Government Spending

Yet Still Even More on The Coming War Between Public and Private Sector Workers…Chap MCMXIII


From Aaron Proctor's Twitter feed comes news of a blood-rage-inducing-and-perfectly-legal-ripoffsky of taxpayers in Ben Franklin's hometown:

Camille Cates Barnett will get nearly $50,000 annually from the city pension fund for the rest of her life after June 30, when she leaves her post as Philadelphia's managing director after two years, five months, and 24 days.

On the same day that a City Council committee moved to close the loophole that allows short-time employees such as Barnett to buy credit in the city's pension fund based on public service elsewhere, the Board of Pensions and Retirement revealed that Barnett had done just that.

Barnett has paid $122,303 to become vested in the pension plan, according to the Mayor's Office and the Pension Board, a privilege unionized employees are entitled to only after serving five years.

She had already made some payments toward the buy-in this year, and paid the balance of $106,564 on April 15.

Whole story here.

As noted above, this loophole—which only applied to non-union-represented workers, by the way—has been closed. But you gotta wonder how many other similar scams are built into Philly's and other cities' pensions and benefits plans. My wild guesstimate: a lot.

Reason on the war between public and private sector workforces.

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  1. A 41% annual return on investment?

    It’s amazing to me that anyone believes government economic control is beneficial. Sure, the private sector screws up, but not even GM would put this in a contract.

    Maybe Chrysler….

    1. It’s not uncommon for companies hiring an outside CEO to grant them pension credits like this, except the CEO doesn’t have to pay for those credits. I’ve seen 20-30+ years of credit given for a CEO that ends up staying a year or two and then “retiring”.

      For rank and file peons in the private sector, I would agree with you.

      1. There is a world of difference between what a private company agrees to and what the government agrees to. If the private company goes bankrupt, that former CEO will find themselves without that pension benefit. If the government goes bankrupt, there will be a lot more consequences than some government employees going without their pension benefits…

  2. You want to find out the range of public pension scams out there? A neighbor, in the Montgomery Country Parks dept, went to one of those ‘Preparing for Retirement’ seminars given by the Country HR department. The nice HR person laid out all the various tricks and twists available to someone 10 or 5 years from retirement. He found out how, with minimal effort and planning, how he could increase his retirement benefits by nearly 30%.

    You think the shlubs driving the snowplows or the patrol officers find these out through the grapevine. They’ve got HR professionals and union lawyers showing them these.

  3. $122k for an annuity which pays $50k/yr for life; where do I sign?

    How old is this person?

    1. I’m betting he/she is under 50.

      Momma Drax is pushing 60, and will be working until she is dead.

      You’ve got to love this horrendous shit.

  4. Existing pension benefits cannot be taken away from an employee.

    Oh yeah? We’ll see about that…

    1. Sad but true. Vested pension benefits are the property of the employee, and cannot be “taken” without “just compensation”. Meaning, they can’t be taken at all, since you would have to pay the value of the benefits to take the benefits.

      1. Let the politicians who made the promises make the payments out of their own pockets.

        1. Sounds like just compensation to me, in every sense of the phrase.

      2. “Vested pension benefits are the property of the employee”

        In the coming apocalypse, the only property rights that will have any meaning will be those which are defended by the brass that encases gunpowder and lead.

        Paper property will be absolutely worthless.

        In the interim: Homeschool your children, and purchase [even more] ammunition.

      3. But since my Social Security benefits are not vested, they can be changed at any time. I’m glad I have a 401(k).

        1. So am I. It looks nice.

          1. Until the real Nancy Pelosi comes along and nationalizes your 401K. And that is a lot more likely than taking away over-lavish pensions from gummint workers.

      4. Yes–but there is a way around it. You can tax income at different rates depending upon its source. Look at how capital gains are taxed versus “earned income.” Beyond the median income of the taxpayer all government pensions above that should have a tax of 99% levied against them. We’re not taking it away from you, we’re just taxing it.

        The proponents of statism have often trotted out that “taxes are the price of civilization.” Well, pubic servants (misspelling intentional) welcome to civilization. Pay up sucker.

        1. Yes, I like this idea. Since spreading the wealth around is now the morally superior thing to do let’s spread it from the privileged government class back to the rest of us. we still outnumber them. For now.

          1. Are you sure we still outnumber them? Please don’t quote me on this, but I seem to recall that, if you include contractors along with gov’t workers, you get alarmingly close to 50%. It’s been awhile, though, since I’ve thought of it. Anyone have good numbers as to what percentage of the workforce ultimately is being paid by gov’t at all lebels?

            1. lebels = levels

              Big fingers. Small brain.
              What “Law” did I break? RC’s?

        2. Wasn’t this basically their approach to the outrage over Wall Street bonus. Let’s steal their petards and get to hoisting.

      5. Vested pension benefits are the property of the employee,

        I could see the amount paid in being the property of the employee, but the returns on top of that might be a matter of conjecture.

