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Old    Brett W (brettw)      Join Date: Jul 2007       02-18-2010, 10:01 AM Reply   
I keep reading and hearing about how many problems there are with pensions. In San Diego, it's been a major issue for years, financially. There are complaints about unions demands for too much in pensions, in general, helping to put companies and governments under.

This article just came up about the issue:
http://news.yahoo.comhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_pension_shortfall_study

When are we just going to do away with pensions? They obviously don't seem to be working for many reasons. (don't get me started on some of the unions out there). In my opinion, it's time to shift to 401ks with government/company contributions. You then leave more responsibility up to the individual on how much to put in and how conservative/risky they want to invest the money.
Old    C.I.E. J-Rod (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       02-18-2010, 10:27 AM Reply   
I sure wish I had a pension. My 401K and IRAs are worthless. At this rate I'll be working till the day I die.

Touchy subject for firefighters and cops who make career decicions based on these benefits.
They don't make a ton of money, so pensions are key.
Old    Elizabeth LaMarca (lizzyb)      Join Date: Sep 2005       02-18-2010, 10:33 AM Reply   
My company doesn't offer a pension either, however, they do offer a great 401k. They contribute 7% of my annual salary each year, whether I contribute or not. It's fantastic.
Old    Manzo (zo1)      Join Date: Aug 2002       02-18-2010, 10:39 AM Reply   
The fact that this is even still a topic is astonishing to me.

What exactly was the driving force behind the inability for GM to be profitable?

Nothing quite like giving money to someone who has not worked for you for 35 years...
Old    Matt Ritchie (ritchieps190)      Join Date: Aug 2001       02-18-2010, 10:49 AM Reply   
I know cops who make 100k a year. Factor in another 30-40k a year from working "paid jobs". I know that's not a "ton of money" in CA standards, but that's pretty good money in my opinion.
Old    Peter Uehlin (peter19u)      Join Date: Oct 2006       02-18-2010, 11:49 AM Reply   
What gets me are government employees retiring after 30 years in the service at age 50 and collecting pensions for sometimes 30-40 years. You should be able to retire after 30 years but you should not receive a pension until age 65. These benefits are great when counties have the money but in Cali we don't and this part of why the state is going broke. There was an article about a Moraga fire chief retiring and getting a $250K pension, COLA and health benefits and he was actually rehired and continued to receive his pension and a salary. That's just wrong given the financial situation we're in.
Old    Peter Uehlin (peter19u)      Join Date: Oct 2006       02-18-2010, 11:50 AM Reply   
I know alot of police and firemen who make over $100K a year and work side jobs. Should have skipped college and become a fireman. Damn!!
Old    Brett W (brettw)      Join Date: Jul 2007       02-18-2010, 11:55 AM Reply   
I met one of the San Diego higher up police officers on a cruise a couple years ago. We talked briefly about the pension crisis here, and he said it was mostly media hype. I replied and told him I heard in some cases it was possible for a police retiree to get close to or at 100% of pay at retirement. He told me that well, yes that was possible, etc, etc.

It's things like that which are wrong with pensions and what puts cities like San Diego under, financially. That and as Peter mentioned, being able to collect a pension starting at age 50 or 55 is just ridiculous.

The government and companies just can't afford many pensions the way they are setup and how much they are supposed to pay.
Old    C.I.E. J-Rod (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       02-18-2010, 11:57 AM Reply   
Totally Peter. I didn't discover until the age 34 that firefighter was the perfect job for me. Not too late, but a risky investment.

