Having gone through reams of public pension actuarial reports in the last few days to update my drop-dead dates for the largest government plans it is now my considered opinion that the public pension crisis would be far less severe had actuaries never been involved. The public would have a clearer picture of the fiasco had they ball-parked liabilities on their own rather than having these professional proponents of wishful thinking enabling politically convenient practices through a smokescreen of claptrap.
This was brought home to me this morning as I was listening to NPR’s Morning Edition reporting on “How Much Is A Firefighter Worth?” which first questioned the need for so many firefighters in Contra Costa with fewer fires before questioning how much of a pension they should be getting.
I’m sure there was some study done in 2002 to justify the pension spike that Contra Costa firefighters got. That study would have been flawed and this November Contra Costa voters were asked to accept a $75 per home assessment to keep firehouses open. They demurred. Who could have predicted the need for such an assessment? Who should have?*
* A major problem with actuarial predictions these days is that far too much weight is allocated to the past and not enough to the present. Who could have predicted that this country would have been successful back in 1776? Not those who looked only at the prior 75 years of colonial unrest. But look at who was around back then and it would have been clearer. Compare that to what we have now.