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Pension tensions

July 19, 2009

Re "Critics target 6-figure pensions," July 12

I'm not certain what causes more aggravation: reading about bloated pension packages or that the state has done little to resolve pension fund problems.

With a high school education, even I could do the math over a decade ago and determine that pension fund accounts would soon become depleted, with future retirees flooding the books.

S.E. McKone

Yucca Valley

I have a suggestion -- raise their taxes. They can afford it.

Paul Fretheim

Independence, Calif.

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Public employees have traditionally been the most underpaid workers in this state. Sure, there is a carrot at the end of a 40-year career of substandard pay, but how else will the state get anyone to work for that wage?

Government workers are willing to take the lesser upfront pay in exchange for the pension funds they contribute to. Many years, the state contributes little or nothing because CalPERS manages the employee retirement funds so well that the state does not have to put in its complete share.

The public can't have it both ways, low pay and no employee benefits. Without a solid public employee system for essential services and well-funded public schools, America will become just another Third World country.

Dick de Pinya

Newport Beach

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When I retire, I will be receiving a public employee pension, and I very much appreciate articles like this one.

I think targeting the six-figure pensions is but a start; there are other pension abuses to address. There is, for example, the practice of receiving promotions at the end of one's career to increase the pension payout.

It is only by reforming the pension system that my pension can be secured and taxpayers' funds can go toward other worthwhile projects.

George Garcia

Long Beach

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Thank you for your well-written story about government pensions. Unfortunately, most stories about this subject focus on rare aberrations.

Like many, I gave up a career in the private sector for public service. My compensation could have been more than double in the private sector. However, I stayed in public service partly because of the good retirement, which was based on my earnings, years of service and age on retirement. Like me, many capable and experienced government employees stay on to serve the public with a high degree of competence because of the pension system. The California Public Employees Retirement System, of which I was a member for 32 years, was designed for that reason.

Despite some abuses, these retirement funds, partly based on our own contributions, rightfully belong to us.

Michael H. Miller

Los Angeles

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