Phi Beta Cons

Public sector squeezes taxpayers

David Rubinstein, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, describes his retirement package and thanks the taxpayers of Illinois for his “cushy life”:

After 34 years of teaching sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I recently retired at age 64 at 80 percent of my pay for life. This calculation was based on a salary spiked by summer teaching, and since I no longer pay into the retirement fund, I now receive significantly more than when I “worked.” But that’s not all: There’s a generous health insurance plan, a guaranteed 3 percent annual cost of living increase, and a few other perquisites. Having overinvested in my retirement annuity, I received a fat refund and — when it rains, it pours — another for unused sick leave. I was also offered the opportunity to teach as an emeritus for three years, receiving $8,000 per course, double the pay for adjuncts, which works out to over $200 an hour. Another going-away present was summer pay, one ninth of my salary, with no teaching obligation.

Professor Rubenstein estimates that given a normal life span, these benefits have nearly doubled his working-years salary. He puts “work” in quotation marks, citing his two-course-per-semester teaching load and other boons that make the tenured full professor’s life a heavenly haven. He goes on to point out the basic unfairness of making taxpayers who really do have to work hard, and for much less in pay and benefits, foot the bill for this kind of costly, comfy retirement for those on the public payroll.   

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