Joliet Residents Echo Andy Mihelich’s Call for Fiscal Sanity
Mar 15, 2011 2:13AM
I am self-employed. I work long hours each week to earn a living. There are no picket lines demanding better pay or benefits for me. If I don’t work or get sick, I don’t get paid. My retirement benefits are what I save.
I pay federal taxes, including double Social Security and Medicare taxes for being self-employed. I pay state and city taxes. My real estate taxes support schools and other government entities.
It has been interesting watching the whole country debate union public worker “rights” in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and other states. I respect unions and their fight for American workers to receive decent pay and benefits. My father was a Teamster during his entire working career. But, I believe we, as a nation, have been hoodwinked by union leaders and politicians whose only interest is maintaining their own power regardless of the harm to their members and our country.
Sweatshops are long gone. It used to be that pension benefits negotiated by unions for government workers helped offset the lower salaries those workers received for not working in private industry. According to a recent Herald-News editorial, that is not the case anymore. Government workers are among the highest paid in the country. One in three Joliet city workers annually gross more than $100,000.
Government pensions were originally designed to pay for the worker’s retirement after 20 years as an incentive to work at lower pay. Yet, how many times do you read that a government worker retires with his or her pension from one public unit and, immediately, begins a new pension-eligible government position? Double-dipping government pensions are the norm.
We are broke. We cannot afford to maintain government spending at current levels and need to start making some hard choices. The federal government made more than $700 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act available to help stimulate new “shovel ready” jobs.
I recently read that the Plainfield School District decided to use money they received from the federal act to pay one more year’s worth of existing nonteacher salaries. After that money is spent, those employees have been told to start looking for work.
If a private business can’t afford payroll, employees are terminated. Government units just raise our taxes to cover bloated payrolls.
It is time to reevaluate how public employees are paid. How about like the rest of us mortals?
Rich Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read post in Suntimes Media
Mar 27, 2011 2:34AM
Too much spending is problem
Recent articles in The Herald-News articles and WJOL radio interviews have tried to help us decide who to vote for in Joliet’s mayoral and council elections. The main emphasis, and rightfully so, has been how each candidate would tackle the financial mess left by the previous bunch of wastrels. Most of the candidates have danced all around the subject, but hesitate to take a stand. One candidate did take a stand — raise taxes.
The ease at which our elected officials decide to further burden the taxpayer is the reason we’re in this mess. Our city council sold us down the river at contract time for years, and now something seems to be colliding with the fan. Of course, we could forestall the inevitable with another tax increase.
A tax increase makes sense to politicians unwilling to cope with the real problem, excessive spending. But then, it’s easy, even fun, spending other people’s money. One suggestion was to ask the city workers to propose budget solutions. This would be akin to asking the fox to protect the henhouse.
Others tried to forcefully state they would most definitely not raise taxes, unless needed. If the candidates were being honest, they would say that changes have to be made in city union contracts. If the city wages published in The Herald-News were not enough to wake them up, I fear they’re not using the brains God gave them. Until we come to grips with these issues, there will be no solution.
Public employees add nothing to the pot.
They pay taxes but do it out of the money paid them with taxes paid by the private sector. Is the average city worker worth $90,000 a year? Should these employees receive free health care and far better pensions than the private sector? Who’s working for whom anyway?