Editorial wrong on basic pension facts
Regarding the editorial entitled, "State pension reform didn't fix problems" on April 12: Oh, my. The editorial writer should take a basic government accounting course before accusing others right and left of wrongdoing. I am a CPA teaching government accounting college courses, so I am qualified to discuss the issue brought up.
CalSTRS is not at all supposed to work the way described. It is a defined-benefit plan (like Social Security), not a defined-contribution plan.
None of the standards of government accounting issued by the Government Accounting Standards Board require, as was arrogantly asserted, that "pensions are supposed to be prefunded when workers earn benefits." No, not under government accounting rules, they specifically are not supposed to.
The case is different for private companies. Because government's main focus is on providing the most services to the citizens, government accounting requires the use of all "current financial resources" for that goal. Private business' goal is to maximize profit, so its concerns are quite different. There are official standards dictating these approaches and they have power of law.
"Public employee pensions" come in different formats. CalSTRS participants are not eligible to participate in Social Security, so they contribute 8.5 percent of their pay to the CalSTRS plan, and their employer (community college district, for instance) contributes another 8.5 percent, with the state only contributing 2 percent.
This is instead of participating in Social Security, to which participants and employers contribute 6.2 percent of their pay, each. Public employees do pay for their pension benefits. Just as with Social Security ("contract between generations"), the whole idea of the plan as it is now is that current members' contributions pay for retired members' benefits if the plan's own earnings are insufficient.
Maria U. Ku
Under Quan, crime problem only worse
The ineptitude and abject failure of Mayor Jean Quan is a manifestation of how Oakland's culture of dependence, irresponsibility and excuse-mongering has infested the body politic.
Under Quan's leadership, which began long before her ascenscion to the mayor's office, Oakland has degraded, denigrated and condescended toward an overworked, understaffed police department. Quan has consistently sided with the loud and belligerent lobbyists who rail against the police. As a consequence, Oakland is a lawless city with out-of-control violence.
Oakland is anarchy personified. Sure, some young, industrious, ambitious entrepreneurs have opened new restaurants downtown and elsewhere, and for that I say, "Bravo."
Too bad that soon after opening, they are confronted with the sad reality that their patrons and employees will be subjected to random assault as they make their way home in the darkness. This happens all the time. Robberies and assaults on restaurant employees and patrons happen on Lakeshore, on Park Boulevard, in Glenview, uptown, downtown, on College Avenue and all over town.
How long will educated, discerning adults frequent these terrific places once they are victims of crime? Crimes are occurring repeatedly and with impunity by horrid, savage swine who know full well that the odds of apprehension and arrest are small due to a critical shortage of police officers.
The solution to Oakland's chronic, endemic, generational criminality is a large police force which, if used correctly, will discourage thugs from assaulting hard working, taxpaying adults, who will in turn choose to remain in Oakland and contribute to it's renaissance.
Too many thugs are spoiling it for everyone, and under Mayor Quan things will only get worse.
Jonathan C. Breault
Threat from firearms has been exaggerated
According to the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta, in 2011 there were gun deaths from 19,766 suicides, 581 accidental discharges, 222 undetermined and 11,101 homicides.
That last figure is the only significant one here. People have every right to take their own lives and surely the upholders of abortion are not going to tell us that our right to control our own bodies only extends to abortion, are they?
John R. Lott, then with the University of Chicago, wrote "More Guns, Less Crime" in 1998 and "The Bias Against Guns" in 2003. He did a nationwide poll with the help of his students and others and was able to determine that between 2.1 million and 3 million successful defensive uses of guns against would-be criminals took place every year in America. In 98 percent of the cases, the mere brandishing of a firearm scared off the potential criminal and no further action was needed.
The great majority of homicides were perpetrated by people with illegal or stolen guns. There is no more "gun violence" than there is automoblie violence or medical malpractice violence, both of which greatly exceed deaths by guns. There is only violence by criminals in all those areas.
Finally, at the time of the Bill Of Rights there was no controversy over weapons for self-defense or hunting, the only concern of the founders was the threat of tyranny from government. Period.
Michael P. Hardesty