Are the politicians and union bosses who lie to their constituents about their broken pensions really friends of the working class?
In Rhode Island, it is Democrats, not nasty union-hating Republicans, who are doing the dirty work. Democratic mayors are telling their unions that there isn't any money -- not because they are vicious corporate stooges who hate working people and want to see them suffer, but because There. Isn't. Any. Money.
Let's be crystal clear about this. To tell a 50 year old pretty lies about the soundness of a pension plan is one of the most wicked and irresponsible things you can do without actually shedding blood; people who believe these phony promises will not make the extra savings, work the extra years or otherwise take steps to protect themselves until it is too late. Telling those pretty lies is exactly what Rhode Island's establishment has been doing for some time; it is what Ostrich Party legislators, trade unionists, journalists and governors are still doing across much of the country.
Reasonable reforms could have made things much less painful, but the unions typically threaten to destroy the careers of any politician who tampers with the pension system until the truck actually starts falling over the cliff. Now the long fall has begun and Rhode Island and its retirees are caught in a cascade of bad news, lawsuits, and financial crisis. No Rhode Island retiree can rely on getting the benefits promised; nobody can predict how this will all work out.
The fundamental flaw of democracy: people vote for what they want to hear, not what is actually true.