Main Street subsidizes Easy Street

Fury Over Public Pensions Sparks Disclosure Lawsuits, by Jeannette Neumann, Wall Street Journal, September 4, 2010Opinion: How Government Unions Became So Powerful, by Amity Shlaes, Wall Street Journal, September 4, 2010

What if you got $100,000 or so every year for doing nothing in a terrible economy? That’s life for tens of thousands of public sector retirees—including former educators—who enjoy hefty pensions supported largely by the tax dollars of private sector workers. The catch is that those workers have seen their own pensions slashed or even eliminated. So it’s not surprising that a populist backlash can be spotted with the have-nots resentful of the haves. Public sector unions still seem oblivious, however, pushing as they are (through lawsuits and the like) to protect and even enhance their gold-plated pensions and retirement benefits. It’s bad enough that super-stretched taxpayers have to support the cushy retirements of former government employees, including many who stopped working in their 50s. But wait till the public and parents realize that class sizes are increasing and art and music programs being slashed because more and more education dollars are flowing into pension systems instead of classrooms. This debate could get a whole lot more heated yet.