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Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

Post  sc4ram on Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:52 pm

I put this over as a reply to the recent legislation thread as we were getting close running off topic


Nancy-

Thanks for reading my post and resonding. Just a couple of clarifications to your post (you are welcome to challange them if you dont think they are correct) . I believe the Defense Authorizatoin bill is essentially the budget for the DOD (Pentagon) . In previous years the war funding was done under a separate off budget "supplimental", I believe that when the new administration came in they put the war funding on budget. So our Service men and women and war operations are dependent on the recently passed Defense Authorization bill (to your point if it did get hung up they would just pass a "continuning resolution" and fund it at last year's level until they resolve their differences in the Congress.)

As to the Defense Contractors (and having worked for one) , I can tell you from experience, that I always sweated out this time of the year because the annual funding for for a multi-million dollar program I worked on was contingent on the Defense Authorization passage. We had to report to our share holders quarterly on projected sales, if this thing didnt get passed within a month or two my job was on the line. (My lay-off was the eventual result of the program being completed and the funding terminated) .

My former company is in a similiar situation to Grandmom's, after several lay-offs they are very profitiable at the moment. This is the case because their stockholders expect this type of financial performance. (and will terminate the management of the company if they fail to deliver) . There are upsides to this, if you own stock, in theory you will be rewarded by the company's good financial performance + dividends. (This is one of the reasons that the stock market is up 50%+ off the lows this year ). I would of liked my company to keep me around and "make work" for me but I would have to agree with them that it wouldnt be in the best intrests of the share holders. This is the way business works, and will continue to work unless we all become supplicants to the government. (I heard my President say today that unemployment will go higher)

I have no issue with a unemployed worker receiving unemployment benefits (as a recipient myself) . I do get frustrated when the inefficent machinery of government doesnt deliver quickly and the great scape-goat hunt goes on. I turn on TV and hear the media say the Repubs are to blame for stuffing the EUC bill with ammendments, when I read about several ammendments that the Dem leadership want to inroduce there is silence. Im glad in other cases the Senate does work slowly (as designed), otherwise government run health care would of been shoved up our nose by now.

Keep in mind when this extension gets passed, that will be 99 weeks of benefits (total) , which is unprecidented in the history of unemployment insurance.

I have some empathy for a working tax payer whos co-workers were laid off and as a result are now working more hours in a higher stress environment with no pay raise and in some cases less 401K matching. If I was one of those guys I might be thinking 99 weeks for not working WTF? When is this going to end? (I only mention this as its not my view but Ive run into working folks who think this)

To put this in perspective, Im a baby boomer (im not directing this to anyone on this board), my fellow boomers can be the biggest bunch of whiners that ever walked the earth. During the middle years of this decade when the economy was performing fairly well (quarter /quarter growth, unemployment <5%, the stock market near record highs, the deficit <$200B) whenever I turned on the TV people were lamenting that it didnt "feel" like progress. Frankly I wonder if anything would make us happy or are we just in a perpetual state of unhappyness looking for a boogyman.

Not to mention , my generation, which control much of the levels of power in local and state government , the school districts as well as a lot of power in the Federal Govt, seem to not have any foresite as to economic cycles and seemed surprised when there is a downturn (when historically downturns happen every decade). In their personal and government matters there is never any planning for a rainy day. My locality here rode the increased tax revenues from the real estate boom into the sky and spent money like drunk sailors. Now while we are in a down cycle, there is no plan but to raise taxes (on us) to cover revenue "shortfalls" (or worse print more money at the Fed level for everybody's boondoggles). Now the local guys are further incentivized to not plan ahead because they have been rewarded with "stimulus package" goodies.

My parents were products of the Great Depression, 20%+ unemployment with no unemployment benefits and if you had money in a bank most likely got vaporized. They had a lot less than we have to work with and they figured out a successful way forward. I rarely heard my parents complain about anything. Compared to that scenerio I feel pretty good about life today.

Anyhow I hope we are all keeping a open mind here, and thinking positive thoughts for quick passage of the EUC extension in the Congress. Good Luck !


