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Clayton SinyaiJune 26, 2011

In a tentative settlement with the multiple labor unions representing GE workers, General Electric has  closed its pension to new hires. The news comes just after the United Mineworkers and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association just reached a settlement with the same condition. According to published reports, new employees at GE and at signatory coal operators will receive instead a modest company contribution toward a personal 401K, or something very similar.

The latest news represents another step in the abandonment of the defined-benefit pension by private sector employers. Defined-benefit pensions guarantee a stable retirement income to employees who have served their employers long and well, and in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s was a routinely offered employment benefit. In the 1980s this landscape rapidly shifted as employers moved toward individual retirement accounts like 401(k) plans, where the employee was expected to manage a personal account for his or her retirement.

The pension was a good fit for the dominant business model of the postwar era. Blue-chip firms like GM and IBM assumed long-term employment relationships. They competed less by downsizing than by drawing more value out of their existing workforce – by upgrading their skills and improving productivity. Corporations could afford to invest more in worker training and development only if they knew the worker would be around long enough for that investment to pay off. Hence the pension, a benefit that was more valuable the longer one stayed with the company.

Today’s firms don’t want a long relationship with their workers; they want to show stockholders that they are cutting payrolls NOW, not developing human capital for some future decade. Holdouts who tried to preserve the old model became goats in the market, panned as stagnant and inflexible. High labor costs put them at a disadvantage against competitors who declined to offer an expensive pension benefit.  IBM began a controversial pullout from the defined benefit pension in 1999; GM shifted new hires into a 401k beginning in 2007.

 The disappearance of the pension is a catastrophe for working families whose full effects won’t be felt for years; many of the boomers are retiring with a pension benefit, but few of their successors will. But the past few decades have already shown that personal retirement accounts are no substitute for pensions. Hard-pressed workers are seldom able to put enough into a retirement account for reasonable security in old age. And while a properly funded defined-benefit pension plan can spread risks across decades, an individual retiree needs to cash in when he retires – whether the market is up or down.

While the US Catholic Bishops remind us that “adequate benefits and security in their old age” is among the rights of workers, Catholic Social Teaching on retirement security is not so well developed as that on, say, the living wage or the right to organize. Still, every American should be concerned about the social train wreck that is becoming visible a couple of decades from now. Using a combination of employer pensions, social security and medicare, our nation virtually eliminated poverty for the elderly in the last generation. Now even as pensions dry up, we are in the midst of a budget debate that seems likely to slash medicare and social security benefits as well. Our deficit is dire, to be sure – but so is the spectre of a generation of indigent elderly. And none of the deficit plans put forward by any quarter seem to have offered a solution to that.

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Stanley Kopacz
12 years 3 months ago
GE, we put good things to death.  There's no such thing as a covenant relationship, anymore, just an exploitative one.  No nurturing of talent and expertise.  So does the company founded by Edison do anything useful anymore anyway?  Does it serve any purpose? 
12 years 3 months ago
Thanks JR for bringing a needed dose of reality to the unfortunately predictable America magazine slant on anything related to collective bargaining.

So a few facts deserve to be revisited

1. The lamented changes were reached as a result of collective bargaining between private for profit corporations and their unions. And the results are not celebrated from the highest mountain by Clayton ( or for that matter Fr. Jim) as examples of the pinnacle of Catholic social teaching?  Why not- because the company did not capitulate enough in your opinion? 

2. For the reasons JR highlighted quite clearly,it has been obvious for at least the last 30 years that personal retirement savings must also occur in addition to simply social security. The 401k and IRA plans were implemented in that era for that reason.

3. The demise of defined benefit pension plans is not new- I am almost 50 and have never had one. You overlook that most union operated defined benefit plans are awash in red ink and over promised benefits vs assets. In 2010, the US DOT declared 279 such plans in critical status and another 194 in endangered status. By statute the plans must make changes ( including benefit entitlement reductions) 

4. While it never fails for Clayton to taint the story as all about the '' bad ol' corporation'' sticking it to the employee, the reality of the growth of defined contributions plans is not so simple.  Back in the day, the ''portable'' nature of such plans was highlighted as a benefit to employees- who when jobs were more plentiful did job hop frequently. 

Sadly few companies can afford a DB plan. And as we are learning. the same is true for governments. 
12 years 3 months ago

''So does the company founded by Edison do anything useful anymore anyway?  Does it serve any purpose? ''

General Electric is an arm of the Democratic Party so it serves the purpose of supporting them.  On January 21st

''President Barack Obama named Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric Co.’s chief executive officer, to head his outside panel of economic advisers, replacing former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.'' 


