It’s that time again—Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Today will see many fans donning their lucky team caps, or perhaps even jerseys, to the office; if they’re lucky, they’ll get to slip out a little early to take in a game with their kids. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack… It’s not only a day of tradition, but of optimism for baseball fans—an entire season spread before them where anything is possible. A clean slate.
Pension reform is a lot like baseball. It’s requires teamwork, perseverance and commitment. And although we may be down in the count, it’s never too late for policymakers to turn the game around and make a comeback. It also requires fans—those who are impacted by how the game’s played out—to be vocal and engaged. In the case of public pensions, that’s taxpayers and workers.
U.S. public retirement programs are an estimated $4 trillion in debt, resulting in tremendous budget challenges for states and municipalities. As more and more pension plans face insolvency, policymakers tend to raise taxes or pull funds from important public services like education, public safety and transportation to pay down pension debt.
If we’re going to fix the pension crisis, it’s imperative that we make our voices heard so that taxpayers receive the services they have paid for and public employees receive the benefits they have earned. And though advocating for pension reform may not be as enjoyable as taking in a ball game, it’s nonetheless extremely important. After all, it was the great Jackie Robinson who said that life is not a spectator sport. We should all be on the field, instead of in the grandstand, anytime we have the chance to make a difference.
The Retirement Security Initiative marshals and organizes a broad range of resources to help taxpayers, workers and policymakers learn more about public pensions and engage on the issue with other advocates. There’s a wealth of information on RSI’s Web site and social media pages, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, that offers insight into how the U.S. came to be in this $4 trillion hole, as well as ideas on policy options so that we can begin digging our way out.
As the saying goes, nothing is given…everything is earned 90 feet at a time. And for pension reform advocates, there’s no better time than the present to play ball.