being socially conservative. There are some that have a problem with gay marriage for rational reasons, and some that have a problem for religious reasons. While I don’t agree with everything I hear from them, I certainly respect their right to have an opinion as long as it does not cause anyone material harm. And I don’t know any conservatives that wish anyone material harm.

      1. Tia Will

        Well conservatives may not “wish” anyone material harm, but they certainly pursue policies that cause material harm. One has to go no further than The United States vs Windsor to see that conservatively driven attempts to prevent gay marriages from being legalized caused a great deal of “material harm”. It was most certainly conservatives attempting to prevent gay couples from having the same material as well as social benefits enjoyed by straight couples.

  8. Biddlin

    As someone who takes a crack at David’s stance on labour and pensions, because he tars those of us living on low five figures with his too broad brush, I do not doubt his sincerity when claims he isn’t talking about those pensions or those positions. I am bemused by his naivete that bureaucrats would cut elsewhere first. I applaud his exposure of political, judicial,, law enforcement and social issues in Davis and Yolo county. He and the Vanguard offer a view to cases and incidents that are otherwise lost in the news noise.
    And so for my “accusations,” please accept my apologies if they were too harsh. I will, in future, temper my criticisms, taking into account the damage done by years of drinking the water and sleep deprivation from parenthood. BTW David, if you do that right, they do a great job of taking care of you down the road.
    So your Liberal card is good with me. Wanna come down to South Texas and register voters?
    Biddlin ;>)/

  9. Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald

    Hi Toad,

    I could not help but log in and comment upon being referred to as a “conservative” member of the board. Lol…Six of my siblings are “card carrying Republicans” and my eldest sister Paulina and I along with my late mother, Adela, are the only Democrats (Liberals) in the family. My mom made me swear while she was on her death bed that I would remain a “Democrat (Liberal).” I love my Republican family members tremendously and I must say that they would laugh at the fact that someone in Davis thinks of us as “conservatives.”

    David a conservative??? Ask my brother Angel who is a pastor and practically wrote a sermon for me when he found out that David and I were getting married 11 years ago. ***For the record the 3 pastors in my family (Angel, Michael and Aaron [nephews] ) love David and are very happy that I was blessed with a wonderful spouse like David. They admit they were wrong ***

    Let’s see, I wonder if I am the first “conservative” that :

    1) Will NOT cross a picket line (in the name of solidarity with my union brothers and sisters);

    2) While a student at UCD, join fellow students in a protest at Mrak Hall over Prop 187 or 209 (it’s late and I cannot remember which proposition) and was one of the “negotiators” who met with then Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef to have a teach in and to come out and speak with the students on the impact of the proposition and appoint students to certain advisory commissions to the Chancellor;

    3) Traveled to Houston, Texas at a moments notice to participate in organized, civil disobedience upon learning that janitors were being paid $20 per day and being treated horribly by JP Morgan. AND spent 2 1/2 days in jail in TEXAS and helped out by the actions of union organizers across the U.S. and the late Senator Ted Kennedy who helped get us out of jail. And with our action we were able to get a contract for 5,300 janitors that included healthcare for them and their family members.

    …the list goes on, but I do not wish to bore you with my “LIBERAL” credentials Toad. I think you get the picture. 🙂

    I may have some conservative views, but the point is that I am not a “conservative.” I don’t care for labels anyways, but since we are using them, I am a loyal Democrat and a past union member and I am not afraid to break rank and agree that “In order to protect the labor movement, we must be fiscally cautious, even in good times.”

    I said this when I ran for city council and I believe it is what earned me the endorsement of the Sacramento Bee. I knew that it would be only a matter of of a few years before we faced the problem we now face.

    Now, good night. I hope to not wake up the Vanguard as I sneak into our room, so he can get a good night of sleep.

    I am off to have some good LIBERAL dreams of a U.S. run by the first female president with good, quality healthcare for all and good, quality universal pre-school for all children leading to quality and truly affordable education for all including college and/or trade school.

    And a U.S. where (as Jasmine would say) “…they lived happily ever after…the end.”

    1. Mr. Toad

      That’s one member of your board, and I might add one who has never, and certainly not repeatedly, shown the level of callous indifference towards people who were taking economic hits that cause me to challenge David’s beliefs.

  10. growth issue

    My, my, it’s been fun reading all of the posts of the Vanguard staff extolling their liberalness. Mr. Toad throws out that “conservative” word and all Hell breaks loose. Don’t you dare call me a conservative. McCarthyism is alive and well in Davis.

      1. John Baldry

        I think you are missing Mr. Issue’s point David. I think he is saying that labels are inherently flawed just because of the very fact that they are labels. His point also appears to be that isn’t it interesting how worked up we get about those inherently flawed labels.

        Did I get that right Mr. Issue?