Last edited by sc4ram on Sun Mar 21, 2010 2:16 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : re-title thread)
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Re: Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

Post  grandmom49 on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:19 pm

I guess this is the most appropriate place to post this link. I trust that it will be moved if I am wrong. Here is one of the reasons I feel our senators feel no sense of urgency to pass the benefit extension
http://www.rutherford.org/articles_db/commentary.asp?record_id=620

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Re: Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

Post  sc4ram on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:50 pm

very appropriate grandmom
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Re: Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

Post  nancym on Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:02 pm

sc4ram--I'm sorry it's taken me so long to reply here; with now over 400 registered members on this site and the passage of the bill with all the questions, besides my recent interviews for a possible job, keeping up with this forum has been a little demanding recently. Smile

But thank you for taking the issue to an off-topic location, we were getting far afield.

sc4ram, I have to say that though I probably disagree with you on several topics, especially your views on health care reform (though I admit I have not read all of your posts on that subject), I think we have a basic agreement about quite a number of subjects, even though from your other posts I get the impression that our life experiences may differ quite a bit (yes, I am also a boomer).

On this bit about the perspective, I think the thing that got me was the part about "my little problems"--I'm actually pretty tired of the middle class taking it on the chin for several decades while corporate greed slowly but surely took its toll on America. Politicians have used every possible twist of the facts to get citizens to patiently suffer in the supposed interests of national security, the GDP, and national pride so that they can continue the rape of the land and the middle and poorer classes to the point where we are no longer progressing as a nation, but regressing. These "little problems" are not a problem just for any of us as individuals, but for the entire country as a vital economic presence in the world. In the face of all the ramifications of the masses of unemployed, who the hell cares about some little pique about ACORN, for god's sake! So yes, it's a matter of perspective, and a range of bills that needed immediate action and those that absolutely did not. As someone who has worked in a production and development environment most of my career, given a corporate job, many of those Senators would have been fired for the lack of priorities planning that went on, to say nothing of "risk management" --HA!

I will concede all the individual points you made here about defense contractors, etc., while still pointing out how simple it SHOULD have been to pass the original deficit-neutral bill in the Senate. Even the original-original bill, the one that excluded half the states, would have probably resulted in less suffering all around, but I can't present statistics for that, of course.

When given the argument "that's how it is in Congress" (and I'm not saying that's what you are saying), my response is always yes, and that's the problem with it, and that's why we all need to be constantly vigilant about what is going on there and elect better and better reps next time around. I don't agree with the blanket and what I consider the "lazy" approach to just "vote them ALL out." Terms overlap, and we still have so many corrupt people in Congress it will take some time to get many of them unseated, from both parties, but as a nation, we get the government we deserve.

If we don't pay close attention and let them know we're watching, we all pay for it in the end. Maybe one thing good to come of all this suffering is that many are waking up to the machinery of Congress, the machinery of Wall Street and the banks, and the growing chasm between those who are just fine with the profits they reap from the way things are, and the rest of us who essentially are and have been working for the banks all this time in one manner or another.
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Re: Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

Post  sc4ram on Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:49 pm

Thanks Nancy-

I think one of the major differences in perspective here is I expect things to go wrong once and a while and am not as much shocked when they do, (i think I gained this view from working in the defense industry and witnessing the frailties of government and burearocacy first hand and the propensity of Murphy's law to prevail) . Thus in the back of my mind Im always thinking what if the worse case scenerio happens (no matter how good things are at the moment)

I think a lot of other folks are just surprised when things go wrong, and are further surprised at the lack of dexterity of their government. (in may cases it seems par to me)

Take Care and good luck
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Re: Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

Post  nancym on Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:24 pm

sc4ram wrote:Thanks Nancy-

...(i think I gained this view from working in the defense industry and witnessing the frailties of government and burearocacy first hand and the propensity of Murphy's law to prevail) ...I think a lot of other folks are just surprised when things go wrong, and are further surprised at the lack of dexterity of their government. (in may cases it seems par to me)

Heh-heh. Somehow when you said that I immediately thought of the foibles the old Beetle Bailey cartoons from the Sunday funnies. I would assume you're old enough to remember those, or is that strip is still going? Or I guess the live equivalent would be the M.A.S.H. tv series. I guess a good dose of "army perspective" might be in order here in some of these issues.

