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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:38 AM
Original message
Why pensions are dying.
It started long before Enron or Delta. Companies all over the country are forsaking traditional pension plans and opting for matching private accounts instead. The UAW, my former union, tells me this is a bad thing because it shifts the costs and responsibility for maintaining the account to the individual - who may or may not be sophisticated enough to handle investments.

I disagree. Completely.

I am in favor of pensions being phased out. I am in favor of traditional social security being phased out. And both being replaced by highly regulated and federally insured individual plans.

Why?? Because too many union workers don't make it to retirement and if they fall short by even 1 single day, their families end up with jack squat. Because companies go bankrupt. Because union bosses are mostly but not always honest. Because shit happens.

I would really like to see unions get behind changing the pension/social security structure in this country to individual accounts. Give workers the education they deserve in managing their savings successfully. Those few who are not educatable on these matters should be able to opt for savings plan managed for them by highly regulated and well supervised companies, or the union, or Fidelity or whoever.

I don't think Americans will end up with more retirement savings in the end. I think it will come out even dollar wise. But there is much more security knowing I have $50,000 in my own name than sitting around hoping my pension check shows up this month and Company "A" doesn't go bankrupt before I die. Or a union worker husband dies of a heart attack 3 months before his retirement day - his family would get nothing from the company under current pensions - but under individual plans would have all that they saved.

Unions have an EXTREMELY valuable function in this country but they cannot stop companies from going bankrupt. They obviously cannot force the government to require companies to honor their promises to retirees and their families by putting enough money aside. IMHO the time has come for unions to decide the best way to protect Americans is to take the money out of the hands of the company from the start and let individuals have control of it from day one. Get it up front instead of trusting the companies on the back end.

Just MHO.
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1932 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:42 AM
Response to Original message
1. Pensions can be insured.
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:45 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Enroners got about 30 cents on the dollar.
They'd have gotten every penny if the money was never in the hands of the company and in the hands and control of the individual from day one.
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:48 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Enroners lost a ton of money in their 401(k)'s because they were forced to hold Enron stock
Edited on Sat Nov-03-07 09:48 AM by antigop
and couldn't sell.
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:49 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. That too
but those with pensions in addition to 401k's did not get their full pension from the insurance provider.
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:52 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. ahem... from the PBGC website...
http://www.pbgc.gov/media/news-archive/news-releases/20...

>>
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) today announced that the maximum insurance benefit for participants in underfunded pension plans terminating in 2005 is $45,614 per year for those who retire at age 65. The amount is higher for those who retire later and lower for those who retire earlier or elect survivor benefits (see chart). If a pension plan terminates in 2005 but a participant does not begin collecting benefits until a future year, the 2005 maximum insurance limits still apply.

The maximum insurance benefit is set by law. Two additional legal limits on PBGCs insurance coverage can also affect participants benefits. The first prohibits the PBGC from guaranteeing benefits that exceed the amount payable at the plans normal retirement age. The second limits PBGCs guarantee of benefit increases made within the five years prior to plan termination. For more information, see PBGCs fact sheet Pension Guarantees.

More than 90 percent of the participants in plans taken over by the PBGC face no reduction in benefits due to the legal limits on coverage, according to a 1999 PBGC analysis. The largest reductions occur in cases where participants earn pensions that 1) significantly exceed the maximum insurance benefit, or 2) provide generous early retirement subsidies.
>>
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:01 AM
Response to Reply #11
18. Those with pensions over $45,614 deserve all their money too.
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:03 AM
Original message
How many people qualify for that type of pension? Good grief. Please educate yourself. n/t
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:11 AM
Response to Original message
27. More than you think.
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Fed_Up_Grammy Donating Member (923 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:30 PM
Response to Original message
50. Massachusetts politicians and hacks qualify for that kind of pension.
They are very,very good to themselves.
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-04-07 09:09 AM
Response to Reply #50
57. And how many employees WHOSE PLANS ARE COVERED BY THE PBGC have pensions that high?
Edited on Sun Nov-04-07 09:11 AM by antigop
http://www.pbgc.gov /

