Thursday, November 7, 2013

Kentuckians: Take a Cue from Cincinnati and Don't Let the Thieves Loot Our Pensions

Like the public school "reform" that is really a scam to divert tax dollars into the pockets of charter-school con-artists, public pension "reform" is nothing but state-sanctioned theft.

Charlie Pierce:

And in Cincinnati, a bastion of hard-bar Republicanism in Ohio, a really remarkable thing happened.
Cincinnati voters overwhelmingly rejected Issue 4, a major overhaul of the city's troubled pension system, in Tuesday's election. The vote was 78 percent against and 22 percent for. Peter McLinden, Cincinnati-area Regional Director at AFSCME Ohio Council 8,  released this statement: "Today's vote will be heard beyond Cincinnati and sends a message for those on the ideological extremes who think it is ok to impose their agenda on an entire city. Had this passed, outside money and political extremists would have cost Cincinnati taxpayers more money, with less services. ...  That said we all are dedicated to working together moving forward to fix the pension system in a way that is in the best interest of Cincinnati public employees and taxpayers."
This was a raid, plain and simple. These pensions are not retirement plans. They are deferred compensation. They are money that workers are owed because they and their unions were willing to compromise on salaries in exchange for moe money after the workers retired. This is the kind of thing that has been going on all over the country for quite some time under the guise of "unfunded liabilities," which, in most cases, are "unfunded" because the people who were supposed to fund these plans reneged over decades to do so. (It is also a scam beloved of new brotastic centrist Governor Chris Christie, among others.) It is generally sold by the grifters promoting it as a rank appeal to worker jealousy. (That garbageman has a pension and you don't? No fair! And everybody forgets to ask why private-sector workers don't have pensions any more.) As such, it has worked extremely well. It certainly should have sold itself in Cincinnati. Instead, mirabile dictu, the voters saw through the charade and shredded it at the polls.
This was an assault on money owed to city workers, money that got itself squandered by, among other people, the vulpine bastards on Wall Street. The vote in Cincinnati was a carefully selected test case for ripping off workers for the benefit of large financial services institutions. THat it failed was one reason to cheer last night. The next time someone tells you the Tea Party is a vehicle of protest for ordinary Joes and Janes, feel free to laugh in that person's face.
State workers in Kentucky have accepted shitty pay, shitty working conditions and shitty treatment - not to mention the elimination of our legally-required annual raises since 2002 - for decades on the promise of a living pension if we dedicated ourselves to public service for 40 years.

Five percent of our gross pay got skimmed off the top, supposedly for our pensions, only to be stolen by gutless state legislators to pay for essential services they refused to raise taxes to cover. 
That's our money. Our just compensation for performing the public service that keeps the Commonwealth of Kentucky operating as a modern, civilized society.

That private employers fucked over their employees by cancelling similar pension plans is not the fault of public employees. That we have pensions and others don't is a reason to demand that private pensions be restored, not a reason to eliminate public pensions.

At 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, Kentuckians who support state workers and the modern state that we make possible will rally on the steps of the Capitol to demand our statutorially-required annual raises. Join us. Supporting public employees supports all of us.

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