Mike Shedlock
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In a long-overdue moment, governor Jerry Brown has finally admitted the obvious, the state's pension system is broke and California Has "Lived Beyond Our Means". Unions of course are howling at that obvious admission.

Please consider California leaders strike public pension reform deal

California Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers have reached a deal to raise public employees' retirement ages, have them pay more into their pension accounts, and cap retirement payments in a vast overhaul of the state's pension system that he says will save $30 billion.

California faces a huge liability for funding the nation's largest public pension system, but other states and cities also have enormous pension funding gaps and will be watching the state closely.

Brown did not get everything he wanted from lawmakers, such as a hybrid plan that would funnel some contributions into 401(k)-style accounts, and some of the deal's measures will not affect current employees.

"We have lived beyond our means," he said. "The chickens are coming home to roost and this is just one in a series of countermeasures that will be required over the next decade."




LABOR UNIONS OUTRAGED

Democrats in a conference committee of both legislative chambers approved the deal 4-0 late on Tuesday. The two Republicans on the committee abstained, protesting lack of time to study the measures, and labor groups were stunned.

"We are outraged that a Democratic governor and Democratic legislature are taking a wrecking ball to retirement security for teachers, firefighters, school employees, and police officers," said Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, which represents 1.5 million public employees and retirees.

Outside the state building where Brown unveiled the agreement, union activists said the deal unfairly bypassed collective bargaining rights.

"Labor did not have input on this and we are very, very concerned on what this will mean for rank-and-file workers," said Barbara Maynard, also with Californians for Retirement Security
.

Labor Did Not Have Input

That my friends is precisely the way it should be. Labor does not deserve any input and collective bargaining by public unions needs to go the way of dinosaurs.

There is no public benefit to public unions, so there is no need for them. All public unions do is raise costs. The goal of public unions is to do no work for mammoth wages and benefits.

No one in their right mind would willingly take input from such a group.

Beacon of Light in Ocean of Darkness

The key sentence from Governor Brown stands out like a beacon of light in an ocean of darkness. In case you missed it, here it is: "This is just one in a series of countermeasures that will be required over the next decade."

Precisely. Brown's proposal is not the end of what needs to happen, it is the beginning of the beginning of what needs to happen.
 

Here is an easy prediction: Price of fashion models in advertizements is going to collapse, if indeed the industry survives at all.

Why should retailers pay for fashion models when an advertizing department can generate models with the perfect height, weight, breast size, nationality, and complexion for whatever designs they want to promote?

Bad News For Super-Models

MarketWatch describes the setup in 5 computer-generated sales pitches



To save on costs—and perhaps assembly time—Swedish retailing giant IKEA created computer-generated images of its furniture for the new catalog, rather than hiring a photographer. By next year, a quarter of the scenes depicted in IKEA’s print and online advertising will be digitally drawn rather than photographed, The Wall Street Journal reported last week. In fact, IKEA says it is able to better depict its products with computer images than actual photography.

IKEA is not alone. Hollywood filmmakers increasingly create characters—and not just special effects—with CGI animation. And some fashion lines are finding that it’s less expensive to create the perfect specimen digitally than to track down America’s Next Top Model. These computer-generated realities may be cheaper, more appealing, and more versatile than the genuine articles.

Related Ideas

The MarketWatch article also discussed simulated driving of cars, movie special effects, and 3-D dream homes.

Special effects are nothing new. New car models come out only once a year. And I believe most people want real images of homes, not simulated models.

In contrast, clothing changes four times a year, with each season, and also varies by weight, height, size, nationality, skin color, age, etc.

Fashion Questions of the Day

Do I care if the person wearing a sweater in a printed image is generated or real? Why would I? How would I know in the first place?

Supermodels on magazine covers may or may not go away due to importance of name recognition, but every modeling job on down is likely to be eliminated over time.

Virtual models simply have too many advantages for real models to compete effectively. This in turn will pressure wages of even the super-models.

Looking for a career? Fashion modeling is not a good choice.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

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Mike Shedlock

Mike Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management.