Pension crisis hits Oregon, collapse of progressive model continues

**Posted by Phineas

From the sound of this post by Walter Russell Mead, it looks like whoever manages Oregon’s state pension fund made the same mistakes we made here in California: expecting the extraordinary returns on investments enjoyed during the boom years to continue forever and then making big commitments based on those faulty expectations.

And now, as with their neighbors to the south, Oregon finds itself choosing between pensions or schools:

Oregon’s pension fund for public employees is now in a $16 billion hole caused by the failure of its investments to come anywhere close to the 8 percent rate of return the state was predicting. Now lawmakers are forced to choose between contributing billions of taxpayer dollars to close the pension gap or fully funding the state’s school system.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has the details on exactly how the state got itself into this mess. The main culprit, as usual, is a set of overly generous benefits that actually allowed some state employees to earn more in retirement than they did during their working days…

Details may vary from state to state, but the pattern is the same: public employee unions treating the taxpayers as a never-ending golden goose, and politicians (Democrats and Republicans who act like them) handing out ever more golden eggs of benefits and salaries in return for campaign contributions and election help from those same unions.

In short, it’s a mutual kickback game played with our money, and the losers are We, The People.

But, it’s not just California and Oregon. Wherever you see states and cities that have had long-term liberal dominance in government, you find the same problems with obligations that can no longer be met. New York, Michigan, New Jersey, Detroit, Los Angeles… And all of them being lead by Illinois.

The progressives may have won the presidential race and kept the Senate, but it’s a hollow victory. As Oregon is the latest to show, their model is, in the lingo of the Greens, no longer “sustainable.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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