All Government Is Not The Same



In order to clarify a letter to the editor on Feb. 11. We have seen much news coverage concerning government and union benefits, especially over the last two years, at a time when we have seen huge government deficits, huge unemployment and economic malaise all over the country. There seem to be many windfall pension and Cadillac health insurance plans that are out of line with what most of the people in this country receive.

Especially egregious are instances when the employee can retire with an annuity that is a large percent of their salary — such as 60 percent to 80 percent and then get rehired on a contract basis into the job they retired from. Arizona has the problem. California has the problem. New Jersey has the problem — and so do many states I don’t know anything about.

For the record, the Federal Civil Service retirement plan is now, simply: Social Security. There is no matching amount as one might find with a 401(k) in private industry. In addition, the FEHB [health insurance] is the same in retirement as in active employment.

Namely, the employee can choose from around 20 plans, but must pay approximately 45 percent of the premium. So: it’s great insurance, but it’s not free. And, until Obamacare there was no exemption for pre-existing conditions.

Thirdly, by law, the federal retiree cannot be rehired by any federal agency unless they forfeit the full amount of their pension, until it reaches the the amount of the new active employment salary. In almost 100 percent of the cases, this would amount to working for nothing. So once you are “out” in the feds, you are for all practical purposes “out.”

So, let’s not throw all government workers into the same basket. What we have in America with our political interests, our political action committees, our labor unions and our lobbyist powers is a system of special interests. It’s part greed and part protectiveness.

Most of it has to do with: “I want what I have, I want what I want and I don’t care what anyone else wants.” It’s as simple as that. It’s not a Christian ethos. It’s not legislated equality. It’s certainly not socialism. It may not seem fair. There are indeed, poor people on the streets, people with no home, people going hungry and people without health insurance. But life is not fair and we can debate that ad nauseam. Just keep in mind that “government,” while I may have much disdain for it, even after working for it for a long time, is not all the same. It usually does stuff inefficiently and does a lot of stuff you don’t want. It just soaks up a lot of money, that, I’m sure we can agree on.

Stephen Cantrill


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