Breaking the Bank

I think this pension issue struck a chord with folks, especially public workers. Understandably, they're ticked with me. But let me tell you, you should be more ticked at politicians promising you something they cannot possibly pay for.

Maybe you don't care. You should. Because a lot of states owe a lot money and are making a lot of promises to a lot of people.

In New Jersey alone, the unfunded pension liability is already more than $3 billion. And that's just one state. Yet politicians, afraid to take on unions, I suspect, keep foisting more benefits and even more generous pensions.

Public workers are entitled a break. They're not entitled to break the bank, their own included.

We live in a country now where both private companies and public agencies are waking up to the reality the cash isn't there.

This doesn't mean those due a pension shouldn't get a pension. Perhaps it means those new to the workforce shouldn't get the same pension, or as much of a pension, or even a traditional pension at all.

Companies as diverse as Alcoa (AA) and IBM (IBM) have committed to boosting incentives for defined "contribution" plans, like 401(k) and other such programs.

The tea leaves are clear: It's up to us to take control of our money.

This doesn't and shouldn't mean, scrapping pensions for those already getting 'em…but maybe re-doing them for those who are not.

Because let me be clear: Pensions, like Social Security, are broke. Public officials are afraid to tell you that. But I'm not.

Wake up to that cruel fact now, or wake up to something even crueler later.

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