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Old 04-06-2010, 08:22 PM   #61
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I beg to differ, at least on terminology. Market mechanisms are designed to provide "efficiency". Fairness is something else. Fairness is a sociopolitical judgment about what kind of society we want to live in.
Interesting, but the problem I see is that 'fairness' of that sort is in the eye of the beholder. People are unlikely to agree on what 'fair' is.

OTOH, in a free market, the two people making the deal both decide that it is 'fair', or they walk away. Even if one or the other doesn't like the price, they really can't claim it isn't fair.


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"Fairness" is everyone in the USA paying the same postage, whatever it actually costs to handle the mail.
So there's an example. I'm not sure it is fair. Maybe at one time it was considered essential to populate the territories (that we stole from the Natives - talk about fair!), and maybe there was no easy way to charge different rates and still handle the volume. But I could reasonably claim that if you choose to live in the middle of nowhere, you can carry the extra weight for a mail truck making an out-of-the way delivery.

I don't think UPS or FedEx is 'unfair' to charge by distance - why should I pay the cost of coast-to-coast packages for a local delivery? And if any of those prices seem 'unfair', I can deliver it myself - ooops, they suddenly seem 'fair'!

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Old 04-06-2010, 09:49 PM   #62
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DW and I are 35. We have never worked for an employer who offered any type of retirement benefit beyond a 401K match (and we did work for some fairly large companies). Except for BIL who is in the USAF, I don't know of anyone under the age of 45 who will receive a pension and/or retirement healthcare.
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Old 04-07-2010, 07:41 AM   #63
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Looks like AT&T is back in the news
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AT&T Inc. is seeking to dismiss a long-running pension case alleging age discrimination that seeks $2.3 billion in damages, according to documents filed this week in a federal court.
The suit alleges a 1998 pension change effectively froze the pensions of 40,000 older management employees at AT&T, in some cases for years, but not those of younger employees. AT&T said the pension didn't discriminate against older workers.
AT&T, now led by CEO Randall Stephenson, says it has no added liabilities from 1998 pension-plan changes.
"We believe the conversion to our cash balance plan was appropriate and in accordance with all legal obligations," said AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel. "We believe our filing speaks for itself in explaining why we have no additional liabilities to these retirees."
The suit, filed in 1998, has received little attention despite the number of plaintiffs—24,000 current and former employees—and the size of the potential damages, one of the largest ever in pension litigation. Legal papers filed Monday in federal court in Newark, N.J., include the first publicly disclosed estimate for potential damages.
The $2.3 billion potential claim dwarfs the well-publicized $1 billion noncash charge the company will take to reflect the recent loss of its deductions for health-care subsidies it receives from the government. AT&T Asks to Dismiss Pension Suit - WSJ.com
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Old 04-07-2010, 10:56 AM   #64
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I plan to retire in 2014 from a small company I worked for the last 9 nine years. Prior to that, I worked 20 years a medium size companies. Neither one offered 401K matching, early retirement healthcare insurance or any pensions. My brother in-law and some of my friends work for local school systems and they all get pensions and good health care and they both make more money than I do for doing the same kind of work (IT).

The reason I'm able to retire early because I saved every dime I can for the last 35 years and I'm just sicked and tired of my job.

So don't get me started about how little public employees are getting.
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Old 04-07-2010, 11:09 AM   #65
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I plan to retire in 2014 from a small company I worked for the last 9 nine years. Prior to that, I worked 20 years a medium size companies. Neither one offered 401K matching, early retirement healthcare insurance or any pensions. My brother in-law and some of my friends work for local school systems and they all get pensions and good health care and they both make more money than I do for doing the same kind of work (IT).

The reason I'm able to retire early because I saved every dime I can for the last 35 years and I'm just sicked and tired of my job.

So don't get me started about how little public employees are getting.
Ok so you did exactly the same work for less pay for employers who gave you no incentive to stay . Why?
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Old 04-07-2010, 11:18 AM   #66
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Interesting, but the problem I see is that 'fairness' of that sort is in the eye of the beholder. People are unlikely to agree on what 'fair' is.


-ERD50
Sure. We don't have to agree on what is fair. We have to agree on a political system that makes decisions about what is fair. Fairness is part of a political process, not a rule people necessarily agree on . As another example
We charge all the in-state undergraduates the same tuition regardless of Major.

Social Security has many features that were introduced to promote an idea of fairness. So do many other government programs.
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Old 04-07-2010, 11:34 AM   #67
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Ok so you did exactly the same work for less pay for employers who gave you no incentive to stay . Why?
Because for years I beleived in the all the BS about how little government workers are getting until I started thinking about retirement about five years ago. It's funny that you asked about why I did not quit and go work for the government? At my age, I'm lucky that I still have a job.
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Old 04-07-2010, 11:42 AM   #68
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1935-1955. Social security entered the picture. It was cleverly designed to kick at 65 a couple years past the life expectancy of the average male. Meaning many people never collected anything. SSN provide a safety net but that was it, family took care of most retires for the few remaining years.

