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Old 04-27-2012, 06:36 AM   #241
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+1. Another reason why debating private vs public pensions here may be futile. I don't think anyone here will change his/her mind.
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Unfortunately, most do not have the time or capacity to grind out independent results for issues like this. Objective assessment is never going to be happen anyway.
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:36 AM   #242
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+1. Another reason why debating private vs public pensions here may be futile. I don't think anyone here will change his/her mind.
It feels like more and more people (all over the place, not specifically here) are choosing to get their news and analysis from biased sources that only regurgitate their own preconceived ideas, so they are rarely forced to think critically outside their own comfort zone. I find it sad. I think that's a major factor -- if not *the* primary factor -- in the polarization and lack of civil discourse we have today.

There are tough questions and I think good points on this issue from all sides but it just seems impossible to trust each other enough to talk about it, let alone hope someone will loosen their intransigence a bit and consider other points of view with an open mind. The goal here is (or should be, IMO) easing the current budgetary problems with pension plans, ensuring that what remains is sustainable in the long run, minimizing pain to those currently covered by these plans and not expecting those who have no such plans to pay a lot more in taxes and reduced services in order to prop up benefits for others. These are in some ways contradictory goals but all are, again IMO, legitimate and socially just goals. Yelling at each other and shutting out other ideas will solve nothing. We have a bad habit of debating issues and approaching "problem solving" by focusing first on where disagree most, instead of building outward from where we have common ground. Not good if we are sincere in wanting to fix what's broken.
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:07 AM   #243
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It feels like more and more people (all over the place, not specifically here) are choosing to get their news and analysis from biased sources that only regurgitate their own preconceived ideas, so they are rarely forced to think critically outside their own comfort zone. I find it sad. I think that's a major factor -- if not *the* primary factor -- in the polarization and lack of civil discourse we have today.

There are tough questions and I think good points on this issue from all sides but it just seems impossible to trust each other enough to talk about it, let alone hope someone will loosen their intransigence a bit and consider other points of view with an open mind. The goal here is (or should be, IMO) easing the current budgetary problems with pension plans, ensuring that what remains is sustainable in the long run, minimizing pain to those currently covered by these plans and not expecting those who have no such plans to pay a lot more in taxes and reduced services in order to prop up benefits for others. These are in some ways contradictory goals but all are, again IMO, legitimate and socially just goals. Yelling at each other and shutting out other ideas will solve nothing. We have a bad habit of debating issues and approaching "problem solving" by focusing first on where disagree most, instead of building outward from where we have common ground. Not good if we are sincere in wanting to fix what's broken.
Unfortunately, there is no fount of truth. I would posit that there is no such thing as objective analysis and one persons read of data may be different than another's. I personally feel that forums such as this are an ideal place to discuss the different takes. A lot of folks will never change their minds, no matter what the data says. Mainly due to a particular outlook on life, upbringing or if they have a vested interest in the outcome. I am always looking for dissenting opinions, I use a preponderance of the evidence approach to form and maintain my opinions. Just my two cents worth.

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Old 04-27-2012, 11:14 AM   #244
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Unfortunately, there is no fount of truth. I would posit that there is no such thing as objective analysis and one persons read of data may be different than another's.
I would agree that there is no one source that is consistenly 100% objective. Having said that, some are closer to others. I've always liked the Christian Science Monitor (not a religious publication, by the way) as one of the more credible and balanced sources from a journalistic point of view.

But really it's not so much about getting news and analysis from one "relatively objective" source -- it's more about being willing to get it from multiple sources with multiple, sometimes opposing, takes on the issue. And in being open-minded enough to not automatically reject it because you think the source is generally biased. Just because a source is biased doesn't mean they don't have *some* good arguments to defend their opinions.
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:23 AM   #245
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I would agree that there is no one source that is consistenly 100% objective. Having said that, some are closer to others. I've always liked the Christian Science Monitor (not a religious publication, by the way) as one of the more credible and balanced sources from a journalistic point of view.

