"Stockton's biggest creditors insured $165 million in bonds the city issued in 2007 to keep up with CalPERS payments as property taxes plummeted during the recession," The Associated Press reports. "Stockton now owes CalPERS about $900 million to cover pension promises, by far the city's largest financial obligation."
In Stockton, as in many other American cities, government became the dominant industry.
Data developed by the Census Bureau on the economic characteristics of Stockton in the years from 2007 to 2011 show that the city had an adult population (16 or older) of 212,365. Among these, there were only 84,204 private-sector wage and salary workers and another 6,927 people who were self-employed in their own unincorporated businesses.
That added up to 91,131 people in Stockton working in the private sector for a wage or salary or for their own business.
Another 18,778 in the city worked for government, and 11,426 collected food stamps.
Assuming (for the sake of argument) that none of the government workers were also collecting food stamps, there was a combined 30,204 government workers and food stamp collectors in Stockton. Those 30,204 people living off the taxpayers in the city equaled one for every three private-sector workers and self-employed business owners.
For every family in Stockton where both the mom and dad work and a teenage child also toils at, say, the local fast-food place, there is one person working for the government or collecting food stamps.
To the degree that government does not redistribute wealth from other parts of California or the nation to Stockton, that local mom, dad and teenager must carry on their shoulders the 30,204 local government workers and food stamp collectors.
Then there is that $900 million Stockton owes to the state's government worker pension system. That, too, must rest on the shoulders of the local mom, dad and working teenager -- unless the state or federal government taxes money away from people elsewhere to pay for the pensions of retired Stockton government workers.
A little more than two years ago in this column, I wrote that government had killed the state of California. That crime has now been repeated on a municipal scale. Nature gave America something with unparalleled potential in Stockton and its environs. Government murdered it.
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