Many public employees get a sweet deal in America. Their public
service unions make it almost impossible to fire them. Then, when they retire,
they begin receiving huge pensions, to which they contributed minimally. When
cities like Detroit go bankrupt, one reason is the greed of public employees.
Nevertheless, they will continue receiving their public pensions, no matter if their
city goes down.
Public employees should be moved into 401(k)s because taxpayers need to stop paying for the retirements of them. These civil servants have a right to retirement, but not on the backs of other people. They need to have a similar rate of risk that everyone else who invests for retirement does.
I believe it would be wise to move public employees into 401(k)'s where they are partially responsible for adding to their retirement funds. We have seen pension plans tear down local governments, such as in Detroit, and I do not believe people deserve these huge pension payments and I certainly do think they are affordable in any real sense.
What has become clear after the Recession is that the public pension liabilities are insanely underfunded - 4 trillion dollars at local and state levels. A few states, notably Texas, switched themselves to semi-private plans which have performed far better than public plans, and gave people choice in their investment.
There should always be a government-funded retirement system for public employees, and just employees in general. Before social security, poverty was much higher and there were a lot more economic woes. People aren't responsible enough, as a whole, to take complete control of their retirement. Plus, mistakes are made all the time.