Do All Governments Lie?

In the last few days three things caused me to examine that question:

  1. We are having a gubernatorial election in New Jersey where property taxes are the main issue that people care about while pension debt would be the main issue if it were explained properly yet there is no media coverage on these real problems;
  2. I was interviewed by a journalism student at Ithaca College for a class assignment on citizen journalism; and
  3. I saw this movie.

My conclusion:

All governments steal (primarily tax money for the benefit of those in government – check out the Open Space Slush Fund in Union County) but all governments do not lie – primarily because they do not have to…….nobody asks.

Pertinent excerpts from the movie:
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That last speaker, Jeff Cohen of Ithaca College, might have assigned the project to his class that elicited these responses from me:

What does your position as a pension administrator consist of?
It’s like an accountant except for only pension plans. http://www.burypensions.com goes into our services.
What is your motive for writing about pensions?
Expose faulty actuarial thinking. Especially for public plans, since there is no effective oversight, actuaries are captured by the whims of their clients (those whims primarily being to give out as much as possible to public workers while asking taxpayers to pay as little as possible).
Is it interest or to educate others on this issue?
Educating others is secondary to educating myself and putting my opinions out there to interact with others.
Do you feel that posting about pensions can hinder your position as a pension administrator?
I don’t think it has or will. I don’t publicize my blog to my clients, though some are aware of it. Early on I was worried that my criticism of the insurance industry would alienate some of the people who give me business but, as far as I can tell, that never happened.
Have you gotten any feedback from people about your view on pensions?
Plenty through the comments on the blog – about 25,000 so far. Most approach it from their own views and prejudices but I occasionally get a criticism where I am wrong on the facts or actuarial procedure and that is also helpful.
Has your place of employment seen your articles?
I own my business and don’t discuss this with the other employees here.
Can you explain a little bit more about your decision process to post your cross-testing blog?
This goes back about 20 years when this concept (age-weighted profit sharing plans) was introduced at an actuarial conference and I believed it to be a faulty concept that unfairly discriminated against young people. Soon after the IRS approved the concept and I use it for a lot of the plans we have here but I still see it as abusive.
Were you worried about posting that blog even though you make money from cross-testing?
A little but it was far more important to me to put my reservations in writing and get the idea out there for others to comment on.
What is your decision process on debating whether or not you post an article?
1) Is there an aspect to some event or story that nobody else is bringing up that I, with my specialized knowledge, can shed some light on?
2) Is it something that I would be interested in knowing more about – either through the additional research it would take to make up the blog or through comments after it is put up.
Does it boil down to loyalty to your company or telling the truth?
Truth if it helps me or somebody else is primary. Loyalty does not enter into it as I pretty much am the company.

12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by skip3house on October 2, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Getting fed up with this Blog, Chess, or Religion?

    Reply

  2. Posted by dentssdunnigan on October 2, 2017 at 9:55 am

    well It seem Murphy won’t lie …he has stated he’ll raise taxes …and will not share with us his feeling on the property tax cp that has spared us from Corzine like increases .However it was mentioned his plan is to drop the cap then dump the pensions onto the towns and city’s ….that would be the guillotine coming down on us for once and for all ..

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on October 2, 2017 at 10:04 am

      Murphy also doesn’t answer the question he’s asked. Like most other politicians, when there IS no answer that would be helpful to HIM, he dances around the question w/o answering it.

      Specifics ………… Ask him if he’ll renew the 2% arbitration cap Police and Fire wages. You WON’T get a straight answer. The closest he’s gotten is that we should wait until the FINAL Report on the cap’s effectiveness is released at the end of December.

      Two problems with that:

      (1) the cap EXPIRES on 12/31 unless renewed BEFORE then, and
      (2) the Election for our next Governor is in Nov. He has NO GOOD ANSWER………. either pissing off the Taxpayers or the Police/Fire Unions.

      Reply

    • Posted by George on October 2, 2017 at 10:36 am

      “well It seem Murphy won’t lie …he has stated he’ll raise taxes”

      When I search the net I find the number associated with Murphy is $1.3 billion, which is way short of the mark.

      Phil Murphy’s spending would raise N.J. taxes $1.3 billion. Here’s who’d get soaked.

      http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/08/murphy_tax_plan_would_raise_13_billion_heres_whod.html

      Reply

  3. Posted by Anonymous on October 2, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Murphy’s probably lying too, he won’t raise taxes…..

    Reply

  4. Posted by Anonymous on October 3, 2017 at 10:55 am

    The Eagles said it best; there ain’t no way to hide your lyin eyes!

    Reply

    • Posted by dentss dunnigan on October 5, 2017 at 8:18 am

      I see the debt sold down to 36c on the dollar …but even if NJ’s pension holds some pensioners don’t have to worry because any loss is guaranteed by the state taxpayer ….right

      Reply

  5. Posted by George on October 5, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Nope, Hedge Funds Are Still in the Dumper
    https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2017-10-03/hedge-funds-are-still-in-the-dumper-despite-better-flows

    Although who knows, maybe the hedge funds are actually hedging in case there is a market collapse, reducing returns by the cost of hedging. I’m sure NJ Dept of Investments hedge funds are doing just fine.

    Reply

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