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Monday, August 9, 2010

We Are All Central Falls, Now

Someone please tell me why I fall for it every time. Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize Winner Extraordinaire™ (NPWE), writes a biased rant against anything that smacks of fiscal conservatism, and I get all worked up.

The latest is Krugman's attack on how fiscal conservatives, who are not inclined to have the federal government go further into debt, will not pay for state budget gaps resulting in -- allegedly -- roads being torn up and lights turned off:
The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno....

So the end result of the long campaign against government is that we’ve taken a disastrously wrong turn. America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere.

It's interesting that Krugman completely ignores the one problem which is destroying state budgets, abusive public sector employee pensions.

Here's how The New York Times reports the problem:
There’s a class war coming to the world of government pensions.

The have-nots are taxpayers who don’t have generous pensions. Their 401(k)s or individual retirement accounts have taken a real beating in recent years and are not guaranteed. And soon, many of those people will be paying higher taxes or getting fewer state services as their states put more money aside to cover those pension checks.

At stake is at least $1 trillion. That’s trillion, with a “t,” as in titanic and terrifying.

The figure comes from a study by the Pew Center on the States that came out in February. Pew estimated a $1 trillion gap as of fiscal 2008 between what states had promised workers in the way of retiree pension, health care and other benefits and the money they currently had to pay for it all.

And some economists say that Pew is too conservative and the problem is two or three times as large.

Everyone, except for NPWEs like Krugman, knows the reason was are in this mess. For decades unions used their political power to win contracts which amounted to an unsustainable ponzi scheme with public funds, in which state workers were allowed to game the system.

Here's how The Daily News reports the problem:

In the last decade, half of the police and firefighters who retired in Yonkers [NY]collected pensions that exceeded their base pay, in (at least one case) by as much as 75%.

Don’t blame the officers. New York’s pension rules make it pay more to retire than to work. And the horrible habits here are a window on a national pension picture that’s looking more disastrous by the day.

Tacking on overtime is only one of a long list of union-won perks behind New York’s rising pension burden....

For years, unions have succeeded in enhancing pension formulas while incentivizing workers to maximize their pension payouts. Called "spiking," "padding" or "boosting and tacking," the strategy of adding "extras" to the final salary in order to nab a higher pension has driven New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority into a budget crisis.

The public trough has been abused. Federal government bailouts -- which is what Krugman is advocating -- will simply reward the most irresponsible states and most voracious unions.

We are all Central Falls, now.

The time has come for hard choices, not more bailouts.

Related Posts:
Teachers Need A Teachable Moment About Their Unions
Unions Rescued In Rhode Island
In RI, Public Sector Unions Are The State

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  1. Earth to Krugman, when you say

    "The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights"

    If Colorado Springs is anything like where i live, there are too many street lights as it is! So many in fact, that i often wonder who owns the company that makes the street lights, how much in campaign contributions it takes to get the contract to build them, and what particular union gets paid to put them up? This goes without mentioning how much carbon it costs to run them LOL!

  2. It literally boggles the mind how Paul Krugman received a Noble Memorial Prize. If his research is anything like his articles, the committee should ask for the 1.4 million back.

    America is on the road to nowhere not because of a failed campaign against government but because the government has grown exponentially since the 1940's. There is quite a difference betweem the 2 propositions that the Noble Memorial Prize recipient cannot seem to grasp (nor can the Noble Prize winner for that matter).

  3. I think Mr. Krugman was so busy working on his NMP work that he failed to notice that most cars these days come with something call "headlights", which obviates the need for streetlights.

  4. Bill, as a former State worker I call "bubkus" on your "analysis." Public employees make a pittance compared to similarly educated workers. States attempt to make good at this basic inequity (since they need workers too) with benefits, like pension funds. It legislators actually funded the pensions in the past decades like they should have, there would be no shortfall. Instead, wingnuts like you demand Paris Hilton receive tax breaks. Now, teachers get laid off and Paris still parties on a yacht (much like she would have without your tax breaks).

    YOU are making the choice to ignore basic governance in favor of dealing with a problem which didn't bother you too much in 2002 - 2008. Partisan hackery at its finest.

  5. Not sure about the public-sector unions but I can relate my experience with the United Paperworkers International Union (now defunct, merged w/PACE). While on a safety audit of a mill in Kingsport, TN I watched a papermachine hand dragging a washup hose down the length of the paper machine, and the end of the hose got caught on the edge of an I-beam. I reached down and lifted the hung up end off the edge of the beam and the union hand dragging the hose went ballistic on me, yelling about "taking a job from a union brother" and frog-marching me in front of the shop steward, all the while berating me as a "scab". long story short, there was no grievance filed but it sure did cement my position on unions!

  6. something call "headlights", which obviates the need for streetlights.

    In Krugmanland, cars rape Gaia, so only rich "progressives" should be allowed to drive them...the rest of us get to walk in the dark.

  7. timb.....your life is all about choices. don't fuss because of a personal choice. I personally don't care whether paris pays more tax or less tax, i am concerned with the taxes i pay, and no one else. that is, unless you just "forgot" to pay your taxes. i will then call you tim geithner.

  8. Timb...your either mistaken or liar. This took all of 2 minutes to dig up. Do your homework before you post. Everyone benefits and you don't look like a moron.





  9. If I remember correctly, NJ's last Republican Governor, the other Christie, turned off the highway light to save money too (so she could cut taxes). As a compromise, they left every other one on, so you drove from light to dark to light. You eyes never adjusted to the darkness.
    The pension problem is the promises made, and not funded, by politicians no longer here, as pay back for union votes. We have been suckered, the citizens and the workers. (Besides padding the last year with OT).
    The private sector went through this 25 to 30 years ago, and the solution was IRA and 401K. Funny how that was never applied to the public sector.

  10. Professor, be glad you are not burdened with having to carry the kind of water the Krugmans of this country are having to carry.

    Selling lipsticked Marxism is a dubious endeavor at best.