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Old 04-10-2010, 04:04 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Leonidas View Post
While we're doing this, let's consider the fact that I would not have been eligible to retire at 40, or actually retired at 45, but I would work to 55 or longer. How much more would I want for that? 10%, 20% - I don't know, but the fact that I would not have the same early retirement possibilities would have to be compensated to me before I would take the job.
You kinda glossed over the part about the chances of getting your assets shot off...

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It's like I've said consistently when this question comes up. It's all a matter of competitive compensation. You can pay me now or pay me later, it all depends on when you want to pay the bill. If you're not competitive, you're not getting my labor. And if you don't want to pay me what I am willing to accept, just decide which lesser qualified individual you want to arm and put amongst you with arrest powers and the responsibility to make life changing (or ending) decisions.
A standing military (or militia or police force or fire/rescue squad) is a waste of money... until you need it. And then it's pretty hard to find a good one by throwing wads of cash their way.

I think the only reason that the general public is even aware that public pensions are underfunded is because the accounting rules didn't require such realistic cost accounting until relatively recently. So this isn't a new problem, and it's certainly not unsolvable. But it's the first time that it's been so easily identifiable.
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Old 04-10-2010, 04:21 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Independent View Post
The problem isn't excessive pensions. It's signing contracts with those pensions, then under funding them. (I'm sure the situation is worse in some states than others, so I don't want to claim that all states have done outrageous things.)

IMO, most of the blame lands on elected officials who are supposed to be smarter than the average voter and think about things like pension funding. Some of the blame goes to voters who don't watch closely enough. Some of the blame goes to union officials, as they should be able to see that they're complicit with the elected officials in hiding the full cost from the voters.
At first approximation all states have under funded pension isn't a bad guess.

From my favorite new pension study from the Pew Center.
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In 2000, just over half the states had fully funded pension systems. By 2006, that number had shrunk to six states. By 2008, only four—Florida, New York, Washington and Wisconsin—could make that claim.
We the voters and/or non-voter also bear some of the responsibility, but I primarily blame the unions (and the public employee who elected them) and elected official who lacked the courage to stand up to them.
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Old 04-10-2010, 05:07 PM   #23
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I think the only reason that the general public is even aware that public pensions are underfunded is because the accounting rules didn't require such realistic cost accounting until relatively recently. So this isn't a new problem, and it's certainly not unsolvable. But it's the first time that it's been so easily identifiable.
Exactly. That along with a decline in revenues. And it’s going to get worse as credit agencies change their methodologies to rate municipalities more like corporations and credit costs jump. Beginning next year.

Public employees with separate, well funded retirement plans, like police and fire, need to circle the wagons to protect their assets from state governments.
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Old 04-11-2010, 09:07 AM   #24
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We live in a capitalistic society, not a socialist society.

Unions were developed to give workers a way to not be run over by management. Unions have powers; management has powers.

If management gets the upper hand, then those people who back management are happy. If the worker gets the upper hand then those people who back the worker are happy. But we have negotiations, strikes, lock outs and various laws to regulate this.

As long as you want to live in a modern capitalistic society, you can no more blame unions for working to get the best they can from management for the workers, any more than you can blame management for resisting giving anything to the workers.

Each side wants something and doesn't care much about the effect of it on the other side. The union doesn't care if management has money to pay the managers or to make much of a profit, they just want the best possible benefits for the worker short ONLY of not having the company go bankrupt. Management wants the worker to get the least possible amount of money, the least possible benefit package that they can still have workers.

You cannot blame unions or management. This is what it is in a capitalistic society.

There used to be places where public employees could not form unions and they had to take whatever crumbs management gave them. But that changed.

Guys! If you want a society where public workers don't have unions then you have to pass laws that keep the public workers from forming unions.

This is not a communistic society. All workers, whether public or private, have a right to unionize, and to fight against management to get what they want. And the populace has a right to vote in people on the management side who will resist the unions.

