Old man Look At My PBS

It’s nothing like what you knew,

As for the “Pension Peril” series, it’s typical of reporting that treats public employee benefits as though they’re the chief cause of municipal fiscal problems. They’re not; their importance is consistently exaggerated by special interests who have ulterior motives for attacking public employees.

The “Pension Peril” installment on California paints municipal employee benefits as a driver of the bankruptcy of the city of Vallejo; you have to listen very carefully for the fleeting references to the role of the loss of a shipyard — a major employer in town — and the overall economic downturn.

Nor will you hear any reference to the real cause of underfunding of public employee pensions in California, which was the foolhardy decision in the 1990s to give municipalities a “holiday” on their annual pension contributions because the stock market was soaring so high. When the markets crashed in 2008, the rot created by that decision was exposed by the receding tide. (More recently, the rising markets have begun to restore health to the pension funds.)

Another example of short sighted policy goals, which the previous post is pretty much about too, with the extra bonus of Enron style manipulation of public perceptions.

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