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Old 02-27-2014, 12:40 PM   #61
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I live in one of those counties. Large numbers of government workers make for a stable economic and tax base, which attracts developers, business owners, doctors, lawyers and other highly compensated people. Additionally, there are probably more defense contractors in this region than anywhere in the country.

Annoyingly, pay studies that I have read seem to lump the administrative assistants and the multi-master-degreed people together.

Highly skilled Engineering and Computer Science people can't make nearly as much working for the Government as they can working for a private contractor. Neither can highly skilled managers - I'm talking about people who lead $100 Million projects with hundreds of people. Surprisingly, some of them settle for top GS salaries of $150-$160K instead of the $300K-Plus they could make in the private sector. If 2 of them get married, they can do very well.

Then again, administrative personnel who make a long-term career in Govt, often end up making way more than they would on the outside. I'm acquainted with some who can barely do more than re-type text provided to them, but have hung in there for 35 years and are making $100K-plus. Of course, that's just a few. Some are very good at their jobs, but the fact remains that they are generously paid compared to the private sector equivalent.

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I wonder if there is any relationship to public vs private employment with the richest counties in the country surround Washington DC.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:49 PM   #62
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...

I'm all in favor of people getting whatever is legally theirs. The villains of the whole process is the politicos that failed to fund these potentially empty promises.
+1
What you'd call expedient government leadership at its worst.

Wish I could recall name of the article I read quite recently stating people who hate pensions have it wrong. They should be targeting the disappearance of pensions in the private sector instead. I do have to agree however with all previous posts discussing outrageous pension abuse.

Like ReWahoo, I hate pensions, too. I hate the fact that I don't have one...
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:58 PM   #63
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"I have a pension. It's called Social Security. I paid into it for 50 years. It's COLA'd. Right now I receive about 20% of my last few years' average salary. Uncle Sam can mess with it as he makes the rules. I'll bet there are people in this country getting SS pension's and never paid into the system. "

Can't receive SS unless you've paid into it for 40 quarters. Forget what the minimum amount is.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:16 PM   #64
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"I have a pension. It's called Social Security. I paid into it for 50 years. It's COLA'd. Right now I receive about 20% of my last few years' average salary. Uncle Sam can mess with it as he makes the rules. I'll bet there are people in this country getting SS pension's and never paid into the system. "

Can't receive SS unless you've paid into it for 40 quarters. Forget what the minimum amount is.
My ex-stepmother was married to my father for 20 years. Because she was married to him for more than 10 years, she has been collecting social security since the age of 65, and will continue to do so for the rest of her life. I believe her benefit was increased upon his death, if I am not mistaken. She did not contribute to social security.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:20 PM   #65
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I was a contractor with marginal benefits and was making about half of my prior job but not much different than what I'd have paid someone to do what I was doing at NASA. IMHO, most of the CS people I interacted with were glorified paper pushers that would probably not be anywhere near the pay their GS levels were paying. There were also way more of them than any private company would have had for the tasks before them. Some worked separate jobs out of the NASA office.
.
Which NASA site? I worked as a contractor at GSFC with a lot of civil servants and I know I got paid more, but my benefits were far less. I'm thinking of going back there again as a contractor and working with the same civil servants after 15 years away........

A lot of the comments about public pensions don't take into account the wide range of ways they are funded. I pay 11% of may salary into my MA state pension and the state kicks in 4.5%, not much different from a 401k plan. The issues are mostly with the multipliers for the long service folks in the defined benefit calculations. Still the average pension for an MA state employee is $26k and they get no SS so I have a problem with people saying public pensions are rich.

Also if people are going to criticize public pensions they should also be going after military benefits and pensions.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:29 PM   #66
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I'm all in favor of people getting whatever is legally theirs. The villains of the whole process is the politicos that failed to fund these potentially empty promises.
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+1
What you'd call expedient government leadership at its worst.
  • Candidate A platform: I've studied our pension funding and we're fine (even though that's not the case at all). All obligations will be met without an increase in taxes/fees.
  • Candidate B platform: I've studied our pension funding and we're seriously underfunded. We're going to have to increase taxes and/or reduce pension payouts to future, maybe even current retirees to ensure we can meet our obligations.
  1. All else being equal, which candidate do you think "we" have historically elected?
  2. Whose fault is that?
People have been bribed with their own money for generations, politicians can't get elected unless they tell us what we want to hear. Voters don't want the truth if it's bad news, or might require sacrifice or tough decisions, but they're more than willing to criticize after the fact. We expect politicians to tell us one thing and then do another?
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:22 PM   #67
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I don't have a problem with public pensions.

