The discourse over pensions is full of half-truths and twice the finger pointing. Governing.com and Girard Miller investigated the top twelve half-truths and described them as “Pension Puffery.”
Public employees and their organizations fight back against the demonization of employee compensation and benefits by pointing out that the average pension is $23,000 per year. However, this article explains how the average pension – excluding widows or part-timers, is closer to $4,300 per month in California, and the average 30-year CalSTRS retiree receives a pension of $68,000. Similarly, the un-truth surrounding the proliferation of $100,000 retiree club falls flat on statistics. Only about 4 percent of retirees earn such a pension.
Similarly, the column investigates whether or not pensions can be adjusted, even though they are contractual, whether a 401(k) is the solution, and if 80 percent is a ‘healthy’ funded level.
One of my pet peeves in the ongoing debates over public pension reform is the way partisans on each side try to pitch half-truths and myths to support their arguments. The other side seldom believes any of these, but they help rally the allies on the speaker’s side. Sometimes the press naively re-circulates these fallacies, which leaves the general public even more confused about what to believe. There’s an old saying in politics that if you tell the same lie long enough, the public will eventually believe it — and that apparently is the mentality of lobbyists on both sides. In an effort to start the new year with a clean slate for public debate, I’d like to set the record straight on a dozen of the most glaring fallacies and silly slogans.
Read the full article here.