>>
PBGC is a federal corporation created by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. It currently protects the pensions of nearly 44 million American workers and retirees in 30,330 PRIVATE SINGLE-EMPLOYER and MULTIEMPLOYER defined benefit pension plans. PBGC receives no funds from general tax revenues. Operations are financed by insurance premiums set by Congress and paid by sponsors of defined benefit plans, investment income, assets from pension plans trusteed by PBGC, and recoveries from the companies formerly responsible for the plans.
>>

Please show me where PBGC insures state and federal pension plans.
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TheFarseer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #6
36. that can't happen anymore
now the portfolio offered in a 401k can't have more than 5% company stock.
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #36
42. Yes, I know they changed the law, but I was only responding to the Enron situation and why
they lost so much money.
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TheFarseer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 03:27 PM
Response to Reply #42
44. I think I was trying to respond to the post above yours
cause yeah, I kind of said the same thing you did really.
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baldguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:43 AM
Response to Original message
2. Traditional pension plans have been phased out
And replaced with intentionally unregulated and uninsured individual plans.

Corporations make more money that way.
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:43 AM
Response to Original message
3. Pensions are insured by the PBGC and if you don't make it to retirement, there are vesting rules
Next.
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:48 AM
Response to Reply #3
7. Not true.
last year a Ford UAW family in my neighborhood - the UAW worker died 3 days before his retirement. His wife got his $40,000 life insurance policy and nothing else. None of his pension and 30 days after his death she was told she would have to make cobra payments to keep healthcare.

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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:49 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. Well, vesting rules are law....sorry, but true. n./t
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:59 AM
Response to Reply #7
16. Vesting rules from the DOL website
http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/publications/wyskapr.html

>>
In a defined benefit plan, an employer can require that employees have 5 years of service in order to become vested in the employer funded benefits. Employers also can choose a graduated vesting schedule, which requires an employee to work 7 years in order to be 100 percent vested, but provides at least 20 percent vesting after 3 years, 40 percent after 4 years, 60 percent after 5 years, and 80 percent after 6 years of service. The permitted vesting schedules for current defined benefit plans are shown in Table 3 below. Plans may provide a different schedule as long as it is more generous than these vesting schedules.
>>
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spooky3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-04-07 06:14 PM
Response to Reply #16
63. defined contribution plans have the same vesting rules with a few
exceptions.

Rosemary's friend could not have forfeited those benefits unless he had only a few years of service.

There are also special rules for some union negotiated plans.

Certainly the UAW plan is covered by these laws.
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:46 AM
Response to Original message
5. The real reason pensions are dying...
Wall Street makes more money in the 401(k) plan fees and turnover of stocks in 401(k) plans.

Go ask an actuary -- he/she will tell you the most efficient form of providing retirement benefits for a large group of people is through a defined benefit plan -- one that is actuarially funded with backing of a real trust fund.

Follow the money, the money, the money....
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B Calm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 11:36 AM
Response to Reply #5
40. I think they are salivating over the prospect of millions of old, hungry
and desperate elderly people to hire as CHEAP LABOR!
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #40
43. I think there *may* be some truth to that, but the real reasons are...
Edited on Sat Nov-03-07 01:30 PM by antigop
1) the money Wall Street can make on a 401(k) plan as opposed to a defined benefit plan

2) the money the companies save by converting to a 401(k) plan from a defined benefit(db) plan. The company match for a 401(k) is not as much as the company would have to contribute to a db plan to keep it funded. Also, it is very easy for a company to discontinue/suspend the company match (look at Charles Schwab).
http://ideas.repec.org/p/crr/issbrf/ib_12.html

3) the money companies can claim on their income statements by freezing/cutting their db plans.
http://www.chastainvsatt.com/Articles/1999%2006-15%20pe...

<edit> fixed link
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Yupster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:48 PM
Response to Reply #5
51. The real reason pensions are dying has
nothing at all to do with what's best for the workers or what's best for Wall Steet.

When a business is deciding whether to set up a rettirement plan or not, and then what kind of retirement plan, it only asks one question.

Which plan would be best for the business. Screw the workers and screw Wall Street. The business cares about the business.

