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Pensions Still Running High



Regarding a pair of letters ("Pension Tension," Sept. 4) recently challenging my comments on government pensions ("High on the Hog," Aug. 28).

Mary Ella Anderson's main argument appears to be that two wrongs make a right, and doesn't go much beyond.

Doug Williams appears to be much more reasonable. However, I am forced to disagree with several of his arguments.

He claims that big pensions are necessary to compensate for low wages compared to the private sector. At one time this may have been true, however, no more, and government work is actually higher paid than nongovernment work. Additionally, he neglects to reference the fact that job security is much greater in government work than private sector work.

His claim that employees contribute obscures the fact that their contribution is minimal compared to the benefit amount. The real problem is that these pensions are "unfunded mandates", (typical of government), where the benefit is promised while the actual funding is left to some future time, and is in no way assured. Lately, it has come from cuts in services.

Another claim he makes is that retirees do not receive the same amount that they made while working. Thanks to the Internet, I found that five states pay the same amount as the employee got while working, while 20 others pay somewhat less. His $31,000 is being received now, likely because he only worked at Caltrans for 22 years. While it is not a "windfall," it is pretty nice to get a pension while still working. All this in addition, of course, to Social Security.

My last thought concerns the call I received, upon my letter being published, from a prominent local law enforcement officer, who stated, quite clearly, that my letter was right on.

P.S. Would have been nice of your reporter to ask Mr. Richmond, former HSU chief, what percentage of his $350,000 per year he gets in retirement.

Joshua Kinch, Eureka

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