Should public employees work more years for their pensions?

Yes, and make them contribute more of their salary to their pensions. 40% 109 votes
No, let them get a 401(K) and leave whenever they choose. 27% 73 votes
No, but make them contribute more of their salary to their pensions. 14% 39 votes
No, let them retire and spend their money here. 12% 33 votes
Yes, make them work until they are decrepid but give everybody more vacations. 4% 12 votes
266 total votes


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Pensions, Defined Benefit Plans, are simply deferred wages pooled together and invested and paid out later when you retire. It is negotiable during collective bargaining or sometimes employers just offer defined benefit plans/pensions especially when they need to compete for good hourly, staff and managerial employees. So if you selected the first option you're ignorant or just not thinking things through.

Oh and don't vote conservative/republican because they'll just find ways to allow no-bid contracts, get us into wars and quagmires, run up deficits, mismanage the books and generally screw up everyones retirement whether it is a 401k, IRA or DBP.

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2012 at 1:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The problem, Don, is that pensions use speculation and are chronically under-funded. Sort of like Social Security. Everybody will get screwed in the end, except for those who were on top of the pyramid.

I agree that simply voting Republican is not a solution since the party is generally just as corrupt and has a penchant for being vocal about funding violent aggressive wars overseas.. but we are currently expanding our wars overseas with a Democrat President and Congress so I don't see how voting for Democrats will improve that situation either.

It's really too bad we didn't elect Ron Paul for GOP Presidential nominee here in California. He was against the wars and for fiscal and monetary sanity. Oh well, maybe his delegates will shine through at the convention and he will be the GOP nominee afterall, we'll have to see in August.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2012 at 6:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Social Security is the only real money, generated by the private sector. Public pensions are supported off the tax base, also paid for, ultimately, by the private sector.

Do the math: public employees don't pay taxes. The private sector pay the public employee's taxes.

Around here, people either work for the Municipality, the County, the State, the UC, the Junior College, or some non profit. None of these entities, by definition, actually contribute to the tax base.

The burden on the private sector, and the ubiquitous collection procedures applied from a variety of sources, are many times illegal with County or Citywide statistical projections that depend on fallacy.

CalPers, retirement pension that provides extensive benefits that merely compete against the private sector, could be looking at going bankrupt, statewide.

Yet the CalPers union is unrelenting in functioning any sort of compromise.. including a quarter million dollar a year passive income, found in exhibit Tom Sneddon, former District Attorney.

This pursuit to everlasting wealth and prosperity, against other people's taxes, is just inherently dysfunctional, misguided, and wrong.

Work ethic found in these various tax supported institutions reflect hubris, discompetance, and ultimate job security that support internal office drama, fashion shows, and doing as little as humanly possible with no regard to values or common sense in the function they were commissioned to serve.

And the outcome to the public employee contributions within this economy has a great deal to show for this pattern.. despite the abundant resources and cutting edge technology this nation represents.

Overstaffed, over employed.. all HR's short sighted efforts to compound statistical data against economic foundation and principle that is depleted and fading - launching over valuation of properties and leaving tenants to live hand to mouth in the private sector.

SantaNa (anonymous profile)
June 29, 2012 at 6:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

We are currently in a 'Great' recession, but if you want even more austerity or another Great Depression then keep advocating for conservative regressive policies.

Remember we're still recovering from the malfeasance and mismanagement of the conservative Cheney/Bush administration, resulting in the the most catastrophic economy since the Hoover administration, the Great Depression. I don't want to go backwards. Let's go forward.

Professionally managed Pensions or Defined Benefit Plans, public or private, don't generally get into trouble until there is a conservative administration that subverts rational economic policy.

At this very moment we could be in a 'Greater' Depression than Hoovers if it were not several decades of the progressive push for pensions, public and private. Social Security and Medicare benefits to seniors are an ongoing stimulus that benefits us all. Again it could be argued that without the progressive push for savings, pensions, 401ks, IRAs, etc we would be in a really bad depression. Austerity is not the answer.

