Eyes on the Bucks
Yes, there are most definitely arguments to be made for the practices, and truth be told, I’ve grown to be bring a mountain of skepticism to media accounts of income related to high-level government positions, but every now and then — especially in the current political and economic climate — it’s difficult not to suspect that the folks at the top have no concept of what dollar amounts mean to the rest of us:
The move allowed [Michael P. Lewis] to more than triple his state pension, from $23,000 to $72,578 a year, according to state records. Last month, Lewis, 46, received the first of the Massachusetts pension checks that he will receive until he dies. As with other turnpike retirees, the state will also pay 80 percent of his health insurance for life.
Lewis also landed on his feet with a new job. He began working last month in his new position as Rhode Island’s transportation secretary, earning $130,000 a year.
First, let’s be honest: money given to a 46-year-old man who goes on to a well-remunerated position of responsibility isn’t “retirement” money; it’s a lifetime severance payment. To call it the former is deceptive and insulting to those of us who expect never to have the opportunity to retire.
Second, politicians (particularly Governor Carcieri) ought to be very sensitive, just now, to the significance of these dollar amounts to constituents. If my salary were to become $72,578 per year, it would be a life-changing development for me and for my family. The cynicism sparked by the realization that such amounts are handed out as the money that such folks as Mr. Lewis receive upon ceasing their jobs cannot be otherwise than detrimental to the body politic.