It’s nice to be 4-5 years ahead of one’s time

You can do a lot of damage with a pension guarantee clause, a profligate legislature, and greedy public employee unions to buy unsustainable levels of pensions and payroll. It’s been years since I’ve started telling people that pensions would soon crowd out nearly all other public spending.

The media is finally catching on.

It’s good to see friend Lennie nail the issue.

Doing the Pension Math

30 years of small, but growing payments buys you 30 years of out-sized and unsustainable benefits. That is the 10 second sound bite on Public Employee Pension Greed.

You can’t have 1000s of people running up their salaries in the last 4 years, artificially expanding their pensions. It’s an obscenity.

You can’t compound this with allowing swaths of state and local employees (teachers and Administrators especially) retire at 55, allowing them to live off a pension system designed for 10-15 years of life expectancy.

Do the math. You work from 25 to 55. Your pay (and pension payments) are low for about 10 of those years, medium for about 10-15 of them, medium to high for 5-10 of them, and obscenely inflated for the last 4. (don’t forget that public employees get sick days, car allowances, and unneeded insurance benefits added to the pension pie.)

You retire, and live off of an artificially bloated 75-80% average of your last 4 years FOR 30 YEARS OF LIFE EXPECTANCY!!!! WITH FREE HEALTH CARE!!!??????

Anyone living off of this scheme is a parasite bleeding their host (Individual and Business taxpayers) dry. They are killing the host.

More and more seeing Teachers Unions for what they are.

Keeping the existing system is unsustainable.

Even if pension is cut, teachers get good deal

Look, I don’t really like picking a fight with all the current and retired teachers in the state, not even on the eve of taking my first two of eight unpaid furlough days over the next few months.

(By the way, does anybody remember when the word furlough was only used by military people — and it was a good thing?)

I respect teachers. I value teachers. I don’t think teachers are overpaid (well-paid in many instances, but not overpaid.) I even support a tax increase for schools. Teachers were some of the best influences in my life, and most important, I don’t want my lovely teacher sister-in-law to disinvite me from holiday dinners.

But teachers and the rest of the public employees in Illinois must come to understand the rest of us can’t afford to support their pensions at the current levels. Public pensions are bankrupting our governments, driving the need to raise taxes and are way out of line with the private sector.

To clarify, I’m not talking about reducing one dime of benefits to any current retiree or current teacher — as either would be illegal under Illinois’ Constitution.

Raising the retirement age is NOT a benefit cut. We need a phased in retirement age increase that goes up to 67 years old. They can retire anytime they want, but they can’t collect a dime until they hit 67.

Next, every single percentage of “end-of-career” bonuses needs to be cut. You get your pay, and no fake “raises.”

“Sticker Shock”

The Wisconsin Public Policy Institute has an excellent report out about the financial condition of state government. As you read it, note that it is WISCONSIN they are talking about.

Illinois is a FAR BIGGER basket case. As usual, I will impolitely remind you that the coming financial conflagration of state and local budgets is a function of public employee greed.

The Mounting Cost of Deferred Responsibility in Government

The government pension, that prototypical American institution, is edging toward crisis. While public sector pension systems have garnered little attention for several years, they are about to be put under the public policy spotlight. Pension funds that, just six years ago, enjoyed unheard of prosperity, have seen their balance sheets plunge into the red. While the public employees who participate in the pension plans have little to worry about, the taxpayers who ultimately fund the plans are due for some substantial sticker shock. The mismatch between pension revenues and pension obligations (unfunded liabilities) arose with unheard of speed, and stands to test the mettle of elected officials throughout the country.

Across the border in Illinois, a succession of governors and legislatures has deferred action on filling a hole in its pension fund for so long that one dour legislator lamented, “In coming years we will have an unbearable burden for money we owe the pension systems. All of our (revenue) growth will go to pensions. It will stagnate the state.”

State and local governments’ spending proclivities are most pronounced when the economy slumps. Early in this decade, as the economy struggled to recover from the 2001 recession, businesses went through multiple rounds of budget reductions and painful workforce cuts. At the same time, state and local government spending rose by 30% (from 2000 to 2004) and 711,000 new workers were added.

While private greed of Bernard Madoff variety makes all the headlines, the over-weaning greed of the public sector is far more of a problem. The sense of entitlement on the part public employees knows no bounds, and they are driving not just states, but individuals and cultures into bankruptcy.

The question is whether you, as a voter, have the guts to put a stop to it.