Carnie letter: Politicians’ pensions

The Sunday, April 16, Statesman contained an Eyes on Idaho column from Robert Ehlert questioning pensions for public “servants.” I wholeheartedly agree. However, consider the statistics described: members of Congress opening salary, $174,000; minimum service for pension eligibility, five years; maximum pension, 80 percent of final salary — all legislatively established, i.e. set by the recipients.

Compare those figures with military pensions (set under congressionally established budgets): opening officer salary, $36,417.60; minimum service for a pension, 20 years; maximum pension, 50 percent after 20 years of service, 75 percent after 30 years. Military personnel are available for deployment into harm’s way every hour of every day during those 20-30 years, sent by those same congressmen. The congressmen’s exposure to “harm’s way” being a colleague spilling bean soup on them in the congressional dining room.

Legislative pensions can only be changed by the legislators themselves. Despite the reasoning eloquently presented by Mr. Ehlert, can we really expect those legislators, whose inflated self-esteem and self-worth are reflected in the described statistics, to cut their own pensions? Ehlert cites one Kansas legislator offering to cut his pension — one among hundreds. Realistically, don’t hold your breath for such action despite the obvious need. More’s the pity; not politics, money talks.

Kent Carnie, Boise