A recent Internet missive from the LA Police Protective League argues as have other public employee unions that the nation’s ballooning elderly population are on “a path to poverty” because private employers are getting rid of defined benefit pension plans.
Citing a recent Reuters story, the PPL says: “From 1998 to 2010, the percentage of Americans over 60 receiving income from a defined benefit pension fell from 52 to 43 percent; in the private sector, the decline was more dramatic, falling to just 15 percent in 2010. The trend is continuing with major corporations such as General Motors and Ford announcing plans to terminate pension plans for hundreds of thousands of retirees.”
Sounding a lot like your average bleeding-heart liberal, not usually regarded cops’ BFF, the police union declared:
We are saddened but not surprised by a new study by the National Institute on Retirement Security. It found poverty rates nine times greater in 2010 in households without defined benefit pension income. Pensions resulted in 4.7 million fewer poor or ‘near poor’ families and 1.2 million fewer families on various forms of public assistance.
Pension plans, like those offered to Los Angeles City employees, provide reliable, stable monthly income that retirees cannot outlive. In stark contrast, a defined contribution 401k retirement plan provides no established monthly pension, and there is nothing to fall back on when the savings account is depleted.
Common sense suggests the country is headed in the wrong direction if policies and practices are pushing more and more Americans down a path to poverty. The time is now for careful analysis and sound decision-making by government and private sector officials before millions more Americans are put at risk of living a life in retirement that no one wants to contemplate.
No one with a shred of human decency could rationally argue against what the PPL Board of Directors is saying.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if all of us were getting 90 percent of our highest salary and were able to retire at 50 and often go back to work under the DROP program at full salary with our pensions accumulating in a fund with interest that we could claim at the end of the five-year period — a jackpot that often reaches or surpasses a million dollars.
So many of us in the private sector who worked for decades but are getting no pensions or pensions so paltry pensions that don’t even cover Medicare supplemental insurance premiums realize today the error of our ways in not becoming a cop or at least a fat-cat bureaucrat drawing 75 percent of their highest pay along with lifetime premium health insurance for ourselves and our spouses.
What a wonderful world, indeed!
Surely, we would be ingrates not to appreciate the heartfelt concern the PPL is showing to those of us so much less fortunate but turning the clock back 10 or 20 or 30 years and giving every worker in America the same deal they got just isn’t going to happen.
Even once powerful unions like the United Auto Workers are facing the cruel reality that nearly everyone in the private sector has faced: Your job or your pension?
It’s a choice that has not been thrown in the face of public employees who are virtually the only workers left who have defined benefit pension plans.
Instead, taxpayers are still on the hook for billions of dollars in unfunded pension costs for public employees and the reforms that have been carried are totally inadequate to put cities, counties or state government back on a sound financial footing.
Instead, library hours and park services along with most services have been slashed. Rates, fees and penalties increased spectacularly. Roads, bridges, railroad tracks and other infrastructure allowed to deteriorate — all because the cost of pensions and benefits of public employees are making such a huge dent in government budgets.
Now, we are facing demands to raise taxes on everything even as we indulge in fantasies of $100 billion bullet trains to nowhere and a $1 billion per mile subway to the sea to spur even more high-rise development in the gridlocked Westside and beach communities.
The only services that are sacrosanct from cuts are the police and to a lesser degree firefighters. Prisons are being emptied, felons let off with a slap on the wrist because there aren’t enough judges or prosecutors or jail cells for them.
The PPL should be taken at its word: “The time is now for careful analysis and sound decision-making by government . . . ”
So instead of sending out email blasts with hand-wringing for the soaring poverty rate among retired private sector workers, the PPL should be helping elect officials who would work with them to carefully analyze and arrive at sound decisions that stop bleeding taxpayers for more and more money while finding a way to strike the right balance of reforms so that cops never face that moment of truth when the issue is their job or their pension.