Who Is Talking About Fairness
I’m beginning to wonder whether all of the stories are like this or whether there’s some other reason so many of the people who step forward to be faces of the pension crisis seem unlikely to evoke sympathy. Here’s one from the hearing at which Central Falls Receiver Robert Flanders asked public-sector pensioners to agree to a cut in their benefits:
Michael Long, a retired police sergeant who said he suffered a neck injury when he was run over during a shooting, got a big round of applause and later a standing ovation when he asked Flanders, “Where is the fairness?”
Long, now a practicing lawyer, said that the retirees are being asked to surrender up to $20,000 of their pensions that are in the $35,000 to $40,000 range. Bankruptcy, he suggested, might be a better option.
“We will take our chances,” he said.
Well might Long take the risk of bankruptcy, considering that he’s got another income as a lawyer. According to this posting Long was on the force for just eleven years, and as reported in the New York Times, he’s 54 and lives in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
A reasonable guess would be that Long has already collected his pension for about twenty years, perhaps twice the number of years that he worked as a police officer. Justifiably, he used the resources offered to build a new career as a lawyer (and moved or remained outside of the punitive state from which his pension is drawn). So where’s the fairness for the Rhode Islander who cannot find work and has no tax-free disability pension to support a change of occupation? Where’s the fairness for those who expect never to be able to retire at all thanks to the government albatross dangling from the economy’s neck?
Where’s the fairness in the country’s largest corporation paying no taxes? Where’s the fairness in the country’s wealthiest citizens still enjoying huge tax cuts as the country fights two wars while trying to recover from the Bush depression?
Phil, listing of a few liberal shibboleths does not advance the conversation. What do your points have to do with the pension system? If your complaints are about the political system, I think you are on the wrong track. Civil servants have advanced mightily.
Since talk of police pensions is frequently intertwined with “danger and hazard”, it might be enlightening to compare police pensions with military pensions.
When talk of taxing fairly is brought up Warrington objects. Why is that? Who should be made to help out in dire economic times? Wall Street traders? Huge corporations? Wealthy individuals? Why is it cops, firefighters, and teachers that are the ones targeted?
Lets tax the rich to:
Fix the pension system.
Fix the federal deficit.
Fix the state deficit.
Fix social security.
Reduce local property taxes.
Pay for the wars.
Pay for welfare.
Pay for medicaid.
Extend unemployment to in perpetuity.
Ah yes, progressive utopia. Sorry if I missed anything Phil but I’m sure you can add to the list.
Jeez, it’s not like he got run over during a shooting or anything, screw him, freaking lawyers have all the money anyway.
“When talk of taxing fairly is brought up Warrington objects.”
Phil, can you provide a reason why “soak the rich” is “fair”? I think it is simply a case of “we like it”, “let someone else pay”. It is hard to construct an economic argument that taxing “wealthy corporations” is not simply a hidden tax on consumers. Do you really imagine that the “wealthy corporations” are not going to simply pass it on?
I have often wondered why “liberals” are so adamant about “separation of church and state”. Can you imagine if the Ten Commandments became law? “Thou shall not covet they neighbors goods” would destroy the Democratic Party.
“Across all race and ethnic groups, the wealth gap between rich and poor widened. The share of wealth held by the top 10 percent of U.S. households increased from 49 percent in 2005 to 56 percent in 2009.”
I’m not necessarily an advocate of soaking the rich, but they are getting richer.
I’m sorry, Michael. I didn’t realize that disability pensions were intended as lifetime rewards for public-sector workers injured on the job, but understood them instead, to be an assurance to people entering dangerous lines of work that they wouldn’t wind up destitute should on-the-job injuries leave them unable to provide for themselves.
What price reward for a life of pain while doing another job is the right price, anyway?
Make no mistake, when confronted with a life and death situation the knowledge that the people are behind you cannot be overstated. In split second decision making there is no time for doubt.
