Thursday, April 01, 2010

The most affordable benefits are no benefits at all

Wall Street Journal:

The rise in public-sector benefits has attracted the ire of citizens like Paul Nelson, a semi-retired investor in Upper Saddle River, N.J. Mr. Nelson, 59 years old, has a son at Northern Highlands Regional High School, where the principal says the school may have to cut teachers and increase class size. "Most public employees have retirement and health-care plans that private-sector employees can only dream of," says Mr. Nelson.

This is true insofar as "having retirement and health-care plans" implies anticipating future needs and, in fact, meeting them. Admittedly, this costs money -- just like any benefit plan which delivers "benefits" to participants, rather than reneging under one pretense or another.

Perhaps private-sector employees "can only dream of" knowing, more or less, where they will stand when they retire -- or, as recent history would have it, whether they will retire at all. But that is hardly a standard worth emulating.

5 comments:

Ethan said...

I've always found this kind of attitude strange--if you notice that someone else has a slightly greater protection from poverty than you, surely you should work to extend those protections to yourself and others rather than to strip those protections away from those who have them.

If I were less tired I would have phrased that more elegantly.

Ellan1913 said...

But in the meantime --

I suspect Mr. Nelson is comparing the relative incomes of those who are receiving benefits (public employees) and of those who are expected to pay for those benefits (average taxpayers) and implying that this "labor" aristocracy is becoming a burden on the average worker.

Public employees are specially situated. What other group of employees has the power to vote management out of office? What other group of employees negotiates wages and benefits with a bunch of "kick the can down the road" doormats?

To recommend to private sector workers that they take a lesson from public sector workers is not simply to give unrealistic advice -- it's to patronize them.

JRB said...

Ellan1913,

It's nice to get your perspective.

I'd agree, under your set of assumptions, as things stand, that what you say makes sense.

Personally, I don't accept those assumptions; I think they deserved to be changed so that people can get care when they need it, or even retire when they planned to!

Naturally, this kind of scenario presupposes other changes which would help make it a more realistic possibility for everyone.

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