Being under employed taught me the degree to which public pensions were obscene. I don't think I could have had worse timing in terms what would normally have been considered good choices. I was in school when the economy was booming and people were able to get jobs, and every career choice I made I seemed to have made at the beginning of a massive decline in employment in that sector. I was new to banking when bank machines were introduced and basically it left the banking industry with very little opportunity. I did a chemistry degree where they told me by the time I was 4th year my average class size would be 8-10 and it was 40-50, leaving about 5 times as many graduates competing for jobs right at the beginning of the recession in the early 90s.
I did more homework on career then ever before when making my decision to go into education, which was promoting a teaching shortage by 2004-2006, only to find the researchers completely failed to take into consideration a declining birth rate at the same time the government introduced cuts that increased the student to teacher ratio by 10%.
So, there I was, unable to find a permanent classroom job because for 5 years teaching positions were elimated through attrition at the same time the province graduated 800 new teachers per year. Most that went into teaching during that 5 year period could not even get onto a substitute teacher list and something like half left the profession without ever getting a job in education. I have little trust for economic and employment research as a result of such a grossly incompetent call that there would be a teaching shortage in the period that half entering it left without every finding a job. To me, it feels like the same story 3 times in my life, banking, industry and education, and everytime I was taking advice from those I believed knew what they were talking about.
Anyway, in the year or two prior to my move to the north I did an economic analysis of the wage and pension loss from under employment. Education has the most harsh pay grid to get through out of any occupation I have looked at. For example, firemen and teachers have a 10 year grid, well, actually in education it goes to 12 years in many places. With firemen by the end of the 4th year they are only $1000 below the maximum pay and they spend 6 years there before getting that last $1000. With teachers the pay starts around 60-65% of the max and increases by about 3% of the max per year until it gets to 100% around year 12. So, at the 4th year if the top of the grid is $70k, which is close to the same as what the fireman's top of the grid is, the fireman is $1000 less then max and the teacher is still $20k below the max. So there is absolutely no comparison to what the actual wages are when you compare top salaries in occupations because the teacher's pay grid actually results in wages being about 10% less then what people believe them to be, compared to about a 2% average for all other pay grids.
So, this is what my economic analysis was showing, but I also worked out lost penions. My analysis showed that lost wages through not getting steps up the grid and losing pension was something like $50k per year being under employed and around half of it was lost pension accumulation. A figure of a quarter million for pension sticks out in my mine, or something obscene like that.
So, that was just prior to me taking a close look at what was happening to government budgets and the economy as a whole. It made me realize that there was no way in the world that pension obligations could be met. I think that every last person who isn't on the receiving end of one of those sugar coated pensions has feelings of being ripped off by them. We all tend to work hard and there is a gross inequity in terms of the financial recognition for individual's contributions. I wasn't on the receiving end, and now I am. I would much rather fix it to be fair, equitable and sustainable then continuing to live in wonderland.
The not being on the receiving end completely shaped my approach to financial matters. I had to plan for my future and it meant doing without a lot compared to those on the recieving end, like new cars, more vacations, even starting a family. When you know your budget must put something aside for retirement, well, it takes a deep cut into spending. But not having a pension is also responsible for being on a sound financial path now. I am not dependent on being on the receiving end of an unsustainable pensions because I started planning for my retirement 20 years ago.
I notice Rosey had a blog attacking unions for not taking pay cuts or benefit cuts. I don't see estimates of how those budget woes continue as pension costs take a bigger and bigger cut of budgets as the aging population retires, but that is what the pensions are doing. I think the wages are actually sustainable without the pension and benefit burden and the pensions kill transparency of the budgets because so much cost is in the future.
Governments truly need to separate themselves from this future burden and transfer what is owed up front and leave it for those making the unsound calcuations to deal with.