City Journal Winter 2016

Current Issue:

Winter 2016
Table of Contents
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Steven Greenhut
San Francisco’s Pension Reckoning « Back to Story

View Comments (17)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.

Showing 17 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
Would you provide your definition of "progressive" reform?
Hippies, Yippies, Yuppies and just plain retarded folk. I went to School in Santa Cruz and it always amazed me how voters never thought of the money they were giving away as their own. It was the ability to look at the generation ahead of them as the taxpayers. Looks like they just never grew up.
It is going to be interesting to watch California melt down over the next couple of years. Their only hope, a Democrat Congress willing to throw a few bucks toward the budget, went down the drain in November. With businesses leaving in droves, and more anti-business regulation coming on line, California will be a good example of how to run a state into the ground. Third world here we come! Popcorn anyone?
LOL! Thatidiotic bastion of PC liberalism needs to go bankrupt and crash and burn! Let those overpaid union slugs starve! I hope it all comes crashing down and there are food riots on the streets! Frisco deserves what happens to it, hopefully the "Big One" will happen soon, too!
No matter what anyone does or says, no matter who is right or wrong, San Francisco's party will end when the money runs out.

And as Thomas Sowell said, "The term 'economic justice' makes as much sense as the term 'musical concrete.'"
How can San Francisco and Los Angeles be rated investment grade? Deficits upon deficits. Massive unfunded pension liabilities. Deferred maintenance in the billions. Inefficient and bloated oerations.

They are junk credits. And pretty soon investors are going to say NO. And then the elected elites will have to make the hard choices that they have been avoiding for years.
Charles Benninghoff, Creator of Grassroots Campaig December 05, 2010 at 2:11 PM
Nice article by Mr. Greenhut!

Many, many Californians are relishing with the greatest of delight the implosion of liberalism and, sadly, accept the mass starvation and mental crises that will be caused thereby. If California was ever depressed before, what is coming will make such a mere hiccup. Our state has become trash in the heap of history's failed states. Millions of aliens who must get out, millions of progressives sucking up borrowed money to fill their bongs. Millions of government workers who's oink-oink-oink will next be heard in the soup lines of the Main and Market Streets of California suburbia.
Donald, I don't remember the exact details of the increase in healthcare contributions, but I do seem to recall that even AFTER the increase they would still be contributing well BELOW what private sector taxpayers contribute(which is generally about 25-40% of the total premium cost). Please correct me if I'm wrong.

It sort of like when (in the recent past) I recall the OUTRAGE of some local Civil Servants when their physician visit copay was being increase by a whopping 100%....... from $5 to $10 ! No matter that the typical Private sector Plan calls for a $25-$35 copay.

You always have to take Union complaints with a good degree of skepticism .... it's often meaningless spin.
The proposed contribution increases to pensions was relatively modest. The proposed increases in worker contributions to health benefits were ANYTHING but modest. Indeed, separating the two issues would have been the best way of dealing with the issue politically. Unfortunately, Adachi appears not to have the necessary political instincts to match his "noble" concerns. Every time the economy tanks from Wall Street incompetence, people like Adachi find it easier to ask for sacrifices from workers than fight against the forces that caused the problem. Adachi should use his considerable skills to seek economic justice for City workers, not more sacrifices!
I've come to believe that most (reasonably intelligent) Civil Servants know the status quo (with respect to the very rich level of pensions & benefits) is unsustainable.

COLLECTIVELY they know changes (reductions) are in order. But INDIVIDUALLY, each hopes THEY will sneak thorough untouched, hoping it's the guy to the right or the guy to the left that has to give something up.

What they don't get is that they ALL need to give A GREAT DEAL up.
California voters and public employees sure have their heads buried in the sand. What do they think will happen when it finally collapses under its own weight? I see a day when the retired public employees end up losing ALL their benefits because the city, county and state (and federal) cannot borrow any more money.

Do they really think that the rest of the country can and will bail them out? If they didn't notice the rest of the country voted very differently and for the end of bailouts. Plus even if they could do bail outs, they may not be able to borrow forever either (and they have their own problems to boot).

Every state in the country has this time bomb waiting to go off. If public employees think they can retain their benefits in the current form they are delusional. They may wake up to a day when they have NO benefits they were promised because the states cannot provide them.

Nobody wants to take away everything from public employees, but they have to know that tax money isn't a bottomless pit. The public sector has grown to be far too large and it will kill the private sector which is the one that is paying for everything.

Public employees need to understand that they will not earn and receive the same level of benefits that some in the private sector earn. Public work doesn't create wealth, it consumes it. If higher pay is one of ones top priories in life, public work is out of the question.
Many years ago a woman I know responded to my assertion that "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" by claiming "That's YOUR opinion!"
I still keep in touch with her and her family, and hope that as a grandma now she finally gets it.

Unfortunately, that mindset still prevails in San Francisco, and one wonders what it will take before its citizens get it too. I'm glad that at least some on the Left finally understand the concept of tradeoffs and opportunity costs.
Quoting ... "Adachi also pointed to the intentionally misleading numbers that government unions have sometimes used to justify pension expansions. It’s unfair, he believes, that pension benefits are considered binding contracts, unreformable even when the actuarial data promoted by supporters to get the contracts approved is faulty or dishonest. Often, unions and sympathetic politicians advance retroactive pension increases while promising that the increases will pay for themselves through increased investment income. The true numbers always come to light, but by then it’s too late to do anything about it. The courts have ruled that new benefit levels can’t be touched."

The Court cannot create the money to pay for the excessive pension & benefits it refuses to address appropriately.

These Plans will fail, and hopefully the Federal Gov't will not be foolish enough to bail them out.

The pensions should be reduced to a level no greater than what the average Private Sector taxpayer gets.
We have exactly the same problem in the UK, with the public sector unions attempting to defend unsustainable public sector pensions at a time when the private sector are seeing their pensions disappear before their eyes. What we have here are bloated public sector pensions being funded by the taxes of those who have seen their own private-sector pensions dwindle or disappear - it is neither economically nor morally sustainable
well, at least with only residents of San Francisco voting on it, the city and county being identical in area, the only people affected by this defeat will be those who live/vote there. Its not like many other places where many vote who are not directly affected.

There should be some sort of law inflicting harsh penalties on entities like unions and government officials when they present false "evidence" (numbers) to "sell" things like costly pension plans to the unsuspecting. This is fraud, morally speaking, and those perpetrating it should face dire consequences.
One reform that should be made is that pensions cannot be paid until age 65, a normal retirement age. And no douple dipping
It seems like every problem City Journal dissects has a liberal/progressive bogeyman behind it. Bummer. Perhaps it is time to widen your view and take off the red-colored sun glasses.

From the great conservative state of Texas:

"Texas faces a budget crisis of truly daunting proportions, with lawmakers likely to cut sacrosanct programs such as education for the first time in memory and to lay off hundreds if not thousands of state workers and public university employees.

Texas' GOP leaders, their eyes on the Nov. 2 election, have played down the problem's size, even as the hole in the next two-year cycle has grown in recent weeks to as much as $24 billion to $25 billion. That's about 25 percent of current spending.

The gap is now proportionately larger than the deficit CALIFORNIA recently closed with cuts and fee increases, its fourth dose of budget misery since September 2008."

Hmmm... Texas, Republican, bigger debt than California, just about the worst education system in the country,... Gotta love those tax cuts.