California’s underwater pension systems don’t help most people, but some of its beneficiaries make out exceptionally well. The Los Angeles Times tells the story of one such lucky man:
James Mussenden doesn’t bring up his pension in casual conversation. No point getting his golf partners’ blood boiling.
The retired city manager of El Monte collects more than $216,000 a year, plus cost-of-living increases and fully paid health insurance.
“It’s giving me an opportunity to do a number of things I didn’t get to do when I was younger, like travel to Europe, take some things off my bucket list,” Mussenden, 66, said recently. He even flew to Scotland to play the famed Old Course at St. Andrews, a mecca for golf enthusiasts.
The rest of the article focuses heavily on the injustice of poor people who have no pensions being taxed up to the eyeballs to pay lavish pensions for retired city executives. As it should; the inequality of public pension systems is an enormous, and under-reported, concern. It’s also a way, one hopes, that Left-leaning institutions (like the Times) and individuals can come to appreciate the urgency of addressing the pension crisis.
In the end, poor people who rely on government support systems and, in some cases, government employment, will be hardest hit when the pensions crisis sucks budgets dry. Twenty-eight percent of El Monte’s general spending goes toward paying off pension liabilities, and that number is expected to rise in coming years. Soon enough, El Monte will have to drastically cut back spending in other areas if it can’t get things under control. Meanwhile, getting things under control entails cutting back benefits and, because most pensioners aren’t due to receive $200,000, the reductions will hurt more than their golf game.