Z

P.S.: Personally, I don't care much for union tactics. But then, I don't care much for management tactics either. Both sides, given unlimited power, will badly oppress the other side, and they have many many times over a long history.
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Old 04-11-2010, 09:25 AM   #25
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You're omitting the collusion that takes place between public employee unions and politicians. That isn't capitalistic bartering and negotiation. It's back room "deals" trading costly worker benefits and salary concessions for votes, money and power. Neither side is looking out for the hapless victims: tax payers.

In Illinois, it's time for real negotiations to take place to bring wages, pensions and benefits into line with available resources to pay for them. Inclandestine backroom deals for votes, endorsements, etc., need to come under public scrutiny.

It's NOT the open, unimpeded capitalistic give and take you suggest. Sometimes the "machine" is too well oiled!
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Old 04-11-2010, 09:40 AM   #26
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Public employees with separate, well funded retirement plans, like police and fire, need to circle the wagons to protect their assets from state governments.
What he said. If it's solvent, well-managed and isn't underfunded because the current contributions and expected rate of return are expected to meet all obligations, those need to be protected and firewalled off from others that are in trouble.
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Old 04-11-2010, 11:05 AM   #27
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You're omitting the collusion that takes place between public employee unions and politicians. That isn't capitalistic bartering and negotiation. It's back room "deals" trading costly worker benefits and salary concessions for votes, money and power. Neither side is looking out for the hapless victims: tax payers.

In Illinois, it's time for real negotiations to take place to bring wages, pensions and benefits into line with available resources to pay for them. Inclandestine backroom deals for votes, endorsements, etc., need to come under public scrutiny.

It's NOT the open, unimpeded capitalistic give and take you suggest. Sometimes the "machine" is too well oiled!
I'M NOT OMITTING IT. There is no such thing as open capitalistic give and take. Its is what it is. Its never been anything else. I never suggested that this bargaining was out in the open. If it was, the special interests on both sides would prevent action. The more open and public anything is, effectively increases the size of the committees to the point that no one can get anything done. Quaker business process(I am a Quaker) is a perfect example of this. Everything is done totally in the open with the whole membership. Any one person can disagree with something and that slows the whole process to a crawl. There has to be a concensus from everyone or there is no forward movement. Quakers have to assign someone to deal with the IRS and expenses, for example, because if they didn't nothing would ever be paid. I've often called open process like this as functioning like a $150,000 farm harvestor combine with a 3.5 hp gasoline engine, with an engine brake.


As long as people are people this is what it is. It just depends on which side of the fence you are sitting as to whether you have a problem with the decisions. If they go well for you, then you won't care about the collusion. If they don't go well for you, then you will complain about the collusion. While there may be a few pure souls out there who actually complain about collusion simple because its there, and not because it didn't net them money, I've never met one.

I guess that you've never experienced an operation where there are no deals to get things done behind the scenes. With Quakers doing this, many times the issue is dead, gone, and moved on in the real world, and the Quakers are still arguing about it in their meetings, totally unaware that the issue no longer even has any pertain to the real world anymore. Believe me, when I tell you that I've seen both sides, and if you want anything to get done, you do deals. Otherwise, its either some version of Quaker process, or the courts, and effectively,both have the same result in getting anything accomplished in a normal span of time.

I know school districts where they have gone to open bargaining between the membership and the board. some of these sessions go way way beyond any normal time and the teachers end up working for more than 2 years without a contract because neither side will give because of the public event.

This would be like trying to do a jury trial where all the deliberations are open to the public. As a voter in society, it is your right to oppose it by voting in who you want, or actually running for office yourself. You have a course of action, anything else is just complaining, which is like complaining about the weather.

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Old 04-11-2010, 12:25 PM   #28
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I guess that you've never experienced an operation where there are no deals to get things done behind the scenes.
I think ad-hominem attacks do little to improve the board's perceptions of the strength of your position, the quality of your recommendations, your affiliation, or the purported solutions to the underfunded-pension issue.

