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Deal could come today to save art and pensions

by: Eric B.

Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 10:50:32 AM EST

This is a great development, if it comes off.

A deal to use foundation money to protect the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection and Detroit’s pensioners from the consequences of the city’s bankruptcy could be announced as early as today, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

One source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said talks are at a delicate stage and there are “a number of moving parts,” including what role the state would play in any deal.

But there’s a 50/50 chance the “grand bargain” will be announced today, the source said, in part because of concerns about inaccurate speculation.

Obviously, the devil would be in the details, and how much the pensions and art really are protected, but this is as promising I think as we could have hoped.

Eric B. :: Deal could come today to save art and pensions
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We need legislation
at the national level to give pension obligations primacy over all other claims. It's wrong that a person who devotes their entire working life to a company/city/whatever can have their contractually promised livelihood--essentially the bulk of their life savings, invested by their employer on their behalf--taken away through no fault of their own.  

Until that happens, we have the bankruptcy system that we have rather than the ones that our retirees deserve.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
If we give ironclad guarantees of pensions...
... we'd better first adopt ironclad limits on what benefits can be bargained.  Detroit's current problems are partly due to the willingness of any group of people to solve their financial problems by agreeing that somebody else (i.e.: property owners 30 years later) will pay the bill.  It was very easy for the City and the Fraternal Order of Police to settle their contract in 1995 by increasing the benefits which would be paid in 2015.  Are you really suggesting that every such deal by a local government, no matter how outrageous, should be an ironclad commitment of State government?

If such a provision is ever adopted, without safeguards, I think the Toccos and Giacalones who ripped off Coleman Young twenty-five years ago (by taking advantage of an open-ended condemnation award to sell scrapped machines for a $40 million markup) will want to get into the pension business.  

[ Parent ]
Mostof the problems
are due to failure to set aside retirement funds in a timely fashion, as well as the theft perpetrated by the banksters in 2008, rather than greedy pensioners demanding golden parachutes. In the case of Detroit, we're talking mainly about people receiving modest stipends. Sure, you'd have to have safeguards in place--see my first sentence--but the bottom line is, that is their money, earned through a lifetime of hard work, in many cases for less compensation than the private sector. Find me another contract that is so easily set aside, and with no recourse, besides pension obligations.

[ Parent ]
If it pans out, it deserves Professor Farnsworth

I had more to say in Looks like good news for the DIA at my personal blog.

This will vastly reduce the heat in the bankruptcy, as it removes the possibility of affecting people's entertainment.  People demand that their entertainment go on, as I've pointed out in Detroit River fireworks show continues and Detroit's Thanksgiving Parade--the tradition continues.  According to our screwed-up priorities, that's more important than keeping pensions whole.*  As my friend Nebris has said about my observations on this topic, "Americans will take all manner of social, economic and political abuse, but will rise up with righteous fury when you disturb their Entertainment."

*I don't agree with these priorities; that's why I called them screwed-up.  I plan on collecting my pension one day, and I don't want people messing with that.

Greetings from Detroit, Ground Zero of the post-industrial future!

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