Law of Diminishing Returns

A few days ago the New York Times offered a revealing glimpse of the august body of solons by whose sage and impartial judgment New Jersey law is made.

TRENTON, April 11 — State senators from both political parties said at a hearing on Wednesday that they had been shocked to learn that they had voted again and again in recent years for measures that had left the state pension in great distress, and they faulted the state treasury for failing to explain to them the risks of what they were doing.

“I had no idea we were in the company of some of the same corporations that I have condemned for not funding their pensions,” said Senator Shirley K. Turner, a Democrat from Mercer County. “And now, it seems, we’re in the same boat, and sinking.”

But wait, it gets better (emphasis mine):

In response to The Times article, Gov. Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey has said that the state will change certain accounting procedures. He has also asked the state attorney general to investigate, with outside actuarial help, whether tax requirements, securities laws or other rules have been violated.

The attorney general, Stuart Rabner, will have to walk a careful line in such an inquiry, however. He is currently representing the State of New Jersey in lawsuits, filed by several employee groups, that accuse the state of failing to fund workers’ pensions lawfully. In those cases he is arguing that the state has acted legally.

David Wald, a spokesman for the attorney general, said Mr. Rabner did not perceive any conflict between these roles.

If you have the stomach for it, you may read the article here.

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