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Old 11-07-2010, 10:25 AM   #221
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it's clear that several folks believe that it's the spawn of the satan and will bring down the free world. Actually, it's a great idea that has worked well for many millions of people in the private sector, as well the the public. The key is full funding and that's not happening - but it could.
It hasn't worked well in either sector. A good part of my work life was working on large steel and mining company bankrupticies, like LTV, Bethlehem, Reserve Mining. The pension and retiree health care obligations were huge and unsustainable. IIRC, close to the time Bethlehem went under it had about 10,000-11,000 employees and about 120,000 collecting retirement benefits. Again I am only recalling rough numbers, but I think the pension fund was in the hole by close over 3 billion and had about 3 billion in assets. My FIL worked for Bethlehem and retired on a Bethlehem pension. It worked fine for him, he died about the same time Bethlehem filed bankruptcy. But he saw it coming years before and knew Bethlehem was unlikely to survive. I remember Jack Welch said something to the effect that even Jesus could not have saved Bethlehem.

For the last 20 years or thereabouts DB plans have been dying out. Not only are there funding issues, these types of plans are extremely complex. They are difficult to budget for properly and it is extremely difficult to estimate pension liabilities and many assumptions have to be made (how long will people work, what kind of money will they make, how many will vest, how long will people live, etc.) The size and amount of assets in the plan can be huge. Companies were spending a disproportionate amount of time fussing with their retirement plans rather than doing business. And, they cost a lot of money for employers, which may be ok if you are expanding and don't have certain competitive pressures. Often obligations to the plans go up when times are bad as plan assets decrease in value or are not otherwise performing. Exactly the wrong time.

So, private employers have moved away from DB plans. But state and local governments often have not. Retiree health care is even a worse problem. People who do not have those types of plans have seen their 401ks whacked with no pension guaranty to back them up. They have no retiree health care. Some do not see a big difference in wages between the public sector and private. They will see their taxes go up and services go down if something is not addressed with the state and local pensions and health care plans. So there is a tension. To interpret an understandable tension as anger or hate or any other inflammatory word thrown at one group or another simply increases that tension.

(I am not against or for any particular type of plan, instead I think the way we do retirement financing needs an overhaul, with maybe an end result of some kind of combination of DB/DC plans but designing something is way beyond my paygrade).

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When I was a hiring authority, I used to receive lists of 20 resumes of people who were supposedly qualified, but a deeper analysis showed they just parroted back the job announcement and said they could do it. No support for that assertion, but it happens all the time. My office was looking for RF engineers a few months ago - must have a BSEE or higher and and 10 years RF experience. These are jobs paying $125K and up. We received one qualified applicant for 3 positions. It doesn't matter how many people apply, it matters how many are really qualified to do the job.
Private business has the same problems. You can have huge unemployment but still have lots of open jobs for a number of reasons. Didn't someone just win the Nobel prize for work on this issue?
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Old 11-07-2010, 10:56 AM   #222
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Returning to OP's original question, in Illinois, it was decided that public pensions should start later. Folks hired on 1/1/11 or later are subject to new rules called "Tier II."

These seem like practical, worthwhile changes. But they do little to relieve the severe financial dilema the state is currently under as it tries to pay the pensions of current retirees and prepare to pay the pensions of current active employees.

Tier I is the current system and Tier II is the new system. Note that the Tier II (new) system is very much like SS in terms of age and service requirements. Since Illinois public employees do not contribute to SS and have this plan instead, that seems appropriate.




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What are the changes in retirement eligibility?Retirement eligibility for Tier I teachers and administrators is set according to a sliding scale:
  • Members can retire at age 55 with full benefits if they have 35 years of service credit accumulated; if the member has elected to have his/her pension determined by the 2.2% formula and paid the required fee.
  • Members also can retire at age 55 with at least 20 years of service credit and receive a benefit that is reduced by 6 percent for every year the member is under age 60.
  • Members can retire at age 60 with 10 years of service and receive benefits that the member has earned. For example, ten years of service multiplied by 2.2% equals 22% of the final average salary.
  • Members can retire at age 62 with five years of service and receive full earned benefits.
The new law requires Tier II teachers and administrators to be 67 years old and have accumulated 10 years of service credits in order to qualify for full benefits that a member has earned. Tier II members may retire at age 62 with 10 years of service, but will receive retirement benefits reduced 6 percent for every year the member is under age 67.
This is taken from the Teacher Retirement System web site.
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Old 11-07-2010, 01:37 PM   #223
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Returning to OP's original question, in Illinois, it was decided that public pensions should start later. Folks hired on 1/1/11 or later are subject to new rules called "Tier II."

...

