Pension Relief and A Circumcision of the Heart

I am at my local SB, as I often do before going to my office.  I love sitting and watching out to Ventura Blvd (in winter), as my City of Angels wakes.

I have recently moved into my fifth decade, not retired but closer than I ever thought I would be.  I have neither want nor hunger.  My present and future are secure.  I know I am blessed and see so few can say the same.  When I travel the nation I find many that have been good citizens; voted, given an honest day of labor for a wage, and pay taxes only to have their retirements wiped out.  Can any financial, economic, or academic credential help to sympathize?

Perhaps I am doing this backwards.  Funding the deficit is the easy bit.  Look at the comments and you will find rage, anger, and false information.  I say the New Jersey pension benefits paid in 2016 is X but my pet troll beats his chest crying; “liar-it is Y!”.  The most important part of any academic, or even intelligent, discussion is sources of information.  For Academia prime sources, reliable and verifiable, are required.  I cite the KPMG audited June 30, 2016 statement, table 1, page 6.  What does my raging troll cite; dandelions and marshmallows?

I say the Fed makes mistakes, one reader says no they don’t, why?  I have been working with Regulators for a decade, including the Fed.  They are hard-working, dedicated, and even admit they do make mistakes; remember the words to err is human…?

I say the Fed is required by law to remit their surplus annually to the Treasury.  This is a requirement of The Federal Reserve Act (ch. 6, 38 Stat. 251, enacted December 23, 1913, 12 U.S.C. §§ 221 to 522); see Division of Earning, section 7.  Yet my ignorant pet troll refuses to believe in this, or even the next sunrise.  I have sent links showing the Fed payment to the Treasury, averaging more than $90 billion over the past three years.  Likewise the pending Fed garage sale is real, yet so many doubt.  Why is it we have a tendency to avoid fact?  Perhaps this is the greatest evidence of the level of dissatisfaction.

Gentle reader, perhaps I am doing this backwards.  I would ask a few simple questions, just yes or no and no explanation.  Do you, gentle reader, believe there is a national pension crisis, yes or no?  Call, text, email, or whatever, just yes or no.  A second question is this.  Lump all pensions into three categories; SSI, public, and private.  Do you think all are equally in trouble, yes or no?  We have an endless stream of factual reports on SSI problems and the same for public pensions.  If there is any doubt of the state of public pensions just look to the PBGC.  Yes or no, all three pension categories in trouble?  Last question; if there is a national crisis and all are roughly in the same circumstances should we do something?  Yes or no but no discussion.  We are attempting for a consensus. Solutions come later.  Please let me know, gentle reader.  I learn by talking with each of you.  Gentle reader, let me know.

Moving on, I would respond to T B.  I am aware of the proposal to shift all pensions to SSI.  This is an interesting idea that, regrettably, will not work.  I know a retired man, worked his entire life, and SSI is $950 per month.  I know more than a few retired teachers on about $2,000 per month, not much above poverty level.  SSI was intended to be a social safety net.  By what right do I dictate your pension.  Consider all the problems with the PBGC attempting to solve private pension problems. Do we want to magnify by several magnitudes?  If many pensions are severely underfunded, then all we do is consolidate debt, or make a bigger black hole?

The solution is not consolidation but separation.  Many believe there are abuses in public pensions.  Let’s define abuse here as taking benefits greater than the sum of contributions and earnings.  If this is true, workers paying now are not saving for their retirement but funding abuses in those now retired.  It is not possible to maximize a retirement beyond contributions.

Separation not Consolidation!  Separate funds into retired and working components.  When a member works, his account is individual.  When he retires, his balance moves to the retired segment.  If he draws more than contributed, this pension segment fails overnight.  This then is up to the employers to explain, and make good, on broken promises.

This morning I sat and spoke with a local fireman, about my age.  He tells that his generation has certain retirement benefits and the new workers pay more for less.  This is a common and growing theme as many public pensions come to grips that promises of yesterday cannot be kept.

I am called naive for saying let’s have our government work as it is supposed to.  I am not naïve, my accuser is defeated, but cannot see this.  What of you, gentle reader, defeated, angry, what?  Please let me know.  Let America speak.

Tim Alexander
Triune
tim@triuneGFS.com
805-402-4943

PS: If our primary problem is not financial but emotional; how to counter false information, fear, anger and rage.  What is needed would seem to be a “Circumcision of the Heart”.  There are funds and prudent reforms available now.  Retirees need not be afraid.  But we cannot solve until after there is a consensus on does the problem exist and is some intervention necessary.  Connect the dots, my model is working now.

My day continues to get more and more crowded.  My reality is not dependent on the incredulity or inability of another to think.  So, I will no longer mention or debated with my ignorant, angry and hate-mongering troll.  You are welcome to call or write and I will pray you find peace.

