What I have as a pension is what I wish for all retirees.


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.

It was not that long ago that unionized workers in the private sector had that kind of retirement security too.

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.

Take the time to read Glen Brown’s post this week on this topic.

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.





8 thoughts on “What I have as a pension is what I wish for all retirees.

  1. I’m not a paid subscriber to WaPo so here is a clip of the article. Here’s to the ‘wonderful Christmas present’ from tRump to seniors: a cut in Medicare. Just what we wanted!!!!
    “I’m Going to Work Until I Die”: The New Reality of Old Age in America
    By Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, The Washington Post
    30 September 17
    “I’m going to work until I die,” says one 74-year-old in a generation finding it too costly to retire. 
    …”People are living longer, more expensive lives, often without much of a safety net. As a result, record numbers of Americans older than 65 are working — now nearly 1 in 5. That proportion has risen steadily over the past decade, and at a far faster rate than any other age group. Today, 9 million senior citizens work, compared with 4 million in 2000….

    Polls show that most older people are more worried about running out of money than dying.”

    “There is no part of the country where the majority of middle-class older workers have adequate retirement savings to maintain their standard of living in their retirement,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist who specializes in retirement security. “People are coming into retirement with a lot more anxiety and a lot less buying power.”

    As a result, many older workers are hitting the road as work campers — also called “workampers” — those who shed costly lifestyles, purchase RVs and travel the nation picking up seasonal jobs that typically offer hourly wages and few or no benefits…

  2. I have taught for over 20 years. I am only in my mid forties and several more years to go. I was blessed to be grandfathered into the old system. However, if I am not mistaken any newer teacher has to work to 68 to receive full benefit in Illinois . I agree with you sir, that if you worked for a certain amount of years you should be rewarded with retirement security. My dad has worked about 40 years and he is a believer in a fair pension. Finally I believe the public believes teachers are the reason for the problems in our schools. We are villafied for having summers off and if lucky having a union. So why do we deserve a pension, we don’t work any way.😂

  3. You can have your pension. Just pay your fair share in state income taxes on that pension. Working families can’t carry the entire load.

      1. Well, we know that is not going to happen. The Daley’s of the world will forbid it. Just like their 3% COLA. Health insurance….not a big deal to them. For the peons another story.

  4. “What I have as a pension is what I wish for all retirees.”
    So what exactly do you have? Interesting you lead with that and you don’t detail what it is you have. Afraid of how it really looks to the average person?

    1. Being accused of not being transparent is ironic coming from “anonymous.” When I retired after teaching for 30 years my pension was $63,000 a year. My 20 years of social security payments that I paid before I taught were confiscated as a “windfall.” I paid 9.4% of every paycheck into my pension. The state, my employer, failed to pay their share. Social Security would have taken less than 6%. But it is a good pension which I paid for as I was required to do. And I continue to advocate for a secure retirement for all.

  5. Its good but I roughed it out on immediate annuities minus the social security….your are under a million but if you were offered cash dont take less than 800000. If Fred wanted to play like the billionaries he would not want everyone to have a good retirement….quite the opposite he would demand more not just his legal due. I need to go over just how rich the mega rich are and how they are mostly takers not builders. Daily Kos has a good list of corporate scams today led by so called pension reform.

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