Problem is, when the critical point actually affects someone's very basic survival, it's no longer a laughing matter, though a degree of patience is still much needed to keep us all from having heart attacks.
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Pension underfunding

Post  sc4ram on Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:20 pm

http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnews/20091123/ts_usnews/executiveseliminateworkerpensionsget350million

Nancy - I moved my post over here. I read the article, if its true it certainly is not Corporate America's finest hour.

Unfortuneately corporate pensions have not boded well in the global economy. The days of going to work in private industry for a vesting period and then drawing equivilent pay and benefits in retirement are mostly gone. Its a too good to be true scenerio now (and thus it isnt true) Im thankful I had a 401K that I could manage myself instead of a risk of mismanagement by a Corporate trustee or failure with a Corporate bankruptcy.

I would advise anybody with the optoin to utilize a defined contribution plan (401K) vs defined benefit (pension) if they have the option.

There is another related ticking time bomb out there, and that is local and state government pensions. With all of this economic upheaval, those are getting reliably funded by our tax dollars. Im all for sombody drawing retirement benefits , I might even agree that somebody that puts their life on the line for their community (like police) should get a pension. But there are a lot of municiple employees in Florida (and elswhere, the California system is already broken) that draw a cushy retirement pension on the tax payers dime. At some point the tax money will run out or there will be a tax revolt . Many of these characters are in the double dip (drawing on more than one state or local retirement) It would be a much better deal for the taxpayers if these people were put on a 401K plan (with a generous match) so when they retire they are not the responsibility of the tax payers.

It will be ugly because nobody wants to give up a state funded pension, recently while my city was trying to deal with their budget woes they asked the police to take 3 days furlough (a practice used often in my former company to make ends meet in slow times), the police union refused and threatened to strike.

Keep your eye on this one......... Good Luck
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Re: Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

Post  nancym on Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:11 pm

There are I think many ticking time bombs in state governments right now, the pension issue you point out is obviously a biggie.

I never had a job that gave a pension other than a TSA or 401K. I never quite understood why anyone would want to trust to the solvency and reliability of any private company way into the future anyway, or even state governments for that matter, with their fickle legislatures.

I'd never advocate for privatizing SS, but these company pensions are already a private affair, and I always felt that anyone who had them shouldn't rely on them, given their shaky history. What got me about that article was simply the sheer arrogance that seems to be everywhere since the 80's of corporate types who actually believe they deserve the best at someone else's suffering, EVEN when they did such a bad job that their company is driven into the dumpster.

Where's my voodoo doll!
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Pension FUnding

Post  sc4ram on Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:30 pm

Yes, in hindsight a corporate pension looks like a poor option to rely upon. However if you initiated one in the 1950s and retired in the 80s (say from IBM for example) you would of done well. [That would of been in the post -war era where the US had little competetion around the world] Ive seen several articles lately where generous health care benefits accompanying corporate pensions for retirees are being scrutinized. The link is to a article about Kodak http://www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009910300332
what is amazing if you read it , Kodak's plan not only covered the retiree but covered their dependents as well. (Kodak has shed thousands of jobs over the years and Id speculate that this is one of the reasons, in addition to they invented digital photography but allowed their competetion to out innovate them in the digital photo revolution )

Generally speaking, If a company makes a pension /benefit commitment to its workers I want to see them follow thru with it.(if I stuck it out somewhere for 20 years with that expectation Id want my benefits at the end) But if I told you today that i would hire you for $100.000 /yr (inc benefits) and told you that if you work for me for 20 years you can retire with the same salery and benefits (and I'll pay for health ins for your dependents) , you'd might be skepitcal (and justifibly so) . And thus thats the problem in a global economy , where with US companies wages and benefits are the biggest expense, paying pension benefits to their retirees into perpituity is not realistic. (ask our friends at General Motors, they learned the hardway you cant pay all of your retirees as if they were working for you).

