Why debate at all?

Houston mayoral candidates will apparently be given a chance to debate one another in October. Perry has the details if you’re interested.

If I were you, I’d plan on doing something fun… cutting toenails, dipping your dog, doing a juice cleanse and colonic…rather than sitting through 90 minutes of mind numbing tedium. It’ll be a full on assault against Mayor Parker, most of which will be complete bullshit. Ben Hall will probably suck his own dick to prove that, in addition to being smarter than you, he’s more flexible. One of the crazier small fry might set their hair on fire. In short, nothing you haven’t seen before (especially that self sucking thing and if you haven’t seen that, you’re not using the interwebs properly).

Much will be made of Houston’s pension shortfall in an effort to persuade the public that fucking over public employees is OK. That’s not at all true… the City of Houston made promises, didn’t put away what the money they needed to meet those obligations and certain candidates are now whining about the ‘burden’ of public employees. Let me make one thing abundantly clear:

ANY CANDIDATE WHO TRIES TO PERSUADE YOU TO SCREW OVER PUBLIC EMPLOYEES IS THE ONE YOU WORK AGAINST.

Every police officer, garbage man, road worker and firefighter you see is someone doing a job FOR you. They are being paid to do it and they have faithfully made their retirement contributions every pay cycle. The problem is that the City has done a less than good job at meeting it’s obligations to the plans and they’ve suffered from what has been, essentially, a flat 13 year market. As the market turns, the shortfall will dwindle reducing the City’s obligations to the fund. But none of that really matters more than the core issue which is that these people DESERVE to be treated fairly.

Now, as I understand it, Hall’s proposal is to insure the obligations that are unfunded from 20-30 years out. He estimates this will remove about a third of the unfunded liabilities. Here’s the thing, we don’t know who these insurers are and as many of us learned the hard way in 2007 and 2008, a contract is only as good as the counterparty (this is what we like to call counterparty risk… insurance is a contract, the insurer is your counterparty and the risk is that they won’t or can’t perform)*. We also don’t know the cost of the insurance which probably will not cover ALL the liabilities, just those that are unfunded which means we don’t free up capital for the first 20 years of unfunded liabilities. For all we know at this point, the premium cost may be such that actually having the pension plans invest it themselves will cover the liability, eliminating the need for the insurer. I’d also like to know if any of these insurance companies, affiliates or employees of either have contributed to Hall’s campaign.

Since I’m not eligible to vote in Houston (mostly because, by the good grace of a benevolent God, I don’t live there), my only interest in this is the pension thing. I hate the unfunded pension canard and feel an obligation to poke at it whenever it pops up. Well, I also have an interest in the lives and tax dollars of my friends and family who choose, for some reason, to live in Houston.

*If you’ve ever had someone rob you while shoving a 20 inch long, 8 inch thick dick into your ass, you know what learning about counterparty risk the hard way fucking means.

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