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View Diary: San Francisco Board of Supervisors to Vote Tomorrow on Divesting $500 million from Fossil Fuels (65 comments)

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  •  So... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MGross

    ...how much of a hit to their retirement benefit packages are public retirees willing to take because of this change?

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:27:17 PM PDT

    •  how much of a hit will they take if they don't? (12+ / 0-)

      see my comment to Sven below....

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:32:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's hard to tell whether (14+ / 0-)

      there will be a hit at all. Most of the experts who testified said if anything it would be minimal.

      The real question should be: How much of a hit to planet Earth and their children & grandchildren are public retires willing to take if this doesn't go through? Most San Franciscans are educated and aware enough to know that the future -- both economic and environmental -- is not in fossil fuels, and my guess is that a vast majority will be quite supportive of this action.

      Ecology is the new Economy

      by citisven on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:32:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hi Spar... (5+ / 0-)

      That's a little unfair, given that public retirees' benefit packages are taking a bigger beating from the diametric side of the political spectrum. If anyone wanted to pay taxes in California, the public retirees would be able to have a secure future.

      And I do enjoy the perspective you bring to issues. I'm afraid that I have to run off to a class in about half an hour, so I can't stay and chat. I'll drop back by in a few hours.

      Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this, and attaining enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

      by rb137 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:36:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Even if portfolio returns are hit, benefits are (5+ / 0-)

      not hit, as long as the city does not go broke.

      The pensions are defined benefits that are based on formulas tied to work pay and years of service.

      If the portfolio under performs, the hit is paid by taxpayers and/or those who receive city services.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:03:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MGross

        So in other words, city taxpayers are ultimately paying for this.

        Money is coming out of the pockets of $10/hr Taco Bell workers (in the form of higher sales taxes) to cover this (in theory).

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:13:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and they will also pay (7+ / 0-)

          if the fossil companies tank. Either way all investments are gambles on what might happen in the future, it's just that SF will be betting on other companies besides the worst polluters to perform well in the future, if the vote passes tomorrow. It's not like these 200 companies are the only big and successful companies in the world and there aren't any solid alternatives.

          Ecology is the new Economy

          by citisven on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:19:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, 10.55 an hour (5+ / 0-)

          Although I know you oppose living wage laws, so it's funny that you'd complain about it when it comes to this.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:41:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  He opposes (4+ / 0-)

            pretty much living anything, if he thinks it might cost him anything.

            Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

            by Words In Action on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:58:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  These assumptions are hilarious (0+ / 0-)

              It's interesting to see strange projected assumptions of how I supposedly see the world.

              Everything has a cost. Nothing is free.

              In these conversations I am attempting to expose the hidden costs of things like this that are not immediately apparent.

              This diary suggests an action that may cost the pension fund revenue by suboptimal investment. If there is a shortfall, someone must and will (mathematically) pay for it.

              The only two entities who can make the sacrifice are either city taxpayers or retirees. There's no one else. If retirement funds fall short (maybe not through this action alone) retirees may lose their shirts in municipal bankruptcies.

              That is the cost you are ignoring here, the potential for municipal bankruptcy or tax increases on town residents or both. Is it a big risk for this divestment? Probably not. But it might be, and that's the honest calculation that must be made here.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:28:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You argue like a Right Libertarian (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Glen The Plumber, citisven

                You want us to take a poll of one (you) and then just throw up our hands.

                Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

                by Mokurai on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:19:26 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Like I said (0+ / 0-)

                  You are asking the city taxpayers to eat this cost?

                  Or pensioners?

                  You can say I argue like whatever you want. That's the choice before you.

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:48:37 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I understand your concern (7+ / 0-)

                    and it's the same concern that will make the vote a close one, because some of the more centrist supervisors think in those same terms, like what this will mean for people's wallets and nest eggs in dollars and cents within the kind of economic parameter of perpetual growth we've become so comfortable with.

                    The supervisors who are supporting this resolution on the other hand are thinking in broader terms, that we are dealing with an unprecedented catastrophe that does not allow us the comfort of thinking in the same old paradigm of trying to milk the best short-term profit out of everything under the assumption there will never be any consequences to this kind of economic tunnel vision.

                    There's always risk in any kind of investment, and there is a possibility that the returns might be a bit lower in the short term. But they might also turn out to be higher, just as Chevron and BP stocks may very well take a dive as the true cost of carbon becomes more and more apparent. Investment is a gamble, and betting on fossil companies is betting on the past whereas betting on renewables is betting on the future.

                    So to me it comes down to 3 philosophies:

                    1) You think that everything is fine the way things are and it will always stay that way.

                    2) You're someone who thinks that in order to have any chance at long term prospects of thriving life on planet Earth we have to fundamentally rethink what we value and the way we view prosperity.

                    3) You say climate change is a real problem and we must do something, but you're not willing to do anything that would get you out of your own comfort zone or do anything differently than you have been doing it all your life.

