The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

California pension fund:
Speculators just like the others

Apr 29, 2002

CalPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System) raised its rate on retiree health benefits by almost 25% this April. CalPERS is an enormous pension fund and the second largest purchaser of health care insurance in the U.S. after the federal government. Its trustees are appointed by California state officials.

Of course, employers and institutions put the blame for health care increases on increases from health care providers. And it’s true these increases are outrageous.

But there’s another side to the CalPERS story. Why is it claiming to have less funds than it needs? What was CalPERS doing with its money?

Two years ago, when the State of California was claiming that Enron, as well as other energy suppliers, were ruining it with electricity overcharges, the state’s pension fund was buying Enron stock, hoping to make a killing from the very scam that Enron was pulling on the people of California. In fact, CalPERS was the second biggest institutional holder of Enron stock!

Enron’s bankruptcy cost California’s retirees’ fund hundreds of millions of dollars. But only because the fund managers wanted to cash in on the Enron game – a game they knew was crooked.

So let them pay, today, not the retirees. Let all the crooks at Enron who took the money and ran cough it up. Let the Bush administration, which not only profited from but protected these crooks, pay.