LAT’s Steve Lopez: Pension crisis real — not unions’ fault. Huh?

April 24, 2013

By Chris Reed

The unsustainability of the public employee pension system in California has been obvious for at least six or seven years to anyone who understood two simple facts: the demographics of our aging government workforce and the irrationality of CalPERS’ argument in 1999 that retroactive pension giveaways could be paid for with a perpetual boom on Wall Street.

The unsustainability of the public employee pension system in California was no longer a matter of serious debate after August 2009, when then-CalPERS lead actuary Ron Seeling said CalPERS’ benefit structure was “unsustainable.”

So for all those inclined to hail Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez’s decision to finally acknowledge reality in his column posted Tuesday night, hold your horses. Lopez should have been able to figure this out long ago and tried to force honesty from his fellow liberals.

YTTC_104_Steve_LopezAnd then there’s the ridiculous fact that Lopez absolves unions from their key role in the creation of this status quo. Here is how Lopez puts it:

“It’s time for public employee unions to wake up and take a look around. Government services are shrinking, cities are crumbling, and they’re enjoying pay and benefit packages that many in the private sector would kill for. They need to give a little back. Yeah, I know, some of them already have. But it’s time for a little more.

“On healthcare contributions. On raises. On pensions. On retirement ages.


“Because up and down the state of California, and beyond, public officials foolishly negotiated contracts they can’t pay for without taking a cleaver to basic services, including police and fire protection, park maintenance, street repair. It’s not just the fault of those contracts. There’s also the economic dip and the housing crash, which put a squeeze on revenue. But that perfect storm has led to big trouble in San Jose and Stockton and Fresno and San Diego.

“And of course in Los Angeles.”

C’mon, Steve!

It’s all irresponsible “public officials'” fault, you see, not the puppet masters who chose them, got them elected and controlled their political futures. The union members who control CalPERS? Also not to blame!

Steve Lopez, 37 percent candid!

This is remindful of the 8,000-word New York Times Magazine 2009 analysis of California’s deep problems that didn’t mention unions at all except for passing references.

To quote Keyshawn Johnson: C’mon, man!

Steve, Steve, Steve! More, more, more! You can do it!


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