Pucker up, pandemic pension kiss will leave taxpayers feeling sick

Call it the Great Hack Heist of 2021.

Call it the Great Hack Heist of 2021.

This could be the biggest money grab ever by the Massachusetts hackerama — and that’s saying something.

I refer to H. 2808, the bill that would enable the state’s hundreds of thousands of payroll patriots, many of whom have only rarely if ever gone to work for more than a year since the Panic began, to grab an extra three years of pension credit for enjoying their year-plus vacations with full pay.

In the Dreaded Private Sector, beginning in March 2020, people were fired, left unemployed for months on end. They got nothing, other than a daily lecture from the idiot governor about their duties to take it and like it.

And if the people in the real world did get to keep their jobs, guess what? They actually had to continue putting in their 40 hours a week, stocking shelves, driving trucks, fixing plumbing, etc.

No “telecommuting” for anyone who had to work with their hands.

The hacks, on the other hand, didn’t have to show up at all, or only occasionally. But now they are the ones who are going to be rewarded by getting their pensions jacked up even further.

As if their kisses in the mail weren’t already going to dwarf anything in the private sector.

This payroll patriot payoff is called, with unintentional irony, “the “Essential Employee Retirement Credit Bonus.”

Essential employees indeed. They were gone for a year and nobody missed most of them, unless you had to renew your driver’s license or file some necessary legal documents.

The state and local workers are all quite essential, right up to the moment the snow flurries begin drifting down, in which case, they all take the next week off.

Covered are “all employees who have volunteered to work or who have been required to work at their respective worksites or any other worksite outside of their personal residence during the COVID-19 state of emergency … on March 10, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.”

Where to begin? How about with hacks “volunteering?” Maybe to take a slide, or go on a doughnut or beer run, but that’s about it.

More significantly, what is the significance of March 10 — the day of the official announcement of the alleged “emergency.” Most of the workforce presumably went to their jobs that morning before the announcement was made. It was just another day at the office.

But the way the bill reads to me, anybody who showed up for work on March 10 — a regular work day — now gets an automatic three years extra credit toward their bloated pensions.

The Boston schools, to cite one example, didn’t close until March 15. Remember, no one even died of the virus in Massachusetts until March 20.

And what’s the significance of Dec. 31? The “emergency” went on until June 15.

More than half the Legislature’s 200 members have signed on to this fiasco, including a number of Republicans. Did I mention that legislators will also be eligible for this unearned windfall?

Not to get too far into the weeds, but the formula for state pensions is based on both age and years of “service.” Thus, the bill allows the payroll Charlies the option of using either “age or years of service or a combination thereof.”

A combination thereof! See if you can get that in a private pension plan, however few even still exist.

What’s the state’s unfunded pension liability right now, before this latest highway robbery? I believe it’s more than 40 billion dollars. No wonder they say they can’t afford a sales tax holiday for the working classes. They’d prefer to give the nonworking classes this lifetime holiday.

Greg Sullivan, the former state rep and inspector general who now works for the Pioneer Institute, did some calculations on the projected pension increase for lifetime coat holder Marty Meehan, now the $660,000-a-year president of ZooMass.

Marty’s kiss from H. 2808? Almost another $800,000 over the course of his lifetime. (And Marty was already looking at 80% of 660K — more than a half-million a year.)

Once again, here in the hackerama, history is repeating itself. Back in the 1930s, there was a hack thing called “snow buttons.” If there was a blizzard, in the cities you could go to your local ward heeler to get a day’s work shoveling out the roads, or the streetcar lines.

The local politician — Tip O’Neill in Cambridge, or Edward “Knocko” McCormack or John E. Kerrigan in Southie — would give out “snow buttons,” which you’d turn in for $4 cash. Not much, but it was the Depression.

Decades later, some hack filed legislation similar to H. 2808. If you could prove you’d had any public employment before 1940, you could get your entire state or city pension contribution refunded and still collect your full kiss in the mail.

In the 1970s, at least one wrinkly hack tried to grab a refund of a lifetime of pension contributions for a single pre-1940 $4 “snow button.” For days now, I’ve been calling around, trying to find somebody who could remember this ancient hack’s name. No luck.

The point is, 99% of the current hacks have no living memory of snow buttons, yet they (or their unions) have now recreated a perfect replica of it, only this new one is going to cost a million times more money.

It’s almost as if this kind of grifting is engineered into the hacks’ genetic code. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano every spring, they just instinctively know how to freeload.

Who’s going to pay for this latest crime against the taxpayers, you ask. Got a mirror?

Join Howie's Mailing List!

You have successfully subscribed!