Defined Contribution Plans make much more sense than Defined Benefit Plans for businesses. That's why they're being used so extensively today.

General Motors sends out hundreds of thousands of retirement checks every single month. Thousands of them come back with bad addresses. A whole department of people must be maintained just to process divorces or death settlements. And this is for people who the company hasn't seen for 30 years.

A Defined Contribution Plan (usually 401K) hands over the account value to the worker when he retires. Usually it's transferred into an IRA and the company shakes the worker's hand and wishes him/her luck.

Every company reaizes what a much better deal that is for them. So that's why they're going to them.

Pretty soon the only workers with Defined Benefit Plans will be government workers. It's almost already like that today.
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:49 AM
Response to Original message
8. And some terminology...401(k) plans ARE PENSIONS.
They are defined contribution pensions.
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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:52 AM
Response to Original message
12. I am in favor of Social Security and encouraging company retirement plan contributions.
Social Security is a relatively inexpensive way to provide some level of retirement security for all workers. It's working now and can be sustained in the future with only a few tweaks to the system. It is
one of the most successful social safety nets implemented in this country. Along with Medicare, these are models for implementing similar programs for all residents in the form of universal health care and other social supports.

Traditional pensions are going by the boards in part because so few workers stay with one company long enough to accrue meaningful pensions. The 401K and equivalent deferred tax plans are a good start at retirement planning but IMHO there should be mandatory employer match amounts (say employer contributes x% of every employee contribution) and that such employer contributions must be made in cash, not company stock shares. That would create a closer substitute to traditional pension funding for the employee.
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:57 AM
Response to Reply #12
15. Mandatory match
I agree with that - though not a "match" exactly. I would like to see it be % of the employee's pay, not of their contributions. So that money goes in even if the employee never saved a dime of their own paycheck. Let's face it, if someone is making anything less than about 300% of minimum wage it's becoming harder and harder to put something aside for retirement.
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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:17 AM
Response to Reply #15
29. Actually, I think the match could even exceed 100% if necessary.
That's why I wrote x% of employee contribution. The percentage should be large enough to encourage maximum employee contributions. Minimum wage employees may need 100% or even 200% matches to provide the incentive to set aside some earnings because in absolute dollars the amount would be small. Five dollars per check may not seem worth the bother but if the money is matched with $10 from the employer it may be enough of an incentive to squeeze out that $5 from a very tight budget and start a retirement nest egg.
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:30 AM
Response to Reply #29
34. A very good point. Thanks.
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soothsayer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:52 AM
Response to Original message
13. Gawd, I'm taking a job after 4 years of blissful self-emp. cuz the pension vests in 5 years
and I totally want a pension! 401(k) too of course, but I'm trading my freedom for the pension (which will bring another kind of freedom later on, I'm hoping. Hey, every little bit helps!)
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LiberalFighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:47 AM
Response to Reply #13
37. That was/is pretty much my mindset.
I accepted the lack of freedom with a job because the pension and benefits. Now that I am retired at age 53 I have the freedom to enjoy life. As a result I get more sleep and have less stress. Even though I am still paying a mortgage my pension is more than enough.

I don't miss work! I had thought about getting a part-time job but haven't pursued that yet. But with recent involvement as a volunteer with local politics that might be a possibility.
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soothsayer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-04-07 09:11 AM
Response to Reply #37
58. Cool! Thanks for the reassurance that it's a good move.
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:52 AM
Response to Original message
14. really... I don't have time to play today...please educate yourself on pensions before further
postings.
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #14
17. LOL
don't hold back friend - tell me how you REALLY feel in 10 posts or more. LOL

I'm talking about people's feeling of security and real life situations. Just because I am vested doesn't mean my husband will recieve my pension when I croak before my retirement day and it won't guarantee he'll get it when the company goes belly up.
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #17
20. Good grief! Please educate yourself. I gotta go. n/t
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #20
23. Gotta love General Discussion
they should rename this place the "disagree with me then you must be ignorant" board. LOL. :)
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liberal N proud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:01 AM
Response to Original message
19. Social Security and Pensions were guarantees for employees to have retirement income
Sorry if you don't want to participate but there has to be something there for those who work 40 years but couldn't save.
You can't depend on investing we all know that is just a gamble.

