Jack Ohman

February 6, 2014

Gov. Jerry Brown’s modest proposal: a CalPerfect Storm...

As if we didn’t need more bad news from CalPERS, it turns out that, on average, CalPERS retirees are going to be living longer than we thought: by, 2028, men will live 1.6 years longer, and women will tack on another 2.2 years.

Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

As if we didn’t need more bad news from CalPERS, it turns out that, on average, CalPERS retirees are going to be living longer than we thought: by, 2028, men will live 1.6 years longer, and women will tack on another 2.2 years.

Under other circumstances, this is always good news, right? We’re living longer! And, even better, we’re on CalPERS! But while medical technology has conquered death, temporarily, it has handed us another fiscal problem.

I would have loved to have been in that PowerPoint presentation with Gov. Jerry Brown and his advisers:

“Um, governor, we seem to have an actuarial problem. CalPERS retirees are living longer. All those anti-smoking programs and cancer-warning signage worked. Now what?”

“Well, how short are we gonna be?”

“We’ll be upside down $1.2 billion per year in 14 years, so we need a strategy.”

“Hey, I’m up for re-election this year. I can’t come out and tell people that they need to die sooner. I’m just looking at the cross-tabs on our latest Field Poll, and death has very high negatives.”

“What about some sort of voluntary incentivized life opt-out clause?”

“We ran that by the Legislative counsel, and the AG. They say it’s statutorialy pretty shaky.”

“Great. We’re not even going to have enough money to ship Evian into the state at this rate. What else you got?”

“Well, I got an analysis from the state treasurer the other day. We could declare the state of death as a taxable plane of existence.”

“What’s the five year on that?”

“Sir, if we were able to tax all non-living Californians since 1849, we calculate that as a significant revenue base, and I would say that’s a very tenable model.”

“What about compliance?”

“We could use existing tax code on that, as well as take the high-speed rail and Delta tunnel money and divert it toward enforcement and seances.”

“What about getting some political endorsements on this?”

“We’ve talked to Gov. Leland Stanford’s people through mediums, and he says he’s OK with it if you give the dead enough deductibility.”

“Any consultants involved yet?”

“Maviglio says it’s a winner, particularly if you can shift the entire tax burden away from the living and over to the dead. The polling numbers on that are really, really favorable.”

“Have you talked to any zombie undead?”

“I’ve got channelers making calls to Tim Donnelly, Neel Kashkari, and a courtesy call to Maldonado. They’re goners. But they’re in if there’s a net tax cut.”

“Great. How does it look in the Legislature?”

“DOA, but Calderon and Wright say they’re open to a deal.”

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