Stopping the Fleecing of N.J. Pensions by Political Hacks

I know a former politician who after being a part time elected official for a number of years and perhaps having a menial public job somewhere, landed a very lucrative position in an independent public authority, plausibly to make a living but also to qualify for a juicy pension. The position was security chief and all he did was to convert the place in an Auschwitz-look-alike, and spend $ tens of thousands chasing the Canadian geese out of the grounds – a never ending crusade for the geese were incredibly persistent and multiplied… like geese do.

He also declared war against feral cats and red foxes. Two of the persecuted feral cats applied for political asylum at my house when they were babies and live happily here. This guy knew about security as much as I know about deep sea diving. That is zero.

I was engaged in an interesting debate with a friend of mine after my last article on pension returns and probably the only thing we agreed on was that the problem is pervasive: People with political connections (she disputed that her friend had any) hold menial or part time positions, or political office for a number of years, with low wages, and then as they reach the 20th or so year in the pension system, they talk to their political godfather or godmother or ally or political boss and voila – from one day to the next they become managers of things that they often have no idea how they work but which secure them juicy pensions after a few years on the public dole.

There are thousands of those cases. Christie himself has appointed a few, even at the Port Authority of NY and NJ.  Another instance is, I believe, the chief of the Delaware River Port Authority who is a former assemblyman or senator of NJ. But they are present at every level of government.  This type of thing is as Newjersian as apple pie is American.

Up to now, in my program, the line of defense against these abuses has passed not through the pension system but through civil service law. That is: I would very strongly advocate for a reform of CS Law so that almost every position in the public sector has to be open to the general public through conspicuous advertisement, examinations and/or professional vetting. Thus neither the governor nor anybody else could just pick someone and give him/her a public job, or worse, invent un unnecessary job to favor a political supporter, relative, etc.

The only exceptions would be at cabinet level, executive secretaries, etc. That is my concept of civil service reform.

But after the discussion with my friend I thought that there could also be a safety mechanism in the pensions themselves. That is: When there is a sudden and very large (we have to define very large) increase in wages, during the last ten (or so) years of public employment, then the retirement pension becomes a fraction (also to be defined) of the total employee contribution to the pension during the entire public career and not calculated on the last 5 years base-salary.

I am still turning  this idea around in my mind so it is by no means a finished product. But it would be an additional hoop pension abusers would have to jump through.

Obviously, all those in the N.J. Pension System today, such as the officials of the N.J. League of Municipalities, League of Counties, some legal and consulting firms associated with county governments, etc., who are not public employees, should be expelled from the New Jersey Pension System.

From left to right: Albert and Jimmy days after receiving refugee status at home

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Is Governor Christie a Leader or a Pusher?

He is certainly a consummate divider. Do we want 4 more years, after November 2013, of this mismanagement of the state? Or do we want the democratic opposition, which have been accomplices if not the protagonists in the undoing of the fiscal health and economy of New Jersey?

The tentacles of both parties are suffocating New Jersey.

New Jersey is still stuck in the 43-46 position in the national unemployment roster, tied with Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi. Christie is indeed pushing the state backwards.

Unemployment: Where does your state rank? – CNNMoney.

We have the highest property taxes in the nation. We can not have growth without significant reforms in our tax and political systems.

Pension Crisis Returns – New Jersey

N.J.’s failure to make full pension payments hinders fund | NJ.com.

The public pension hole grew by an astounding $ 5.5 billion by the end of 2011 after going down from $53.9 billion to $36. billion with the pension reform of last year. At the core of the reasons is the failure of the Christie administration to make a full contribution. In fact, the government has not even contributed the minimal amount which it had agreed to in the reform law. That is how the governor balances the budgets. It is the same irresponsible policy of his democratic predecessors.

The reduction of the deficit in 2011 was achieved totally on the backs of the workers after years of government un-funding. Public employees always contributed as the money is a payroll deduction.

What occurs with failing to fund the system is that the deficit poses a negative accrual just as a contribution creates a positive one. Money that is not there fails to earn any interest but both the principal and the interest were parts of the formula to keep the fund solvent and the finances of the state sound. The deficit compounds.

The carelessness of the governor was exemplified  just a few days ago when he refused to sign a law removing from the public pension system those political beneficiaries who are not public workers and should have never been part of the system.

Fully funding the public pension systems is fundamental for the fiscal health of New Jersey. The governor is acting in the style of Louis XV:  Apres-moi le deluge – After me the flood.

France, Germany, Poland Join Forces to Save Europe. Britain Out

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-16104089

New agreement signed today met objections from Britain and Hungary. Britain was then left out of the agreement, more isolated than ever.

This agreement is a step in the right direction: Tighter unity.

Will it calm investors? We will see today. But I am optimistic.

Debt Crisis Bring Former Foes — Poland and Germany — Closer Than Ever – NYTimes.com.

The greatest achievement of the European Union has been, without a doubt, peace – as British PM Chamberlain naively claimed after Munich in 1938: “Peace in our Time”.  And nothing exemplifies this more than the alliance of centuries-old enemies, Germany, France, and Poland in a bid to save United Europe.

During the XVIII century, Poland’s kings did not follow a line of succession but were elected by the nobility and that created weaknesses and internal divisions which were exploited by the countries’ powerful neighbors, Austria, Prussia, and Russia. By the end of the century, the 3 powers carved Poland.

A Polish state, under the name of Duchy of Warsaw was restored by Napoleon I, who also had a Polish mistress, countess Maria Waleska, but with the retreat of the French from eastern Europe in 1813, the Duchy was overrun and erased from the map.

Poland was restored by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, invaded by the Soviet Union in 1920 (the Poles beat the attack with French help at the gates of Warsaw), invaded again by Germany in 1939, and was a battlefield between the retreating Germans and the Soviet army in 1944/45.

After 1945, Poland fell behind the Iron Curtain and then it enthusiastically re-joined Europe after the fall of Communism in 1990.

As a side note, the Polish Communist Party returned to power in free elections and then voted out again after a period of time.