Thursday, May 05, 2005

The NEA's Hypocrisy on Social Security

I've always enjoyed listening to the rhetoric of the NEA, especially when it comes to their consistent opposition to any education reforms which might require minimum standards for teachers. My wife is a former music teacher who was made a mandatory member of the NEA, and we had plenty of opportunity to see the truly convoluted logic of that union. I even had the pleasure of receiving their fundraising calls. Note to conservative teachers: explaining your political opposition to the NEA to these callers is the quickest and surest way to get yourself on their do not call list. It only took twice for them to stop calling us.

In any case, I heard on Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" today that the NEA has stepped outside education to oppose any privatization of the Social Security system. It would seem that the NEA has no dog in this fight. Not so.

Here are the NEA positions on privatization, among other issues. Follow the links. It's all there. And here is an explanation of the inner workings of the NEA. Read the whole thing. It's easy to follow.

The NEA opposes privatization of accounts, but the funny thing is that they have members in various states who opt-out of social security to enjoy the benefits of private retirement accounts. So, on its face, the NEA wants to deny the rest of us the very same thing that its members are permitted. hypocritical enough to be sure, but the NEA is not just about politics. Like any liberal parochial organization, it is about itself to the exclusion of its members.

The President's plan will most likely involve mandatory participation in the social security system, which means that employers, not the state, will likely be participating in making a defined contribution to their employees' retirement. That means that where the teachers have opted out of Social Security, they are back in, and thus there is less salary from which the NEA can collect member dues. But more to the point, the NEA's ability to bargain for the defined benefit plans for teachers' retirements--a happy source of revenue--would be gone.

The NEA seems to get that. Check this from their site:

Mandatory coverage of public employees would increase the tax burden on
public-sector employers. Ultimately, these increased tax obligations would lead
to difficult choices, including reducing the number of new hires, limiting
employee wage increases
, reducing cost-of-living increases for retirees,
and reducing other benefits such as health care. (emphasis mine)


Ignoring the granny-scaring for a moment, the bottom line is that the NEA is concerned that there will be fewer members for them, or in any case, less salary for them to prey upon.

The NEA is in this because member benefits affect their bottom line. Whereas requiring teachers to be more knowledgeable than their students on the matters which they teach them was a problem for the NEA, so too will be reforming a retirement system which currently benefits them. But this union needs to be seen for what it is--an organization that exists for itself, not for the advancement of students, nor even for the future financial security of teachers.

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