OPINION | Chris McCarthy: Playing Politics with Pensions
Two Massachusetts legislators and the Treasurer want to prevent the state workers pension fund from investing in companies that profit from firearms.
According to a press release from Treasurer Deb Goldberg, "the bill will ensure that the Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board will sell, redeem, divest or withdraw all publicly-traded securities from any ammunition, firearm, and firearm accessory manufacturing companies that derive 15 percent or more of their revenues from the sale or manufacture of ammunition, firearms or firearm accessories for civilian purposes."
“As gun violence tears at the fabric of our nation and Congress is unable to act even in the face of overwhelming support, it is time for state stewards to ensure our retirement savings and pension funds are not profiting from that violence," Representative Lori Ehrlich (D- Marblehead) said in the release. "As a state, we decided to divest from Big Tobacco because of the harm it causes in our communities. It is time we do the same with guns and ammunition. I applaud Treasurer Deb Goldberg for her courageous leadership and I am pleased to join her in her call for change.”
But is it a good idea for the state of Massachusetts to use the retirement funds of state employees to send a political message? The responsibility of the managers of the pension fund is to invest the money in a manner that is first safe and second will grow the wealth of the fund. Retirees of the Commonwealth deserve the same financial management standards found in all investment accounts.
In addition to losing out on financial gains that may come with investing in companies that profit from firearms, this move totally ignores the idea that some state employees may actually support the Second Amendment and private ownership of guns. It also ignores the important role that firearms play in keeping the public safe when in the hands of law enforcement officers. What about the firearm that was properly used by a deputy sheriff to stop a knife-wielding murderer at the Bertucci's restaurant in Taunton a few years ago?
The money in the Massachusetts state pension fund is for the well being of the employees in their retirement, and not for the political whims of politicians.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.