I would like to clarify some points made in the article and the letter to the editor entitled "High on the Hog". The cost of pensions has increased but we should not forget that the state knew about this for many years and did very little until it became a crisis.
Most people don't know that state employees must contribute to this fund along with the state, this is not something that is just given to employees. The pension is a way for the state to defer paying market wages. This saves the state paying its employees more than they would if they didn't have the pension and works as forced savings for the employees.
Let me use my own case as an example. I worked as a Right of Way Agent for Caltrans and before I retired I made about $62,000 per year. I then went to work in the private sector doing exactly the same thing I did for Caltrans for $85,000 per year. I didn't work in the private sector sooner because of the pension. I also took a pay cut when I went to work for the state for the same reason, the pension offset the reduction in pay (not to mention that during the 22 years I worked for the state my salary was reduced three times). It is very difficult to attract good professional employees like engineers or accountants, when the pay is less than they can make in the private sector, without the pension. In order to get good employees and retain them the state will have to either pay them more or keep the pension.
I would finally like to correct the assertion that state retirees make the same amount they did when they were working. I can only speak for myself but my pension is less than half of what I made when I was working. Hardly a windfall.
Doug Williams, McKinleyville
How brave of Joshua Kinch to stand firmly against good paying jobs and pensions sufficient for a decent old age. He's right. We need more low-wage jobs, especially in government. Why shouldn't they be as poorly paid as the rest of us? If the wealthy refuse to pay taxes, the poor will have to pick up the slack. Therefore, instead of all this talk about raising wages, we need to be bringing them down everywhere, except, of course, the holy halls of corporate personhood. Let the CEOs pay the police to chase us from pillar to post as we sink further and further into poverty.
Mary Ella Anderson, Arcata