K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Public-sector pay Too modest or too much?

The Economist:

AMY GARDNER writes in the Washington Post of the emotional injury suffered by government employees when a goodly portion of the public begins to malign them as members of a parasite class who enjoy the ample fruits of less privileged and secure workers’ labour. Efforts in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere to rein in the growth of public-sector salaries, pensions and health benefits have, Ms Gardner reports, “ripped apart how many public workers think of themselves and their role in society.” She considers the case of Judy and Jim Embree “an operating room nurse and paramedic and firefighter” from Ohio, who have been taken aback by increasingly negative attitudes toward public-sector workers. “The divide between those who back union workers and those who don’t comes down to a matter of perception over what qualifies as modest and what is too much,” Ms Gardner writes. Would you say this modest or too much?

Judy Embree earns $63,000. Under current rules, she is eligible to retire in five years, at age 54, after 30 years on the job. Upon retirement, she will be paid about 66 percent of her wages.Jim Embree earns $70,700. He is eligible to retire in two years, at age 50, after 25 years on the job. He will take home 60 percent of his retiring salary.Both Embrees could continue to work and improve their pensions; Judy Embree would qualify for 100 percent of her wages after 44 years of service (at age 68), and Jim would max out after 33 years (at age 58) with 72 percent of his final pay.

Not surprisingly, the Embrees think this just about right. The article concludes with this reflection from Mr Embree: