Now He Tells Us II

Do not rely on influencing a paper’s editorial board. They will be cautious at best to support anything that challenges those who benefit from the status quo.

Becoming a Citizen Activist – page 92

The Star Ledger received its last Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for their coverage of the resignation of then-governor James McGreevey in the wake of a sordid scandal. That coverage might never have occurred had there been a little investigative journalism practiced regarding those sordid acts at the time.

Perhaps the next Pulitzer lies in chronicling the implosion of the retirement system for public employees after years of mindlessly printing consolatory official pronouncements on the health of the plans (either now or by 2047). With the rollout of the New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission’s final report this week we got Chris Christie sounding the alarm. Today we got the Star Ledger Editorial Board chiming in:

We can’t afford to give retiring police chiefs $500,000 in unused sick pay. We can’t afford to provide health coverage that would qualify as “platinum-plus” under Obamacare. And we can’t afford old-style pension plans that were abandoned in the private sector decades ago.

So where was the coverage when the rules and contracts resulting in these benefits were being put in place?

My biggest fear about our next governor, Phil Murphy, is that he doesn’t seem to get this. He ran from this reality during the campaign, and instead made the public worker unions his closest allies. He’s ignoring the math.

And who gave Murphy that accountability pass?

As for Christie, he didn’t solve this problem. When he signed a bill to cut benefits in 2011, he broke his promise to ramp up to full pension payments over a seven-year stretch. New Jersey’s fiscal crisis remains among the worst in the nation by any measure. In the respected Mercatus Center’s ranking, we are dead last. Still, I give Christie great credit. We’d be in much worse shape without the 2011 reforms. And the broken promise is overblown: Instead of reaching full payment over 7 years, we are on track to reach that goal in 10 years. Christie put more money into the pension funds than all the governors before him combined, going back to Gov. James Florio.

A combination of naïveté (of course Christie made everything much worse with his politics-first mindset) and gratitude (for failing to cut his salary).

I’m terrified. I’m selling my house in the spring, and I’m thinking about packing a suitcase full of essentials and leaving it by the door.

Sorry to lose you…..for the taxes.

 

 

18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on December 10, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    We all know the problem can be solved with more reforms and more broken promises of payments. So what are we waiting for…..

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on December 10, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      OR….by implementing the Comission’s proposal.

      Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on December 10, 2017 at 7:54 pm

        Oh did I miss something? I know it spells out reforms with mention of platinum to gold savings to go into the pension funds, etc. How is that any different than the 2011 reforms and payment schedule. Just another snickerdoodle NJSC ruling down the road.

        Reply

        • Posted by Tough Love on December 10, 2017 at 8:07 pm

          Quoting …..

          “How is that any different than the 2011 reforms and payment schedule.”

          Maybe you should take the time to actually READ the Comission’s proposals,

          They include a FREEZE in future service DB Plan pension accruals for CURRENT workers. Form a financial perspective, the 2011 “reforms” were (except for the COLA-suspension) little more than a joke, and certainly did NOT freeze existing DB pensions.

          Reply

          • Posted by Anonymous on December 10, 2017 at 8:13 pm

            I know, covered that in my etc. but I noticed you as did Christie conveniently skipped the ‘paying in part’.

          • Posted by Tough Love on December 10, 2017 at 8:22 pm

            Let me relate a “paying-in ” story re Public Sector drug coverage from just a FEW years back ………

            There was an UPROAR, with the Unions loudly denouncing a 66% increase in the the Union membership’s cost of prescription drugs.

            Upon digging in, we found that the drug copay was going from $3 to $5 ……… yup when Copays in Private Sector Plans were ROUTINELY $25 to $40.

          • Posted by Anonymous on December 11, 2017 at 7:27 am

            And yet still no mention of the employer contributions meaning more of the same.

          • Posted by Anonymous on December 11, 2017 at 8:22 am

            BTW copays are based on tier level of drugs with some as high as the amounts you’ve mentioned for the private sector. Done generics are do cheap it doesn’t even pay to use your Rx plan but you know that to don’t you.

  2. Posted by Tough Love on December 11, 2017 at 12:37 am

    John,

    Your Star Ledger Editorial Board link (under “chiming in”) is very well stated by it’s author Tom Moran, but he too states something that we read/hear far too often, and that is perturbing, incomplete, and easily leaves the reader missing VERY important context/details.

    In his article Moran States ….

    “Teachers, like cops and firefighters, have been paying their full share of pensions on time every year, while the state has not. ”

    Stating that one side pays it’s “full share” without ANY examination of whether that “full share” is reasonable is NOT good journalism.

    As I have demonstrated on this BLOG numerous times, that when factoring in not just the MUCH richer Public Sector DB pension “formula-factors”, but also the heavily subsidized early retirement adjustment factors, the very young ages at which unreduced pensions can commence, and until the suspension a few years ago, COLA-increases (unheard-of in Private Sector Plans), NJ’s Public Sector pensions are ROUTINELY 2.5 to 4 times greater in value upon retirement than the pensions granted comparably situated (in wages, age at retirement, and years of service) Private Sector workers. And, all of a worker’s own contributions (INCLUDING all the investment earnings thereon) rarely accumulates to a sum upon retirement sufficient to buy more than 10% to 20% of the total cost of their VERY generous pensions. Taxpayer contributions (INCLUDING all the investment earnings thereon) are responsible for the 80% to 90% balance).

    Lets focus on that ….. the employee-paid “full share” is 10% to 20% of the expected total cost of a pension MULTIPLES-greater in value than those granted comparably-situated Taxpayers who are responsible for the 80% to 90% balance.

    Is assigning a VERY SMALL share of a VERY RICH pension “fair” to NJ’s Taxpayers? Does it make it any fairer if in fact NJ’s Public Sector workers pay 100% of that VERY SMALL share of a VERY RICH pension?

    I don’t think so.

    Reply

    • Posted by artythesmarty on December 11, 2017 at 10:28 am

      it is like the rich kid who mows lawn and then shows up with a bmw senior year and says “I put all my lawn money into it”..That may be true but is no where near enough as daddy paid 80%..In this case the private sector taxpayer is “daddy”

      Reply

  3. Posted by S Moderation on December 11, 2017 at 2:36 am

    And…

    Still, GIGO

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on December 11, 2017 at 11:21 am

      No, not GIGO.

      With Biggs AEI compensation study showing that (WITHOUT including Public Sector Safety workers in their study) Private Sector “cash wages” in NJ are on average only 4% greater than those of comparable Public Sector workers, that VERY small Private Sector “wage” advantage does not come even REMOTELY close to offsetting the HUGE Public Sector “pension & benefit” advantage. That’s why that study shows a 23%-of-pay NJ Public Sector “Total Compensation” (wages + pensions + benefits) advantage …….. one that would certainly be even greater if the far-higher-than-average wages, pensions, and benefits of NJ’s Safety workers had not been excluded from the study.

      NJ Taxpayers ……………

      How much more would YOU have available for YOUR retirement needs if you had an extra 23% of wages to save and invest in every year of your career ? An extra $500,000, $1 Million, perhaps $2 Million. Well, that’s a good estimate (and how to look at and understand) HOW MUCH NJ’s Taxpayers are unnecessarily, unjustly, and unfairly being forced to give to EACH of NJ’s full-career Public Sector workers.

      ****************************************************************

      There is a WELL THOUGHT-OUT* solution sitting there …………. the proposals of the NJ Pension and Benefits Study Commission. Will NJ’s in-the-Public-Sector-Union’s-pocket Legislature and Governor-elect implement it, or will Governor-elect Murphy go in the opposite direction (making matters far WORST for Nj’s taxpayers) by allowing the 2% Police salary arbitration cap to expire that the end of this year?

      * and even that “solution” leaves a LOT to be desired (from the Taxpayers’ perspective), because it doesn’t reduce PAST service accruals, which, being based on the SAME overly-rich formulas & provisions that are the ROOT CAUSE of NJ’s current pension mess, are no less EXCESSIVE than would be future SERVICE ACCRUALS if continued under the current DB Plan structure.

      Reply

  4. Posted by S Moderation on December 11, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Yes, GIGO.

    Still.

