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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, June 08, 2006

More on my Deferred Compensation Battle

The post I wrote the other day facetiously comparing pensions and retiree health care to Dick Cheney's deferred compensation--but making a serious point about how public sector employees should not be quite the targets they are--has itself been a target. the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Patrick McIlheran, whose post inspired that compensation rant, graciously defers (get it?) to Dad29 to do the dirty work.

Dad29, on his way to becoming my own stalker, perhaps, tries to show that, compared to others, teachers don't have it so bad in the pay department. Therefore (he implies) I should just shut my trap when conservatives demand we--or other public employees--give up the benefits we have leaglly baragined for. He even throws in the old "all those other folks work 12 months a year" just so you know he's original.

Of course, I never said I wanted more pay. I said, in fact, that people like me have voluntarily chosen less pay in exchange for, essentially, deferred compensation--penisons and health care upon retirement. He also notes, helpfully, that average pay for all workers in Wisconsin shot up 10% between 2002 and 2005--considerably more than teacher pay rose in that time.

Rick Esenberg, in comments to that original post, complains that the burden of pensions and retiree health care is too great and, he says, way better than what your average bear retires on. This means--again, implied--that our benfits need to be trimmed, rather than health care needing to be cheaper or everyone else's retirement needing to be sweeter. (I love it when someone complains about how good I have it. Why, I ask them, are you complaining about mine? Sounds like you should be complaining about yours.)

But not everyone is complaining. Jim McGuigan revises and extends my remarks:
To expand on his argument, there is no 401-K and no profit sharing plan public sector employees can enjoy. The GOP isn’t really too stupid to be able to figure that out, they just don’t have the little guy in mind with any of their policies. That’s why they support tax cuts for the wealthy and don’t bat an eye at multi-million dollar executive compensation packages that are hundreds of times the salary of some of their employees.

Deferred compensation and pensions are ways for companies to meet todays needs while allowing the company the ability to use its capital to grow the business now. Public pension plans are a little different in that if they do especially well with investments, the government entity is not allowed to draw any excess from them to pay for existing expenses.
Thanks, Jim.

And, perhaps most surprising of all, Republican extraordinaire Deb Jordhal steps up for me:
A pension is not a gift from employer to employee; it is part of an employee's overall compensation package, and when employment terminates, the pension belongs to the employee. Any attempt by the legislature to seize that property is not likely hold up in court, especially if it’s done retroactively.
Let's remember that, people, as the demands to wring public employees trying to solve bigger budget mismanagement problems keep coming.

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