One big obstacle was that the old accounting rules and assumptions allowed the problem to be largely ignored, let alone hidden or subject to collusion. Now that they've been changed to force disclosure, perhaps even more reasonable assumptions, then the effort can shift from finding the problems (let alone determining their magnitude) to fixing them.
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Old 04-11-2010, 12:39 PM   #29
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I think ad-hominem attacks do little to improve the board's perceptions of the strength of your position, the quality of your recommendations, your affiliation, or the purported solutions to the underfunded-pension issue.

One big obstacle was that the old accounting rules and assumptions allowed the problem to be largely ignored, let alone hidden or subject to collusion. Now that they've been changed to force disclosure, perhaps even more reasonable assumptions, then the effort can shift from finding the problems (let alone determining their magnitude) to fixing them.
I'm not attacking the poster; I'm only saying that there are very very FEW posters who are not Quaker(there are only 35,000 unprogrammed quakers in the whole world, so the likelihood of this poster being a Quaker is slim to none), and that anyone who is not Quaker does not understand the consequences of doing all negotiations in the open. Please lets not start in on battles right away.

As to the second comment, I have not one little clue what you are talking about, since I was only talking about the general status of how these things operate in a capitalistic society.

I am not maintaining a position that requires anyone to put strength in my "position, my recommendations"; I have no affiliation; and I've made no "purported solutions to the underfunded-pension issue".

I've simply stated, and I wish people would take my statement at face value rather than continuing to read all kinds of other "stuff" into it, that in a capitalistic society, negotiations must happen in private to get anything done, and that in a democracy, people have recourse if they choose to exercise it, which can impact for more than just complaining on forums.

If anyone wishes to get 'carried away', please be my guest.

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Old 04-12-2010, 10:01 AM   #30
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I am not trying to be flip or anything, but it was your career choice.
That was my point – directed toward both sides.

My pension turned out to be a darn good deal for me, but I did pay for it with less salary than I could have made doing something else, and I was stuck where I was for a few years longer than I would have stayed if it were not for the pension.

My back of the envelope figuring was an exercise to point out that you can either have my services at a lower cost now, provided you can entice me to do it based on a sure-thing payoff in retirement, or you will have to pay me more today.
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Like ziggy, I am a taxpayer who would rather not have these unfunded future liabilities out there. I want something that is more 'sure'.
We agree. Nobody wants their government to go broke, least of all the guys who are collecting a pension that is paid for, or guaranteed, by that government. I’m just pointing out that the pension for civil service folks has always been used as the carrot that keeps them around doing their jobs at lower salaries than the labor and work conditions would value it. Now, if we’re just talking about not having future “surprises” in the pension costs then we agree, but if people are reasoning that they are going to lower the overall costs by reducing or eliminating the pension, then they have another think coming. That carrot dangling out at the end of a career was what kept me going to work long after I decided “this place sucks, I should go do something else”.
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Here is an extreme case that someone can use
I think every system is going to have some weirdness built in. If it is deliberate then it needs to be rectified in the cases where it is rewarding people for something that is not based in common sense. I benefited from something like that even though I tried to get it changed. For my last year at work I changed places with my day-shift counterpart, and also did our boss’ job at the same time. They paid me my boss’ salary, but they also gave me extra pay because I was assigned to work night shift (7p-3a). I raised a little fuss about the fact that the guy who was actually working those hours during that year was not getting paid the extra pay – which he deserved. The official interpretation was that nobody ever thought someone would be out of his normal assigned shift for so long, but still be assigned to that shift, so the contract was written to reflect permanent assignment and not temporary assignment. I got the pay and it went toward my pension. It comes out to a whopping $378 a year.
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And we all know that people game the system. Not everybody, but enough to make us cringe. I think you know about Houston.. and the police chief that got a raise the last day of his work (or close, not sure exactly)... and the pension liability grew by over $1 million (IIRC)...
That was not a pension glitch, rather, it was a political payoff blandishment, by a mayor who owed that chief a huge political debt. There will always be such things going on in one fashion or another - those kind of debts get paid somehow and in this particular case the currency was the pension.
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BTW, I was promised a pension by my mega corp... it was taken away... and the 'cash' I got was not even close to making up for what the promise was... I was promised that if I worked until I reached 50 I would have cheap medical insurance until medicare... it was taken away when I was 49.
I’ll have to go back to my original thesis, as paraphrased by you:
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I am not trying to be flip or anything, but it was your career choice.
It's like I said to Ziggy, just because your employer screwed you, doesn't mean that you are justified in screwing your employees.

