Years into the long-term project to close the state’s pension system, the Mackinac Center has gotten so desperate it is trying to get help from the very people it’s hoping to hurt: MEA members.
A recent mass emailing to MEA members, Center staffer Jarett Skorup writes an innocuous message sounding like a reporter digging for facts:
He is instead a right wing operative hoping to trick these folks into helping them kill other people’s pensions. Which is not a stretch: the Mackinac Center has year after year made closing the state pension system a priority in order to replace it with a plan where all of the risk falls on the employees. They’re looking for help crafting a message that will result in fewer people paying into the MPSERS pension system. A change that will increase the system’s underfunding.
The Center has done this before. When their “please quit the union in August” campaign failed to get as many opt outs as they hoped, they tried to organize focus groups of members who stuck with their union to help them frame a better message. And to sweeten the deal, the Center also offered to buy them dinner and give them $50.
“Here’s dinner and 50 bucks to help us make you weaker.”
This time, it’s the same sort of deception:
As background, we’ve been concerned about problems with the state pension system related to underfunding, how long it takes people to be eligible for benefits, and whether legislators will properly fund retirements.
Right. The Mackinac Center thinks it takes too long to be eligible for benefits. And they’re bothered legislators haven’t properly funded retirements.
It’s the usual double-talk half truth you’d expect from a politician. They think you should be immediately eligible for benefits because they want to kill your pension and force you into a 401k plan instead. And they want legislators out of the retirement funding business all together.
This isn’t a reporter collecting facts; its a political operative gathering ammunition.
None of this is an accident. The Mackinac Center spent years undermining the pension system with this result in mind. In 1997, they succeeded in getting the state pension system closed to new enrollees. It was fully funded at the time.
Since then, with fewer and fewer paying into it, it has become more and more underfunded. Add to that ever more charter and on-line schools (thanks to Mackinac Center pressure), neither of which pay into MPSERS, and the underfunding grows.
This means that after years of Mackinac-inspired changes to the pensions system, changes that have all served to increase underfunding, the Center is asking members to help craft a message designed to underfund MPSERS even more.
So now, the Mackinac Center solution to this sudden underfunding problem (“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here”), is to shift all the risk to the employees and close the state pension system.
Which will make our schools more like the private sector. Which has fewer unions. Which is the whole point.