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Political Wil' Discovers Fools Gold   (Steve R., July 25, 2008)

I will be the last to tell you that government, just like the financial sector, is not mis-allocating resources. It most certainly is. And regulatory agencies like mine are no exception. The early retirement and double dipping by some state service workers is a serious problem for all of us state workers who do not have the option of checking out early. Our benefits will likely be reduced by the profligacy of system administrators that could not imagine the need to manage the funds through hard times.

But the solution to over-allocating resources in government is somewhat more complex than just reducing entitlements, and my role in particular is a good example. My agency is charged with protecting and enhancing natural resources. However, environmental laws are not regarded as 'real laws' by the regulated community.

People of means are fond of saying, I do not get permits, I hire lawyers. This tactic has led, inappropriately, to focus enforcement on the most visible and gratuitous offenders. As a result of this focus, the laws are not enforced on smaller players whose project impacts may seem less consequential by comparison. However, in the same way that you one day wake up and realize that all the farmland around you has been converted to housing, we now awake to notice that the cumulative impacts of all the smaller projects have added up to a grave systemic failure of, for example, our Delta Ecosystems.

As impacts of illegal activities were ignored due to a combination of their unpopularity and lack of enforcement staff, a decision was made to bring the large offenders into compliance with a carrot and stick approach. Grant programs were created to provide them funds to do the job of paving over nature or taking species in a 'green' or 'compliant' manner. I cannot begin to tell you how resigned the agencies are to allowing the continued degradation of public trust resources, and in fact PAYING for this degradation with YOUR tax money.

So, yes there is a continuing mis-allocation of resources. But my pension is not even one atom of the problem. Lets face it, when the financial sector goes boom, government pensions like Calpers are no more secure than other struggling funds or social security. Seen Calpers" last earnings report?

The reallocation of resources that must occur in order to make my agency more efficient and protect the public trust resources upon which we all depend involves POLITICAL WILL. Now, Will has been a might lethargic these days, what with fighting the big corporations on one side and the new federalists and sage brushers on the other. Some say its because he has no Will of his own, just blows whichever way the wind blows.

Now, back when Will was young, the republic was operating on a conceit called 'manifest destiny'. Rugged Individualists were needed to go out west and tame the savage land. Will barely noticed the eventual closing of the frontier and the fencing and paving of the land. Will just redefined the concept of the "frontier" in less resource based terms. And their are still rugged individualists who excite us with their tales of taming the new frontiers of real estate development, financial innovations, medicine shows and nano scale technologies. But the impacts of the rugged individualist's actions place more immediate and unsustainable burdens upon the resource base and the public. Even Will has begun to tire of the grand tales of their exploits.

There are way too many people on earth, in our political systems, to tolerate the rugged individualists and their exploitation. Absent individual self-restraint, stability in densely populated can only be maintained by a stringent use of force. It is time to base laws on the principles of precaution, resource reverence and hope that self restraint exits in the individual. It is well past that time; and, Will is just starting to sense that the social compact upon which ALL LAW AND ORDER DEPENDS is in tatters due to scarcity and hoarding.

True that just expanding government payrolls to fill new regulatory and enforcement programs is not necessarily the most efficient way to go. But all enterprises, not just the mortgage industry, have been unaccountable and unrestrained for too long.

All Enterprises should be judged on the basis of the sustainability of their resource position. Now, statements like that are enough to make poor old Will have an attack of the vapors. How the heck are we going to judge all enterprises on some resource accountability basis?

Well, its like the Judge Wanger decision on Delta Water Exports. You start with one ruling and build precedent until we have reestablished the commons ( upon the waste we heaped as individualists.

So, if you see Will, please tell him for me that he needs to contact his representatives and tell them that environmental laws are not just some dotted line on a two lane road that you can go around to get where you want to go. Sound Environmental laws are the ONLY ROAD that is going to get us where we really need to go safely and sustainably.

Oh, and my state pension? I am not counting on it. My parent's generation is probably the last to benefit from the concept of retirement planning. I already accept the fact that I will not have either Social Security or a Pension-- other than what I can save under the mattress. The cushy, motor home, world traveling retirement is so over--even for government employees.

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