Obama was tired of hearing Volcker's ideas so he got himself a yes man and I am sure Immelt will get some regulation that favors GE in return.  It was this that got Paul Ryan to emphasize that the Republicans are primarily interested in the free market not the type of capitalism that manipulates and lobbies the government to its benefit.  People think because something is a business, that it supported by Republicans.
Stanley Kopacz
12 years 3 months ago
I don't think GE is an arm of the dems.  The dems are an arm of GE and big money.  The dems are perhaps the left arm and the repubs the right.  I don't know why you all get so exercized about Obama.  He advertised change and there hasn't been any I can detect.  The ascendance of oligarchy seems to be moving along as usual.  The useless wars are still moving along.  No new approaches.  No change in foreign policy.  
12 years 3 months ago
Mr. Strada,

I assume that no colleges have a defined benefit plan.  I could obviously be wrong.  I taught at Fordham and they contributed to my 401k.  I then taught at City University and they had  the same program.  So one was private and one was public.  TIAA ran both and I just assumed that all universities did the same.  I could be way wrong on this but this is my sample of two.   Here is a Wikipedia excerpt on TIAA

Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) is a Fortune 100 financial services organization that is the leading retirement provider for people who work in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.TIAA-CREF serves 3.7 million active and retired employees participating at more than 15,000 institutions and has $453 billion in combined assets under management (as of 12/31/10).

I spent a total of 8 years teaching and am quite happy with TIAA and their administration of my pension funds. 
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
It's not "smug, self-satisfaction" to commit ourselves securtiy for the elderly. The social securtiy system is one of the most success and sound systems we have.

As to Cosgrove's response, there are some colleges that do have defined benefit plans, but not many (e.g., Wisconisn). Most do save through the TIAA-CREF system which is well run.  I do know a couple of faculty who had to delay retirement because of the market's slide a few years ago.
12 years 3 months ago
''to commit ourselves securtiy for the elderly. The social securtiy system is one of the most success and sound systems we have.''

Then why are we discussing pensions when we have such a great system?  Defined benefit systems is one of the most corrupt systems I can imagine.  As Mr. Strada pointing out, there is nothing Christian in promising some type of benefit 40 years into the future when one has no ideas what the world will be like.  

The main recipients today of the defined benefit plans are public employees and they are raping the system and screwing the poor in the process.  Please explain how this is Christian.  They are essentially parasites living off the poor as a large percentage of them get very nice retirements, some more than $100,000 a year for a teacher, fireman and policeman.

The defined benefit system was designed when all that was expected was support for food, shelter and clothing but it has gone way beyond that.  The liberals are also complaining because many of their pet projects cannot get funded but they have to suck it up as they know this is where the big bucks come from to get their people elected.  As I said it is basically a corrupt sysytem and for Catholic to defend it is beyond the pale. 
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago

"[R]aping the system and screwing the poor in the process." Whoa, man, that's some pretty violent language attached to comments about school teacher and fire fighter pensions! Please save a little of it in your forthcoming comments about executive bonuses.

Now we're just recycling our many debate points so I'll refer people to the exchange about this from a couple of months ago (assuming, of course, that you have nothing better to do with your summer time).
12 years 3 months ago
I'd like to know the name of the school district(s) that are paying their teachers $100 k/yr in retirement.  Oldest daughter is thinking of going back into teaching and getting out of the office but since the pay is so bad she is having 2nd thoughts.  So let me know pls.
To the gentleman who has only 401k's and no pension, and seems to think it is a good deal, let me give you some facts from someone, me, who is 75, retired for 16 yrs, has no pension and lost over1/2 his nest egg (around 2 mill) in Bush's recession.  When you get caught in this type of great recession there is nothing you can do but hang on and pray.  I'm pretty good at investing but shut down the shop and took the hits when they came.  I'm living ok but some of my wife's friends who are widows have taken hit after hit as they looked for advice from reputable brokerage houses.  I had foremen who were smart hard workers who got bad advice and lost or spent everything within a year of two of retirement. I have friends holding 1 to 2 mill in options that have been laid off/retired, and the options are all under water and useless. FRom the foresight of 50 everything looks great but from the hindsight of 75, believe me, there are a lots of variables you have no control over.  Those of you who use 401k's and IRA's as your primary retirement vehicle do me a favor.  Go to your funds and compute what impact a default by the Treasury will have on your specific investments.  A hint: look into the footnotes and check out  the repo's and swaps and how your funds structured them. Might as well learn now while you have income; in retirement you will need to know these answers
12 years 3 months ago
Old One
I get that people with 401k/ IRA’s have had a hard time of late and it’s real. I don’t have a defined benefit pension because all of my employers for the past 30 years saw them as unsustainable.  Combination of demographics ( living longer) and too little funding killed them. All of them are dead or on their way out - union plans, government plans, the few private company’s that have not ended the plans.
12 years 3 months ago
''The median income for a household in the village was $182,792, and the median income for a family was $200,001.''

