By Murray Sabrin
Editorial writers and good government types are foaming at the mouth because both Republicans and Democrats are collecting pensions while they are working in new government positions. Who would have guessed that members of the political elite would rip off (legally, of course) taxpayers?
Over the years, editorial writers have endorsed big government candidates from both major political parties because the political hustlers expressed “compassion” (financed with taxpayers’ money, of course) for the poor, elderly, et.al. In other words, they epitomize “phony” philanthropy. And how have the welfare statists repaid taxpayers? By engaging in a legal but cheesy practice—retiring from one government job and collecting a paycheck from another.
The solution is simple: end pensions and health benefits for all elected officials. This would end double dipping once-and-for all. During this transition, public officials would have to fund their own pensions and health care needs out of their own incomes. This “reform” would work as follows. Salaries of all state, county and local government official would be increased (or not) to account for all the benefits the state, county and local governments now pay.
In the future, if a person retires from say being a local police chief and then is elected county sheriff, there would be no double dipping because he would be using his savings from his first job plus the income from his new job to pay for living expenses. In short, no more double dipping for elected officials in New Jersey.
There is absolutely no reason retirement income and medical benefits should be tied to employment. Every adult should take responsibility for his or her life. That means planning for all stages of life including retirement. However, in our collectivist, welfare state culture, the most disingenuous words are: “I’m from the government and I am here to help you.” Or, “I work for the government and I really care about taxpayers.”
The reason state and local governments have a collective $3.5 trillion underfunded pension and health care liability is because politicians have not been funding the retirement plans and promised health care benefits of workers. In short, politicians from both political parties have been–to put it mildly–poor stewards of taxpayers’ money.
The evidence is overwhelming. Politicians cannot be trusted with the people’s money. We need to downsize, not reform, all levels of government. The welfare state, redistribution of income chickens are coming home to roost. The worst of the ongoing financial crisis is yet to come.
Murray Sabrin is professor of finance at Ramapo College and blogs at www.MurraySabrin.com