Over the weekend, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announced that he was going to reduce the wages of employees who are 'double dippers' by 40%.
In case you've never seen this term before, it refers to public employees who have retired from prior positions and are collecting pensions from their prior employer, but have been hired by a public employer and are getting standard wages.
I am absolutely opposed to elected officials who do this - and we have several in the Toledo region. They ran unopposed, retired from their office, usually for the months of November and December, began collecting their public pensions and then took office again for their new term on January 1. They are then collecting their pensions and their public salaries.
Employees of government jurisdictions are different. Many have worked outside of the public area, though some have worked in government, and have retired. They have then applied for and been appointed to work in government, often in another jurisdiction or in different positions. They earned their pensions from their prior employers and they have decided to continue working.
The perspective from our mayor and from many people is that because these people have other income, they are somehow not worthy or deserving of the same pay as anyone else who might be appointed to that position.
And I don't think this is right.
If you have set a salary for a position, commensurate with experience and skills needed to perform the described tasks of the position, you should pay the person selected that set amount. Whether or not the individual has a pension should never be a consideration.
If we begin down the road of setting salaries based upon the other income of an individual, we have stopped compensating 'fairly' and have, instead, decided to compensate based upon the perceived wealth of the individual.
Would the people clamoring for 'double dippers' to get paid less also advocate for someone with an inheritance to be paid less? After all, they don't really need the full salary since they already have other income/assets. And it's the same argument.
There's a third category of people that often get lumped into the 'double dipper' category: individuals who've worked their entire lives, retired and then sought elective office. These are usually people who didn't have the ability to seek office while working full time and, now that they're retired, can do so. It would seem that, rather than attacking such seasoned individuals for wanting to be paid for the work they do, we would welcome their experience in elective office.
It's easy to find a group of people to attack as 'double dippers' and use then use that name as an excuse to pay them less than others in the same position. But it's promoting class warfare to say that simply because a person has other income or wealth, they should be paid less. This puts government into the position of making a determination of what you need, rather than what you deserve. And that's a very slippery slope, indeed.