And I agree with not getting paid until 65
Old    Peter Uehlin (peter19u)      Join Date: Oct 2006       02-18-2010, 12:02 PM Reply   
I hear yah! If I would have become a fireman at age 18 I would be retiring in a about 5 years and pulling in over $10K per month plus COLA, plus heath benefits. It is a risky job thought and I might not be alive to enjoy retirement. I did have a great time in college and would not trade my 5 years at Chico State for anything. Talk about a great time.
Old    Peter Uehlin (peter19u)      Join Date: Oct 2006       02-18-2010, 12:06 PM Reply   
The problems is when someone retires at lets say age 50 they have to pay for another person to do that same job and the pension of the person that retires. That is why alot of positions are not filled which results in less police on the streets. They should get a pretty good pension since they do a dangerous job however they should either work till age 65 or if they chose to retire early their pension should not kick in till age 65.
Old    S Dub (sdub)      Join Date: Jan 2003       02-18-2010, 12:39 PM Reply   
my dad is a retired LA City fireman. Talk about having it made. He gets something rediculous like 85% of his salary in pension. The best part is the annual cost of living adjustment. A dollar today will be a dollar tomorrow. Dude is living large.

And he worked to age 60.
Old    dave c (dav51lin)      Join Date: Aug 2004       02-18-2010, 12:46 PM Reply   
55yo and 30 yrs ive heard of, never heard of 50yo and 30 yrs unless there was an early out offer with % deductions per year most work longer than that and a lot only collect for a few years and die, few are those that collect a long long time.

(Message edited by dav51lin on February 18, 2010)
Old    dave c (dav51lin)      Join Date: Aug 2004       02-18-2010, 12:51 PM Reply   
why is that rediculous sdub he earned it and contributed to it for years, i guess he shouldve worked till he died is that it or they cast him aside.
Old    brock sampson (brock_sampson)      Join Date: Oct 2009       02-18-2010, 1:03 PM Reply   
Funny stuff- it is the raiding of the pensions that creates the problems, and we are supposed to feel sorry for the companies?

A pension is an agreed upon, known expense for the companies that offer them, and in many cases given in lieu of raises when bargaining.
A pension fund should be managed properly. Pensions given should be well tracked and expected life spans of pension benefits should be tracked and calculated often.
A well run pension plan should never be raided or underfunded, but that is what we keep seeing.

Factor in incompetent or underhanded leadership of companies who offer up large pensions to unions in lieu of raises now so they can point to labor costs and say they have trimmed them, or companies that underfund the plans and fall further behind every year, and this is what you get.

Pulling a pension from a person who has labored thier whole life under the promise of one would be the exact same thing as your employer of 20 years deciding they overpaid by 10,000 a year your whole career and sending you a bill for 200,000 bucks plus interest.

A contract is a contract.
Old    Nacho (denverd1)      Join Date: May 2004       02-18-2010, 1:35 PM Reply   
What is "raiding a pension"? I work with retirement plans quite a bit and never heard this term.

Underfunded pensions are a result of poor asset management vs the pension funds payouts. Two market crashes in ten years and that's how most pensions are left underfunded: huge liabilities (pension payouts) and no assets to back it up. Pensions are known as "defined benefit" plans. Example: You worked for 35 years and highest salary was 100k, so you get 80% of peak earnings until you die. Then your spouse gets 50% or something like that. They're called DB plans aka "dying breed" because companies are tired of promising A and being forced to deliver B. A big reason GM began having issues in 2002.

401k's & 403b's (non-profit) are "defined contribution" plans. You worked 35 yrs making between 50 and 100K. Each year you put in 5% of your salary, company matched 4% (both are the defined contribution part) and upon retirement you have a lump sum of tax-deferred savings to rollover and invest elsewhere, begin withdrawals or whatever floats your boat.

A contract is a contract. I'll add that you can't get blood from a turnip...
Old    Peter Uehlin (peter19u)      Join Date: Oct 2006       02-18-2010, 1:43 PM Reply   
The city of Vallejo filed for bankrupty which voids these contracts. I bet more do the same.
Old    S Dub (sdub)      Join Date: Jan 2003       02-18-2010, 3:14 PM Reply   
dave c I meant "rediculous" like it was very generous and the ol man was stoked.
Old    John Anderson (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       02-18-2010, 3:18 PM Reply   
Kudos to Brett for spelling ridiculous correctly.
Old    Shawn (helinut)      Join Date: Apr 2007       02-18-2010, 4:59 PM Reply   
My brother retired with a pension at 48 years old. Worked his first job out of high school until he retired. He gets a pension, but it's PERS 1. Which is a great plan for him. 60% of your average salary of your highest two years worked. Only downside is you can not get more than 60%. Not a bad downside though since he easily has 15 more years of work in him if he wants to.

