Time To Get Some Perspective Richard Cohen

In New York City, the No. 2 guy in the fire department retired on a pension worth $242,000 a year. In New York State, a single official holding two jobs and one pension took in $641,000. A lieutenant with the Port Authority police retired with an annual pension of $196,767, and 738 of the city’s teachers, principals and such have pensions worth more than $100,000 a year. Their former employer, it goes almost without saying, is steamed. Their former employer is me. Richard Cohen – WaPo

It’s pretty well established that lower ranking public employees are overpaid, but there are roughly 10,000 firefighters in New York City, which the No. 2 firefighter chief managed every day. He retired on a pension of $242,000/year. What did the No. 2 of Goldman Sachs, which has 13,000 employees, retire with? What do you think the Nike No.2, which has 14,000 employees, retired with? Or Booze Allen Hamilton with 17,000 employees? The answer is many, many times that of $242K/year. Which manager of comparably sized organizations performed a more important service to its clients? I’m going with the ones that keep my community safe and emergency teams responsive.

However, I also don’t have millions of dollars invested in hedge funds, or need consultants. And you know what? 90% of Americans don’t either. But they do need the public services mentioned by Cohen.

Again, Americans prefer to think of their public services as guarantees at the standards they already pay, leaving their incentive-based workforce in the private sector.

These figures account for why the Obama White House has exhibited its usual robust indecisiveness toward the Wisconsin demonstrators. It needs labor’s political muscle, but it must also recognize that it cannot appear on the wrong side of greed. It was one thing when unions went after giant corporations run by guys who played golf at restricted clubs. But when it comes to government workers, we are the boss and we pay the bill. To quote what Sam Spade told the woman he loved in the “The Maltese Falcon,” “I won’t play the sap for you.” When it comes to public-sector unions, my sentiments exactly.

And again, like other conservative pundits before him, Cohen ignores the fact that Wisconsin unions have already agreed to cut their pensions at the level desired by Governor Walker, conveniently omitting that the protests are due not to the greed of Wisconsin unions demanding untouched pensions, but Walker’s attempt to wipe them out under the guise of fiscal necessity.

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