“Grace and Frankie” and Growing Old in California’s Job Market

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director, whose newest book is The Autism Job Club (with R. Holden).

graceandfrankieAs we note from time to time on Fox & Hounds, popular culture often can help us think about employment issues, shedding light on emerging job market dynamics and spurring discussion.

Grace and Frankie is the Netflix comedy-drama series, launched in May 2015, that released its second season of 13 episodes last month. Lily Tomlin (Frankie) and Jane Fonda (Grace) are seventy-something old acquaintances who come to live together after their husbands announce that they have been lovers for years and leave to marry.

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Diablo Canyon is Not the Devil

Andy Caldwell
COLAB Executive Director, guest editorialist, and radio talk show host

Smack dab in the middle of a record-setting heat wave and threats of rolling blackouts, Pacific Gas and Electric announced it will close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in nine years. Just like that, 10 percent of the state’s energy supply will be gone. Coupled with the closure of San Onofre, California will be nuclear-free, having lost 20 percent of its electricity supply, not counting the additional lost energy from coal and other sources by way of state mandates.

What is happening to our supply of electricity is similar to what has already happened to our water supplies; squandered resources resulting in rationing to consumers. Of course, consumers aren’t told that supplies are being rationed; instead they have been brainwashed into believing they are conserving scarce resources. The truth is California is not suffering from a water crisis due to drought any more than we will be suffering power outages due to heat waves. Our water and energy crisis is the result of policies and regulations that serve to diminish our capacity to meet our daily needs.

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South L.A. Doesn’t Need Saving

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

“How can we save South Los Angeles?” is a tired question. It’s an artifact of previous decades when the region formerly called South Central was known for crime, gangs, poverty, racial conflict, and the 1992 riots, the deadliest American urban uprising since the Civil War.

So let’s retire the old query, and turn it upside down to pose a new and urgent question: How can South Los Angeles save us?

South L.A. is no longer a place apart. Today, it sits in the center of the California story, embodying some of our greatest possibilities, and our greatest struggles. And in a particularly nasty and anxious time in the United States, when pessimism and angry nonsense spread faster than Western wildfires, the South L.A. of 2016 offers a tough-minded but optimistic narrative of just how much can be achieved through determined, steady improvements.

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State Budget: Good Progress, but Transportation Void is Obvious

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Last week Governor Brown signed a $171 billion California budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1 and the legislature adjourned for summer recess. The budget included major wins for the Chamber’s cradle-to-career education priorities to prepare California’s 21st century workforce. They included:

  • Multi-year investment of $500 million by 2020, which will create 9,000 new preschool slots, increase reimbursement rates for early childhood education providers and fund the successful Transitional Kindergarten program.
  • $200 million for the Strong Workforce Program, which will enable community colleges to expand access to career technical education.
  • Additional funding to address teacher shortages, education of foster youths and the formerly incarcerated, and low-income students seeking admission to California State University and University of California.
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Campaign Finance Reformers Would Help Trump

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

If Donald Trump can’t kill the discredited cause of campaign finance reform, nothing will.

Because the view of reformers – including those pushing reforms and an advisory ballot measure in California – adds up to this: they think a candidate like Donald Trump should be receiving tax dollars to fund his campaign.

Trump fits the description of the candidate that reformers want to help, and that public financing would assist. A person from outside the political process, who is opposed by most traditional lobbies and parties. Trump can’t raise money from the usual folks, and he either can’t help himself (or isn’t nearly as rich as he claims or won’t). The reformers want such candidates to have the aid of a public financing system.

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Covered California Is No Model for Obamacare Reform

John R. Graham
Senior Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute and a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis

With the recent announcement of UnitedHealth Care’s abandoning Covered California and most other Obamacare exchanges around the country, its beneficiaries will have fewer plans to choose from in 2017. We can expect this shrinking number of health plans to take advantage of market power to increase premiums. Obamacare’s supporters believe the solution is to give state-based exchanges the power to act as “active purchasers” limiting consumers’ choices like Covered California does today.

Under Obamacare, consolidation is widespread. Hospital mergers increased 44 percent from 2010 to 2014. As for physicians, Marcus Welby, MD is an artifact of history. In 2014, 39 percent of physicians worked in practices with at least eleven physicians, versus fewer than one quarter three decades ago. The five largest national health insurers are merging into three, assuming the federal Department of Justice approves the consolidations.

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California Challenges Religious Freedom

Matthew Harper
California State Assembly, 74th District

All fair-minded people should be troubled by a chilling measure working its way through the Legislature that could harm the religious liberty of colleges and universities in California.

Senate Bill 1146 would force private colleges and universities in California to abide by strict rules set forth by the state. Religious schools would now be required to abide by government code if they receive any form of state funding. This includes direct state aid or indirect funds like Cal Grants.

This bill would effectively force private colleges and universities to choose between their religious beliefs or following strict government regulation.

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Gov. Brown Gun Laws

Cartoonist

Bergman_Gov Brown Gun Laws

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California Pensions Take Above-Average Tax Bite

Publisher, CalPensions.com

California pension funds take a bigger share of tax revenue than the national state average, a research website shows. Why the growing costs are outpacing the norm is not completely clear.

A prime suspect for some would be overly generous pensions, particularly what critics say is an “unsustainable” increase for police and firefighters widely adopted to match a big increase given the Highway Patrol by SB 400 in 1999.

The Public Pension Database does not have information on the formulas that determine pension amounts, like the Highway Patrol’s “3 at 50” or three percent of final pay for each year served at age 50.

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CA Small Biz Rating Gets an F, PAGA Lawsuits Don’t Help

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

I’m tempted to start with that old saw: “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before,” but I know you would stop me because you have heard this before –California is not friendly to small business. That’s the conclusion of the annual Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey. The fifth annual survey gives the Golden State the same grade it was tagged with last year, an F.

The website surveys 12,000 U.S. small business owners to grade 35 states on government policies affecting businesses. The business owners cover a range of professions from electricians to wedding planners to music teachers and more.

California scored Fs in 8 of the 10 categories Thumbtack tested: Ease of starting a business; Regulations; Health & Safety; Employment, labor and hiring; Tax code; Licensing; Environmental; and Zoning. Only in the categories of Ease of hiring (C) and Training & networking programs (B-) did the state climb away from the bottom rung.

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