Is that all.  I thought it would be higher.  I picked one of the richest suburbs of New York city on purpose to show how absurd it can get.  Now let's pick Orangetown which is a middle class town across the river from Scarsdale and the typical resident is a New York City cop or fireman.  It has the second largest St. Patrick's day parade outside of New York City in the New York area so it shows you what the town is like.  From Wikipedia

The median income for a household in the town was $70,477, and the median income for a family was $87,341 (these figures had risen to $91,497 and $111,742 respectively as of a 2007 estimate[2]). Males had a median income of $53,596 versus $39,886 for females. The per capita income for the town was $33,170. About 2.4% of families and 4.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.2% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.

About half of Scarsdale.  The average salary of a teacher in the public school system is $96,000 and the typical salary at retirement is $125,000.  The average cop makes $119 k a year and five of the policeman make more than the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.

The next town over is Ramapo which is down scale and the average salary is $99 k for teachers and the typical salary at retirement is about $130 k.  From Wikipedia 

The median income for a household in the town was $60,352, and the median income for a family was $67,004. Males had a median income of $46,286 versus $34,632 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,868. About 11.5% of families and 16.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.3% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over.  

Definitely not Scarsdale but a retirement income of over $100 k a year for teachers.  Want more examples, I can come up with about a 100 more.  Then I have to get into those making $75-90 k a year in retirement about 70 miles from New York City.  Upstate in the poorer areas they will make about $60-70K a year on retiring.  And these are the people that the unions want to go to the wall for while there are a whole lot of others without jobs.  Tell me where the social justice and Catholic defense of the unions are for these people and I will show you hypocrisy.
Tom Maher
12 years 3 months ago
The article has the ususual anti-business biases that misinforms the reader of the real economic, legal and structural forces driving the retirement finance issues today. 

 It is very mistaken to tout the good old days of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  That world has long gone.  And most employees never received a pension, assuming the company or union even had a pension plan, because they did not have enough years of employment to tbe vested.  Vesting by design required a decade or more employment.   Most people even a half century ago would have seven or eight different jobs in their lifetime by choice to advance in salary, skill and responsibility at another job at some other employer or were laid off. 

Let's be more realistic: very few people want to or are allowed to to be employed at a single employer for life and therefore are not vested and do not have have the decades of employment needed to get a full pension the author is touting.  Only a fractional few employees got pensions or even partial pensions.

Bur today more than ever people change jobs to expand their skill base in additon to geting the needed career advances and keepig their resume fresh.  A job move is the most likely way to develope more skills.  All technologies are changing so fast that skills can become obsolete very fast. 

So like everything else retirement planning must be done in the real world we actually live in.  Accordingly 401k and IRA are a big improvement over the defined benefit pension because  they are portable and can accumulate tax free from job to job and the employee has enforceable ownership right.  So we can celebrate the power of compound interest and investment and personal ownership.   These plans are also inheritable.  If you should die before you retire, which happens to many,  your spouse or family memeber can inherit whatever you managed to accumulate in these individualized retirement plans due to your personal ownership of the 401k and IRA plans. The fact is that a diversified portfolio does quite well and will grow tax free much more than the promised pensions benefits that most people never received.  

Like everything 401k and IRA can be imporved on and should be to better allow the  individual a more financially secure retirement.  But starting with the individual focus and ownership and involvement, guarantees  better results than third party (company or union) or governement run  pension systems. 
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
Sorry to get dragged into an exchange that copies-almost word-for-word, fact-by-fact-one from, of all days, March 17th (see http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?entry_id=4032).
12 years 3 months ago
'' an exchange that copies-almost word-for-word, fact-by-fact-one from, of all days, March 17th''

If America Magazine keeps encouraging its authors to put forth their personal politics disguised as supposedly a socially justice argument when in fact they are just the opposite and against Catholic teaching and are anti social justice and hurting the poor, yes, the same tired truths have to be brought out again and again.

These bogus arguments are more an indictment of the shallow anti poor policies that permeate the liberal establishment today more than anything.  They are meant to somehow support an immoral political approach under the facade of supposedly helping the poor.
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
The problem isn't AMERICA'S "bogus arguments": it's that some bloggers ignore the Catholic social teaching message of posts and unload dubious factoids that they pull off the internet, e.g., the March 17th exchange.  When challenged or corrected about a figure, they just re-state their original point and the chastise those that disagree for not living in the "real world."

Unproductive and frustrating.
12 years 3 months ago
'' unload dubious factoids that they pull off the internet''

Nothing I have presented is dubious.  They are posted salaries by the state of New York official website and the numbers I presented are for the 2010 period.  I suggest you retract your statement since it implies I am making things up which is not so unless you are accusing New York state of publishing bogus information. People have a habit of accusing others here of making up information when in fact they themselves may be the guilty ones.

''When challenged or corrected about a figure, they just re-state their original point and the chastise those that disagree for not living in the ''real world.'' 

When has anyone presented anything that challenges what I have said and I have not retracted my comment.  If they do and I am wrong, I will certainly say so and retract what I have said.  Mr. Reidy and you presented an out of date data base that did not comport with the officially published information from the states and cities.  I did not see him or you retract his or your comments in March.  It does not agree with officially published information from New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois and apparently Wisconsin.  When I pointed out that for the coming school year in Milwaukee that the teachers would be paid in salaries and benefits of $100 k a year, no one disputed it.  How could they when there was a video by the school board announcing the figure. 

I could go on.  The highest average salary in California is $99.9 k in Santa Barbara.  That means the teacher at retirement is probably substantially above that.  The next highest is Santa Clara at $99.3.  One of the comments was that the  reason the average salaries are so high is because those with fewer years were let go.  As I said before the public employee unions eat their young.  Wonderful organization that the people here at America support with one supportive editorial after another.  In no way is this Catholic social teaching.  It all about money for the bankrupt political philosophy that is espoused by many here.

Tom Maher
12 years 3 months ago
JR Cosgrove (#23)

I have always found the detail facts you present to be very accurate and relevant. 

In this exchange your mentioning of TIAA-CREF to spotlight the great financial power and effectiveness  of individualized private pensions.  This ogranization is very successful in investing the employee and employer contributions to the individualized retirement plan.  One person I know left her teaching postion of less than twenty years and took a partial retirement option in her late thirties.  The significant monthly payments she received from TIAA-CREF along with her savings enable her to get a doctorate and with the doctorate to have for years now a successful  and lucrative second career outside of college teaching.  (Of course this person is very ambitous and determined and able to cope wth this very drastic lifestyle change.) Her  monthly early retirement payments did make a big difference in contriuting toward her living costs while away getting her doctorate.  WIth her new career she was able to pay off all her significant education loans for the degree within five years.  So you are not alone in your observations of how well TIAA-CREF works in providing substantial pension benefits. 

The basic problem is that people are using "social justice" to justify their alienated and factually incorrect preconceptions about business and society.  America magazine should not be about promoting alienation and hostility toward perfectly good ideas and institutions that greatly serve people such as individualized 401ks  and IRAs.  
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
You're not fabricating the data-you're fashioning it in a dodgy way by arranging highly selective parts of it to present a narrative of greedy teachers and fire fighters (still wating to hear what you think of your CEO neighbors' bonuses up their in Westchester County).

Here's where I found my data: http://www.teachersalaryinfo.com/average-teacher-salary-new-york.html

And your website? Could you provide the link?

BTW, "highest average salary" isn't "average salary." You're looking at teachers at the end of their career and in the top paying states-i.e., 25+ years with the top seniority and degrees & credentials. If you did that with professionals in law, medicine, engineering you would be looking at folks making much, much more. If someone goes into teaching and stays with it they will enjoy a mostly middle class income for the overwhelming majority of the career with a bump at the end. I know this from the data cited above and the many teachers I know in Michigan, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

We've been over this benefits debate many times before when I provided links to the many studies that concluded that public employees earn, on average, less wages/salaries and somewhat more retirement pay (>10% more).

Unless there's something new for you to offer I'm going to go tend my garden and read a good book.
12 years 3 months ago
Well you all seem to know each other so well, and your respective arguments, I'm surprised you simply don't number your points and just call out a number in response to the last number.  With all the "typical", median" "average" facts shown on this board I am reminded of Mark Twain's adage.  But I will make two comments, one the statistics cited are probably quite accurate, and second, they are quite meaningless.  Those who do not get the drift go to Wikipedia or your old college stat books and refresh your memory.
But you are all missing my point, perhaps because you are all involved with the same arguments over and over again.  OK, so your 401K had a bad year or two but it will come back!!  That's the point.. Suppose you had to retire that month in 2008 or 2009 and your IRA started generating an income of $65000k.. Suppose further you were making around $250k and were planning on a retirement income of $130k.  What are you going to cut?  Move to FL or MS and leave your firends and grandchildren behind?  Sell the house and move to apple country where the taxes are much lower?  Sure the 401k will come back, but what are you going to do in the meantime? 
Suppose your husband left you an IRA +pension that was quite decent.  Suppose you went to a local broker who took over from your late husband and invested it in all kinds of investments.  Suppose the family accountant saw how much money was being wasted, closed out the accounts and sold everything...at one big loss.  Suppose he put together a good plan, but before it began to generate income along came the great recession, and the widow is living off the fixed pension + social security, at 1/3 of the previous income.  I know of two cases like this.  Oh sure, it will come back, maybe, but what does she do in the meantime?
To reiterate, I'm 75 with no pension so I could only eat what I killed.  I have lived through two of these bubbles, and while i appreciate the fact that I own it, have clear title, and it is portable (what the hell does this feature have to do with a retiree?) I have many friends who would give up all of these "features" for a fixed pension  that did not requiire them to learn investing techniques at the age of 70, and was a good SWAN vehicle.
Lastly, for you guys who are quite glib with the wonders of 410K' can any of you tell me what impact a US Treasury default will have on your 401k?  The first one of you who starts tossing around Medians or averages or typicals get an F
12 years 3 months ago

