” If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning”
~ His Burial Too (c) Catherine Aird 1973
Three months after a roadmap to resolution of the pension problem in New Jersey was released we are at a standstill. An njspotlght story updated what is going on (or more accurately not going on) and ended with this quote:
“It’s really not in anybody’s interest to have the state become insolvent,” Byrne said. “Whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together.”
Leaving aside the question of what insolvency would look like there is an obvious public purpose served by having New Jersey go insolvent.
If New Jersey can get away with over-promising and underfunding pensions and benefits through a combination of willful ignorance and an actuarial/political cabal that puts no brakes on either greed or fecklessness then this warped process of governing becomes a paradigm to emulate rather than a cancer to be excised.
And we are certainly not all “in this together”:
- Campaign donors want wasteful spending to continue so they get a return on their investment
- Politicians want wasteful spending to continue so they get those campaign donations
- Pensioners and retirees want their promised benefits from whatever source
- Taxpayers want their services without paying full price for them and certainly without paying any price for prior services provided
- Christie wants to be president
If insolvency can make all this go away then why not?