“A contract is a contract.”
In my mind, that’s really the heart of many of these municipal pension problems. A contract *is* a contract, but a “sweetheart deal” is a sweetheart deal even when it is a contract.
In Illinois, for decades democrat politicians have bought the votes of teachers with retirement plans that are totally unrealistic financially. Yes they are contracts, but those contracts were written for the benefit of a political group (the teachers unions) by those who benefited from the support of that political group - the democrat office holders - in the name of those who were actually on the hook for those costs (the rest of the taxpayers and their descendants).
Legally, it’s a deal. Ethically, it’s a swindle. And you can stay in Illinois to see how that sort of legal swindle plays out in the extreme: people may remember the Illinois retiree who was getting $30k/year as a retired legislative assistant; $31 k/year as a retired teachers union rep, and wanted $36k/year more as a retired teacher - the latter based on *one day’s* service as a sub.
Legally it appears that the union worked into a contract terms that made the latter claim legitimate. Ethically, it doesn’t take Thomas Aquinas to figure out the guy is gaming the system. So in a state that’s trying it’s best to turn into Detroit, how does one balance strict legality, fiscal reality, and simple fairness?
I don’t pretend to know, but I do expect it all to come to a head, and soon. And the result will not be pretty.