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Who Do you Trust? Is the Worst behind us or is it still to come?
By: John Krikorian

It’s Your Choice: California is on the brink of bankruptcy! The United States government, numerous state governments, and many of our cities are nearing bankruptcy.  Our own state government is dysfunctional and it seems as if Washington, D.C. is no better off.  We are in a midst of a leadership vacuum.  Rasmussen Report notes that 60% in California say we would be better off if most incumbents in State Legislature are defeated.  California certainly should not be looking to fill vacancies with individuals that are socialist and progressive in their thinking, less qualified or do not have the ability for strong leadership, vision, character and consensus building skills. 

California certainly does not want more of the same.  What we are seeing in places from Sacramento to Washington, D.C. is a “bullying spirit” and it is becoming ever more pervasive, as we see in the progressive actions by President Obama and Majority Leaders Reid and Pelosi. In Health Reform and in the push for greater federal government control along with the many “czars” we see in the present administration, the government seeks to expand it power. In the federal workforce, compensation has grown during this recession. The present administration is not only exploding the number of civilian employees, it is increasing federal and state worker’s compensations to obscene levels.  All this when private corporations are reducing staff, compensation and benefits. 

It will soon be time to cast our votes for those that will lead us to recovery instead of bankruptcy.  It will be your vote, which will lead us from an anti-business legislative agenda to one that is tuned to the American spirit of Entrepreneurship.  Can you imagine that we have in our regions, groups such as Acorn and those who brainwash our youth in Progressive Politics, and who challenge capitalism and the free-market.  Is it their goal to make our Declaration of Independence obsolete along with our Constitution?

Consumer Confidence Index showed a dramatic decline of nearly 11 points.  Concerns about business conditions and the job marked have pushed the Present Situation Index down to its lowest level in 27 years.  New job data shows a further drop in employment.  While the President holds and drags out the Healthcare issue, JOBS are being lost at an alarming rate. Let us not forget the tens of thousands of employees hired by the U.S. Census that will be terminated by June 2010 and will be added to the unemployed numbers. That is unless President Obama gives them all permanent jobs in his government.

There is talk of an upcoming devastating economic bubble that is on the verge of bursting before mid-year. Government jobs are increasing at a rapid rate, while private industry is reducing its workforce and small businesses are going “out of business.”  Small businesses are our most reliable job creators and they are vital to our economic recovery. They need the tools to grow, create jobs and help lead our cities, state and nation back toward prosperity.  The entrepreneur is the backbone of our economy.  Small business is asking for credit and various tax incentives, to build and create new jobs.  Mayor of Los Angeles Villaraigosa is leading the charge to eliminate 3,000 city jobs on top of 1,000 job cuts already in the pipeline.  In far away little old Rhode Island, the Central Falls school district’s board of trustees, after failed talks with the local teachers union, decided to fire all its teachers.  No more than half those instructors would be hired back under a federal option that enraged the state’s powerful teachers union, earned criticism from students, and praise from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and some parents.  

The Valley Industry & Commerce Association Chair Daymond Rice, noted “The city (Los Angeles) must follow the example set by the private sector, which is to first cut costs in a meaningful way during times of economic crisis.” Have you asked yourself where does the money come from to meet payroll and expenses of our cities, state and federal government?  What revenue do the bureaucrats produce, besides increasing taxes, utility rates, various fees and other barriers making it difficult to do business?  Financial meltdowns, depressions, and layoffs affect corporations – and small businesses.  Job losses and home foreclosures are bad things, we do not want to see our friends and their families suffer. Why should government jobs, pay, benefits be considered untouchable, while corporations eliminate waste, reduce salaries and reduce or cap benefits?  This has been a time of unbelievable government job growth.  Is it a double standard when we see greed in the bonuses of major corporation payouts and say nothing about the uncontrolled CalPERS payouts. 

We are close to one of the most economically challenging decades of the past 40 years; we are now facing the uncertainties and challenges of a newly started decade. The high levels of both public and private debt will be impacting bank lending and consumption at all levels. At the same time State Controller John Chiang unveiled a new actuarial report that shows California faces a $51.8 billion bill to pay for health and dental benefits for state retirees (pensions).  He further notes that unfunded obligations as of June 30,2009, grew an additional $3.9 billion from the $48.2 billion obligation identified in the prior year. Furthermore the 2008 figure was lower than expected primarily because the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) used surplus funds to reduce that year’s increase in health care premium costs rates for the CalPERS self-funded plan. 

As the recession deepens, businesses, both large and especially small are scrambling to adapt and survive.  Some are in serious trouble and looking for a lifeline.  Others in better shape are searching for smart ways to take advantage of soft markets or weakened competitors.  From either perspective, these are times that test a company’s resilience and savvy.  Those who make smart decisions now may be able to survive – and may even come out ahead. The same can be said for our country, state and cities.