Letter: Inequity, not pensions, is the problem
To the editor of THE EAGLE:
In its Jan. 16 editorial, The Eagle tries to make the point that states and municipalities should not offer pensions to their employees because private industry does not. They state that workers should "make do with 401ks, IRAs and other retirement funds tied to the stock market" as a main argument.
They then reference a Boston Globe article stating, "the economic collapse of 2008 and 2009 so reduced pension funds stashed on Wall Street that the state and many municipalities were forced to extend their target dates to fully fund their pension plan."
Do they not see the irony that the collapse also destroyed the value of the personal 401ks, IRAs and other retirement funds of many Americans and that these funds have still not been restored?
Paul Toner’s response on Jan. 18, in which he explains how state and municipal employees fund their own pensions, shows how much more it would cost to phase out pensions. Yes, it would actually cost taxpayers more.
The problem is not pensions for those who provide services for us -- teachers, firefighters, policemen, correctional officers, road and highway maintenance personnel and other support workers across our state, cities and towns.
The real problem is wealth inequality, where 85 people in the world control as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people combined, and in the U.S., the wealthiest 1 percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer (Oxfam Report, Working for the Few, January 2014).
The Walton family (Walmart) spends their time deciding the next piece of priceless art to purchase, while their employees do not have full-time positions, pensions, health care, job security and a decent living wage.
Corporations move jobs away from America to further avoid paying taxes or providing for their workers. They treat their employees, either here or away, as expendable commodities, not human beings with families and responsibilities. The high-paid CEOs and other corporate executives do not pay a fair share of taxes to support our country and its population.
If The Eagle editorial board really cares it should change the focus to what really matters.
CHARLES P. CIANFARINI
The writer is a member of the Association of Professional Administrators at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and the chapter president and statewide interim vice president.
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