A New Constellation
Many people look into the sky at night and gaze with amazement at the heavenly display of constellations. On a dark, clear night away from the lights, it is possible to have one’s breath taken away with all the stars in the sky. Add in meteors and comets and there is quite a display above.
In the north, the most recognizable constellation is the Big Dipper with the North Star at the end of the Big Dipper’s “ladle.” Astronomers have recently discovered another constellation almost directly behind the Big Dipper and they have nicknamed these two constellations the “Double Dippers.” It turns out that the skies are not the only place where “Double Dippers” can be found.
The expression “Double Dippers” also refers to people, mostly government and union employees, who are able to retire with two generous pensions as early as age 58. The process is pretty easy.
Anyone can go into the military at age 18 and retire at age 38 (after 20 years) with a full pension that starts immediately at about 50% of base pay. This “retiree” (at age 38) can then again go to work for the government and “retire” again after another 20 years (at age 58.) This new pension might also be at 50% of base pay (much higher 20 years later), but not always. Others have it even better.
It is possible for some non-military government employees (local, state and federal) to do even better than military types who generally aren’t paid overtime. Overtime can be a big deal.
Some policemen and fireman are able to “spike” their pay with a tremendous amount of overtime pay during their “final three” years of employment. In this way, they have been able to double their pay and sometimes retire (as early as age 45) at 1/2 of total pay or 100% of their regular pay.
It also then becomes possible for many policeman and firemen, at 45 years old, to establish another career with the possibility of another pension. Is it a surprise that there may be taxpayers, because they will not get such generous pensions, who will question the fairness of such pension policies?
It is to be expected perhaps that the recipients of such pensions would fight to keep the same retirement system going. Is it also any surprise that those taxpayers, who literally are increasingly looking at the possibility that they will never be able to retire at all, question such a system?
This is not a diatribe against unions in general. People should be able to choose to join a union. People should also have the “right to work” and not join a union. This is a diatribe against union excesses, just like there are some corporate excesses. Greed and “I’m out for me” is everywhere.
This is also about salaried managers, superintendents, supervisors, chiefs and other “contractual” employees who are able to take advantage of a system that increasingly separate people.
The really big problem with the above is how do all these pensions get funded? They all get funded from future contributions using some very unreliable assumptions. There are many risks with this.
The earnings from investments, funds and payroll deductions used to generate this money will not be there as the government lowers interest rates to protect the largest bank’s unwise profit strategies.
There is an opportunity to create a win-win retirement system that works for everyone, a “you and me world,” with no one left out. Such an opportunity would require that people work together.
The question is: are we willing to work together to establish such a system? That is my request to you.