Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99
News Opinion

Privatizing retirement benefits is a mistake

Thomas Firey of the Maryland Policy Institute offers a libertarian approach to economic security in retirement ("Better pension reform," July 27).

Mr. Firey argues that because some Illinois teachers chose in 1998 not to take a "buy-in" for increasing their eventual pension benefits, Maryland state employees should be able to "buy-back" future pension benefits. The employees would receive cash now in exchange for benefits they would otherwise be entitled to when they retire, thereby reducing the state's long-term pension obligations.

This suggestion does not represent sound public policy.

The Illinois teachers who turned down an increase in their retirement pensions probably were satisfied with their existing benefits and thus chose to save their cash for other uses. This is not the same as getting cash now in exchange for a small pension in the future.

It is more like a number of schemes have surfaced in recent years for "privatization" of all insurance programs. These schemes make the employee responsible for most or all of his or her future security.

It may appear laudable for each of us to take complete charge of our affairs. But that really isn't really feasible. Many private schemes just aren't reliable; and when they prove not to be, what then?

Neil Curran, Baltimore

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Teacher pension study based on incomplete science

    Thomas A. Firey's recent suggestion in The Sun ("Better pension reform," July 27) of a statewide "buy-back" program for public employees to reduce Maryland's future public pension should be vetted very closely by citizens and officials, given the incomplete science that serves as its...

  • The Clinton email scandal: a double standard?
    The Clinton email scandal: a double standard?

    Underpinning the coverage of the Hillary Clinton email scandal is a double standard: She is being pilloried for email practices that are widely used throughout government from local school districts up to the federal level, from junior up to senior administrators and from many past as well as...

  • Online poker: Deal me in
    Online poker: Deal me in

    We don't outlaw cars just because people have accidents. Rather, we have automotive safety standards, rules of the road and consequences for reckless driving. Similarly, online poker should not be illegal just because there are computer security concerns. Rather, gaming can be regulated and...

  • Offshore drilling: All risk, no reward
    Offshore drilling: All risk, no reward

    Responding to a caller on WBAL News Radio's C4 Show on Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan made clear he wasn't happy with Attorney General Brian Frosh taking legal positions such as the amicus brief in support of immigration reform he filed earlier this year. While acknowledging that Mr. Frosh, a...

  • Kids don't belong in adult jails
    Kids don't belong in adult jails

    When I first visited the Baltimore City Detention Center in 1999, I found an archaic, decaying facility that held people in grim cells with no direct natural light. The detention center held many children who were charged as adults, and they suffered some of the worst abuses — including...

  • Backsliding on Baltimore's property tax
    Backsliding on Baltimore's property tax

    Last year, the economic recovery in Maryland and particularly in Baltimore was sputtering, due in no small part to federal government cutbacks. Still, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake managed to introduce a city budget that included no new taxes or fees, no cuts to services, a 2 percent raise for...

  • Baltimore school police [Poll]
    Baltimore school police [Poll]
  • Childhood obesity: an epidemic
    Childhood obesity: an epidemic

    During the last legislative session, I introduced a bill to give Maryland's children a better tomorrow. It required restaurants to offer only water or milk with children's meals (included in the meal price) instead of high-sugar and caloric beverages. Other beverages would still have been...