Monday, March 7, 2011

Letter from City Attorney, Greenville re: retirees info

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Where did the stimulus money go in South Carolina?

I've been doing some investigating into the state finances (if I show up missing one day, call the CIA or FBI) to see if I can determine where the Stimulus money went that our state government accepted. Remember that Gov. Mark (hot pants) Sanford tried to refuse the money? But the state courts intervened and said we must take the money. And take the money we did.

Do you know how much Stimulus money we have spent so far? So far, means from march of '09 through Jan of 2011. A big whopping $4,030,918,748.....that's right $4Billion and change.
If you want to check my figures please log onto the State Comptroller Generals website    and see for yourself. I will warn you though that this transparent document is over 3700 pages long. Our Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom has sung his own praises of "transparency" in Government spending. So he has posted on this website all of the money that is being spent by our friends in Columbia. The only problem is that the report is a transaction report by category and sorted by purpose and also by department. These reports have every transaction you can imagine accounting supposedly for every penny spent. Great to have the information but difficult to make any sense out of.

So what about the Stimulus? Well, BHO was generous in giving away money that the Feds did not have so he had the Fed Reserve print up a bunch of Monopoly money and sent it around to all of the states. This was supposedly done to "CREATE JOBS". This money supposedly has no strings attached and we therefore do not have to pay it  back. It's sort of like your rich Aunt calls you up one day and tells you she will send you $10Million with no strings and do you want the money or should she give it to your older brother? This package of around $787 Billion approved on Feb 17th of 2009 was handed out like candy and we got in line and got our share. So what did the state do with it? Spent it of course.

Remember last fall when we were told that Medicaid in SC would run out of money by March 6th of 2011? Guess what, Medicaid ran out of money long before that. In March and April of 2009 Medicaid spent $83,076,084 all stimulus money. In total Medicaid has spent from March of '09 through Jan of 2011 a total of $285,886,785 for individual services and another $689,947,802 for medical services to institutions.. As of Sept 2010 Medicaid had spent $818,544,351 Stimulus dollars. So by the end of 2010 Medicaid had spent almost its entire budget by using Stimulus money.

Remember all of the hoopla about the Department of Employment and Workforce running out of money and having to make an emergency loan from the Feds of $900 million? Well guess what? There was $197,072,251 of stimulus dollars given to help pay unemployment claims. In total, stimulus dollars have paid $1,541,773,976 (count those commas, that's BILLION) for unemployment claims through jan 2011. Again, the stimulus money does not have to be paid back but the $900 million loan does have to be paid back, hence the reason the state recently changed the rates that companies have to pay for unemployment insurance. Had it not been for stimulus money would the state have realized long ago that we needed to do something?

What about creating new jobs? Wasn't the stimulus supposed to create new jobs? Well, I guess so. So here are the jobs that could have possibly been created in the state of SC. The Dept of Transportation gave contracts worth $463.1 million and as of Jan 31, 2011 had spent $331,214,491 for highway and road improvements. These contracts went to various companies around the state that build highways, Ashemore Brothers in Greenville, being one of them. From what I can tell this is the only expenditure that could have created jobs. But we all know that the major cost of paving or building a road is not labor , it is materials. Even with labor, we would have to assume that these companies already had a workforce and probably did not have to hire any new help. Even if they did hire someone it would have been a short term job, as it doesn't take long to pave a street in downtown Greenville. 

How about Education? We are always told the schools need more money for the children. Well, the kids in SC got $375,334,665 through grants to school districts. Greenville County Treasurer has received (specified for the schools),,,,$ 26,628,238. More than $1 million in Jan 2011. 

Anyone on food stamps? Well you can thank BHO for being able to eat. So far the food stamp program has spent over $153 million of stimulus dollars, and still spending. The Dept of Social Services has spent over $278,621,330 of stimulus money.