      2. Tia Will

        There are a number of points at which the labels break down. I’ll give some examples of positions that I hold, you tell me whether that makes me a conservative or a liberal :

        1. I believe that everyone should have the final say or control of their own body as the
        ultimate right of the individual to self determination. This includes the right to end one’s
        own life. Conservative or liberal?

        2. I believe that everyone should have the benefits of their own labor and that to pay less
        than a living wage represents theft of the value of that work? Conservative, liberal, or
        something else?

        3. I believe that the separation of church and state applied to all religions regardless of the
        number of believers. Conservative or liberal?

        4. I believe that prisoners who are condemned to life in prison or to death should be
        provided with a medically approved humane means to end their life at a time of their own choosing.
        Conservative, liberal, or something else?

        5. I believe in the validity of the word s of our constitution including the phrase to promote
        “the common good”. Conservative or liberal?

        My point in this post is to illustrate that the labels that we toss around are grossly inadequate to describe the range of opinions and that the separation of conservatism into social and economic does not even come close to conveying the complexity of people’s beliefs. My objection to the labels liberal / conservative stems not from loathing one or the other but from my feeling that labeling itself is choosing to ignore nuances which frequently determine how one actually sees an issue.

        1. Matt Williams

          1. Definitely not Creationist

          2. Liberal

          3. Neither

          4. Like the first one, I don’t see this as a political issue, but rather a spiritual issue, and different spiritual approaches will produce different answers. I suspect that the more individual a person’s spirituality is, the more likely they will be to agree with your position. As individual spirituality becomes more collectivized into religious thought, I suspect that there will be a greater number of people who will pause before deciding whether they agree with you or not. When the “r” in religion gets more organized and is replaced by the “R” in Religion, then the chances of agreement with your position diminish considerably … in some cases evaporate completely. Ever since my late teens I have believed that “Religion” is a whole bunch of human-society “imposed rules” mucking up some perfectly good spirituality.

          5. Neither. It really all depends on the specific “common good” that is being considered.

  11. growth issue

    Allright, enough of you “don’t you dare call me conservative” liberals, off to the store for some munchies then 7 hours of good old conservative rough mouth bopping head smashing hard hitting football. Go Niners, trounce those Seachickens.

  12. SouthofDavis

    Tia wrote:

    > pay less than a living wage represents theft of the value of that work?

    What do you consider a “living wage”?

    If I pay the High School girl down the street less than a “living wage” to rake my lawn or wash my car would you call me a “thief”?

    1. Tia Will

      My response is “it depends”.
      So let’s look at two different scenarios.

      1. You are aware that the high school girl is from a well off family who are able to meet all of her needs and that she is only working to make additional money for clothes, make up, movies and the like. No, in this instance you and she are free to bargain for whatever rate of compensation suits you both since both of your needs are being met under the arrangement.

      2. You are aware that the girl through no fault of her own has been thrown out of the home of her drug using, prostitute mother, no father in sight. You are further aware that the girl is not only attempting to support herself but also put a little money aside for education. Now if you drive as hard a bargain you can to get her to work for as little as possible, while it may not meet the technical term “thievery” I would certainly consider it exploitative and reprehensible and although it is not illegal, in my opinion it should be. To me, rather than choose to offer her wages insufficient to support herself you could choosee one of the following three better options 1) Pay her a living wage if you have sufficient funds and work to do so 2) Help her take advantage of whatever social services are available if she does not know how to access them 3) Help her find employment that will provide her with a living wage.

      But ultimately it is not the homeowner paying kids to mow their lawn or babysit that I have issue with. It is the corporation such as Wal Mart that makes it a policy to provide wages that they are so aware that their employees cannot live on that they put up donation boxes so that other employees will donate to them or publish information on tips for how to survive on unlivable wages while the founding family is worth billions some members of whom have never had to lift a finger to enjoy their wealth or like the former derivative’s dealer who wrote yesterdays opinion piece in the New York Times about how he came to realize that although his job was compensated in the millions yearly with multimillion dollar bonuses, he did not produce or arrange anything beneficial to anyone who was not already very rich. Since this wealth ultimately derives from the work of those who are not wealthy, yes, I do call it thievery. Just because something is not against the law does not make it right.

  13. David Greenwald Post author

    Mr. Toad: Also I have to question your premise that the labor movement is necessarily liberal.

    Ran across an interesting quote last night from Saul Alinsky who noted, “THe CIO was the militant champion of America’s workers. In its ranks, directly and indirectly, were all of America’s radicals; they fought hte corporate structure of the nation and won. Today (writing in 1971), merged with the AF of L, it is an entrenched member of the establishment and its leader supports the war in Vietnam.”

    That’s a forty year old example, but it squares with my contention that the firefighters and the prison guards are not the forces of liberalism at work.

    1. Don Shor

      The anti-war supporters of Eugene McCarthy in 1968 didn’t trust labor leaders, who mostly supported Humphrey and supported the war in Vietnam. The Teamsters Union endorsed Richard Nixon.

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