The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


July 11, 2013

Pension 'reform'

Although Fred Keller beat me in the 2010 election, I bear him no ill will. However, I heartily disagree with his conclusion about what should be done with the state pension system. While he is focused on getting state employees to accept the same retirement uncertainty that many in the private sector must now endure, I think this is a regrettable race to the bottom, combined with classic "nyah, nyah" playground politics -- "If I can't have it, neither can you!"

Furthermore, call it what you will, blame who you will, but at the bottom Fred is suggesting that we break a contract with our state workers, many of whom have devoted their entire working lives to the state. Yes, it was foolish for state legislators to expect 7.5 percent returns on investment every year, but what started the pension "crisis" was the unwillingness of past legislators to fund Pennsylvania's state pensions at the agreed upon level. Although Fred says that "it is the equivalent of adding passengers to the Titanic to keep it from sinking," a more accurate analogy would be what actually happened on the Titanic -- when you don't fund enough lifeboats, a lot of people drown!

I don't see an easy fix, and don't envy Fred and the other (well-paid, fully insured, defined-benefit-pension-receiving) legislators their task, but the suggestion that the second- and third-class passengers should be happy to build their own life boats seems to be either heartless or crazy. Maybe both.

Trey Casimir, Lewisburg

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