This is taken from the Teacher Retirement System web site.
Interesting. Off the top of my head, that still seems pretty generous. Maybe later I'll see if I can dig out the old formulas Mega-Corp used, just for comparison. 'Course, those will be from "the way it was", I guess a 2011 employee at most mega-Corps there gets, what? zippo? Anyone have summary data for this, a quick google got me a lot of unrelated stuff?


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Old 11-07-2010, 04:52 PM   #224
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I think you are missing my point. The OP on this thread originally proposed raising the minimum age to collect a public pension in the belief that it would result in savings. I have been arguing against the suggestion because I think it's unfair. Until last night it had not occurred to me to examine the assumption underlying his suggestion, but having done so, I am now also calling into question Dallas Guy's supposition that doing so would reduce public spending. There is no guarantee that there would be any savings at all. If the employees simply continue to work until the increased eligibility age (as many would, because without the pension they can't afford to quit), there might easily be no savings at all. My quick "what if" spreadsheet suggested to me that raising the minimum age to draw benefits only results in lower cost if employees leave their jobs some years before they are eligible to draw pension benefits.

Here's a thought experiment. What if it turned out that public pension funds could solve their underfunding problems by encouraging employees to retire earlier? The spreadsheet suggested that if I had retired at age 52, the retirement system would pay me considerably less over my remaining lifespan than if I wait until later. I couldn't afford to do it, because I had put hardly any other savings aside to supplement my pension, but if I had been putting even a low percentage of my salary into the 457 plan the whole time I was employed, I think it's easily possible I could have been able to retire at that age (just in time for the stock market crash ) If the City were to switch to automatic enrollment in the 457 plan for all new hires, as some private sector 401k plans have, would enough employees retire at the earliest opportunity to put the pension fund back in the black? And would the same people who are now worried they will have to bail out public pension funds with higher taxes be applauding?

I understand your point that you as an individual would probably continue to work until that new age.... what I think you are missing is that there is no NEW job created... either you will work in that job or someone else (who will accrue a pension) will...

So all that money that you calculate that it will cost to keep you until 60 will not go to someone else.... IF you retired at 52 and we started to pay you... then we are now having another pension liability grow as the job has not been eliminated and SOMEONE is doing it and earning that pension... so it is either YOU or someone else that earn that pension those extra 8 years.... it is not an increase in the liability... just a shuffle of who gets it...
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Old 11-07-2010, 05:53 PM   #225
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Wait a minute, didn't you say in an earlier post that the public pensions were severly underfunded, that trillions of dollars are missing that we would all be paying through our noses forever?

If there is no money in the pension fund, how can you count interest on money that isn't there? Just like SS, you can't say the invisible fund gets interest as the government already spent the underlying contributions. Plus, if you can get 8% on a safe fixed bond investment , please let us all know where it is.

You can't have it both ways .
In post 208, KYounge1956, who's contributions I find valuable in this discussion even if I don't always agree with them, describes modeling the impact of an early retirement (52) on his pension. His conclusion was that in most cases it would cost the pension fund less if he retired early than if he waited until he was 60 or 62.

I find this surprising, although it is entirely possible since the reductions for early pensions very widely by among pension plan. Accurately modeling pension plans is complicated, maddeningly so, and I'll be the first to admit that even if with MBA there is tons I don't understand. My question to Kyounge is how did model the time value of money for the pension payments at age 52.

Surely you must understand that if I have $200K in "college" fund and I promise each of my kids that I will contributed 25K/year for college my ability to fulfill my promise is dependent on the number of kids, their ages, and my future returns. If I have twins who are seniors in high school, and a junior, and a freshman, the younger kids are going to be short changed. On the other hand if I have twin newborns, a 3 and 5 year old we are probably in good shape.
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:20 PM   #226
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Interesting. Off the top of my head, that still seems pretty generous. Maybe later I'll see if I can dig out the old formulas Mega-Corp used, just for comparison. 'Course, those will be from "the way it was", I guess a 2011 employee at most mega-Corps there gets, what? zippo? Anyone have summary data for this, a quick google got me a lot of unrelated stuff?


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The Northwestern study agrees with you.
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For example, at the state level, Illinois and New Jersey have contribution requirements which at some point they promised they would meet. But Illinois is now paying them with borrowed money, and New Jerseyis only paying a small fraction of the “required” amount. The city of Chicago has actually received a funding holiday in the context of a recent reform that affected new workers in Illinois state plans....

For example, each household in Chicago owes $42,000 just for the Chicago plans, plus an additional $29,000 for their share of the Illinois state plans, for a total of $71,000 per household, or around $76 billion. On the other hand, it seems infeasible that Chicago, a city with approximately $0.3 billion in annual sales tax revenue and $0.8 billion in annual property tax revenue,can come up with payments for legacy liabilities of this magnitude. It seems more likely that the state of Illinois will end up bailing out Chicago, in which case all Illinois households will end up owing around $42,000. In turn, if that would bankrupt Illinois, then the federal may have to backstop the Illinois
liabilities.
According to the study both the Chicago and Cook county teacher pension funds are in severe trouble. By 2019 they will run out of money, consume 76% of Chicago's revenue and on a pay as you go system (cause the fund is exhausted) only be able to pay 53% of promised benefits.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:50 PM   #227
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I know that there has been talk of salary etc. of feds vs private sector.... and this does sound like it is not true...

