Skelton's "pension envy"

John Seiler:

It’s a bad Freudian connotation to an fraudulent Freudian doctrine, but here’s what L.A. Times’ Columnist for Tax Raising George “Not Red” Skelton wrote today: “Pressured by politicians and a private sector with pension envy, four public employee unions last week reached agreement with the Schwarzenegger administration on some retirement rollbacks for future hires.”

Get that, my fellow Californians? If you want to keep some of your tax money and not see more of  it wasted on the spiked, Lucullan pensions of government retirees, then you suffer from “pension envy.”

Actually, and I think I speak for most Californians, I don’t care how much they get in pensions — even if it’s $1 million a year each. Just so I don’t have to pay for it!

The retirees are the ones who go their unions to push for pension spiking during 1999-2000, the height of the dot-com boom, when it seemed like stock-market gains would never end. So, they should take the hit when the market crashed.

Instead, because of a ripoff clause in the California Constitution — which increasingly resembles the old Soviet Constitution — all of us are forced to make up for the retired government workers’ losses. Even as our own 401(k)s and other investments crash with the rest of the economy.

Here’s an idea. If Skelton and the L.A. Times like these exorbitant pensions so much, let’s tax them 100% to pay for it. Take all their income and all their property, and give it to CalPERS and CalSTIRS.  As the Marxists say: “Expropriate the expropriators!”

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  1. David
    David 22 June, 2010, 09:59

    “Lucullan?” The average CalPERS pension is $25,212 per year (as of 2009), and 78 percent receive $36,000 per year or less. If you want to rein in the largest recipients, fine — but claiming that all public pensions are lavish and unsustainable is simply a lie.

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  2. John Seiler
    John Seiler 22 June, 2010, 12:28

    David: Your $25,212 figure is based on averaging ALL those getting pensions, even small ones. For example, a friend of mine gets $300 per month — but only worked for five years for the government. That brings the average way down.

    Most government workers retiring under the “3 percent at 50” rule make it big. As Steven Greenhut wrote in his book on the pension crisis, “Plunder!”:

    “So if a police officer starts working at age 20, he can retire at 50 with 90 percent of his final salary until he dies, and then his spouse receives that for the rest of her life. The taxpayer typically makes the complete retirement contribution throughout the officer’s years of work….

    “If he earned a slightly above-average California police salary of $100,000 a year (base, not counting overtime, which is not calculated in the retirement formula), he would receive $90,000 a year until he dies.”

    Plus generous medical benefits. And not just police officers, but many other types of government workers get such benefits. And the state Constitution guarantees the pension payments, regardless of what happens to the investments by CalPERS, CalSTIRS, etc.

    Lucullan, indeed.

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  3. David
    David 22 June, 2010, 13:25

    The problem is that you give the most extreme example, and imply that it obtains systemwide. It doesn’t. For instance, many gov workers don’t begin at age 20. Many plans are far less than 3% at 50. Many do not have health care plans in retirement. But to read this site, you’d think they are all racing their yachts with the head of BP.

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  4. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 22 June, 2010, 17:10

    John, I have met many retirees who worked 20, 25 or 30 years for the state and have pensions of less than $20,000 a year. The average pension benefit given out by CalPERS is only about $25,000 FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS WORKED FOR 20 YEARS. Why is it all you anti-government zealots always forget to mention the second part of that sentence?

    For God sake, please stop with the garbage that because some pensions may be extravagant, all of them are. I say again, if you want to work on excessive benefits among some high ranking government types and safety officers and if you want to stop spiking, let’s talk. But if you want to attack the file clerk at the DMV, forget it.

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  5. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 22 June, 2010, 17:13

    John, I also read another interesting theory: That the business community is not against public pensions because they want to punish state workers, but rather because they want to keep private pension benefits low. I have always wondered what would happen if we tried to improve private sector pensions rather than tear down public ones.

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  6. Tyler
    Tyler 23 June, 2010, 10:42

    Us private sector workers would have much more money to contribute to our 401K’s & IRA’s if we werent constantly forced to pay higher and higher taxes in order to fund the spiked pensions of public employees.

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  7. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 23 June, 2010, 12:19

    Oh, so now all public employee pensions are “spiked”? Apparently, you don’t even know what “spiking” means. And, by the way, I’d like to see spiking eliminated.

    You private sector workers would also have much more money if your employers would put you on defined benefit pension plans, rather than leave you to fend for yourselves with 401(k) crapshoots.

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  8. Tyler
    Tyler 23 June, 2010, 13:07

    Yes I do know what spiking is and I did not say that every pension was spiked, but enough of them are spiked to cause a serious problem with the funding of the pensions system. If it was only 1 or 2 isolated incidents, then it would not be an issue that everyone aknowledges as a problem, but the current system has an abundance of people cashing in years of banked vacation to inflate their retirement wages, people coming down with mysterious back injuries right right before they retire, and people retiring then taking another suspiciously similar position and getting 2 paychecks.

    I dont want a defined pension benefit plan because that makes be dependant on a central fund that can be depleted by the bad decisions or corruption of a few people. I would much rather be in charge of my financial future. I can manage my money all on my own and I know who to blame if something goes wrong.

    Not everyone needs to be taken care of and patted on the head and told everything will be ok. There are plenty of us who are perfectly capable of providing for ourselves. I know that may be a foreign concept to someone in Sacramento, but contrary to what you may believe, the citizens of California do not need the government there to wipe our butts our whole life.

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  9. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 23 June, 2010, 15:51

    “forced to pay higher and higher taxes in order to fund the spiked pensions of public employees….”

    So you’re saying then that non-spiked public employee pensions are OK. Great, Tyler, another area we agree on.

    But you still don’t know what you’re talking about. Spiking is the practice of getting a big promotion just before retirement to “spike” up the amount on which the pension benefit is computed. I think spiking is dead wrong and should be outlawed.

    It’s also easy for you to say that an “abundance” of people do this or that, like double-dipping or faking injuries. But you haven’e an iota of proof that these practices are widespread. Just more right-wing clap-trap.

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  10. Tyler
    Tyler 24 June, 2010, 08:59

    Spiking also includes banking years of vacation pay and using it during your last year of employment in order to inflate your salary for that year since your retirement benefits are calculated as a percentage of your final years pay. Just look at the disproportionate amount of people who mysteriously suffer from the same phantom back injury less than a year before they are supposed to retire, or how many people are cashing in years of banked vacation pay right before they retire, etc.

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