Justin, For every one Michael Long on a disability pension there are dozens of guys on a regular pension. Put their time in and retired. They deserve their pension. The city wasn’t run in the ground by them or for them. It takes far more people to elect someone than just the backing of a police or fire union. Most guys in CF are getting under 20k a year pension. As we’re seeing now on a national level, we don’t have a revenue (tax) problem we have a spending problem. Forget about soaking the rich or taxing the middle class how about cutting back on the money spent on entitlements. I spent part of my day looking for two missing girls, they left the house when the clearly able bodied mom was on the phone with SSi. We knew the kids weren’t with the baby-daddy because he’s currently costing us about 40k a year to be warehoused at the ACI. We checked the cat-piss infested neighbors apartment thinking they could have been playing with the kids who someone live in that dump(called DCYF 3 times previous still no action). While checking the apartment one of the occupants can home excited because the welfare office was a short walk from his front door. This is one house on one street in one city in our small state, Now multiply that by several million. This is where your tax dollars are going people!!! At some point we need to start investing this money in people who contribute to society, ie, police, fire, teachers, etc. instead of giving it to people who only breed and contribute more bodies to feed and house. Do we avoid this conversation for fear of being labeling insensitive? Uncaring? Worse yet racist (all parties in the above story… Read more »
I don’t know. I’m working despite the physical pain that my job causes me. Are you going to send me my reward? I’d be happy with a portion of my salary while I took the steps to procure another job.
I’d be happier, still, to see Rhode Island stop all of the old habits that are strangling its economy (including taxes and the us [gov.] versus them [taxpayer] policy making, as with pensions) so that I could reorder my career on my own.
As for the compensation that a lawyer hurt on the job two decades ago after one decade as a policeman, I’d ask you to go first, but I suspect we’d learn that no amount could ever be enough. Me, I’d point out that, if Long winds up collecting for 40 years, even $10,000 per year would be $400,000 (tax free, remember). And I’d wager there’s free (or inexpensive) healthcare in the mix, too.
Okay, I get it now, it’s the what about me argument. I expected better. And if he died, would the next thing taken away be the pension his wife received, who now, after raising her kids is back in the workforce? I already know the answer, and quite frankly, it makes me sick.
Sierra1 brings up a valid argument, we see just how sick our citizenry has become, and the lengths our government goes to to keep it that way. Pensions for cops and firefighters are not crippling this country, nor are they overburdening our taxpayers. I should just walk away from this argument, but for the life of me I cannot get past the self-righteous attitudes expressed concerning a pension system that could have worked. That educated people get themselves so wrapped up in the unfairness of it all, while society is collapsing around them is just too much to ignore.
You clearly don’t get it. I’m not making the “what about me” argument except as a natural consequence of those who are introducing notions of “fairness.” What’s the distinction between a public-sector employee hurt on the job and a carpenter?
Mr. Long is to be commended for moving on with his life and finding a career with which he could support his family, rather than wallowing in sorrow on his government handout. But I don’t see why his claim of “fairness” trumps anybody else’s.
And you’re just plain wrong about pensions. The pension problem is Rhode Island is of a crippling magnitude, and the entire approach to public sector labor in this state has been crippling it for years.
Moreover, the pension system could never have worked, because the promises made were far too expensive for politicians to actually put the money aside. Moreover, they could never have accurately accounted for the exponential growth of government and the ever-climbing longevity of recipients.
Posted by michael
“I’m not necessarily an advocate of soaking the rich, but they are getting richer.”
How old is the expression “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”? There is no law preventing the poor from becoming rich, it happens all the time. Actually, it is more likely to happen if you are born into the “lower middle class”, than actually “poor”. But, those “poor” are essentially tax exempt.
If, this coming Monday, we divided all of the money in this country up equally, by Thursday, there would be rich and poor.
Is anyone distressed by the fact that the majority of “the rich” are women. Simply because they live longer? Should we begin a “life span” tax, with “early termination” credits?
“Pensions for cops and firefighters are not crippling this country, nor are they overburdening our taxpayers.”
Actually, they are. 50 cents out of every dollar the City of Providence takes in goes to current retirees. Learn the facts, Michael.