 

49 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Patrick Whalin on December 16, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    Maybe you should move to a writing blog?

    Reply

  2. Posted by Triune on December 16, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Thank for your comment. May I ask if you believe there is a pension crisis?
    Tim Alexander
    805-402-4943
    tim@triunegfs.com

    Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on December 16, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Tim I don’t know about Pat but I believe there is a pension crisis in this country. One problem is the Good Old Pals (GOP) insist on Undermining Social Achievement (USA).

      Reply

      • Posted by Triune on December 16, 2017 at 1:46 pm

        Thank you for your comments. I agree but many previous comments from others made me wonder. May I ask, if you agree there is a “national crisis”, would you say we should do “something”?
        I see so many arguing in comments, that I have been puzzled, so again, to you, something or nothing?
        Tim Alexander
        805-402-4943
        Triune
        tim@triunegfs.com

        Reply

        • Posted by Anonymous on December 16, 2017 at 2:24 pm

          How can we ignore something effecting so many privately and publicly sponsored/administered plans! Anything of this magnitude is always a hard sell due to the competing self interests involved.

          Reply

          • Posted by Triune on December 16, 2017 at 2:30 pm

            thank you for your comments. May I then ask, in your opinion, if we have a national crisis, do you think we should do something, yes or no?
            Tim Alexander
            805-402-4943
            tim@triunegfs.com

  3. Posted by dentssdunnign on December 16, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Just thinking about the box Murphy will be in brings a smile to my face …New York’s wealthiest are threatening a mass exodus because of the GOP tax plan .Once someone does the math they will see it’s not worth staying in a high state ….https://www.yahoo.com/finance/video/yorks-wealthiest-threatening-mass-exodus-213717626.html

    Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on December 16, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Guess you voted for our idiot Prez, smile on pay backs are a …..

      Reply

    • Posted by SMH on December 16, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      Not sure of the law, but if you (a millionaire) move to Florida but still have a business in New York, or earn most of your money in New York, do you not still pay taxes on those earnings to New York?

      I know that, since 1994, Federal law says that a person living in Florida but receiving a pension from New York (public or private) does not pay NY income tax.

      I have also heard opinions that much of the talk about moving are more bluster than fact. Once one looks at the details, moving may seem less advantageous.

      If my after tax take home pay is $60,000 and they take another 10%, now I’m trying to live on $54,000, and it hurts. If my after tax is $600,000 and they take another 10%, that’s rough, but I can still live quite well on $540,000 net. Maybe well enough to enjoy myself right where I am.

      Marginal utility of income

      (Somebody give me a job with $600,000 net income, and I will test the theory.)

      Reply

      • Posted by dentssdunnign on December 16, 2017 at 5:47 pm

        With the new tax to collect that 600 you’ll have to make 1,150,000. …I believe once people start to do the math they will follow Dave Tepper…One dosen’t ask can I afford to stay but why should I? …just to feed such a corrupt system especially if you can still earn good money elsewhere with a much lower cost of living ..

        Reply

    • Posted by Triune on December 16, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Thank you for your comments and link. I value all.
      Here is a thought not often discussed. Capitalism will always lead to excessive unemployment. Why?
      Remember the owners of Capital are able to define acceptable rates of return. Also, Capital is transportable. If the owner of Capital receives a return lower than desired or needed, Capital can move.
      It is no secret that wages increase over time. When some nebulous and subjective wage rate is crossed, Capital considers action, such as moving to a local of cheaper labor. This is why I say that pure Capitalism will always lead to excessive unemployment. Historically, this lesson is proven time and time again. The same concept holds for cost of living. If my retirement is fixed, I improve my lot by migrating to a lower cost of living.
      If you accept the above definition, then one of our greatest modern Capitalists would be John Kerry. See the Huffington post story of how he and his wife dodge a bill.
      https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/23/john-kerry-saves-500000-b_n_656985.html
      Rather than support the state from which he hails and which supported him politically, he embraced Capitalism, and rejected the taxes of his home.
      Taxation is a topic beyond this scope, but I will say that we have other options than taxes. Certainly, John Kerry taught his homegrown supporters this. Likewise, if you tax the rich, they take their money and flee, again, as did John Kerry, and as did wealthy in France,
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4932482/Wealth-tax-forces-12-000-millionaires-YEAR-France.html
      I love your use of “Marginal Utility of Income” well done.
      Suppose a person spends the working life in NY, then retires to FL. Should NY tax the pension income? I think not, this would be punitive. Remember the working man contributed to his community (NY) over his working career. Then, in retirement, he supports his new community (FL, TX, AZ, or wherever) each time he spends his pension.
      Thank you again,
      Tim Alexander
      Triune
      805-402-4943
      tim@triunegfs.com

      Reply

  4. Posted by SMH on December 16, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Hmmm, never thought of that.

    Of course there is a pension problem. private, public, and personal. It seems to be a worldwide problem, specifically since 2008. Does that tell you anything?