My gripe would be why do they keep putting new hires into such a unsustainable plan? Im afraid the answer is because the Unions wont let them do otherwise.

I put a caveot in my comment about the yahoo article contingent on if it was true. (I believe its factually correct but yet somewhat misleading) . It implied that the Corporate executives took some pension funding and paid their bonus with it. It didnt name any companies but I can guess at least one. That would be Delta Airlines. Recently Delta operated for years under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. One of the reasons the management put Delta into chapter 11 was because of all of the pension liability (that I pointed out in the previous examples). With all of the Federal regulation of pensions, the only way a company can get out from under the heavy liability that pensions now burden their balance sheet with, is to declare bankruptcy and have a bankruptcy judge alleviate them from that liability (and thus the pension gets turned over the the Feds via the Pension Benefit Guarantee Board, which usually pay the beneficiaries ~20-40% of the pensions orginal benefits) . The company starts anew (with a 401K plan) and is thus competetive in a global economy. Thats what happened with Delta. Now I'll bet Delta's management got a nice bonus for pulling that off, I would argue it was not a direct result of underfunding their pension.

If you were a Delta mechanic for 20 years , that scenerio would stink. On the otherhand, if you were the same mechanic and now a employee of the new Delta Airlines, with a 401K match and a generous employee stock plan, you might have cause for optimism (if the price of jet fuel doesnt put them out of business) . If Delta did nothing they wouldnt exist today.

I think the word is getting out that Corporate pensions are a thing of the past, if someone can send the memo to our local governments there might be hope........
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Delphi retirees decry GM move

Post  sc4ram on Thu Dec 03, 2009 6:44 pm

Another case study that sheds a poor light on pensions, and GM got a bail out from us!

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20091203/BUSINESS/912030325/1001/Delphi-retirees-decry-GM-move
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Re: Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

Post  nancym on Sun Dec 06, 2009 3:05 pm

sc4ram-- Thanks for the post.

I don't want to turn this thread into a health care reform debate, since I know you have a thread for that already, but I'll respond to this last post because I am in that "hardest hit" age group--old, but not old enough to be covered by Medicare.

From the article:

...But under a 1990 change in financial accounting standards, companies had to begin projecting and saving for the future costs of health care. The move was made because some companies were showing only their active monthly costs and not the full costs of their future promises, said Cogan, the Lawley Benefits partner. "You started to see the landscape for employer-provided benefits change almost right away," he said.

This is exactly why those who are determined to "keep what they've got" and even those on the left who try to reassure that everyone can "keep what they've got" are not in any way being realistic. For the insured, keeping what they've got will simply not be an option, whether employed or self-insured within the next very few years. Just as globalization is a fact of life that's not going to disappear and new and creative approaches are needed to keep people in jobs of some kind, health insurance coverage as many have known it for years will simply not resemble anything like those of us fortunate enough to have it for a period of time will recognize.

I've seen every angle of the health care system and being insured, not insured, self-insured, different companies, different programs, and for me, with some possible softening of the criticism for non-profit insurance, insurance companies are the Great Satan, based on my own and many others experience, and if their entire industry receded back to insuring things that made sense in our society, like auto accidents, property liability, storms, etc., etc.--things that actually make sense for an insurance industry to be involved with--it would be fine and dandy with me.

But then I can't even hold the insurance companies entirely responsible for the shabby, destructive, inefficient, and foolish delivery system we have. That requires reform all around. Everyone can argue about HOW to do this and all the little and big details, but anyone who wants to argue for keeping something that simply won't exist within a few years in the way that we have become accustomed to it, is simply not informed of what the companies that now provide that benefit are thinking.
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Keep what Ive got

Post  sc4ram on Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:29 pm

Hi Nancy-

Im glad somebody reads this sfuff. I think it is obvious that the "keep what they've got' crowd has already lost in terms of company pensions and retirement benefits. (the article highlights this) This was too good to be true to start with and unfortuantely for the people involved reality has been setting in .

But speaking for myself, Im taking quite personally the government's attempt here to take my affordable private insurance away.

