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LETTER: Pension tension

Commentary • Apr 21, 2010 at 12:32 AM

Like many Americans, I am concerned about the effect that government pensions are having on the economy. And this is not necessarily a matter of whether or not the pensions are deserved. Far from it. In the case of police and firemen, they should be getting larger pensions than they are already. The question is, can we afford it?

During the same timeframe that pensions have risen dramatically -- and that we have seen double and triple pensions, some of which are more than $100,000 a year and a few of which are over $200,000 -- the global economy has been reducing the ability of the taxpayer to fund pensions at this level.

Since 1972, the year Richard Nixon opened the door to trading relations with Communist China, the American standard of living has been gradually declining. Part of that decline is the reduction of pensions in the private economy. Now, according to Business Week magazine, only 13 percent of people in private business are getting a pension. That means that people who get no pension are paying for the pensions of those who do.

Obviously, this is unsustainable. Of course, we have to keep our obligations to those in government who already receive pensions, even if it must involve IOUs -- but for new hires, pensions should not be a part of their remuneration.

Write or call your local, state and federal representatives now to tell them we can either give out huge pensions to government workers or we can save the American economy, but we can't do both.

Carl R. Goodwin


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