Another truth-telling voice, falling on deaf ears

Damon Cline, the business editor of the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle has a nice way with words. This piece about the mess the South Carolina and Georgia public pension systems fund themselves in is deftly worded and highly readable, despite a couple of unnecessary, right-wing digs at public sector employees.

He makes several compelling points here, including one that’s too-often overlooked. It seems unfair that private sector workers, who as a whole enjoy benefits less generous than their public sector peers (and salaries that on average are roughly equivalent) should have to pay to rescue politicians from their own heedless largesse:

No one should begrudge a comfortable retirement to our teachers, highway patrolmen and prison guards, but their windfall shouldn’t come at the expense of private-sector workers who – federal statistics show – earn less, have less job security and are responsible for funding their own retirements through “defined contribution” plans such as 401(k)s.

Unlike the state, the private-sector can’t soak taxpayers or raid the public treasury to make up for their pension managers’ poor stock, bond and real estate investments.

Cline’s claim that private-sector workers earn less than those in the public sector is dubious, but his point remains valid.

Cline also points out an aspect of public pension calculations that should outrage newer, younger members of state workforces:

The perverse part of state retirement plans is that it actually counts on employees leaving the system before getting vested so it can keep their contributions. In Georgia, 47 percent of teachers leave the profession within five years.

Day after day we scan the national, regional, and local press for stories like these. They’re not hard to find. Occasionally a voice like Cline’s surfaces, expressing engtirely appropriate outrage.

But for the most part, the silence is deafening. Colorado is no exception.

Some day we’ll all be sorry.


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