The newspaper era: Professional journalists or just hypocritical boobs? (Bury)

The column itself  “The internet era: Citizen journalists or just boobs? (Mulshine)”  was not as abusive of us as the title suggests and might have been a knee-jerk reaction to the continuing death thoes of the newspaper for which Paul Mulshine works but that does not excuse the blatant idiocy of the premise:

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Getting Over Newspapers

In 2007 the circulation of the Newark Star-Ledger was reported to be 599,628 ranking it 16th among newspapers in the United States.    Two years later the rank remained 16th but circulation was down to 407,129.  In 2012 it was 311,904 weekday (including 127,430 digital editions they now tell us).  The latest data has daily circulation at 285,249 of which 167,600 is print, a figure that found its way into a story in today’s paper that announced the Star Ledger was laying off over 300 people.

In a state with a population of 9 million those 167,600 holdouts, after eliminating coupon-clippers, followers of local sports, and those who are obliged to subscribe (libraries, government offices, old people) include very few who depend primarily on the Ledger for their news and that’s a good thing as these excepts from Alain de Botton’s The News: A User’s Manual points up:

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Did New Jersey Actuaries Break the Law?

Look through the recently released July 1, 2013 valuation reports for the New Jersey pension plans that Buck Consultants prepared and you will find an additional Appendix at the very end of each titled “Revised Results of the July 1, 2012 Actuarial Valuation” which, for the State Police Plan for example, starts off:

Chapter 78, P.L. 2011 increased member contributions from 7.50% to 9.00% of salary. Effective with the July 1, 2012 actuarial valuation, the determination of the State’s normal cost contributions have been revised to reflect the use of all member contributions as an offset to the gross normal cost. This was the methodology used to determine the State’s normal cost contribution prior to the enactment of Chapter 78, P.L. 2011 and is consistent with the methodology typically used by contributory public-sector retirement systems to calculate the employer’s normal cost contribution.

No argument that this methodology is generally used for public plans but one of the selling points of the 2011 pension reforms in New Jersey was that the additional contributions that public workers were told to make would go to reduce the deficits the plans had run up, hence the variance in the methodology.

The move has been called devious and disturbing and worse:

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Enrolled Actuaries Meeting 2014 – Miscellany

Among the noteworthy pieces of information that I got out of this week’s Enrolled Actuaries meeting which, though not the views of any employer of the speakers, I believe for the most part to be factual (except for maybe the first one which seemed like a joke):

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Complaining About Public Plan Actuaries

“This session is not being recorded but you may be quoted in John Bury’s blog”

Lance Weiss kicking off Session 704 – Public Employee Retirement Systems Workshop – today at the  Enrolled Actuaries meeting at which this interesting tidbit came out.


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Impeachable Offense?

We have a law in New Jersey that the pension contribution for the fiscal year 7/1/14 – 6/30/15 will be the ARC multiplied by 4/7ths.  The ARC is calculated by added an amortization portion of the unfunded liability to the Annual Cost of benefits accrued in a year and reduced by Employee Contributions up to the percentages deposited prior to the 2011 law change that raised employee contributions.  Those additional contributions are not included in the formula so they can help reduce the underfunding.

This calculated state contribution was set to be $2.4 billion based on July 1, 2012 valuation reports.  Governor Christie in his budget address of February 25, 2014 promised to included the full pension contribution of $2.25 billion without explaining where that reduced figure came from.  The actuarial reports for July 1, 2013 were presented on February 27, 2014 and we now know.

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Public Plan Actuaries as the Disease

“The Society [of Actuaries] needs to stop treating its members as some disease that the public has to be protected from.”

Paul Angelo, Public Plan Actuary one hour ago at a session on the Public Pension Plans Blue Ribbon Panel at the Enrolled Actuaries meeting to applause


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