But Rand Paul stated on a political show that the avg fed make about $120K and the avg private sector job is $60K (maybe he said $66)... said that an across the board 10% salary cut should be looked at....
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Old 11-08-2010, 04:46 AM   #228
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I'm sure politicians aren't stiring resentment as a means to expanding their base of supprt.

PolitiFact | In PolitiFact debut, Brown says federal jobs pay twice as much as private sector jobs
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Old 11-08-2010, 07:49 AM   #229
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I know that there has been talk of salary etc. of feds vs private sector.... and this does sound like it is not true...

But Rand Paul stated on a political show that the avg fed make about $120K and the avg private sector job is $60K (maybe he said $66)... said that an across the board 10% salary cut should be looked at....
But Texas Proud, this is another case where averages don't tell us much. Some people have pointed out that the average govt job may be a higher level than the average private sector job.

I have no idea if that is true or not, but we don't have enough information to determine that just by average salaries.

I gotta side with the public sector on this issue (that the data is meaningless, not about any conclusions one might draw from it).

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Old 11-08-2010, 09:41 AM   #230
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I know that there has been talk of salary etc. of feds vs private sector.... and this does sound like it is not true...

But Rand Paul stated on a political show that the avg fed make about $120K and the avg private sector job is $60K (maybe he said $66)... said that an across the board 10% salary cut should be looked at....
And the reason that anyone should believe Paul Rand is? I can find anyone to say anything about any situation. His statement is his opinion - no where is it backed by fact .

We get it. You don't like DB plans. You don't like paying for public employees salaries or retirement benefits. You don't like the fact that you lost a lot of money in your 401K a few years ago. You didn't want to be a government employee and you still have no interest in becoming one. Yet you have several close relatives who do work for government entities. Do they still talk to you ?
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Old 11-08-2010, 10:14 AM   #231
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I have a question did you spreadsheet include the income lost by the pension due to paying out the pension earlier? If so what rate of return did you assume for the pension fund?

For example assume at age 52 you collected a pension of $25,000. If that $25,000 had remain in the pension fund and earned money at 8% it would have generated an additional $21,273 income for the pension fund
no, I didn't try to take that into account. Maybe I will see if I can re-create the spreadsheet tonight.

Even without the spreadsheet, though, I think there is either something wrong with your math or I'm not understanding you. $25K x 8% is $2000, not $21K+. In any case, given the very large difference in both percentage and nominal dollars between pension at 52 (34.5% of base salary) and pension at 60 (60% of a larger base salary), I don't think the earnings of the non-paid pension would change the overall outcome. The earnings of the non-paid pension, plus the additional contributions of the employee who continues working until age 60, might tip the balance the other way. The 20-year employee who keeps working has a higher salary and larger contributions, than the new employee who would fill that slot if the long-time employee retired at 52. (Any effects of non-paid pensions and earnings from contributions would be slightly smaller than you have calculated, because this particular pension system uses an assumed return of 7.75%, not 8%. As I posted elsewhere—I think it was on one of my polls—I'm pretty sure this is nominal return, not real return.)
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Old 11-08-2010, 10:22 AM   #232
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And the reason that anyone should believe Paul Rand is? I can find anyone to say anything about any situation. His statement is his opinion - no where is it backed by fact .

We get it. You don't like DB plans. You don't like paying for public employees salaries or retirement benefits. You don't like the fact that you lost a lot of money in your 401K a few years ago. You didn't want to be a government employee and you still have no interest in becoming one. Yet you have several close relatives who do work for government entities. Do they still talk to you ?
Getting a little snide here are we


I said that I did not believe what he said... maybe you missed that point...

But if the politicians are going to be throwing out these numbers and people start to believe them.... well, people who are working for the gvmt have a lot more to worry about than me....

And you also state my beliefs wrong... so let's get that straight....

I do not believe we should have a DB plan that puts all the risks on the taxpayer...

For the rest, you are just wrong... read a bunch of my posts... I said that if this means we have to pay MORE today, so be it... so stop trying to make me out as someone who doesn't want gvmt employees at all...

I could care less if I lost money or made money... my opinion is based on the facts as I see them...

How do you know what I did or did not want to do Again, making statements without facts...