There are some answers to this problem but few here seem to like them.  I was in an airport recently and a sign hit me.  It was one of a series by the same advertiser and I believe I am paraphrasing it correctly.
''80% of the people in the history of the world that were 65 or older are now alive.'' 
If this statement is remotely true, and I assume it it not too far off, then that is the problem in a nutshell.  The retirement at 65 was part of Bismarck's social policies when few lived beyond the age of 65.  Well that is no longer true.  So what only required modest investments in past generations to fund have now reached catastrophic demands on our resources.  So it is childish of anyone to lament the lost world of defined pensions when in fact they did not require much of an investment to cover.  That is no longer true.  We are living much longer and using 10-20 fold of what used to be set aside for medical help.  The defined pension plan of the public employees are bankrupting the system.
Some people have put forward some sensible solutions but they are immediately denigrated by those who shout ''I demand it all and you better give it to me.''  Unfortunately we live in a world where a person cannot have it all unless they had the good fortune to amass it themselves during their lifetime. 
I suggest Mr. Sinyai try to assess the problem realistically instead of pining away for the days that can never repeat themselves.  In the years after WWII medical cost for a family in today's dollars were only a few hundred dollars a year.  If that were still true and if the retirees only wanted food, clothing and shelter instead of large discretionary income, then maybe we could have defined pensions again.  
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
Stanley is dead right about BO-i.e., he's centrist corporate Democrat.  He's been a big disappointment to labor, environmentalists, and human rights advocates. Many of us knew in '08 that he talked progressive but was much more conservative.

We are locked into an economic system that is increasingly unequal and offers little security to most Americans.  It's not good for the Republic; it does not conform to Catholic social teaching.

p.s. A depressing, but enlightening summer read: Kim Phillips Fein's INVISIBLE HANDS: THE MAKING OF THE CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT FROM THE NEW DEAL TO REAGAN.  Among other things she explains how GE, under the direction of Lemuel Boulware in the 1950s, contributed to many of our woes today.
Andrew Strada
12 years 3 months ago
Does anyone know what percentage of JSEA high schools still have a defined benefit plan open to new hires?  Or the percentage of Jesuit colleges that have such a plan?

There is nothing particularly moral or Christian about promising benefits 30 or 40 years in the future when you have no idea of the cost of what you're agreeing to, and it's your grandchildren who will be stuck for the bill.

In many places, public employees have generous defined benefit plans while taxpayers are on the hook for funding these seriously underfunded plans.  Perhaps a little more humility and prudential judgment and less smug, self-satisfaction would  be in order.
12 years 3 months ago
''I'd like to know the name of the school district(s) that are paying their teachers $100 k/yr in retirement.''

There are several in the New York city area.  The average salary in Scarsdale for teachers is $125,000 a year for full time teachers.  The average salary the last year for retiring teachers was $145,000 last year and teachers get 80% at retirement as a yearly salary that then will be indexed with inflation.  The typical salary in suburban New York City for teachers is about $110-120 K at retirement age.  So do the math.  These salaries do not include retirement benefits which are paid by the state.  So in the last year, the typical Scarsdale teacher is making about $175,000 a year when retirement is inclued.  These are published numbers so be my guess and look them up for yourself.  And they can live anywhere they want including Mexico or some other low cost area.

Police officers routinely make more than $100,000 in local towns and many are middle class areas where most of the resident do not have a college degree.  I personally know a relatively new cop, 29 years old who make over $100,000 a year in a nearby suburb.  When  they retire in about 25-30 years they will get about $100 k + in todays dollars and can get another job.

If I had taught for 35 years at colleges such as Fordham or City Univeristy, I would have retired with a pension of about $50 k a year plus social security or about $65 k a year.  I  didn't have a Ph.D. so my salary was about 60% of the tenured faculty.  I kept all my TIAA in fixed income programs and it is still churning away but is based on only 8 years.  If I had gambled and put it in the stock market it would have done better than the 6.5% that the fixed income pays.  Someone who started teaching in 1970 at Fordham and retired in 2008 and put their TIAA into stocks would be getting over $100k a year now in retirement income from TIAA and social security and be on medicare.  Not bad.

But I started my own business and got out of teaching.  Yes the 401 k from our own business took a hit but a lot of it came back though certainly not all.
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
Sorry, I can't resist when Cosgrove starts writing about teachers in Scarsdale!

