We were at a town hall meeting. Budget, of course, was on everyone's mind. The town was spending ludicrously, so much so that the State passed a new law to try a curtail the town's wasteful spending. The town, however, still had bills and couldn't pay them so this woman was proposing to take away teacher pensions.
I got into line to get to the open mic, but the woman, and her cronies, left right after her outburst like a gaggle of witches, unconcerned with the answer to her question.
To that woman, and her clutch of friends, allow me to answer your question.
You, woman, are an employer. You hired a person to work for you. You get a service, the worker gets money. The worker does well, shows up on time, complete tasks timely and becomes more proficient at their job. You decide to keep the worker, but you can't afford to pay the worker more and now the worker has training and experience, two important things on the job market. So to keep that worker for going off and working for someone else, you give that worker benefits. This is much cheaper for you.
Time passes and the worker, more experienced and trained, needs to move on because the worker needs to save for the time they can no longer work. You can't afford more money, but you cut a deal with the worker. You'll put a little money aside every month and the worker will put money aside every month and if the worker stays long enough, they will then draw a PENSION.
You get a trained, competent, professional worker and the worker gets a pension.
But you didn't quite do that, did you.
You wanted things so you 'borrowed' from the pension account. You had every intention to pay it back, but things happened and you wanted your toys so badly then and now and retirement is SO far away, you'll worry about it later.
Finally, the worker comes to you. The worker has given you their youth, their strength, their wisdom. Years of life they can NEVER get back.
But you don't give them their pension, do you? There isn't any money to be had. You wanted your things and you got your things and there is no more money. So you scream and your worker, you call them selfish and make them feel guilty for wanting only what you promised. A promise made so long ago, surely the worker isn't going to hold you to that?
You got your things. You also got the workers life and loyalty.
Fuck that worker. The worker was stupid to believe you and that is the workers fault, not yours.
The worker can just go get another job. Start over! The worker has plenty of life! That worker with his competence and skills could easily get another job and work to death because that is what a worker does.
Work to death.
So, you have your things and you get away with theft. That what you're trying to do. You got your things by stealing from the worker's pension account and you want to blame the worker for it.
Let's talk about 401k, shall we?
This is a great system. You put a little in, the worker puts a little in, and in twenty, thirty years we hope there is enough in there to live off. But there's a catch, see? The worker needs to make as much money as possible to build up that account. So that worker will go off to earn more money, more money you can't pay because you want to buy your things.
A pension give the worker incentive to stay with you, to work hard for you, to have good employee evaluations.
Let's talk about Social Security. Pensioners don't get Social Security because they paid into a PENSION which you provided. Take away the pension and they will have NOTHING. But you don't care about that. You got your toys and things.
Screaming into the microphone at the town hall meeting just said to all your workers and future workers, is this.
I will FUCK you. Fuck you for your loyalty, for your years of service for less pay, for your hard work. I got my things and toys and you get NOTHING!
So, what are you left with? Everyone competent and sane will move on to work for someone who will not fuck them over. Someone who will not betray them they way you betrayed them.
This will leave you with workers who cannot get hired elsewhere because they are incompetent, lazy, argumentative. Workers who you can't fire because there are no replacements.
Is this what you want? Teachers who teach your children? Police who enforce your laws? Firemen and paramedics who will come rescue you? What you will have are not what you want.
Unless you're okay with crummy teachers, bully cops, arsonist firefighters and paramedics who will kill you.
If that's what you want, that's what you'll get.
You want to change the contract, change it for the new guy who is young and can move on.
But now you've taken that employee's life. Life that employee cannot get back no matter how much you scream at the town hall meeting.
You made a promise.
Now, own up to it.