The latest economic news
is “sobering” according to experts who seem to have confused the word with its
opposite meaning, a reason to start drinking heavily.
And what’s to
blame for the lingering economic malaise that continues to drag us down like a
slumping clean-up hitter? Is it the growing gap between rich and poor, crushing
consumer debt, upside-down mortgages, bloated government, earmarks, skid marks,
our Marxist president?
No, it’s Pensioners!
the drag on local
economies that’s threatening the national recovery appears to be the fault of
municipal workers like teachers, cops, firefighters
— you know, those
pricks who line their pockets at the expense of the little
farmers” who were trotted out as culprits two years ago for earning, as Dr.
Evil might say, one million dollars…! by indignant
politicians worth many
times more; and before that, greedy labor unions
who brought ruin to the otherwise impeccably-managed automotive and airline
industries who only wanted to take you for a ride; and the perennial fall guy, illegal
immigrants, who enjoy phantom perks like “free” emergency room health care,
and take those swell jobs you’d give your left arm for, like cleaning Porta-Toilets with their faces.
But this year’s model diversionary target
is the municipal worker, who may have,
in a moment of youthful indiscretion, actually chosen a career as a government
worker in part for the security of its pension system — forgoing more glamorous
and lucrative employment now in exchange for financial
security later, like, say, a
Russian ballerina who moves in with Mel Gibson.
Instead, these government employees find themselves
the target of
selective media hand-wringing: in a smug exposť of 4,000 Illinois
pensioners who receive more than $100,000 per year, the Chicago
Sun-Times failed to mention that the average state pension is under $20,000
year. This and other breathless
tales of retired thousandaires have an outraged citizenry rallying for
change under pitchforks and brickbats, despite a shortage of both brought about
by the Tea Party movement.
But those same purple-faced
pretty quiet when Dick Cheney effectively awarded himself a $20 million
from Halliburton, and General Motors CEO Richard Wagoner retired in disgrace
with a $20.2 million
that his contract guaranteed even if G.M. went bankrupt. Meanwhile,
threat of lowly city workers on the verge of retirement has been called
everything from a “time bomb” to a “tsunami,” the implied threat being that we
will explode or drown unless we take action, either by reforming our pension
system or killing all aging municipal workers just prior to retirement.
That’s not to say that our under-funded
public pensions aren’t a
problem or that the current situation is remotely sustainable. Future
pensioners will wind up paying more into the system, and the riverboat gamblers
mismanaged the funds in the first place will have to learn not to invest
too aggressively when markets are booming, in the unlikely event markets ever
But if we're really looking for red-handed culprits,
as long as we have a loan-sharking banking industry
to earn record
profits by charging exorbitant rates for money it got from the government
for free… a Frankensteinian financial system
genetically engineers deliberately
toxic assets to sell to its best customers… and a pair of wars that feed like fat, conjoined twins at a pie-eating contest, consuming a quarter of a million dollars every minute… our under-funded
public pension system is just the latest shiny distraction, like the flourish
of a magician’s hand right before he pulls a shiny quarter out of a millionaire