This, from good old Wikipedia: "The median income for a household in the village was $182,792, and the median income for a family was $200,001."
12 years 3 months ago

''BTW, ''highest average salary'' isn't ''average salary.''''
Didn't say it was but it shows what certain areas are paying.  It is certainly appropriate when you are comparing different school districts and you want to compare which one is higher.  Santa Barbara has an average salary and it is the highest one in the state so the highest average salary applies to Santa Barbara.  In the New York area I gave several averages and I also gave the highest salaries within these averages because this is how retirement is usually calcualted.  Also some retire before they get to the highest amount and some do not get to the highest amount because they do not have the educational extras that causes them to shift lanes in the infamous steps and lanes game.
''And your website? Could you provide the link? ''

http://www.seethroughny.net/ for every salary by a public employee in NY State including the janitors.
http://php.app.com/PAteachers10/search.php can get teacher's salaries for any individual in Pennsylvania
http://www.familytaxpayers.org/salary.php This will get you any salary in Illinois.
There might be others but these I had on file from earlier this year when someone else did some research.  And I found this today on California where the variation is extremely high between the richer areas on the coast and in the bay area and the valley.  Even in the rich areas the teachers don't make as much as the New York City area but the gentleman wanted to know where retirement salareis are in the $100 k range and there are plenty around here.  By the way I would support better salaries for schools down in the  San Joaquin valley where a friend told me things are a mess in the schools.  I am not against people having a decent salary, just egregious ones brought on my collective bargaining with the appointed representative put in office by the union.
But look at these firemen in San Francisco.
And I am against large bonuses that don't reflect performance especially for Wall Street.  So you won't hear me complaining if their salaries get cut. They are starting to lay off a lot of the traders from the banks and this means less bonuses next year.  I could care less except it will bite everyone here financially because New York City is addicted towards Wall Street bonuses.  They finance the city.  I rather see the venture capitalist and entrepreneurs get the bucks.  They make the economy run.  Wall Street is essential but a lot of it are parasites living off inside information.  Besides all they do is finance Democrats.
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
" They are posted salaries by the state of New York official website and the numbers I presented are for the 2010 period."

This isn't an "official" state govt. website at all; rather, it's run by the Manhatten Institute, a conservative organization.

In any case the issue is what the average salaries are and you haven't provided them (I did and they were in the $60K range for NYS).  You've repeated your March task, i.e., find some salaries of higher paid, senior teachers and presented it as evidence that teachers are overpaid.

I love the Pa. database because I could check out what my kids' teachers make-my son's is a dedicated teacher with an M.A. & twelve years of experience. She makes $56K. Wow-I thought she would be earning more. My daughters' teachers earn anywhere from the mid-$40s to low $60sK.  Thank you Cosgrove for confirming to me that our teachers earn a decent middle-class (not even for newer teachers) salaries.

Catholic social teaching supports the right of workers to CB-that includes public sector workers. It does not support the so-called "free market" ideology.
Tom Maher
12 years 3 months ago
Dave (#30)

Why accept the constant assertions "this is Catholic scocial teaching" with the ridiculous conclusion that therefore not following some contrived plan is a mortal sin?  How weak and silly an argument can these Catholic school boys and girls make?  Their nonsense is without limit. 

Talk of moral penalties is ridiculous.  Why accept these absurd assertions?  When accepted it free the proponent from having to make sense of what they are proposing and they are not made to explain the many implications and impacts of their proposals.  Do not give thiese shallow moralizing a free pass.  Hold them accountable to show their arguments make sense or not.  Some very bad argumments are being made as true and valid when they are clearly not.

And isn't it time for adults Catholics to stop  eveluating ideas on preconceived notions of sinfulness?  We should not accept the primitive assersions  of mortal sin.  These l moralistic premisses need to be challenged on their rationality.

 The term  "social justice"  is just vastly over-used to justify proposals that have been proven to be obsolete and ineffective  such as this article's advocacy of defined-benefit pension plans as if they are going to come back into common use.  Moralizing for the sake of moralizing seems to be the only point being made.  

It is ok to be crtical of bad ideas. Demanding an explainmation prevents the discussion from descending into absurdity.  Proposals need to be exaluated in the cold light of day and challenged when they are not making sense even if it may seem we are being disagreeable which we definetely are. 
12 years 3 months ago

