Daily Archives: April 4, 2013

Left Urges Feds to Target Private 401k Plans

uncle_obama401KSalon.com is now directing the government to go after 401k retirement plans. Why? The government doesn’t run them and rich people save more, so 401k’s are fundamentally unfair to poor people. Once again, we’re treated to another helping of weak redistributionist sauce, filling the gullible with the theory that rich people got that way because they stole something from the poor. 

New America Foundation founder Michael Lind says your privately run 401k is, well, private and subject to greedy corporations and, you know, the market and stuff. 

But the risks, including risks from poor investments and the chance that you will retire during a stock market downturn, fall entirely on the individual. Even worse, many working-class and middle-class Americans with 401Ks are stealthily fleeced by money managers, who charge high and often difficult-to-find fees for allocating retirement money among stocks, bonds and other assets.

There’s no mention of the greedy government stealing your and retirees’ 401k_egg_brokenmoney by its inflationary quantitative easing or increases in government taxes and fees in the Salon article. Oh, no, by his lights, government is the high standard against which all other things are measured. If someone makes a profit in the private sector, that’s GREED. If the government does it, that’s NEED. Oy. 

Listen to the AM radio any Saturday or Sunday afternoons and you’ll find an overflowing cup of free flowing information on how to structure your plan so you don’t get ripped off by big fees. 

Nearly a third of Americans have no savings account and nearly half do not have enough savings to pay their bills if they lost their jobs.

I agree that some people charge too much but should they be investing millions of other people’s dollars for free? Even the government charges–taxes–for stuff. The alternative? The suggestion Lind is making here is that the government be put in charge of your retirement. He bases this on the fact 401k’s are “subsidized” by the government because they’re tax deferred. He actually suggests two “smart” plans (are Democrat plans ever described in any other way?) to get keep plans “private” while having more government involvement. This is an idea labeled daft by the left when President Bush suggested individuals be allowed to invest a small percentage of their own social security funds. President Bush proposed recipients choose from a menu of plans from pre approved programs on something you could call er, an exchange. This is what the left is referring to when it talks about privatizing social security. It was considered daft at the time, but apparently it’s perfectly ok for your health insurance. 

The takeaway from the Salon article is your private retirement plan puts you at risk because you control it and not the government. So it is that the left continues to till the ground for the government to rip up your retirement plan by the roots. They’ll do it in the name of fairness. Just watch. 


Bruce McCain: Oregon’s Mascot Madness

Here is a quick quiz to test your knowledge of Oregon law regarding state school funding. Your answer will determine how closely you pay attention to the lunacy that emanates from Salem.

Currently, the Oregon Department of Education may withhold funds from a local school district if the district:

a)      Fails to meet its goals in the new achievement compacts

b)      Teaches religion in schools

c)       Angers the teacher’s union

d)      Has a school mascot that is deemed offensive to some people

Given the recent attention on the statewide efforts to reform public education in this state, many would be excused if they picked “a” from the choices above. But in fact, the answer is “d,” which more than anything demonstrates what’s wrong with Oregon’s public education in general and the appointed State Board of Education in particular. 

Given the recent attention on the statewide efforts to reform public education in this state, many would be excused if they picked “a” from the choices above. But in fact, the answer is “d,” which more than anything demonstrates what’s wrong with Oregon’s public education in general and the appointed State Board of Education in particular.

In May 2012, the Board voted 5-1 to adopt Oregon Administrative Rule 581-021-0047, which “prohibits Oregon public schools from using Native American names, symbols, or images as school mascots.” Note that this action was an administrative rule adopted by a state agency’s appointed board; it was not a law passed by the legislature. Nonetheless, the Board’s ban on Native American mascots carried with it the power of the purse:

“(6) The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall find any school district, education service district or public charter school that violates this section to be in noncompliance with the discrimination prohibitions under ORS 659.855. Pursuant to ORS 659.855, the Superintendent may immediately withhold all or part of state funding from the school district, education service district or public charter school.”

