A recent commentary by former Congressional candidate, Dave Stockdale, has been published by the Santa Maria Times discussing public pensions in Santa Barbara county (it can be found here). Due to a recent SB county civil grand jury inquiry which divulged 2009 salaries and benefits to public employees (which can be found here: http://www.sbcgj.org/2011/CompensationSurvey.pdf), a lot of revealing information has come to the fold. On average, not only are salaries slightly higher in the public sector than in the private sector, but when factoring in pensions the comparison is completely thrown in favor of public employees. Many of these pensions would be equivalent to a 1-3 million dollar 401 K plan in the private sector, which is completely unattainable for most middle class employees even if they work for 40-50 years and hold10 percent of their paychecks for retirement.
It’s time these dinosaurs of pensions go extinct. It’s a relic of the past and is financially unsustainable for our economy. I’m sure it was great for those public employees who got in while they could and retired early. But nowadays people have to be realistic and take the initiative to plan for their own retirements. I’m all for personal responsibility and taking care of your own retirement via a 401K, personal investments, ect. (I’m young so I’m not going to add social security into my plans because it will be bankrupt before I retire).
Salaries are just a portion of the equation, and benefits such as health care and pensions can’t be ignored. It’s a lot easier for politicians to entice employees with better pensions down the line because they will be long gone from the office before the day of reckoning comes. Thus, a moral hazard is created between this incestuous politician / union relationship. When the public realizes it can always vote for the politician that offers them the most goodies from the public treasury, a democracy will soon collapse. One of the many reasons why our Founders loathed democracies.