Kate Hicks

Union lunacy at its finest. A Michigan teacher, and member of the Michigan Education Association (the teachers' union), has gone on the record protesting an education spending reform bill that would preclude her from collecting health benefits right away when she retires...at age 47.

It's hard to decide what's more galling here: the fact that this woman believes she's entitled to retire so early -- on taxpayer funds, I might add -- or that she's protesting a bill that would require teachers to take marginal responsibility for their own retirements.

The nerve of these insensitive, education-hating politicians!

SB 1040 calls for some fairly invasive cost-cutting measures that would relieve the taxpayers of some of the heavy burden education spending imposes, while asking teachers to invest in their own retirement. The bill requires Michigan teachers to put 5% of every paycheck toward their pension funds, among other reasonable, moderate practices considered standard by virtually everyone in the private sector.

English teacher Terri List, however, thinks the proposal is completely unfair, because it would require her to stay in the profession for longer. To quote a fantastic movie: "It's a life ruiner. It ruins people's lives."

The MEA reported on its website: "Saginaw Township teacher Terry (sic) List had hoped to retire in the next three years when she was 47 years old. That wouldn’t be possible under SB 1040. List would have to work another 16 years to be eligible for health benefits."

"By the time I'm 60, I would have put in 43 years of service, earning a salary at the top of the pay scale. How does that save the district money? You could hire two people for the cost of one and encourage young people to join the profession. Right now, I would not recommend to my pupils to become a teacher in Michigan."

Rich. She thinks she should be allowed to retire early on the taxpayer's dime because it would save the district money. What she fails to recognize is that she's not saving anyone money. Her pension of $60,000 (which would increase at a rate of 3% per year) is provided to her by the same people who would be paying those two new teachers: Michigan taxpayers.

In what profession is retirement at 47 a reasonable expectation? Even in Greece, the retirement age is 63! It's just another lesson on the ills of public sector unions. They're not unionized against a private company that might seek to cheat them of hard-earned profits; no, they're unionized against the taxpayers. If they want more money, they just ask for more from the government coffers. There's no impetus to spend less and save more. Thus, its members adopt the entitled attitude borne of a distorted definition of "fairness" that means, "what I think I deserve."

Terri List thinks she deserves to retire at age 47, without contributing a cent to her own pension. If she can't, it's not fair, and it hurts the children. Ah. The terrible injustices reality imposes on us all.


Kate Hicks

Kate Hicks is one of Townhall.com's web editors. You can follow her on Twitter @KateBHicks.