Ive been fortunate in that I havent had to spend much time with Doctors. On the rare ocassions ive been sick , Ive gone to the Doctor or associated specialists with a happy ending . I didnt have to wait, it was affordable , and I felt the personel were fairly competent. [I cant conclude that we have a terrible delivery system from that standpoint]

You have the coincidental knack of putting me in the awkward positoin of defending the most politically incorrect enitities in the country (in this case insurance companies) . A lot of their activities cant be defended of course, but I wouldnt call them the "Great Satin". When I go to the Doctor's office and they ask me for a insurance card, Im glad that I have one.

You are correct to imply their scope has probably unduly expanded in the last 50 years. The concept of insurance was to spread a catastrophic loss over a large number of people so it wouldnt be a catastrophy anymore. (ie Lloyds of London insured cargo ships in the 15th century so when 1 in 1000 sunk in a storm, the loss could be spread over the other 999, this reduced the risk of a investor investing in trade and thus more trade resulted, all good) .

The concept of Health Insurance began this way. (insured you for a catastrophic event, ie heart attack or stroke or worse) . It wasnt intended to insure you to go to the Doctor's office to get your sniffles treated. Apparently during WW ll when there were rigid wage and price controls, companies werent allowed to give pay raises but they could provide Health Care benefits instead (which was the genesis of Employer sponsored Health Insurance) . Benefits were increased over the years as the result of subsequent collective bargaining agreements (which is how some General Motors employees ended up with 100% health coverage with no deductible.) When many policies have generous or no co-pay provisions, people utilize medical services for $20-30 out of pocket (or less) , the Medical professionals bill for the balance of their fee (many times up to and exceeding $100) . The average person that doesnt pay a lot of attention to this thinks they can go to the Doctor for $20 and thinks the world is comming to an end if this does not continue to be the case . (ie they think they are entitled to these artifically low rates). This house of cards collapses in a slow economy where there are large numbers of lay-offs and people get ejected from their company Health plans. (reality sets in if they elect to continue on Cobra and they see how expensive their cushy coverage is for their former employeer, in my case it was $430 a month for a single person)

Now back to my little problems; So that I would be not one of these hypothetical people taking a catrosphic illness to the emergency room, and not spend my food budget on Health insurance, I did my homework and bought a high deductible (in effect catastrophic illness coverage) for a very reasonable premium (less than half of Cobra) . I have no Co-pay and when I go to the Doctor I negoiate a 30% lower cost then what he used to bill my employer's insurance for and I pay him. This arrangement also allows me to deduct my medical and dental out of pocket expenses from my taxes at the end of the year.

Im happy (because I am covered at a affordable price) , my doctor is happy because he doesnt have to file insurance claims when I visit him, my insurance company is happy (because I am not filing nusaince claims with them every month), the health care market is better off for everybody because I am negoiating lower prices, you the taxpayer should be happy because I am not financial burden to you .

However, Obama care will gut this arrangement and probably put private health insurance premiums out of my reach financially under the guise of "reform". That is where I start taking this personally, no reform at all is better than screwing up a functional system that works for 85% of the country. (our system can certainly be improved but what is on the table now is NOT a improvement) .

I believe the hyprocratic oath states "first do no harm". Our Congressional representatives would be wise to follow that bromide.
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Re: Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