And I think that there is an additional factor at play here. The average guy or gal working for XYZ Amalgamated Inc., is more easily replaced than Detective Jones down at the cop shop. There is not (well, there shouldn't be) a law enforcement agency in this country that does not reject 95%+ of all applicants that walk in the door looking for a job. I'm sure there are plenty of jobs out there that will take the five top candidates for a position out of 100 applicants, but that doesn't mean that many more of the 100 weren't acceptable (or even desirable). It's that we throw up so many additional barriers to employment that not only aren't a concern to private business, but which would be illegal for them to even consider.Those other 95 may all be wonderful people who would do somebody a great job, but for us, they are unacceptable and we would never offer them a job.

I think folks like you got screwed by your employer because it was easy to get away with. Mostly because they didn't have to reject 95 out of 100 applicants for unsuitability. "Take the deal or leave, we always have people lined up in HR wanting your job." They might not get someone as good as you were, but they would be reasonably certain they would get someone acceptable. In my line of work, unacceptable hires make the front page of the newspaper - or, at the extreme - people die.

Absent the political implications of shafting public safety workers, I'm sure my employer would have at least seriously considered screwing us out of our pensions as so many private employees were - if weren't for the liability. When a poorly qualified, poorly trained, poorly supervised, and poorly managed guy or gal equipped with guns, badges, handcuffs, F-16's, or whatever; goes wrong side up, the costs are huge. And the money to pay those judgments are just as much tax dollars as is the money that goes to pay salary, pensions, training costs, management costs, etc. So, this kind of employer has to consider what it takes to get the right people in the right slots. And even with all of their best efforts, they're still going to get the occasional sleeper who suddenly goes rogue and costs them millions. It's cheaper to spend the money on hiring and retaining the right people for the job.
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Wow, that's amazing that so many law enforcement workers that have switched successfully to other professions.
I don’t think it’s all that surprising. It’s like the military in that people get attracted to the work for different reasons. Some just want a safe civil service job where they get paid regularly and as long as they do what is required and keep their nose clean, they will collect a decent pension at the end. Others join for the adventure aspect, the excitement, to do a service for their country/community. That latter group often includes people who are highly motivated, fairly intelligent, and ambitious. Some of those in the latter group decide to take their talents elsewhere to make more money, or because the good stuff about the job didn’t overcome the not-so-good stuff.

Some of that latter group hang around though, because there are assignments that appeal to them. Places like where I worked, that were more demanding and more rewarding. You could really see the differences between the two groups when you contrast them in that light. We changed our personnel policies once and had an influx of that first group apply to come work there because all they knew about were the goodies. Some of the interview panels had hilarious, but educational, results. Like the young officer with about 10 years in some comparatively safe and sane assignment. When presented with a hypothetical (that was based on everyday experiences in our particular area of LE) she ended the interview and withdrew her application. Her response to the scenario was, "Is this the kind of s*%t you people do around here? You are all insane. Somebody could get killed doing this."