Maybe you should study why social security was created, what happened to retired people prior to SS.
Then look at why companies offered SS in the beginning.
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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:03 AM
Response to Original message
21. Should I die before my wife

Marta would receive 75% of my pension until she remarries or passes away. The EMPLOYER is responsible for keeping the fund entirely funded. It is in my union (AFSCME) contract that is online. I also have a 457 through my employer.

Marta also has a pension for 18 years of work at Qwest (CWA) when she reaches 57. She also has a pension & 401 k with her current employer. Good unions have good retirement befits.

A change to portability for ALL would not bother me.

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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:08 AM
Response to Reply #21
25. Defined benefit pensions can be "portable". The plan can have an immediate annuity instead of an
annuity that you collect after, say, 30 years of service or a certain number of points.

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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:10 AM
Response to Reply #21
26. What happens if you die before your retirement date?
Or is that what you meant?

The UAW is considered a good union and under their contract if a union worker dies before retirement the spouse gets no portion of the pension. If a worker dies AFTER retirement then the spouse does get a portion of the pension.

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:18 AM
Response to Reply #26
30. Yes even if I drop over today, Marta would get 75% of my pension for her life

She would get an immediate $5,000 from the pension too.

My dad had to make a choice at his company. He left mom nothing of his. She is living week to week at 83. He has been gone since May of 94.

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WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:30 AM
Response to Reply #30
33. I get 100%, as the widow. I always tell Mr. Dink to stay away from the cellar steps. ;)
Edited on Sat Nov-03-07 10:31 AM by WinkyDink
Retired teachers; opted for less now, for 100% in perpetuity.
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LiberalFighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-04-07 11:21 AM
Response to Reply #26
59. Excuse me but that statement is not true
The worker does not have to be retired when they died for a spouse to collect pension benefits.

The spouse does collect immediately if the employee was retirement eligible at time of death.

The spouse does collect if the employee was not retirement eligible at time of death but does not collect until the employee would had turned 65 if alive. Pension benefits are available at a reduced rate if received at age 55 or later.
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fasttense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:03 AM
Response to Original message
22. And when the little guy makes a bad decision?
So Joe invests in gold. He takes all his Social Security money, and anything else he has, and invests it all in gold, like his brother, the accountant, told him. Tomorrow the gold market collapses. Gold falls to $5.00 an oz. He is left in the street with nothing. Do we just shrug and let him starve in his old age? To bad for him, I got my money. He should have known better. He's an idiot for investing everything in one place. Let him suffer he deserves it.

What happens when it turns out there are 35 million like Joe? Let them die and decrease the surplus population?
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:06 AM
Response to Reply #22
24. I think Joe deserves a decent education.
Americans are smarter than some give us credit for. And like I said, for the few "Joes" that genuinely can't handle investments I agree, there does need to be an avenue of managed investments they can opt into.

I'm not talking overnight changes here. I'm talking a phase in over many years to give people time to get educated.
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fasttense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:17 AM
Response to Reply #24
28. Like the few Joe's who took sub-prime mortgages and are being foreclosed on now?
People make bad decisions all the time, especially people who don't have the time to carefully watch the markets and investment trends. They always think they are making good decisions, they buy into the con.

Social Security was designed as a way to protect people from those bad decisions, like insurance. It was designed so 35 million people don't starve in their old age. Why dismantle it now? Social Security is the other avenue you are talking about.
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #28
32. Congress and company bosses are humans too.
They aren't less prone to making bad choices than the average Joe. When it comes to making bad choices I'd say we are all about even. If average Joe gets too greedy for his own good then he screws himself. If a company boss gets greedy they screw up 1000's upon 1000's.
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WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:28 AM
Response to Original message
31. You do not understand the "social" elements of Social Security.
Widows, orphans, disabled.

