Thursday, November 1, 2012

Are “public” pensions the bane of all evil? Or are we being asked to back partisan rhetoric to amend constitution?

Not the current document
I find it amusing to learn that groups opposed to a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution are waiting until the final days before Election Day to try to stir up voter opposition.

Because it comes at a time when the campaigns, particularly those that would look favorably on a Barack Obama re-election, are all so eager to get high turnout at early voter centers.

BUILD UP SUCH a big lead that Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is too far behind to possibly catch up with those votes actually cast at polling places!

Could a lot of people wind up finding out about what this state Constitution amendment actually means, AFTER they already have cast their ballots?

I know in my case, that is the case. I hadn’t heard much about the amendment that was the very first item on the ballot I cast when I went to an early voting center. In fact, it was the one item that I had to think about and be sure I read it correctly before I “made my mark” on the touch-screen.

And for the record, I voted “no.” The amendment would have said that any government trying to approve a measure related to employee retirement plans would have to get at least a 60 percent vote in order to pass.

RATHER THAN THE standard simple majority of officials that causes most measures to be passed into law.

This particular measure struck me as some sort of partisan measure by the ideologues to try to force their ways of thinking on the rest of us. The ones of us who want the rest of us to believe that the “problem” with regards to pension funding isn’t the irresponsible way in which our governments have funded them.

They want us to think the problem is the fact that anyone would get a pension at all.

Take the congressional campaign of Jason Plummer (Bill Brady’s youthful running mate in the 2010 election cycle; who's running down near St. Louis and in Southern Illinois), who is going after Democratic challenger Bill Enyart for pensions his wife (a retired judge) is receiving. “We’re calling the ethics of these things into question,” said Plummer, to reporter-types.

WHICH IS NONSENSE! I’d like to think a majority of people who cast ballots for the Nov. 6 election cycle (whether on that date or in the couple of weeks in advance at early voting centers) will be able to see through this.

Yet let’s be honest. The ballot question is written in legalese. And if one is so preoccupied with putting their little green check mark next to the names of Obama or Romney, they may not want to be bothered with reading (and thinking) about this issue.

Besides, when the issue of pension funding reform has come up before the General Assembly in recent years, we always hear the rhetoric about how this is a drastic problem that must be dealt with NOW in order to prevent permanent financial catastrophe from occurring.

Yet the legislators always manage to find ways of pushing the issue off into the future (just as they have always managed to ignore providing proper funding levels in the past) because it is a complex issue that many in the public don’t really get.

HOW MANY PEOPLE are going to cast their vote on this issue with less thought than they put in working their way through the lists of all those judges (most of whom on my ballot at least were running unopposed)?

How many people will see the spots put together by the We Are One coalition (which has raised about $500,000 in recent weeks to pay for broadcast spots and other ads asking for a “no” vote) and remember that they voted “yes” on the issue.

Then, they will smack their foreheads about their vote, wishing they could “take it back?”


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