Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Public-Union Albatross

In yesterday's WSJ, Philip K. Howard writes that public-union pension abuses are so common that they're taken for granted.  Some examples:

1.  "Spiking" union pensions with excess overtime in the last year of employment.
 
2. Until recently, over 90% of Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) workers retired with a disability—even those who worked desk jobs—adding about $36,000 to their annual pensions. The cost to New York taxpayers over the past decade was $300 million.  As one investigator put it, fraud of this kind "became a culture of sorts among the LIRR workers, who took to gathering in doctor's waiting rooms bragging to each [other] about their disabilities while simultaneously talking about their golf game." How could almost every employee think fraud was the right thing to do? 

3. That kind of "disability abuse" is not just happening in New York - in California, 82% of senior state troopers are "disabled" in their last year before retirement. 

Howard's solution?  "America must bulldoze the current system and start over. Only then can we balance budgets and restore competence, dignity and purpose to public service."

18 Comments:

At 11/10/2011 7:09 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 11/10/2011 7:10 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Yet at the same time, bulldozing it with overzealous legislation is not the way to do it. Natural attrition where the yes vote is protected as vigorously as the no vote is protected (which RTW and the 2011 "budget concern" laws fail at) is a more neutral way to handle the situation.


That said, why attack them and nobody else that has a perceived-to-be-oversized benefit package? What makes their criminal actions less clean versus those of their opponents? That said, how much fraud is done by union-hostile or non-union entities versus union-side fraud? If you want to talk about fraud, don't use it solely as a battering ram against unions.

 
At 11/10/2011 7:16 PM, Blogger Robert Kafarski said...

Hell Yeah ! Start up that CATerpillar!

 
At 11/10/2011 7:30 PM, Blogger Markoni said...

If the public at large were aware of these abuses (especially during difficult economic times, as now), they would DEMAND the bulldozing of these programs. As it is, the union-friendly big media does their part to NOT report these widespread thefts from the public coffers. And why attack them (public sector unions), as opposed to the private sector? Because I'M PAYING THESE OBSCENE PENSIONS AND BENEFITS, by force of law (80% of my state/local taxes go to public employee salaries, benefits, and pensions--typical blue state). If the public knew, not just how they were being fleeced, how their elected "reprentatives" work behind their backs to spend their tax money for the good of the unions, rather than for the public...well let's just say these politicians would probably have their own positions "bulldozed".

 
At 11/10/2011 7:59 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


Markoni said...


Yet at the same time the people willing to attack unions will not include politicians' pay (such as the now-dead Ohio SB5).

A direct attack on unions is not going to make things any better. It will only change things to favor a small subset of taxpayers instead of the unions. An across-the-board measure that exempts nobody is a better measure. You get your unions while asking everyone to step up to the table. That might not be trendy or satisfying, but it does the job properly.

 
At 11/10/2011 8:08 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Pension?--remember the Granddaddy of all pensions: For our uniformed federal employees.

Who else can retire after 20 years of service? And get full pension and complete medical?

That is Fat City baby--a million dollar pension, plus the medical.

Odd, the lard-central of pension systems never gets an airing in right-wing echo chambers. Why is that?

 
At 11/10/2011 8:29 PM, Blogger bob wright said...

"Until recently, over 90% of Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) workers retired with a disability—even those who worked desk jobs—adding about $36,000 to their annual pensions."

This is criminal. Those who participated in and facilitated this fraud should be prosecuted and put in jail.

The union presidents and board members who oversee these pensions should also be prosecuted for fraud.

 
At 11/10/2011 8:59 PM, Blogger aorod said...

The current system is beyond reformation. Bulldoze it. Start with the public schools.

 
At 11/10/2011 11:51 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

If you want to bulldoze it all, include the unionbusters as well. They represent the inhibition of freedom.

 
At 11/11/2011 12:30 AM, Blogger LoneSnark said...

Quite right. No need for union busters after we have bulldozed the unions.

 
At 11/11/2011 2:34 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Who else can retire after 20 years of service? And get full pension and complete medical?"...

Gee pseudo benny do you ever feel stupid for posting your inane and factless comments?

Did you ever consider doing some homework first?

"Odd, the lard-central of pension systems never gets an airing in right-wing echo chambers. Why is that?"...

It isn't the least bit odd since its a given YOU will post a thoroughly stupid comment...

 
At 11/11/2011 3:20 AM, Blogger J H Schumacher said...

How come Bunny never joined the military to make these millions he claims they did. I spent 8 years active in the 1970s-80s. Made agrand total of $77,000. Give me the remaining $923,000 Bunny!

I remember me and my "roommates" laughing hysterically of a Saturday Night Live clip showing serviceman cleaning, painting, waxing, etc with the end caption "It's not a job, it's $410 a month". We laughed. I'll bet Bunny was laughing at us who swore to protect him

 
At 11/11/2011 8:17 AM, Blogger dctim said...

Corruption at every level of economic life is the issue. The financial market is supposed to allocate risks and reward well run businesses with capital; instead it created "financial product," insurance contracts to protect the wealth of the wealthiest and suck the profits from business. Little wonder that the "little guy" adopted the "put one over" attitude. Trickle down morality.

 
At 11/11/2011 9:18 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"The financial market is supposed to allocate risks and reward well run businesses with capital; instead it created "financial product," insurance contracts to protect the wealth of the wealthiest and suck the profits from business"...

Oh man! Incredibly silly! Is that you pseudo benny using a cover name?

 
At 11/11/2011 9:47 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Benji,

"Odd, the lard-central of pension systems never gets an airing in right-wing echo chambers. Why is that?"

Odd, your boyfriend and his socialist allies wage ferocious battles on behalf of the parasites guilty of the type of abuses listed in this post. Yet you have nothing to say, preferring to yet again change the subject. Why is that?

 
At 11/11/2011 9:50 AM, Blogger juandos said...

It just gets better and better...

From the Washington Examiner:

If you're a parent who accepts Medicaid payments from the State of Michigan to help support your mentally-disabled adult children, you qualify as a state employee for the purposes of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). They can now claim and receive a portion of your Medicaid in the form of union dues...

 
At 11/12/2011 4:23 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

juandos said...

I'm not sure that there's anything good that the SEIU has done. They've become the other extreme.

 
At 11/13/2011 6:30 PM, Blogger vdavisson said...

I think Juandos' comment was sarcastic.

 

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