The debate over public sector unions and their "underfunded pension liabilities" has consistently failed to mention key information regarding the causes of the pension fund problems. Try to remember that it's almost entirely due to the scams surrounding the financial collapse of 2008. Wall street stole from us all, now the media machine and big business want to kick us while we're down.
The debate usually goes like this:
Connie says, "We have massively underfunded pension programs because unions are too powerful. They abuse their influence as big campaign donors to negotiate sweetheart deals and it's bankrupting our country! No more unions!"
Libbie says, "But unions are what make this country great! Unions are a democratic institution that helped establish the weekend, lunch breaks, sick leave, and maternity leave! Without unions, we are no better than a third world dictatorship!"
Neither side understands or mentions the real cause of the pension fund problems: leading up to the collapse of 2008, banksters convinced public pension fund managers, who are often no more qualified than a checkout bagger, to buy up mislabelled "AAA" toxic subprime mortgage-based investments by the boatload. These unscrupulous banksters went so far as to then place bets against the securities they just sold off to the "dumb money" so that they would make even more money as the subprime bubble they inflated then predictably collapsed.
These investments and the conspiracy between banksters and ratings agencies was one of the most sophisticated and by far the largest successful financial scam ever perpetrated, responsible for an unprecedented wealth transfer from the bottom to the top. And now it's being misrepresented by corporate media in order to break up unions for our civil servants. The ultimate goal, of course, is to set the stage for busting all unions, presumably under the same argument that did away with the Voting Rights Act, that "unions have done their job and are no longer necessary."
So next time you're listening to a debate about public sector unions, and specifically about underfunded pensions, understand that we have all been stolen from. It was Wall Street. They got away with it. Now they're coming after your right to unionize because we didn't fight back. If they take our right to unionize, we'll be all that much easier to abuse.