Thursday, October 06, 2011

On Double Dipping

The JT has an interesting article, here concerning a proposal to eliminate, or at least minimize, the practice of "double dipping" by government employees. "Double dipping" basically is the practice of "retiring" (in quotes for a reason), receiving a pension, then returning to work for the same or another government entity, and receiving a salary and a pension at the same time.

Retired people, by definition, are no longer working. As such, retirement benefits should be reserved for retired people, not working people. Working people receiving retirement benefits from government is hardly different from employed people receiving unemployment benefits, healthy people receiving disability benefits etc.... The only reason this is not considered outright fraud is because the beneficiaries in many cases are writing the laws that allow the double dipping for themselves. Yes, the fox has written the laws on hen protection.

I will now consider some of the rather weak justifications for continuing this practice.

Former and current police chief (does that make sense?, I say choose one or the other) Kurt Wahlen said "It is not like I just retired and get to draw on money from the state....It was money set aside." Yah, set aside for when you retire. You are working, therefore you are not retired. Therefore no retirement benefits. Pretty simple really.

And then there is current and former (or is it former and current?) government employee Tom Christensen who feels the proposal "treats public workers unfairly" because " a private sector worker could receive their retirements while working a new job." First of all, government has no business regulating the pay and benefits of private sector businesses. They should only concern themselves with government employees. A comparison then between private and public makes no sense. But if you want to compare the two, I am willing to bet that there aren't any private sector employers willing to pay wages and retirement benefits to the same person simultaneously.

State Senator Van Wangaard is receiving a pension as a retired police officer and a wage as a senator. He does not consider his a "double dipping" situation. He has the strongest argument in my view as at least he is elected to his job. We could toss him out of office if we don't like it. At the very least he should recuse himself from a vote on this matter as he (if I understand the issue correctly) would directly benefit from the proposals demise.

And State Rep Robin Vos seems rather lukewarm to the idea when he says "But if someone is retired for a year and they are asked to work in a different position in a different agency, I don't know why I should care." I will tell you why you should care. You should care because taxpayers are tired of getting ripped off. We don't want to pay unemployment for the employed, disability for the abled, welfare for the wealthy, or retirement for the not retired. You should care!


Anonymous said...

I'm suprised nobody made the favorite teacher argument: "We deserve it because we 'took' less money over the years than we could have in the private sector." Yeah, right! Those poor hard-put public servants.

Sean Cranley said...

Interesting thoughts Denis. Should there be a minimum level of work/compensation and duration one should be able to engage in and be able to keep their pension?

And thank you for taking on ALEC Vos and Van Wangaard in your post. The Senator from Amway was the first thing I thought of when I began to read your post and I was pleased to see that he was included.

I believe he's collecting disability, but maybe that is the same as his pension, not sure.

Anonymous said...

As for thean teacher argument - part of the public union plan is that once health care is "free", every public employee will be whining that they took less pay because of the benefits and now they all will demand pay raises equivalent to the benefits they don't need anymore. That free healthcare is going to become even more expensive.

Denis Navratil said...

Sean, I don't mind in the least taking on Republicans when they deserve it. They did a great thing protecting taxpayers from the excessive power and compensation brought on by a playing field tilted toward government unions. To be consistent they also need to stop this double dipping.

Re your question, unless presented with a persuasive argument, I will still maintain that retirement benefits should be for the retired, period. If the pension is insufficient, do your double dipping in the private sector.