Hope you don’t have a pension …

An assortment of US coinage.

Photo: John Liu / Flickr

At least not a state pension, that is.  But no worries if you have a private pension, right?  Ya, ‘m sure those private pension guys are all above board … (*cough* LIBOR *cough*, *wink*).  But back to the state pensions …

The Pew Center has released its annual summary of US pension and retirement health care (under)funding. As of 2010, the total underfunding gap rose by $120 billion from the prior year’s $1.26 trillion deficit to a record $1.38 trillion underfunding. This number consists of $757 billion in pension promises, not backed by any hard cash, representing pension liabilities of $3.07 trillion and assets of $2.31 trillion. In 2000, more than half of the states had their pensions 100 percent funded, but by 2010 only Wisconsin was fully funded, and 34 were below the 80 percent threshold—up from 31 in 2009 and just 22 in 2008.

1.4 trillion underfunding?  Geesh, I was worried for a second.  In 2000, > 50% of states had their pensions 100% funded.  And now … drumroll … only Wisconsin is fully funded.  I wonder how long that will last?  Fully funding a state pension obligation for state workers instead of shifting the loot to the corporations with more tax cuts and subsidies just doesn’t sound like the “Walker way”, aka the 99% bend over and take it.

But that pales in comparison to the ridiculous spread between retiree health care liabilities of $660 billion and assets of, drum roll,$33 billion, or a funding shortage that is $627 billion, roughly 19 times the actual assets in the system! Just seven states funded 25 percent or more of their retiree health care obligations: Alaska, Arizona, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin. What this means is soon US pensioners will have no choice but to experience not only austerity unlike any seen in Europe, but broken promises of retirement benefits which will never materialize.

Retiree health care obligations underfunded by 627 billion?!    Well if they’re going to screw the people, might as well be comprehensive, aka “the holistic screw”.  On the plus side who cares about health benefits, when you don’t have a pension.  The magic of the free market?  Really the “magic” of the 1%, and their bought pawns in government.

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