“I don’t know. I’m working despite the physical pain that my job causes me. Are you going to send me my reward”
Who owes you a reward? You are self-employed or work for a private contractor. If you get hurt at work you collect from workers comp. We don’t pay into workers comp, when we get hurt in the course of our employment our employer pays us.
“they could never have accurately accounted for the exponential growth of government” I think they could have, but its that growth that proves my point-too may entitlements.
That is not a fact Dan, unless you have some inside information. It’s something like 12%, research if you want.
Justin, we have been doing this little dance for years. You lump firefighters and police in with the rest of the public employees when it suits your argument, hoping to coax some sort of anti-public sector union besides police and firefighters sentiments from me. They can fight their own battles, I speak and write for myself, and if the public safety employees agree with me, great, if not, that’s great too.
I just read an e-mail, supposedly substantiated with fact from a bunch of links provided describing in detail our 383 Billion dollar yearly expenditures for illegal immigrants, categorized with food stamps, education, incarceration and so on. That doesn’t include the rest of the public assistance money spent on legal citizens. I am completely immersed in that world five days a week. These people do nothing, contribute nothing, risk nothing and wouldn’t bother with Anchor Rising if their lives depended on it. The money is there, it is being wasted.
” I am completely immersed in that world five days a week. These people do nothing, contribute nothing, risk nothing and wouldn’t bother with Anchor Rising if their lives depended on it. The money is there, it is being wasted”
Well put as usual Michael.
You clearly don’t get it. I’m not making the “what about me” argument except as a natural consequence of those who are introducing notions of “fairness.” What’s the distinction between a public-sector employee hurt on the job and a carpenter? ]]]]
Actually Justin, we’ve been talking about police and fire…not simply public-sector employees. Mr. Long was reportedly run over during a shooting. Many FF’s are hurt inside burning buildings which are an extremely dangerous atmosphere. These police officers and firemen need to know that their families will not lose everything, or all their opportunities, because he/she was injured on duty while risking their life.
[[[[ Make no mistake, when confronted with a life and death situation the knowledge that the people are behind you cannot be overstated. In split second decision making there is no time for doubt. ]]]]
Michael is 100% right with the above statement. If police and fire personell don’t have the confidence that there are more coming behind them they will certainly be less likely to willingly put their lives on the line. This reduces everyone’s public safety.
Also, as stated ealier by sierra1, there are so many wasteful entitlement programs that should be cut or slashed first. Why is it that police, fire and teachers are the first ones attacked by conservatives? Is it that you know that the liberals would never allow you to take from the welfare grabbers and illegals, but you can make them angry at us because of our pay and benefits?
And my point was that Mr. Long, as a lawyer, does not appear on the verge of losing “everything, or all their opportunities.” Let’s assume for argument that he’s doing very, very well; why should the struggling city of Central Falls continue to supplement his high income?
As for the rest, I don’t believe I’ve ever been shy about stating the need to cut and reform entitlements. My doing that, however, doesn’t send you into survival mode, so you don’t notice as much.
“For every one Michael Long on a disability pension there are dozens of guys on a regular pension.” – Sierra That’s actually completely inaccurate according to the statistics. You shouldn’t guess or exaggerate about numbers that are directly verifiable. Even if you didn’t literally mean a ratio of 1:24 or 1:36, it took me all of 3 minutes of online research to determine that the actual percentage is 36% disability pensions in Central Falls, a little more than double the generally accepted number that it “should” be for dangerous professions like fire, police. And remember, that includes office clerks and teachers and the like as well, so the number for the police and fire departments is probably much higher. In Providence, most fire department pensions are disability pensions (over 50%). Again, directly verifiable, and please don’t try to justify that number – it’s prima facie evidence of mass fraud and any insurance company would treat it as such. Paying a working attorney a disability pension is the complete opposite of what disability pensions were supposed to accomplish. No amount of sympathy for the individual can dignify such waste. It’s not supposed to be a settlement or a windfall to go start a second career. As an aside, anyone interested in why so many police officers get a law degree, often subsidized by the taxpayer, look in the CBA under automatic pay raises. Most law classes, I can assure you, are totally irrelevant to anything a police officer would ever need for the job. Interesting that the best argument the three public union members here can come up with is, “But look at all the illegals and welfare queens.” We’re not disagreeing, but again, it’s irrelevant to the topic. Of course there is waste there, but that gives us even *more*… Read more »
You say 50%, I say 12% the article you linked to says 18%. So, I’m more right than you are, but we’re both wrong. And we must be reading different comment threads concerning arguments for our pensions, or you simply refuse to let our words sink in.