Speaking from management's viewpoint, you need both kinds of people. But you have to put up with the downside to either group. The first group, the people who would have been just as happy delivering your mail, are the people who will almost never astound you with their work ethic, creativity, intelligence, or bravery. The second group, if you motivate them properly and harness them adequately, they will be your secret weapons to solve tough problems. But you have to law awake at night worry about all of that energy and creativity straying from productive to, "WTF were you thinking?"
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Hey Leonidas, were you by chance with the US Marshals Service
No, a large local police agency.
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Good sense of humor coupled with dedication and maybe a touch of cowboyism
You have to posses a good sense of humor in this line of work. As for cowboyism, I reckon it depends on what ya mean by that pardner. I don’t deny believing in the cowboy code of ethics:
  • Live each day with courage.
  • Take pride in your work.
  • Always finish what you start.
  • Do what has to be done.
  • Be tough, but fair.
  • When you make a promise, keep it.
  • Ride for the brand.
  • Talk less and say more.
  • Remember that some things aren’t for sale.
  • Know where to draw the line.
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You kinda glossed over the part about the chances of getting your assets shot off...
I don’t deny that perhaps I was a bit crazy in my younger years, and that maybe the risks were part of the draw. Of course back then I was bullet-proof and convinced that God was on my side and nobody could stand against us. Go to a few funerals of twenty-something friends and the shine on one’s invincibility gets a little less glittery.

I was twenty-two or twenty-three when a very good friend of mine was accidentally killed by another officer when he mistook her for a bad guy with a gun (she was undercover). A .357 semi-jacketed hollow point went between the panels of her body armor and turned her kids into orphans. I realized that God might be on my side, and you still have got to be one mean sumbitch to be against me, but sometimes bad stuff happens even to the good guys.

It may be different for other people, but personally I never lay awake at night worrying about the risks to myself. Mostly I worried about leaving my family behind and what would happen to them. When I became responsible for leading other people I worried about their families. You don't go to one of those funerals and look at the family without thinking about your family standing in their place. You know that the tragedy and grief will never stop for them, and it even carries on into the next generation. This is from the memorial page for my friend, who died almost 30 years ago:
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I never knew my grandmother but have learned great things about her. I'm 11 yrs old and have a new grandmother. I still miss my Grandmother and when I die I hope I met her at the pearly gates. I am teaching my homeroom class what my family has been through I cry every time I talk about it but they understand.

Sometimes I wonder if Grandma Kathleen were still alive if my life would be different. Of course my mother is very open with her feelings of her mother's death. My Uncle is still not completely over the fact that his mother died before she was supposed to. I hope that anyone who looks at this reflection and cry as my mother did.
This is why I always avoid trying to argue "fairness" when it comes to compensation for people in dangerous public service jobs (fire, police, military). How can you put a price on that kind of tragedy and pain? The best way I know to express it is to say that there were many days when I couldn't believe people wanted to actually pay me money for what I did, but there were also many days when I knew that there wasn't enough money in the world to compensate me for what I had to go through, or, more importantly, what my family had to go through.

When people say "you're overpaid for what you do" I would have to agree. And when they said "I wouldn't do your job for a million bucks", I would have to agree again. These are jobs that are often tedious and boring, but which are all too often punctuated by moments of terror. You can go from a zero stress environment to fighting for your life, and the lives of others, in a second. I just don't know a way to put a dollar amount to that, so I just stick with "what would it cost you to replace me?"
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A standing military (or militia or police force or fire/rescue squad) is a waste of money... until you need it. And then it's pretty hard to find a good one by throwing wads of cash their way.
Absolutely. We’re just a pain in the butt that costs money until you need us, and then we’re the greatest invention since meat on a stick.