How bout our prison system? We have prisoners, as a matter of fact the adult average daily population is 24,105. The Department of Corrections spent  $26,943,509 through Sept 2010. 

Other major expenditures:
Wages and Salaries  $34,260,109
Temporary Positions  $6,649,116
Social Security payments for state employees:  $3,177,119
Other Professional Services $22,686,314
Legal Services $1,260,333
Grants to private sector, non taxable $6,482,928
Arts Commission $997,518
Grants to Planning Districts $36,706,245
Grants to Municipalities $10,595,779
Grants to other state agencies $14,536,658
Grants to entities $216,528,946 If anyone knows what an entity is please let me know, I want to be one
Grants to counties $24,526,964
Grants to employees - payroll $7,126,664

Some other expenditures paid for by Stimulus money:
Dental Insurance state employees $100,411
cellular telephones $43,187
accidental death benefits for Police officers $24,583
utility services $4,886,284
Retirement individual Solicitor $4,000,000  I think this was a single payment for a retiree
State retirement system $2,465,451
Retirement Police Officers System $4,148,719
Postage and supplies $229,923
Office Supplies $292,046
Natural Gas $1,385,630
Health Insurance $3,049,634

In a nut shell three things happened with the stimulus money, The state used the money to pay for Medicaid and Unemployment benefits with money that it did not have. The state also used the money for grants, education and highway work that went above the normal expenditures. Which means that the stimulus money was used in large part to spend on things that would not have been funded. The state also used the money fo fund normal operating expenses. All that this did was delay the inevitable of having to cut costs by laying off employees and reducing services. The state is continuing to spend stimulus money. i have spoken to the Office of Comptroller General but have not been given an answer as to what the total amount of stimulus money we have to spend. I was told the expenditures would continue until mid year. Since we have already spent over $4Billion it would be easy to think we will spend at least that amount before it ends. Money that no one had.

The state did not do any city, community, school, county or anyone or anything else any favors by passing the money around. The state should have come to grips with the lack of money over one year ago. While private employees were losing their jobs, state employees continued to work and collect benefits, in large part, paid for by money that did not exist. Money that will have to be eventually paid back by tax payers.

One major problem that has not been addresses is that of the future liability for retirees on the state pension plan. Mr. Eckstrom addresses the issue in his cover letter for the Popular Annual Financial Reort for the Year Ended June 30, 2010 when he reports: "Also, a severe long term funding deficit remains in the South Carolina Retirement Systems for future retirement benefits for public employees that must be dealt with and not permitted to grow." Yet the problem is not addressed in the annual report, nor are there any figures given as to the dollar amount of the shortage currently nor does it address the future liability. It was reported in the Greenville News last fall that the unfunded liability for future state retirees was $23 Billion. 4 years ago it was $15 Billion. When I asked the Comptroller Generals' office what the number was I was told they did not know. I hope to get an answer. This is an issue that NONE of the politicians addressed in the last elections and even to this day none of the politicians talk about it. This is a major issue and keeps getting swept under the rug. City employees in Greenville who work 30 years for the city will get 55% of their pre retirement income as a pension for life. All city and county employees across the state are in the state pension plan. How many of you have the promise of a pension plan that will pay you 55% when you retire? Teachers have a better deal and Policemen and Firemen even better. It is time that our politicians across the state started running the public sector like the private sector before it all collapses.
(note: all of these figures came from the report on the Comptroller Generals website). I didn't make them up.
Jerry Tollison

Friday, February 18, 2011

What's good about Wisconsin

Dear folks,

Unless you have your head buried in the sand or live in la la land (California) then you know that the public teachers in Wisconsin are pitching a fit because some of their benefits will have to be paid for by themselves instead of the lowly taxpayers and they also may lose the ability to have a political hack negotiate even higher salaries and benefits. What a pity if the tax payers actually had a say in whether the teachers and any other public employee had to have the approval of the tax payers in order to get a hike in pay/benefits.