''This isn't an ''official'' state govt. website at all; rather, it's run by the Manhatten Institute, a conservative organization.''
So what has that to do with anything?  I think you owe me an apology.  You have not disputed one thing I posted and imply they are dubious or are bogus because they were posted by a conservative organization.  Unless you can show the data is wrong I suggest you say you agree with my posted data. You have a way of making ad hominem attacks which as rhetorical position only validates the person you are disputing.  Otherwise you would be preventing something that disputed what I said.  And you haven't.
The Pennsylvania site is run by a liberal news organization.  Did I dispute anything they listed?  I didn't cherry pick anything.  In New York I listed the richest and some of the less affluent areas in the New York City area.  There are really no poor areas in the New York City area so what I presented were those at the middle and lower end of the income scale.  I picked the richest to show how absurd the situation is when a commenter here wanted to know where one could retire at a 100 K a year or more.  It turns out that there are dozens of school districts where that is possible including the downscale ones.
Now the figure in the rest of the country may not be as egregious as it is in suburban New York City but they are quite high especially compared to the national averavge.  For example, in Pennsylvania, one of the poorest areas in the country, (Forrest County) has an average teacher salary of $56 k and a highest of $65 k.  Doesn't sound like too much except when you know this is very down scale area.  The national household income average including Beverly Hills, Fairfield County in Connecticut and the Washington DC suburbs is $50,000.  So here in the poorest place in Pennsylvania with one of its towns in the county labeled one of the poorest in the country, we have teacher salaries above the national average, not just at the poor average.  
In more affluent areas of the state near Philadelphia, in a small upscale elementary school district (Blue Bell), the average salary is $82.7 k and in a high school near this elementary school (Abington HS), almost one third of the faculty make more than 100 k a year.  The site that you posted has the average salary in 2009 for a teacher in Pennsylvania as 52.9 K while the actual numbers for the poorest county in Pennsylvania is $56 k in 2010 and a good school district near Philadelphia as $82.7 k.  So I suggest that your web site is not even close to accurate when actual figures are way above that both in Pennsylvania and New York.  And the pensions are based on the last year or two of their employment.
For an amusing presentation of the outlandish California public employee pensions see the following:
And the authors here dare to defend public employee unions.  What a travesty.  If they voted Republican you would see them talking about the evils of the modern day union but they are the main source of funding for the Democratic Party.  They are still reprehensible no matter who they support.
12 years 3 months ago
''The term  ''social justice''  is just vastly over-used to justify proposals that have been proven to be obsolete and ineffective ''

Here is a short review of Hayek's book on social justice from last summer.  An excerpt

''I have never felt comfortable around academics who throw out the word ''social justice'' because it always seems restrictive and self-serving. Once I hear a group of social ''scientists'' employing the term, it generally means that are looking for reasons to favor some groups (almost always Democratic constituents), while excluding others. Hayek explains why he is not a fan of the term in his book on the topic:

I have now become convinced, however, that the people who habitually employ the phrase simply do it as an assertion that a claim is justified without giving a reason for it..

What I hope to have made clear is that the phrase 'social justice' is not, as most people probably feel, an innocent expression of good will towards the less fortunate, but that it has become a dishonest insinuation that one ought to agree to a demand of some special interest which can give no real reason for it. ...I have come to feel strongly that the greatest service I can still render to my fellow men would be that I could make the speakers and writers among them thoroughly ashamed ever again to employ the term 'social justice.'


So should an objective here be to rid the site of the term ''social justice'' unless the author can defend why and how they are using the term and them prove they are using it correctly by the proven effects the action which is supposedly ''social just'' will have.
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
The website I used exist to recruit college students into the teaching profession so any bias they have is in inflating salaries.

The figures for NYS are typical across the country, e.g., Penn. Education Dept. list the beginning salary at $37, 321 and the average salary at $57, 354. (see http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/professional_and_support_personnel/7429) (you are incorrect about the Pa. data re. the lowest avg. pay: it's Huntington County w/ $45k/p.a.)

This anger about teachers making middle class incomes is puzzling. The only way to  understand the anti-union animus of conservatives is that they don't like it  when workers organize themselves to counter the total authority of management in the workplace. It's about power and they want all of it.

Besides the broadside claims that the teaching is out-of-date or, my favorite, doesn't really exist, it would be great to read some specific arguments (citing some of the many encyclicals, episcopal letters, scripture, and Catholic organization positions) against Catholic social teaching on the rights of workers. This is probably too much work so it's easier to make bald self-assertions.
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
Two (final) quick notes:

1. I mentioned the Manhatten website not because I questioned it accuracy but, rather, because you stated that it was a government website and not an website run by an organization with a political agenda.  I didn't go into whether I thought the figures were accurate because. . .

2. I dispute the way you think you are "proving" that teachers receive excessive salaries.  Instead of plucking figures for the most senior teachers in affluent districts the beginning point ought to be to identify the average teacher salaries in districts. That is what I have done.
12 years 3 months ago
''Instead of plucking figures for the most senior teachers in affluent districts the beginning point ought to be to identify the average teacher salaries in districts. That is what I have done.''

That is what I did.  So why imply that I didn't do that.  I brought up the top salaries because that is what pensions are based on.  Someone wanted to know where they could get a $100 k retirement as a teacher and I told him.  There are thousands elgible in our area for such retirement and it is not trivial.

He could also have his daughter go to some of the suburban Philadelphia area which is a more moderate place to live than New York and get a $100 k plus salary.  Lower Merion HS has almost 50% of their faculty making more than this amount. My guess is that getting one of these jobs is tough as is getting a teaching job in suburban NYC these days.

