Photo by Igor Gusarov
While we celebrate election victories it would pay dividends if we return our focus to the source of the runaway debt problem by focusing instead at what is happening at the local & state level that feeds the debt. It is the insatiable appetite of local spending that collectively allows this to get bigger and bigger, all the while as we pat ourselves on the back for “ winning”. We are taking false comfort in these “ wins”.
I read yesterday the comments by VTTP Chair Rick Buchanan who cited statistics drawing attention to the number of new seats at state and national level won in recent years by republicans. It would be terrific if somehow that had translated into remedies that would have arrested the spiraling out of control spending that continues to drown future generations who will suffer beyond what most of us can even fathom when the bill comes due.
Case in point. This week’s issue of Barron’s an editorial by Thomas Donlan titled “ States are Still Digging Fiscal Holes” Mr. Donlan observes………… “ the condition of state and local pensions is worse than officially reported. The National Association of State Retirement Administrators surveyed 132 big government pension plans last year and found the average estimate of future annual investment returns —the discount rate—to be 7.6%. Hard nosed reformers say they should be using a Treasury rate around 3%, but only 7 of the funds in the survey were using discount rates below 7%. The difference is powerful: The funds pretend their investments are strong and that they are a mere $1 Trillion short of what they will need to pay benefits that workers have already earned. Cutting the 7.6% investment estimate back to the 3% turns the $1 Trillion deficit into a $3 Trillion Dollar hole .
Local elected officials refuse to be truthful with the public and go on their merry way , compounding the problem by adding additional public sector employees. Government Pension plans are not covered by Federal Law ( how convenient) that would force them to fess up, say’s Donlan.
Here locally we see this tragic scenario playing out by Hanover & King William County proposing more hiring in local government, at least in King William Counties case almost criminal, given the Counties own Comprehensive Annual Financial Report ( CAFR 2016) that show’s the Counties population actually declined last year . We can win all the elections from here to eternity, but the election wins in and of themselve do absolutely nothing to address the real danger. Time to go hard after local Pols who are exasperating this by growing local government each year while we foolishly count our “ wins” . Buchanan can dance all the happy dances he likes, and crow about election victories. It reminds me of the folks who danced the night away on the deck of the Titanic.
Bob Shannon King William