I work for a public power utility. I think we only have one guy left that is on the PERS 1 plan. They phased it out pretty quick I guess. I'm on the PERS 2 plan which would give me 2% per year worked of the last 5 years average salary, and I can't take it out until 65 without a penalty.
Old    Jeff Moore (jeff359)      Join Date: Jun 2005       02-18-2010, 6:49 PM Reply   
What seems to get lost in the pension mess is cops and firefighters get hurt and or cannot perform at an acceptable level after 50. Some do, but most don't.

I always have to laugh at people that slam these pensions, and how much these guys get paid. But I don't see a lot of these people lining up to fill out their applications. Oakland PD is almost always hiring. You can apply online.
Old    Peter Uehlin (peter19u)      Join Date: Oct 2006       02-18-2010, 7:06 PM Reply   
Believe me there are tons of people who would kill for these positions but it's nearly impossible to get in, especially if you are a caucasion male. Last time they were hiring firefighters in Oakland there were so many people applying there was a riot.
Old    Jeff Moore (jeff359)      Join Date: Jun 2005       02-18-2010, 7:22 PM Reply   
Firefighter jobs have always been tight, everywhere. Not so with police jobs. Because despite these great pay and retirements, few people actually want to do it.
Old    Someone Else (deltahoosier)      Join Date: Jun 2002       02-18-2010, 7:25 PM Reply   
My investment in my 401k has not made a dime in 10 years. I just had them in the typical fortune 500 portfolios for someone who is young and needed higher risk/ reward investments. I believe the 401k is going to be the next huge financial mess for the next generation. If we get a favorable market for 30 to 40 years, then people will be fine. If the portfolio needs major management, then I think people are in trouble.
Old    Brett W (brettw)      Join Date: Jul 2007       02-18-2010, 7:29 PM Reply   
"...cops and firefighters get hurt and or cannot perform at an acceptable level after 50"

I don't think that's true at all. I'd like to see a link or info to that one. Some get disabled or killed, but those types of jobs don't typically put the kind of toll on one's body that prevents them from being able to work after age 50. Now, if you said pro football players, you'd be spot on.
Old    Peter Uehlin (peter19u)      Join Date: Oct 2006       02-18-2010, 7:59 PM Reply   
Alot has to do with what city you work for. Working in Oakland would be dangerous. In Danville or moraga not so.
Old    Jeff Moore (jeff359)      Join Date: Jun 2005       02-18-2010, 8:14 PM Reply   
"I don't think that's true at all."

You'll have a hard time arguing this one with me Brett, regardless of what stats you find.

I was forced to medically retire almost 5 years ago. I cannot work as a police officer, the choice made by my employer and doctors, not mine. I am disabled for life. I cannot run, stand for long periods of time, or chase my 5 year old daughter. I cannot wakeboard, or partake in any watersports. I am a driver only at this point.

I have had three operations, and will need atleast 1 more. I have been told I will likely need a cane buy the time I am 50.

My story is not unique. I know 100s, maybe a 1000 police officers. Not one can say he/she has never been hurt. Many officers are hurt and can not return to work. You cannot compare football players to fire/police. The diffrence is about 5 million a year.
Old    Jeff Moore (jeff359)      Join Date: Jun 2005       02-18-2010, 8:16 PM Reply   
"Working in Oakland would be dangerous. In Danville or moraga not so."