It's like that sign I used to see at high-performance auto parts stores: "Speed is a question of money. How fast can you afford to go?" A public response to danger is a question of how much you're willing to spend on quality and quantity. But you can't create competence and experience the morning that the war is about to kickoff, you have to invest in a response long before the bad guys show up to carry off your booty and have their way with your women. In this case, the folks making the budgetary decisions just decided to pay some bills on some future uncertain date. And, now that the vague, hazy and uncertain tomorrow is upon them (or their successors) everybody is acutely aware of the amount to be paid.
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I think the only reason that the general public is even aware that public pensions are underfunded is because the accounting rules didn't require such realistic cost accounting until relatively recently. So this isn't a new problem, and it's certainly not unsolvable. But it's the first time that it's been so easily identifiable.
True. And the out-of-sight out-of-mind concept works here as well. Now that the bills are coming due people are suddenly realizing that “we want more cops on the beat but don’t want to pay more taxes” equals paying the fiddler eventually.
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We the voters and/or non-voter also bear some of the responsibility…
We agree.
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Originally Posted by clifp View Post
… but I primarily blame the unions (and the public employee who elected them) and elected official who lacked the courage to stand up to them.
That’s not true in all cases though. In my city we never had any kind of collective bargaining, and even now all we have is “meet and confer” which is a very weak version. But all too often it’s a political response not to union strength (although in some places the unions are very strong), but to economic realities. Politicians wanted to hire more cops and keep the trained and experienced employees on the job. Faced with “pay me now or pay me later” they chose later. It’s a great idea at the time because some future mayor is going to have to figure out how to pay the bill, not the guy who is reaping the benefits.

I will admit that our union's endorsement is highly sought after. Not because we have some phenomenal power to get the voters to go along with us. Rather is is because the candidates know that putting our endorsement in their advertising makes them appear to be "pro law-enforcement". Something that does sway voters. Hey, we didn't create this situation, we just live with it and use it to our advantage. It's not that we have them bent over the negotiating table, it's more like we need something from each other. It's politics, plain and simple. If you figure out how to remove politics, and still have public accountability for how tax dollars are spent, you should get a Nobel Prize.

I know the guys who negotiated our first contract, and I know the story. It reads like something out of a novel. They met the mayor for cocktails to have an off-the-books pre-negotiation meeting (at the mayor's request). They knew he was going to basically tell them what they were going to get, and they were right. He wrote a dollar amount on a cocktail napkin and slid it across the table. They almost choked on their drinks, because it was significantly higher than anything they had dreamed about.

What do you do when your boss says he thinks you deserve a raise? Me, I say, "thank you".

The hilarious thing is that the majority of city council members later said to the negotiating team (in similar unofficial meets): "You guys cheated yourselves, we would have approved a hell of a lot more than that."
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:11 AM   #31
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Brevity is virtue.

Leonidas - you win the longest post of the year award !

It was so long that I opted to not read any of it.
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:18 AM   #32
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And I think that there is an additional factor at play here. The average guy or gal working for XYZ Amalgamated Inc., is more easily replaced than Detective Jones down at the cop shop. There is not a (well, there shouldn't be) a law enforcement agency in this country that does not reject 95%+ of all applicants that walk in the door looking for a job. I'm sure there are plenty of jobs out there that will take the five top candidates for a position out of 100 applicants, but that doesn't mean that many more of the 100 weren't acceptable (or even desirable).
Perhaps so, but this thread is apparently moving in the same direction as all the previous pension threads.

It seems that in "public pensions" the discussion always seems to zero in on police, fire and the military, which likely have *very* different recruiting and retention needs than many other jobs (and which have no real private sector equivalent).

So what you say about Detective Jones may be true, but not necessarily for their spouse who may be a civilian paper pusher there (or a clerical/administrative type with another gov't agency). These "office environment" jobs are ubiquitous in the private sector so we have direct market-based data on compensation for those jobs. And if retention was so important there, the private sector would still be offering pensions for those positions. They don't seem to have rampant attrition problems without offering pensions (especially in this economy), so as long as it were reflected in a competitive base salary, I see no need to continue to offer these public clerical/administrative positions a pension upon new hire. It's pretty obvious that the marketplace doesn't require it, as there's no shortage of decently qualified individuals applying for those jobs even without them.

But I do agree that *if* these positions are giving out considerably less base pay than private sector equivalents, the base pay may need to rise somewhat. I'd prefer a slightly higher *known* cost today than to build a ticking time bomb that can blow up badly in the future.

But it's not just about pensions for police, fire and the military.
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:06 AM   #33
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But it's not just about pensions for police, fire and the military.
I agree, they are totally different situations. My response is just geared toward what I know and have experience in.

