The reason I can call myself an actuary is that I passed a couple of exams in the 1980s and had the requisite experience then to become an Enrolled Actuary under ERISA which allows me to certify to the funding of Defined Benefit plans. But public plans are not covered under ERISA so what defines an actuary there?
Based on practically all the reports I have seen it is membership in the American Academy of Actuaries whose requirements include association with practically any organization with the word ‘actuary’ in its name plus a $75 sign-up fee and $605 annual dues. Then follow the Code of Professional Conduct which is a combination of common sense and following “applicable standards of practice” and you’re an actuary who can claim in your reports:
We hereby certify that, to the best of our knowledge, this report, including all costs and liabilities based on actuarial assumptions and methods adopted by the Board or mandated by statute, is complete and accurate and determined in conformance with generally recognized and accepted actuarial principles and practices, which are consistent with the Actuarial Standards of Practice promulgated by the Actuarial Standards Board and the applicable Guides to Professional Conduct, amplifying Opinions and supporting Recommendations of the American Academy of Actuaries.
But what are “generally recognized and accepted actuarial principles and practices” for public pension funding?
Using asset smoothing, open-amortization periods, 8% interest assumptions, and any gimmick that will understate the contribution yet provide as much of an illusion of solvency as is possible? Sitting idly by as your client refuses to fund the ARC? Providing justification for benefit enhancements or contribution holidays as your client may find necessary? If you are not willing to toe this line you are not going to get hired so only those willing to prostitute their principles get hired and the perverted actuarial standards they sign on to practice become generally accepted.
So it is with the definition of who is a journalist which came into question in an editorial in a local paper that takes legal ads, never examines government audits or budgets, and is generally a conduit for the views of whomever supplies the grease for their presses. If you are not willing to prostitute your reportage to criteria acceptable to your advertisers and news sources you won’t get the revenue to be able to practice your profession so the perverted journalistic standards practiced become generally accepted.
As defined these days by those doing it ‘professionally’, who would want to be called either an ‘actuary’ or a ‘journalist’?