The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
"but government workers emerged essentially unscathed".
Clearly they are not paying their "fair share"...
But what is the distribution of jobs like? Government agencies tend to outsource things like sweeping the floors and mowing the grass to the lowest bidder. What's left tends to be heavy with security workers (high paid), clerks with security clearances (high paid), on-call skilled trades (high paid), and various professionals like accountants, lawyers, and even a few engineers. So yeah, the government worker average is higher than the non-government average.
Mind you, the "retirement" plans need careful attention with a chain saw.
Actually, I lost my job because the state government couldn't find enough tax money because of current lack of stimulated economic activity - sales tax state. So there is an effect, just slower to hit the government workers.
This is an important point. For the most part, the growth of federal payrolls has been relatively restrained, when compared to the orgy that is the state and local level. Why? Because the federal government is under a lot more scrutiny than the state and local governments.
Conservatives need to be paying more attention to matters closer to home.
"Many state, county, and municipal governments are in deep trouble because of the retirement benefits they've promised their workers, and the fact that the money to pay those benefits just doesn't exist. " [emphasis added]
What you are suggesting is that government workers need to provide the taxpayers one last service. Discovering how much government cannot be trusted from the emptiness in their pockets.
i wonder if some high tax states raise the average? here in CO state employees are suffering. we don't benefit at the same level during good times and suffer just as much during bad (lost jobs, wages, etc). at the state level, you couldn't make those claims here.
If some cases, its worse than the article states. In my home state of Oregon, the state courts have held that public employee contracts, including pension commitments, are inviolable. They just flatly cannot be legally broken, ever. Public employee retirement under-funded compared to its promised returns? Doesn't matter; projected returns have to be paid. Moreover, the state cannot legally declare bankruptcy, which removes the final check on impossible benefit plans you'd have in the private sector. In effect, privately employed taxpayers are already serfs for public employees, the term of service just hasn't fully kicked in yet.
We could theoretically, with enough political will, bring in new public employees under separate contracts, but I don't much expect that to happen either. California's likely to go first, but I expect Oregon to be a failed state in the fullest sense down the line. Producers aren't going to stick around and pay 50% combined tax rates for the privilege of supporting and retiring on less money than their time-serving neighbors. So they'll leave, but Oregon's courts will mandate we keep trying to extract enough money to pay every public commitment.
There was a very good point made somewhere about the money you'd need saved up to match the average public servant's retirement benefits. The exact figure depends on the state, but for the more generous states, it works out to several million dollars, I think up to six million, invested for the interest or dividends to equal a government pension. Well, if you're on the way to making and investing several million dollars in your lifetime you're getting into the top tax brackets. And you're definitely running up against the barriers of taxation and regulation keeping you from getting ahead.
That's not what this country used to be about. I shouldn't have to work half the year for the government, and I shouldn't have to play politics or get a government job to get ahead. If the government apologists ever get everything they want, its going to be time for a real burn it to the ground revolution. Real producers and private sector workers aren't going to have anything to lose.
Like I have seen mentioned before about courts going outside their lane: Let them enforce it. Oregon public employee pensions can be ruled inviolable by the courts until the sun comes up, but that only works if those paying the pension contributions decide to honor the court's decision.
Unfortunately, the day is fast coming where that cannot be assumed in these United States.
If you look at what these benefits - especially pensions - are worth, your blood will boil. A teacher retiring at age 65 on 80% pension will take in roughly a million and a half dollars over the course of his retirement. Those of us in the private sector will need on the order of $1.2M cash saved on our retirement day to have the same standard of living.
It's actually worse than this, because the retired teacher will likely have health insurance, which the rest of us would have to fund out of our pockets, so we should really add another $150k to our nest egg.
And it's worse again, because our taxes are dinging us now because of the state and local budget crises. Here in Massachusetts, there's a good chance that someone like me would spend an extra $100k in taxes (state and local) over the next 30 years to pay for this. So our retirement nest egg would have to be nearly a million and a half ($1.2M + $150k + $100k).
And it's even worse, because our savings will be taxed at around 35% (state and federal), at least if you're at an income level that lets you accumulate this sort of cash. So plan on saving $2M (pre-tax).
Oh, and quit your whining - you're clearly one of the "rich", and need to "pay your fair share".
Remember, this only gets you to parity with your local town's teachers. Me, I'm in Internet Security (not a ton of folks who can do this), and am senior enough that I have a staff reporting to me. I won't see $2M. I should habve been a teacher. The Politics of Envy is fixin' to take an interesting turn ...