Perhaps it is crazy to talk this way in an era in which both political parties stand for austerity.
I believe that what public employees receive as retirement security after a life-time of work is what all seniors should have.
It is the 6th year of my retirement from teaching. I am still spending a good amount of my time writing about public employee pensions in Illinois and helping to organize the defense of our contractual, constitutional and moral guarantee of it.
When the Illinois legislature was considering pension theft in 2013, most public polls showed that most people believed that the promise to pay our pensions is a promise that should be kept.
In spite of misinformed reporting like that of Paris Schutz on Chicago Tonight, my pension hasn’t made me or my family rich.
I am still shaking my head at his claim that Illinois educators are “taking home millions in pensions.”
Combined with what we have managed to save and plan for, my pension provides for a retirement that – short of a critical medical event or some other unexpected financial crisis – is what every working person should have after a life-time of work.
As a result of decades of bi-partisan efforts to reduce social programs and destroy private sector unions, pensions in the public sector have been replaced with employee funded defined contribution plans, if anything at all beyond Social Security.
Most workers can’t afford to pay into them.
And now Social Security is in the cross hairs.
As a public school teacher and a parent of public school children, I have always believed what John Dewey taught me:
Over a century ago Dewey wrote in School and Society: “What the best and wisest parent wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and left unchecked, destroys our democracy.”
It is also what I believe about about those who work.
What I have earned for these years of my retirement is what I want for all those who have reached the years where they no longer should have to work or no longer can work – or frankly, never could find work.
Anything less is unlovely, and left unchecked, destroys our democracy.