Oakland maybe MORE dangerous, but to write of police jobs in richer communities as not dangerous is really, really naive.
Old    Peter Uehlin (peter19u)      Join Date: Oct 2006       02-18-2010, 8:35 PM Reply   
I should have said not so dangerous with a lower probability of injury.
Old    Jeff Moore (jeff359)      Join Date: Jun 2005       02-18-2010, 8:39 PM Reply   
I agree with you.
Old    Peter Uehlin (peter19u)      Join Date: Oct 2006       02-18-2010, 8:43 PM Reply   
Sorry to hear about your injury
Old    Nacho (denverd1)      Join Date: May 2004       02-19-2010, 6:55 AM Reply   

quote:

My investment in my 401k has not made a dime in 10 years. I just had them in the typical fortune 500 portfolios for someone who is young and needed higher risk/ reward investments.



The perception that "because you're young, you can afford to lose money" is one that I battle everyday. I think it has more to do with the mutual fund industry than 401k's. The 401k is just an investment vehicle. What you buy with it (typically mutual funds that never even attempt to beat their benchmark) is what needs to be addressed.

If you continued to buy when the markets dipped, your losses are much reduced. Sadly, thats the only bright spot in last 10 years.
Old    Someone Else (deltahoosier)      Join Date: Jun 2002       02-19-2010, 7:04 AM Reply   
I agree Nacho. Problem is I like to think I am the average person when it comes to retirement. I try to do what I can but I am don't actively manage. I am hoping the people in managing the funds will do their job. Most Americans don't even know how to balance a check book never mind manage retirement funds. I think it is going to be a horrible mistake for the first generation that has move away from traditional pension plans.
Old    Brett W (brettw)      Join Date: Jul 2007       02-19-2010, 7:39 AM Reply   
I'm sorry to hear about your injuries and situation, Jeff. I'd still like to see some actual statistics as to what % of police and fireman and physically disabled to some extent by age 50 or so. I just didn't think it was very high, but maybe I'm wrong.

However, I would assume that's where disability payments/compensation would kick in.
Old    wickedwakes (sjmedic)      Join Date: May 2004       02-19-2010, 11:35 AM Reply   
Yeah...easy Cities like San Jose have contributed to 2 knee surgeries, neck surgery, 2nd degree burns, chlorine and arsenic ingestion, Positive TB test, Divorce, and many other things I wont probably feel for a few years...but hey, its an easy job with great benefits!
Old    DRA-Doug (load)      Join Date: Jul 2003       02-19-2010, 12:37 PM Reply   
On come on Howard, we know you just sit around working out and talking up the girls! geez
Old    wickedwakes (sjmedic)      Join Date: May 2004       02-19-2010, 2:58 PM Reply   
Hee-Hee!!! Almost like being a Hotel Manager!!!

Hows life Doug? knees are getting better, you riding yet?
Old    DRA-Doug (load)      Join Date: Jul 2003       02-19-2010, 5:43 PM Reply   
Too cold. Sticking to the snow. Maybe April.
Old    Mark Ranovich (markoranovich)      Join Date: Jul 2008       02-20-2010, 8:14 PM Reply   
Union = Joke. Government protections have been in place for years now, not necessary.

Pensions = cheaper to pay people what they are worth and let them decide to invest, save or piss it away on a boat they cannot afford.

Go to work, expect a check and maybe some solid health care coverage and manage your dollars yourself. School teaches you to prepare for a job but no one bothers to mention/teach you how to manage or invest that money. Backwards azz system. It's designed to keep you working and keep the income taxes flowing.
Old    dennis engle (deneng)      Join Date: Feb 2005       02-21-2010, 8:32 AM Reply   
No doubt you will see these cities declare bancruptcy. Vallejo is just the first. The government or presidents council for finacial advisories aka plunger gang aka Gietner,Paulson,Bernake are temporarily holding up the stock market so the big pension companies don't go belly up . The last thing the government wants is to bail out these pension plans..
Old    Evan (waajusshappened)      Join Date: Oct 2008       02-21-2010, 12:22 PM Reply   
Peter-

"There was an article about a Moraga fire chief retiring and getting a $250K pension, COLA and health benefits and he was actually rehired and continued to receive his pension and a salary. That's just wrong given the financial situation we're in"

Pension spiking is not illegal, ridiculously unethical but not illegal.To play devils advocate for a second--You mean to tell me you wouldn't try to do everything you could (within the confines of the law) to create as nice a nest egg for yourself as possible when you retire? Yea right, you know you would.
By the way, are you a Firefighter in Moraga? Because last I looked they get fires too and that means people have the potential to get hurt.

