One could almost say that any pension reform that doesn’t reduce the promises that have been made is ultimately either a sidestep or a backslide toward forcing taxpayers to absorb all unfunded pension debt. This Washington Post article brings that thought to mind:
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which insures private pensions, is dealing with long-standing financial woes with the fund that protects multi-employer pension plans. The program, which some experts say wasn’t really intended to be used, was set up more than four decades ago to serve as a backstop for private-sector pension plans. But it has been relied on more than expected by large plans on unsteady financial footing.
Look, the writing has been on the wall a long, long time concerning pensions. Any step that’s been taken to provide insurance or a “backstop” for the mathematically impossible promises not only delays a final reckoning, but also dilutes the incentive for employers and employees to view pension benefits with the appropriate level of realism.
We’re letting corporations, unions, and the government set up just these sorts of dominoes throughout our economy and our culture, and it has to stop. The bill is going to come due, and the more intricate ways we contrive to make people think that they won’t be shorted, the more we make dishonest, unrealistic accounting a core feature of our entire society.