The Boston Globe’s Todd Wallack reports today that investment losses suffered by government pension funds will force even more draconian cuts in local services than had already been anticipated.
Let me speak out of ignorance for a moment. It’s OK, because mainly I’m advocating that we start asking some tough questions. I have no answers.
Haven’t most private-sector businesses and non-profit organizations phased out pensions in favor of 401(k) and 403(b) accounts? Isn’t governmental employment the last redoubt of pensions?
I’m sure there’s nothing we can do about pensions owed to current retirees. But isn’t it time to take a hard look at whether we should keep paying a benefit to public employees that very few of us in the private sector enjoy? Lord knows I want to tear my hair out when I read about a former elected official receiving a big pension. Let them plan for their retirement like everyone else.
Obviously there are some special circumstances that need to be considered. There are good reasons to offer early-retirement incentives to police officers and firefighters, for instance — you don’t want 57-year-olds putting their health at risk every time they go out on a call.
But other than unusual cases like that, it’s time to get serious.