Brett-

Firefighting is not a job that you can do as you get older. The inherent risks and physical toll it exerts on your body preclude you from doing it into your golden years. It's full of educated, intelligent people who enjoy serving others but it's not something you can do with bum shoulders, bad knees, chronic back pain, etc. Anecdotally, I see FF's going out early all the time due to injuries sustained from the job which is why the benefits are there. It's appropriate when you compare hazard/risk potential to other careers. For example, is it likely that say, ohhhh...an ER nurse will sustain an on-the-job injury requiring an early retirement? Possible, but not common. Is it likely that a FF will fall through a roof and injure their back while performing vertical ventilation on a structure to save someone's family pets, cherished heir looms and photos? Very likely and also quite common.

Here's some stats that might interest you.

http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=955&itemID=23605&URL=Res earch/Fire%20statistics/The%20U.S.%20fire%20service

http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=416&itemID=18242&URL=Res earch%20&%20Reports/One-Stop%20Data%20Shop/Statistical%20reports/Firefighter%20fatalities%20and%20injuries

Of course, healthy debate on pension reform is good but please remember, it's not easy to understand another persons perspective unless you try to see it from their side.

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."
-Carl Jung
Old    wickedwakes (sjmedic)      Join Date: May 2004       02-21-2010, 1:28 PM Reply   
Thanks Evan. We are cautioned against defending ourselves from people who dont know what the hell they are talking about. Nice to see someone who does.
Old    Evan (waajusshappened)      Join Date: Oct 2008       02-23-2010, 5:15 PM Reply   
Peter, Brett??????
Old    Brett W (brettw)      Join Date: Jul 2007       02-23-2010, 7:53 PM Reply   
The number of injuries/deaths still doesn't say enough. I googled around and tried to find the % of firefighters and/or police disabled and couldn't find anything. Even 1% of people getting disabled could look like a lot when looking at #s alone. It wouldn't justify paying ALL to retire at age 50, though. I wasn't trying to single out any particular occupation when I first posted this. As I mentioned before disability pay for ANY occupation should pay when someone is disabled. Retirement is another subject, and 401Ks are still the way to go vs. pensions nowadays imo. This is with the employer (government or private) contributing to 401Ks, course, like done in most major companies.

Current pay might need to adjusted for some folks in SOME areas/occupations that historically received pensions where pay is considerably lower in lieu of receiving an early pension.
Old    Steve (skongolf)      Join Date: Aug 2009       02-23-2010, 8:14 PM Reply   
In AZ i have a couple guys I know who retired from the police force and were drawing pensions as they entered teaching as a second career which is also a pensioned program. They lasted 2 years, because they wanted to beat kids but couldn't. One went back to security consulting and the other started teaching criminology classes at the local community college. In AZ I think you can pull full retirement at 20 years as a police officer, I am not sure about fire. In AZ, they are cutting both fire and police positions due to our sorry economy and idiot politicians we have right now. I teach and have state retirement which is a guaranteed 8.5% with your multiplier being your income your last 5 years. I have 18 more years to get full retirement and don't know if I will make it that long. Its getting to be a tough profession, but I am definitely glad I have the pension plan I do, because a lot of teachers I work with have lost a ton in their 403Bs.
Old    Matt Ritchie (ritchieps190)      Join Date: Aug 2001       02-24-2010, 9:07 AM Reply   
"It's appropriate when you compare hazard/risk potential to other careers."