    You have an uphill climb to convince enough people that multi-employer pensions should be bailed out. Why should they be benefited and not other equally (or more) needy groups?

    And, speaking of “fairness”, this never occurred to me…

    “Additionally, the loan guarantee may benefit perfectly healthy employers, providing them an unfair advantage relative to competitors that do not participate in a multiemployer plan.”

    Is that fair?

    (This from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Dec. 2017 report on multi-employer plans.) A special report on the crisis and proposed loan/loan guarantee legislation.

    http://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/multiemployer_specialreport_11_16_2017.pdf

    Reply

    • Posted by Triune on December 16, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      Thank you so much for comments. I have just read the cited report and may reach out to the authors Monday. May I ask you to keep a single thought in mind, please do not focus on a single type of pension, to the exclusion of all others.
      When you think of loans, they will not work. Remember the 2016 CALPERS annual audit showing a net return on investments of 0.6%. They would have done better to open a Wells savings account. Well, not Wells with all the scandals, but BOA or Chase.
      Please understand I am not critical of the efforts of those working to invest pension funds, but this return is very troubling. We are long in our current economic growth cycle. We always have cycles, growth then retreat. If the best that can be done is less than a CD rate, what happens to average returns when we have our next economic meltdown. This is a ghastly thought.
      Now turn to the concept of fairness, exactly what is this? Even the Fed trillions are insufficient to restore all pensions, including SSI, to par. Such a “Pension Capital Access Program” would have to delve out funds, and require reforms. But what is fair?
      Consider the Garden State as reported on NJ.Com on 11/20/17, where the fund has assets to cover 31% of liabilities, or 69% underfunded. Now suppose AZ is closer to 70% funded (I am guessing and do not know). Is it fair to reward NJ and had money to them and not equally reward the more prudent AZ?
      I propose there is a larger element of fair not discussed. It is likely the new working folks in NJ are not accruing a retirement. Their money first going to cover benefits of existing retirees.
      Are we not more responsible to set aside discussions of what is fair between different types of pensions and different states, with varied levels of unfundedness; to rather concentrate on “fair” within a given pension?
      Before we try to level a national “pension relieve playing field”, I believe we should first level the field within each pension. Working parties do not pay for existing retiree benefits. If the funds generated by existing retirees cannot cover the obligations, this must not be passed to the next generation!
      Fairness should begin here. What do you think? Calls and emails always welcomed from intelligent folks. 
      Thank you again,
      Tim Alexander
      Triune
      805-402-4943
      tim@triunegfs.com

      Reply

  5. Posted by stanley on December 16, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Mr. Alexander, You are too funny. How about if I take care of providing for my retirement and deal with whatever adjustments are made in my promised benefits and you and everyone else do likewise. That is the American way–individual responsibility. There are not many people who are going to buy in on your argument–socialize public pension when most of the public gets no pension at all, or gets a very modest payout from Social Security. There is already a very good plan in place for dealing with failing public pensions–the Prichard Plan.
    Let us know how many people without pensions support letting the government take over public pensions. No. No crisis. There has been over spending and over consumption and there is a need to balance means and ends. And there is no magic pot of gold waiting for those who failed to understand the story of the ants and grasshopper. The sooner that reality is faced and the necessary adjustments made the easier it will be.

    Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on December 16, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      Why don’t you ask your question to all those that voted for Trump that will barely benefit from his tax break for the rich!

      Reply

      • Posted by Triune on December 16, 2017 at 5:00 pm

        Anonymous-I resect and value your comments. But please, let’s leave the partisan comments out. There are many crimes on all sides. Also the pension issue is apolitical.
        Thank you,
        Tim

        Reply

    • Posted by Triune on December 16, 2017 at 4:58 pm

      Amen and preach it! The ultimate truth is personal responsibility.
      Unfortunately, not all have equal capacity or opportunity. My father taught me that any man can increase his station with determination and effort.
      Imagine my surprise when on the way to the airport in rural KY, my driver, a black man near retirement, stops turns to me and cries. I will never forget him or his words. He told me to go to DC with his message. He raised his family on minimum wage. Each time he tried to better himself, he was pulled down by “fellow American”.
      Consider NJ, a man is puzzled. He was raised by the mantra “support the party and the party will support you. ” So he works, is mindful, and spends his life voting, as he is told. Now in retirement, he, and the state are broke, and is pension, his promise, is fading. From is perspective he is an responsible American, and meets your test.
      How do you tell such a man, to his face, he spent his life, prostituting his vote, never once questioning, after voting is done.
      I think FDR had it right when starting SSI; the richest nation could afford to provide a minimum.
      I reflect on the words of our Declaration of Independence; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” If we are all equal, and we have excess, what is my responsibility to my neighbor, in need, in some form.
      I do agree that social programs are important. I also agree the most valuable, yet scarce resource, is personal responsibility. The final question, when your best effort is insufficient, what next?
      I propose a national pension relief and reform because I believe it is the correct moral decision and, we can afford it. Please continue to share your thoughts.
      Thank you again,
      Tim Alexander
      Triune
      805-402-4943
      tim@triunegfs.com

