Dean Baker

Meister: It's not true, what they say about pensions

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

So, what are we going to do about those big fat pensions collected by public employees? You know, those retirement benefits that supposedly are threatening to bankrupt state and local governments everywhere.

What to do? That's easy. We can make that problem disappear quickly – just like that! We need only realize that the problem simply does not exist, despite the claims by rabid anti-union forces and the many people who they've duped.

Here's the basic situation: Anti-union forces are attempting to weaken the public employee defined pension plans that provide employees a specific monthly payment on retirement. The plans cover about five million older Americans, providing money that many drawing benefits very much need to escape poverty and stay off government assistance.

Those receiving the benefits, many at rates granted originally in lieu of pay raises, in turn create more than $358 billion in economic output nationwide and create more than 2.5 million jobs. Read more »