Massachusetts to Legislators: If the Voters Grow Tired of You, You Should Make More Money

Things to like about Massachusetts: Well, Salem seems pretty cool. And you’ve got to respect the Celtics. I’ve always wanted to tour the Lizzie Borden House, so that’s a plus. Oh, and they have some very sound governmental policies … ok, maybe three out of four ain’t bad.

I’m going to tell you a story; we’ll call it "The Ballad of J. James Marzilli, Jr." Raise your hand when something sounds askew.

A state senator serves the public for over 20 years. He then resigns and announces he won’t seek re-election after he’s arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and accosting a person of the opposite sex. However, his name remains on the ballot and he loses handily — what with all the alleged accosting and whatnot. Yet, he files to double his pension. In doing so, he cites a state law that allows elected officials under 55 with more than 20 years of "creditable" service to upgrade their pensions if they fail to win re-election.

Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation offers the indignation:

"The whole point of being an elected official is to do such a good job that you don’t get thrown out," she said. "So if there’s an incentive that if you do get thrown out and then get rewarded for that, that just kind of scrambles the entire system, which doesn’t work under the best of circumstances, but this just makes it worse."

And for good measure:

"They get an additional pension if their constituents get sick of them and throw them out? Am I hearing that right? Only in Massachusetts…"

Looks like the pension decision is being withheld until a verdict is reached in his court case.

Egat. One has a feeling voters and the taxpaying public of the Commonwealth might like to let Ms. Borden take 40 whacks at this law.

Columnist: Liberate Employers and Health Care by Letting Them Thrive Separately

Boston Globe writer Jeff Jacoby recently scribed an interesting column stating the case for the separation of employment and health care. While most of us have accepted this as an inevitable reality during our lifetimes, he says it simply stems from World War II wage controls that are no longer relevant:

With more than 90 percent of private healthcare plans in the United States obtained through employers, it might seem unnatural to get health insurance any other way. But what’s unnatural is the link between healthcare and employment. After all, we don’t rely on employers for auto, homeowners, or life insurance. Those policies we buy in an open market, where numerous insurers and agents compete for our business. Health insurance is different only because of an idiosyncrasy in the tax code dating back 60 years – a good example, to quote Milton Friedman, of how one bad government policy leads to another…

Unconstrained by consumer cost-consciousness, healthcare spending has soared, even as overall inflation has remained fairly low. Nevertheless, Americans know almost nothing about the costs of their medical care. (Quick quiz: What does your local hospital charge for an MRI scan? To deliver a baby? To set a broken arm?) When patients think someone else is paying most of their healthcare costs, they feel little pressure to learn what those costs actually are – and providers feel little pressure to compete on price. So prices keep rising, which makes insurance more expensive, which makes Americans ever-more worried about losing their insurance – and ever-more dependent on the benefits provided by their employer.We thus ended up with a healthcare system in which the vast majority of bills are covered by a third party. With someone else picking up the tab, Americans got used to consuming medical care without regard to price or value. After all, if it was covered by insurance, why not go to the emergency room for a simple sore throat? Why not get the name-brand drug instead of a generic?