If you pay attention to public policy debates, you’ve probably heard about just how much we all owe because of the federal government’s overspending. 

Divide our $15.7 trillion (and climbing!) national debt among the U.S. population of  313.5 million, and every man, woman, and child in the U.S. owes more than $50,000. 

As I wrote recently, that explicit national debt understates how much we really owe since entitlement programs have trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities.

Yet even if you tacked on all the costs of fulfilling Social Security and Medicare’s promises, you’d still be underestimating how much you owe since we also have to consider just how much we owe our government workforce in unfunded benefits. 

Government worker unions have negotiated gold-plated retirement packages—hardly a surprise since they are negotiating with the very politicians that they help elect and fund, while passing the bill on to taxpayers. The Manhattan Institute’s Steven Malanga writes about how those costs are become real to taxpayers in many areas, as local government’s actually have to come up with a plan (such as a new, dedicated tax) to pay these benefits. 

Smart home buyers will soon be asking questions about this potential liability, and taxpayers everywhere should be warned:  this is an issue you better pay attention to, and ask candidates about, otherwise you are going to be socked with another big bill courtesy of politicians who have been overly generous with your money.