Thursday, July 5, 2012

Providence and Pensions

By Bill Maher

Providence means the invisible guiding hand of God, so I'm always sad to see things skidding wildly into shit creek in a place called Providence.  But that's exactly what happened this year to Providence, Rhode Island, population 178,000.  You could fit the entire population of Providence inside two LA Coliseums and have 9,000 extra seats.  It's not exactly Tokyo.  So the townsfolk were surprised when their unions told them they owed them $901 million for their pensions.

And no, I'm not just blaming the unions.  They're the nicest bunch of no-necks you'd ever like to meet.  There are other problems with the system.  Retirees living longer, for instance, and the pension funds losing money in the market.

But unemployment in Rhode Island is 11%.  It's a beleaguered little Chow-Chow of a state.

And Providence was going bankrupt. So last month -- in cooperation with the unions -- they reformed the pension system.  You can do this stuff, if both sides agree not to be assholes.  One of the things they did was get rid of the 5 percent and 6 percent annual increases given to about 600 former firefighters and police.  Another was to cap future pensions at 1.5 times the state's median annual household income, or about $82,000.  Which doesn't sound like any robber barons are kicking the stool out from under the workingman, but that's just me.

There are two dozen city retirees collecting more than $100,000 a year in Providence.  Which is nice for them, but hard on a tiny city of people who aren't evil or greedy or anything. Really. I've been there.

The poster child for the problem with the Providence pension system is former fire chief Gilbert McLaughlin. And I know this is anecdotal, but that's really just another word for "fact you don’t like."  McLaughlin retired in 1991, age 55, making $63,510 a year.  His contract entitled him to a 6% cost of living increase every year.  So this year, for not being fire chief, he made $196,813.  If McLaughlin lives to be 100 -- and why not, it's not like he's fighting fires -- he would've earned $700,000 a year under the old system.

Something had to give.  So Providence -- and the whole state, governed by our old pal Linc Chafee, neither greedy nor evil, nor out to destroy the middle class -- are suspending cost of living increases, and capping benefits.

I think we need unions.  But when people hear about the retired fireman whose pay doubles every twelve years, you can see how they might not like it.

34 comments:

Darby2401 said...

You are right, Bill. But if that Fire Chief is being paid 196k a year he should have to give up his social security to pay for his rising health costs.

Zen Grouch said...

If the city officials agreed to a 6% cost of living increase per year, based on nothing else... fuck 'em.

Obviously a bunch of idiots who can't see past the next election cycle.

StewartIII said...

NewsBusters: Scott Walker-Bashing Bill Maher Calls For Public Pension Reform
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2012/07/06/scott-walker-trashing-bill-maher-comes-out-favor-public-pension-refor

Laurie Fenner said...

As I drove past the Gold Bar (Washington)Fire Chief's house this morning, I noticed he had one of those cardboard signs asking for money (granted, his sign is prettier and more legible than the meth addict's down the road). Now, I understand that insurance costs go up whenever your men get caught going down on your women (who have been trained to cry "sexual harassment" upon climaxing. But one's fiscal judgment should be questioned if one lacks good judgment in all other areas. You credit yourself as a lifesaver, yet your wife's life was in jeopardy and you were helpless to get her off heroin before she could OD. Having a junkie for a wife sucks. And those 2 kittens my biker friends found in a ditch in front of your house on the 4th - those came from your other neglected pussy. If I give you more money (I'll squeeze it out of the $3,000 I made last year - 1/3 of which goes to my property taxes)will you promise to fix your pets? And keep them out of the street. Oh, one of those kittens would have died as his tongue was firmly cemented to the roof his mouth - no doubt from the gluey slug the poor baby had been trying to eat because he was hungry. When I finally was able to free his tiny tongue with tissue forceps (as Jeremy, a huge biker dude, lovingly held him close) you could see the curdled mama milk pooled in his throat. The inability to eat and drink explained his grey pallor and thin body. You were too busy banging your new squeeze to answer the door, but the lactating cat and 3rd kitten near your porch tells me who the (ir)responsible party is. As you carry the title of Fire Chief in this town, I can only assume that being a dumb cunt does not hinder you in the performance of your duties. Since I'm currently filing suit against the Sheriff's dept (dereliction of duty, which lead to injury of my animals), I don't have time to put out brushfires created by assholes like yourself. I'm the spay/neuter gal who funds the altering for all the local junkies, thieves & welfare cheats. Should I now include union workers?

mW said...

I'm with Bill. I mean, Unions are good, and I root for the little guy as much as the next person, but there are limits. There are times when the scale can tip too far in the other direction. The system--every system, really--works on establish equilibrium. Too much good is no good.

I'm glad both sides agreed here that the benefits were too much. They were a great bargain for the union, but at some point, reality intrudes. And then you just have to say that modification is appropriate. At least some people in this country are still able to use reason and logic to come to a fair solution of an untenable situation.

Anonymous said...

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/slap-the-st-out-of-him-wayne-brady-calls-out-bill-maher-for-racial-comments/

Anonymous said...

maher get a backbone and quit flip flopping on EVERYTHING!! you bash Scott Walker for doing a month ago, what you are supporting today. quit speaking on politics because you sound foolish and go re-make DC Cab!

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http://www.marketskeptics.com/2012/01/why-romney-lost-south-carolina-his-past-at-bain-capital.html

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Anonymous said...

Americans get 26 weeks of vacation per year. We just chose to spend 25 weeks of it working for the criminals destroying our nation.

jcunniff@mindspring.com said...

Bill: Don't you think the whole anti obama campaign has to do with the fact that during slavery, there was an overt jealousy of the size of the black man's genitals?
Now think about it: During the lynchings in the South, if women were present, they were lynched with their clothes on. If not, they were stripped naked and their genitals were cut off. Proof, eh.??
I'm a southerner and this is what my father said from the beginning. Back to old penis envy, eh.

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Billy ... these are pretty fucking phenomenal:

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Kasha Cohen said...

Bill... Loving you is like being married to a sailor- you're here just long enough for me to get addicted to you, foregoing my Friday night to get my Bill-fix, breaking out in a sweat by Wednesday, watching last weeks DVRd show until you come back next week...then, you go away for weeks/months at a time. We have to have a 'talk'. I can't live like this. Your loved ones, your family need you. I'll see you port side on Aug. 17th. I'll be the one paying homage to the man who gives us hope and lets us know we are not alone. Love you...really!

Kasha Cohen said...

Bill... Loving you is like being married to a sailor- you're here just long enough for me to get addicted to you, foregoing my Friday night to get my Bill-fix, breaking out in a sweat by Wednesday, watching last weeks DVRd show until you come back next week...then, you go away for weeks/months at a time. We have to have a 'talk'. I can't live like this. Your loved ones, your family need you. I'll see you port side on Aug. 17th. I'll be the one paying homage to the man who gives us hope and lets us know we are not alone. Love you...really!

Heather said...

Bill will you please have Bernie Sanders on ur show! PLEASE?! LOVE YOU!

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