March 7, 2011- With the recent spate of attacks on climate science and evolution, it should not be a surprise that traditional defined-benefit pensions in the public sector are now also under attack. There are powerful political actors in this country who are anxious to build a bridge back to the 19th century, taking us to a time where working people enjoyed few protections and could not count on sharing in the gains of economic growth.
The effort to weaken or destroy public-sector unions and take away their pensions is the latest battle in this larger war. As usual, the right has been busy making things up to push its agenda, confident that the media will not expose untrue claims.
At the center of the right's story is the view that governments are somehow being reckless or irresponsible when they provide guaranteed pensions for their workers. They tell us that these guaranteed benefits will bankrupt state and local governments, imposing impossible burdens on future taxpayers.
An answer to state budget woes that doesn't need to involve sacrificing workers' rights.
March 5, 2011- As states struggle to meet their budgets, public pensions are on the chopping block, but they needn’t be. States can keep their pension funds intact while leveraging them into many times their worth in loans, just as Wall Street banks do. They can do this by forming their own public banks, following the lead of North Dakota—a state that currently has a budget surplus.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose recently proposed bill to gut benefits, wages, and bargaining rights for unionized public workers inspired weeks of protests in Madison, has justified the move as necessary for balancing the state's budget. But is it?