“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.” –“A Nation at Risk”
My recent economics professor Russ Roberts and producer John Papola are back with a new Keynes versus Hayek rap video. In basically every particular, I have to say that I prefer this one to their first effort. Take a look.
You can see their first effort here. If you haven’t read much Hayek, a good place to start is “The Use of Knowledge in Society” and the free Reader’s Digest condensed edition of The Road to Serfdom.
In his analysis of the numbers,David Cox, editorial page editor of the Paducah Sun (subscription required), noted today that not only does Kentucky have one of the highest percentages of unfunded employee retirement obligations in the nation, but that even a strong economic recovery isn’t likely to solve the problem.
The problem: For every dollar Kentucky has obligated itself to pay retired state employees for pensions and health insurance, the commonwealth has set aside only 58 cents. Only Illinois (51 cents) and West Virginia (56 cents) are in worse shape.
How we got here: Kentucky’s low ranking is “due in part to the state’s high ration of state employees to population,” Cox writes.
There are now 38 state employees for every 1,000 workers in the commonwealth.
Unacceptable excuses: Bureaucrats like to use “the recession excuse.” Yet, as Cox notes, while the stock market decline diminished the value of pension funds, “the stock market has rebounded while the unfunded pension liability has continued to grow.”
Besides, as Pew Center director Susan K. Urahn noted, “the states dug themselves a big hole before the recession ever hit.” The recession simply made “a serious problem even worse,” Urahn said.
Kentucky’s pension system’s unfunded liability has reached $34 billion, according to Lowell Reese, editor and publisher of Kentucky Roll Call and an expert on the state pension system,
The way out?: Cox suggests the commonwealth could start the long trek back toward being able to match their obligations by “scaling back on promises to new employees.”
The Bluegrass Institute recently started archiving its syndicated column on FreedomKentucky.org.
Archiving these articles on our transparency database allows us to easily link you to more information about subjects you may be reading about in the column. Take a few moments and check it out!
Today’s Lexington Herald-Leader reported that a former U.S.-Senator-from-Ohio wannabe Eric Fingerhut is a candidate for the post of chief politician, I’m sorry — “president” — of the University of Kentucky.
Who are the other candidates? We, the taxpayers, don’t know — even though we, the taxpayers, are paying the high salaries of these university presidents, both in terms of funding from the state and tuition increases that are three times the rate of inflation.
The reason we don’t know is because the interviews are being conducted in secret –“at a Northern Kentucky hotel in a black-draped room in an area patrolled by security,” according to today’s Herald-Leader.
Why? It’s always the same kind of mumbo jumbo from uninteresting and predictable officials: If we don’t do this in secret, we will “drive away highly qualified candidates who fear losing their jobs and political clout.”
Apparently way down on the list is what’s in the best interest of students, the university itself and the citizens who pay the bills.
Of course, this defense of a lack of transparency carries over to other areas of state policy as well.
We, the taxpayers, are told that we cannot be privy to economic development discussions involving potential bribes, I’m sorry — “incentives” — funded by we, the taxpayers, because it’s a competitive process and too much information might cause Kentucky to lose its attractiveness to some company that’s going to bring 10 jobs at $9 an hour.
Gee, what if we were as concerned about policies that have proven the equivalent of placing “Do Not Call” signs at the commonwealth’s borders as we are keeping information from those who pay the bills? If we were, we would already have right-to-work, school choice and lower taxes.
In a recent Bluegrass Beacon column, I wrote on the state budget process being conducted “behind closed doors — complete with armed guards and covered windows.”
Does anyone see a pattern here?