Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pensions -- The Issue that Can No Longer Be Swept Under the Rug

by Terry Martin

One of my biggest mistakes was NOT writing the book I began in 1994 on the coming collapse in publicly funded pension systems. Called "The Pension Eclipse" and based on my Masters Thesis, it was going to lay out how there were far too many promises made to ever be realized. This was long before I ever knew I was coming to Illinois.

The largest point is that one must factor in the cost of ALL of the taxpayer supported pensions, and what that means to one taxpayer. A citizen of Chicago for example, pays taxes to support Soc Sec, Federal workers retirement, State workers, County workers, and local Fire, Police and civil servants. In addition, they have to underwrite the govt's bailout of private pensions that go bellyup.

When you add it all up -- that taxpayer would have to be taxed at such a rate to make good on those obligations, that he/she wouldn't be able to support themselves! Thus, publicly funded pension will Eclipse all other spending issues, until govts reform them, and quit trying to finance their way out of the insatiable black hole, that are our publicly funded pension systems T'aint enough money to around to make it possible. It's simply an issue of fishes and loaves... and too large a crowd.

Pretending we can pay full pensions, to all that have had promises made to them at the Federal, State, and local level -- is to continue the lie of the last 40 years. It doesn't help those who are expecting a pension, to have their system go under. The fact is -- we can make adjustments to decrease benefits, while asking taxpayers to pay a bit more. We can make some other tweaks that spread the pain out over more years. But there is no escaping that pain is on the way. And the longer we wait to face these inescapable facts... the greater the pain will be to those who were promised benefits beyond financial reason... or simple math.

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