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Its’ immoral, cowardly, and just plain wrong for us to “resolve” today’s’ budget issues by passing them on to future generations. Doing so is every bit as much “taxation without representation” as was the Stamp Act that spawned the Revolutionary War. Whether one favors balancing spending and revenue through higher taxes or reduced spending or some of both, surely we can agree that dumping debts on future generations of taxpayers is the worst of all “solutions”. Unfortunately it is also the easiest. When we allow our elected representatives the option of “solving” tough problems by passing the buck to future generations, that is what they often choose to do.
In our first three “Holding The Bag” posts we pointed out that unfunded liabilities (promises made without setting aside money to pay for them) for retiree healthcare and pensions, in the three La Mesa public sector agencies alone, amount to over $100 million. Worse, our local $100 million liability, big as that number is, is chump change relative to the unfunded liabilities incurred by the State and Federal governments
This immoral and destructive practice will stop only when we demand that our elected representatives pay as they go. When we let them know that unfunded liabilities are not an option, we strengthen their ability to resist yielding to strong public sector union pressure to spend ever more.
1) Tell the City Council and School Board and Water District Board that current year money must be set aside to pay for retiree health care (and any other promised future benefits).
2) Tell the same representatives, as well as State Assemblymen and Senators, that taxpayers must be relieved of the responsibility to pay for 100% of any shortfalls in CalPers and STRS pension funds – unfunded pension liabilities. The fact that taxpayers are still on the hook for 100% of pension fund shortfalls may surprise you in light of last year’s much ballyhooed pension reform. But it is true. The pension “reform” was tepid at best and it leaves the cost of the system far out of balance – in favor of public sector employees at the expense of taxpayers. If public sector employees were made responsible for sharing pension costs and responsibilities for unfunded liabilities 50/50 with taxpayers (think Social Security) pensions would quickly be negotiated down to affordable levels, more in line with those typical in the private sector.
3) Tell Federal Representatives (Senators and House members) that we must balance the federal budget – now. Many of them will explain, with a great wave of the hand, that we must continue to overspend now in order to increase growth and revenue in the future. Challenge them to show, using specific numbers, just how the “dig the hole deeper so that it will be magically filled sometime in the future” will actually work. They can’t.
Most of us understand that in our private lives we must live within our means. We understand that credit must be used sparingly and appropriately because it must be paid back (with interest). Too many of our legislators don’t seem to believe that the same responsible attitude applies to government. Unfunded liabilities must not be an option. Our Representatives must be held responsible for balancing current spending and promises with current revenue. Our economy can get a lot worse than it is. If we don’t face up to our irresponsible over spending, it will.