By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
??? The biggest cause of high taxes in New Jersey is the high cost of government employee pensions.?? Police officers and paid firemen are allowed to retire after 25 years regardless of their age.?? Most others, including public school employees, can retire at age 55.
??? Our daily newspaper recently ran a warm and fuzzy story about an officer in upscale Margate who retired after 25 years on the police force.?? The officer had spent most of his time in the quiet suburb’s middle school where he developed a jogging program for its 12 to 15 year old students.?? He was photographed being honored by smiling school officials.?? He appeared to be in excellent health, and less than 50 years old.?
??? That newspaper article left out some interesting, but unpleasant facts.?? The officer was earning more than $75,000 per year when he retired, and he is expected to live more than 30 more years.?? Under current state law, he is “entitled” to a lifetime pension of $50,000 per year (2/3 of his highest salary) together with cost of living adjustments.?? According to my arithmetic, the state needs $1,500,000 in the bank for that officer, and every other state, county, local, and public employee near retirement age.?? Otherwise, we must tax future generations to pay for police services they never received.
??? Last month, Governor Corzine told us the money is not there, and that our pension funds are short by $25 billion.?? (One million bucks for each of some 25,000 employees about to retire).?? He also said that half of all state government employees are over 50, and can retire within five years.
??? Many government and public school employees say I want to take away their pensions.?? Not true.?? Simple arithmetic proves that unless something changes quick, everyone under age 45 doesn’t have much of a pension.?? Money today being paid in by younger workers is paying benefits to retirees who already received far more than they put in.?? When younger workers retire, there will be no money for them.?? What to do?
??? First, stop blaming the problem on ex-Governor Christie Whitman (Republican).?? Sure, she played a part.?? But she was gone by the summer of 2001.?? That’s when Republicans and Democrats both raided the pension funds, with the full support of NJEA and the other unions.?? As the stock market crashed, they all falsely claimed the pension funds had too much money, and that public employees were “entitled” to recover some of that “windfall” through a 9% pension hike and an early retirement at age 55.
??? Second, recognize that it is wrong and stupid to expect our children, grandchildren, (plus a million illegal immigrants) to pay the massive tax hikes needed to fully fund these pensions.?? (And tell Governor Corzine that taking $40 billion through 800% toll hikes is the same as hiking sales, income, and property taxes.)
??? The fact is that the future generations and illegal immigrants we plan to hit with tax hikes will be earning far less than we did, plus they will be burdened with the student loans, high taxes, and high housing costs our selfish and crooked government policies created for them.
??? So what can we do??? We can start by capping all government pensions at $75,000, or a fair return of what was already contributed for that employee, whichever is higher.?? Then we can eliminate all pension benefits in excess of a fair return of actual contributions, for all part-time politicians like Nick Asselta and Senate President Richard Codey’s brother.
??? Do we have to change the rules for just newly hired people??? I think both Article 8, Section 3 of our NJ Constitution, and Chapter 9 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code give us the power to deal with everybody now.
??? If we are still short money, take a lesson from our Declaration of Independence.?? Remember that “governments are instituted” to secure everyone’s “unalienable rights” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and that they exercise their “just powers” with the “consent of the governed.”??
??? Why force everyone pay taxes for “free” concerts, sports, Margate elephants, theaters, etc.?? Let the few who enjoy those things pay full price for them!?? And maybe we should stop spending billions of dollars on cops, courts, and jails to lock up people who pursue their happiness by taking drugs that harm nobody but themselves.
??? This is how George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln ran our country.?? Are we really smarter than they were?
For more information, visit www.libertyandprosperity.org or contact Somers Point attorney, Liberty and Prosperity?Executive Director?and founder Seth Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-927-7333.??? Seth Grossman hosts a two way talk radio program every Saturday from 8am – 9am on WVLT Vineland, 92.1 FM.