Our assumptions, our perspectives are not always accurate. Nothing unusual with that, but when it shapes public policy, it can be risky.
One of the great debates surrounds public employees, teachers, police, etc. is are they underpaid, well paid, are their pensions too generous or lacking? The public generally assumes underpaid and often sides with unions during disputes. In many cases the reality is unexpected.
The generous nature of pensions and retiree health benefits often allows for early retirement and second careers supported by taxpayers.
Here is an excellent example. Yes, I’m generalizing and not all state workers are in this boat, but there are many who come close.
Retirement with pensions at age 50 sufficient to cover living expenses, assets exceeding the typical worker by hundreds of thousands. Who knows how all this was accumulated perhaps prudent saving, maybe inheritance, I don’t know.
However, the point is if you met this couple and learned they retired at age fifty and were living on government pensions, what would your immediate impression be?
Micheal and Mary left New Jersey about eight years ago. They both retired from their state jobs and headed to Florida to help Mary’s 92-year-old mother. But they don’t want to stay in the state permanently — if they can afford it. The couple, whose names have been changed, also wants to balance how to spend down their nest egg and still leave an inheritance to their daughter and granddaughter.
For now, though, caring for an aging parent requires their immediate attention. “There are major potential financial unknowns,” said Michael, 58. The couple has $960,000 in IRAs, $700,000 in Certificates of Deposit and $100,000 among several checking and saving accounts. They’re also in the process of converting some IRA funds to Roth IRAs, so this has inflated their tax bills.