Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I'm Back

(Kind of.)

I have recently been on vacation, and away from electronic keyboards. A few observations of recent events (which I was paying little attention to, since no access to news or internet.)

Live-action film-making in L.A. is going through a rough patch. I get this from all the business agents to which I talk. Lots of work has left Los Angeles due to tax incentives (rebates) elsewhere. This is true of t.v. series and feature films alike.

Animation, on the other hand, is fairly robust. Sony Imageworks is sending work to Vancouver (a HIGH cost city, but with BIG tax rebates for Sony.) However, the rest of Los Angeles animation is still pretty much in L.A.

How do I know this? I look at the job stats. TAG members are working in large numbers. I attribute this to the difficulty of outsourcing animation jobs. It's one thing to train an individual for a job on a live-action set; quite another to train a board artist or designer who has worked years to acquire her skill set.

L.A.'s wide and deep talent pool of animation artists makes many jobs harder to outsource. And animation studios seldom want to change winning hands. Wreck-It Ralph, after all, is a box office winner. Anybody think Disney is going to close the Burbank studio?

(A bit of anecdotal evidence: Just before I left, I talked to a CG animator who turned down Sony's offer of a job in Vancouver. He didn't want to uproot his family for a job that had few guarantees of lasting long-term. He stayed in L.A. and picked up a job at a contract studio a couple months later. I would submit that you don't do that if there are few prospects for jobs.)

All that said, I'm aware that nothing is forever. Just because L.A.-based feature and television animation is weathering the current jobs downturn in the entertainment industry doesn't mean it will do so into the infinite future ...

About the recent ballot festivities, I'll make a couple of observations:

The Presidential election: Mitt Romney lost because he was a weak candidate running on a platform a majority found hard to swallow. There have been three Presidents re-elected over the last century with unemployment above 7%: Franklin Roosevelt (twice), Ronald Reagan, and now Barack Obama. Some of that had to do with Obama's strength as a candidate and some with economic trends, but if the Republicans had been running Dwight David Eisenhower on an Eisenhower platform, Obama could well have lost.

California's Proposition 32: The proposition went down because private and public unions worked hard to defeat it. And the reason that the Animation Guild worked against it was that the guild's wages, benefits and pensions were in serious jeopardy if it passed. Simple.

If you don't vote your own economic self-interest, you're made of different stuff than I am.

27 comments:

Oswald Cox said...

How is raising taxes on all of the middle class "working in our own self interest"?

We're going to have a democratic super majority here in California that can raise taxes however they please and guess what - they take their orders from the public sector unions.
Unions that have NOTHING to do with ours.

We are paying billions upon billions of dollars for pensions that they scammed into being larger than what we were told they were going to be. Its fraud. Its corruption. And its unsustainable.

To whit:
The California teachers union wants $10 billion dollars per year for the next 30 years for their pensions to remain solvent.

Hey! All the middle class working for IATSE unions...
You are paying for that. Because the teachers union LIED about the returns on their pension plan. If they were a corporation, their CEO would be in prison for fraud. But here we are again, defending fraud by unions and railing against the same fraud by corporations.
It is hypocrisy defined.


Also, get ready to pay through the nose to live in California. You voted for it

Alice Marie said...

Dude. Seriously. Have you thought about getting your own blog?

Oswald Cox said...

Hey, the truth hurts. And almost as distasteful that we are all being asked to support corruption, is that now apparently no one in here can dissent. I'll leave you with this:

Steve and our elected union reps just fought tooth and nail to secure 2% annual compounded wage increases. And as we could all see, those negotiation were tough. We are all grateful and indebted to them for that.

Now lets look at the pensions you are paying for as a taxpayer:

"A compensation package negotiated in 2007 irresponsibly guaranteed city workers more than 25% in pay hikes over five years."

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/17/opinion/la-ed-citybudget-20120417

^This is what you voted for with Prop 32. You voted to give another union the little extra money our union fought to get. There is no union solidarity when public unions are bankrupting the cities and town you live in.

