WALTERS: Parkinson's 'Law of Triviality' on display
Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 1, 2013 at 4:45 p.m.
Humorist C. Northcote Parkinson dubbed an observation about organizational conduct the
Why? The council's members can't grasp a nuclear reactor; it's simply beyond their ken. But they understand a bicycle rack.
Parkinson's wry humor aside, his Law of Triviality has real-world meaning, as we are learning all too well in California.
The Legislature voted in equal ignorance three years later for a massive expansion of state pension benefits on what we know now was a bogus assurance from the union-controlled California Public Employees' Retirement System that investment earnings would fully cover costs.
By and by, as pension costs mounted, many local governments issued
A pension bond is the largest single declared debt of Stockton as it seeks bankruptcy, and much smaller Pacific Grove, adjacent to Monterey, is contemplating bankruptcy as it's hit simultaneously by demands from CalPERS for more money and payments on its $19 million pension bond.
Meanwhile, in dozens of school districts, voters approved school construction bonds, only to learn after the fact that they were sold with delayed principal repayments, thereby multiplying the eventual cost by several times over.
Ironically, the Legislature, which has committed so many sins of ignorance and inattention itself (let's not even mention chronic budget deficits), is self-righteously seeking to crack down on those outrageous school bonds.
It's called the Law of Triviality, and we're seeing it applied again in Sacramento's hurried approval of a very costly basketball palace.
Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee.
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