Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gambling Pays...If You Are The House

Editorial Commentary- A Response To Austerity and the Plunder of 99.09% of American Families.
A piece in Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal last week called for the elimination of pensions for nurses, firefighters, corrections officers and others who might still have them. Having already raped and plundered private sector workers retirement accounts and deflated the value of real estate through speculation and vulture capital schemes in order to pick up some fire sale deals...having destroyed the perceived value of any type of labor... these folks won't be happy until the whole concept of a secure retirement for any working Americans is a nostalgic anachronism. 

A Nostalgic Anachronism
Public workers contributions, generally 3 to 10% of their pay checks combined with investment earnings, usually account for 75 percent or more of all pension benefit funding. When they were hired, these pensions were promised in lieu of better paychecks found in private sector jobs (at least until Murdoch & his .01 percenters pulled the proverbial rug out from under the private sector & demonetized workers there.)  The economic collapse in 2008-2009 devalued retirement savings for most everyone.  Ironically our nation's public pension systems, (which were fully funded before the crash)  right now are earning their highest returns in decades  (2011). Pensions provide unexpendable retirement security for many Americans. Yet, the corporate-backed opponents of pensions are creating a fairy tale that the system is falling apart and that state and local governments are going bankrupt because of a $19,000 pension an EMT might receive. This is rubbish. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the size of projected state and local government pension funding shortfalls is absolutely manageable. In most states, the total shortfall for the pension funds is less than 0.2 percent of projected gross state product during the next 30 years. Even in states with the largest shortfalls, the gap is less than 0.5 percent. There are numerous ways to address that, one would simply be to take action that GROWS economic activity instead of shrinking it through "austerity".

The Odd Case Of New Jersey
In the Garden State of N.J., the liar Chris Christie has led a lynch mob trying to string up teachers, firemen, police, nurses, EMTs and other public workers. He wants to destroy their salaries and security. At least when he isn't too busy embarrassing the state by talking like the cast on Jersey Shore (who are NOT from N.J.incidentally) or campaigning for other corporate raider's candidates around the country.

Christie Sells N.J. Another Turkey

What Chris Christie fails to mention in his attack ads, pundit appearances, and You-tube video assaults is that the state has failed to fund it's portion of these funds for generations now (which it is legally obligated to do) and that the state raided the teachers retirement fund and "borrowed" (in quotes because no one gave them permission, nor did they ask) Billions of dollars. That's right! Billions stolen from the fund by the state. You know what they did with it? Let this be a lesson for one and all!

Christine Todd Whitman unseated incumbent Democrat Jim Florio in 1993 running on an anti-tax platform. The problem with cutting taxes, then as now, is that every dollar of tax revenue goes to someone for something, in this case it was the state contributions to public workers pension fund. So how did Governor Whitman handle the shortfalll she created with her tax cuts? Good question! She took the money in the public employees pension fund to make up the shortfall she created.
So the obvious question is "how will future teacher pensions be paid for?"
Whitman’s solution was gambling. I kid you not.

Now, gambling is a fine way to raise revenue—if you’re the house.

States have made billions this way in recent decades, either being the house, through state lotteries, or letting someone else do it and taking a percentage off the top. But New Jersey already had a lottery and Atlantic City. Whitman’s plan was for the state to walk into the casino like a Hawaiian shirted tourist in Vegas and let Wall Street be the house. It borrowed $2.75 billion and started spinning the wheel.
Guess how that turned out.
They lost their Hawaiian shirt.

Gambler Christie Whitman

So why does Chris Christie want to dismantle the pensions of teachers and other public employees?
Sure it's no skin off his nose, he's a .01%-er, he and his friends don't send their kids to public schools anyway...they attend ivory towered private institutions for the privileged.  Why does he make them scapegoats for the economic crisis he and his .01%-er friends created? After dumping their private losses on the public in a reverse sort of socialism, you'd think they would be grateful towards the working and middle classes...but no. Unmitigated greed is an all consuming mistress.  
It's obvious.
They know the money that has been stolen by the state and gambled away will have to be repaid...and how could it be repaid? Revenues would have to be increased as services have already been paired back to the breaking point for Christie's tax cuts for the .01%. This means tax increases of some kind, and only his buddies the multi-billionaires are raking in enough dough from the collapse of American industry to bother taxing. Here is the truth- Christie is there ONLY to protect the interests of the .01 %ers. So if the system collapses you see, he won't have to deal with the stolen money problem. He wants the pensions to fail so the state won't have to return the money it stole from the pension fund. This is what Republicans want to do to your social security as well. (Social Security was a separate fund until the was set up that way so congress couldn't steal the money and bankrupt it. Then it was dumped into the general fund. That surplus in the 90s was something of an illusion, as the budget may have been balanced, but the surplus included the social security fund...which was never part of the general fund before. The same thing is being done to your social security money as was done to teacher pensions in New Jersey and what do you suppose the politicians will want to do rather than return the money they "used"? Defunct Social Security.

Remember this sad tale well the next time someone wants to "privatize" some government responsibility! Remember it well when someone tells you your social security should be privatized.
Sure, you could hit the jackpot in a Wall street casino, but what are the odds? Chances are much better that you will lose your shirt. Unless you see your SS insurance as some spare chump change you can afford to lose in a poker game...don't you believe it!