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posted: 12/19/2013 4:40 AM

Enough whining over modest cutbacks

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Enough whining over modest cutbacks

As a retired federal employee with 18 years of professional experience in the private sector, I feel I am competent to discuss the differences in benefits of the two systems. While I believe public sector employees should receive good benefits for their hard work, I am real tired of all the whining over what are mostly minor changes in the public sector systems.

For example, federal employees hired in January will be required to contribute 4.4 percent of their pay into the pension system instead of the current 3.1. Not an unreasonable increase this day and age, yet it's argued people like Border Patrol agents cannot afford it. Come on. The pay begins at $75,403, so that means $975 more a year toward the pension plan. Those employees certainly afford it to keep their great jobs and benefits.

Similarly, no one is thrilled about the potential for the Chained CPI limits -- a formula in which cost of living increases are less, but how many people in the private sector get any kind of annual pension increase?

Also, do public sector employees realize that fewer private sector employees even have pensions? The Employee Benefit Research Institute reports that 39 percent of private sector employees received pensions in 1979; only 14 percent did in 2011.

And federal employees also have something called the Thrift Savings Plan, a 401K-like system that they can put money into toward retirement, and the government matches the first 5 percent of employee contributions. A pretty good deal in anyone's book.

People who teach our kids, guard our borders, inspect our food and guide our airplanes should have good salaries and benefits, But I am tired of the constant whining over modest cutbacks in those programs, which have become unaffordable to the taxpayer.

Gary Koca

Pingree Grove

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