No substitute for ‘whores’
I choose to filter myself here and often thesaurus.com is helpful but when I’m giving a speech I only have about three seconds to decide on my next word before I lose the confidence of the gathering. So it was last Thursday when I spoke at a New Jersey Taxpayers’ Association meeting and I needed a word to sum up the role of actuaries in the public plan funding fiasco:
(NB: it’s not Neil Coleman, NJTA legislative liaison speaking in the video – it’s me as the subtitles were from a prior video – though I believe he was nodding in agreement).
Was I right to label a whole wing of my profession whores? Let’s define our term:
1. A prostitute.
2. A person considered sexually promiscuous.
3. A person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain.
Are practices like asset smoothing acceptable for public plans? Is 7.95% a reasonable assumption as to future trust earnings for a severely underfunded plan? Can clients be allowed to arbitrarily slash, or eliminate, contribution requirements for years on end? There may be actuaries out there who truly believe so and therefore would not be compromising their principles though there is better word
What about those actuaries who fully realize they are throwing phony numbers out there but choose to keep silent and let venal politicians, gullible taxpayers, and public employees get their way? There’s a better word
for them too.
But most of these people aren’t stupid or cowardly. They’ve got jobs to do and often families to feed. They need to make money and if what they do for a living damages society I don’t begrudge them their rationalizations. Also, on a personal level the ones I’ve met are fun to be with and when I go to conventions I seek out their 50-minute sessions even if they’re non-core. At this point I’m confused as to whether I’m discussing public plan actuaries or whores, though it wouldn’t be the first time.