Great news. Just in case you thought it was good idea to give our legislators more power, consider what Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis told freshmen lawmakers recently.
Denis said: “Don’t buy into the gossip. You’ll hear a lot of that, too. In some ways, it reminds you of college or high school up here during session.”
Gossip runs rampant at the Legislature. And not the just the smutty kind that sometimes, but definitely not always, has a kernel of truth from the above-mentioned nightlife in Carson City.
Policy can be affected by such rumors as who is or isn’t supporting a bill, what the governor will or will not do on the budget, and what sneaky plan a lobbyist might have for hijacking certain legislation.
Any smart lawmaker will keep an ear to the rumor mill but verify before taking action. (Emphasis added.)
Is there a way to avoid this entirely? Probably not, because you can't change human nature.
But there is a way to limit it? Absolutely. Limit the length and frequency of legislative sessions, which fortunately Nevada already does.
Now some, like liberal pundit Jon Ralston, think it would be great for Nevada's legislative "high school" to meet on a full-time basis. Here's what he said last week on Ralston Reports.
Oh, I know: Few people agree with me.
Imagine what Mark Twain, whose 177th birthday was Friday, would have said. Maybe what he said about a century and a half ago: “No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session."
Twain would be appalled at giving people he considered thieves more time to steal the public’s business. But these are territorial days no more – and Nevada is long overdue to modernize its legislative process.
It’s not just that we get what we pay for. It’s that the term limits gutting of experience and talent has exacerbated an endemic problem. Offer people a good salary. Give them well-paid staff. And have them meet every year so it’s not like throwing darts at a faraway dartboard to project what will happen in the state and what Nevada’s needs might be. (Emphasis added.)
So would high salaries for full-time legislators and full-time staffers lead to better results?
We don't have to speculate on the answer in the vacuum, because our neighbor, California, has a full-time legislature and pays its legislators over $90,000 a year plus $140 per session day in per diem. Lawmakers also have huge legislative staffs, including 93 staffers making over $100,000 a year in salary.
How's that working out for them? Hmmm.
Or how about Congress? House and Senate representatives make$174,000 a year plus benefits and have huge staffs.
How's that working out for us? Hmmm.
Government isn't designed to solve problems; it's intended to protect freedom and provide core services (more at the state and local than federal level).
When you give legislators more power and more time in session, they tend to "solve" problems that aren't any of their business by taking away the liberty they should be there to protect in the first place.
Ideas have consequences. And for kids like Jacqueline Duarte, the consequences of minimum wage laws (both state and federal) are to price her right out of employment.
It comes as no shock to Jacqueline Duarte that the employment rate among youths is the lowest since World War II.
The 17-year-old Valley High School senior, who earns A's and B's, has applied at McDonald's, El Pollo Loco, Target and just about every entry-level job source she can find, to no avail.
"I'm competing with adults now," she said, concluding that her grades don't matter because other applicants have experience.
That is a conclusion researchers also have reached in explaining why the number of working 16- to 24-year-olds in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2000. About 6.5 million youths in that age group were both out of school and out of work in 2011, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's youth and work report.
That list of 6.5 million doesn't include Duarte, who is still in school. But if she can't land a job to start saving money for college, she may join those who are out of school and jobless. She also wants to help her mom with the bills.
As Milton Friedman noted many years ago, minimum wage laws harm the very people they're intended to help.
Thom Reilly, former Clark County manager, had a great op-ed in the Review-Journal yesterday, which details exactly why pension reform is so urgently needed.
Nevada's pension system is one of the most generous public employee retirement plans in the nation.
Nevada PERS caps benefits at 75 percent of the average of retiring employees' three consecutive highest-earning years - 90 percent for those hired before July, 1, 1985. The system has no minimum retirement age, as long as the retiree has 30 years of service, and has few employees who are required to actually contribute to their own retirement. PERS has one of the highest formula multipliers used to calculate benefits - either 2.5 percent or 2.67 percent per year of service, depending on employment dates, while the national average is 1.95 percent - while Nevada governments provide some of the highest average salaries in the nation.
Also, Nevada PERS has one of the highest employer contribution rates in the nation. While higher contribution rates are typical of plans that do not include Social Security coverage in addition to a pension - like Nevada's - the state ranks as one of the highest among plans that do not include Social Security coverage for both regular employees and for police and fire. At the same time, Nevada ranks in the bottom fifth of states with regard to the percent of funded pension liabilities. It is generally assumed that pensions funded at 80 percent or less have a serious problem. Nevada's is 71 percent funded.
The only disagreement I'd have with Reilly here is that PERS is actually only 34 percent funded, not 71 percent. To get to 71 percent, PERS officials currently assume a risk-free 8 percent rate of return.
So what should we do about this growing problem?
Reilly's piece has several good suggestions, but the ultimate solution is moving public employees to a defined-contribution orhybrid (combining elements of a defined-contribution and defined-benefit) retirement system. From NPRI's PERS study
Shifting PERS to a defined-contribution, 401(k)-type structure would not make these unfunded liabilities go away. However, it would ensure that benefit obligations are fully funded going forward, ensuring that lawmakers, taxpayers and public employees are clear regarding the pensions promises the government has made and its ability to fulfill them.
While a defined-contribution (DC) approach is not perfect, experience with reformed 401(k) plans and the Thrift Savings Plan for federal government employees shows that a DC pension plan can be managed cost-effectively for employees and taxpayers alike.
Ignoring Nevada's unfunded pension liability will only make the problem worse. And, as we've seen in California, ignoring these problems can lead to bankruptcy.
Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.
Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.
But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.
One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.
Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.
The LCP – on which 130,000 elderly and terminally-ill adult patients die each year – is now the subject of an independent inquiry ordered by ministers.
The investigation, which will include child patients, will look at whether cash payments to hospitals to hit death pathway targets have influenced doctors’ decisions.
Medical critics of the LCP insist it is impossible to say when a patient will die and as a result the LCP death becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They say it is a form of euthanasia, used to clear hospital beds and save the NHS money.
I urge you to read the doctor's letter at the bottom of the story to get a glimpse of how grotesque dehydrating a child to death is. Here's just a small snippet.
I know, as they cannot, the unique horror of witnessing a child become smaller and shrunken, as the only route out of a life that has become excruciating to the patient or to the parents who love their baby.
I hope this story serves as a gut check for liberals who support socialized medicine.
Ideas have consequences. And when you implement flawed ideas like socialized medicine, the consequences can be deadly.