Post  grandmom49 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:19 pm

sc4ram - You are extremely lucky that you are so healthy. There are many documented incidents of people who suffered catastophic illness or injury who are now bankrupt because of having to pay out of pocket due to no insurance, under insurance (this category may pertain to you in this situation) or denial of coverage for various bogus reasons. Everyone has to understand that Insurance Companies that sell Health Insurance are not normally non-profit businesses and their bottom line is their prime motivator. The companies that are non-profiit have to compete with the others and are forced to charge higher premiums because of negotiated contracts with health insurance providers; doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. You have no need of a paid plan at all. Under your plan you are paying the insurance company to keep track of your out of pocket expenses in the event that you reach your (high) deductible in which case they would have to provide some benefits. If you do not reach your deductible you have paid them 12 monthly fees for a service you do not need.
I have 2 fundamental objections to the way health coverage is structured. 1. Health Insurance companies are unregulated and exempt from the antitrust laws. 2. The taxpayers pay for the premier health care of coverage of our elected federal officials and if examined probably state and local officials also.
I have 8 yrs of experience as a Health Benefits Administrator and 35+ years working for others. Some of my previous employment was pre-managed care (which is the type of coverage provided by insurance companies) and I can tell you in all honesty that my doctors never charged their patients the fees that they have charged insurance companies. I will never post on this topic again as I feel that Health Insurance reform is a large enough topic to warrant our complete attention and should not distract us from our main concern of being unemployed and looking for solutions to that problem. I would recommend you visit sickforprofit.com for another view of the system you think is "doing no harm

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keep what I have

Post  sc4ram on Mon Dec 07, 2009 5:57 pm

Yes Grandmom-

I am lucky to be relitively healthy, (I wish u and the rest of the people on this board the same good luck).

I know the woods are full of stories of less fortunate people( and Im sure many of them are true) . In my case I have read the fine print on my policy and it has a life time cap of $5M and covers any ailment I can think of . That being said, could there be "under insurance" being sold to unsuspecting people via infomercials or the internet under false pretences? I dont have any first hand knowlege of that but if you do I believe you. (Ive had some expierience in contract law and mine looks kosher)

Also in the event I have a dispute with my insurance company I can sue them in court. If you read the proposed Federal legislation it makes the "Government (Public) Optoin" and all of those who administer it exempt from court challange. (I dont think that passes the smell test)

Both parties in Washington have said they are for eliminating "pre-existing" conditions as a legitimate cause for denying coverage (I dont see how they can do this within the concept of insurance that I described, to me this is like waiting for your house to start on fire before you buy fire insurance) .

In any event the pre-existing condition dilema isnt a issue as long as you dont drop your coverage (inconvenient yes but that is what Cobra and the recently govt funded Cobra assistance is for )

In my case I have paid my insurance company to cover me if I am in need of medical care that costs >$5000 / year. (You know more than I about this but anything requiring hospitalization for any length of time will blow thru that $5000 deductible pretty quick) , they do this at a low premium and I am glad to be covered for such events (and will be very happy to have paid them a fair price for such coverage even if I never (hopefully) use it. I have strong objections to the government (or anybody else) plotting to take that away from me.

You are correct that Insurance companies are exept from anti-trust. However they are regulated (by the states ). There is a lot of fault that can be found with that (of which lies mostly with state regulators). Speaking for myself I was happy with the choices that were available here in Florida, one company raised my premiums, I fired them and hired a new one for a even lower cost.

One poor side effect of this is that each state has different requirements as to what health ins companies have to offer within their state, which means there are 50 different sets of rules for Insurance companies nationwide (which is not conducive to lower costs) . To give a fictitous example: New Yourk may require coverage for a sex change operation , Florida does not.

I think there has to be a profit motive somewhere or otherwise nobody will be able to afford coverage (sombody has to police claims, and insurance companies have the incentive to do so ). If the profit motive is squashed we will be left with nothing but a "Post Office " type industry (which I am not impressed with )

You are sure right about the cushy health benefits our government people get. You see they have been balking in Congress against being covered by this so called 'public option". That should be a warning flag in itself.

I didnt mean to imply that the existing system did no harm, I was implying that the Congress should NOT make the existing system worse under the guise of "reform".
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Talks between Palm Bay, firefighters heat up

Post  sc4ram on Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:18 am

I posted this because its the first case Im aware of where a municipality is attempting to back down a Union on Pension liability, in this case trying to morph part of a future Pension into a 401K plan. (there may be sanity in the world after all)


http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100301/NEWS01/3010319/1006/Talks+between+Palm+Bay++firefighters+heat+up
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Layoffs Continue to Mount

Post  sc4ram on Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:46 pm

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is a awful lot of downsizing for a economy which has supposedly hit bottom.


