As noted previously, it is an economics of unicorns and wishes. But for some reason some people think the taxpayers should continue this fairy tale for them.
(From The Economist)
Nearly half of Detroit’s liabilities stem from promises of pensions and health care to its workers when they retire. American states and cities typically offer their employees defined-benefit pensions based on years of service and final salary. These are supposed to be covered by funds set aside for the purpose. By the states’ own estimates, their pension pots are only 73% funded. That is bad enough, but nearly all states apply an optimistic discount rate to their obligations, making the liabilities seem smaller than they are. If a more sober one is applied, the true ratio is a terrifying 48% (seearticle). And many states are much worse. The hole in Illinois’s pension pot is equivalent to 241% of its annual tax revenues: for Connecticut, the figure is 190%; for Kentucky, 141%; for New Jersey, 137%.