And yes... I have a very close family... my sister is coming into town today and we are talking our mother out to dinner... that will be two of the people who worked for the gvmt...
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Old 11-08-2010, 10:27 AM   #233
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In the end, it still all comes down to the same thing, regardless of anything else and it applies to everything we do. It's called "free will." We, in the US, have this marvelous advantage that most of the world's population doesn't have. The ability to make decisions of our own free will. And then we have to live with those decisions. Whether they are economic or social or personal, they are our decisions and they are our responsibility.
So you say. Of course, there is no evidence that there is free will.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:23 AM   #234
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But Texas Proud, this is another case where averages don't tell us much. Some people have pointed out that the average govt job may be a higher level than the average private sector job.

I have no idea if that is true or not, but we don't have enough information to determine that just by average salaries.

I gotta side with the public sector on this issue (that the data is meaningless, not about any conclusions one might draw from it).

-ERD50

Forgot to respond to this post...

I agree... it IS meaningless without any context and I also stated I did not think it was correct... (then again, maybe they are including the full cost of pensions and benefits... since there is no backup for the statement I do not know)...

But if politicians are throwing it around in order to try and get something changed (cut everybody's salary), it is a big issue...

I just put down this information as I saw it this weekend...
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:43 PM   #235
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So you say. Of course, there is no evidence that there is free will.
Well, you did voluntarily respond to my post . You didn't have to.
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Old 11-08-2010, 01:54 PM   #236
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And the reason that anyone should believe Paul Rand is? I can find anyone to say anything about any situation. His statement is his opinion - no where is it backed by fact .
Still a large difference - and the info below is just salary. The difference gets larger when employer paid taxes, health ins, retirement etc is factored in.


USATODAY.com
The growth in six-figure salaries has pushed the average federal worker's pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.
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Old 11-08-2010, 02:00 PM   #237
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Well, you did voluntarily respond to my post . You didn't have to.
I guess she was just exercising her "free will"..........
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Old 11-08-2010, 02:02 PM   #238
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Still a large difference - and the info below is just salary. The difference gets larger when employer paid taxes, health ins, retirement etc is factored in.


USATODAY.com
The growth in six-figure salaries has pushed the average federal worker's pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.

Say it ain't so......firsr Rand Paul is lying and now the USA Today? Must be more untrue facts..........
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Old 11-08-2010, 03:16 PM   #239
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So you say. Of course, there is no evidence that there is free will.
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Well, you did voluntarily respond to my post . You didn't have to.
Scott Adams (Dilbert) says that we're programmed to respond to stimuli like little moist robots running around in some higher species' version of Sim City.

So... no free will.
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Old 11-08-2010, 03:37 PM   #240
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Still a large difference - and the info below is just salary. The difference gets larger when employer paid taxes, health ins, retirement etc is factored in.
USATODAY.com
The growth in six-figure salaries has pushed the average federal worker's pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.
The number for feds is pretty accurate. The number for private sector workers is meaningless. The press and people manipulate facts to agree with the results they are seeking. Liars figure and figures lie (remember that old saw?). There are no burger flippers, car wash attendents, or the many millions of people earning minimum wages in the government. Federal employees are far more educated than the average non-gov employee and many work in positions requiring security clearances and specialized skills. The roughly 1,700 DoD employees earning $150K or more is no surprise. DoD is top heavy in technology workers and lot of people with masters degrees and PhDs. A GS-15, step 10, which many are, makes over $150K pretty much no matter where they work - actual pay depends on geographical location. The number of employees alone in that pay range is meaningless without showing their educations, years in service, occupation, etc. Most have a minimum of 20 years of service, some substantially more.

The pay is not the issue - the retirement benefits are. And they are far less than they used to be. The current system may be more generous than many companies, but others requiring high levels of education, like Mitre, the Aerospace Corporation, CNA and many more now offer benefits that eclipse those of feds. Plus, feds pay more for health benefits while working than employees of large companies. Should the age be raised - sure, it has been under the FERS system. Higher? If the SS age is raised, then so should the fed retirement age. Should benefits be cut? Maybe - but only for people with at least 20 to 25 years to go until full retirement. That allows them to continue to stay or go elsewhere and plan for the future.

"I do not believe we should have a DB plan that puts all the risks on the taxpayer..." (from TP)

And the federal system we have now does not. A FERS employee must depend on their TSP and SS as well as their relatively small DB. The 3 legged stool theory. But where do we draw the line? Based on what I have read on this thread, there is no DB for public employees that would be satisfactory. Any risk to the taxpayer is unacceptable.

So much worry about others getting too much and someone else having to pay for it. Just remember Herbert Hoover who refused to allow a full blown welfare program in 1930 for fear that people who didn't "deserve" the money would get it. Single handedly made the depression far worse than it needed to be. To get out of this recession, we need people to spend money so other people will have jobs. You should be happy that the retiress don't have to eat dog food .
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