Here is how the pension "issue" is usually framed.
For the major corporations that still offer pensions, they are a drag on earnings growth. In the public sector, they are making every city into Detroit or Stockton, Calif., paving the road to bankruptcy.
Very large numbers are thrown around, often without context, sometimes outright fabrications. This column is not about the numbers. As a nation, we spend too much time under green eyeshades. Numbers, "just business," economics are supposed to provide definitive answers.
Of course it depends on whose numbers are used (liars figure) and there's a reason that the dismal science was once called political economy. Even at its most rigorous, economics is a brawl — and like the sums we are supposed to accept as gospel, the inputs matter (garbage in, garbage out). People are living longer! Well, not by much, it varies greatly among ethnic groups, and the ones that do live long tend to be very wealthy. Etc.
Nevertheless, a majority of the white working class — which is a majority of the electorate — believes that union thugs are bankrupting their cities and states by demanding that pensions be paid to takers on the public payroll. Republican politicians and judges are burnishing their popularity and "seriousness" by working to destroy the pension system.
In certain situations and moments, many of those thugs and takers are called police officers, firefighters, and teachers. Heroes.