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
June 29, 2012 at 8:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

McD, your understanding of defined benefit pension plans is incorrect. Defined benefit plans pay a calculated amount regardless of how much was contributed by either the employee or the employer and regardless of the rate of return on the invested capital. That is why our governments are on the hook for the underfunded amount. If the pension fund goes to zero, the employer still must pay. Hence, the term "defined benefit".

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
June 30, 2012 at 4:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The only way the source of the DBP can go to zero is if it is mis-managed (unlikely due to regulations in place) and if the economy falters. The best thing for the average worker whether planning retirement on any combination of DBP, IRAs, 401ks, Annuities, Social Security, Medicare or any retirement strategy or investment vehicle is to keep conservatives out of office.

Republicans/conservatives can't do math, don't know what they're talking about and can't plan for the future. They are by nature regressive and can only go backwards. They have revealed themselves as selfish, scapegoats and/or are criminal and will steal from the 98% and hand it over to the 2 % while telling you they're doing you a favor <<< please see the Bush/Cheney administration.

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
June 30, 2012 at 7:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yeah Don. Conservatives can't do math. That's why ObamaCare is profitable and we've had federal budget surpluses the last 3.5 years. And you'd probably say the federal government isn't spending enough money.

Botany (anonymous profile)
June 30, 2012 at 10:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany proves my point; I should have added that besides not doing math; conservatives/republicons don't do budget. Republicons do not, or intentionally keep off the budget massive debts they incur on our behalf. And when President Obama walked in the White House door and made the big mistake in making Bush/Cheney honest men by putting their deficits on the books, the right wing bluggers and conservative media convinced you all by blaming Obama for the deficit.

I forgot to mention that republicon/conservative candidate Willard (Mitt) Romneys and his Bain Capital is the epitome of a Vulture Capitalist; a job killing company that has finished off many working class retirement plans and jobs.

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
July 1, 2012 at 5:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

But Don, you apparently (intentionally?) missed MY point. Which is your complete misunderstanding of a defined benefit pension plan. So rather than own up, you simply repeat your mindless diatribe against those who hold different opinions from yours. Your ability to judge everyone in some group or other by your hatred of what a few of that group may have done is breathtaking. Scary that you get to vote with that brain.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
July 1, 2012 at 9:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If the .001% believe that everyone else should invest in themselves, so should Government Agencies. From a National Security stand point, that would leave our Government Agencies vulnerable to Graff but with the way things have ran so far, it would be business as usual.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
July 2, 2012 at 5:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

(This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of use policy.)

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
July 2, 2012 at 6:18 a.m.


JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
July 2, 2012 at 8:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Graff? Graff Zeppelin? Or do you perhaps mean "graft"?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
July 2, 2012 at 8:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

loonpt: Re Ron Paul - Gary Johnson, former NM governor, is a Libertarian presidential candidate, with retired Santa Ana Superior Court Judge James Gray as VP. Jim Gray is a long-time Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ( member and activist. With polls showing 56% of US in favor of legalizing cannabis, Eric Holder in contempt of congress, Obama's insane health care plan, a drug war costing billions with fatalities greater than all middle east wars, could we be looking at the perfect storm to take out party-line candidates who support tried-and-failed disfunctional policies and try to sell us on a different outcome this time around?
I think a there's a lot of support for major change, and I don't see it coming from the current "good old boys" power structure on either side of the table.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
July 2, 2012 at 1:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Good to know that public employees never have a deduction from their pay for State or Federal income taxes, medicare, and the like.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2012 at 11:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Amazing that anyone would claim (as SantaNa does above) that education does not contribute to the tax base. Somalia, Haiti, Eritrea, the Comoros, Ethiopia, and Chad have essentially no education. They have no tax base either.

Once the US believed that hard work and good education were the source of long-term prosperity. Now SantaNa and others here believe that just pushing money around speculatively is the source of wealth. The real reason China is taking over... the government is investing like crazy in education an infrastructure, which they understand gives long term economic health.