.
This is a common mistake often promoted by anti social security websites .
They are confusing the life expectancy at birth with the life expectancy of a retiring worker. Infant moratlity has been the big killer over the last 120 years
As just one example, in my extended Irish American family I only have a single relative born after 1880 who survived to age 18 who died of natural causes before age 75. (influenza epidemic) My grandparents who were in the first social security era died in their 80s and 90s. My wife's grandparents all lived to be at least 72
There are lots of studies of military pensioners from the civil war onward with similar results
A 65 year old male had a life expectancy of about 10 years in 1935, and about 14 years today
Since Social security provided spousal pensions and wives were typically younger the percent collecting was expected to be high.
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Old 04-07-2010, 11:51 AM   #69
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This is a common mistake often promoted by anti social security websites .
They are confusing the life expectancy at birth with the life expectancy of a retiring worker. Infant moratlity has been the big killer over the last 120 years
As just one example, in my extended Irish American family I only have a single relative born after 1880 who survived to age 18 who died of natural causes before age 75. (influenza epidemic) My grandparents who were in the first social security era died in their 80s and 90s. My wife's grandparents all lived to be at least 72
There are lots of studies of military pensioners from the civil war onward with similar results
A 65 year old male had a life expectancy of about 10 years in 1935, and about 14 years today
Since Social security provided spousal pensions and wives were typically younger the percent collecting was expected to be high.
That is VERY interesting info! I believed the hype that SS was started and the average life expectancy was 66 or 67 (thus the 65 retirement age). I too had grandparents born in the 1890s who lived to be anywhere from late 60s to age 99 in one case. Their siblings seemed to have similar life expectancies. And these were mostly immigrant kids who came to the US as young children.

My parents born in the early 1920s - my mother died at 85, my father is still alive and well at 89.

Thanks!
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:01 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by Emeritus View Post
This is a common mistake often promoted by anti social security websites .
They are confusing the life expectancy at birth with the life expectancy of a retiring worker. Infant moratlity has been the big killer over the last 120 years
As just one example, in my extended Irish American family I only have a single relative born after 1880 who survived to age 18 who died of natural causes before age 75. (influenza epidemic) My grandparents who were in the first social security era died in their 80s and 90s. My wife's grandparents all lived to be at least 72
There are lots of studies of military pensioners from the civil war onward with similar results
A 65 year old male had a life expectancy of about 10 years in 1935, and about 14 years today
Since Social security provided spousal pensions and wives were typically younger the percent collecting was expected to be high.
I think you're wrong. Despite your anecdotal examples, our gov't says that, on average, people are collecting SS for longer periods today than ever before. And that this is one of the reasons the system is financially strained today.
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:08 PM   #71
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This is a common mistake often promoted by anti social security websites .
They are confusing the life expectancy at birth with the life expectancy of a retiring worker. Infant moratlity has been the big killer over the last 120 years
All, true, but also not the whole story. In the early years, many more people paid into the system but still died short of collecting a penny from SS.
Among the cohort of males who would have reached their 65th birthday in 1940, 46% had died between the ages of 21 and 65. For women, the percentage was 39%. By 1990, the percentage of males who died between their 21st birthday and age 65 had declined to just 28%, and for women it was only 17%. So, it wasn't just that people who reached 65 years old were living longer (and they are), but there truly were a lot more people who actually got to collect on Social Security rather than paying in and getting nothing.
Source: SS Administration

Another reason it is going broke is that disability payments and other payouts were added to the system after it was established. Why not--they had plenty of money pouring in! Gotta spend it!
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:24 PM   #72
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Widows and orphans also got Social Security. That is part of the insurance component. I buy 20 year term insurance if I survive the term does that mean I paid in and got nothing? or did I have insurance for 20 years??
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:42 PM   #73
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I buy 20 year term insurance if I survive the term does that mean I paid in and got nothing?
In this case you and an insurance company entered into a voluntary agreement you believed was mutually beneficial, so we can only assume that you believed you got what you paid for.

Since SS is not a voluntary agreement, there's truly no way for an external observer to ascertain whether you got anything you believed was worthwhile.

That's the difference between a market and a mandate.
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:52 PM   #74
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In this case you and an insurance company entered into a voluntary agreement you believed was mutually beneficial, so we can only assume that you believed you got what you paid for.

Since SS is not a voluntary agreement, there's truly no way for an external observer to ascertain whether you got anything you believed was worthwhile.

That's the difference between a market and a mandate.
Ok so compulsory auto or workers compensation insurance is worthless? Free public schools are worthless? Fire and police departments are worthless?
How about inheritances ? They were not bargained for. Are they worthless?