      Reply

      • Posted by stanley on December 17, 2017 at 9:27 am

        {“I propose a national pension relief and reform because I believe it is the correct moral decision and, we can afford it. Please continue to share your thoughts.”
        So you’re saying that we need another welfare program. You’re not saying that we need to do something for the many millions who have no defined pension payment. No. You want to prop up the scandalously extravagant public pension loot. BTW, how did you like the story of the retired police sergeant who was unable to make ends meet on the ONE HUNDRED FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLAR PER YEAR pension and had to take up bank robbery to make the minimum payments on his cards?
        Anyway, pensions can work only if they are extremely modest and make up a small part of one’s retirement provisions. It’s like this, Mr. Alexander, the unions sold a bill of goods to the membership and now you want to pass it on to the public. Well it won’t work and the public couldn’t afford it even if they wanted to.

        Reply

        • Posted by Tough Love on December 17, 2017 at 12:41 pm

          Well said !

          Reply

        • Posted by Anonymous on December 17, 2017 at 3:23 pm

          But some how we can afford an ~$1.5 T deficit funded tax cut for the rich, your shit stinks just like the rest of us!

          Reply

        • Posted by Triune on December 20, 2017 at 10:31 am

          Good morning Stanley. Thank you for your comments. Please let me be clear. I do not advocate any form of ongoing welfare, but a onetime bailout and reform. There have been several questions on fairness. This is my next writing, please stay tuned.
          Tim Alexander
          Triune
          805-402-4943
          tim@triunegfs.com

          Reply

          • Posted by Tough Love on December 20, 2017 at 2:43 pm

            Yes Tim, you recommend a “bailout” .,…. a “Drain the Treasury” bailout.

            With respect to the VERY materially underfunded (many “in crisis” now) State & Local PUBLIC Sector pensions, how is a TAXPAYER “bailout” of Plans that are ROUTINELY 2 to 4 times (4 to 6 times for Safety workers) greater in Value-Upon-Retirement* than those typically granted Private Sector workers who retire at the SAME age, with the SAME wages, and the SAME yeas of service, fair, appropriate or reasonable ?

            * Value-Upon-Retirement factors in not only the MUCH greater PUBLIC Sector Pension Plan per-year-of-service “formula-factors”, but also, the heavily subsidized early retirement adjustment factors, the VERY young ages at which pension payments can commence WITHOUT an actuarial reduction, and the inclusion of COLA-increases (almost unheard-of in Private Sector Plans).

  6. Posted by All things in Moderation on December 16, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    2008 was a learning experience for a lot of folks. I read a letter to the editor from a guy who had always totally believed in personal responsibility. Then he lost his job. Then he lost his savings (including retirement, of course). Then his house. Then social welfare and needs based programs didn’t look so evil.

    “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

    No man is an island. I believe that with all my heart. Yet. I am still not convinced that rescuing private (or public) pension plans is our highest priority.

    You still have an uphill climb to convince the nation that it should be done. And another uphill climb to convince them to use your method.

    Reply

    • Posted by Triune on December 16, 2017 at 6:59 pm

      Dear all things-
      If you believe in trying, then one down and two hundred million to go. You are on the list of a few good (men?).

      Thank you,
      Tim Alexander
      Triune
      805-402-4943

      Reply

  7. Posted by Anonymous on December 16, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    Somewhat off topic, looking for your serious opinion on the following; As a future DBP retiree should I treat my other investable assets conservatively considering, among other things, my DBP is invested in the stock market? I’m curious what a CFP would advise their client on this matter?