http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0232.pdf
Old    Evan (waajusshappened)      Join Date: Oct 2008       02-24-2010, 11:33 AM Reply   
"They lasted 2 years, because they wanted to beat kids but couldn't"

that's too funny!
Old    Steve (skongolf)      Join Date: Aug 2009       02-24-2010, 12:05 PM Reply   
^^^^ I used to eat lunch with them everyday and they would always say the some of the things that kids said to them and did to them would have gotten them tazed if they would have been on the street. I am still teaching and still totally agree with them.
Old    Evan (waajusshappened)      Join Date: Oct 2008       02-24-2010, 12:07 PM Reply   
Brett,

"The number of injuries/deaths still doesn't say enough"
Well, they actually all say a lot. But, too keep it uber simple, check out pg 21, it has a graph that demonstrates the increasing fatality rate of FF's as you get older. You heart simply can't handle the stress and exertion of the job.
http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/PDF/osfff.pdf

"I wasn't trying to single out any particular occupation when I first posted this"

Understood, but look what you did say when responding to someone else's comment

"...cops and firefighters get hurt and or cannot perform at an acceptable level after 50".

Your response-"I don't think that's true at all. I'd like to see a link or info to that one. Some get disabled or killed, but those types of jobs don't typically put the kind of toll on one's body that prevents them from being able to work after age 50. Now, if you said pro football players, you'd be spot on."

I provided you with more than enough data (for one of the two occupations you seem a little aggressive towards) in this casual discussion forum and you still don't understand.

I guess, we'll have to let it be then.
Old    Evan (waajusshappened)      Join Date: Oct 2008       02-24-2010, 12:07 PM Reply   
"they would always say the some of the things that kids said to them and did to them would have gotten them tazed if they would have been on the street"

LOL!!!!!!!
Old    Brett W (brettw)      Join Date: Jul 2007       02-24-2010, 12:28 PM Reply   
I understand fine, Evan.

And as I said already, disability is for workers who get disabled - in ANY profession. Again, retirement pay is another discussion. Pensions, in too many cases, are way out of line and putting too much of a financial strain on some companies and many local governments. There are all kinds of issues on how their handled and funded. It's time to shift to 401Ks and leave the responsibility up to the individual on how much they want to save, how they want to invest it, and thus how early they might retire.
Old    wickedwakes (sjmedic)      Join Date: May 2004       02-25-2010, 11:14 AM Reply   
You guys kill me. So what you are trying to say is that Firefighters REMAIN Firefighters for 30 years on the job? I know of only a small handful who have not promoted to Engineer or Captain after 15-20 years on the job. What a shock!!! You can promote in the Fire Department! Experience is something that is needed, and paid for, as you promote, and the department needs to hire new Firefighters. We shouldnt be paid for 20+ years of firefighting and rescue experience? Paramedicine? Rescue and confined space specialties? Hazardous Materials responses? 56 hour workweeks? No one was complaining about our salaries 5 years ago when everyone else was living high on the hog....now all of the sudden we make too much? The job has not really changed much.....except the advancement of technology and the ability for us to do more for the public.
Old    Chad (dcwillette)      Join Date: Sep 2005       02-25-2010, 3:36 PM Reply   
exactly wickedwakes.... next they'll be complaining about the pensions of active-duty military.
Old    wickedwakes (sjmedic)      Join Date: May 2004       02-25-2010, 5:45 PM Reply   
Yep. I've heard that silly argument too. Everytime I hear some one say "you should be paid what you are worth", they justify NFL, MLB and NBA salaries. Crapola.
Old    Jeff Moore (jeff359)      Join Date: Jun 2005       02-25-2010, 7:52 PM Reply   
When was the last time you lost someone you know in your line of work Peter or Brett? Two more today, and one barely hanging onto life.

I have lost 4 people close to me, directly related to the dangers of police work. Countless others, who I had met at one time, but were not close.

Ask for stats all you want. My life was forever changed by the dangers of police work. I was lucky compared to others I was blessed to be close with.

Get all the stats you want, they don't mean dick.

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