Here’s What Happens When the Mackinac Center Gets Help Ending Pensions

Pension2.jpgJust days after asking for help in killing off school staff pensions, the Mackinac Center has published its hit piece. Predictably, it makes the exact points Mackinac analyst Skorup hoped it would before he got any responses. As his mass email stated, his story would be about “underfunding, how long it takes people to be eligible for benefits, and whether legislators will properly fund retirements.”

The story presents a litany of arguments against the current pension system and not a single point in its favor. Balance is not something you should expect from the Mackinac Center. Neither is honesty.

Quoting a misinformed elementary teacher from Athens, the Center leaves in place the lie that pension benefits pass only to surviving spouses. After stating that the teacher “opted out of the pension system so that she could have something to leave to her family,” she’s quoted:

“I’m not married and I found out that if something happens to me, [my pensions] would go back into the system.”

According to the Office of Retirement Services, pension benefits can be paid to “your surviving spouse, your child or adopted child, your grandchild, or your parent, brother or sister.”

After countless appearances of “underfunded” Skorup moves on to mention the Detroit bankruptcy, and then, without any sense of irony, assures readers that two current legislative bills, HB 5218 ad SB 102, would  “protect current employees and retirees,” when in fact, the purpose of the bills is to shift all the retirement investment risk from the state to retirees.

The article makes repeated allegations that pensions are undependable (largely because of Republican assaults), but fails to mention that school employee pensions are protected by the Michigan Constitution.

Ignored as well, or course, is the reality that those who fully invest their retirement in the stock market through a 401k would be completely dependent on the state of the economy from the day they retire until the day they die. Just a few years ago, they would have had to reconsider their plans had they  been planning on retiring in 2008, or 2009, or…

The Center’s crocodile tears about underfunding is particularly irritating given that the Mackinac Center’s own policy goals, ever-more charter and on-line schools as well as privatization, are largely responsible for this problem, thanks to the fewer and fewer people paying into the retirement system while working.

In the exact same fashion, by removing all future state employees from the system, the bills would guarantee that the underfunding problem Skorup obsesses over will skyrocket, due to an accelerated drop in the number of people paying into it.

Which will make closing the system, the Mackinac Center’s ultimate goal, unavoidable.

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