Polio in the 1940-1950s and pensions in the new millenium. Devastating, crippling and unnecessary.

Any talk of what ails us as a city, state and country is a diversion unless it squarely addresses the pension issue. Public employees should have a 401K plan like the rest of us, period. This situation has not been created by the financial crisis. Its been with us for a while. The stock market losses have only moved up the implosion date. We can no longer afford as a society to dish out lifetime healthcare and retirement benefits for government workers. Period.

Pension war brewing

A pension war is brewing — and it’s likely to pit state and municipal employees against citizens who foot the bill for government pension plans with their state tax dollars.

While employees of most companies have watched their 40l(k) plans — and their retirement hopes — shrivel in the bear market, public employees have been smiling.

The Pundit Review proposal, cap and kill state and local pensions. If you were fortunate enough to get to the trough, you’re in and you win. Any worker hired at local or state level from this day forward should get a 401K plan, like the rest of us in the DPS, dreaded private sector.

At the local level, the mighty Hub Blog says the corruption, “almost leaves you speechless”. Almost indeed. Read on.

Globe: Retirement gravy train

MASSACHUSETTS needs a vigorous debate about the fairness and sustainability of the state pension system for public-sector workers, who do not receive Social Security benefits. But first, state lawmakers need to to put the brakes on the gravy train.

The current system is riddled with pernicious perks – especially ones favoring elected officials – that undermine the credibility of a system serving about 180,000 active state employees, including teachers, and 105,000 retirees at an annual cost of $1.7 billion. And that doesn’t include the roughly 215,000 municipal employees and retirees spread across about 100 local retirement boards.

Howie Carr provides a real world example of how we are being ripped off by the political class,

Don’t tell Mark Sylvia, the newest hack on the state payroll, about any recessions or budget cutbacks. Sylvia began his newly created state job yesterday, as director of the new Green Communities Division at the Department of Energy Resources (DOER).

His pay for this awfully essential position: $117,000 a year.

But wait, there’s more. Until last week Mark Sylvia was the town manager of Plymouth, and as he slipped out the back door at town hall, he was the beneficiary of a platinum parachute.

Sylvia skipped town with $101,214 in public funds. First there was what the local paper described as 702.75 hours of “unused sick time” – worth $49,036. Then there was the “unused vacation time,” 280 hours worth $20,778. And finally, his three months of severance pay – $31,400.

Things are no better at the local level,

Pension funding new woe for city

WORCESTER — Already reeling from a 10 percent midyear cut in local aid from the state and the prospect of another significant aid reduction next fiscal year, local officials are bracing for yet more bad news regarding the city’s finances: An additional $7 million may be needed to fund the retirement system.

This is not just a Massachusetts problem. Ultimately, we will all be paying for this mess through higer taxes and less services.

These headlines below cover just the past week, and I cut out about half listed. Calling this a national emergency at the core of our fiscal crisis is appropriate.
This ticking timebomb is now exploding all around us. We need to kill the city and state pension system immedately.

