Union-paid actuary takes New York for $500 million

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My mother, who has recently moved to DC after living in New York for forty years, was shocked by the corruption scandals. "Even in the worst days," she said, "no one took the city for $50 million."

Not so fast!

n the hundreds of bills for which he has provided estimates to lawmakers since 2000, the actuary, Jonathan Schwartz, said legislation adjusting the pensions of public employees would have no cost, or limited cost, to the city.

But just 11 of the more than 50 bills vetted by Mr. Schwartz that have become law since 2000 will result in the $500 million in eventual costs, or more than $60 million annually, according to projections provided by Robert C. North Jr., the independent actuary of the city pension system, and by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s office.

Liberal commenters wonder why I don't associate public sector unions with the public good. This is why:

Mr. North and other city employees made the calculations on the 11 bills when they were before the Legislature, but for the other bills, no alternative to Mr. Schwartz’s projections could be found. The New York Times reported last month that in an arrangement that had not been publicly disclosed, Mr. Schwartz was being paid by labor unions. He acknowledged in an interview that he skewed his work to favor the public employees, calling his job “a step above voodoo.”

But never fear, justice will be swift and sure:

As a result, legislative leaders said they would no longer rely on Mr. Schwartz’s work, and a disciplinary board affiliated with the American Academy of Actuaries has begun a review of Mr. Schwartz’s conduct.
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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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