    Reply

    • Posted by Triune on December 16, 2017 at 7:58 pm

      Thank you for your sincerity. I am not a CFP and as such, do not offer advice.
      Here are a few thoughts. Nothing goes up for ever, and we never know how hard a fall can be. Also, remember a simple investing thought. When the stock market goes up, you can assume so go stock values, and new money to the market. Also remember there is only so much money in the world, and it can only be in the one place at a time. If the stock market goes down, something will likely go up, perhaps bonds or commodities?
      My crystal ball tells me that while the stock market does appear to be over-valued, there does not seem to be any near-term issues to initiate a sell-off. I just had this same conversation with a bank last Friday. Absent any significant issue, I would expect there to be economic growth well into 2018. Please remember, this is a guess. Think long and hard about what you would consider to be a bear market, or a sell off. I have family that survived the recent depression, by selling quickly. Most people lost because they did not know when to sell.
      As for me personally, I am not in equities now. I am looking for commodity and currency opportunities. Also, would you understand if I said I am looking for opportunities to short equity indices? I do not expect chances until late in 2018, but I am keeping my eyes open.
      Finally, are you familiar with the Volatility Index? I am starting to watch this carefully. Take a look at this.
      You are never wrong to ask. Just be mindful of to whom you speak. I encourage self-education, but be very mindful that when reading, there is a great deal of bad info available. The trick is to learn to separate valuable and primary information from “dandelions and marsh mellows”
      We now return you to your pension blog….
      Thank you again,
      Tim Alexander
      Triune
      805-402-4943
      tim@triunegfs.com

      Reply

  8. Posted by Tough Love on December 16, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Tim,

    (1) Quoting Tim……….

    “I say the New Jersey pension benefits paid in 2016 is X but my pet troll beats his chest crying; “liar-it is Y!”. The most important part of any academic, or even intelligent, discussion is sources of information. For Academia prime sources, reliable and verifiable, are required. I cite the KPMG audited June 30, 2016 statement, table 1, page 6. What does my raging troll cite; dandelions and marshmallows?”

    Tim, What I stated in our earlier discussion of this point (here):

    https://burypensions.wordpress.com/2017/12/08/pensions-the-whole-mishmash-in-497-words/#comments

    was that the $17.3 Billion that you stated was 2016 fiscal year PENSION payments was really $10.4 Billion of PENSION payments with the $17.3B – $10.4B = $7.9 Billion balance being OPEB (primarily retiree healthcare payments). I was pointing that out because in most jurisdictions (including NJ), there is a HUGE difference, with PENSIONS having significant legal protection from reduction, but OPEB generally having none.

    And curiously, even AFTER I pointed out that the KPMG audited specifically stated such (that they were referring to PENSION + OPEB) you continued to deny it, and apparent continue to do so by way of today’s post.

    How are readers supposed to respond to someone who claims to be an “economist”, but refuses to simply acknowledge that he made an error and move on ….. or are you STILL claiming that $17.3 Billion is PENSION payments alone?

    (2) Then you move on to the poor statues of the nations pension Plans stating:

    “If there is any doubt of the state of public pensions just look to the PBGC. ”

    What are the readers to think when they see that statement, the knowledgeable among them knowing that the PBGC has absolutely NOTHING (yes NOTHING) to do with ANY “PUBLIC” Sector pension Plans…… but ONLY single-employer PRIVATE Sector Plans, and Multi-employer/Union-sponsored PRIVATE Sector Plans.?

    Are they thinking …. did he just misstate that, (meaning PRIVATE not PUBLIC), or is he just a bag-of-wing with little real knowledge?

    (3) And in the same paragraph discussing the sad state of the nation’s pensions, while not specifically stating it again in THIS post (as you specifically did in an earlier post) you appear to again be suggesting that ALL or the nation’s pension Plans are suffering equally, saying:

    “A second question is this. Lump all pensions into three categories; SSI, public, and private. Do you think all are equally in trouble, yes or no?”

    In comments to an earlier post from you, I pointed out that while MANY Public Sector Plans are in terrible shape and SOME Multi-employer/Union Plans are in terrible shape, MOST large Corporate-sponsored single-employers Plans are in pretty GOOD shape. If fact, per THIS source:

    http://us.milliman.com/PFI/

    the funded status of the 100 largest corporate defined benefit pension plans is now 85.2%, and that 85.2% is under the very CONSERVATIVE Private-Sector valuation assumptions & methodology required of Private Sector Plans by the IRS/Treasury.

    With PUBLIC Sector Plans having (on average) funding ratios in the mid 60’s under the very LIBERAL valuation standards (i.e., assumptions & methodology) commonly used in Government Plan valuations ………….. and with those 60s% funding ratios likely being in the high 40s% if valued on the SAME basis as are Private Sector Plans, it is certainly NOT accurate to suggest that Public Sector and single-employer corporate sponsored pension plans are “equally in trouble”. In fact, if valued on the SAME basis, large Corporate-sponsored single-employer Plans are almost TWICE as well-funded as Public Sector Plans.

    PRIVATE Sector DB Pension Plans are MUCH (typically 50+%) less generous than Public Sector Plans, and the ROOT CAUSE of the “in trouble” PUBLIC Sector Plans is that they are simply TOO GENEROUS and hence VERY difficult to fully fund. Why should Taxpayers bailout PUBLIC Sector Plans that are far more generous than what they get …… with a “bailout” being EXACTLY what you are calling for ?