Skyrocketing Public Employee Pension Costs Top Board of Supervisors’ Agenda in Santa Barbara County, California
Santa Rosa, California City Council Declares ‘Fiscal Crisis’
Modesto, California in Talks With Employee Unions About Need to Reduce Budget by $10 Million More
Vallejo, California’s Attorney Argues for Cuts in Employee Pay, Benefits as Testimony Ends in Bankruptcy Case
Maryland’s Counties ‘Devour’ 40% of the State Budget on Pensions, Says Senate President
Tennessee’s Public Employee Pension System Lost $5 Billion in Past Six Months
New Mexico’s Public Pension Funds May Require Increased Contributions After $5 Billion in Losses
Detroit’s Risky Pension Fund Fliers Must End (editorial – Free Press)
Washington State’s Taxpayers Owe $5.9 Billion — and More — to Oldest Public Employee Pension Plans
Massachusetts’ Public Employee Pension System Has to Be Brought Back to Earth (editorial – Boston Globe)
Retired, Rehired: Many Connecticut Public Employees Collect Both Pensions and Paychecks
Tax Increase Would Fund Pensions for West Virginia’s Volunteer Firefighters
Pension Shortfalls Put Pressure on Strained University Budgets
California’s Public Employee Pension Costs May ‘Skyrocket’
CalPERS to Seek Improved Corporate Governance, Stricter Wall Street Rules
72% of New York City Firefighters Who Retired Since 2004 Are Collecting Disability Pensions
Detroit, Michigan’s Public Employee Pensions Have Lost More Than $2 Billion, May Face Liquidity Crisis
Pension Funds Hit Hard Across the US (graph – Detroit Free Press)
Bill Would Remove Nevada Legislators From Public Employees’ Health Plan (editorial – Salt Lake Tribune)
Troubled Auto Parts Maker Delphi Seeks to End Health Benefits for Retirees
February 8, 2009
Public Pension Troubles Loom for State and Local Governments (column – Steve Bartin)
Taxpayer Group in Orange County, California Asks Board of Supervisors to Adopt a ‘Tier 3′ Benefits Plan for Employees (blog)
Dozens of California State Senate Staffers Get Little-Known Pay Sweetener
1,430 Boston Police Officers Made Over $100,000 in 2008
No Pension Cola This Year for South Carolina’s Retired Public Employees
California Can Handle Furloughed State Workers and More (editorial – Union-Tribune)
The Year of Pension Meltdowns? (blog – New York Times)
Escondido, California Will Explore Cutting Public Employee Pension Benefits
University of California Employees Must Pay Into Pension Plans Again
CalPERS Toppled as Nation’s Largest Pension Fund
Michigan Governor Proposes Lump-Sum Payment, Not Pension Boost to Encourage Teacher Retirements
New Hampshire Considering More Retirement System Changes
New Jersey Governor Hopes to Revive Proposal to Reduce Towns’ Pension Payments
New York City’s Proposed Budget Under-Funds Its Costly Pension Benefits (blog – Larry Littlefield)
New York State Employee Says He Gets $93,803 for No Work
Ford May Need to Put $4 Billion Into Pension Fund, Spurring Aid Bid
Mcclatchy Freezes Pensions, Announces Plans for Cutbacks
Cincinnati Bell Announces Pension, Salary Freeze
On California’s Public Employees and Shared Sacrifice in the Golden State (column – Jon Coupal)
Bankrupt Vallejo’s Sick Costs (blog – Ed Mendel)
Businessweek Interview With the New Leadership at CalPERS
Two San Jose, California Pension Trustees Resign
Illinois’ State Budget Almost Twice as Bad as Thought; Pension Underfunding a Major Factor (newsblog)
Blagojevich’s $60 Billion Pension Bomb (blog – Don Surber)
Washingon State Resident Wonders Why No Public Employees Are Being Laid Off (letter)
Massachusetts’ Ex-Senate President Getting $197,000 Pension (column – Howie Carr)
The Next Bomb to Hit Will Be the Pension Bomb (newsletter excerpt)
A Pension War Is Brewing Between Public Employees and the Taxpayers Who Foot the Bill (column – Terry Savage)
Time for California’s Public Employees to Feel the Pain, Too (column – Daniel Borenstein)
Underpaid? Nearly 12% of San Diego’s Public Employees Top $100,000 (editorial – Union-Tribune)
US Government Conceals How Huge Is the Coming Tsunami of Entitlements (column – George Will)
Sacramento, California’s Public Employee Unions Reject Pleas to Help City With Deficit (editorial – Sacramento Bee)
Historic Tiny California Town of Isleton Has King-Size Financial Problems
The Ponzi Scheme Within the San Francisco Police Department’s 457 Plan (blog)
Vallejo, California Talks With Employee Unions Despite Bankruptcy Court Activity
Springfield, Missouri Voters Reject Sales Tax Increase to Bolster Police-Fire Pension Fund
New York Pension Fund Contribution Rates May Have to Be Increased, Says State Comptroller
Fayette County, Georgia May Not Switch to Defined Benefit Plan for Employees
Bill Would Freeze Virginia’s Defined Benefit Plan, Start New New Defined Contribution Plan