There are many, many fallacies in the sometimes explicit but often IMPLICIT reasons given for paying out great government pensions. Here’s my selection for the top ten excuses:
1. “Public employees deserve high pensions because they work for low wages.”
FALSE. Perhaps true at one time, but not any more. In many instances, today’s government employee is earning 10%-30% more than their true private sector counterparts — and with far better job guarantees. BTW, the bogus union salary comparisons usually cherry pick the private sector — including in their “surveys” only the largest and wealthiest private sector employers — along with monopoly public utilities.
2. “Government employees should not have to save for retirement.”
FALSE. They can use IRA (and, for teachers, 403-b) accounts to add to their retirement savings — just like the rest of us. They can invest in stocks, real estate, annuities — just like the rest of us. And they can invest the inheritances they receive — modest or otherwise — rather than spending these windfalls and then relying on their pensions as young government geezers.
3. “Government employees deserve to retire earlier than private sector employees.”
FALSE. Or at least, if they do “need” to retire early, they can get another job to supplement income (as do most military retirees).
4. “Government employees and their families deserve to live and retire comfortably from a single 40 hour a week job.”
FALSE. Today most private sector middle income and upper middle income couples fully expect to generate multiple incomes — usually by some combination of working over 40 hours and working together.
5. “Government workers deserve guarantees because they are ‘public servants’ not motivated by greed.”
FALSE. As a group, public employees are as greedy as they come, and they rely on the force of government to get what they want. The REAL “public servants” are the TAXPAYERS underwriting these opulent compensation packages.
6. “No matter how many or few years a public employee works for government, their only source of retirement income is (and should be) their government pensions.”
FALSE. Indeed, in their comparisons of government pensions, the public labor union propagandists factor in the folks who work as little as 10 years for government.
7. “Many government employees (including most teachers) don’t get social security.”
LARGELY FALSE — or at least misleading. It’s true that many (primarily local) public employees don’t pay into social security while working for government, but most qualify for at least a minimum social security income from other jobs — ten years of even part-time SS income earned over a lifetime.
8. “Without the guaranteed pensions, many government employees would retire in poverty.”
LARGELY FALSE — or at least not the fault of taxpayers. This assertion is based on the bogus assumption that, unlike private sector employees, government employees would (and should) otherwise save nothing for their senior years.
9. “Many government employees should be able to retire with essentially the same income they earned on the job.”
FALSE. This is the “90% pension at 30 years” common in public safety jobs — and for too many other government employees. Indeed, given that a retired employee would no longer pay into their pensions, union dues, Medicare, or have commuting costs, a 90% pension is actually HIGHER than the net salary earned while working. The normal retirement goal in private sector financial planning is 60% of working income — counting all retirement income sources.
10. “We have to pay top pensions to attract ‘the best and the brightest’ to government work.”
FALSE — and a bad idea to start with. We DON’T want to attract “the best and the brightest” to government work. We need such folks in PRODUCTIVE employment in the private sector. All that government pensions do is to assure that government employees STAY as government employees — an easy accomplishment for the workers, as they are all but guaranteed lifetime employment regardless of the quality of their performance.
Government jobs are — with rare exception — in extremely high demand, which is why government so seldom advertises job openings. Exceptionally high applicant demand and low job turnover tells any employer that they are paying too much for their employees. Any employer except government, that is.