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Pension Mess Can’t Go On: New at Reason

Friday, September 30, 2016 6:35
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The pension crisis in California isn’t so much a tsunami as slowly rising floodwaters.

Steven Greenhut writes:

President Richard Nixon’s economic adviser, the late Herbert Stein, still is knon for his dictum: “If something cannot go on forever, it won’t.” It should be the rallying cry for California’s pension reformers. The numbers don’t lie, they say. Services are being cut to pay for oversized pensions, they note. Something must be done because the debt cannot keep growing forever.

They’re right. And it won’t go on forever. It can’t go on forever. At some point, even the most dogged public-pension defenders will realize the gravy train—six-figure guaranteed lifetime pensions inflated by myriad spiking gimmicks—will end because the math must catch up with the wishful thinking.

New York and Chicago already pay for more retired cops than for officers patrolling the streets. Some cities have gone belly up, with Stockton and Vallejo the most visible California examples of what happens without adult supervision. Even healthy cities are slashing services and raising taxes to meet escalating pension bills, to pay for those who often receive far more in retirement than most residents earn during their working years.

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