The great news in all of this is that it exposes public employees and public teachers in particular to two things: 
1.) They are in it for themselves and could care less about the kids they teach and
2.) it makes it clear that the pay scale and benefits that public employees receive is out of line with what employees in the private sector get. Once upon a time it was necessary to give good benefits (retirement/health care) to public employees to attract qualified people. The argument went that since public employees made less than comparable jobs in the private sector it was necessary to give them better benefits. That no longer is the case and Wisconsin teachers are a prime example of a system run amuk. 

I sincerely believe that most public employees do not understand that the ONLY reason any of them has a job is because someone in the private sector works and pays taxes. Were it not for that, there would be no money to pay any of these people. When times are good pay and benefits climb. When times are bad something has to be done. For private sector employees that means layoffs, firing, closing businesses, etc. Companies cannot print money and can only borrow enough to survive a downturn for so long, then it is sayanora. For public employees to think that they are not to be subjected to the trials and tribulations of a bad economy is naive and selfish. Were it not for the Federal stimulus money that kept public employees working the last two years this situation would have occurred much sooner. Now that the stimulus money is gone and the Republicans control spending the states are having to scramble to try to balance their bloated budgets. The worst is yet to come. Just wait until the states discover that income tax revenues are going to be much less than they have predicted and probably budgeted for. Then the real scramble begins.

I have predicted for some time that we will have civli unrest in this country when benefits actually get cut. It is impossible to give groups of people a goodie and not have them complain/demonstrate/riot when the goodie is taken away. That is one of the major problems with giving away goodies. Today we are seeing the beginning of the civil unrest, there will be more to come. The problem that the public sector employees are creating for themselves is that more and more tax payers will become aware of the pay scale and benefit packages that many public sector employees have. They will become aware that in many cases these public sector employees have it better than they do. While many of the taxpaying workers have lost their jobs, their cars, their homes' the Federal Government has actually expanded the number of Fed employees by 10% the last two years. Very few of the states have actually laid off or fired employees or cut benefits until now. The people who are paying (the lowly tax payer) will have to reconcile why the people who TAKE are still employed or have not had their pay or benefits cut.

This can lead to a public revolt against public employees. Union membership in the private sector is at an all time low, while union membership in public jobs is at an all time high. Polling data shows that very few in the private sector support unions, I suspect that when the smoke clears that support will disappear.

The fact of the matter is that most states are broke. Some states have a constitutional requirement to balance their budget. When the money runs out they have to do something. Too many of them have depended upon Uncle Big Money Pockets to bail them out. When taxpayers don't work and pay taxes then public employees, public programs, and public benefits have to be cut or eliminated.

What can we do to prevent real civil unrest in this country?
1.) Understand that the public sector has the right to demonstrate just like we do.
2.) Understand the reasons they may be upset, after all they are not the ones who allowed the pay/benefits to get out of control.
3.) Support the politicians who are in the position to have to make these hard choices. They must not fail.
4.) Make people aware that amenable solutions can be reached. Let them know that the difficult choices must be made, but working in harmony to solve the problem will yield much better results than a heavy handed solution.
4.) Hold the politicians accountable. The Democrats in Wisconsin have abdicated their constitutional responsibility to their constituents. They have the legal responsibility to represent them. Running away is a sign of cowardice.

Remember, the problems that we see in Wisconsin will also occur in Ohio, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, and in every state that has the hard choices to make to cut expenditures. We are seeing it in SC. Public sector jobs are going unfilled. Professors are being fired. Teachers will be laid off. Policemen will be laid off. California is just now coming to grips with their growing problem. If Jerry Brown cannot solve the problem there then we will see California default on their municipal bonds and then the real trouble begins.