You are confusing the ease with which we establish a value with the existence of a value. They are not the same thing.
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Old 04-07-2010, 01:03 PM   #75
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Where are those free public schools?
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Old 04-07-2010, 01:10 PM   #76
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Ok so you did exactly the same work for less pay for employers who gave you no incentive to stay . Why?
huusom already answered, but I'll just add - there are many reasons why someone might choose private versus public service. Maybe they perceive that a corporate climate is a better match for them, the hope that they could reach a very high level as an entrepreneurial type, etc. But in the end, as huusom points out, if they see that salaries were similar, then they just can't see why the public sector would be 'gripping' about low pay, or use that as a 'justification' for better pensions.

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Sure. We don't have to agree on what is fair. We have to agree on a political system that makes decisions about what is fair. Fairness is part of a political process, not a rule people necessarily agree on .

Social Security has many features that were introduced to promote an idea of fairness. So do many other government programs.
And I'd prefer (in most cases) to make the decision for myself about what is 'fair' rather than turn that over to a political system, that out of necessity almost always produces a 'one-size-fits-all' brand of 'fairness' (even in the best case), and in the typical case, the 'fairness' is slanted by what the political system owes specific support groups. Funny definition of 'fair' if you ask me.

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As another example
We charge all the in-state undergraduates the same tuition regardless of Major.
That does not strike me as 'fair'. Why should someone who is obtaining a degree that might require fewer resources from the University pay the way for someone who chooses a degree that is more expensive to support? I think you have an odd view of what is 'fair'. You seem to be saying "equal" is "fair"? So I should pay the same for a 52" TV as a 19" TV? Because it is 'fair'? We should let the guy buying a 19" TV subsidize the cost of the 52" TV?

You lost me.


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Old 04-07-2010, 01:16 PM   #77
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Ok so compulsory auto or workers compensation insurance is worthless? Free public schools are worthless? Fire and police departments are worthless?
How about inheritances ? They were not bargained for. Are they worthless?

You are confusing the ease with which we establish a value with the existence of a value. They are not the same thing.
I don't mean to sound confrontational, just trying to discuss this, but it strikes me that you are the one confused here.

samclem merely said that 'there's truly no way for an external observer to ascertain whether you got anything you believed was worthwhile. '

You are the one that started to ask if they were 'worthless'. Huge difference. Like the difference between a straw man and a real man.

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Old 04-07-2010, 01:22 PM   #78
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And I'd prefer (in most cases) to make the decision for myself about what is 'fair' rather than turn that over to a political system, that out of necessity almost always produces a 'one-size-fits-all' brand of 'fairness' (even in the best case), and in the typical case, the 'fairness' is slanted by what the political system owes specific support groups. Funny definition of 'fair' if you ask me.



? I think you have an odd view of what is 'fair'. You seem to be saying "equal" is "fair"? So I should pay the same for a 52" TV as a 19" TV? Because it is 'fair'? We should let the guy buying a 19" TV subsidize the cost of the 52" TV?

You lost me.

-ERD50
I suspect I lost you when I said that Fairness is a "process" not a rule. Your post tries to define or impute a "fairness" rule. IMHO that is a waste of time.
The parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is about different concepts of fairness.
We decide socially what we mean by fairness in a given case.
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Old 04-07-2010, 01:56 PM   #79
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"Fairness" is everyone in the USA paying the same postage, whatever it actually costs to handle the mail.
I could just as easily argue that it's not "fair" for people in the cities, where there are economies of scale in terms of cost to move a letter, to be paying the same to mail a first class letter as someone in, say, the Alaskan Bush given that the latter probably costs at least 10 times as much to deliver as the former.

I'm not sure how that is fundamentally different than charging everyone the same for auto insurance when some people drive less and have better driving records; they cost less to insure but get charged the same as someone who costs more to insure. Would that be "fair" if you drove 5000 miles a year with a spotless record and you paid the same for insurance as someone who drove 20000 miles a year with a couple of tickets? We could obviously extend this concept to health insurance, too. If it's not "fair" to charge every person the same amount, regardless of age, weight, medical conditions and (perhaps) ability to pay, why is it "fair" when we're talking about postal delivery?

"Fairness" and "equity" are two different things. Just because something is "equitable" or treats everyone the same doesn't automatically make it fair. Your example is equitable, but not necessarily fair -- "fairness" is in the eye of whoever is getting the better deal out of it, typically.
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Old 04-07-2010, 02:12 PM   #80
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"Fairness" and "equity" are two different things. Just because something is "equitable" or treats everyone the same doesn't automatically make it fair.
You got that right.

My understanding of social security is that it was crafted to provide for pensionless working class widows that were living in abject poverty when the breadwinner passed away without savings or pension.

The real problem we have with the SS fund today is it is both fair (need) and equitable (everybody),instead of just fair (or just equitable). Corporate pensions are mostly equitable but far from fair, and I assume that most public employee retirement plans are equitable and generous (fair?).

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the Alaskan Bush
I thought it was the Alaskan Palin and the Texan Bush. Or did Texas send him north?
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