But really it's not so much about getting news and analysis from one "relatively objective" source -- it's more about being willing to get it from multiple sources with multiple, sometimes opposing, takes on the issue. And in being open-minded enough to not automatically reject it because you think the source is generally biased. Just because a source is biased doesn't mean they don't have *some* good arguments to defend their opinions.
I 100% agree. I think we are saying the same thing

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Old 04-27-2012, 11:32 AM   #246
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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
It feels like more and more people (all over the place, not specifically here) are choosing to get their news and analysis from biased sources that only regurgitate their own preconceived ideas, so they are rarely forced to think critically outside their own comfort zone. I find it sad. I think that's a major factor -- if not *the* primary factor -- in the polarization and lack of civil discourse we have today.

There are tough questions and I think good points on this issue from all sides but it just seems impossible to trust each other enough to talk about it, let alone hope someone will loosen their intransigence a bit and consider other points of view with an open mind. The goal here is (or should be, IMO) easing the current budgetary problems with pension plans, ensuring that what remains is sustainable in the long run, minimizing pain to those currently covered by these plans and not expecting those who have no such plans to pay a lot more in taxes and reduced services in order to prop up benefits for others. These are in some ways contradictory goals but all are, again IMO, legitimate and socially just goals. Yelling at each other and shutting out other ideas will solve nothing. We have a bad habit of debating issues and approaching "problem solving" by focusing first on where disagree most, instead of building outward from where we have common ground. Not good if we are sincere in wanting to fix what's broken.
+1....Good Post. Like I said I am part of this system in Illinois although I am from the Municipal part in Chicago. For this thing to be sustainable there has to be shared sacrifice by the participants. Taxpayers in my mind shouldn't really be part of the equation.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:01 PM   #247
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For a parallel on what another city's problem, here is an article about Ft Worth's pension woes. Seems like the city is proposing a reasonable solution, but it is not being well received by the police association:

"The good news is that we believe we can address our pension challenges while maintaining the current defined benefit plan, unlike some other cities," he wrote.

Furthermore, our proposal doesn't take away anything already earned from existing employees, nor does it ask for taxpayers to increase their contribution to the plan."

But Stephen Hall, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, called the proposed reductions excessive."

Fort Worth tells employees about plans to trim pension benefits | Fort Worth | News from...
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:07 PM   #248
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But Stephen Hall, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, called the proposed reductions excessive.
From the article:
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But Stephen Hall, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, called the proposed reductions excessive.

"I can't support changes to current employees. They were hired under a contract, a promise that these conditions would exist throughout their employment. Now the city is wanting to break that promise," he said.
Is the bold-faced part really true? I certainly understand that these terms would be required to exist for the duration of a particular collective bargaining agreement and that benefits shouldn't be reduced for service already performed, but does the CBA really say anything about guaranteeing that future benefits for service not yet performed could NEVER have its formula changed? I have a hard time believing that. IF that is actually true and there is a "future benefits for work not yet performed can never be changed" clause in existing contracts, then I believe Mr. Hall has a valid point... and the city leaders who agreed to have such a clause in the contract should be fired.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:13 PM   #249
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From the article:
Is the bold-faced part really true? I certainly understand that these terms would be required to exist for the duration of a particular collective bargaining agreement and that benefits shouldn't be reduced for service already performed, but does the CBA really say anything about guaranteeing that future benefits for service not yet performed could NEVER have its formula changed? I have a hard time believing that. IF that is actually true and there is a "future benefits for work not yet performed can never be changed" clause in existing contracts, then I believe Mr. Hall has a valid point... and the city leaders who agreed to have such a clause in the contract should be fired.
Dunno the answer to that, but I certainly feel the morons that blessed these type of plans without understanding the long term sustainability issues or abuse strategies should be tarred and feathered and then fired.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:33 PM   #250
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Dunno the answer to that, but I certainly feel the morons that blessed these type of plans without understanding the long term sustainability issues or abuse strategies should be tarred and feathered and then fired.
I think they understood it all just fine. I think they just kicked the can down the road. Trouble is now there is no road (or can) left. Heck, I don't even know if there is much foot left.

I just read that the FERS pension is self financing and in good shape, but participants are now facing many changes to include increased contributions and reduced benefits and maybe even changes to how benefits are calculated.
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:12 PM   #251
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But Stephen Hall, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, called the proposed reductions excessive.