    You have cobbled up some numbers comparing an imaginary private sector worker to a hypothetical public worker. With “assumed” data, you somehow come up with a multiplier to two decimal places.

    You have a credulous obsession with one figure out of an 87 page “working paper” (i.e. not “peer reviewed”) which relies on data up to nine years old, and was unconvincing even then.

    You are still trying to compare “pensions” in one sector where 85% have them to another sector where 85% don’t, which says little to nothing about the comparison of total compensation. Stop me if you’ve heard this before… “You cannot compare pensions outside the context of total compensation.”

    Perhaps it would be fitting to multiply your final answer by the square root of negative one.* It couldn’t hoit.

    And… you are still stuck on the “average”. That is one dimensional thinking.

    ” While it is uncertain whether public employee wages overall are higher or lower than private sector workers, there is significant evidence that those at the top of the public pay scale typically earn less than their private sector counterparts, while those at the bottom often earn more.”

    “In fact, is there really anyone out there who thinks that as a society we pay our bankers and lawyers too little and our janitors too much? Maybe there’s something to be said in favor of the civil service pay scale after all.”

    Clayton Sinyai, “The Ethics of Public Employee Wages”

    * an imaginary number

    SMH

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on December 11, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      SMH (or SM, Earth, SMA, SMD, S. Moderation Douglas, S, Moderation Honesty, Stephen Douglas, Aninymous, and a few others)………..

      All you say comes down to “believe me” ……… just like how Pres. Trump says “believe me”.

      Well, I don’t believe him, I don’t believe you, and there is little reason for others to do so.

      Who’s more “believable”…..

      (A) me, a NJ resident/homeowner who comments on Public Sector pensions because I’m fed-up with the decades-long financial “MUGGING” perpetrated upon us by NJ’s insatiably greedy Public Sector workers, and enabled by our self-interested/vote-selling/taxpayer-betraying Elected Officials…… and because by training and work-experience, I am very knowledgeable on the subject, or

      (B) you, a Retired California Public Sector worker riding this gravy-train and with a HUGE vested-interest in maintaining the status quo …… and challenging everything and anything that may contribute to a rising-up of the still-sleepy Taxpayer not yet aware of the magnitude of the ripoff or the tsunami rapidly approaching.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Aninymous on December 11, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    “Aninymous”… that works.

    It’s not “he said – she said” Mr. Love. It is a given that, for the most part, public workers have larger pensions than private sector workers. In those other 86 pages of Biggs’ paper, he quantifies the concept of the public worker who, even though his pension is much higher, still earns less overall than his public sector equivalent. This would be the banker or lawyer in the Clayton Sinyai quote. And the janitor with the larger pension who indeed does earn more than his private sector peer.
    ” While it is uncertain whether public employee wages overall are higher or lower than private sector workers,..” (Sinyai)

    Whether the pension is 2.5 times or 4 times greater in value upon retirement is moot. That is called “true but irrelevant”. (Ignoratio elenchi) Actually it is irrelevant even if it ain’t true. It is just plain irrelevant.

    This isn’t based on a “demonstration” or math based on “typical” pension formulae or “assumed” wages. This is actual comparisons of equivalent workers based on empirical data. Don’t shoot the messenger. You don’t have to believe me, nor does anyone else. Believe the data.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on December 11, 2017 at 10:44 pm

      STILL conveniently forgetting/ignoring that (on average for workers of all income levels taken together) the 4% greater NJ Private Sector “wages” is way LESS that the Public Sector ADVANTAGE from far more generous Public Sector pensions and benefits…………. which of course means you are WRONG about who has the Total Compensation ADVANTAGE in NJ …. that being public Sector workers.

      And by 23% of pay (every year, year-in, year-out), per Biggg’s AEI compensation study.

      Reply

  6. Posted by Aninymous on December 12, 2017 at 1:15 am

    STILL..stuck on average.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on December 12, 2017 at 11:04 am

      No SM-Whatever, you want to ignore the fact that the financial impact on taxpayers is the result of looking at the compensation of ALL Public Sector workers taken together. Sure, it’s additional information to see the Public/Private Sector compensation differential by income group, but it’s not relevant to the net financial impact on taxpayers.

      Reply

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