Not every recipient is a former able-bodied worker. That's why it's called "SOCIAL".
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TimBean Donating Member (103 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:33 AM
Response to Original message
35. yep. I don't trust pensions
I manage my own investments. Much safer, much more lucrative. I don't see what business anyone else has managing my future for me.
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OzarkDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:57 AM
Response to Original message
38. Privatizing social security is not a good idea
As opposed to pensions, individuals do receive benefits from SS at retirement age, regardless of where or whether they are employed at retirement.

Pensions don't always travel with you from job to job, unless you are vested. If 401 ks are adequately regulated, they may be a viable alternative, though still not a perfect one.

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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #38
39. My only real beef with Social Security
is that Congress had proven it can't be trusted and I don't see a viable avenue to force Congress to stop raiding social security money for the general budget. However, I am very happy with the way Social Security functions and I think most Americans are - which is why the Bush privatize plan fell on it's face.

Pensions, in general, have not functioned as well as they could. Mainly because a corporately owned congress has allowed companies to play greed games with people's retirement money. And unions have not been able to get those protected contracted in too many cases. Americans have just decided it's better for them to have their retirement money in their own names and IMHO unions are missing a real opportunity here.
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B Calm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 11:50 AM
Response to Original message
41. Employers use to use pension plans to retain older employees. Now
they use high price health insurance. I would prefer national health care with employer provided pensions. 401K's are nice, but they should never be used to replace employer's pensions. I don't know why in hell we can't have both!
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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 05:35 PM
Response to Original message
45. Rosemary2205 - As a pension actuary perhaps I could shed some light on union pensions.
Edited on Sat Nov-03-07 05:36 PM by papau
You state that defined benefit pensions are dying - and in the US, but not elsewhere, the large corporations are indeed cutting workers wages by going from defined benefit plans to 401k and other defined contribution plans that cost half as much as they provide half as much benefit. For some reason you see this wage cut as a good - I do not.

Wage cuts and moving corporate income from workers to increasing shareholder's dividends and senior management pay was held in check until Reagan changed how the NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD (NRLB) acted - or didn't act - and until Reagan changed what was socially acceptable as an attitude toward unions via the breaking of the air controllers strike. The demise of defined benefit plans that was to occur because of the "costly protections" of ERISA in the 70's turned out to be very minimal - but Reagan opened the doors - doors that were briefly closed somewhat under Clinton, but which were wide open once Bush43 was made the president by the 5-4 VOTE of the USSC.

The has GOP appealed to greed - "you might WIN in the stock market if you had your own account", and dis'ed unions since Reagan had made dumping on unions socially acceptable (since we all know all union members, once they become union leaders, become corrupt and incompetent - right?).

The real life fact that not much more than half can make a better than average return in the market - with the other half then needing welfare to survive - was ignored as companies "improved" their benefit programs with "portable" individual accounts.

You report that " The UAW, my former union, tells me this is a bad thing because it shifts the costs and responsibility for maintaining the account to the individual - who may or may not be sophisticated enough to handle investments." - a provable fact - proved by the simple math of how an average is calculated. But you report that you "disagree. Completely." OK - but I suggest you rethink the logic of your position.

You say you want traditional social security being phased out - but later in the thread you seem OK with letting SS live. The latter position is my own since the actuarial reports on the solvency of SS over the next 75 years shows a miniscule problem after 2040 that is no real problem and does not even occur until after the boomers are mostly dead (after 2040) - indeed one of the 3 projections shows no problem - ever.

You then state, incorrectly, that if "union workers don't make it to retirement and if they fall short by even 1 single day, their families end up with jack squat", while the real fact is that they get their vested benefit paid the widow as a Joint and Survivor annuity. You then suggest a company going bankrupt or corrupt union bosses (implying some theft of assets I assume) might change the above - a statement that merely shows your lack of knowledge of the ERISA provision that established the PBGC to pay benefits ($45,614 max - a number than about zero union members can expect) in case of lack of assets for any reason.

As an addition to a defined benefit pension, individual accounts such as proposed by Bill Clinton in 1998 and by Hillary Clinton in 2007 - accounts that are funded without taking any money from our current Social Security, makes sense. It is only when the GOP attempts to destroy our current Social Security by starting accounts funded by money needed to pay current social security benefits that individual accounts become the work of the devil - so to speak.

