Rome News-Tribune/February 16, 1954
A start must be made somewhere to pull the parasitic public employee off the bowed backs of the tax-producers. The case of Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, is flagrant and dramatic enough to serve as a starter. The case of Vincent Impellitteri, recently mayor of New York and now a local judge in Brooklyn, is another challenge to the Faceless Man.
The Chief Justice, who recently saluted Jimmy Petrillo and the leering racket of the musicians’ union, well knowing the predatory and anti-constitutional nature of the American Federation of Musicians, will be entitled to a pension of $16,000 a year from the State of California as of March 1. Some portion of this annuity will be a refund of the contributions which he paid into California’s pensions funds. This system is one of the most generous in the country but not more lavish than those available to those on the public payrolls of the city and state of New York. But, by the California law, the people who pay the state’s share of the pensions are forbidden to know how much any individual pensioner is getting or is entitled to under the several alternative plans.
Nobody in the state has any right to know how much the Chief Justice actually is entitled to, but figures can be hit upon by deduction. If he should “retire” on his 63rd birthday, March 1, he would qualify for $16,000 a year. That is more than $300 a week for the rest of his life, a figure that stands in emotional contrast to the paltry “social securial” mirage of the tax-producing worker, which is well under $25 a week. On the other hand, if Warren waits until 1956 he will be entitled to $18,000, an automatic income far beyond the maximum earnings of all but a very few Americans. For that matter, $18,000 is beyond the sensible aspirations of most tax-producing workers.
It may be interposed that Warren surely must have “retired” already because hee has left the service of the state and accepted the office of Chief Justice at $25,000 a year. But a veteran member of the state legislature, the chairman of one committee and a member of four, tells me that in checking the retirement systems available to employees and legislative and constitutional officers, he “ran into a rather interesting point”
“Somewhere in the fine print,” he writes, “is a prohibition against making public any information as to who is a member of the retirement systems, dates of retirement, amounts of pensions, and so forth. The head of the department, therefore, refuses to say whether Warren is a member of any of the systems. However, he is willing to say that Warren is not now (Feb. 3) drawing any benefits.
“It is pretty well known that he withdrew from the system provided for constitutional officers and joined the system for state employees in order that he might tack on his years in the district attorney’s office in Alameda County (Oakland). In the years before Mr. Warren became governor, in January 1943, the governor’s salary was $10,000.”
Later, a constitutional amendment authorized the legislature to fix a higher salary. In 1947, the legislature fixed the salary at $25,000. Pensions are of course based on salaries or wages.
The Los Angeles Examiner published a few months ago a news story dealing with reports that Warren had moved from the $10,000 bracket to the $16,000 bracket by switching from one system to another. The Examiner reported that the office of the state attorney general had ruled that all such data was absolutely confidential.
In New York, by means of a political deal between Impellitteri and Robert Wagner, the incoming mayor, a few weeks ago. Impellitteri was planted on a bench not for a career as a judge but only to kill time and incidentally perform the judicial chores but mainly so that me may qualify in three more years for a pension of $20,000 a year.
Old friends of Impellitteri, who had fought for his renomination and exposed themselves to political reprisals from his successful opponent, have been embittered for this. One intimate friend who had carried the target on the ramparts for him down to the very hour when he threw in the towel, said recently that he would never speak to Impellitteri again. Other Democrats have scratched him and the increase in his pension which he thus assured (for he already was entitled to his very comfortable retirement pay) has cost him much of something that money cannot buy. Impellitteri’s career as a “public servant” was arranged so as to include a short, comfortable hitch as a blue-jacket in the first war. Doubtless many other pensioners of the public payroll also are counting in their war service in the same way, whereas the millions who never draw a dime of public money aside from regular service pay have no way to collect such fat dividends on such service,
William D. Hassett, who was a “press secretary” to Roosevelt and Truman, working in the White House, and “never had it so good”! in all his life, recently took a fall out of the late Mark Sullivan, a great journalist, with a sneering charge that Mr. Sullivan was a spokesman for those who regarded the county poorhouse as social security for the aged. I immediately challenged Hassett to adduce one single word to substantiate that nasty charge. While I was at it, I put it to him that when the City of Washington was crawling with newspapermen and jobs were plentiful, his choice was not journalism but the bureaucracy. I told him that I had noticed that members of the Roosevelt-Truman cult with all their milky sympathy for the poor old Common Man were content to toss him the miserable dole of “social security” bit, for themselves, almost invariably made sure that their old age was cushioned with big federal pensions largely at public expense. I invited him to tell me whether he was one of those, but after some weeks I have yet to hear from him.
Obviously Chief Justice Warren is going to have to sit in some cases testing these de luxe doles at the expense of the common man. The strain on his impartiality will be severe.
The stipulation is made that such pampered pensioners, who seem to think they deserve better than the poor workers who pay their pensions, in all cases pay “contributions.” That is fragmentary and deceptive. Sure they do. And the security of their savings is a first lien on the assets and income of the state and federal government.
They simply can’t lose whereas the good old common man of their oratorical devotion must take chance on bank failures, insurance rackets and declining investments. But, more important, the pensioners of the deluxe class are exempt from income taxes until they have received back, with compound interest, all the money they have paid in painlessly by deductions over the years. They are a parasitic class of special privilege and a national scandal.
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