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October 2, 2022

Practices used to “deceive” pensioners

Romania has 5.4 million pensioners today and the pensions’ budget has a deficit of more than EUR 1.3 bln. The unemployment rate grows even during the summer, when works of all kinds should be in full swing, and the inflation rate is growing without the pensions keeping up with it. Although there are laws in this regard. But when it comes to pensioners the laws are either not respected or discriminatory. While in the opposition each party accuses as loudly as it can the serious discriminations that have appeared in the pensions system in the last approximately 16 years. A sad historic stage when Romania was looted in all manners. The pensions of high-level politicians but also those of the “insolents” were calculated as 80 per cent of the income registered in the final month of employment. And given the fact that such incomes also included, apart from the massive monthly salary, many other bonuses of all kinds, the current situation was reached, when such a maximum pension is over 30 times higher than the minimum pension.

Various social categories benefit from massive pensions, also called “insolent,” without such categories standing out through special sacrifices done throughout their activity. Naturally, with the exception of the few dozen soldiers still alive today after the end of the Second World War. They deserve significantly hiked pensions, but the rest of those “high up” have no justification for their mega-pensions obtained through fraudulent egomania. If a diplomat from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, conducted a part of his professional activity posted at a Romanian embassy abroad, his job was at the same time amply rewarded including through his access to daily material advantages. Advantages that a surgeon contemporary to the said diplomat, a surgeon who performed hundreds of life-saving surgeries, did not benefit from. So then, is it just for today’s difference in their pensions to reach proportions unconceivable in other European countries? And this question is valid in many other cases. Including in the case of university professors forced, despite their still useful prestige, to retire after the age of 70 and receive modest pensions.
It is precisely because of these discriminations that the pensions’ budget is continuously insufficient and the pensioners are unjustly considered a burden. Their salvation could come from the creation of as many jobs as possible that would be filled with tax-paying employees. All our politicians brag with the priority character of this goal that is strategic for any national economy. But they do so only when they are in the opposition. The moment they come to power the officials forget their previous pleading in favor of hiking the number of jobs and, moreover, cancel even the few national realities. They also forget the unnatural character of insolent pensions and, as a “novelty” measure, they project the hiking of the women’s retirement age to 65. In these conditions, isn’t it obvious that the Romanian family itself will be the most affected? And consequently, our demographic indicator will be increasingly low? And how will the deficit of the increasingly-low pensions’ budget be covered? And who will be responsible for the increasingly severe poverty of the common pensioner?
But our politicians do not ask themselves such questions. Prisoners exclusively of the present, they are incapable of long-term thinking. Tomorrow does not exist for them other than in the sense of a possible hike in illicit enrichment, hence including through corruption pushed up to the stage of crime against the Romanian state. Even extensive projects such as administrative decentralization and the regionalization of the national territory are conceived not as factors meant to strengthen the national state, on the contrary, they are conceived as sources of local enrichment, excessively individualized up to the criminal stage of territorial break-up.
This is precisely how the psychosis according to which pensioners, as a numerically important social category, represent the main obstacle in the path of surpassing the current economic-financial crisis. Those pleading in favor of this false conclusion forget the fact that in 1990 we had a surplus in the pensions’ budget. From which the exact sum of over EUR 1 bln (in today’s money) was taken out and inserted in the state budget that was increasingly adverse because of the fraudulent privatizations and the government’s decision to avoid unemployment precisely through excessive early retirements. After which many other early retirements for health reasons followed. Being known that, for over two decades, Romania has been on a painful leading place in Europe when it comes to the incidence of heart, lung, and kidney ailments, the incidence of cancer, diabetes etc. The very low living standards in Romania affect over half of the country’s population.
The whole politicking opposition to the logical, modern, democratic balancing of the Romanian pensions system wouldn’t win without the magistrates’ support. Magistrates that hold a leading position among those whose pensions boorishly break the contributory principle. The judges “judge” their own trials against governments and they win every time when it comes to defending the pensions that favor them. They claim that they represent a “unique” social and professional category and, as such, they should have a “unique” status too. Also when they retire. In this case, like in others too, the argument offered is the value of pensions given to Western magistrates. Thus ignoring the fact that the Romanian economy cannot be compared to the economy of countries such as Germany, France, and Sweden etc.
For all these reasons, including the current freezing of pensions irrespective of the growth in inflation, pensioners frequently threaten with street protests. But, like in the case of most protests staged by trade unions, the government launches the day before all kinds of “exceptions.” And precisely these “exceptions” favor confusion, contradictions between the categories of protesters that are incapable to defend themselves in solidarity. Hence the popular saying “the politicking cyanide poured into the Romanian pensions budget.” And this is how a simple popular saying synthesizes a long and painful process of sentencing pensioners to death.

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