Woe Is the Early Retiree

Steve Peoples’s story, which Marc mentioned earlier, of the likely mass retirement of public workers wishing to retain the current healthcare deal for retirees emanates cognitive dissonance. How are readers expected to react to this:

Sheila Ellis waited for nearly an hour inside the stuffy reception area of the state retirement office yesterday afternoon. And she would have waited longer, given what was at stake.
At just 45 years old, Ellis must decide whether to retire from the state job she has held since high school, or risk losing substantial health-care coverage for the rest of her life.
It’s a decision she wanted to talk over with a retirement counselor.
“I’m young enough, it would be nice to work,” said Ellis, who has worked with developmentally disabled adults for the last 28 years.
But really, her mind was already made up. State lawmakers this week pushed Ellis and probably thousands more state employees into retirement.

So Ms. Ellis will either spend the next forty years or so pursuing other interests, or she’ll find another job and increase her pay and security. Are we supposed to feel an emotional twinge at that? I can’t be alone in my reaction to the thoughts of another state employee:

Like Ellis, longtime state worker Deborah DiPietro doesn’t have to think too hard to decide what to do. The 52-year-old taxpayer service specialist already crunched the numbers with a retirement counselor.
“I actually love my job. I love the people I work with. It’s to the point where I got people saying, ‘You can’t leave,”” said DiPietro, who has spent the last 34 years working for state government. “But when I do the numbers, I have to leave. That’s not a good way to feel.”

Well, apparently Ms. DiPietro doesn’t love her job enough to keep doing it for remuneration that’s a little more in keeping with the deals that the rest of us working stiffs get.

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15 years ago

I heard a state worker on the Dipetro show this morning who claims that state workers do not get paid healthcare upon retirement, rather a percentage starting at 50% then additional percentages for each year of service after 20 and cannot collect their pension until age 60.
Given the fact that most people in the private sector are reluctant to offer their compensation, health care and retirement packages for scrutiny unless it reflects poorly on public sector employees, and knowing just how misinformed the general public is concerning my own public employee compensation I’ll keep my emotional twinges in neutral.
I probably should tune out of the talk radio, Projo Editorial and blogosphere until the economy picks up again and all of the private sector folks start making more than the public employees.

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