Cuomo is apparently a few miles away signing a property tax cap and that will be interesting.  The only way local school districts have been getting away with these egregious salaries is they raise property taxes every year and few vote in the school budget elections except the parents of the students.  Now that will be limited which will force the unions to make some drastic decisions, such as taking pay cuts or cutting even more teachers.  All could be accomplished with a pay cut.  Class sizes would go down, all the laid off teachers rehired and there would be jobs for the new ones coming out of school.  But the union could not have that.
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
"That is what I did.  So why imply that I didn't do that."

Because, for the most part, your focus is on the top salary range. No reasonable discussion of salaries begins with this. The question is: what percentage of teachers in the USA retire at $100K?

Unions have agreed to cuts and concessions.  As we know from Wisc. this is insufficient for conservatives because their oppositon to unions is total.

BTW, your figures on salaries is incorrect: e.g., the median income for a household in Fairfield is $83,512, and the median income for a family is $100,920 (these figures had risen to $103,352 and $121,749 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males have a median income of $69,525 versus $44,837 for females.

12 years 3 months ago
''your focus is on the top salary range''

Let me repeat again, pensions are based on the top salary.  It is relevant especially when another commenter asks where one can get such a pension.  My guess he never dreamed it was true or that a  teacher can make $145 k a year somewhere teaching the 5th grade in a public school.  Everyone I tell that to is incredulous but the local teachers know it and would love to work in Scarsdale.  Mr. Reidy here implied I was making it up and when I pointed out a few months ago where it happens, I never got an apology or thanks for the heads up.

I used the word average about a dozen times.  Maybe that wasn't enough for you.

''The question is: what percentage of teachers in the USA retire at $100K?''

I don't know and it never was an issue so why say this.  I just know where there is a lot that do especially around here.  A lot of principals and superintendents in California and several other places retires at that level.

''BTW, your figures on salaries is incorrect: e.g., the median income for a household in Fairfield etc.''
I will let you have the last word but your attempts to refute what I said is getting embarrassing.   Nothing you have said has refuted anything I claimed.  I did not say anything about the specific income levels of Fairfield county other than to imply it was high.  So how anything is wrong is beyond me.  Fairfield county contains some very upscale areas.

If one of the authors attempts to defend the public employee unions again in the future, I will point to the same tired arguments that the editors do not like to see. 
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
Feel free to take on school administrator salaries! I think many adminstrators are useless and overpaid (a bit like CEOs).

I take it that you are, finally, acknowledging that the average salaries for teachers are in the $50K-$60K range. Your issue seems to be that the most senior teachers, working in affluent districts, are retiring with generous pensions.

I know many teachers; even the ones that have stuck with the profession for 30+ years aren't making the kind of money you are discussing. A teacher at my son's public school just retired-31 years on the job and w/a graduate degree. The on-line databse list his salary at $76K.

I'm certain that somewhere some teachers are pulling in extra generous pensions.  If you could demonstrate that a significant number of teachers are pulling in $120K, $130K, etc. than your argument would be compelling.
12 years 3 months ago
''I take it that you are, finally, acknowledging that the average salaries for teachers are in the $50K-$60K range. Your issue seems to be that the most senior teachers, working in affluent districts, are retiring with generous pensions.''

You have got to be kidding.  No where has this been demonstrated.  You just trot out a web site that does not match up with actual salaries in the states you can examine individually.  Oh, a lot do make that but not in New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois and a lot of California.  I do not have time to do every state.  The average cost for a teacher in Milwaukee is over $100 k this year as it is in much of New York.  The school district in Wisconsin that can now add teachers because of the new law talked about $35 K in benefits not included in salaries and they are real costs.

And by the way, who retires, it is nearly always senior teachers.  Your comment implies that junior teachers retire.  Some occasionally do but that is a small minority so the use of the term ''senior teacher'' could only have been used to confuse some poor soul who may be reading this exchange.  It is typical of the rhetoric employed.  Why the continued use of this irrelevant point.  

You also have this habit of asserting something and declaring victory and then at a later day saying you won.  Sorry, that does not work. The fact that you can not deal with what the other person says but immediately try to spin it, says something.  

Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
p.s. Re.: Benefits-that's a tricky one because employers will load hypothetical costs into real expenses. 

Example: I just received my annual salary letter. I make in the mid-$70sK but my employer has loaded all kinds of things that I don't use or claim-or that they pay (e.g., they list $12K for medical insurance but I use my wife's policy). They list my total compensation at $110K!

This gets us back to the Wisconisn debate and the scholarship on wages/benefits for private & public employees-i.e., public get smaller salaries and somewhat higher benefits.

BTW, I'm a fan of determing "real cost" like when employers pay low wages and push their employees into local food banks, hospital emergency rooms, sickness & poor health, etc.
Vince Killoran
12 years 3 months ago
So you do not accept the State of Penns. official website data (see #35)?! It states-as did the webiste w/NYS data-that the average teacher salary is in the $50-60K range.

The question I posed about your dubuious claim, and you did not answer, is this: what is the average salary (by state) of teachers who retire?

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