Oswald Cox said...



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7kVBaslgfo

Alice Marie said...

You are perfectly free to dissent. Just as I am perfectly free to suggest you should get a blog, since it's something you feel so passionate about.

Celshader said...

Because the teachers union LIED about the returns on their pension plan.

Lower-than-expected returns are not unique to the teacher's union pension plan. More than 18,000 corporations had underfunded their pensions by 2006.

What guarantee do you have that your pension will have enough funding to meet your retirement needs?

Oswald Cox said...

Private pensions are collectively underfunded by about 20%. Which is a fair hit for them to take in regards to the perfect storm of circumstances that they encountered(i.e. aging work force, low interest rates, enduring recession).

The public employee pension fund here in California, CalPERS, has itself and only itself to blame for the mess they are in. Forst off, last year their projection was a 7.75% return on their investments. They reported 1.1% return at year's end.

Their actuary board were off on their projections by quite a lot huh? 1/7 of the goal that they needed to meet requirements.

How could it have gone this way? Because public unions wanted to invest in the stock market way back in 1984 and they got a proposition passed by California voters to do that(Prop 21). Previously they were restricted to more stable but lower yielding bonds(like social security is). Bascially the same idiotic scheme that GW Bush had for citizens to invest their social security in the private market - yeah, the unions got to do that for themselves. And they initially reaped huge returns. But instead of managing those returns, they spent them irresponsibly and then strong armed or deceived (depending on who you ask) our legislature into making future budgets based on those returns ad infinitum.

Now the bank is broke for them and you and every other middle class earner is here to bail them out. When you lose a lot of money on the stock market, who is going to bail you out? More specifically, if our private union gambled with our pensions, could we get a proposition passed for higher taxes to rescue us?

Its about accountability and our state just rewarded the public union thugs for squandering money that they forced members to contribute.

Like I stated before, They are not our brethren. The sooner private unions distance themselves from public unions the better because they are going to bring us down with them.

Steve Hulett said...

Private pensions are collectively underfunded by about 20%. Which is a fair hit for them to take in regards to the perfect storm of circumstances that they encountered(i.e. aging work force, low interest rates, enduring recession).

You're numbers are right. You're underlying reasoning is wrong.

ERISA attorneys will tell you there is a ANOTHER reason for the above:

The Republican's Pension Reform Act of 2006 (signed into law by G.W. Bush) said that pensions had to be funded at 80% or above to be in the "green zone" (the highest rated category.)

Six years later, most private pensions shoot for .... wait for it ... 80% because that's what the law requires. To quote an ERISA attorney from Mitchell Knupp Silberg:

"What seems to be the norm now since the law went into effect is that most pension plans shoot for the 80% mark. There's no legal reason for them to go higher."

So Oswald. If you're going to gripe about private pensions being funded at 80%, look to the law that passed under a Republican congress and President.

Steve Hulett said...

This is what you voted for with Prop 32. You voted to give another union the little extra money our union fought to get. There is no union solidarity when public unions are bankrupting the cities and town you live in.

Oswald. Old top. You repeatedly ignore my argument that if Prop. 32 passes, PRIVATE unions and their pensions go down, along with PUBLIC unions.

Here's an analogy you'll appreciate: Remember when the U.S. and Great Britain supported the Soviet Union against Hitler? Why do you think they did that, giving aid and support to the commies? To evil old Jo Stalin?

Here's a clue: Because Hitler was the greater threat, and they fought tenaciously against the greater threat. Churchill himself said so.

Private unions recognized that Prop 32 was a direct threat to their future ability to exist. I've repeatedly said that public pensions should be reformed, that 90% pensions should be rolled back to 60% (pre-1991). But first things first, dude. OUR survival was/is at stake.

Since all you do is come on here under your screen name and rail against our position on prop. 32, I seriously question whether you have any actual skin in the game of TAG's survival. Because if you were vested in the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan, you would have a somewhat different take.

