Nothing quite illustrates the problems we’re facing like this story about police retirement benefits in New York City. Benefits like these are bleeding cities, states, and this country dry. We cannot keep paying people for services they are no longer rendering. I do support pensions for cops, the military, and others who either actually put themselves on the line every day or could be asked to go to war, but even these need to be limited. For example, when you “retire” from the police force at age 44, odds are you’re not going to stay retired for the rest of your life; rather, you’d move on and start another career. I know I’d love to be retired at that age but I think I’d get bored after a while and actually want to get back out into the world and do something.
I don’t want to diminish what these cops are doing. They have a tough job and they deserve something for their years of faithful service but to get that much is absolutely ridiculous since they are no longer providing that service. Pensions should be a supplement, not an actual paycheck. We cannot go on this way. How do you justify paying someone for potentially another 30-40 years after only working 20 or so? It doesn’t make sense and is unsustainable, especially since every dime that cop receives from his pension is taken from taxpayers in the private sector who will probably be working until their in their 60s because they don’t a pension like that? Looking at it another way, who really contributes more here, the cop who patrols the streets for 20 years or the office worker who toils for 40 years to pay for both themselves an the cop? Don’t get me wrong here, we need cops and our tax dollars should go to fund their salaries while they’re cops, but I think it’s wrong to pay them huge sums of money after the fact. They should be able to get something, but it shouldn’t be like an active cops paycheck. Also, what ever happened to saving for your own retirement? That’s what I’m doing. I’m only 23 and have nearly $35,000, half of which is in a Roth IRA, in investment accounts because I take responsibility for my life.
Like I stated above, many private sector employees don’t get pensions like this. They may have something or some sort of retirement benefits like stock options or a 401(k), but most likely it’s nothing close to what public sector employees are getting. If you think about it, this whole pension thing should be reversed, giving those who truly contribute the most the better pensions because of the fact the private sector funds the public sector. Like I’ve said, there are public sector jobs that need to be funded by taxpayers because they provide services to keep our governments running, some of which the private sector cannot provide. However, there are those jobs that are pretty low skill and don’t really involve a lot of schooling or specialized training, like the DMV. Why should someone who works there get huge pensions? Just about anyone can take over and do that job without needing much training or additional knowledge, so why are they getting pay and benefits like those jobs in the private sector that actually involve immense training, skills, and intellect?
The reason is unions and this involves both public and private sector unions. I’ve discussed private sector unions before and public ones are pretty much the same but in some cases, worse I think. Unions demand a lot in terms of pay and benefits for their workers, which is, in theory, a good thing, but it’s bad when they do it to the point the benefits and pay they receive exceed the amount of money being brought in. When it does and companies or governments try to reform it to make their fiscal situation sustainable, they raise hell like most of us have never seen. Even when they know they’re breaking the bank and possibly bringing about a collapse of a business or city government, they still, idiotically, refuse to negotiate despite the fact their intransigence may cost them their jobs. They keep doing this because they know someone will bail them out, something all to evident when the Federal Government bailed out GM and Chrysler, or should I say, the UAW whose demands for more and more money bankrupted these companies, or would have bankrupted the, had they not been bailed out. This bailout will only perpetuate the problem, not stop it, because the unions now know lawmakers, especially Democrats, will bail them out and as a result, the unions keep pumping money into Democratic campaigns (funny, I remember a case where Democrats were bitching about special interest money influencing elections and politicians but they always seem to overlook that unions do the same thing, potentially on a much larger scale).
This brings me to my last point on unions, specially public sector ones. Why are they allowed to unionize? Unions had a purpose once and that was to protect workers who were legitimately being exploited by their employers. That time has now passed though and they no longer serve a purpose. Public sector unions need to be abolished since their workers are being paid by the taxpayer and because there are so many laws in place that they really don’t need any sort of protection. It is virtually impossible to fire a government worker, even if they commit a serious crime, so why in God’s name do they need to have a union? They’re already protected. They already get better benefits and pay than a lot of the private section, so why do their unions thing they deserve more? We cannot keep going on this way. Public section unions need to go. They take, take, take but don’t actually produce anything in return.