It is a fact that misery loves company and when the accountants, carpenters, clerks, plumbers, reporters, salesmen, and secretaries and many other professions in the private sector read the Yellow Journalism in Don Thompson’s Associated Press [AP] piece, Public retirement ages come under greater scrutiny, many of these people in the private sector will say, “It isn’t fair. If we have to work longer and suffer, so do they.”
In fact, that is already happening. Due to pressure from the private sector, this has led to: “Earlier in New Jersey, part of a legislative deal struck between Democrats and Republicans raised the normal retirement age from 62 to 65,” AP’s Thompson wrote.
In addition, “An initiative circulating for California’s 2012 state ballot seeks to increase the minimum retirement age to 65 for public employees and teachers and to 58 for sworn public safety officers.” [California's teachers may retire at 55 now but those that retire early also will earn about 30% of gross pay and most will have to go without medical coverage.].
I know where the money comes from that funds CalSTRS. Part of it was from the monthly contribution from my paycheck for thirty years and when I retired, the taxpayer money that was used to pay me as a teacher stopped.
Moreover, I was a public school teacher in California for thirty years but I do not qualify for Social Security. I also retired without medical benefits because I was unwilling to pay $1,400 a month for COBRA insurance until I qualified for Medicare.
“The Teacher Pension Blues” tells the story AP’s Don Thompson did not!
On the other hand, when given a choice, many private sector employees do not save toward retirement other than Social Security. Many do not put money into 401k plans or pay into tax deductable IRAs. Many that own homes take out equity loans to finance vacations, purchase new cars, pay off credit card debts, or to have money to go on spending sprees.
The result is that the average family in America cannot afford to retire as early as many public employees that paid into employer-based defined benefit pensions.
For example, total U.S. consumer debt was $2.43 trillion as of May 2011. Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt: $15,799. Average total debt in 2009 (including credit cards, mortgage, home equity, student loans and more) for U.S. households with credit card debt: $54,000. Source: Credit Card.com
As for me, instead of paying into Social Security while I taught, I paid 8% of my gross monthly pay for thirty years into CalSTRS, and the school district where I taught contributed a matching amount of about 8%.
To force public educators in California to work more years may cost more than it will save.
When I retired, the school district stopped paying me and saved the tax payers money since most teachers that retire after teaching 30 years or more are replaced by younger teachers that are paid much less.
Keeping older, higher paid teachers longer will only cost the taxpayer more in the long run since those same teachers that are working longer will end up with a larger monthly pension check since the longer a teacher spends in the classroom, the larger the pension. [Note: Part 1 explains how this works.]
In fact, I know three teachers that worked more than 42 years in the classroom and all three retired with a raise, while my annual retirement is about half of what it was the last year I taught.
Continued on December 19, 2011 in Part 5 or return to The Private-Sector, Jealousy-Misery Media Factor – Part 3.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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