I've got thirty years investment in MPIPHP, and I'm going to fight to keep it whole. But then, I'm more like Winston Churchill in that regard.

And let me add that you do one hell of a lot of whining when you come out on the losing side. You're a bit like Fox News.

But hey. To each his own.



Steve Hulett said...

Typo alert: Up above I meant to type "pre-1999" not 1991.

Oswald Cox said...

Steve, your argument accounts to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Lets get down to brass tacks: You are subsidizing their corruption. Your price of living goes up because of them.
And the math is not only irrefutable, its shocking. There are debts in this state that are equatable to debts on the federal level.

But it all boils down to a question: are the public unions our bosses?

Our unions sure act like they are. We'll support their effort to raise our taxes because we're afraid that their fate controls ours? Here is a question: What if our union became fractured? What if the hollywood studios said "you know what, the hell with these trade unions"
What would the public unions do for us? Nothing.

But I appreciate your slight about "whining". You're in here almost every day whining about film productions going to other states. Its getting old. YOU VOTED FOR HIGHER TAXES IN THIS STATE. What do you think is going to happen to film productions now?


Pay attention. this is Los Angeles' future:
Special Report: How a vicious circle of self-interest sank a California city

And I am a union member with MPI health benefits. Its telling that you haven't a leg to stand on with this issue if you are trying to shoot the messenger.

Celshader said...

You're in here almost every day whining about film productions going to other states. Its getting old. YOU VOTED FOR HIGHER TAXES IN THIS STATE. What do you think is going to happen to film productions now?

I expect nothing different than what film productions did last year. We could slash the 10.30% top marginal tax to 0% and other states would still lure productions away with free money.

VFX Soldier's putting together a Kickstarter to try to do something about VFX subsidies. Maybe you could do something similar for non-VFX productions.

And I am a union member with MPI health benefits.

I'm a VFX artist with no MPI health benefits, and I voted against Prop 32.

Oswald Cox said...

Well then two things must be true:

A) You're independently wealthy and you have extra money (even after health care costs) that you can fork over without feeling it.

B) You have my sympathy because you have a fundamental inability to understand the basic mathematics of our pension deficits here in California.

...Do you really think that Reuters news service is the mouthpiece for right wing sensationalism in the report I posted above? Stick your head in the sand and come back crying when the crap hits the fan.

And I'm assuming you don't own a house, but no matter because even if you rent you are going to get hit with an increase. DWP here in Los Angeles are going to raise electricity rates by 11% and water rates by a total of 15% over the next two years.

If there is anywhere that people need to hear the facts about the fleecing of Californians its in this blog where its union members are consummately misinformed.

Celshader said...

Well then two things must be true:

A) You're independently wealthy and you have extra money (even after health care costs) that you can fork over without feeling it.


I'm glad you acknowledge that the wealthy can pay higher taxes "without feeling it."

Steve Hulett said...

And I am a union member with MPI health benefits. Its telling that you haven't a leg to stand on with this issue if you are trying to shoot the messenger.

So I'll take you at your word, and that whether your benefits get drastically reduced is a non-issue for you.

I'm not trying to shoot the messenger, Oswald. Message here all you like. But digest the information that your side LOST. Maybe at some point you'll stop whining about it.

Steve Hulett said...

You're in here almost every day whining about film productions going to other states. Its getting old. YOU VOTED FOR HIGHER TAXES IN THIS STATE. What do you think is going to happen to film productions now?

The animation business is doing fine. THis guild is doing fine. (We're at high levels of employment.)

I don't know where you come up with me whining. I've pointed out how well animation is doing globally and L.A. in recent posts.

Live action is doing badly in the state because California is not competitive with tax rebates. That's not whining, that's reality.

Steve Hulett said...

Lets get down to brass tacks: You are subsidizing their corruption.

Opinion, Oswald.

Your price of living goes up because of them.

Only one small slice of the cost of living, Mr. O. You're hyperventilating.

And the math is not only irrefutable, its shocking.

Opinion again. I'm hard to shock.

