By Ron York
Just what will be addressed that hasn't already been repeatedly presented coast-to-coast? That's a good question. The answer? Virtually everything. Ron Delord and myself will be presenting the blue print for your escape route from this pension hell you are now experiencing. It ain't pretty, but it is the only real option available today.
I received a phone early this morning from a very a cordial police officer in Florida. He ask this very question. It is a reasonable question. Where do I begin? I guess at the very heart of the issue - you have a problem, a very big problem. It is a financially lethal problem for you, your department, your pension, and your pay check. What you do today will determine the outcome of this assault. The problem is two-pronged and can be easily defined with two words:
1 - Appearance
A 90% pension and a 80% contribution toward medical insurance cannot be presented in a way that the public will support today. Forget all the arguments about how it is just payments in lieu of more money in your pay check. Just because it happens to be the truth does not matter. The time for making that case was long ago.
2 - Risk
Cities, counties and states want out of the pension and medical insurance risk business. They are going to get out - with or without your input. As a variation to Johnny Paycheck's famous song, government employers are singing "Take These Benefits and Shove It - I Ain't Paying No More."
So what are the possible solutions? Let's start by eliminating the really dumb solutions:
1 - Do Nothing
2 - Sue Their Butts
3 - Go Ballistic
4 - Vote The Bums Out of Office
5 - Smooze
Forget these dead end maneuvers. Here are the real solutions:
1 - Get your employer out of the pension and medical insurance business
Government employers are incompetent in these matters. Spare yourself a lot of misery and remove your employer from the equation. As along as the employer is in the mix there is going to be upheaval and duress, accompanied by constant bitching and complaining.
2 - Develop pension and insurance plans that mitigate risk
Risk from pension and insurance plans can be effectively controlled, but not by your city council and their spiritual adviser - The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). As for GASB, it is time for the D-I-V-O-R-C-E! GASB has morphed into some crazy religion that requires you to check your brain at the door. The only person interested in rationally controlling risk is you - the beneficiary. To the city, pension and insurance reform means reducing and eliminating benefits. Their approach is to leave the car in the garage to avoid the risk of an auto accident. It does work. I know what your next questions is:
Okay, Mister Wisenheimer, just how do you propose to create this marvelous opus? Actually the answer to that question is easy. Just getting you to even entertain the question is the difficult part, but DeLord and I are not beyond forced feeding. Most successful businesses are build upon a familiar motto - "The Customer Is Always Right." Our program assumes that the customer (that's you) is almost always wrong about these matters. What you will experience in Jacksonville on January 30 and 31 will not be a coronation like the Oscars. It will be more like detox - ugly (DTs and all).
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p.s. Yes, I know this is an infomercial editorial. Tread lightly on the spam button.