When it comes to the non-cop, firefighter type workers; I've seen two different kinds. The folks who don't mind the fact that the city gives them a half-assed salary as long as the city doesn't mind if they do a half-assed job. The other kind were the ones that I would ask "why are you here? You could do so much better in the civilian world."
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:43 AM   #34
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Leonidas - you win the longest post of the year award !

It was so long that I opted to not read any of it.
As you also opted to make your comment public; as if it were not a well-intentioned suggestion for improvement, but, rather, as if it was intended to be a public kick in the shin.

There have been some lengthy posts by others here that I have chosen to not read for the same reason, and yet, I've never succumbed to any desire to publicly point out how they failed to communicate their message to me. Perhaps, in addition to being loquacious, one of my other failings is an over-developed sense of courtesy when it's really not necessary to be rude.

I hope my reply was brief enough. But please, don't waste any further time on correcting me if I was again imprecise in my words. I feel that if I am to improve the brevity of my writing I will have to devote some time to the effort, so I'm going to have to add to my "ignore poster" list so I'm not distracted. Unfortunately, you didn't make the cut.
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Old 04-12-2010, 01:50 PM   #35
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Leonidas - you win the longest post of the year award !

It was so long that I opted to not read any of it.
Your loss. You wouldve learned something had you read it. Maybe you already know everything and dont need to learn anything?
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Old 04-12-2010, 02:38 PM   #36
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It seems that in "public pensions" the discussion always seems to zero in on police, fire and the military, which likely have *very* different recruiting and retention needs than many other jobs (and which have no real private sector equivalent).
So which other ones would we be talking about? Teachers? State revenue service workers? Anyone who works for the myriad of state departments such as education, human services, etc? Department of Human Welfare workers. Agriculture?

Some of these have no private sector equivalent either. Or some have a private sector equivalent, but the private sector requires none of the credentials that are required of the public sector. For example, you can be a school counselor in a private school with a college diploma in classical studies. But to work in the public sector you have to have a BS, a masters specifically in school counseling, and a 500 hour internship(or one full semester full time), and a specific certification license in a specialization of elementary k-8 or 6-12, a certain score on a Praxis Examination in School Counseling, and in many places you have to get re-certified every five years and need at least 6 college credits to do that(or 180 continuing education credits). You can't come off of just any other "good" job and jump into this one. Most districts want to hire someone with specific experience in Trauma or Response to Intervention or Autism, etc, and usually need 5 years of experience to even be considered for the competitive jobs. And all that only qualifies you for a probationary certificate.

For many of these kinds of jobs, the hoops that the public center has put on to them is way greater than in the private sector, if there even is an equivalent position. I don't think there is an equivalent position in private work for the children and youth worker who has to determine physical and sexual abuse of children every day, day in day out for 30 years.

And like Leonidas says, the public sector job is usually less than the private one in pay. Although in some areas, with unions involved, this has changed. But in private sector jobs in education, where there are no unions, my wife as a teacher literally makes a bit less than 1/3 of what I make, and for her 30 years of working with kindergarten kids has this tiny little ss pension that wouldn't even pay for her food for one month, let alone her health care or lodging.

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Old 04-12-2010, 02:46 PM   #37
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Education is funny. In the military all you have to do is kill people who don't want to be killed.

If educators were doing military duty, we would have to convince them to kill themselves by talking to them and giving them lectures! And for the ones who have substandard abilities or skills, we would have to make sure that we also trained them to understand how to kill themselves, and give them tests so that we had 100% proficiency in knowing how, and then actually doing it.

Lest anyone start freaking out, I'm joking.



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Old 04-12-2010, 03:03 PM   #38
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So which other ones would we be talking about? Teachers? State revenue service workers? Anyone who works for the myriad of state departments such as education, human services, etc? Department of Human Welfare workers. Agriculture?