But it all boils down to a question: are the public unions our bosses?

No.

Why don't you get the GOP to come in out of right-wing insanity land ("We hate MEXICANS!!") and put up some viable candidates.

As I've said repeatedly ... and you ignore ... is that if you truly want change in your direction, you've got to do more than complain on a smallish blog.

You gotta get down in the arena and

1) Contribute money

2) Precinct walk

3) Go to public meetings

Most important, push the Republican party into being less bat-shit crazy.

Yr bz rep,

Hulett

Oswald Cox said...

You think the insolvency of the California economy has something to do with republicans????

It has nothing to do with either party, let me state this again so you can get it: it has to do with basic math.

"California has unprecedented problems.
Estimates suggest that the pensions for the state and local governments are underfunded in excess of $650 billion – over 6 and half times the yearly revenues of the state.
The yearly operating budgets the last decade have featured deficits larger than the budgets of twenty states.
California has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the nation with a million less people working today than 10 years ago, and nearly a 1/3rd of the U.S.’s welfare recipients.
California has suffered the worst of the foreclosure crisis, including having 8 of the 10 worst foreclosure areas.

Californians have lost over $2 trillion in homeowner equity since 1997 – a number that exceeds the size of its yearly economy.
Amidst such sorry news, since 1998, 4.4 million taxpayers have left the state in search of better economic climes."



READ:

Special Report: How a vicious circle of self-interest sank a California city


The Worst Is Yet To Come

Vanity Fair: California and Bust


Payroll taxes are going to go UP.
Your property taxes are going to go UP.
You city services are going to be CUT.

And there isn't a single thing about this that has anything to do with republicans. So you can leave that knee jerk reaction out of the equation.

Thanks for your time.

Steve Hulett said...

TO be clear, Oswald:

Taxes will go up and services down because:

Current Public Employee Pensions are not sustainable as constituted.

We're still on the edge of a major recession and tax revenues have declined because of less economic activity and public relief has gone up. But you want REAL grimness, try Nevada -- with higher unemployment, half of personal real estate underwater, and general misery. (All this from a state with NO state income tax; who would have thought?)

Just so you know, I think all the Clinton tax rates should come back and voted YES on Proposition 30. This raises MY taxes. I have no problem with that.

So we probably differ in our political outlooks.

Oswald Cox said...

California has the highest poverty rate in the nation Steve.

Steve Hulett said...

You're correct, but how that's relevant to the ongoing discussion of "public unions are horrible" escapes me.

California has one of the larger low-education immigrant populations in the nation, so high levels of poverty shouldn't be a big surprise. (Texas's poverty rate, as of last year, was 18.5% -- 6th highest.)

From the Center for Immigration Studies:

Among the top sending countries, poverty is highest for immigrants and their young children from Mexico (35 percent), Honduras (34 percent), and Guatemala (31 percent); and lowest for those from Germany (7 percent), India (6 percent), and the Philippines (6 percent).

http://www.cis.org/2012-profile-of-americas-foreign-born-population

two reasons for the higher poverty rate is California's higher cost of living and higher threshhold for supplemental programs like food stamps.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/california-poverty_n_2132920.html

But your point is what? This is all because of the UNIONS? The DEMOCRATS? Or are we changing the subject here?

Oswald Cox said...

Steve...

You are ass deep in willful ignorance. Are you seriously asking why the cost of living is high in California? Are you seriously asking whether democrats have been the sole party in charge for 25 years?
The subject hasn't been changed. You can't accept the facts.

Public union entitlements are an inkling away from bankrupting this state and you, me and everyone else who is a member of this union - along with all the residents of this state have already seen cuts to services and an increase in taxes to create the highest cost of living in the nation and it is BECAUSE of corrupt public unions bilking the system.

Or every news organization in the country is an agent of a right wing conspiracy and basic arithmetic is a scam.

Just stop already. You don't know your ass from your elbow when it comes to the issues facing this state and you think its more important to blindly tow a pro-union line when its crushing every member of your OWN union.