I have a problem with public employees that spike their last year of service with huge amounts of overtime, vacation time, accrued sick time, and then that one year becomes the basis for a lifetime of payouts.

I have a problem with public employees who "retire" but then continue working the exact same job, now collecting a pension plus their paychecks.
If we have an objection to those practices, why not object to the rules that allow them, to the system? Isn't that that the real problem, rather than people who fully comply with the rules to their benefit?
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:35 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by seraphim View Post
"I have a pension. It's called Social Security. I paid into it for 50 years. It's COLA'd. Right now I receive about 20% of my last few years' average salary. Uncle Sam can mess with it as he makes the rules. I'll bet there are people in this country getting SS pension's and never paid into the system. "

Can't receive SS unless you've paid into it for 40 quarters. Forget what the minimum amount is.
My wife barely qualified. The minimum for 4 quarters in a year is to earn $4000 and you can get all four quarters of credit in one quarter -- at least my wife did. She'll get pennies on her own SS but did qualify in her own right for medicare. She'll get 50% of my SS.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:41 PM   #69
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OP - I suspect you are over sensitive on the topic. I have a Federal pension and have posted in numerous threads on pensions. I have not sensed significant hostility to pensioners. The main differences focus on appropriate steps to resolve underfunding of public pensions. From a public pensioner's perspective some of those posts seem insensitive to the financial sacrifices we made based on the promise of future rewards. On the other hand, many of us pensioners at times seem insensitive to the implicit promises of financial responsibility made to the taxpayers who we expect to pay for our pensions. I am more comfortable discussing pension issues here than I would be at most online forums.

I think you nailed Don. I don't begrudge anyone their pension (although I am slightly jealous, just as I am sure there folks who are jealous of my Intel stock options.). I actually find the Federal employee retirement system to be a model, that I wish state,local, and corporations adopted. The FERS system includes a traditional pension which with SS provides an adequate retirement. However, if you want to retire early you have to save on your own.

However, many many pensions are underfunded and changes have to made or they will simply run out of money. Examples include Detroit, or Cedars Fall RI, and many other examples both public and private.

The question is who is going to pay for the shortfall. I feel strongly that it shouldn't just be the taxpayers, or the taxpayer+future government employees. But rather it should be shared sacrifice that includes, taxpayers, new employees, existing employees, and some case existing retirees.

Among existing retirees, many have the attitude "hell no I worked hard for pension no way I am going to give up part of my future COLA adjustment".
So yes I'll be negative to retirees who feel that way.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:45 PM   #70
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I actually find the Federal employee retirement system to be a model, that I wish state,local, and corporations adopted. The FERS system includes a traditional pension which with SS provides an adequate retirement. However, if you want to retire early you have to save on your own.
+1

You can follow all these so-called "pension envy" threads going back to the darkest days in 2008-09, and even then I was advocating for the FERS model of retirement planning, one that has a truly three-legged stool. Perhaps the feds' early adoption of this model, some 30 years ago, is part of the reason why federal pension liabilities aren't as onerous as state and local liabilities, and why CSRS isn't bankrupting Uncle Sam like legacy state and local plans that often are still open to new hires. If the last 30 years of Federal hires were on CSRS, it might be a much uglier budget picture for the US Treasury.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:49 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by soupcxan View Post
I don't have a problem with public pensions.

I have a problem with public employees that spike their last year of service with huge amounts of overtime, vacation time, accrued sick time, and then that one year becomes the basis for a lifetime of payouts.

I have a problem with public employees who "retire" but then continue working the exact same job, now collecting a pension plus their paychecks. Double dipping.

Spiking | Calpensions

Looking Twice at Pension Double-Dipping
What percentage of public employees get to do this. I would say 1% or less.
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Old 02-27-2014, 03:18 PM   #72
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I am surprised that porky has not yet come....

To the original claim.... There have been many posts that talk about what people do not like... and pensions are not 'it'.... IOW, it is not common practice to hate pensions...


