Thursday, January 10, 2013

Squeezy, the Pension Python

I swear, you can't make this stuff up -
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is using a cartoon character to raise public awareness of the state's pension problem.

Mr. Quinn last week introduced Squeezy the Pension Python, meant to highlight the “squeeze” pension payments are putting on other state services such as education, health care and public safety.

For months, state legislators have failed to enact meaningful reform on a pension system that — with unfunded liabilities of nearly $100 billion — is the worst funded in the nation and was called “unfixable” by a group of Chicago business leaders.
Oh this is rich. Squeezy...somebody get me a chair. But wait, more people want to talk about the python -
“It's designed to be edgy and bring attention to the pension squeeze,” Brooke Anderson, spokeswoman for the governor, said of the video. “It's designed to provide information about how Illinois found itself in the pension squeeze and what's at stake.”
You catch that?!? Pension squeeze...Squeezy? Ain't she brilliant? And edgy to boot! I'm guessing Christopher Nolan might be calling looking for some tips on his next film.

But wait, not everyone likes Squeezy...boooooo....
State Rep. Darlene Senger, a member of the state House Personnel and Pensions Committee, said the grass-roots campaign will not accomplish anything in the next few days, and the governor did not do voters justice in his method of explaining the problem.

The pension issue is “complicated the way it is and not something I find to be cartoonish,” said Ms. Senger. “It's a serious business ... and to make fun of it or dumb it down ... I don't think it's appropriate.”
Doubters? Doubters?!? Surely there are not more than a few!
Anders Lindall, spokesman for AFSCME Council 31, Chicago, which represents state employees, said the new website is a “misleading distraction” to the pension problem.

“In reality, politicians for decades diverted money owed to the retirement systems and used it to pay for other public services instead,” Mr. Lindall said in an e-mailed statement. “Rather than pretending that the pension debt is the cause when in fact it's a symptom of the state's unfair tax structure — and instead of comparing retirees to snakes — a worthwhile education effort would explain what's truly needed: A guarantee that politicians won't skip pension payments going forward, and adequate revenue to maintain vital services while the state pays the pension debt.”
 No, no. Pensioners can't be snakes. Just because AFSCME got into bed with a den of snakes doesn't mean that there are any in there, right? And we're certain that Mr. Quinn will have a wonderful Youtube video of Merlin the Magical Honey Badger delivering that guarantee.

In all seriousness, Illinois' massive pension burden that we've covered a few times here with the prediction that it would be bust by 2015 must be the fault of the politicians. Surely it can't be the fault of angry unions that demand unsustainable exponential increases in living every year.

The unions demanded fairy tale increases and they got it. The politicians should be brought up on charges of fraud and so should union reps that delivered the pixie dust pipe dream to their constituents.

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