http://www.thestreet.com/_yahoo/story/10671422/1/layoffs-continue-to-mount.html?cm_ven=YAHOO&cm_cat=FREE&cm_ite=NA
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Social Security ready to cash Uncle Sam's IOUs

Post  sc4ram on Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:25 pm

Here is another pension that will be in for interesting times ahead. (I knew there were IOUs but was surprised to read they are in the form of special bonds)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100314/ap_on_bi_ge/us_social_security_ious
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$1M Doesnt cut it for retirement anymore

Post  sc4ram on Sun Mar 21, 2010 2:23 pm

I dont necessiarily agree with all of the numbers here but its a interesting look ahead on how much people need when they do retire. If you were fortunate enough to have $1M in personal and retirement accounts (believe it or not I know several relitively low paid people that participated in my former company's 401K plan that had a generous match thru the bull stock market of 1981-2000 found themselves in that position) you could in theory if your timing was nominal put it in a low risk fixed investment @ 5% and draw $50,000 / year (presuming the Chicagoians in DC dont screw you on taxes) + plus draw Social Security, not a bad retirement if all things remain the same.

http://finance.yahoo.com/focus-retirement/article/109077/1-million-doesnt-cut-it-for-retirement?mod=fidelity-buildingwealth
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Re: Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

Post  nancym on Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:29 pm


This may surprise you, sc4ram, but on this one I agree with you, and with this editorial. Twenty years ago the public sector needed these extra perks to attract workers out of the private sector that paid far more in salaries. People were attracted to the security of a government job, but knew it would pay less, but they also knew it had good benefits. Now, as the editorial points out, that balance has shifted the other way. And the extreme inequities of this current recession have emphasized that miserable private job market even more.

Taking publicly controlled flows of money such as these retirement subsidies and using them to contribute to those who already have relatively more than many of those paying the taxes should never be a job for government. If private companies want to offer those kind of perks, that's up to them, but in fact most companies don't even offer even the basics anymore.

For almost the same reasons I refused to join AARP because of a strong political stance they took about proposed reform to Social Security years ago. Currently the federal government pays out tons of money to people who have absolutely no need for it when they retire, at the expense of both the deficit and other programs in need. AARP, and many seniors who were incensed that "their" money would not be given "back" to them opposed the move and it was defeated.

It might make some sense to argue that Social Security is just like a savings account, that no one or no government can take that money away from you. However, it's really not handled like a savings account, and the money that was paid in, which was actually paid half by employers, not just the employees, might or might not come back to you in the same amounts paid. You could die at 65 and collect nothing and have no spouse so all that money would stay with the government. Or you could live to 106 with COL increases every year and get back twice as much as the guy who dies of a heart attack at 85.

The intent of these government efforts is to insure that people in our society have some kind of safety net in case fate is not kind to them in their elder years. SS is not billed as an insurance, but in many ways it really is more similar to insurance than to a savings account.

It's the same with these pensions. The intent was both to attract job seekers with security benefits and to prevent hardship in old age. When all those benefits and salaries add up to far more than other average private industry taxpayers can expect from their own jobs, it's time to adjust those benefits.

The only concern I would have in either of these changes, is that promises be kept for those in retirement already or those about to retire. I.e., there should be some kind of gradual slide into that kind of change. I don't know what the details of this budget change are, but I have to assume it's not cutting beneficiaries off next week if they could manage it in the budget.

As far as Democrats using this defeat as a campaign issue, I don't know how the numbers of unemployed, most of whom get NONE of these perks, would compare to those public employees who will be affected by the change, but I would guess the unemployed would just respond as I would with "Jeesh, give me a break, we don't can't even get enough money for rent right now, yet we're still paying taxes!"
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Re: Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

Post  sc4ram on Sat Apr 10, 2010 4:41 pm

Well put Nancy, Im sure you'll never cease to surprise us............

Have a good weekend!
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Obama Motors Pensions Underfunded $17B

Post  sc4ram on Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:55 pm

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State cuts worrying retirees

Post  sc4ram on Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:33 am

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Re: Perspectives/Retirement/Pension Challenges

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