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May 31, 2006

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CounterPoint

Instead of asking why the pensions of police and firefighters far outstrip that offered those in the Armed Forces you should be asking why the Armed Forces aren't offered something at least equal? 50% pay at 20 years or 75% pay at 30 years for life regardless of age is a very competitive benefit to what police and firefighters are offered. Theoretically, one could start receiving a pension at 38 for the rest of their life. That in addition to subsidized housing, medical care, etc.

Defined benefit plans are still offered to rank and file employees in the better companies. Would you like some names to send an application? And isn't it interesting that execs are offered DB plans but not the rank and file. "Let them eat cake". Glad I don't work for someone who believes in a corporate caste system.

When everyone was making dollars hand over fist in the 90's no one cared about the compensation or benefits of public employees. In fact they were viewed with disdain. Since that level of compensation isn't as commonplace public employees are viewed as the source of all ills.

I for one do not want 60 year old police officers trying to catch bad guys or 60 year old firefighters trying to pull me out of a burning building or car.

To press this point Jubal. You stated on another thread you were an out of shape 42 year old. Isn't that part of what we taxpayers are paying for in order to reassure ourselves these individuals will be prepared when the time comes and we need them?

Slim Silva

Too bad the unions can't keep Jim Silva on the board. He'd be happy to give away the bank for another four years!

JozefColomy

CounterPoint,

A) The Armed forces don't have a money-hungry union.

B) Increasing veterans' benefits to what orange county firefighters recieve would bankrupt the nation.

Just because someone doesn't recieve an astronomical pension doesn't mean that he or she won't retire. You make it sound as though by lowering county pensions that we would be forcing these police and firefighters in senior citizen slavery.

CounterPoint

Jose,

That's a lot of water to carry and you aren't Gunga Din.

How do you know any of the supposition you make in point B is in fact true?

I for one do not want police or firefighters having to deal with dangerous situations wondering how the market performed that day and consequently affecting their judgement.

I'm just weird that way.

Jubal

CounterPoint:

I fugured someone would make your argument even as I was writing this post.

In additon to the couter-points made by Jozef, he nature of military service is simply different than police officers or fire fighters -- neither of whom spend their careers being uprooted, nmoved from base to base and spending very long stretches of time separated from their families to fight terrorists and insurgents intent on killing them.

It's easy to respond with "well, just jack upo their retirements, too!" People can only be taxed so much.

My point is the public safety unions often point to the dangers inherent in their jobs as a rationale for demanding exceedingly generous pensions and retirement benfits. Service in the Armed Forces is not only more dangerous, but the pay is less even while the sacrifices demanded are much greater.

And yet the members of our volunteer Armed Forces don't gripe and agitate for more taxpayers largesse, nor have they undertaken a permanant, organized foray into elective politics.

Local government employees have it pretty good. Their receive private-sector comparable (or better) while retaining for more job securituy and satability than most private sector workers can dream of -- and a very generous pension.

So, can Nick Berardino and Co. please stop screaming about how opporessed local government employees are?

Counterpoint

Jubal, my brother in law just retired from the USAF as a Lt. Col. He is now collecting his pension starting at age 44. During his 20 years he had exactly three different duty assignments.

And if you don't think military personnel don't gripe about their compensation I can put you in touch with my sister. I can assure you she WILL change your mind about that belief.

Jubal

Counterpoint:

Griping about pay is an ancient prerogative of the soldier.

Allow me to clarify my earlier comment: members of the Armed Forces do not gripe as an organized body of government employees.

Of course they gripe about their pay -- people in the private and public sector gripe about their pay. That wasn't my point.

And I'm happy your brother-in-law had only three duty assignments in 20 years. Are you suggesting he is the norm among members of the military? Because my friends in the Marine Corps have very different experiences.

And even your brother-in-law's three duty stations is far more change than most public safety employees will see.

CounterPoint

Jubal. It depends on the branch. My buddies in the USMC have had similar experiences.

One enlisted out of HS (Foothill HS to be exact) did his basic in San Diego. Went to advanced training in Yuma, AZ and finished his enlistment six years later at Camp Pendleton. He never left the time zone and barely left the state.

The reason soldiers don't gripe about compensation as an organized body is because it is against the law. Right to Assembly for the purposes of organizing is one of the Constitutional rights you gave up.

I don't discount military personnel do all the things you mention. The hardships (outside of combat) aren't viewed in that capacity. My brother in law didn't mind his assignments. Especially considering his second assignment was at Elmendorf AFB and he was transferred to Eglin AFB for his last duty station. Look those two up on a map and you'll understand why.

The majority of troops serve in a non combat capacity. My brother in law wasn't a pilot. So the only time he flew was commercial. And he never fired a weapon after basic training.

As far as his experience being the norm. I have a college classmate who is a fighter pilot. Still flying after 20 years in the USN. He's a P-3 pilot. So he's shore based. As a side note he stopped listening to Rush Limbaugh when Limbaugh called his colleagues cowards for not ditching at sea when they were forced down after being rammed by a Chinese fighter plane. But that's another story. My buddy's experience is very similar. Four maybe five postings. I've lost track. All but one stateside. And he and his family enjoyed the one tour in Hawaii. Never fired a weapon since basic survival school.

So I would say your friends in the USMC are unique. By the same token, I could ask if that isn't an intrinsic appeal to the profession. Only those involved can answer that.

CounterPoint

And before anyone jumps on me. I realize a P-3 is NOT a fighter plane.

CounterPoint

And this point did just jump out at me. One of the biggest reasons for compensation of military personnel is simple. They have no lobby. Unlike weapons contractors who have millions to give to campaigns, military personnel do not. And given the fine line of being quasi free enterprise weapons contractors whose sole customer is the DoD or a subsidiary are defacto government agencies.

I would like to see the executive compensation of military contractors to be tied to similar levels of military personnel. A CEO of a company whose sole customer is the DoD or NASA or any other government agency shouldn't make more than a general and so on down the line.

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