On gas, PERS and a living wage

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2006

This letter is in regard to three items in last week's papers. First was the article regarding the gas line port authority, where the governor's spokesman said, "We have an agreement with the people who own the gas." I thought the gas was owned by the people, and the Big Tree only owns the leases to drill and recover the gas. Maybe he was misquoted, or was it a Freudian slip, and he confirmed what many already suspected?

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Next, was Toe's cartoon in last Sunday's edition of the Empire? Some Public Employees' Retirement Service Tier I, II and IIIs might feel that way, they are being as shortsighted as the administration and the legislators who passed the new legislation.

Take a closer look, and you'll see that all this legislation has done is legitimize the infamous "Ponzi Scheme." Those who have already retired will "get theirs" as Toe characterizes, but what about those who just started work last month, last year, even those with 20 years in and 10 to go? Will they "get theirs"?

With the PERS supposedly $5.5 billion in the hole already, contributions will begin falling off in August. Once PERS begins to pay out more than it takes in, the principal will start eroding. Once the erosion begins there will be no stemming the slide into insolvency. When will that be? I can't say for sure, but does anyone really believe that the person hired last month will "get theirs?"

Lastly, in regard to Leimomi Matunding's letter also in the Empire on July 2, to those of you seeking elected office, please take note of her message. Most of us could care less about who could or did create the most jobs. Quite frankly, 95 percent already have jobs. If you want our votes, promise to make sure that the jobs we have pay a living wage. As Matunding said, most of us are working two jobs to make ends meet. Do the math: If the state employees had a wage that kept up with inflation, then we wouldn't have to work two jobs. This would free up a lot of jobs for whomever you're trying to create jobs for. For those of you that believe state employees don't deserve a living wage, just keep in mind that your salary is probably tied to the state salary system, whether your employer will admit it or not.

Michael Lavering

Juneau



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