Michael – Did you account for medical payments and other benefits to retirees? The 50% number (and thus my statement) is accurate, and yes, it’s totally crippling and unsustainable.
The title of this post is very appropriate, “Who is talking about fairness”. Certainly not you!
You & yours are very willing to take away 1/2 of a person’s pensions at the drop of a hat. A person who earned it…or was injured on the job. And spare me the “now a practicing lawyer crap, we both know that means nothing regarding our knowledge of his income as an attorney.
You might very well not approve of entitlements (and I’m absolutely sure you don’t) and although I really only comment on labor issues here, I browse the subjects and the titles of posts. I’ll bet that if I were to bring up every one of your posts over the last 3 months I’ll find endless posts on the evils of unions and labor and teachers etc. I’ll also bet that I’d be hard-pressed to find more tha 1 or 2 posts regarding entitlements…that’s my point!!! We’re easy targets right now to attack.
FYI, if I were in “survival mode” I wouldn’t be reading Anchor Rising. I’m very familiar with “survival mode”.
It’s 50% of the amount of the local tax levy, which totals to significantly less than 50% of “of every dollar the City of Providence takes in”, because Providence receives huge amounts in state subsidies.
Dan, the condescending tone you regularly employ is hardly ever appropriate, but it’s especially grating when you use it in conjunction with basic factual errors like this.
Andrew – My statement was accurate, you’re just quibbling over semantics. Why don’t you jump all over Michael and Sierra for the flat out wrong info they posted in this thread? Nor do you ever take them to task for their often incredibly nasty personal attacks on me. The reason is you fancy yourself some kind of little magician playing both sides for your own benefit. Have some integrity and treat your commenters fairly and consistently.
Thanks, Andrew, he does bring out the worst in people, I appreciate the tax clarification, it just sounded way off base but I didn’t have time to look into it.
[[[[ I’ll bet that if I were to bring up every one of your posts over the last 3 months I’d find endless posts on the evils of unions and labor and teachers, etc. I’ll also bet that I’d be hard-pressed to find more than 1 or 2 posts regarding entitlements…that’s my point! ]]]]
33 negative posts regarding labor, etc.
1 post regarding entitlements…about illegals getting in-state tuition rates for RI colleges.
“You shouldn’t guess or exaggerate about numbers that are directly verifiable.” Dan, how could miss such easily verifiable numbers, Andrew seemed to find it no problem. Practice what you preach.
Please show me the erroneous information I posted in this thread, or any thread for that matter. You seem to take exception to my use of the word “dozens” maybe a bit overstated but hardly “flat out wrong.”
I’ve never made any personal attacks on you. I’ve mindfully watched what I’ve typed and have frequently erased comments for fear of offending you and others. I hope you don’t consider my calling you out as a Rule 9 a personal attack I was just playing a hunch (quite accurately too).
What’s a rule 9?
Andrew’s “correction” could more accurately be described as a explanatory footnote. It is completely accurate that 50% of the revenue the city of Providence takes in goes to current retirees. That is not normal or sustainable, nor are “huge state subsidies” a solution.
Rule 9 is an intern. I was not a rule 9. Just Sierra making things up to attack me again. I was in an honors program for a year,tried real cases, and assisted on a couple of major cases. Then I accepted a Federal position. Not that it’s at all relevant or any of Sierra’s business.
And yes, Sierra, your statement was flat out wrong. There isn’t even a grain of truth to it. You simply don’t understand how many people are on disability pensions.