If you know anyone that has a public sector job then encourage them to understand why the cuts have to be made and unless cuts are made and states are successful in balancing their budgets then more permanent cuts and deeper cuts will be made. This country has to get back to physical reality (State and Federal spending) or else we will go the path of Argentina, Germany, Greece, Russia. We don't want that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why I love Global Warming


Folks, the Global Warming debate continues. Al Gore was quoted on Fox News tonight as saying "Scientists have been warning for two decades that Global Warming can cause severe snow storms". Now wait a minute. I thought scientists had been warning for two decades that global warming would lead to the ice packs (North and South America) would melt leading to rising sea levels. That we would see increased hurricanes, dust bowls, droughts, floods, severe thunder storms, Florida disappearing and hopefully New York disappearing along with Washington DC.  What is happening here? December of 2010 ended up being one of the coldest winters on record. Note that records in this country have only been kept for approximately 100 years or so and most of those years record keeping was doubtful as was the methods of collecting the data. Jan of 2011 proved to be one of the snowiest months on record. The NorthEast and Midwest have been hammered and already many cities have experienced as much snow as they normally see the entire winter. So what is going on?

I'll tell you what is going on. The Global Warming strategy has WORKED. It is successful. All of the steps that we have taken and much credit must go to you guys, has started to take hold. The earth's climate has taken notice and has finally reversed itself. All over the world countries, cities, towns, and villages have put their  best foot forward and have corralled this impending disaster. We no longer have to fear that Polar Bears in Alaska are going to disappear or that penguins in the Arctic will have to live in the ocean with no where to land and have sex and raise babies. The thought of Florida sinking under 10 feet of water is gone. The hope that New York would disappear under a Tsunami is now a long forgotten wish. The belief that if we did nothing DC would become a jungle where the biggest gun survives seems like only a wishful dream.

But I can tell you that if Global Warming is going to raise the temperature in SC by 3 degrees in Jan and Feb then I'm all for it. The hell with this snow and ice, I'm in favor of golf all year long in shorts. But alas, I'm afraid that your efforts have put an end to those dreams. Forgetting what Al Gore believes (if he thinks that severe snow storms and cold weather is going to raise the temperature of the earth then he needs to find out what kind of chemicals they are spraying on his supply of WEED). I'm convinced that Global Freezing is here. Don't believe me? Call anybody in IL, OH, PA, NY, ME, NH and ask them what they think. What I can't understand is why the Global Warming theorists aren't celebrating. They won. They have turned the tide. They have beaten the beast. Against all odds they have defeated mother nature. They have become Mother Nature themselves. I for one am pissed off that they succeeded. I like warm weather. I like playing golf and going to the beach all year long. I was looking forward to getting rid of my winter clothes, throwing away the chains and bags of ice and getting some serious rays.  But what are the Global Warming theorists saying now? They are trying to convince us that Global Warming is causing unprecedented cold weather, snow and ice and if we don't stop Global Warming North America will be covered in ice in the next 3 years. Well, I'm not sure what their trued agenda is but this is what I think we need to do.........

1.) Bring back the stuff we used to put in our air conditioners.
2.) Take the catalytic converters off or our cars.
3.) Get the corn out of gas and put corn back on the table.
4.) Burn your wood stove all day, every day.
5.) Get rid of those stupid curly cue light bulbs (yes the ones that have mercury). Put the incandescents back in and do it right away.
6.) Stop recycling your garbage. Put it all in one big dump.
7.) Put lead back in bullets.
8.) Bring back DDT and spray it on everything you eat.
9.) Get rid of your plastic water bottles and start drinking out of your faucet for God's sake.
10.) Stop recycling your old TV's, cell phones, batteries, radios, computers, and any other electronic device you want to throw away.
11.) Start drilling for oil all over the place. Since we don't have to worry about the damn polar bears anymore let's put a few wells over there in Anwar.
12.) Get rid of your hybrid and or electric car and get yourself a big SUV or pickup truck. Gas mileage will be better anyway since we won't have catalytic converters to rob the engine of power.
13.) Start smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars, bongs, or whatever else turns you on.  Blow your smoke outside in the cold air.
14.) Take the muffler off of your lawnmower. Burn charcoal grills for every meal.
15.) Throw away the paper grocery bags and use your cloth grocery bags for storing food. Use plastic grocery bags, they last a lot longer. 
16.) Toss the bicycles in the trash heap of history. We need to drive to anywhere we go, even if its just up the street to see a neighbor.
17.) Tear down the windmills and solar panels. We need to fire up those coal fired electricity producing plants and to hell with "clean" coal, we want that good old "dirty" coal smoking up the air.

