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Saturday, June 11, 2011

The gravy train arrives early

Government employees usually get to collect benefits from their employers' retirement plans long before the rest of us do. Some of them get to knock off at age 50, if they've been on the public pad long enough. One of the obvious steps to get the government pension plans back on the road to solvency would be to make the workers wait until they're 65 to start collecting their benefits. Andrew Cuomo's pushing for such a change, at least prospectively, in New York, and it would be refreshing to see Oregon politicians make serious moves in the same direction.

About as refreshing as a cold day in hell -- and about as likely.

Comments (20)

Cold day in Hell or the Willamette to freeze over, but isn't that the same?

I know of a couple of situations where folks can get full retirement at 55 with 30 years of service. Federal firefighters (and there area lot of them, not just in the Forest Service; almost any GS q1811 classification (think FBI DEA agents.

There area bunch of folks who can retire at age 48 with full pension benefits and 30 years of service with Uncle Sam, too. Enlisted uniformed Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force.

Some of those folks go to Arlington to earn a miserly benefit for their kids until the kids turn 18. I suppose we can save money but reducing those, too., and their kids get a miserly benefit until age 18. We could probably cut tha, too. After all, kids can work at 16.

Before one goes painting with an overly broad brush about perceived "retirement abuses", one really needs to look at all the possible scenarios.

I doubt there is any one on this blog who would do - or has done - any of those jobs for 30 years, including me.

I do, though, know several folks not on this blog who are doing jobs like that. Several E-9 types who "..take the Queen's shilling and do the Queen's work..." in dirty nasty places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, etc. These folks don't make policy. They just do the work.

Its work most American's won't do for any wage. Most of us are too selfish and comfortable in our armchairs, spouting off here our perfect solutions to all sorts of problems without lifting a finger or taking any personal risk.

All of us should once in awhile reread Kipling. "Tommy".

It makes a lot of sense that a defined benefit plan would not start paying out until an established retirement age - 65+ at this point - and/or upon disability/death. But an early retiree should be able to access his/her defined contribution money at any time, with typical early withdrawal penalties, vesting requirements, etc.

Another thing to be reconsidered is the guaranteed rate of return on either type of account.

Hey, Kitz actually kinda sorta said no the OEA, so maybe he's waking up also. Might happen.

Too bad, if they could just tweak the system so it makes it harder to collect money from the govt, they might not need big radical changes, but the longer they wait to make change the harder they'll be.

Let's get real - mostly this retire-at-50 gravy train concept you're throwing out, like a raw steak into a pack of dogs, actually applies to people who've spent years risking and ruining their lives one way or another. You're asking us to imagine how sweet it must be to get tons of free taxpayer money starting at age fifty, and yes, that sounds like too sweet a deal. Darn those darn unions! But equally sweet is spending your entire adult life in relative safety and stability, instead of being shot at and moved around constantly.

All of us should once in awhile reread Kipling. "Tommy".

(Reread Kipling-in Portland??((whose Kipling?))-you've got to be kidding!)

Or, per Afghanistan/NW tribal areas, reread his Arithmetic on the Frontier. Excerpt:

Three hundred pounds per annum spent
On making brain and body meeter
For all the murderous intent
Comprised in "villanous saltpetre!"
And after -- ask the Yusufzaies
What comes of all our 'ologies.

A scrimmage in a Border Station --
A canter down some dark defile --
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail --
The Crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride,
Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

Whoops-that should be who is Kipling not whose Kipling.


Well it's "Tommy this" and "Tommy that" and "Tommy how's your soul?"

But it's "thin red line of heroes" when the drums begin to roll...


That said, I don't think Andrew Cuomo, latent Republican he's turning out to be, doesn't have to worry about military retirement expense.

So - hats off to him.

Guilty as charged. I retired, at age 55, from local government after 31 years with the Public Welfare Dept., now known as the Dept. of Human Services etc. I was a caseworker for about half that time, then a supervisor. It was very often unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous, work. The pay was enough to keep me (us) housed and fed, but not much more, especially with a family. I stayed because I believed in what I was doing and, ultimately, because my employer told me I could retire after 30 years. That was the state-promoted employment package that I agreed to in 1979.

