Patrick asks Emily Grace Goldstein, Stacy Atkins-Salazar, Camilla Zapata, Nicholas Matthews, Michael Winkler , Collin Yeo, Paul Pitino, Sarah Schaefer, Kimberley White, Oryan Peterson-Jones…
Given that so many governmental agencies are significantly burdened by pension obligations, both debt payments and current costs, which decrease their ability to provide services, when does government go beyond simply asking for tax increases, which is a short term fix, (see Measure Z), and bring forth and implement serious pension reform?
Pensions in this country are currently underfunded in every sense of the term, and the Covid-19 crisis is likely to push that underfunding into additional billions. In the wealthiest state in the wealthiest nation in the world, we have a pension system which is unstable and regressive at best, inhuman and cruel at worst. If by “pension reform” it is meant that there will be further cuts, caps, and privatization of state pensions then my answer would be never. It’s never the time to reduce the pensions of working people or to subject them to the predatory grift of Wall Street. I do not now nor will I ever support cuts to the social safety net for the working class and labor.
If the question is about the reallocation of funds from other programs with more bloated coffers to safeguard the economic security of our retiring citizens, then that is the sort of tax and pension reform which I favor. The undermining of The New Deal social security and pension programs in this country for the last half century account for some of the most grievous and despicable forms of class warfare in our history. The only serious pension reform which one should consider is the allocation of social financial aid through progressive taxation and the removal of private industry and its profit-driven imperatives from the business of securing the financial security of the people.
If we do not change course in some meaningful, non-market driven way, CalPERS and similar programs will not be a source of retirement security for any of the successive generations of state workers…assuming that private industry has allowed anything resembling a functioning state to survive.