In the 1970s, 80s, and 90s governments hired employees giving them extravagant retirement benefits that they knew full well they would not be able to pay because “they needed to hire the best people and the best people would go over to the next city if they didn’t.” So every city offered wildly unpayable benefits. Now it is 2012, and employees want to cash in. The result is that cities will go bankrupt if they pay, so the cities now need to go bankrupt and renegotiate the pensions.
When we hear how many hundreds of trillions our obligations are, they are counting obligations like these cities. But we shouldn’t worry too much because they won’t get paid anyway.
If you could have hooked with the city back in the mid-80s...even as a low-life clerk in the parks department...you could probably retire today with a pension of $75k a year, and full medical coverage for the rest of your life. You figure a guy is 58 years old, and probably has twenty more years of life (especially with a four-star medical program), and this adds up.
It is a total failure of the political system to grasp the ongoing cost of retirement and allow this system to get some warped up. Course, a city council person who does sixteen years on the commission...likely takes a pension at age sixty of $60k (my humble guess). If you measure up sixteen years of work and the pay-off, that’s not too bad.