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Pension Envy 


I'm sick and tired of people laying blame at the feet of unions for all that ills government and budget shortfalls. Reader Joshua Kinch opined recently that "pensions are draining our social network of resources" ("Mailbox," June 4). Did Mr. Kinch sleep through the year 2008, when the financial industry almost crashed our economy, and wake up in 2015? CalPERS, California's state employee retirement system, was doing great financially until corporate shenanigans caused it and other similar retirement systems, as well as millions of 401(k)s to lose a great deal of money. However, CalPERS has since rebounded to pre-recession levels, is earning close to 10 percent on investments a year, and can fund the retirement of civil servants for decades to come.

Mr. Kinch also highlighted one civil servant that may do exceedingly well upon retirement. In reality, the vast majority of state retirees earn an average of $24,000 per year during retirement. Pointing out one retirement high earner as the rule rather than the exception is convenient for those that dislike government employees.

Americans shouldn't be fighting over the scraps left over from the table of corporate CEOs and hedge fund managers raking in tens of millions a year in salary and stock options. We should not look at the pensions of hard-working civil servants and think, "If I don't have a secure pension/retirement in my future, you shouldn't either." Instead, we should demand a workplace that values hard work and compensates it with a reasonable retirement. Many Americans once had pensions when union membership was high in our recent past, but the "right-to-work" movement helped diminish union power and now we have 401(k)s. Lot of good that retirement option is when the stock market tanks. At least many still have Social Security, or does that meager retirement income bother Mr. Kinch as well?

Scott Bauer, Eureka

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