Dan, I’m not trying to attack you maybe its a little of the former detective in me, as I recall you are approximately 27-28 years old, people aren’t admitted to the bar until at least 25, that doesn’t make room for a bunch of prosecuting. What is this honors program? Were you a member of the bar at the time? I was a Rule 9 in law school also, I tried real cases in District Court, the AAC, sat in on some cases in Superior Court, wrote some appellate briefs. I never would go around calling myself a former prosecutor though. I’m just looking for some clarification so I know where your coming from when you say your a former prosecutor.
[[[[ It is completely accurate that 50% of the revenue the city of Providence takes in goes to current retirees. ]]]]
[[[[ You simply don’t understand how many people are on disability pensions. ]]]]
You can’t talk numbers when you move from category to category.
Comparing “current retirees” and “disability pensions” is apples to oranges and only confuses the issue.
Sierra – Why do you need all this personal information? It’s not relevant and it’s none of your business. Please stop making things up about me.
Tom Kenney – You really don’t understand how disability pension rates (58% for your department) are relevant to current retiree costs?
[[[[ It is completely accurate that 50% of the revenue the city of Providence takes in goes to current retirees. ]]]]
This was Dan,s statement. Thes are for all city departments.
Then he states 58% disability rates for fire department pensions. Which was he talking about earlier? I’m glad I never hired him to preare a legal brief or contract for me, everything just gets confused.
Also, the present 58% (actually lower now because a number of firefighters have retired over the last few months – all on regular retirements) is actually down from around 95% when the abuses were alleged to be happening. Since then the rules have been changed, making it more dificult, and the present rate (over te last several years) is more like 12% – 20%.
Also, any disability retiree with 28 years or more in the system doesn’t cost the taxpayers of Providence (or the system itself) and extra dime over a regular pension.
You’d have to examine how many of those disability pensioners had 28 years or more on the job (I’d guess 40-50%) to know how much disability pensions are actually costing the taxpayers.
Avoid the question much Dan? The only reason I ask is you bill yourself as a former prosecutor, thereby adding a degree of credibility and worldliness to your comments.
If you really weren’t a member of the bar employed by the State of RI or a MA County as a prosecutor and were only an intern or in some “honors program” then it would give those of us on the comments section a better look into your character and help decide how much credibility we should give your posts.
Sierra- Honors programs are for attorneys. You can look at the MA AG honors program as a sample. I may or may not have worked there.
Justin et al- if you allow this continuous stream of personal attacks and demands for personal info to continue then I will not be commenting here anymore.
Take your ball and go home then, or do what we do, ignore us when we get under your skin. Geez, Dan, it’s not that hard.
My name is Tom Kenney.
I am 56 years old.
Providence firefighter for 30+ years.
Currently a Captain.
Neither Democrat nor Republican.
I hate extreme liberals and extreme conservatives.
I am a union member.
Associates degree…no furhter.
Anything else anyone wants to know just ask.
Dan, please show a demand for personal info. I never made one and you know it. I took an educated guess, could’ve been wrong, its not like thats never happened before. To be honest I really don’t care about you any more than you care about me so stop being so sensitive.
Michael – I couldn’t care less about what you think of me. What I do have a problem with is your “gang of three” of union brothers teaming up to hijack every single thread I post in on the pension crisis and relentlessly insult my person and demand personal information about me. Sierra has taken it to a new level recently, telling lies about me when I don’t answer him to try to open me up to further questioning when I respond. My understanding was that this sort of behavior is against the rules of this blog – if it is not then that’s fine, but that would not be any blog on which I want to comment. Maybe the contributors don’t care – I know Andrew seems to condone it.
I criticize organizations and public policies, yes, often forcefully. Rhode Island’s problems are very serious and deserve to be treated as such. I want people to be aware of the root causes and I want them to rightfully “get mad.” Having said that, I consider personal attacks and personal information to be off-limits and destructive to the dialog.
Tom – You choose to make that information public. I do not. You have a secure job that allows you to say whatever you want online. I do not. My current office is not friendly towards conservatives/libertarians or those who spout off opinions online in general. Don’t take it personally, but you are not worth losing my job.