Since individual accounts on average are half the expense to companies as defined benefit pensions, you are correct that Americans will not end up with more retirement savings in the end - but your "I think it will come out even dollar wise" with half as much money invested is not going to happen. A "match" sounds so generous - but only until you compare it to the value of the defined benefit pension you were to receive.

While having a liquid asset (albeit one that is reduced greatly by taxes if you try to use it) may sound better than having a notation on the books of your former company (AND on the books of the PBGC) who will try to pay you when you reach retirement age, the fact that the asset at retirement will mostly average half of what your former defined pension benefit's value, and much less than that if you were in the bottom half of the calculation of "average return", makes the rejection of the tradeoff a "no-brainer" - if you are allowed to reject it.

The 2006 Pension Protection Act takes effect as to solvency in 2008 - and those defined benefit pensions that exist at that time, portable in the sense that any vested benefit earned at any given company is guaranteed by the government, will be better funded as corporations will be forced to make contributions that in 7 years fully fund accrued benefits.


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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #45
46. Papau, you rock! n/t
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1932 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 06:07 PM
Response to Reply #45
47. Thank you for taking the time to post a long, informative post!
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Rosemary2205 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 07:51 PM
Response to Reply #45
48. I appreciate the history lesson but that isn't my point at all.
IMHO Americans have accepted this because the benefits of having the money up front in their own names is seen as a plus. Unions, IMHO, are missing the opportunity to push for corporations to adequately match/deposit into these personally owned savings plans and for adequate government regulations.

I never said or implied that the current version of these plans are better for American workers - only that Americans have seen the downside of defined benefit plans and have chosen to opt for savings avenues that give them a better feeling of personal control and security.

I think unions can and should fight for Americans concerning these plans, since the American people have clearly decided that is what they prefer.
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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:23 PM
Response to Reply #48
49. Corps are selling greed & personal control as offsets to starving at retirement and lower
Edited on Sat Nov-03-07 09:25 PM by papau
net wages -

You say American's have accepted this.

I doubt anyone "accepted" having a wage cut.

There are no downsides to Defined Benefit Plans as long as they are funded - and that is what the 2006 Pension Protection Act now forces.

There is therefore no "downside" to defined benefit plans. They are the only safe way to plan your future retirement with any certainty.

If you know a way to get corporations to deposit 15% of pay for a middle aged workforce, or 8% of pay for a young work force, please reveal it.

Our "pension" system after 27 years of Reagan RW judges telling old folks that there is no cut back in benefits if they accrue less additional monthly income for each year of future service, because the actuarial dollar value has not decreased year over year - thus breaking the implied employment contract of small employer cost at young ages and high employer cost at near retirement ages that was implicit in the defined benefit plan benefit they thought they had as part of the 40 year employment agreement - is now solely a tax avoidance device/major pay increase for highly paid with minimal pay increase for all others system for the owners of under 100 employee businesses. For larger business it is all about screwing the worker to the extent socially acceptable by ones peers - and post Reagan there is no limit. So we have Bush's GDP growth that results in no growth - indeed an inflation adjusted loss of $1,000 per year for the average under $75,000 a year worker(and that is with the fake low inflation numbers that Bush refuses to correct after thousands have pointed out the math errors to this administration).

No one that I have known ever choses to be screwed out of a totally secure government guaranteed defined benefit arrangement so as to have the personal control and security of a brokerage account that is worth half as much and requires investment decisions you either learn how to make, avoid making by accepting safe albeit lower returns, or pay someone else to make who will be wrong half the time.

To say that unions should fight to speed up this screwing because "the American people have clearly decided that is what they prefer" is at best uninformed, and at worst a PR placement from the corporate world.


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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:22 PM
Response to Reply #49
54. No pensions equals a cut in wages --- Our Town has fought Police on issues . . .
of pensions and health care . . . HIRING LAWYERS to forestall the contracts for years while they pressure the police unions to take less.