That provision raises several legal and constitutional concerns, including the fact that since the rule’s adoption, the Superintendent of Public Instruction no longer exists, the role having been assumed by the governor. After the rule was adopted, the Roseburg School Board, home to the Roseburg Indians and Sen. Jeff Kruse (R), filed suit challenging the rule. However, the board suspended its legal challenge in January after receiving legal advice the school board would likely lose its bid to overturn the Education Board’s rule.

Se. Jeff Kruse

In the 2013 session, Sen. Kruse (R-Roseburg) introduced SB 215, which provides:

The State Board of Education may not:

(a) Adopt any rules related to the use of mascots by the public kindergartens and public elementary and secondary schools of this state.

(b) Consider a school district to be nonstandard under ORS 327.103 or otherwise withhold moneys or impose sanctions based on the use of a mascot by a public school of this state, unless otherwise required by federal law.

Sen. Betsy Close (R-Albany) introduced the nearly identical SB 501, which would also bar the withholding of school funds or the imposition of sanctions “based on the use of a mascot by a public school of this state if the withholding of moneys or imposition of sanctions is not required by federal law.” Both bills received their first public hearing on March 28 before the Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development, chaired by Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton). Several local media have misconstrued SB 215 as allowing Native American mascots if local tribes give their blessing; that bill actually is HB 3397.

Acceptable White Warrior

Oregon’s mascot ban prohibits using a name, symbol, or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian Tribe, individual, custom, or tradition that is used by a public school as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead, or team name. Prohibited names include, “Redskins,” “Savages,” “Indians,” “Indianettes,” “Chiefs,” “Chieftains,” and “Braves.”

Schools may continue to use the name “Warriors” as long as it is not combined with a symbol or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian Tribe, individual, custom, or tradition. That’s why Cleveland High School in SE Portland doesn’t make the hit list. If you have ever visited the Cleveland High School cafeteria, you cannot miss the floor-to-ceiling painting of Cleveland’s version of a “warrior.” With flowing blonde hair and a tan that apparently is not dark enough to offend, the Cleveland Warrior might as well have been modeled after Green Bay Packer linebacker Clay Matthews.

In the May 2012 board vote, former board member Leslie Shepherd cast the lone dissenting vote, claiming she felt the proposed rule was selective and, if passed, should also include images like Devils and Saints. Ms. Shepherd was exactly right. Though I understand, but disagree with, the argument that the mascot ban should apply solely to Native Americans, what about my people – the Scots-Irish?

My g-g-g-g-g-grandfather?

Two high schools, David Douglas and McKay, call themselves Scots. Weston-McEwen, a 2A school in Northeast Oregon are the Tiger-Scots, which sounds cool and is the result of a merger between the Weston Tigers and McEwen Scots. Burns (Hilanders) and North Eugene (Highlanders) also employ mascots depicting men in kilts and bagpipes. Three Oregon high schools – Sheldon, Waldport and Riddle – have adopted “Irish” as their mascots, with two of them depicting my ancestors as short, monkey-faced men with orange hair, decked out in green tails and top hat, fists clinched ready for a fight. Personally, I find that image stereotype highly offensive because none of the men in my family has orange hair.

What about separation of church and state? Should Jesuit, Salem Academy and St. Mary’s (Medford) be allowed to carry on as Crusaders? Apparently the Franklin Quakers don’t want to get involved. And where is the PETA crowd protesting the exploitation of the Lions, Tigers and Lava Bears, not to mention such sensitive creatures as the Oregon Episcopal Aardvarks? The trade unions are likewise left out of the mascot ban, affecting Loggers, Fishermen and Cheesmakers all along the Oregon coast.

With Oregon struggling under virtual one-party Democratic rule, why should the political party in control be allowed its mascot, but not others?  Why should Portland’s Jefferson High be allowed to be called the Democrats, when there is no Republican or minor party mascot anywhere else? Here is where our elected and appointed leaders can come together in a true mark of bi-partisan cooperation. Jefferson should be allowed to remain the Democrats only if Lincoln High School is renamed the Republicans. The best thing about that idea is that neither school would need to change their team colors of Jefferson Democrat blue or Lincoln Republican red.

Bruce McCain is an attorney in private practice, retired Multnomah Sheriff’s Department Captain, is a school board member and is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce. His opinions are his own. He has cross posted this piece at his website here.