In the classic “sword vs. gun” scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones encounters a massive assassin ominously wielding a three-foot sword. We all remember Indy taking pause, shrugging, grabbing his pistol and killing his adversary with one shot. Simple. Effective. In the ongoing Illinois pension saga, Governor Quinn and the incoming General Assembly should adopt this Indy-inspired approach.
In each of the past three years the mind-boggling complexity of the current system has overwhelmed our political process. Reform proposals have included optional 401(k)s in 2011, voluntary benefit reductions and property tax increases in 2012 and mandatory benefit reductions in 2013. All have failed.
Let’s learn from our mistakes. The proposed solutions failed for the same reason – they all tinker with the same convoluted elements inherent in the pension system. COLAs, normal costs, retirement ages, amortization, defined benefits, spiking, cost shifts, yada, yada, yada. Who really understands this stuff anyway?
Did Indiana Jones brandish a sword because he was facing a swordsman? No! He chose a different weapon – simple and powerful. Here is ours. Stop negotiating arcane details and move to something everyone understands.
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Marc Levine publishes LevineOnPolicy.com and is a senior pension advisor to House Republican Leader Tom Cross.