Vimeo Public Pension Propaganda

I just signed up for a Vimeo account and in educating myself about the site I spent the afternoon searching out videos relating to public pensions. As superior as these videos are visually when you examine objectively the underlying message many are thinly veiled homages to Leni Riefenstahl in that they push a slant, however errant, that takes in the gullible if only for the visuals. For example….

Illinois teachers think that because they pay a portion of their salaries to fund their pensions while the state is allowed to forgo its obligation it necessarily means that those pensions are earned:



WRONG!  Just because the system of funding pensions is broken and easily manipulated doesn’t mean that the exceptionally generous pensions being promised are fully paid for by token contributions from public workers and nothing from the government (be it Illinois or New Jersey).   If you order a $100 Peking duck and only put $10 on the table while your boss demurs to pony up anything you’re not getting the duck no matter how much you feel entitled.  Have the salad.


British public pensions aren’t too generous:


Unite on Public Sector Pensions from Neontetra Films on Vimeo.


ACCORDING TO A TELEPHONE SURVEY!  That’s how they figure unemployment statistics on this side of the pond and no sane person believes those numbers.
Ireland with the familiar talking points:

Pensions Justice from Trades Union Congress on Vimeo.

Kentucky with the familiar talking points:

Kentucky Public Pension Coalition highlight from David Cambron on Vimeo.

Then there are the videos with facts but not the glitz:

A Ledger Live animated editorial: New Jersey’s public pension mess from Star-Ledger Video on Vimeo.

Hopefully we can get more of the latter one with production values of the former four out there, maybe a few by me.

21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tough Love on January 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Quoting …”If you order a $100 Peking duck and only put $10 on the table while your boss demurs to pony up anything you’re not getting the duck no matter how much you feel entitled. Have the salad.”

    Interesting example, but when it come to Public Sector pensions, aren’t they getting that duck and just telling the boss (i. e., the Taxpayers) to “suck-it-up”?


  2. Posted by Anonymous on January 23, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Is “entitlement” a legal term? How is anyone entitled to something that isn’t there? How is anyone entitled to something based on empty promises, empty pocketbooks and according to this site false actuarial principals? How are taxpayers “on the hook” for pension entitlements that are beyond their means? It doesn’t seem that anyone is too concerned other than the handful of people on this site.


    • Handful? That follower total is 107 and it’s a diverse crew who are likely at the top of the heap when it comes to knowledge about public pensions.

      As John Lennon once said when it came to his music, he preferred the approbation of 100 knowledgeable aficionados over that of a million dopes (or something like that, I couldn’t find the exact quote). You can check that theory by considering how something you know very well, maybe some field that you’ve been working in for 30 years, gets covered in the mainstream media. Whether they dumb it down for the lowest common denominator or don’t do the research to present an intelligent synopsis you pick up on the dilettante-reporting style that ranges from innocuous to outright deception.


    • Posted by Al Moncrief on January 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Hello Anon, public pension benefits are earned, deferred compensation (check the case law). I’m not sure that something earned can be described as an “entitlement.” When you perform and sell whatever services you may provide that are marketable you expect compensation under that exchange transaction. It appears that you believe all workers in the U.S. are collecting “entitlements.”

      Public sector contractual obligations are not “based on empty promises.” They are backed by public resources and the ability of public sector entities to levy taxes, to pay for services that have been or are to be consumed by the public. Taxpayers are “are on the hook” to pay for compensation that is contractually due public employees.

      I know that you simply want to further reduce taxpayer obligations by taking money from this particular group you abhore. However; our foundational document, the US Constitution, will not permit it. Deal.

      Embrace legal, prospective public pension reform. I think our friend TL is coming around to this position.

      Yours, Al


      • Posted by muni-man on January 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm

        They may be contractual in Colorado, but they sure aren’t in NJ. No retirement benefits meet any contractual threshold in NJ per case law. Thankfully, NJ doesn’t recognize ‘deferred compensation’ and the ever-opaque concept of ‘implied contracts’ either that are often cited by publics. Both are rife
        with abuses.


      • Posted by Robert Mitchell on January 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm

        Nice that Al can talk about non-Colorado issues for a change.
        The problem still remains that public employers have a conspiracy with their pension funds to push the costs down the road instead of paying for their promises as they are earned.


        • Posted by Tough Love on January 24, 2013 at 3:04 pm

          Correct, because if they actually had to pay the true value of what was earned, in the year earned, it would be clear to both taxpayers and legislators that the pensions are WAY too generous and therefore WAY to costly.


        • Posted by muni-man on January 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm

          If TP’s ever knew their required portion of keeping these white elephants fully funded, they’d flip. In lieu of making that knowledge public, that’s exactly what public employers should continue to do, underfund as much as possible and push these costs down the road indefinitely until the plans cry uncle. Even with the new higher NJ contribution rates (10% cops/fire, 7.5% teachers?), and assuming very generously they made those contributions for an entire career of 30 and 35 years respectively and at a discount rate of 6%/yr., the real funding cost splits are still completely out of whack, even with the UNCOLA:

          Cops/Fire ~ 23%; Taxpayers ~77%
          Teachers ~ 36%; Taxpayers ~ 64%
          (add 6%-10% more onto the TP’s share of each above with a COLA)


          • Posted by Tough Love on January 24, 2013 at 5:01 pm

            You’ve under-priced COLA. Assuming a 3% annual COLA increase and at the ages that Public Sector workers typically retire (55-60) it increases the cost of an otherwise identical Plan but w/o COLA by about 1/3.