There is a group of people who push back when someone has a pension and say 'you cannot change my pension'... most will say 'you have earned a pension and should get it, but there is no reason we (the taxpayers) cannot change it going forward'... that then brings out the negative responses from the other side etc. etc. etc...

Others have said it should not be the taxpayer who has to bail out a bad system.... if it is a bad system... the spiking, double (or even triple) dipping, getting retirement money and then getting paid to do the same job as a consultant... or some that have COLAs that are not really COLAs.... I remember someone saying they get 3% no matter what inflation is doing...


I am guessing here, but I would say a good number of people say let's change the system to one where the amount of money put aside is fixed and the person (and the entity) will know what they have... there is a pot of money when the person retires that is based on lifetime earnings.... no spiking, no getting a large pension because you got a promotion your last 3 years etc. etc... there is no contingent liability hanging out there...


Again, not a pension hater, but someone who would like to see them reformed and make sense...
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Old 02-27-2014, 03:27 PM   #73
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I am surprised that porky has not yet come....
Porky has been sitting on the sidelines warming up and ready to "come in" but hasn't yet. Pensions are very much tied into the early retirement hopes of many, whether you are looking to receive one or feeling like your own may be delayed because you don't have one and you feel like shoring up public pensions may delay it further. (These are not the only positions, obviously; just more or less the "poles" from which more middling positions can also be derived.) It's recognized that this is a contentious issue, one that can blow up and end really badly if people start letting anger and emotion rule the day.

But they are very much tied to retirement in general and FIRE in particular, so we're hesitant to bring out The Pig as long as the usual rules about civility and such are followed. We did feel some cleanup was necessary in another recent thread regarding pensions, so some deletions were made there.

Earlier there was a question as to why the OP was allowed to stay. I'd say perhaps because it wasn't calling anyone out in particular but expressing what they felt was a frustration (one that I *personally* thought was a little over the top, speaking personally and not as a moderator). If it all blew up we would have had to go back and do a lot of toxic cleanup, but for the most part I think you can all pat yourselves on the back for the fact that it stayed calm and civil enough that it wasn't deemed immediately necessary.

[And just as a reminder, questions about moderator decisions (not aimed at you, TP, but at any and all) should be brought up via PM to a member of the Moderator Team and not discussed out in a public forum. Thanks!]
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Old 02-27-2014, 03:55 PM   #74
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Quote:
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I don't have a problem with public pensions.

I have a problem with public employees that spike their last year of service with huge amounts of overtime, vacation time, accrued sick time, and then that one year becomes the basis for a lifetime of payouts. (snip)

Spiking | Calpensions

Looking Twice at Pension Double-Dipping
What percentage of public employees get to do this. I would say 1% or less.
I don't know if the percentage is as low as 1%, but I'm confident it's lower than many people think. My guess is that the mistaken impression is due to "what sells more newspapers" (or gets more page views)—that stories about public retirees who receive moderate pensions don't generate nearly as much interest as stories about those few who get more in pension than they ever did in salary, so stories about the former either don't get published, or go largely unnoticed if they do.
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Old 02-27-2014, 04:11 PM   #75
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(snip)

I have a problem with public employees who "retire" but then continue working the exact same job, now collecting a pension plus their paychecks. Double dipping.
I have a hard time getting very upset about "double dipping". Plenty of people work after retirement. Why is it worse for them to work for the same employer as before they retired, than for a different one? I don't do this myself; personally I think "retirement job" is an oxymoron. But I will confess that I'm not unbiased, as both of my parents continued to work in the same profession after they retired. My mom retired from one school district, and then substitute-taught for several years after that, and my father, an Episcopal priest, acted as interim rector for a number of parishes even after he had officially retired. Because of a move to a different state, neither of them worked for exactly the same employer as before retirement—my mom was in a different school district and my dad in a different diocese. But would it have been so awful if they'd done the same thing, only without the move?
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Old 02-27-2014, 04:15 PM   #76
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pension

Public pensions are the one of the last survivors of the pension systems that were in place for many (private and public) in the not so distant past. Loss of pensions is yet another example of the race to the bottom for the American worker in my opinion.

Government agencies are notoriously slow and are a little behind in this race to the bottom, but give them time and they will eliminate pensions also- particuliarly when voters without pensions put increasing pressure on politicians.