    (4) Quoting Tim……….

    ” I know more than a few retired teachers on about $2,000 per month, not much above poverty level. ”

    That’s interesting, but it certainly would NOT represent the TYPICAL pension of a full career, recently retired teacher in either of our States (NJ or CA), where a the starting pension would likely be in the neighborhood of $65K plus Social Security in NJ. I don’t know if CA teacher participate in SS.

    Why did you make that (above quoted) statement? Were you trying to mislead the readers as to the generosity of Teacher pensions? Were you eliciting sympathy for your sister and her husband …. if I recall correctly from an earlier post, 2 teachers with 20 years of service-to-date…… and assuredly worried that their very generous pensions may be derailed.?

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on December 17, 2017 at 1:23 am

      Correction …………… the “17.3B – $10.4B = $7.9 Billion” in my above comment should have been “17.3B – $10.4B = $6.9 Billion”

      Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on December 17, 2017 at 11:34 am

      Hey TL why don’t you start referencing more comparable data like Feds’ P&B and their corresponding full ding levels. Yeah I know start up the printing presses……IF the Fed’s can do that for their P&Bs they can do it for State & Local P&Bs.

      Reply

      • Posted by Tough Love on December 17, 2017 at 1:32 pm

        MORE attempts to distract from the VERY important need to materially reduce the now ludicrously excessive State & Local Public Sector pensions & benefits ?

        Moocher.

        Reply

        • Posted by Anonymous on December 17, 2017 at 2:40 pm

          This only a test, please bend over while taking your first get and firmly inserting into your ‘you know what’ yup I thought so no sign of a brain!

          Reply

  9. Posted by George on December 17, 2017 at 11:41 am

    “Circumcision of the Heart”

    I would avoid that metaphor as it might be interpreted in negative ways. Or explain it in a footnote. From quick googling I could not figure out what you were getting at. My problem with framing the pension issue in moral terms is there are hoards of people who want stuff from the gov. Puerto Rico*, Student loans, Social Security, military adventures, veterans, me, the people of Falluja Iraq, and a caste of billions all await the US government. Even rich people like Bill and Melinda Gates, George Soros, seem to feel entitled. FWIW the pension rehabilitation loan scheme, whatever that is, might be included in the next spending bill.

    The “Circumcision of the Heart”:

    I observed, “Love is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment.” It is not only “the first and great” command, but all the commandments in one. “Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise,” they are all comprised in this one word, love.

    Wesley quoting his own sermon on “The Circumcision of the Heart” (1 January 1733) in the work A Plain Account Of Christian Perfection (Edition of 1777)

    The Sermons of John Wesley – Sermon 17
    The Circumcision of the Heart
    Preached at St. Mary’s, Oxford, before the University, on January 1, 1733.

    “Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter.” Romans 2:29.

    http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-17-the-circumcision-of-the-heart/

    * Of NJ interest, Phil Murphy parachuted into PR to let them know they are welcomed in NJ. Sounds nice but Puerto Ricans are neither welcome nor unwelcome in NJ, in the mainland USA they are citizens of the US, can vote, and have US travel documents. Puerto Ricans can come to NJ by right. Puerto Ricans’ problem is in Puerto Rico where they have the rights and priveleges of American expats (plus ‘lite’ versions of US social programs like Medicare). So Ambassador Phil Murphy was undiplomatic. A curiosity is medicare in PR is likely cheaper than in the US, so solving PR’s problems through emigration is a bad bet.

    Reply

    • Posted by Triune on December 20, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Wow! A man after my own heart. I do hope you will honor me with an email or call.
      May I respond as this. You mentioned many important issues. PR is a worthwhile cause and is in need of help. It is easy to panic and then overwhelm ourselves. To that end I ask that we keep issues separate. Here I am concentration on pensions.
      I continue to speak about the pension crisis not being a financial but emotional problem. Look at how I am viciously attacked by a jackass for working on a solution. Emotion-neither intellect or reason, emotion. If you accept this statement, can you find a better quote from any literature than 1 January 1733?
      To me, your reference of Romans 2:29, is the most perfect, I may use this.
      Please stay tuned to my next writing and please, feel free to call or write.

      Thank you again,
      Tim Alexander
      Triune
      805-402-4943
      tim@triunegfs.com

      Reply

      • Posted by Tough Love on December 20, 2017 at 1:43 pm

        Quoting wanna-be “economist” Tim Alexander………..

        “Here I am concentration on pensions. I continue to speak about the pension crisis not being a financial but emotional problem. Look at how I am viciously attacked by a jackass for working on a solution. ”

        Well maybe that’s part of the problem. Sure there are emotions involved, because people are involved, but anyone calling the Public Sector pension crisis infecting many of Americas States & Cities anything BUT a very serious FINANCIAL problem has got their head in the sand ……….. and is CERTAINLY not an “economist”.