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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:37 PM
Response to Reply #45
56. great post papau thanks!
two thumbs up would read again
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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-04-07 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #56
60. Thanks :-)
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countryjake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-04-07 05:36 PM
Response to Reply #45
62. I recommend your excellent response!
Thanks papau!
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salin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 09:58 PM
Response to Original message
52. odd... my father passed 15 years ago,
and my mother is still recieving generous benefits from his pension fund (he worked at the same place nearly 40 years). That isn't quite what is asserted in the OP as a "given fact." Given that I help with financial different financial issues - I am very clear that she still receives (and will continue to do so) monthly benefits. These far exceed the stock that was left to her by her father nearly thirty years before my father's death. These monthly payments also exceed the payments on her own 501s (or comparable plans such as (sp?) Keioghs).

The shifting to 501s are much less secure than pension plans of the pre-Reagan era .. the lets start privatizing stuff and sell it as "personal choice" in order to start cutting the amount that we (employer) pay games.
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:17 PM
Response to Original message
53. Social Security is an INSURANCE program . . . not a retirement program ---
Additionally, the original program -- until about 1980 -- was paid into based on

2/3rd by the employee and 1/3rd by the employer.

It was changed rather quietly to a 50/50 system.


It is intended to be a pay as you go system and not to run a surplus --

However, for decades it has been engineered -- via unnecessarily higher FICA payments -- to run surplusess -- tens of billions of dollars every year -- and borrowed every year.

The surplusses have been $80 billion at least each year -- and believe it is well over that now.

The grim reaper -- Fed guy -- quietly had the FICA payments increased so that Bush 41 would have a larger pool of funds to borrow.


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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-03-07 10:31 PM
Response to Original message
55. oh brother, traditional pensions ARE phased out
Edited on Sat Nov-03-07 10:31 PM by pitohui
looking at my husband's account, individual plans such as 401(K) will give you enough, after a lifetime of work, to retire for 2 or 3 years, realistically i no longer know how we will ever retire, i certainly don't know how people with kids will ever retire, it seems these days you get to pick one -- put kids thru college or retire but you can't afford to do both

did you know that advisors are saying you will need a minimum of 2 million dollars to retire? there is no way for most honest workers to put that much in a retirement plan based on an individual account

there is no school you go to learn how to invest, in fact, most theorists agree that the stock market is a random walk upward, random means random, you can't learn to beat random, you can't control it


look at all the people who have followed warren buffet, yet there is only one warren buffet, just as many many many people buy lottery tickets and yet only a miniscule percentage ever win

individual retirement accounts are a cheat, and we can thank ronald reagan for initiating the transfer from traditional pensions to this junk

if you're highly compensated (earning hundreds of thousands of year) an individual investment plan will throw off enough to keep you for the 15 years you may live after retiring at age 65

if you're an honest person in a job paying the median american wage, not so much

obviously if you pass away before retirement age, you don't need retirement funds, so i don't get your gripe there -- you're cheated of a lot of things by dying young, most tragically, years or decades of your life, it seems to me if i'm dying young, the first thing on my mind isn't being bitter that others will live long enough to retire, it's being bitter than i am not going to live and be with them -- but why should i wish others ill because of my misfortune? the logic just isn't there except in a bitter "misery loves company" sense

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spooky3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-04-07 06:26 PM
Response to Reply #55
64. I disagree with some of your last paragraph
some of us have disabled relatives or partners who need our retirement funds even if we pass away before retirement age. So it's not true that "if you pass away before retirement age, you don't need retirement funds." For most private sector plans there are guarantees that survivors get some of the retirement funds that you earn. However, some state plans are except from the federal law that requires this - and after years of working a person who is not married and dies before retirement can lose all of the employer contributions s/he has earned. That's really wrong.
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Tactical Progressive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-04-07 05:20 PM
Response to Original message
61. So regulate pensions so they get paid no matter what
Edited on Sun Nov-04-07 05:23 PM by Tactical Progressive
Fill pension funds with corporate earnings before executive salaries. I don't know, fill them with stock splits so that shareholder gains are split with pension gains. Make it so they can't deny any pension if you die before you retire. Make all bankruptcy proceeds go to pensions before shareholders. Vest pensions at dollar-one. Make them completely portable. Etc.

There's probably lots of things they could do before throwing every baby out with bathwater that might get dirty.
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