Government Spending

Even Still More on The Coming War Between Public & Private Sector Workers or, Don't Read This Unless You Want to Get Hulk-Style Pissed


From the WSJ:

California, Nevada New Jersey and Ohio all allow double dipping, which lets government workers retire in their 50s and then work another full-time job while collecting retirement checks. In Ohio, police, firefighters and teachers can retire after 30 years on the job, collect a full benefit each year and go back to work full-time doing the same job. This is called retire and rehire.

As the Columbus Dispatch reported last year: "Across the state, Ohio's State Teachers Retirement System paid out more than $741 million in pension benefits last school year to 15,857 faculty and staff members who were still working for school systems and building up a second retirement plan." Some teachers can earn nearly $200,000 a year in pensions and salaries.

Yes, you read that correctly, the great (and totally broke) state of Ohio shelled out three-quarters of a billion dollars in retirement payments to education folks still working for the education system from which they were retired!

But like a John Edwards confession or a Ron Popeil pitch, wait, there's more:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from 1998 to 2008 public employee compensation grew by 28.6%, compared with 19.3% for private workers. In the recession year of 2009, with almost no inflation and record budget deficits, more than half the states awarded pay raises to their employees.

Read more here.

And read more related Reason coverage here.

I think this split between private and public-sector workers is one of the biggest issues in contemporary America. We are, as Matt Welch has noted again and again, broke. There's no money left anymore people. We need a fundamental re-do of public sector financing on every level, from entitlement spending to employee compensation. Most clearly, the public sector needs to shift to self-financing of its retirement, just like the private sector has done over the past generation. There are not enough private-sector workers to pay the taxes necessary to continue what's going on in Ohio and elsewhere. And even if there were, such a system in which public employees have near-absolute job security, better-than-average wages, and massively better retirement and health care just ain't right.

NEXT: ACORN's Original Sin

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  1. Hulk-style pissed is a good thing?if it happens to enough people to change public opinion about the proper size and scope of government.

  2. Multiple pensions from serial jobs is not an issue. Happens all the time in the private sector. The outrage is the size of the pensions relative to the salary that was earned while working. Many traditional private pensions were arranged so that one’s monthly pension plus one’s social security would equal 50-60% of one’s final wages. These public pensions seem to provide more than 100%!

    1. They are often getting the pension while working the same job. How often does that happen in the private sector?

    2. On what planet do private sector workers get pensions anymore, much less multiple ones?

      Pensions are long dead in the private sector, yet we’re expected (no, make that forced) to pay ever higher taxes so the pampered class can retire in luxury. To hell with that.

    3. creech, are you nuts? For most private sector workers, the first question that popped into their head when reading this post was “What the hell is a pension?”

      Very, very few private sector workers get pensions anymore, and certainly not anywhere near this scale. Most private sector workers have to *gasp* save for their retirement!

      This is an outrage, and completely unsustainable.

    4. Creech – people in the private sector have multiple 401ks that they paid into with THEIR money. I have a few. I paid into those while paying the pensions of teachers who make more than I do for 8 months of work.

      1. It is obvious to me that none of you
        have ever been in a Classroom since
        you graduated from school. You see since all of you graduated..Education
        has become a BUSINESS. Teachers don’t
        get the HUGE PENSIONS! He said above
        that it was “A School ADMINSTRATOR!!
        I am in IL. & retired a few years ago. The Superintendant in my District gets $190,000.00 a year & Health Care for him and his family.
        In order to teach you must have 4 years of College & hold a Valid Teaching Certificate. All teachers in
        IL. are required to stay “Current in their Field of Teaching so we are required to take additional classes in our field, & evaluated.We pay more & more of our Health Premimun each Year & ALL THE Premium for our families. We also “PAY INTO” OUR PENSION FUND & THE SCHOOL DISTRICT
        When I retired I had a Bachelors Degree(4yrs), Masters Degree(1-2yrs),
        & an additional 35 Semester Hours &
        was close to my Doctorate Degree!(3yrs) with 34 years of teaching & the most I could make was $68,000. I
        pay $2000 in City Taxes, State Income
        TAX, & am in the 28% Income Tax Braket. Each year the IRS puts out a
        list w/ no names of the 400 richest
        people in America–they pay anywhere
        from 9% to a High of 21%!! 7% to 19%
        35 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR!! THE CEO of YAHOO, a rare woman, got fired after 1 year..she made 1 million a year but with her stock sale & her
        14 MILLION…Our Forefathers wanted
        this Country to be a PEACEFUL NATION,
        NOT TO GO TO WAR–unless we were attacked–that’s why we DID NOT enter
        WW II until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. PLEASE REMEMBER THIS: THE
        the Big Banks. The word CONSERVATIVE
        means:Resists CHANGE, WANTS TO GO
        BACK–it has nothing to do with money. The word LIBERAL means:
        FORWARD-nothing to do with money but
        self worth & being paid a fair wage,
        as it says in the New Testament, if
        you prefer..that a man should pay his
        worker a fair days wage for a fair
        day’s work. We all need to stick to-
        gether because..United We Fall..hard!

  3. “such a system in which public employees have near-absolute job security, better-than-average wages, and massively better retirement and health care just ain’t right.”

    YEAH! Every dollar we pay to a teacher or bus driver is one less dollar that we can pay to Goldman Sachs executives, who provide the real benefits to our society!

    And that has really worked wonders

    1. Scotch, you’re really not that fucking stupid, are you?

      1. Yes. Yes I am.

        1. Yes. Yes, he is.

          1. No, he’s not really that stupid, he’s just been watching too much Rachael Maddow. Oh, wait, and he’s frickin’ stupid.

    2. No, every dollar we pay to a teacher or buss driver is one more dollar we owe.

      There are no extra dollars lying around that we’re trying to figure out what to do with. It’s pretty much all debt at this point.

    3. Goldman Sachs takes my money by force even if I don’t use their product?

      1. Didn’t they just get the bailout money?

        1. Didn’t they just pay it back?

          1. Did they pay us a decent interest rate?

            1. By most accounts, Goldman’s repayment of funds generated a significant profit for the government. Whether the loan was necessary in the first place, or merely a cover for other banks receiving government funds, is another matter.

    4. “And that has really worked wonders”

      It has from where I’m sitting.

    5. Is your world really composed entirely of government employees and corporate executives? Because, on the planet where the rest of us live, the majority of us are private sector worker bees. And, yes, I believe that myself and most of the people I’ve worked with during my lifetime provide more benefits to society per dollar than any bus driver and a most of the teachers I had.

      1. Oh please! (If you live in NJ) Don’t tell me that you really mind paying $15K a year in property taxes to pay for the teacher who got an over 40% raise over the last 5 Years when you bonus has been eliminated and you haven’t gotten a raise in 2 years.

        Greedy bastard (how much did Goldman Sachs pay you off to hate people)

        1. I live in NJ and my small 3 bedroom house costs $10,000 a year in property taxes…

          Not only are our public schools crazy expensive, but they suck. I’m at the point where I would jump in joy if these teacher union folks dropped dead. Screw ‘reform’, I want heads to roll.

          1. Well, good!! Close down the Public
            Schools. I hope you can pay for Child
            Care every day you work…Unions were
            necessary because some very rich men
            will NEVER have enough MONEY..they want to go back to SLAVERY..they just
            no longer care what color you are.When the REPUBLICANS PASSED
            as our Forefathers wanted…the Middle class was done. THOSE JEANS
            YOU WEAR…Jean Companies sent the
            material, rivots, zippers over to
            China–where it takes 5 women to make
            1 pair of jeans for which all jeans
            manufactors pay each woman..$.25 for
            a grand labor total of $1.25..then
            they come over here to stores. Even
            if you pay $19.99 or $250 designer
            jeans…the company makes a huge profit of of YOU..this is called
            “income redistribution” from you to
            huge. You no nothing about schools..
            it’s the Adminstration that make the
            big Money & the great retirement
            packages. This group is a Republican
            Chum Bucket…TRY TO REMEMBER THIS:
            just collect enough in taxes to pay for wars, 734 bases over seas,etc. The PRIVATE SECTOR IS A FOR PROFIT & LOTS OF IT..Our TAX MONEY! According to the last investigation the Mili- tary can’t account 8 billion dollars
            –lost. Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton,who got the “No-Bid”
            Contract, built schools, government
            buildings that are unusable & the Inspectors said that company wasted
            65 billion dollars!!(be sure you buy
            his book, he needs the money (not)
            but needs to lie some the way–the company Halliburton got to
            do the electrical work @ 2 bases over
            there..guess they didn’t understand
            grounding. 7 of our SOLDIERS GOT ELECTROCUTED, DIED..BUT NEVER ANY ACCOUNTABILITY! You can watch your
            Government in Action at
            C-Span I shows the House of Representatives EVERY DAY THEY ARE IN
            SESSION. C-Span 2 shows the Senate
            when they are in session & C-Span 3
            has Authors. If you want to see what
            your work will be like if your State
            is a Right To Work State..Go to PBS.
            org & click on Frontline..go to Archives & click on: “The Most Dan-
            gereous Place in America”. Don’t know
            if the China Slave Labor documentary
            is still available..look on Independ-
            ent Lens or P.O.V. & look for the
            title “China Blue”.By the way, just saw a lot of the Materials going into
            rebuilding 9-11 are not made in the USA. The Steel is coming in from Germany & ALL THE WINDOWS ARE BEING
            Once the Unions are gone..the Middle
            Class is gone..just the Rich & the Poor left..If we let the Republicans
            divide us, as Hitler did…we will fall hard because “a county divided against itself cannot stand.”-Abe
            Lincoln–Old Republican Party. The
            “NEW” Republican Party as stated by
            Newt Ginrich is to do away with every
            program started by FDR during the
            Great Depression of 1929 (Social Security) & LBJ’s War on Poverty-Medicare,Medicaid, food stamps..
            Please Stop hating & start learning
            what we are up against. Looks like
            the New Republican Party is addicted
            to OIL & SLAVERY..they just don’t care anymore what color you are..

    6. Find me one libertarian who supported TARP or any bailout of any kind. Just one, dumbass.

    7. Strawman Hamilton.

    8. You idiot, every single person here loudly railed against Goldman Sachs execs getting a single dime of public funds.

      1. Quiet, I need to believe otherwise!

    9. one less dollar that we can pay…

      who’s this ‘we’ you talking about?

    10. And it’s also one less dollar that can be given to your noble public servants in Congress. We can’t forget to reward our noble servants who sacrifice so much to serve us, can we?

  4. Fuck it. I wanna be a public sector employee. I can’t afford principles anymore.

    1. Yeah, same here. I’m thinking about just closing my business and going on the dole. Might as well just accelerate the collapse.

      1. Sign me up. I want to get paid more than I’m worth, AND have a lifetime pension.

        No, wait… I don’t want that at all. I’d rather keep my soul where it belongs.

        1. the gulch looks better everyday

    2. Ha ha ha. I’d like to see you guys last even a week in the kind of situation we inner city teachers work in every day! Come on! Sign up ASAP!

      1. Yeah, and we see how well that’s working out for inner-city kids, dicktoucher.

      2. You know, I’d like to work ever day for a change. It’s been 2 years since I’ve done so.

        1. Well then you don’t want to be a teacher; they work approximately 190 days a year.

      3. I have seen someone do just that. Then low and behold the teacher’s union got her kicked out for not having racked up enough educational “credits”. She was assured she could make up the credits as she worked. Then the back-stab. They won’t let just anyone move in, people have to pay their dues in the teaching collages don’t ya know.

    3. Worked at a Veteran’s Affairs center one time briefly. With a few exceptions, the only thing I saw employees do vigorously was watch the clock so they could be in their car with the engine starting at 4:30 PM every day. Lots of office, lots of workers. Not sure what most of them were doing. One lady’s sole responsibility seemed to be handing out keys to new employees once a day. I guess the wages and benefits could make the job worth it.

      1. I worked at a government office once. People had to be there only 35 hours a week, and about 1/4 of the workers did about 2/3 of the work. The rest hung by the coffee machine and did crossword puzzles. We got great pay, and a defined-benefit plan.

        Everything you think about the government is true.

        1. A Verizon wireless card and a laptop and government job would probably let me get 2 incomes at the same time, and a pension plan.

          Sign me up.

  5. Wow.

    And to think that *I* was just mad about the constant pleas of Educator Poverty:

  6. Shit like this makes me pray for inflation.

    I think it’s the only way out of some of these insane contracts.

    1. No dice. The public sector unions are smart enough to include COLAs in their contracts.

      1. Jeeze, what the heck is a COLA?

        1. Cost of Living Allowing…annual inflation increase

          1. Allowance or Adjustment I meant

        2. I was trying to sound ironic. In my long and varied working life I have never actually encountered a COLA.

  7. Shit like this makes me pray for inflation.

    I think it’s the only way out of some of these insane contracts.

    1. How would inflation help? These contracts are indexed to inflation, that’s the old cost of living adjustment (COLA).

  8. Here in New Jersey, sane people are far beyond the raging hulk stage, and now merely sulking in a dark drunken depression.

    1. At least you guys have Chris Christie. No one else even wants to acknowledge that there’s a problem.

      1. Thank goodness for him, too. He’s cutting government spending all over, and he’s serious about continuing. He is dedicated to breaking the power of the NJEA and ending double-dipping. I hope his entire plan comes to fruition. Maybe then I can afford to stay here. I actually like it here.

        PS, NJEA member (for reasons I’ve stated elsewhere)! I support Christie and think my union bros need to acknowledge that the free ride is over. It’s not going to hurt to start contributing to medical benefits!

        1. Now, only if we had this in California…

      2. Cristie seems legit, but so far, the ONLY change applicable to CURRENT employees is to pay 1.5% of salary towards there now free healthcare. ALL of the OTHER changes apply ONLY to NEW employees. When he makes these changes applicable to CURRENT employees, THEN he will have REALLY accomplished something.

        1. And yet, as older employees retire, the changes that only affect “new” employees will gradually come to affect all employees. Or would we want to tell someone two months away from retirement that we’re canceling his pension?

  9. Urge to kill rising…

    1. Your comment will soon be reported on MSNBC as breaking news.

      So tell us, what militia do you belong to? When did you start hating black people?

      1. What militia do you belong to?
        When did you start hating black people?

        Spud Patrol, Watertown, New York.

        Define “black.”

        1. He’s talking about their shirts, not their skin color.

  10. Might as well just accelerate the collapse.

    Exactly. Meantime, get while the gettin’s good.

    1. At this point, X, what’s left to do, anyway? Get assraped, go broke and just feel smug about it? Honestly, I don’t know what the answer is anymore…

      1. On a related note, the Christian Science Monitor did a great story last year on the size of America’s underground economy.


        1. Steve, there are no hikers here.

      3. Guns & Dope my friend, guns & dope. RIP RAW.

  11. “Most clearly, the public sector needs to shift to self-financing of its retirement, just like the private sector has done over the past generation”

    I would prefer the public sector simply disapear.

  12. “Some teachers can earn nearly $200,000 a year in pensions and salaries.”

    That may be but you have to keep in mind that we have to take summers off.

    1. And sometimes you have to work late grading papers.

    2. What an outrageously low amount! That’s only $26,000 more than a US Rep makes, which is barely enough to afford two houses in different states.

      1. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather the poverty of our teachers not become an international joke.

        1. I agree. Far better that the poverty of our middle class taxpayers become an international joke.

          1. What middle class? We still have a middle class? How long will it be until it’s composed mainly of public sucktor employees active and retired?

        2. Spanish guy to Algerian: “Two poor teachers walk into a bar ?”

    3. And teach the same material every semester…from a book with all the answers (if we’re too dumb to absorb…).

  13. Think of the children!!!!!!!!

  14. Connecticut’s another state where most government workers are paid a hell of a lot more than their private-sector counterparts, and even with the economic downturn, where taxpayers are either losing jobs outright, or at the very least not getting raises, of COURSE the government workers still had to get their standard five percent annual raise, taxpayers be damned.

    A little town a few miles away from me recently released their next year’s budget, which includes a tax increase of almost seven percent. What really annoyed me isn’t even the nth consecutive year of taxes rising higher than inflation, but that the town council had the nerve to pat itself on the back and praise itself for being so fiscally responsible.

    The one good thing about the state budget crisis is this: I was unable to give up my cigarette habit when I knew it would be good for my health. I couldn’t even kick the habit when I knew it would mean more money in my pocket. But the knowledge that giving up cigarettes (and the taxes attached) would exacerbate the state’s already-enormous budget woes kicked my willpower into high gear,and now, when the urge to smoke strikes me, I find some budget-woes news story and think “Eh heh heh suck it you prodigal bastards.”

    Never underestimate the self-improvement power of spite, people.

    1. Rational health decisions…as revenge…The best of both worlds!

    2. You’ve convinced me. I’m going to take up smoking so I can quit.

      1. I took up smoking the day the ban went into effect in Seattle, just out of rebellious spite. Quitting out of spite might be just the thing to do now.

  15. Is there a law against someone on Social Security working during retirement? Is that double dipping? We do pay a nice chunk into PERS every paycheck, ya know. It’s not handed to us at retirement without us ever paying in. And what about all of us who paid into SSA for years before we got those government jobs? I worked in private sector jobs for over 20 years BEFORE I started my career at a State University. I’ll never see a nickel of all that money that I paid in to SSA! If I were to retire at 60, I could come back and do my current job – on a part time basis – no double dipping just 1.5 dipping, I guess you’d call it. And if I did, the taxpayers would pay a lot less than if they had to pay a new person for my technical expertise and costs of training, etc.
    We’re not broke because of public retirements – that’s a red herring. We’re broke because of publicly funded wars and publicly funded developments and giveaways to sports teams, Condo purchasers, corruption pushers and just general inep money losers.

    1. Is there a law against someone on Social Security working during retirement?

      No, but AFAIK know you pay a stout tax on earnings that you make while pulling SocSec checks.

  16. Private sector unions are organized against and to extract money from the company’s stockholders. Public sector unions, in perfect parallel, are organized against and to extract money from the taxpayer.

    You want to fix your state? Start by learning who AFSCME supports in your local elections, and vote against them every single time.

  17. True double-dipping is when one retires from the US military, and is then employeed by the US government as a civilian, drawing both pension (from military) and salary (from civilian agency).

    Sounds like Gillespie wants to means-test recipients of federal pensions.

    1. Why do you hate the troops?

    2. Wait, what is the difference between a soldier with a military pension working a civilian government job and a civilian government employee pulling a civilian pension and WORKING THE EXACT SAME CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT JOB?

      1. The effing civilian did not spend 287 days underwater and 355 days away from homeport in one year without a dime in overtime, as I did one year. While underway I was on watch, typically 16 hours per day and in port I stood port/starboard duty, which means at the very least I was aboard and working anywhere from an 8 to 24 hour day, every other day. When I did not have the duty, except for Sat/Sun/holidays, I worked an 8 hour day. BTW, I am not retired military. Nine years, after training all on sea-duty, wore me out.

        So, sniviling servants can kiss my salty ass.

        1. Not to mention the fact that there ain’t no days off out at sea. I spent a year on a fast attack boat; patrols were sooo much fun with anywhere from 25 to 50 extra personel from shore installations aboard to collect some extra pay.

  18. I love Hulk levels of anger. It makes it easier to deadlift.

    1. Well, that and the roids.

      1. No, no. Steroids help you to produce anger, yes, but they don’t actually make you stronger. All they do is make your body recover faster, thus allowing you to work harder, you flabby little rentboy.

        1. Damn, somebody’s a little teste today.

        2. I thought he was talking about hemorhoids. 😉

  19. Bring the war. The priv-sec workers way outnumber the pube-sec workers…I think. But even if we didn’t, it’d be like a hot knife through butter.

    1. Reign of Terror, anyone?

      From Wikipedia on the French Revolution; notice any parellels to our current situation?

      “Another cause was France’s near bankruptcy as a result of the many wars fought by Louis XV and in particular the financial strain caused by French participation in the American Revolutionary War. The national debt amounted to almost two billion livres. The social burdens caused by war included the huge war debt, made worse by the monarchy’s military failures and ineptitude, and the lack of social services for war veterans. The inefficient and antiquated financial system was unable to manage the national debt, something which was both caused and exacerbated by the burden of a grossly inequitable system of taxation. Meanwhile the conspicuous consumption of the noble class, especially the court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette at Versailles continued despite the financial burden on the populace. High unemployment and high bread prices caused more money to be spent on food and less in other areas of the economy.

      1. I hope not. The last thing I would want to be associated with is Jacobinism. Besides, unless they were literally attacking us (cops, soldiers, etc.), why use violence against the rank and file?

        Even in brutal countries, the penalty for theft is removing the means of theft (ie, hands). Since thieves in our country use votes instead of hands, a simple lifetime disenfranchisement would be the maximum justifiable penalty, and it has a precedent in the last civil war.

  20. Hulk style anger is people have known this for decades and kept doing it anyway. They’ll never fix it.

  21. Sadly Warty, I almost never get Hulk levels of anger reading shit like this – instead I get depressed and pouty… It’s just no good for my exercise regimen.

    1. Try feministing.

      But the important message from Sunday’s vote and Thursday’s signing is that the Federal Government just made it easier for high school students to get to college, stay there, graduate, stay healthy, and find a more permanent paying job.


    2. What the fuck!?

      It’s already absurdly easy for high school students to get to college and stay there… Some of the people I knew in undergrad were there for 7 f*cking years!

      Christ… You were right Warty. Hulk smash!

  22. You know, I honestly believe the one thing that will enrage people enough to take to the streets is the realization that they will be working their asses off until they die to pay fat pensions to public sector workers who retire in their 40s or 50s.

    That is just gut-check wrong.

  23. You don’t want to make me angry, Ohio. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

  24. Just great… MORE excuses for public-sector monkeys to look down their noses at those of us who work in the private sector *and* get sneered at by union apes.

    My bootleg “Proud to be non-union” bumpersticker may cost me a few knifed tires, after all. We’ll see how many violent Teamsters there really are in my area. Stay tuned.

    1. Fill your tires with poison gas.

      1. Lol–wonderful imagery there! 🙂

      2. To clarify for any LEO types reading this: that was a joke.

  25. But sadly these pensions are contracts and as such should be every bit as enforceable as any other contract you, me, or anyone else chooses to participate in. The posting seemed to indicate these contracts were unjust in some way. While they are clearly in favor of their workers covered what are we to do to change them? As well, were they not agreed to by both parties (meaning the groups of folks representing the workers and the group of elected (and, obviously fiscally derelict) officials who presumably we chose to represent us, the taxpayer? If so, then like any other contract is has a right to be enforced.

    Of course, one way to change them would be for the town or state to declare bankruptcy, but given the Central Government’s intrusion into bankruptcy proceedings to protect “the workers” over other pre-existing contract obligations, I can’t even see bankruptcy as being an effective tool to rewrite these contracts. Not to mention the complete lack of elected representatives willing to make that move. As long as the money pump is turned on and/or they can continue to extract more in tax dollars, there will be no change (in our pockets either…).

    1. Yeah, the contracts should be enforced and bankruptcy isn’t the way out for state and local governments.

      What could happen instead is that state and local government just hire fewer new workers to keep their books balanced. That may not be such a bad thing. It would lead to more outsourcing for services, some competition, and some eyebrow raising about whether or not some services belonged in the public sector at all.

    2. “Of course, one way to change them would be for the town or state to declare bankruptcy, but given the Central Government’s intrusion into bankruptcy proceedings to protect “the workers” over other pre-existing contract obligations, I can’t even see bankruptcy as being an effective tool to rewrite these contracts.”

      Very true. In the few municipalities that have actually gone Chapter 9, the worker pensions have been protected by the court and bankruptcy trustee – it is the private sector creditors who have been screwed.

      There is no real solution to this problem and the damage is already done. My recommendation – be a renter (with a long, long lease)

      1. Be a gulcher with a pair of brass balls

      2. And now this piece from the WSJ:…..ns_opinion

        Basically saying that even when a city had the chance to void the contracts, they didn’t have the balls to do it.

  26. Gone to meet Dagny Taggart in Colorado. Activities planned: self aggrandizement, relentless pursuit of financial self interest, and looking after our own.

    The Wet Nurse need not know where I am. Don’t tell the barbarians; they are coming after YOU now.

    PS Atlas not only shrugged but is ready to throw the whole planet down and say ‘f it’. And rightly so…

  27. It only gets worse… today the LA Times reported that the California Assembly is withholding payroll data | L.A. Times Politics Blog

  28. You know none of this will ever get any better, right? So what is the plan exactly? Complain about it? We are American citizen. Our purpose in life is to get screwed. That is our lot in life – get screwed and die. There something so fundamentally wrong and skewed in this society and it will never get any better. It is worse than sad that the best we can possibly hope for is that things get to the point where it is all finally unsustainable. It is ridiculous that we continue to let this be the way things are. Not that I have a clue what to do about any of it.

  29. Hey Nick, maybe you didn’t get the memo, but there’s a fucking National Teacher Compensation Crisis going on here.

  30. Government workers are bought and paid for. When push comes to shove who do you think they will stand up for. They’ve got theirs. They are well compensated to do the bidding of their masters!

  31. I was talking to my brother who lives in ca about the public employee pension issue and if he is seeing or hearing about a backlash.

    His response was the smart folks are starting to get pissed off but it has yet to become part of the public dialog. He went on to say that school children are picketing to “save their schools” with no mention that this means save the retirement payouts to the teachers.

    We got a few years here in my opinion.


  32. I need to comment on some of the more egregious Orwellian dounble-speak statements made in the WSJ article:

    ?It turns out there really is growing inequality in America. It’s the 45% premium in pay and benefits that government workers receive over the poor saps who create wealth in the private economy.? & ?It’s time to close the biggest pay gap in America.? I’m amazed he can say these things with a straight face when we know that the CEOs of major corporations earn 500 times what their employees make, an unprecedented divide in western industrialized countries.

    ?… windfall to government workers.? Since 1979 the wealth of the top 1/100th of one percent of all earners increased by 384 percent, while the median earner gained only 12 percent in real wages! And yet the effective federal income tax rate for the 400 top taxpayers with the very highest incomes has declined by nearly half over the past two decades–even as their pre-tax incomes have grown five times larger, according to IRS data. Now that’s what I call a windfall!

    ?Nonunion public employees are paid roughly what private workers receive.? Workers who are in unions earn 30 percent more than non-union people doing the same work. To improve the lot of private workers, doesn?t it make sense to encourage union activity? Or, do you prefer that public employees engage in a race to the bottom with private workers?

    1. Typical “diversion” from the issue at hand.

      You are clearly a Civil Servant riding this gravy train.

    2. Of course you ignore the fact that while those CEOs have to create wealth or they will be held accountable by stockholders, public employees don’t create wealth, they consume it, and are accountable to nobody.

      Our political system is based on the consent of the governed, not rule by public employees and their labor unions.

      I’m not sure that public employees should have the right to vote, let alone the right to form labor unions. Political power in the hands of public employees is deeply corrosive to democracy and will invariably lead to rent seeking and sinecures.

    3. You supply some nice examples of classic argument.

      Public workers routinely just lie when facts are presented about huge pensions and high pay.

      Going further, you say “look over there, CEOs are doing something bad.”

      And whine that someone else is wealthy.

      And end with the idiotic contention that the problems are caused by others not being paid more.

      All in all, you said about what people expect from public employees.

  33. What I don’t understand is why current government employees don’t support pension reform for new government employees. It’s the only way they can keep their overly generous benefits and make it look like they want to cooperate with the public they’re looting.

    If someone has worked for 30 years under an agreement, they might expect it to be honored, but that’s no reason to give the same stupid sweetheart deal to the next person the government hires. Switch all new hires to defined contribution plans, like the rest of us schmucks get.

    1. Unfortunately reducing pensions only for NEW employees isn’t sufficient. It needs to be changed (not for PAST), but for FUTURE years of service for CURRENT employees as well.

      If not, we are financially doomed as the saving associated ONLY with changes for NEW employees will not materialize for 20-30 years until these new employees begin to retire …… LONG after we have gone bankrupt.

  34. Change IS coming … for NEW employees in the next year or two, and for CURRENT employees in the 2-3 years thereafter.

    Too bad we likely cannot TAKE BACK the accrual of excessive pension credits for PAST years of service.

  35. non-union employees/employers are being soaked by unions to pay for health care. Collective bargaining agreements with unions of teachers, transportation, Police, Fire Dept are bankrupting every state. We non-union tax payers must organize a revolt but that’s our problem, unlike unions, we have no entity to represent us and stop the thieves masquerading as lawmakers in our state’s capitals and our Nation’s capital.

    1. QUOTING …”….. the thieves masquerading as lawmakers”

      WELL SAID !

  36. Instead of a bonus tax just pass a public pension tax – since I paid these losers salaries they can pay for my tax cut.

  37. I agree about the great (and broke) state of Ohio (native-born Buckeye here), but I’d like to point out a few things. Retirement at 30 years garners you a 60% pension, which ain’t that great. And, if one goes back to do the same job (or any other covered by State Employees Retirement) those later years do not add to the pension after one actually and finally retires, so we’re talking about a larger paycheck for a few years, followed by a smaller pension after actual retirement. Also the double-dipping issue is VERY widespread. Several of my friends retired from the military at 20 years and went on to a second career.

  38. The reason why public schools deliver low test scores, have generous pensions, create high property taxes is with government you don’t have the right not to pay.

    I don’t have the right not to pay property taxes for school services received by someone else’s children. Parents don’t have the right not to pay public schools my money when education quality is low, and costs expensive. There is no incentive at all to deliver good product or control costs.

  39. Right you are Nick. I have several friends who work for gov’t entities and don’t know what all the fuss is about-they work much shorter careers (30 years or less) and get guaranteed pensions and benefits-in some cases with rights of survivorship (you die, your wife gets the money until SHE dies). Many, who have never worked in the private sector are “shocked” by the (by private industry standards generous) salary and benefits I receive. And furthermore, they joke about having to “murder someone in the presence of a manager” to get fired. They work at their own pace, care nothing for profits, goals, gains, efficiency or, God forbid, the waste of taxpayer monies on their activities. Not long ago, a “generations” war was predicted, mostly over SS and Medicare programs-since they are now broke and we are steaming in the entitlement direction full bore, it is clear there will be combat with the government employee “haves” and the rest of us private market employees, the “have note”. And the “haves” are in position to defend themselves with politician support, union contracts, threats of work stoppages and voting/lobbying efforts that are not available to us “have nots”.

    1. Longer lives are also making the public pension problems far worse.

      A public employee may retire at 50, and some at 45, etc. In 1940 he would have lived 25 more years. Inflation had historically been very low and COLA was a virtually unknown concept.

      So after 25 years the fixed pension ended with death. The total cost was not known in advance but it was certain to fall within a known range.

      Today the average public employee will live 35-45 more years, not 25, after retirement. And medical advances seem likely to extend that to 55 or 60 years.

      COLA over that time can rise virtually without limit. And lifetime medical insurance without limits means medical cost projections are also meaningless.

      So we have hundreds of thousands of retirees each year. They join a few million already retired. And there is no limit to what they may receive before death.

      There is also no sane way of making a cost analysis. It cannot be done.

      On that matter I do have experience, The numbers from computers and the reports from actuaries reflect only the numbers the computers are fed and the numbers input and the actuary’s guesses (and hopes) about the world in 2020 and beyond.

      Neither computer or actuary pretend the numbers are facts.

      Try this. Look up some estimates made in 2005 about the 2010 cost of homes in Las Vegaa or Florida by 2010. They will be so high as to seem mad.

      Within only five years virtually every economic projection on Earth has proved worthless.

      To contend that fixing an insane system is hatred of retirees is propaganda.

      FWIW: I am comfortable retired from private industry. Within months I expect my medical insurance cost to leap upward. And trillion dollar deficits will destroy our currency – that has proved true everywhere since before Moses heard God.

      So I am probably screwed…….

  40. Can we please quit call a 20 year vet getting a pension and working a outside the military double dipping. There are no other jobs that require you to lay your life on the line. They have earned this.

    The same goes with calling the VA socialized medicine. Again, they earned it.

  41. All good things in life must come to an end. Other countries have been down this road. The entitlement problem will fix itself, but it will be ugly.…..ic_crisis_(1999?2002)

  42. As a public sector employee myself, I’m a traitor to my class. The unions must be smashed and the taxpayers freed!

  43. These state vampires are guaranteed these benefits by law. However, nothing stops us from passing a clawback tax.

    States should levy a tax on all public pensions that reclaim any funds paid in excess of the median retirement benefit of the state’s private employees.

  44. What are you whining about?

    Soon we’ll all be government employees, and will take full advantage of the associated salary, job security, benefits, pensions, etc.

    Woo-hoo! Gravy train is us!

    Show me one time in history where that arrangement has not succeeded.

  45. “Retirement at 30 years garners you a 60% pension, which ain’t that great”

    Sure beats the zero percent pension offered by the company I work for. I am just hoping my 401k does well enough that I can afford to retire after 50+ years.

    Seriously, how many private sector employees have ANY pension? I’ve gotta think it’s a pretty small percentage. But I’ll keep working and paying taxes well into my 60’s to build my own retirement and . . . . supporting public pensions for people who could retire after 30 years.

    Nope, doesn’t make me bitter at all.

  46. “And even if there were [enough taxpayers/taxes to pay for it], such a system in which public employees have near-absolute job security, better-than-average wages, and massively better retirement and health care just ain’t right.”

    In the hypothetical in which there are enough taxpayers so that public sector pay/benefits/retirement is not a problem or undue burden, why would it be a problem to give those workers that pay/benefits/retirement? Why is it somehow not right for someone to make whatever they can make. Wouldn’t that be like mandating that professional athletes can make no more than $100,000/year, because making more than that just wouldn’t be right?

  47. I am a Massachusetts state employee. My union has had all Cost of living increases frozen since the last one of July 1, 2007. The amount that employees contribute toward their pensions has increased over the years to 9%, plus 1.45% for medicare.
    In my agency, retirees are barred from working more than 17 hours a week.
    The News media love to focus on the states where state employees have the most lavish pay and benefits, especially New York and California.

    1. Matt, having your benefits and hours cut probably seems painful to you.

      But it sounds like MA may be looking at their problems rather than pretending all is well. In 2007 almost every US government entity at any level was still both oblivious and indifferent to economic trends.

      CA and some other states have done almost nothing worthwhile even yet. I have some sympathy for those officials who really try. The laws, guarantees, and division of powers mean almost any reform can be stalled.

      The accounting is so rotten it is hard to even determine what measures might work.

      The plot of Conrad’s novel “Lord Jim” tells us that if the ship really will sink it is better to launnch the lifeboats. If not not.

      So almost always the government agencies and their employees are rewarded for business as usual.

      I.e. Spend more, tax more, and too bad about others.

      That is why any government entity is so loath to trim. Their mindset is that the ship won’t sink. It never has.

      “Course and speed as planned, icebergs needn’t worry us.”

  48. I spent 9 months working for DHHS, before I decided to take a job in corporate America. 12 years later, comparing my wages with an old co-worker who stuck it out, its clear I made a huge mistake. Pay, benefits, and work hours are all better working for the Fed.

  49. But Mauther you still have your soul.

  50. Outrageous. I’m French, and our public-sector workers are among the most pampered in the world. They milk the system in any way imaginable.

    But I must confess that America has outsmarted us here. Our civil servants do not get to do this.

    The United States is getting more socialist than France… and that’s saying something, believe me.

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