The problem is not `Defined Benefit' pensions, but that those benefits were calculated poorly and way over promised, given the income into the plan. By nature DB plans work best if the employer makes all the contribution... and gives a lower salary. Because people who die early get screwed, and those who live to be 100 reap the rewards, DB plans are more like insurance than pensions. But the benefits in public versions were way, way too generous to sustain the system through a period of bad stock market performance.

401(k)s are very expensive for two reasons: 1)Each individual must plan to live into their 90's and put enough money away for that possibility, to match the coverage of a DB plan; 2)Many more stock trades/dollar contributed, making more money for Wall Street.

But there is one reason why 401(k)s are superior in the private sector: no corporate raiders can come along and empty the pension fund into their own pockets, as was a regular occurrence between 1980 and about 2000, when they were mostly gone.

But in principal, government is stable enough to sustain the large pool of money in a DB plan forever. Actually, Pete Wilson tried to raid the CalPers etc pools in the early 1990s.

sevendolphins (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2012 at 12:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"401(k)s are very expensive for two reasons: 1)Each individual must plan to live into their 90's and put enough money away for that possibility, to match the coverage of a DB plan; 2)Many more stock trades/dollar contributed, making more money for Wall Street."

This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding on how defined benefit plans work. CALPERS and other state and municipal plans are funded (usually underfunded) mostly by employers (states and municipalities) What is done with these funds? Mostly invested in the stock and bond markets. The 2008 stock market crash caused many of these plans to be drastically underfunded. But, anyway, Wall St. traders are usually in charge of investing the funds from these plans, so either way, Wall St. gets their due.

Botany (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2012 at 3:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sorry Botany, you misunderstand. Per $ invested, 401(k)s have way more trades than DB plans. More trades/$ means more Wall Street overhead and fees per $ in 401(k)s than in DB plans.

Certainly I understand that public pensions are invested in Wall Street securities. But they benefit from far lower overhead and fees than 401(k) systems.

Also, sorry, the insurance/longevity effect makes DB plans way more economical than 401(k) type plans. Every single 401(k) investor must plan for a long life, and save for it or lower their withdrawal rate. But when 100,000's of people pool their pension funds, those that die early subsidize those that live a long time, like happens in insurance. Risk is actually reduced; risk is not a conserved quantity, and can actually be reduced by pooling the funds.

sevendolphins (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2012 at 4:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Yes, make them work until they are decrepid but give everybody more vacations."
That spelling of "decrepid" hasn't been in popular use since the 17th century, 'decrepit" being the more popular spelling!

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 3, 2012 at 6:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

People are living longer, aren't they. Retiring at 65 now would be like retiring at 50 a few decades ago.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
July 4, 2012 at 1:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Pseudonym Botany does not mis-understand but rather only posts talking points from right-wing faux news organizations and right wing blogs.

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
July 4, 2012 at 8:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The reason for confusion about DBPs and other retirement plans is because of selective conservative talking points. They don't want anyone to retire really at all. Conservatives love cheap labor and austerity except of course for those at the top 1 or 2 %.

Conservatives always want to go backwards, labor is expendable and wages and benefits should be kept to a minimum. If you can't make it to the top 1 or 2 % and find yourself infirm, ill, unfortunate or obsolete, aged, destitute conservative policy is to just move you on to the next county, and the next county, and on and on until they push you off the flat earth conservatives reside on.

Again, the only reason why DBP are underfunded is because of conservative Bush/Cheney policies of mismanagement and malfeasance resulting in wars and quagmires and the resulting economic malaise. DBPs detractors are confused by conservative talking points drummed into your brain daily through corporate media and parroted through conservative blogs. Conservatives are great masters of distraction. The problem is not government or private sector workers.