Look, you don't want people working in public welfare for 40+ years (or in police work, or child protective services etc.). It's a burnout profession. Also, getting people to retire at the top of their pay scale has got to save money, as it opens up positions for the young at entry-level salaries.

This is a difficult discussion. Money is scarce, and the economy just doesn't seem to be getting better. Life is tough for *just about* everyone these days. When I accepted a state job in '79, no one was in my face screaming about the bloated public retirement system. Times were good in those days, for a lot more people than they are now. Maybe we need to concentrate on restoring our ailing economy, rather than attacking government retirees.

In Oregon the only people who can retire early at age 50 are cops and firefighters. These are physically demanding jobs that get more difficult to perform well as you get older. It is has been the accepted practice, and a wise one, to let these folks retire early at age 50. You also failed to mention that early retirement is at reduced benefits.

About 7 or 8 years ago the Sunday Oregonian did a story about a husband and wife team of Portland school teachers who retired in their early 50s after 30 years of service with a combined pension of $100,000 per year. There was a picture of them next to their Arizona swimming pool. It's more than just cops and firefighters who can retire early with generous pensions, it seems.

Listen, I work for the state, leaving soon.(by choice) No, I did not work but for a few years. Do not tell me about all of the poor selfless Oregonians (public employees) putting their life and limb on the line. Some of these middle management types simply fit in to the senseless system and are a part of the mind numbing BS for three decades. Yeah folks, you deserve to retire living off the few who actually work and create for a living in this state. Soon, your golden goose will be exposed for what it is. The funds are as illusory as your self valuation. Soon you will wish, dear public servants, that you would have been sensible with what you expected.

In Oregon the only people who can retire early at age 50 are cops and firefighters.

Here are some Oregon PERS rules:


With 30 years of service, you get to retire at full benefits at any age. If you start straight out of college, when you're 21, you get to retire at 51, from any job, not just cops and fire.

And at age 50, cops and firefighters mostly have desk jobs. If they don't, they should be entitled to work one -- but not retirement with benefits.

Burned out? I worked a job in which I became quite proficient and efficient. When I ran screaming out of there after 28 years, completely burned out, the company hired three! people to replace me. There is burn-out everywhere. That is a reality in the private sector, and (I suppose) in the public sector.

"With 30 years of service, you get to retire at full benefits at any age. If you start straight out of college, when you're 21, you get to retire at 51, from any job, not just cops and fire."

According to your link, Jack, that's not accurate for anyone other than police and fire, and even for them, reduced benefits if they retire before 55. For everyone else, the minimum age is 55 at reduced benefits, 58 for full benefits. This applies to Tier 1 and 2, and not to more recent hires. Just saying . . .

I guess I don't understand what this means, then:

Maybe you folks have your own language. Which would only make us love you more.

"And at age 50, cops and firefighters mostly have desk jobs." This just isn't the case. There are legions of age 50+ cops and firefighters - working the streets, doing the same job the 20 and 30-somethings are doing.

Well, then, offer them desk jobs. But don't just start handing them money at age 50.

The arguments that police, fire, etc. are dangerous, difficult, demanding jobs wears thin for all those with jobs that statistics show are equal or more so.

Disregarding statistics, I have too many family, friends, and clients who have worked police, fire, etc and demonstrates that they aren't so difficult.. A family member in police retired (full disability) at 36 with a partial loss of hearing in one ear from his barking K9 dog. He rides horses most days and enjoys the good life. He could have held down many police details. I've had several clients in fire; holding down second jobs, building houses, remodeling on the side, and they joke how it really is around the firehouse.

But I qualify my remarks because they are there, like 9/11, and it is appreciated.

For those hired January, 2004 and later, the rules have changed significantly. There are later retirement dates, and I'm not sure if the 30 years employment still results in full retirement benefits.

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