Beyond Labels

A 360┬░ Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues



Monday, August 29: Potluck

We didn’t choose a topic for Monday’s session, deciding instead to see what develops in the news and what ideas participants might come up with over the course of the week.

In the meantime, here’s an article on lithium supply from Steven:

For Dec. 18: Urban Liberals vs. Rural Conservatives

I wasn’t there a couple of weeks ago when this topic (what drives the observed(?) divide wherein the more rural population skews conservative and the urban folks skew liberal?) was supposed to be discussed, but yesterday’s group thought it would be interesting and hadn’t been fully mined when it was on the agenda. So we’re going to try again.

Mike Wolf’s original description and meeting review post of the meeting on November 27 has some links to articles/data that may be helpful in framing the discussion; if you have other sources you think the group should considering reviewing before next Monday, please post them in a comment here (or email Mike or me if you want us to post them).

State and Local Entitlements

The bankruptcy of the City of Detroit has focused attention on a problem facing many other US cities, counties and states…the cost of the pension and retiree┬ámedical benefits promised to (largely union) employees.

  • How should the Detroit obligations be treated in the bankruptcy? Similarly to such obligations in a company bankruptcy context? Some otherway?
  • Should the Federal government intervene to protect these benefits?
  • Why did this issue arise in the first place, and what changes should be made to avoid it in the future?
    • Was it the ease of trading off current compensation against future benefits for cities, etc. on a budget?
    • Should municipal entities follow corporate employers by converting, over time, from defined benefit (pension and retiree medical) to defined contribution (agree on employer’s contribution; employee takes the risk (upside and downside) on investment returns)?
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