        And you have proposed no “solution”, beyond draining the Treasury to top up Public Sector pensions that are ROUTINELY grossly excessive ….. meaning ALWAYS multiples greater the retirement security granted COMPARABLE Private Sector Taxpayers by their employers, and all while those Private Sector Taxpayers are called upon to pay for 80% to 90% of the total cost.

        As for the focus of this Blog (NJ’s pension & benefits problems), we HAVE BEEN offered a well though out “solution”, that being the proposals put forth by the NJ Pension & Benefit Study Commission, which recommends very material reduction in the now “Platinum+” (Active worker and Retiree) healthcare benefits, (with the saving therefrom used to help pay off the very substantial under-funding of PAST service pension accruals), together with the current Final Average Salary DB pension Plans being switched to (far less generous) Cash Balance Plans for the FUTURE service of CURRENT workers.

        Unlike you, the Commission members are well-respected credentialed “professionals”. Their Report, the Final version of which can be found here:

        http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pdf/NJPenBenReport.pdf

        Is the result hard work, addressing a VERY difficult problem, realistically balancing the needs of the various stake-holders, and appropriately factoring that State’s/Taxpayer’s financial limitations. Neither they nor I are “jackasses” nor “preachers”. You appear to be both.

        Reply

  10. Posted by Tough Love on December 17, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Hey Tim,

    Not to let sleeping dogs lie ………….

    From your post above you stated:

    “Perhaps I am doing this backwards. Funding the deficit is the easy bit. Look at the comments and you will find rage, anger, and false information. I say the New Jersey pension benefits paid in 2016 is X but my pet troll beats his chest crying; “liar-it is Y!”. The most important part of any academic, or even intelligent, discussion is sources of information. For Academia prime sources, reliable and verifiable, are required. I cite the KPMG audited June 30, 2016 statement, table 1, page 6. What does my raging troll cite; dandelions and marshmallows?”

    The initial time this arose here:

    https://burypensions.wordpress.com/2017/12/08/pensions-the-whole-mishmash-in-497-words/#comments

    you insisted (per that KPMG audit Report) that NJ Public PENSION payout was $17.3 Billion, and when I corrected you stating that the $17.3 Billion included OPEP (essentially Retiree healthcare), not only did you refuse to accept that (simple correction), but instead responded with quite a tirade and insulting response….. one worth repeating below:
    ****************************************************************
    “As an example, please try reading (or have read) the STATE OF NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF PENSIONS AND BENEFITS Financial Statements and Supplementary Schedules June 30, 2016 (With Independent Auditors’ Report Thereon).
    May I direct your attention to the table on page six titled; “Summary of Changes in Fiduciary Net Position Pension Trust and Other Postemployment Benefit Plans”
    The second sub-heading is Deductions, and the first line item is “Benefits”. For the fiscal year ending 2016, the amount is $17,270,398,926. I rounded to this to $17.3 billion.
    Observing your math is as flawed as your thinking, I wish I was in retail and could give you change. You would never know what was correct.
    You are a truly remarkable creature, one that should be studied in a zoo. With one lungful of air you scream that all in public pensions should be punished. In the next you misquote facts to defend the same. Wow! If I tried to change gears in my car as fast as you change sides, I would destroy the tranny. Wow! You gravitate to false news faster than Paddington to marmalade!”
    ****************************************************************

    The 2 sentences starting with ….”Observing you math ……”, was quite a nice touch.

    Interestingly, you still seem to believe that the 2016 NJ pension payout is $17.3 Billion per today’s post and are calling my source (that the correct payout figure is $10.4 Billion) Ballotpedia.org “dandelions and marshmallows”.

    I wonder what the well-respected staff at Ballotpedia would think of you (if they knew you existed)?

    A few moments ago, I thought back to this discussion, believing it odd that KPMG would show ONLY the COMBINED 2016 NJ Pension & OPEB payments, so I decided to see if they also show them separately.

    To paraphrase Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle)….. “surprise surprise”. On page 15 of the KPMG Audit Report to which you referred and which can be found here:

    http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/pdf/financial/2016divisioncombined.pdf

    the 2016 NJ payment total of $17.3 Billion IS indeed split out.

    Adding up the Benefit #s in the 3 OPEB columns gives $6.9 Billion.

    Adding up the Benefit #s in the 12 (DB & DC) Pension columns gives $10.4 Billion.

    Gee, looks like I’m correct and you’re wrong.

    So where you said in today’s post ………..

    “The most important part of any academic, or even intelligent, discussion is sources of information. For Academia prime sources, reliable and verifiable, are required.”

    where does that leave you ………. besides being wrong, refusing to check, digging your feet in, and continuing to insist that you are correct ?

