Wed, May 03, 2017 - Page 8 News List

Pretexts for civil servants’ benefits

By Lin Shiou-jeng 林修正

With the commotion surrounding pension reform, it is becoming necessary to speak from the heart in support of the workers who are remaining silent.

A lot of people have noted that in the current proposal, employees in the public sector who have worked just as many years as a civil servant would not receive more than a maximum monthly pension of NT$30,000, while some would not even get NT$20,000.

However, the minimum a civil servant would receive is NT$32,160. The maximum pension from the labor insurance program would fall far short of the minimum payment for civil servants.

It would be as if elderly people were living in two different countries.

All the many reasons forwarded in the media in support of the high pensions for public servants — military personnel, civil servants and public-school teachers — are wrong. The arguments that they are justified because their exams were difficult, because the military protects the nation and because the work of police officers and firefighters is dangerous are all wrong.

First: Exams and high standards explain how difficult it is to become a civil servant or a teacher, but once they retire, these reasons for a high salary vanish, because they are clearly irrelevant to retirement pay.

Is there any industry where difficult exams and high employee standards are guarantees for high productivity and thus high pay?

There is no economic theory to support this argument, nor is there such an industry in real life.

If it does not even apply to salaries, then it should also be completely irrelevant to pensions. High pay for civil servants and public-school teachers is acceptable if they are highly productive, but once they retire, their productivity drops to zero.

How, then, can the differences in retirement pay be justified?

Second: A pension should allow a retiree the ability to maintain a minimum standard of living.

Other expenses, like travel, should be handled through savings and investments.

This is a fundamental principle, so why can public servants with their high standards not understand that?

Third: Danger, hard work and time away from family are reasons that could apply to any number of professions, including police officers, sailors and flight attendants.

These factors, risks and difficulties are taken into consideration during service and are reflected in salaries.

If people receive high pensions, they are being rewarded twice for the same thing.

Furthermore, after retirement, the risks disappear, and neither security personnel, police officers nor firefighters are productive any more.

Why should security personnel receive lower pensions than police officers?

Fourth: Some people say that military personnel, civil servants and public-school teachers were the most important force behind the nation’s economic development and that without these groups we would not have the economic prosperity and national defense that Taiwan enjoys today.

This is wrong.

With the exception of publicly owned businesses, these groups are part of the consumer services industry — the military and police — or the indirect producer services industry — teachers, for example, who help increase production, but do so indirectly, without participating directly in production.

Workers were the only ones who participated directly in production and economic activities, and they made the biggest contribution to the economy.

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