Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The NY Times review of Roger Lowenstein's book, While America Aged , makes it look worth reading for people in government. It's about pensions and although he writes about General Motors, much of the book is devoted to New York City subway workers and to San Diego's pension-driven municipal meltdown.
From the review:
Lowenstein's second example is New York City's public transit system. Over time, the Transport Workers Union won subway workers benefits so generous they could retire by age 55. New York, however, failed to fund its pension benefits adequately, while being buffeted by economic crosswinds itself. The subway workers, despite a 2005 strike, were forced into concessions, but the city still faces huge liabilities.
The final example is the most egregious. San Diego's municipal workers were also granted generous pension benefits. The city management then deliberately skimped on the annual contributions, hiding the underfunding from the public while the union knowingly looked the other way. The result was near bankruptcy for the once thriving metropolis.
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