Some of these have no private sector equivalent either. Or some have a private sector equivalent, but the private sector requires none of the credentials that are required of the public sector. For example, you can be a school counselor in a private school with a college diploma in classical studies. But to work in the public sector you have to have a BS, a masters specifically in school counseling, and a 500 hour internship(or one full semester full time), and a specific certification license in a specialization of elementary k-8 or 6-12, a certain score on a Praxis Examination in School Counseling, and in many places you have to get re-certified every five years and need at least 6 college credits to do that(or 180 continuing education credits). You can't come off of just any other "good" job and jump into this one. Most districts want to hire someone with specific experience in Trauma or Response to Intervention or Autism, etc, and usually need 5 years of experience to even be considered for the competitive jobs. And all that only qualifies you for a probationary certificate.

For many of these kinds of jobs, the hoops that the public center has put on to them is way greater than in the private sector, if there even is an equivalent position. I don't think there is an equivalent position in private work for the children and youth worker who has to determine physical and sexual abuse of children every day, day in day out for 30 years.

And like Leonidas says, the public sector job is usually less than the private one in pay. Although in some areas, with unions involved, this has changed. But in private sector jobs in education, where there are no unions, my wife as a teacher literally makes a bit less than 1/3 of what I make, and for her 30 years of working with kindergarten kids has this tiny little ss pension that wouldn't even pay for her food for one month, let alone her health care or lodging.

Z
That's the price of admission to be a public teacher. Both my parents got masters degrees in education and taught 30 years. Keep a mind a LOT of private school teachers aren't eligible for pensions and cheap medical insurance.............
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:07 PM   #39
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It seems that in "public pensions" the discussion always seems to zero in on police, fire and the military, which likely have *very* different recruiting and retention needs than many other jobs (and which have no real private sector equivalent).
Exactly Zig. In many cases, it's simply a product of decades of very successful labor organization strategy to establish "rules" which artifically inflate the wages of easy to recruit and retain personnel by linking them to hard to recruit and retain personnel.

A classic example is teachers. Typically there is, in most areas, a vast oversupply of applicants in non-quantitative areas such as general elementary school, high school history, English, social studies, etc. This oversupply is so great here in the Chicago suburbs that it is common for daycare workers and teachers aids to be certified teachers waiting in a long, long line for their chance. But there are frequently shortages of math and science teachers. Salaries need to rise to attract and retain folks with those skills into teaching. But, by current rules in our state, when salaries for hard to recruit and retain skill sets rise, they rise for all. Even those with skillsets already in over supply.

Another quirk making recruitment and retention difficult is the existence of salary schedules which give automatic pay increases over time. Beginning teachers often double (or more) their salaries by simply hanging on and not being so bad they get canned. Beginning salaries might be lowish, but ending salaries are frequently very attractive. This makes recruitment of folks with rare skill sets at mid-career tough. An engineer who, at 40, goes back and gets a MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) and appropriate certifications in math must, by negotiated rule, be started at entry level and escalated at the same pace as youngsters starting right out of school at 22 yo. It makes no sense.

In these instances the need to pay what it takes to recruit and retain the talent you need is totally separated from normal market supply and demand by rules that the business owners (tax payers) only had a distant arms length say in formulating. People in over supply must receive the same salary offers as folks with rare and in demand skill sets.

IMO, we really could have a better educational system if tax payer representives were free to pay what the market demands to attract and keep top notch people with hard to find skill sets. And without the waste of also paying folks in over supply more.

I don't know much about police, fire and military pay or about the difficulty or ease of recruiting and retaining top notch talent. But I agree with you Zig that their case must be considered separately from other categories of public sector employees.
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:56 PM   #40
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That is one of the big problems... the time requierment for teachers.. and not just in public schools. When I was laid off a couple of years ago, I said I wanted to go teach in college since there is a shortage of good business, finance and accounting faculty... was I surprised that I would have a starting salary just like someone who had just graduated with a Masters if they were to get the job... so my 20 plus years of experience is worth a big ZERO...

Since I am not FI.... I took a job making more than twice as much....
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