Let's get with it guys. We don't have much time. Global Freezing is here already and I don't like it. It only took a few years to turn Global Warming into Global Freezing so now we need to UNDO every thing we did. I'm sure we can do it. Just give it the same enthusiastic college effort you gave to ending Global Warming and we will succeed. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How Obama will make policy without passing a law.

This email comes from a group called CREDO ACTION. One of the many liberal left wing organizations that are promoting our fast track to Socialism. George Soros is one of the supporters of this group.
Please read their information to see how they plan on getting the EPA to put oil and coal companies out of business.

CREDO Action | more than a network. a movement.
Help the EPA stand up to attacks.
take action!
Take action now!
Dear Friend,
For decades, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act have played an indispensable role in protecting public health.
Today, their ability to do so is under siege from both Republicans and Democrats in congress — and in the wake of the State of the Union speech, the President's commitment to defending the EPA is looking none-too-strong.
The EPA is accepting comments until January 31st on their proposed timeline for issuing rules to limit pollution from power plants and petroleum refineries — some of the nation's oldest and dirtiest pollution sources — which account for 40% of all U.S. global warming pollution.
Commenting on a timeline may seem a bit wonky, but in the face of mounting pressure from Congress, it's crucial that we encourage the EPA to issue these rules on time and without delay.
The current threats to the EPA are myriad.
Senators like Jay Rockefeller and a sobering number of his fellow Democrats are floating proposals to delay for two years the EPA's authority to regulate global warming pollution.
The new Republican congress, elected by unprecedented campaign contributions from polluters in the oil and coal industries, and led by new Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Texas, have set their sights much higher. They are already working to strip the EPA of its climate authority altogether, and generally hamstring EPA's ability to regulate big polluters. Even, or especially, if it means threatening the EPA's funding. Going even further, Newt Gingrich has called for abolishing the EPA entirely.
President Obama meanwhile is clearly feeling the pressure. His State of the Union address included only a passing reference to protecting our air and water, and glaring omissions of climate change, the EPA or even the BP oil disaster.
It is tragic that in the face of rapid escalation of climate change and the occurrence of extreme weather events, not only will congress take no action to address climate pollution; they are actively working to undermine the agency with the greatest ability to make a difference.
Over the next two years, it will largely be up to us to save the EPA's ability to protect us from dangerous pollution. Let's send a strong message of support right now.
Thanks for standing up for the EPA.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action

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Monday, January 24, 2011

A clear understanding of what the FED is doing printing money

If you are not an educated economist from Harvard, Yale, Brown or any of the other elite liberal arts schools in the US you may be like me and not understand what the FED is doing printing so much money.
Watch this video to get a better understanding how things are going.

Friday, January 21, 2011

States may declare bankruptcy

This article appeared in the NY Times on Jan 20th. It is reported that some states are in such dire straights they have approached Congress to determine if and how they could declare bankruptcy. What this means is that if this is allowed those states that go through with bankruptcy would alleviate their responsibility to pay  retiree pension and health care benefits.
States are not allowed to appeal to the Federal Government for relief in bankruptcy since all states are "sovereign". The Constitution will be tested once again. If states are not allowed to declare bankruptcy then you know they will be asking for additional handouts from the Feds to bail them out once again. If this happens we will see a real political uprising not to mention that the deficit will continue to climb out of sight.
go here for the article.