  5. Sounds logical to me. I mean it does make sense.


    1. there is nothing you won’t agree with you silly little proto-skynet

  6. I’m glad I have a 401(k).

    For now.

    For now.

    1. Wasn’t it floated recently by some liberal Congresswoman that 401Ks and 403Bs should be “converted to” annuities? “Converted to” in this case means “confiscated and replaced with”

      1. Exactly. The government needs and wants money and they want to take the assets in your retirement accounts and give you a shiny IOU in return. Just like they did with Social Security. But I’m sure it will be different this time–yeah…right.

        1. Exactly what happened in Argentina, with the added measure of converting all dollars to pesos. See Fernando Ferfal Aguirre, Surviving the Economic Collapse.

  7. The next Civil War, Public vs. Private
    Lock & Load

  8. The private sector is inferior to the public sector, so the obvious solution is to make everything public sector property.

    1. Workin’ on it!

      1. gotta break some eggs to get there, though

        1. As long as none of them end up me though.


        2. Only the white eggs.

        3. Only zionist and crusader eggs!

  9. There is one way around these “guaranteed” benefits that I can see, and that is “breach of agency”.

    When politicians sit down across from gov’t employee reps to negotiate contracts, they have a positive obligation to the taxpayers to represent their client’s (the taxpayers) best interests. Part of the obligation is to inform their client (the taxpayers) of all aspects of the negotiated contract. Failure to do so is called “breach of agency” and leads to an invalidation of the contract.

    Since all of these pension time-bombs were purposefully hidden from the taxpayers by both sides of the contract negotiation, I can see a judge declaring these “unbreakable” contracts null and void because the taxpayers were in no way fully informed of their obligations under the contract.

    It would be interesting to see politicians try to claim they fully informed the taxpayers of the burdens these contracts contained…

    So remember: “Breach of Agency”. Your new best friend.

    1. Interesting theory, but I wonder if it really has a chance in hell in any court… after all, the judges are all counting on those public employee pensions too.

      1. A jury trial would help immensely. The hard part is to get it to court at all… like you say, most judges would probably be more concerned with their pensions than justice.

  10. Locally, those individuals that our local government hires to serve as unemployment hearing officers are scheduled to be laid off for a certain part of the year (depending on specific hours worked per week during the year, it could be up to 4 months of layoff). The hearing officers, when they’re interviewed and before they’re hired, are informed of this process and told that they’ll just collect unemployment until the next calendar year starts. Must be nice to have a 2 – 4 month paid vacation at the end of each year…

    I know it’s OT, but it’s just another example of government waste.


    Holy crap. If she’s in her 50’s, I’ll eat my hat.

  12. Barnett has paid $122,303 to become vested in the pension plan, according to the Mayor’s Office and the Pension Board, a privilege unionized employees are entitled to only after serving five years.

    So she got the pension after working 2 1/2 years — which is insane — but it’s standard operating procedure for unionized workers to get a fully vested pension after FIVE YEARS!?!?! Holy crap…

  13. In my state, the Republican governer and legislature approved changes to how the public employees could buy time. The unstated goal was to get the high-paid long term employees to retire early, saving the State some labor costs.

    At that time, the pension fund was funded at 103%. You could buy a year of credit for 14% of your salary.

    Just about everyone bought all the time they could; several took out 2nd mortgages. And many retired several years early. State’s labor costs dropped quite a bit, although the pension fund took a huge hit.

    Then the economy tanked; and the fund is at 68%.

    retirees still get a 3.5% COLA every year. Current employees have taken “temporary” pay cuts. You can still buy service credit, but it is based on actuarial tables, and varies with age, to a maximum of 5 years.
    It’s still possible to retire at 50 at 75% of your base salary, if you worked 25 years and bought 5 years.

  14. That sort of insanity is what needs to stop.
    A good first step would be to repeal Executive Order 10988, which guarantees Federal workers the right to join a union and participate in collective bargaining.

    1. Agreed. That does appear to be a root cause of this insanity. Nobody who works for the taxpayers should be allowed to go on strike against us.

      One more thing: nobody on the public dime–except maybe those doing backbreaking physical labor–should be allowed to retire at age 50; it should be changed to reflect the minimum age at which someone can collect Social Security.

      As I’ve said before, anyone who’s working on the public dime should be required to work very, very hard for a very, very long time. If it takes cutting the bureaucracy in half to achieve those aims, then bring it on.

  15. Great comments… who knew angry voters could be so darned funny?
    RE: Coming “war” between private and public sector workers. Folks, let’s not forget that a vast federal constitutency is owed pensions now and into the future, namely retired military. The feds can monetize their debts, granted, but still this may impact political calculations to come also. Gonna be fun watching all the entitled public sector folks argue with each other over who gets what, when the gravy train ends. We private sector (wage slave) types have to get our fun when and where we can….

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