Just shut up already. You negotiated for how long for a 2% raise for all of us????

The public unions got a 25% raise without even trying. If we are to praise them, then why does our union have YOU in charge? You want to go down this road? Lets.

Oswald Cox said...

From this week's LATimes:

In Los Angeles, we've now got a snapshot of the dilemma elected officials are facing. Do you raise taxes and fees to cover the deficits, try to rein in retirement plans, or both?

On Tuesday, the City Council voted to put a half-cent sales tax increase on the March ballot to raise $215 million a year. Coincidentally, the city is looking at a projected $216-million budget deficit next year even as city contributions to retirement costs continue to rise.

Without more concessions from employee unions, and/or new taxes, that translates into more cuts in services. That's why LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who fears the layoff of up to 500 police officers, is touting the sales tax increase. And it's why former Mayor Richard Riordan is pushing a pension reform proposal that would put new city employees on a 401(k)-style plan instead of a defined benefit plan.

This scene is going to play out in one town after another for months if not years, with one side arguing for tax increases and the other for pension reforms far greater than the ones Gov. Jerry Brown engineered last year for state employees.


Cities and counties face mounting challenges that could require slashing services and hiking taxes.


You may not like my demeanor or the tenacity in which I approach the subject Steve, but you are going to be thankful I threw this glass of cold water in your face. Because when people in our union(residents of Los Angeles) get tax hike after tax hike and less and less service, they are going to follow the call from all citizens wanting answers. And the truth about the public employee unions is going to be known. And then your decision to pick a side is going to be a little more difficult. Because people are going to be real unhappy with the defacto approach of supporting "our union brethren" when they are bankrolling their lavish entitlements on our dime without any skin in the game.

I'm the first guy to say that I don't want to support the public employee unions, but there are gonna be a lot more.

Steve Hulett said...

Right. Services will be cut and taxes will go up. Or not. Citizens will vote on what happens.

Some cities will declare bankruptcy. Some cities won't. And I think there will be changes down the road, because the pension plan as it is now is unsustainable.

Once the Republicans get off their nativist bandwagon, they will probably claw their way back to competitivness, and that will also induce change.

But again. I didn't (and don't) believe voting for Proposition 32 was the way to do it, because the proposition took out entertainment unions along with the public ones, and would utlimately threaten our contracts and health and pension plans.

Now, you disagreed, and that's fine. Feel free to post here with your links and arguments. And you can continue to sling your invective about what an immoral horse's ass I am. But I got some new information for you. If you continue to do it without using your actual, real name, then you'll get deleted.

Up to you.

Steve Hulett said...

To clarify.

You can post here politely and take any position you want. But you go on with the name calling using the fake name, it's bye bye.

Have a great day.

Alice Marie said...

....I go away for a few days and geeze. A few things that have been bothering me about this discussion:

No one is saying that public pensions aren't a problem. No one is saying public unions aren't problematic. They are just saying they don't believe prop 32 would have a huge effect on that issue, while it could have potential ramifications to limit union influence if say, perhaps right to work legislation came up. It is also unlikely that prop 32 would have any effect on the pensions currently in place that are underfunded.

For example, there are groups that have gone to court when cities have tried to cut the pensions already agreed upon - and the cities lost.
http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Court-rules-public-pensions-must-be-paid-4005005.php


You are certainly free to argue your point of view, but you might have better luck if you don't assume that the rest of us are stupid or ill-informed because we disagree with you.

Not to mention there are two parties involved in this system - the public unions, and the politicians who voted for the increases and in some cases, obfuscated the information intentionally.

Oh. Last. Dude. Telling Steve to shut up after you bitched at me even mentioning maybe getting your own blog to post this stuff is pretty hypocritical.

Hey. I see comment moderation has been turned on. The changes in the captcha are interesting though. What are we doing now, providing address numbers for mapping programs?

Steven Gordon said...

I'll bet that's last you heard of him...easy to hide behind a phony name and act like an ass....

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