Letter - Where is outrage over Wall Street?A recent letter writer [Echo, January 12] is concerned that government employees enjoy lavish pensions at taxpayer expense.
To the editor:
A recent letter writer [Echo, January 12] is concerned that government employees enjoy lavish pensions at taxpayer expense. As budget problems continue to bedevil government at all levels, people are looking for scapegoats – and government worker bees have become those scapegoats.
The average salary for state, county, and municipal employees across the country is $40,000. Their average pension is $19,000 to 20,000. These are the people Newt Gingrich has called “the privileged class.” Mind boggling coming from someone who really is privileged. The wealthy, who control the media and the message, have succeeded in turning middle class Americans against their middle class brethren.
How quickly we have forgotten! The basis for the monetary shortfall in pension plans, both public and private, is because investment bankers on Wall Street created an economic disaster. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, for example, the largest public pension fund in the country, lost 31 percent of its total assets (from $260.6 billion to $179.2 billion) between October 2007 and December 2008. This was not the fault of the government pensioners – there wasn’t suddenly a big increase in the size of employee pensions. It was because the country’s investment system collapsed, taking everything with it.
And yet we seem to hear very little blame placed on Wall Street regarding government budget shortfalls. This year the top five investment banks on Wall Street handed out $15.9 billion in bonuses – to the very people who created the crash. Where is the outrage about that?
Finally, there seems to be a misunderstanding as to how government pensions are financed. Government employees contribute a percentage of their pay to their pension plans just like private sector employees do. And since 1986 federal employees have had only the Federal Thrift Savings Plan, a 401k-pension equivalent.