Then once all the pensions are gone, we can continue the race by doing something else to the detriment of the average worker.

All the while, salaries at the top continue to skyrocket....
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Old 02-27-2014, 04:29 PM   #77
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I don't know if the percentage is as low as 1%, but I'm confident it's lower than many people think. My guess is that the mistaken impression is due to "what sells more newspapers" (or gets more page views)—that stories about public retirees who receive moderate pensions don't generate nearly as much interest as stories about those few who get more in pension than they ever did in salary, so stories about the former either don't get published, or go largely unnoticed if they do.
I'm not sure there is any 'mistaken impression'.

If the abuses hit the paper, that doesn't mean that others think that applies to the average worker. Murders hit the paper every day, does that mean the average person thinks that every other average person is a murderer? Or that the average house burns down every day?

It's good the abuses hit the paper and get attention, they need to be fixed. The abuses negatively affect the average pensioner.

And I agree that the earlier descriptions may not really count as 'double dipping'. If you got your pension under the rules, what you do later doesn't seem to be an issue. But some get hired back under 'funny' circumstances (and no, not funny like a clown).


edit/add: I'm curious to see if the OP comes back to comment.

-ERD50
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Old 02-27-2014, 04:44 PM   #78
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I'm not sure there is any 'mistaken impression'.

If the abuses hit the paper, that doesn't mean that others think that applies to the average worker. Murders hit the paper every day, does that mean the average person thinks that every other average person is a murderer? Or that the average house burns down every day?

It's good the abuses hit the paper and get attention, they need to be fixed. The abuses negatively affect the average pensioner.

And I agree that the earlier descriptions may not really count as 'double dipping'. If you got your pension under the rules, what you do later doesn't seem to be an issue. But some get hired back under 'funny' circumstances (and no, not funny like a clown).


edit/add: I'm curious to see if the OP comes back to comment.

-ERD50
the "mistaken impression" I meant is the impression that extremely high pensions, abuses such as spiking, and so on, occur more frequently than they actually do, just as it might be possible that extensive reporting of a particular sort of crime might leave people with the impression that it happens much more often than is borne out by the actual numbers.

I agree that the abuses need to be found and dealt with.

I'm also curious to see if the OP returns
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Old 02-27-2014, 04:52 PM   #79
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I just wish to not accept the presumption that "I'm in the public sector so I make/made less than if I was in the public sector." If it was true, why are people lining up for public sector openings?
I get the sense that people are lining up for any openings now and have been for some time. Here's another sensationalist article about that. As with any topic there are different points of view and looking at separate elements highlights those differences. The government DB COLA'd pension I have they stopped offering in the early '80's and bears no resemblance to the one offered by the same employer now so things are changing. And trust me, it is nowhere near six figures. It is also, thankfully, well funded so it is not a target for news writers. However, I also clearly remember private industry folks getting 10-15% raises in the 1970's and '80's and I was getting 2%, 1%, or zip. Not a good feeling and I wondered if I was being a chump for staying. As it is I'm grateful for the way things turned out. However, one could argue that my DB COLA'd pension should be a lot higher than it is but somehow I rather doubt that'd get a lot of sympathy.

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Old 02-27-2014, 05:09 PM   #80
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I'm not sure there is any 'mistaken impression'.

If the abuses hit the paper, that doesn't mean that others think that applies to the average worker. Murders hit the paper every day, does that mean the average person thinks that every other average person is a murderer? Or that the average house burns down every day?

It's good the abuses hit the paper and get attention, they need to be fixed. The abuses negatively affect the average pensioner.

And I agree that the earlier descriptions may not really count as 'double dipping'. If you got your pension under the rules, what you do later doesn't seem to be an issue. But some get hired back under 'funny' circumstances (and no, not funny like a clown).


edit/add: I'm curious to see if the OP comes back to comment.

-ERD50

Any retiree of a system that does allow double dipping within their pension system should be more outraged than anyone outside looking in. Although in my system you are restricted to 550 hours and no more than half pay, these double dippers are a detriment to the health of the pension system. They do not have the 14.5% contribution withheld, nor does employer then have to match with their 14.5%. If this was abused to any degree, the pension system would be starved of the additional monies needed to adequately fund the system.
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