our view

March 3rd, 2011 |

Sucking the pension plan teat


A pension plan is a type of retirement plan, usually tax exempt, wherein an employer makes contributions toward a pool of funds set aside for an employee's future benefit. The money is then invested on the employee's behalf, allowing the employee to receive benefits upon retirement.

For teachers, firefighters, snow plow operators, school bus drivers and thousands more, that plan is known as Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System (IPERS).

Benefiting from one's own personal money that is invested in these plans is one thing, but contributing tax dollars toward anyone's retirement is no longer feasible. When governors and school superintendents who re-enter the workforce are paid pensions from previous positions along with current compensation, all on the taxpayer dollar, that is wrong. When public employees rack up intentional overtime in their final year of employment to increase their pension payouts in retirement, that's wrong. And when managers knowingly turn blind eyes to these shenanigans, that's wrong. When you work, you should get paid. When you don't work, you shouldn't get paid. It's that simple.

We cannot understand how any entity — public or private — could justify paying people who no longer contribute to the organization's efforts. The premise of it just doesn't make sense, as it only passes a financial burden to future generations that must continue to pay for the livelihood of these retired people. That's where we are today, and it's only going to get worse.

If those in the private sector choose to offer this benefit, that's fine. But don't expect the taxpayers to provide a bailout. But for public entities to continue to participate in pension payouts is grossly irresponsible.

If we were on the receiving side of this freebie, we may feel differently. Maybe. Hopefully we would be able to look beyond our personal benefit and realize how this is impacting others who will not receive raises or may lose jobs. The bottom line is that someone has to pay for these pensions, and that someone is all of us who pay taxes.

So for those who are continuing to suck on the pension plan teat, enjoy the milk while the rest of us continue to feed the cow. CV