Don’t be in such a rush to abandon state pension plan
Your Feb. 22 editorial [“Pension Fund’s real problem”] was a disservice to working-class New Yorkers and beneath your normally high standards.
The editorial called for switching the state’s pension fund “from the traditional defined-benefit plan to a 401(k)-style defined-contribution plan.” Your justification for this radical change noted that pension obligations have been going up and that the only way to pay for it was to “hit [local] governments and school districts with larger [employer] contributions,” followed by your unsubstantiated assertion that “this is a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future.” I’m unsure how you arrived at this conclusion, but allow me to offer some perspective.
In 1974, the employer contribution rate to the Employee Retirement System was 21 percent, close to this year’s rate. From 1976 to 1982, the rate was between 15 and 20 percent. And for the 15 years from 1989 to 2003, the rate was below 5 percent. Since history shows economic booms and busts are rather cyclical, how did you conclude that this latest bust was going to continue for so far into the future as to warrant a dismantling of New York’s long-standing successful pension program?
You also have the effrontery to describe Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to allow employers to amortize their recently increased payments as a “gimmick.” And you belittle the fact that while the pension fund is now up to $150 billion (up from its $109 billion value after the 2009 stock market crash), it was “still not back to its historic high of about $154 billion in spring 2008.” You’re going to use that failure to reach a historic high as a reason to kill defined-benefit pensions? It seems to me that your conclusion was not driven by evidence, but rather the other way around: You first concluded that defined-benefit pension plans should be eliminated and then searched for evidence or concocted a prognostication to justify it.
Picture New York’s economy as a large ocean liner, chugging away on a vast and sometimes stormy sea because of the efforts of its hardworking crew.
As crew members reach retirement age, they jump overboard with whatever retirement protections they have. A few of them (millionaires) quickly board yachts, no need to worry about them. Some of them have lifeboats (defined-benefit pensions) that were built aboard the ocean liner. But most have only small life preservers (401(k) plans) that barely allow them to keep their heads above water. You look out from the bridge of the ocean liner and see unfairness in the water below.
Instead of trying to figure out how we can construct more, albeit possibly smaller lifeboats, your solution to achieve fairness is to stop building lifeboats altogether. Thank goodness elderly New Yorkers have Comptroller Tom DiNapoli protecting the lifeboats.
Letter writer wrong to bash Catholic Church
Re James Gillian’s Feb. 22 letter, “Praise Price Chopper for demolishing church”: Here he took the opportunity to blame the Catholic faith for all his years in therapy dealing with issues caused by his connection to this faith, calling it one of the most repressive organizations in the world’s history.
I beg to differ with Mr. Gillian. I have been a practicing Catholic my entire 68 years, and I can personally testify I know it to be one of the most sincere, endearing, community-oriented, Bible-based faiths in existence.
I am a woman and have never felt that my faith considers me less equal to men in any way. I feel his statement that the faith treats women unequally depends on what one considers equal. Since he is a man, he is not qualified to make that assumption!
His letter continued to bash my faith in several other ways that I feel are opinionated and without merit. Gays are oppressed, he claims — wrong, again. I personally know people from the gay community who attend mass regularly.
He claims there is a laundry list of molestation abuses. He does not mention those lists also exist in every walk of life — such as doctors, teachers, sports, child care, etc.
Child molestation is terrible and should be dealt with severely in any profession, but I will not allow someone to single out my Catholic faith without informing him that molestation is everywhere. I believe he knows that, but it was Catholic bashing on his agenda.
Evidence of government gone awry is everywhere
If living in this country means living in fear, then there is something really wrong with our government.
In the Feb. 21 Gazette, I read not one, but two, articles that made me think we have gone way far to the left — and not for the better.
The first article [“Firefighter residency rules pose questions”] had to do with where several fire department employees lived and that the law only applies to New York City. Are they special?
People are supposed to have the right to live and work where they want in this country. If it is so important that they live in the county, then why do we subcontract work out of the county and even out of the state? The county can’t have its cake and eat it, too.
Mr. [Schenectady Fire Chief Michael] Della Rocco is an outstanding individual who worked his way up through the ranks and shouldn’t be chastised or penalized for where he lives!
The second article [“DOT worker muzzled, forced into retirement for press comments”] had to do with the DOT harassing one of its engineers for giving an interview to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
Mr. [Public Information Director William] Duffy is the one who should be called out on the carpet for not doing his job; the reporter tried twice to contact DOT — with no results until after the fact.
Mike Fayette should be reinstated to his position and DOT’s policies should be challenged. Our constitutional rights are being trampled on every day by people who have no right to do so.
Robert V. Pandori
Mainstream media hiding the ugly truth
While Obama continues his message of “tax, spend, blame and repeat,” another message is running on the billboards in Time Square. It reads “It’s time the liberal media start telling the truth.” The message is above an image of three monkeys labeled ABC, CBS and NBC, in a see-no-evil, speak-no-evil, hear-no-evil pose.
Anyone watching these three networks has no clue about the real disaster happening in America. They continue to drink their Kool-Aid and think everything is fine and dandy; and if they don’t like something, they just blame it on Bush.
Hopefully, the American voter will soon wake up from their rose-colored dream and see the real nightmare that is upon us.
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