Defined Benfit Plans have withstood the test of times, the ups and downs of markets and are really good for employees in retirement. Adjustments to retirement age and deferred wages are always negotiated in the context of the time, place and economic conditions and progressive movements. Get on board, Move Forward! Tax the 2%. Grow the Economy. Go U.S.A!

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
July 4, 2012 at 9:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Of course, CA wasn't really in big financial trouble until Gray Davis increased public DB pensions by 50% to buy the union votes that put him in office.

sevendolphins made a good point - the problem is with the calculation. As to the point about expenses/overhead, I'm not so sure. Public employee pensions have investment managers and administrative staff; should be easy to calculate overhead and compare with, say Vanguard funds which generally run at well under 1% of assets.

And IMO a fundamental cause of overly generous calculations is the incestuous relationship between public employees unions and elected officials. Simple solution, as implemented and reinforced by recent voting in Wisconsin, is to eliminate collective bargain for wages, benefits, and pensions for all public employees. The salaries and benefits in the public sector already greatly exceed those in the private sector, as shown by studies published by the federal gov.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
July 4, 2012 at 9:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

While it was nice getting those tax rebates from the state in the 80s and 90s, it would have been better to sock it away.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 4, 2012 at 12:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And before we descend further into Partisan bickering and name-calling; try to remember- at least on this 4th of July that we all have the same goal, a happy healthy US.
These debates aren't much different than the ones 200 plus years ago, but instead of black slaves we have wage slaves.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 4, 2012 at 12:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think the teacher's retirement system (CalSTRS) and the Univ. of Calif system (UCRS) have fees/overhead of about 0.15%, very similar to Vanguard, although those systems must also manage the payouts, unlike Vanguard.

CalPERS, I think, has a fairly high fee/overhead... more like 0.56%.

Vanguard is an exceptionally good company... the financial industry typically charges 0.5% for holding your securities. It is very easy to wind up paying 2%, also.

sevendolphins (anonymous profile)
July 5, 2012 at 10:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Just a minor correction. Wisconsin's collective bargaining law just limits bargaining for pensions and benefits, not for wages.

Botany (anonymous profile)
July 5, 2012 at 10:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Oh and don't vote conservative/republican because they'll just find ways to allow no-bid contracts, get us into wars and quagmires, run up deficits, mismanage the books and generally screw up everyones retirement whether it is a 401k, IRA or DBP."

McDermott your a loon. Your constant whining and complaining about conservatives is getting quite old. You need to educating yourself on facts not fiction. I guess you haven't looked into the mirror lately. Hey Don, which political party runs Calif.? Oh, thats right progressive liberals with an open checkbook spending us into bankruptcy. Two cities have now filed for bankruptcy due to liberal spending. Wake up Don stop drinking the coolaid and stop reading liberal blogs and watching msnbc.....

Priceless (anonymous profile)
July 6, 2012 at 10:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Priceless; sorry if COLAB doesn't provide you with the benefits you so obviously are jealous of. Maybe you should have a Union in your organization.

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
July 7, 2012 at 6:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)


WTH are you talking about??? My post said nothing about benefits or being jealous of not having something somebody else has.

Try answering my question of which political party runs Calif. Don. You are just a typical whining liberal who blames everybody else but yourself. Sad very sad.......

Priceless (anonymous profile)
July 7, 2012 at 7:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey Don,

Calif. progressive democrats just voted to continue the high speed rail line when Calif. is billions in the red. Can you explain this out of control spending when we have NO MONEY?????

If I remember your earlier posts you were blaming conservatives for their excessive spending can you explain this stupid endeavor by your party???

Priceless (anonymous profile)
July 7, 2012 at 8:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh Yeah. Voter approved bonds are issued for this upgrade to our transportation system. The Feds are kicking in a few billion Keynesian stimulus dollars.

California, even in bad times has an annual Trillion-dollar economy. So conservatives need to stop all this promotion for contraction and austerity; this continuation of driving California and the U.S.A. into a ditch. Republicons really screwed things up and need to stop blocking recovery efforts.

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
July 7, 2012 at 9:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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