Moore Life: Will The Suckers Get Woke?

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A Rhode Islander that doesn't have a public sector style retirement plan.
I was recently at the gym. I walked into the locker room and began changing into my exercise clothing. Two men were talking about the state of affairs in Rhode Island.
 
One gentleman decried the fact that public sector retirees are dealing with retirement packages worth less than they expected.
 
I chimed in.
 
“Well true. But isn’t it better to accept a reduced amount than to have the whole system go bankrupt and get nothing?”
 
The gentleman decried the fact that the workers did nothing wrong and were told they were going to get a certain amount. Promises were promises, he asserted.
 
But what about the St. Joseph’s retirees? Their pension plan is insolvent. No one is talking about bailing them out.
 

No Pension? You’re a Sucker

 
What about other workers in the private sector? They haven’t had defined benefit retirement plans in decades. Those workers are subject to market forces. They not only lose money in their retirement plans when the market recedes. But they can be also laid off from their job or fired based on the whims of the economy.
 
 
The public sector workers are protected from market forces. They have much more job security, I pointed out.
 
That’s when the second gentleman spoke up.
 
“If you live in Rhode Island, and you’re not in a public sector retirement system, you’re a sucker,” he said. “You’re paying for lavish benefits you’re not going to get.”
 
I’ve been covering government and politics in Rhode Island since 2005. Never in my life had I heard the situation put so succinct–or so blunt.
 
You can’t argue with his logic.
 

Perverse Incentives

 
Former Governor Donald Carcieri was a weak and ineffective Governor. He was a terrible communicator. He gave us 38 Studios. I get all that.
 
But he warned us that it didn’t make sense to make public sector worker pay and benefits more attractive than what’s being offered in the private sector. That’s because it incentivizes people to work for the government and not the private sector. He was correct. 
 
(Did you know we have over 1,500 state workers making more than $100,000 per year?) http://www.rirelevant.com/news/gucci-gang-1500-workers-made-100k-2017/
 
The private sector, through the tax revenue that it generates, is what funds the public sector.
 
Without a strong, vibrant private sector, who will fund the public sector?
 
 
If the private sector becomes a sucker’s bet, two things are going to happen. First, smart people are going to work for the government. The only way to do that is to have connections.
 
Second, those without connections are going to move.
 
The ignorant people are going to continue toiling away in the private sector for a raw deal. They’ll work harder to pay for benefits for the government worker class. It’s soft oppression.
 
I’m not sure how long, or if people will ever catch on to this ugly truth.
 
Last night, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza gave his State of the City address. Meanwhile, the Providence Teachers Union protested outside. What are the protesting for? You guessed it. They want better pay and benefits.
 

Resources Dwindle

 
There’s only so much tax money to go around. You can’t blame the politicians for pandering to public sector workers. They’re incentivized to do so. The special interest groups pay closest attention to government. They make their presence well known on election day.
 
Let’s not forget: politicians only care about one thing–getting reelected.
 
If our politicians continue to pander to special interest groups, and they will, eventually, all we’re going to have money to do is pay people–meaning current workers and retirees.
 
The infrastructure will continue to crumble. Citizens will get less services from the government.
 
As the suckers wise up and move away, those who remain will crumbs that remain. The government class will continue to oppress the suckers who remain.
 
Wash Rinse. Repeat.
 
It’s a vicious, downward cycle.
 
It will continue as long as people keep their eyes closed.
 
Hey, has the Patriots free agency began yet?
 
Russell Moore
Russell J. Moore is the publisher and founder of rirelevant.com. He’s been writing about Rhode Island since 2005. You should definitely follow him on twitter @russmoore713. If you want to send him email, you can send it to russmoore713@gmail.com
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