This may sound a bit far fetched, but stay with me.

San Diego has been sacked by a bunch of gamblers since the City went into the “tomorrow will save today” approach of the pension backloading programs of MP I, MP II, and the Gleason settlement (MPIII). These are all based on the “hope” that something will happen tomorrow, or many tomorrows from now, that will bail us out of the pot hole, sewer hole, sink hole or canyon we find ourselves in as a result of our financial caprice. It takes a lot of assistance to pull this off in a municipal setting, but a number of promotional programs have allowed our folks to see beyond their short term wisdom, and instead bet on the “good things” happening in the future to fix the problems we created today.

So, I’m thinking, maybe we just need to double down.

Did you know that lotteries were routinely used in the formation and salvation of governments gone astray?

It’s true. There were gambling and lottery programs in the colonial period that lasted until the mid-1800s. Also in the post Civil War period. And, also in the post-Depression period.

All 13 original colonies established lotteries to raise money. Proceeds were used, among other things, to help found Harvard, Yale Dartmouth, Princeton and other distinguished universities. They were used to build churches, libraries and public works.

The Continental Congress authorized a lottery to help finance the war against England.

Periodically, lottery scandals led to gambling prohibitions. But, lynching proved to be successful in damping down unscrupulous gambling practices.

California boomed into a gambling Mecca during the Gold Rush. By 1850 it was everywhere.

But the link between gambling and organized crime took its toll and from the turn of the century to the mid-1960s there were no legal government-sponsored lotteries operating in the United States.

Eventually, increased opposition to threatened tax increases became a factor in establishing state run lotteries beginning in the mid-1960s.

You see where I’m going with this.

We are now talking openly about BIG tax increases, “Pension Taxes,” needed to deal with the Pension Bomb.

Since getting one of our “big” city retirements is like winning the lottery anyway, maybe we should have a lottery to win one, and use the proceeds to fund the massive pension deficit. Huh? Whadda ya think?

Here is how it would work. We take the biggest retirement package of the previous year, and that is the package of goodies you get if you win the lottery at the end of the next year. A million bucks in a tax free DROP account, annual payments for life starting at, say, $170,000, plus annual cost of living increases on that amount of approximately 3 percent for life. And, healthcare for your life, and that of your spouse.

Your odds would be way better than the California lottery. Five bucks a ticket. Maaayyyybe $1 for the governor???? Huh? Is this looking good?

Since the pensions we pay here has absolutely nothing with the investments returns on the amounts required to fund the promises ultimately owed, this could be another opportunity to see the whole system in the right context.

Hey, if you can’t beat ’em.

PAT SHEA

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