Opinion: Pension schemes

POSTED: 05/11/12 12:14 PM

A new sheriff is riding into town, Education Minister Rhoda Arrindell said yesterday at a press conference that marked the end of her career in government. That remark was meant as a flashback to the days when she joined the now fallen government with a similar remark.

The press conference is the second in a series from ministers that will not return to the political arena after the new coalition-government takes office today at midnight. Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto said that he will give his press conference sometime next week.

While Economic Affairs Minister Franklin Meyers expressed his bitterness in clear terms on Wednesday, Arrindell chose a subtler approach, sprinkling quotes from Fernando Clark, Barack Obama, and Franklin Roosevelt throughout her speech.

Arrindell said that she will turn her attention now to her family and to gardening. A day earlier, Meyers said he was going to do nothing for two years but being a pain in the butt for the new government and campaigning for the 2014 elections.

When we asked Arrindell whether she was planning to run in 2014 her answer was a bit evasive. That is in itself clear enough, especially because she noted that people around her had already indicated that she was not cut of the cloth of a politician.

Arrindell said that she shared the sentiments Meyers had expressed a day earlier about the political developments. We take this to mean that she agrees the power-change has a lot to do with greed.

In this context we’d like to point to the benefits departing politicians have bestowed upon them. They’re not going penniless and they won’t be destitute for the foreseeable future. As we calculate in one of our front page articles today, each departing minister that plans to rest on his or her laurels for the next two years will walk away with approximately $210,000 from the pension scheme for fallen politicians.

Minister Meyers brought up that his partner is Brenda Wathey. We don’t know how Meyers and Wathey have organized their financial affairs, and we don’t care all that much about this either, but we figure it’s safe to assume that Meyers’ partner is not destitute either. Even if he did not bring in a penny for the next two years, he would still have a roof over his head and food on the table.

In this context it is rather peculiar to hear the minister accuse the incoming government of having greed as its main motive for its grab for power, while he intends to eat from the state coffers himself for the next two years.

The classy thing to do in such a situation – especially for politicians who have the interest of the people in this country at heart – would be to say something like: you know, I’m okay, and I know that our country needs all the money it is able to get its hands on. So for the sake of my country I forego the right to that rather rich pension scheme.

Until now, Meyers has not given any indication that he is ready to make such a classy gesture – and Arrindell did not spend any words on it either. The same goes for the ousted Public Health Minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus who went at age 43 on this pension scheme in December 2010 when she was forced out of office over a scandal with a piece of leased land on Pond Island.

We’re not saying that politicians who do not complete their term for one reason or another should be left like beggars on the street. That would be very un-classy, But to have ousted politicians who are in above average financial health burden the country’s budget for so long and for so much – that feeds the thought that, as Rhoda Arrindell expressed it yesterday, “politicians are indeed a bunch of, self-serving, greedy and power-hungry people whose trademark is to fool the people, especially in election time.”

Note that we left the term corruption out of Arrindell’s original quote here, because benefitting from a legally established pension scheme has of course nothing to do with corruption. But greed? Hm.

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