A word often heard by those of us who worked for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was “willpower,” which he considers a core ingredient for success when faced with obstacles that everyone else thinks can’t be moved. On many occasions willpower worked its magic, even in Sacramento. But after the State Senate removed me from a state pension fund board in 2006 for telling mathematical truths and the governor’s own party blindsided him on pension reform in 2010, I realized that in Sacramento, “will” is often a function of “power.”

An explanation is provided by Upton Sinclair, who ~100 years ago spoke of the difficulty of “get[ting] a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” No matter how well pension math was explained to the State Senate, they lacked the will to understand it because doing so risked their political careers. That’s because of “power,” as evidenced by GOP State Senators who pontificated about pension reform but were afraid of prison guard unions to act. …


David Crane

Lecturer at Stanford University and president of Govern For California

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