Dan, you have brought this on yourself with your antagonistic comments. Read your stuff, try to censure yourself. I’ve taken ten times the alleged abuse you are complaining about, the blogosphere can be an ugly place, you don’t have to add to it. This is a conservative blog, with mostly conservative readers. Ever wonder why those readers don’t jump to your defense?
I tend to only comment when the topic turns to the pension system. I get infuriated by the comments you and others without a personal stake in the matter post here. I can’t go without responding to them. I think the differing viewpoint adds to the discussion otherwise your just preaching to the choir.
I don’t post on any of your other threads because, believe it or not, I tend to agree with you on most everything else.
No, I haven’t wondered. Probably because we aren’t part of a fraternal professional organization that pledges unconditional solidarity with brothers across the world and is financially motivated to support its members. That and, as far as Rhode Island’s financial problems go, we have the facts clearly on our side so we don’t require an echo-chamber support network of atta-boys to feel confident about our standing. We aren’t representing anyone but ourselves on here, and our views often differ with each other. It has been said that organizing libertarians in support of a cause is like herding cats – I can’t disagree with that.
There’s a difference between attacking someone on the issues and attacking somebody personally, and trying to “out” somebody who wishes to remain anonymous for whatever reason. If you can’t distinguish between these concepts (and I have noticed that your comments have become far nastier and more personal in recent weeks), then that is an obstacle to the dialog and I don’t want any part of it. My understanding was that the type of behavior displayed by you three is not welcome on this blog. If that is not the case, then there is no in sticking around to get shouted down, ridiculed, and interrogated by the Union Gang of Three over and over again. I want to talk about the pension system. Not burned babies. Not my personal work history. The pension system.
To chime in, here:
I don’t find Dan’s comments at all objectionable, certainly not as objectionable as some. I do think he’s being a bit over-sensitive, here, and would do well to learn how to deflect lines of inquiry that he dislikes.
Sorry, Dan, but I just don’t see anything that merits administrative action, yet.
You throw my words, “dead babies” around, words that I used in an editorial explaining what I feel to be justification for a pension after twenty years honorable service, then insult my profession and the brotherhood of which I belong, use inflammatory language in nearly every comment you make, then look to the administrators to bail your sorry ass out of the fire.
That is pathetic. Not you, I do not know you. Your words. Grow a set or go home.
That’s fair. The line I draw is when personal attacks become a recurring distraction and the threads are becoming hijacked by it. Different people have different lines and the blog can decide where its own line is drawn.
I choose not to discuss personal information here, including personal work history, and I’m not interested in being personally attacked in every thread in which I post. I hope that people here can respect that. If not, that will be a problem. If the aim of the Gang of Three is to silence my attacks on their unions, they will likely get their wish if they keep this up.
Michael – It’s not a matter of “growing a pair,” nor is it a matter of courage or sensitivity. It’s simply not enjoyable or productive to be personally attacked and shouted down in every single thread by three rabid union members united in unconditional solidarity against me, or to have personal information demanded of me when I wish to remain anonymous because of my job. I don’t need to be investigated or interrogated, and I don’t need you to tell me what you think of me – it’s not relevant to the issues and I don’t care. If you personally can’t talk about public policy issues without becoming personally affected and outraged and resorting to personal attacks, then you’re the one who should grow up and learn some emotional responsibility.
Dan, on top of the other problems you feel you are experiencing, you are now moving from having made a careless math mistake to a state of willful ignorance. It is not accurate to say that 50% of the revenue that the City of Providence takes in goes to current retirees. Providence’s annual revenues, mostly due to state subsidies, are much greater than the local tax levy, and it is the tax levy that is the basis of the 50% figure. Use a different denominator, and you get a different percentage. That’s how math works, and it is more than semantics. You can’t get the policy right, if you are using bad math.
Your feeling of persecution is created by people offering well-within bounds responses to different pieces your erratic and sometimes incoherent commentary, while you demand that they forget the zigs that preceded the zags, because that would be most convenient to you. That is not a reasonable demand.