"I can't support changes to current employees. They were hired under a contract, a promise that these conditions would exist throughout their employment. Now the city is wanting to break that promise," he said.
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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
From the article:
Is the bold-faced part really true? I certainly understand that these terms would be required to exist for the duration of a particular collective bargaining agreement and that benefits shouldn't be reduced for service already performed, but does the CBA really say anything about guaranteeing that future benefits for service not yet performed could NEVER have its formula changed? I have a hard time believing that. IF that is actually true and there is a "future benefits for work not yet performed can never be changed" clause in existing contracts, then I believe Mr. Hall has a valid point... and the city leaders who agreed to have such a clause in the contract should be fired.
I don't know if it's true in the case of Ft Worth or not, but the union coalition spokesman, Anders Lindall of AFSCME, on the WTTW 11 segment said pretty much the same thing though I don't know if he cited a contract obligation. You would expect the unions to take that position (not being snarky) as a negotiating position, just as those on the "other side" will take positions as far to the other extreme as possible (negotiating 101 to convincingly ask for more than you'd settle for). What matters is where they end up, hopefully a compromise that doesn't punish public employees or taxpayers excessively. There's room to sympathize with both...
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Old 04-27-2012, 06:07 PM   #252
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Obviously, the state of Illinoise should turn over its pension system to the collective wisdom of this group.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:48 PM   #253
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Theoretically, someday, I will get a pension. However... I'm in my 30s. Like most everyone else in my generation (X), I now have zero faith that anything "promised" will ever be mine (pension, Social Security, tax freedom of a Roth, etc.). In order for me to have ANY real financial security, I have to proceed from the assumption that, if I don't own it outright at present, it really isn't mine and may never be.

Which means... we are preparing for FIRE on multiple fronts, and without ever taking "promised benefits" into the equation. Living on one income and banking the other, maxing out every retirement account option, and having a big enough non-retirement account - and low enough household expenses - that if we had to, we could live solely on the interest of that one account. Its the only way to ensure our success in the face of such widespread systemic incompetence. Its also somewhat freeing to be putting multiple safety nets in place. That way we don't have to worry about other people's failure to save enough taking us down too.

As to paying taxes for benefits I will probably never receive... how is that different from any other tax, really? Does anyone here really feel as though the US government is a worthwhile purchase for the money we pay?

If I lived in Illinois, I would involve myself in the political process. Specifically, I would do everything I could to rein in government spending.
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:43 AM   #254
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Interesting article (free) in The Bond Buyer yesterday (here Illinois Expects Strong Demand for GOs - The Bond Buyer Article). This is a magazine for investors in public financing. Illinois is selling some GO bonds, apparently part of the proceeds are to refinance current outstanding obligations with a better interest rate. Even though Illinois State finances are rated poorly compared with other states, they are still rated well when compared with other issuers of debt in the capital markets, such a corporations. The point here is that the pension issue is not so much financial as it is one of leadership and management.

Quote:
Ahead of the sale, all three rating agencies affirmed Illinois’ GO ratings. The credit has benefited from an income tax hike last year that is expected to generate $6.5 billion annually, but is only temporary. The state is challenged by large pension obligations, rising Medicaid costs and $9 billion in unpaid bills. Its fiscal woes have resulted in higher borrowing costs.

Moody’s Investors Service earlier this year lowered its rating for Illinois one notch to A2 with a stable outlook. It is the lowest rated state by Moody’s. Fitch Ratings rates the state’s $27 billion of GOs A with a stable outlook and Standard & Poor’s rates it A-plus with a negative outlook. The GO pledge benefits from a priority claim on state revenues.
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Old 04-28-2012, 10:10 AM   #255
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Theoretically, someday, I will get a pension. However... I'm in my 30s. Like most everyone else in my generation (X), I now have zero faith that anything "promised" will ever be mine (pension, Social Security, tax freedom of a Roth, etc.). In order for me to have ANY real financial security, I have to proceed from the assumption that, if I don't own it outright at present, it really isn't mine and may never be.
I had the same feelings about 30 years ago when I was your age. I did not trust SS and pensions were a dream due to vesting restrictions. So, I saved and invested. FastForward to 2012 - I have my savings and investments which, on there own, will pay for the basics plus a little more. I also have SS and a modest pension which on their own will pay for the basics and a little more. Somehow the world did not end, and, by being extra cautious and not waisting my resources, I ended up OK.

So, to rephrase the Jesuits - Pray like it's all up to SS and pensions, Work like it's all up to you.
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:56 PM   #256
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Madigan on raising retirement age

Illinois Speaker Madigan: Pension changes won't force public employees to work until age 67 | The Republic
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