Pension End will Start the Revolution
Reaction to my column on 401(k)s for elected officials has been absolutely incredible, and, in fact, the response was also intimidating..
It received 1,700 Facebook Likes. Of course, it’s the message that received these “Likes”, not the messenger, but now comes the hard work if we’re going to make this message become reality and not just a pipedream.
I proposed in my column that the people in every state in this country need to have a binding referendum, asking if voters favor requiring all elected officials to have 401(k) defined contribution plans. The current setup for elected officials is to receive taxpayer-supported pensions, which are defined benefit plans.
My point is that while so many elected officials, from the small-town mayor to the congressman, support dismantling pension systems for public employees, the elected officials still are receiving pensions, which they will be paid until the day they die.
If these elected officials think 401(k) plans are the right way to go for their lower-paid employees, then surely they would welcome having the same defined contribution program for themselves.
Unfortunately, we really can’t trust our elected officials to do the right thing. That’s why we will have to force their hands, through binding referendums in every state.
How can it be done? Placing a referendum on a state ballot is not an easy process, and the politicians want it that way, so they, not the people, have control.
Consider what happened in Michigan last year. A referendum petition seeking to repeal the emergency manager law received nearly 200,000 of the required 170,000 signatures by the March deadline, but nearly was blocked because the petition did not use the proper font size. Fortunately, an appeals court and the state Supreme Court had enough intelligent jurists to keep the referendum on the ballot.
The emergency manager law removal referendum won, but the politicians, led by sneaky Gov. Rick Snyder, used a lame-duck session to restore it as another Public Act. In other words, even a referendum win doesn’t mean the spirit of the referendum will be followed.
That’s why we need to hit these politicians in their wallets and purses. Still, creating these referendums will not be easy, and this matter is what is so intimidating for me and anyone else who wants to see change.
Every state has different rules as to what is needed, including how the question is worded, when the petitions for such a referendum must be filed, and probably the font size of the petitions.
For example, in Illinois, about 400,000 signatures are needed, and I plan to look at what specific wording (and font size) is required to get the 401(k) for elected officials on the referendum ballot. I also want to make sure that if the voters in Illinois approve the referendum, the decision is binding on all of the elected officials. Illinois politicians can be just as deceptive as those in Michigan, if not worse. Our state deadline for the November 2014 ballot is next May.
I just started a new job, and I’m wondering if I can make the time to organize such a petition drive in Illinois. This challenge will be something others will have to consider in their home states.
Maybe I can get the ball rolling in Illinois, but others will have to take the lead in every other state, and quickly. Research what is needed in your state and how soon the petitions must be submitted. There probably are some states that won’t even allow public referendums. I would hope not, but democracy moves quite differently in our 50 so-called united states.
Start grilling your elected officials and the people who are running against them. Get a reading as to how they would feel about being put on a 401(k). Find groups to join with that will distribute your petitions. And consider running for office.
Demonstrating and parading around banks and government buildings is fine to get some publicity, but we can get more done through petitions and by voting. What we really need is a peaceful revolution, at the ballot box.
November 2014 will be a critical year for both parties, and filing for particular state and federal offices probably starts in just a few months. An issue such as 401(k)s for elected officials will show whether these politicians are willing to do what’s right for the people or are only in office for their own self-interest.
Based on the response I’ve received, taking pensions away from elected officials has universal appeal, and I’m hoping that this campaign is just the beginning.
If this effort is successful in Illinois, I hope to work to see it passed in other states, and then expand my focus to another matter – creating a constitutional amendment prohibiting discrimination by age.
First, let’s get some wins at the ballot boxes in our country. After some serious and lengthy soul-searching, I’m ready to go. Are you?
Here is my article: http://www.progressivepress.net/give-elected-officials-401k-plans/