      • Posted by Tough Love on January 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm

        Quoting …” Taxpayers are “are on the hook” to pay for compensation that is contractually due public employees. ”

        Don’t count on it Al. May 25%, maybe 50%, perhaps even 75%. But 100% ….. not a chance.


      • Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2013 at 1:31 pm

        Al, I was using the term “entitled” in regards to its use in the above article. I don’t abhor public workers but I do abhor greed and corruption. I am concerned mainly with NJ as I currently live here and it has been stated many times that in NJ there is no constitutional law regarding pensions. I agree that reforms need to be made ASAP so that the publics have time to adjust. Significant reforms need to be made to pensions and health benefits to bring things
        into balance. I understand the protected bubble that the publics have lived in for years but no one is entitled to more than what they paid in. According to the “experts” on this blog “fagetaboutit” and as the taxpayers continue to learn more and more about these overly generous pensions and benefits the publics will be lucky to get .50 on the dollar !


        • Posted by muni-man on January 25, 2013 at 6:10 pm

          Here’s the verbatim language from the N.Y. Constitution (Article V, Section 7) that put them on the road to financial hell, probably forever. It’s been copied by other blue states, if not with verbatim language, then in substance with predictably disastrous results for their taxpayers.

          “Membership in Retirement Systems; Benefits Not to Be Diminished nor Impaired
          After July first, nineteen hundred forty, membership in any pension or retirement system of the state or of a civil division thereof shall be a contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired. (Adopted by Constitutional Convention of 1938 and approved by vote of the people November 8, 1938.)”

          NJ unions tried, and FAILED, to get this exact same language incorporated into the NJ constitution at the 1947 NJ constitutional convention. The 1/20/64 NJSC Spina decision stated that “traditional contract rights do not apply in the realm of public pensions”. A footnote to that decision goes on to mention “In 1947 a proposal was made at the Constitutional Convention that retirement benefits be contractual, to be neither diminished nor impaired”. The proposal was rejected (III Constitutional Convention of 1947, pp. 103-106).

          NJ got it right and can pretty much do as it pleases with retirement benefits!!!


  3. Posted by Javagold on January 23, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    your IOUs are becoming worthless


  4. Posted by Anonymous on January 24, 2013 at 3:45 am

    It never fails to amaze me how people really believe that if the pension system became solvent tomorrow, then somehow politicians would cease to rip them off. Wake up fools, They will steal your money regardless. I guess you have no choice but to dream because reality is too harsh to face


    • Posted by Tough Love on January 24, 2013 at 9:14 am

      Well, we’ve got to start somewhere, and the grossly excessive pensions afforded Public Sector workers is one of the MOST appropriate places to start.


      • Posted by Al Moncrief on January 24, 2013 at 4:24 pm

        Muni-Man notes above that taxpayers might “flip” if they understood the cost of public sector DB plans. If the TPs want to flip, let them, perhaps they would support LEGAL, PROSPECTIVE reforms to public pension systems. RETROACTIVE takings of previously earned public pension benefits will not withstand court muster, nor should they. If I had the opportunity to take retirement assets from TL or Muni or anyone else (perhaps a chunk of their 401Ks) I would not do it. I would not attempt to take TL’s property because that would be (1) immoral and (2) illegal. Accept that public pensions will be reformed prospectively. Read the Legal Landscape paper by Prof. Amy Monahan at the University of Minnesota School of Law.

        Also, heads up guys, public pension plan investment returns for 2012 will top 12 percent!


        • Posted by Tough Love on January 24, 2013 at 5:04 pm

          Quoting Al …” RETROACTIVE takings of previously earned public pension benefits will not withstand court muster,”

          Will it matter when the money runs out?

          Math trumps our self-serving politicians AND the Courts every time ?


        • Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm

          Al, of course you wouldn’t take my 401 k because it is mine based on what I chose to pay into it through the years. I am not planning on sucking off my employer for 30 years if retirement. I am planning for my own future with my own earnings based on my investment decisions. I am not planning based on unrealistic overly generous empty promises of corrupt CEO s even though they might be. We all agree that reforms need to be made sooner than later including retroactively. Way way too generous and unrealistic to begin with and the reform needs to reflect promises that never should have been made in the first place!


        • Posted by muni-man on January 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm

          He only mentions retroactive takings. He and other publics have absolutely no problem at all though with retroactive pension INCREASES and other benefit sweeteners given retro. That’s perfectly OK.

          By keeping a tight grip on the funding throttle, NJ is forcing either (a) benefit reductions of a level TP’s can afford, or (b) plan demise. It’s a good solution to solve an economic problem foisted on taxpayers by an arrogant monopoly sector that thought it held all the right cards and could trample over TP’s forever. Not so, as they’re gonna find out downstream.


  5. Posted by eatingdogfood on January 24, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Democratic Hustler Politicians + Corrupt Greedy Unions = BANKRUPTCY BABY!


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