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Published: Thursday, 6/24/2010

Double-dippers have earned their pay

Your June 21 editorial “Nip the double dip” seemed to extend long-standing misunderstandings about the value of rehiring proven public officials. You pumped the commonly held misunderstandings that it costs more to bring retirees back and juiced it further with the age-old “double dip” slur against older Americans with proven public careers.

Why does almost every board of every profession recommend bringing back so many experienced hands, especially when there has been trouble or controversy? Is there really all this secretive lack of “transparency” just to get their overpaid buddies back? No, it's usually just more sensible and cheaper overall to do so, public perception be damned.

One way to better understand why it is cheaper (and why rehiring retirees has no bearing on the Ohio pension-fund solvency) is to dig into what a public pension really is. It's not to be thrown in with public welfare or disability, and it's surely not the implied fat old pig repeatedly dipping into the public trough.

A public or school official receiving a pension is usually more properly called an annuitant because that term more properly reminds us that a so-called pension is part of a personnel contract, usually for 30 years of wage contributions to build up a personal retirement fund.

Public retirees often consider the entire fund as wage contributions since they generally worked for less just to get this more certain annuity.

But more to the economic point here, this is a contract in which the retiree has now done his part of the agreement and the return of contributions should not be held against him or her in retirement.

If the annuitant is lucky enough to be in good health and get a new job offer, this “nip the double dip” idea should not stand in the way.

JOHN A. McCARTHY

Perrysburg

Thank you to The Blade and the other seven Ohio newspapers for the informative series on how double-dipping school superintendents are threatening the solvency of Ohio's State Teachers Retirement System (“Set for life: The rising cost of public pensions,” June 21, 22, and 23).

The solution to the problem is simple: Since these retired administrators miss education so much, they should be required to teach for five years at the equivalent salary of a fifth-year teacher without re-establishing tenure before they can return to a superintendent's post. Trust me, the double-dipping problem would be solved just like that.

What Ohioans also need to know is that Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm last month enacted a teacher pension reform designed to replace high-paid teachers with new teachers.

That will save Michigan taxpayers $3 billion over a 10-year period, as 16,000 teachers took up the incentive offer. In Ohio, no elected officials seem to have a clue as we continue to allow double-dipping, see some of our best teachers lose their jobs, and watch our college graduates leave the state to get teaching jobs.

Why can't Ohioans also save $3 billion?

Bill Young

Green Springs, Ohio

Contrary to what we may hear from the media, there are more than 200 people still laid off at Jeep (“Chrysler's 4 area plants plan 2-week shutdown,” June 22).

Can anyone tell me why the union is agreeing to run the plant nine and 10 hours a day for almost three months when they have dues-paying members on the street?

Can anyone tell me why the union allows dozens of part-time workers to be employed while more than 200 full-time employees are at the end of their unemployment and sub-pay benefits?

People are being denied personal days and vacation requests.

There is something fishy in the woodpile here. It seems that UAW stands for U Ain't Working.

Dave Woodward

Homeland Drive

A Mexican-border fence is an investment in our political and financial future. It would be money spent in America and given to American workers and contractors.

I'm not against immigrants, just illegal immigrants. They are draining the system. Legal immigrants pay taxes and live within the laws that we all have to abide by.

Jack Snyder

Erie, Mich.

Beyond the implications for regulation, safety, and disaster preparedness, the human and ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico signals the perils of a culture that continuously pushes the boundaries of Earth's capacity.

President Obama has reminded us that oil is a finite resource.

All of Earth is finite, and learning to live responsibly on our planet requires that we grow accustomed to living with enough, rather than insisting on having more.

An economy that relies so heavily on staggering quantities of fossil fuel cannot be labeled responsible.

Our relentless drive for production and consumption — even at the expense of human lives, communities, and ecosystems — cannot be called safe.

Mary Alice Henkel

Northwood Avenue

In regard to Jack Kelly's op-ed column regarding President Obama's alleged inaction regarding the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (“Little man in charge,” June 23), I agree that more, immediate action needs to be taken.

But I realize that not being there, or being in the business, I might not understand all the logistics involved.

I have been guilty of making remarks about road construction and the pace of bricklayers. Much that I am not aware of affects the progress of a project.

As far as the meeting between the CEO of BP and President Obama is concerned, I should point out that Mr. Kelly was not there. He relies on comments from Sarah Palin; despite that, he has the gall to make the comment about President Obama: “Such a big office. Such a little man occupying it.”

Bob Fotoples

Oregon

Tom Troy reported on June 22 in “Latta seems to skip query on Obama's birth origin” that U.S. Rep. Bob Latta was “questioned whether Mr. Obama was born in the United States, as the Constitution requires for a president.”

Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution says: “No person except a natural born citizen ... shall be eligible for the office of President” and that such a person has “been 14 years a resident of the United States.”

Being a natural born citizen does not require being born within the geographical confines of the United States.

When George Romney was governor of Michigan, he ran for president in 1968.

His opponents tried to make political capital of the fact that he was born in Mexico while his parents were doing missionary work there.

This entire question about President Obama's birthplace is a mud-splattering straw man.

Robert Maki

Kingsgate Road

Republicans call for smaller government (“Latta slams an alleged threat,” June 23). They want public services reduced and fewer taxes collected to run our society.

There are many countries in which taxes and services don't exist.

I suggest interested parties Google “anarchic societies” and find themselves a nice place to go.

Winifred Dunham

Maumee



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