Skip to comments.
Time for obstructionist to end snarky comments and seriously address pension reform
Oakland Tribune ^
| Updated 5/13/12
| Daniel Borenstein - Staff columnist
Posted on 05/13/2012 10:27:22 AM PDT by SmithL
Spotting my scheduled appearance on an upcoming conservative think-tank panel to discuss public-employee pensions, union spokesman Steve Maviglio went into Twitter attack mode last week.
@stevenmaviglio branded me a "pension basher" and called my ethics into question. His sad attempt to divert the debate badly mischaracterizes my position and further undermines serious discussion of a complex issue.
Here's a 140-character response I considered tweeting:
Pensions good idea if affordable w/ honest numbers. Lacking in CA. Results: Lost jobs, cuts to needy, huge debt. Progressive issue. #GetReal
But this debate deserves more than digital sound bites. Here's some of my thinking:
- Traditional pension plans provide security because retirees receive predictable income for the rest of their lives. Every worker deserves one.
- Retirement savings plans like 401(k)s don't provide that security. The uncertainty of when we die means retirees must allocate their money without knowing how long it must last.
- Moving everyone to 401(k)-style plans, as some advocate, would leave more elderly destitute.
- Pension costs must be affordable to taxpayers. Retirees should not collect payments that sometimes match their top salaries.
- Outlaw spiking. Items like unused vacation pay, leftover sick leave and uniform and car allowances should not count as income when calculating pensions.
- Pension-fund financing hinges on honest accounting, including reasonable assumptions about future investment returns. Pension managers should err on the conservative side. Right now, they do the opposite.
- When assumptions don't materialize, resulting shortfalls create debts we foist onto our children, what liberal Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan called "cross-generational theft" that is "robbing those who are 40 and under."
- That debt alone currently equals about $30,500 for each California household, according to data from former Democratic Assemblyman Joe Nation and one of his Stanford students.
- A market turnaround won't cure this. The math doesn't work. The hole is too deep.
- Former Gov. Gray Davis deserves much blame for approving unaffordable benefit increases. In 2010, he admitted to Reuters, "the math was wrong big time." His former spokesman, Maviglio, should listen.
- Collective bargaining rights should be preserved. But unions must responsibly address the problem. Most fiddle on the margins.
- The Legislature and governor should lead reform. They won't. The legislative majority remains beholden to unions. Gov. Jerry Brown doesn't walk his talk (his reform plan contains good ideas). So voters will eventually turn to an ugly initiative.
- Government pension contributions for newly earned benefits and to cover past shortfalls are set artificially low because of false accounting. Consequently, there will be more shortfalls. It will probably get worse.
- Current contributions drain public coffers, forcing slashing of union jobs and public services, including those for the most needy. As Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, another Democrat, said, "I don't know about a more important progressive issue than pension reform."
I agree. That's why, when invited, I'll talk to respectful groups, whatever their political bents, about the problem. As for my ethics, I don't accept speaking fees, nor take money from special interests.
I also wasn't the gubernatorial spokesman investigated for, and eventually cleared of, federal securities fraud -- who during the 2001 energy crisis bought stock in a company while his boss was keeping secret the terms of state electricity contracts negotiated with the firm (#ethics GlassHousesStones).
TOPICS: Editorial; Government; Politics/Elections; US: California
KEYWORDS: goldenstate; pensionreform; unionthugs
posted on 05/13/2012 10:27:27 AM PDT
California is over, with 14 billion in debt and driving producers out of the state at record numbers...There is no one left to pay the bills. Goodbye California.
“Retirement savings plans like 401(k)s don’t provide that security. The uncertainty of when we die means retirees must allocate their money without knowing how long it must last.”
Unless the money is used to buy an annuity.
Cannot have “guaranteed” public pensions. Public sector employees should share the same fate as private sector employees. They work for us.
And as far as public sector unions, hell no. It should be obvious with anyone with half a brain what that results in. We’re living it.
posted on 05/13/2012 10:41:58 AM PDT
Why doesn’t someone sponsor a initiative for California voters that would end collective bargaining rights for public sector unions and drastically reform the pension system and convert it entirely to a 401(k) plan. They should also ban political contributions from public sector unions. This one initiative could turn around the state by breaking the power of the unions.
With the feds spending 2-3 Billion a day in deficit spending, 16 Billion is about 5 days of deficit spending. Chump change in the Obama world.
posted on 05/13/2012 10:45:16 AM PDT
( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
Because like the Greeks, they are “entitled” to it. They’ll take the ride to the bitter end cursing at reality all they way down.
posted on 05/13/2012 10:45:20 AM PDT
The California publiic employees unions will want a federal bailout. If there’s no money for SS, then there’s no money for this.
posted on 05/13/2012 11:10:29 AM PDT
(this space for rent)
Not chump change for california, they can’t print money.
Not chump change for california, they cant print money.
Exactly why I think a Fed bailout is coming.
posted on 05/13/2012 12:03:14 PM PDT
( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
...a word used only by women...and gay men of course.
posted on 05/13/2012 2:11:11 PM PDT
Here's a solution for California: just pass a law that says a retiree (after showing his/her official CA-issued card) gets everything free everywhere they go in the state.
No taxes, no payment (money or services) are allowed. Free medical care, no money needed to buy food or booze, no property taxes, free tags for your car, free health care, free drugs, don't have to pay for fuel or maintenance or insurance for your car. Everything is FREE for a valid card holder. Problem solved?
Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual
posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its
management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the
exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson