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

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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.