June 21, 2010

And There Go The Pensions

The more I read, see and hear about the way things are going in our society, the greater my belief that the worst blight on the face of America, I mean, the most puss-filled, festering sore, is our politicians.

Worse than the slimy, ever-hungry union bosses, worse than liberal trial lawyers, worse than crack heads who mug eighty year old ladies for their egg money, worse than the smelliest substance at the bottom of a septic tank.

These parasites, who, if they had any consciences at all, would serve one term in office and then call it a day, going back to the private sector and earning honest livings.

Instead, they choose politics as a career path — and most of these, what was that phrase Seth likes to use — toilet cakes are no more qualified to decide on what’s best for the country or to lead the nation than the above mentioned crack addict or, for that matter, the smelly substance at the bottom of said septic tank.

They virtually steal, as in embezzle, rob, pickpocket, whatever, our hard earned tax dollars and throw them at whatever earmark has arisen that will help one of their colleagues get reelected, basically using the lucre they take from us to campaign for their friends.

When they’ve exhausted our money, they raise taxes on luxury and other items, raise property taxes, increase fines and other penalties and borrow money via bonds and other instruments upon which we, the taxpayers, will eventually have to pay not only the principal, but interest as well.

AND… they “borrow” money from escrow accounts whose purpose is to pay pensions and other obligated monies.

And they break us. That’s right, US. That tax money is still OUR money, even though it is in what is supposed to be the politicians’ “safekeeping”, until such times as some needs to be spent “prudently” in the interests of ALL the taxpayers.

But that’s not happening, because these slugs we continue to reelect continue to leech away at our tax dollars.

Meanwhile, they also vote themselves first class benefits, perks and retirement pensions.

Having vented, let me proceed.

From the Daily Worker Oops. Pravda Waitaminnit, I mean The New York Times:

Many states are acknowledging this year that they have promised pensions they cannot afford and are cutting once-sacrosanct benefits, to appease taxpayers and attack budget deficits.

Illinois raised its retirement age to 67, the highest of any state, and capped public pensions at $106,800 a year. Arizona, New York, Missouri and Mississippi will make people work more years to earn pensions. Virginia is requiring employees to pay into the state pension fund for the first time. New Jersey will not give anyone pension credit unless they work at least 32 hours a week.

“We can’t afford to deny reality or delay action any longer,” said Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois, adding that his state’s pension cuts, enacted in March, will save some $300 million in the first year alone.

But there is a catch: Nearly all of the cuts so far apply only to workers not yet hired. Though heralded as breakthrough reforms by state officials, the cuts phase in so slowly they are unlikely to save the weakest funds and keep them from running out of money.

Some new rules may even hasten the demise of the funds they were meant to protect.

Lawmakers wanted to avoid legal battles or fights with unions, whose members can be influential voters. So they are allowing most public workers across the country to keep building up their pensions at the same rate as ever. The tens of thousands of workers now on Illinois’s payrolls, for instance, will still get to retire at 60 — and some will as young as 55.

When the politicians start cutting like that, even though they’re mostly cutting the pensions of future employees, it means they’ve already overspent to the point that they don’t really have what they need to keep their current obligations.

It means they’re getting ready to begin spending money they don’t have, writing checks based on zero equity. The kind of thing these same politicians would put you and I in jail for.

One striking exception is Colorado, which has imposed cuts on its current workers, not just future hires, and even on people who have already retired. The retirees have sued to block the reduction.

Other states with shrinking funds and deep fiscal distress may be pushed in this direction and tempted to follow Colorado’s example in the coming years. Though most state officials believe they are legally bound to shield current workers from pension cuts, a Colorado victory could embolden them to be more aggressive.

Colorado pruned a 3.5 percent annual pension increase to 2 percent, concluding that was the fastest way to revive its pension fund, which was projected to run out of money by 2029. The cut may sound small, but it produces big results because it goes into effect immediately. State plans vary widely, but many have other costly features, like subsidized early-retirement benefits, which could likewise be trimmed for existing workers.

Despite its pension reform, Illinois is still in deep trouble. That vaunted $300 million in immediate savings? The state produced it by giving itself credit now for the much smaller checks it will send retirees many years in the future — people who must first be hired and then, for full benefits, work until age 67.

By recognizing those far-off savings right away, Illinois is letting itself put less money into its pension fund now, starting with $300 million this year.

That saves the state money, but it also weakens the pension fund, actually a family of funds, raising the risk of a collapse long before the real savings start to materialize.

“We’re within a few years of having some of the pension funds run out of money,” said R. Eden Martin, president of the Commercial Club of Chicago, a business group that has been warning of a “financial implosion” for several years. “Funding for the schools is going to be cut radically. Funding for Medicaid. As these things all mount up, there’s going to be a lot of outrage.”

The rest is here.

But you see, while these politicians, and here I’m not singling out either party, stick it up the collective kazoo of all of us, they don’t concern themselves with what’s happening on the next guy’s watch or what’s going to happen in the course of the next two, three or ten generations. Oh, no, they’ll sweep whatever “inconveniences” come along under a rug for their successors to “deal with”.

These politicians are, to be blunt, criminals. They are guilty of grand larceny, among other things, and they are only there because a few million irresponsible, ignorant people elect them without first bothering to actually scrutinize them.

People will spend more time analyzing the Past Performances of a horse they’re considering wagering on to bet a few bucks than they will the Past Performances of a politician who may just screw up our entire society, economically and in every other way conceivable, as they now have.

How often do we see a body of politicians who have screwed the pooch vote to lower their own pay, health care or pensions accordingly?

“Crickets chirping”

by @ 8:51 pm. Filed under Assholes, Politicians
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