                    Personally I choose #2, and I hope the SF Board of Supervisors will too.

                    Ecology is the new Economy

                    by citisven on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 08:35:44 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  In my view (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      AoT, Balto, nextstep

                      What actually has to be done to effectively deal with climate change and fossil fuel depletion issues is so far from what is really being done that any move like this one is almost laughable.

                      This is a 'feel good' move. That's really what drives my 'opposition': a pension fund with fiduciary duties to its constituencies is not the place for this. If California really cared, it would start re-zoning suburbia out of existence in favor of walkable mass-transit based systems. However, that would never pass any vote, so we're stuck with these gestures.

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 09:01:17 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  you don't need rezoning. Cut highway funding (3+ / 0-)

                        They're drilling a fourth bore to the Coldecott tunnel to reduce reverse commute congestion. I can only imagine what that could have done if it were spent on renewable or publit transit. Use the damn thing for bus rapid transit at least. Bart is packed during commute. The amount of money being spent to subsidize autos is absurd and outrageous. I'm sure it's federal dollars but it should have been refused rathere than increase traffic.

                        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                        by AoT on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 09:39:53 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  I'm with you 100% on the rezoning (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        AoT, No Exit, Glen The Plumber

                        and making walkable, mass-transit systems the core of any planning decision. In fact, as an advisor for Ecocity Builders I've been knee-deep in those issues for years, and I share your frustration. The problem in my experience is that people don't want change even if the status quo makes their lives miserable and is destroying the planet. But I refuse to give up, because I think that even small changes can have big impacts and ripple outward. And what choice do we have but to keep trying?

                        But my response to you would be that I think it's possible to do both, to work on getting better designed human-scale city infrastructure but also go after the oil barons (and Wall Street for that matter) whose greed knows no boundaries and whose modus operandi is in direct conflict with sustainable life on earth. I disagree that it's a laughable endeavor, just as Occupy isn't a laughable endeavor — it's people speaking out against inequality, injustice, and an institutionalized inequity that funnels all the wealth into the pockets of a few fossil giants while externalizing the true cost of their business to (mostly poor) people and planet.

                        The worst case scenario is that the campaign to divest is not effective, but what you've gained is millions of new and young activists who are also interested in issues of urban planning, renewable energy, zero waste, and a whole host of other meaningful issues. We're building a movement that's much bigger than divestment or Keystone, it's a whole wave of new activists who will be important allies in all kinds of endeavors, in we'll need every single one of them.

                        What I'm trying to say is that it doesn't have to be a choice between one or the other, between going after fossil companies, lobbying for zoning changes, or personal practices. In the time it took us two, who are basically on the same page regarding the problems we're facing, to argue over which strategy is more effective in getting to our common goal, we could have just spend our precious time working to further the causes that each of us is passionate about and giving each other encouragement. I just don't think there are enough conscious citizens in this country that we can afford to constantly bicker amongst each other about whose ideas and strategies are better and smarter.

                        Let's build each other up rather than tearing each other down. That's my plea, and that's my commitment.

                        Ecology is the new Economy

                        by citisven on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 09:54:55 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  actually, things are free. Most of them. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Calamity Jean

                Technically, approximately all of the universe, minus Earth of course, is "free". Or may as well be until we get there. But that's not what you're talking about. You're talking about labor. Labor also comes "free". Or more correctly put: "a cost of doing business."

                One of the things people forget about regulation is that corporations are a form of regulation. You know this. A corporation is an entity that the state thinks rich people should be able to use as legal protection. That's what it was created by and for. Slavery was a state monopoly in places. Why? The state. The state is the best and most efficient was to use violence.

                Oh, and the more bike paths the better, no matter how they get there.

                If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                by AoT on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:57:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Any chance to use the poor as an excuse (3+ / 0-)

            for regressive politics.

            if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 08:58:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Precisely. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          I'm kind of shocked this is even legal, considering that taxpayers backstop the losses of pension funds.

          Technically, I don't think the pension funds even need have a positive return... ever.

        •  It's their right to decide that, through their (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          citisven, AoT, Calamity Jean

          elected officials. If they are willing to pay higher taxes because they don't want sea level rise to swamp their city, it's no business of yours to disapprove. Unless it screws with your rights, it's their business.

          if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 08:58:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  We understand that you will be the last (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, citisven, Glen The Plumber

      person around to get the point. We'll just have to live with it.

      It's because of people just like you, in fact, that we have this problem even though we had decades of warning.

      Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

      by Words In Action on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:57:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, who says they have to take a hit? (5+ / 0-)

      You and who else?

      Their financial advisors testified that in the short run, the difference between investing in coal and the rest of the market is noise, and in the long run coal will lose substantial value. Since this is a long-term pension fund, why are you arguing that they should take a hit by staying with coal?

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:17:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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