By Tony Butka, a former Presiding Conciliator in the California State Mediation & Conciliation Service, a columnist at LA CityWatch, and a CalPERS beneficiary
If you haven’t yet contributed to the Naked Capitalism fundraiser (hint: the Tip Jar is over there), maybe my story will remind you of how much valuable financial education you’ve gotten here.
Back in 2007, I was one of those innocents who paid almost no attention to banks and the financial services industry. So guess who wound up with an Interest Only Variable Countrywide Mortgage on our newly bought house in LA. OUCH!
After the crash, I vowed to never get hosed by these creeps again, and discovered an amazing book called ECONNED, by someone named Yves Smith. It became my educational bible for how the financial markets really work. Boy was I naive!
A while thereafter, I discovered the Naked Capitalism blog, Michael Hudson, Lambert and the gang. My eyes were opened and my universe expanded. I was (and am) hooked.
As a semi-retired labor relations type I already knew way too much about public sector labor relations and its politics, but I was blown away by Naked Capitalism’s terrific reporting on the inner workings of CalPERS. A good chunk of my pension rests with them and their bizarre concept of ‘fiduciary duty’. Even an LA politician could go to the slammer for this stuff, and I suspect some of the CalPERS staff should too. This is true investigative reporting.
Anyhow I believe that Yves Smith and Naked Capitalism have become the premier financial services industry resource (and much more) for a lot of us, including how CalPERS really works. Remember, these insights go way beyond California – most public sector pension plans are under attack as the concept of a defined benefit plan is disappearing faster than the dodo bird, and the nation’s largest public plan is simply the canary in the coal mine.
Finally, Yves got me hooked on writing, and helped create a gonzo journalist for CityWatchla.org. I owe a debt I can never repay, and enthusiastically urge everyone who can can afford to, to kick in what they can to keep the blog afloat. Please go to the Tip Jar, where you can find out where to send a check or give by credit card, debit card, or PayPal.
In an era where investigative reporting in the commercial media has all but disappeared, it is critical that we keep the good guys afloat!
Congratulations on another year!