    An “economist” ? I think not.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Anonymous on December 17, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    “where does that leave you ………. besides being wrong, refusing to check, digging your feet in, and continuing to insist that you are correct ?”

    Yeh! Knock it off, Tim. That’s TL’s job.

    Reply

  12. Posted by boscoe on December 17, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    I realize the author is a big picture kind of guy, so maybe he should be excused for referring to Social Security benefits as SSI, which stands for Supplemental Security Income, a welfare program for low-income children and disabled adults. SSI is administered by the Social Security Administration but is paid out of general funds, not the Social Security Trust Fund.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on December 18, 2017 at 1:34 am

      Given that Timothy Alexander is from CA (with many needy residents) I too wondered about that (he should know better), but decided not to point out the error. Perhaps he is innocently (but incorrectly) using SSI become some people refer to it as the Social Security Insurance program.

      It’s his other faults that are more problematic ……….. aggressive/insulting responses to pointing out his mistakes, and thinking he will succeed via intimidation in making those who disagree with his pension “bailout” proposal to go away.

      I’m still not sure if he is following some perceived higher-calling (e.g., all the “preaching”), or if he thinks posting on Mr. Bury’s Blog will raise his profile in generating clients.

      If the latter, he’s a fool. Potential clients search the web to better understand those who they consider doing business with, and when these Blog posts come up in such searches, Tim will just look like a preacher/wind-bag who’s boastful “model” is (as actuary Mary Pat Campbell stated on her Blog STUMP) nothing but …….. “DIFFERENT BAILOUT IDEA: DRAIN THE TREASURY”

      Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on December 18, 2017 at 2:19 pm

        We ALL, excluding John, need to give Tim credit for at least one thing; he’s putting himself out there and not hiding behind anonymous online handles! Wonder how ALL our postings would change if our real name, phone number, email, and ultimately (with a little help from Google) our addresses were available.

        Reply

        • Posted by Tough Love on December 18, 2017 at 2:35 pm

          Good point, but it’s a LOT safer (identity-wise) to be a Public Sector pension SUPPORTER than to advocate for the VERY material pension reforms (i.e., REDUCTION) that are really needed.

          The greedy don’t want to be told that they should get LESS than they do now, even if what they now get is ludicrously excessive.

          Reply

          • Posted by Anonymous on December 18, 2017 at 3:42 pm

            IF what you just said is correct then support for PW should be in the majority, at least publicly but what about privately?

          • Posted by Tough Love on December 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm

            Anon, I disagree. What it comes down to is that few who really WANT TO SEE Public Sector pensions & benefits reduced to a level more consistent with those offered in the Private Sector are willing to state so publicly for rear of retribution.

          • Posted by Anonymous on December 18, 2017 at 5:40 pm

            I’m assuming you meant are ‘not’ willing to state so public??

          • Posted by Anonymous on December 18, 2017 at 6:00 pm

            semantics…..

          • Posted by Anonymous on December 18, 2017 at 11:06 pm

            I’m assuming you meant for ‘fear’ of retribution.

        • Posted by Triune on December 20, 2017 at 10:51 am

          Amen! The definition of a coward? Hiding behind the anonymity. Do you ever consider if hardamar put a fraction of his destructive efforts into something constructive, how this would would be a better place. Alas, my troll is just to stupid and lost.
          I am reminded of a quote; “seek and ye shall find..” Imagine what could happen if we gave hardamar a bit of “TL”?

          Thank you again, and call any time
          Tim Alexander
          Triune
          805-402-4943
          tim@triunegfs.com

          Reply

          • Posted by Tough Love on December 20, 2017 at 3:06 pm

            Tim,

            My strong advocacy for Public Sector pension reform, and ESPECIALLY the reform of the ludicrously excessive Safety worker pensions (now typically 4 to 6 times greater in value upon retirement than comparably situated Private Sector workers) makes anonymity a wise, and necessary choice. I have already been threatened by a least one commentator who comes off as a soon-to-retire Police Officer.

            And unlike you, I AM putting my “efforts into something constructive” AND realistic, support for the NJ Pension and Benefit Study Commission’s recommendations.

            Your “Drain the Treasury” bailout recommendation isn’t a “solution”, but an incredibly stupid idea.

  13. Posted by Anonymous on December 18, 2017 at 6:13 am

    “It’s his other faults that are more problematic ……….. aggressive/insulting responses to pointing out his mistakes, and thinking he will succeed via intimidation in making those who disagree with hi(m)…”

    Yeh! Knock it off, Tim. That’s TL’s job.

    (This is eerie; Neurotic projection is perceiving others as operating in ways one unconsciously finds objectionable in yourself.)

    Reply

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