Excerpts from the Atlantic Magazine's May issue cover story: "The secret shame of the middle class" by Neal Gabler:
"Since 2013, the federal reserve board has conducted a survey to 'monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers.' The answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all.
"A 2014 Bankrate survey, echoing the Fed’s data, found that only 38 percent of Americans would cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit or $500 car repair with money they’d saved. Two reports published last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found, respectively, that 55 percent of households didn’t have enough liquid savings to replace a month’s worth of lost income, and that of the 56 percent of people who said they’d worried about their finances in the previous year, 71 percent were concerned about having enough money to cover everyday expenses.
"A similar study conducted by Annamaria Lusardi of George Washington University, Peter Tufano of Oxford, and Daniel Schneider, then of Princeton, asked individuals whether they could “come up with” $2,000 within 30 days for an unanticipated expense. They found that slightly more than one-quarter could not, and another 19 percent could do so only if they pawned possessions or took out payday loans. The conclusion: Nearly half of American adults are “financially fragile” and “living very close to the financial edge.”
"Jacob Hacker of Yale, measured the number of households that had lost a quarter or more of their “available income” in a given year—income minus medical expenses and interest on debt—and found that in each year from 2001 to 2012, at least one in five had suffered such a loss and couldn’t compensate by digging into savings.
"The American Psychological Association's 2014 survey on stress in the United States found 54 percent of Americans said they had just enough or not enough money each month to meet their expenses—found money to be the country’s No. 1 stressor. Seventy-two percent of adults reported feeling stressed about money at least some of the time, and nearly a quarter rated their stress “extreme.”
"Thirty-two percent of the survey respondents said they couldn’t afford to live a healthy lifestyle, and 21 percent said they were so financially strapped that they had forgone a doctor’s visit, or considered doing so, in the previous year.
“Financial insecurity is associated with depression, anxiety, and a loss of personal control that leads to marital difficulties,” says Brad Klontz, the financial psychologist.
"A 2014 New York Times poll found that only 64 percent of Americans said they believed in the American dream—the lowest figure in nearly two decades."
Arnold - what idiot is talking about perhaps another override besides our Mayor?
RD stated at the last SC meeting that another override was definitely out..not going down that road again that the voters had decided last November....
Congratulations to the Mayor and city departments for a 3.5 million dollar surplus at the end of the Fiscal Year. Certainly no need for overrides for the next couple of years...unless the Mayor finds a way to make the tax payers' surplus suddenly disappear into mysterious enterprise accounts...
Public unions will end up bankrupting cities and states and we all see this beginning to happen across the nation. Time to call an end to these unfunded liabilities and give- aways and to begin to add sanity back into city-state financial management.
This is certainly true here in Melrose - the city is at a crossroads when they need to begin again negotiations with fire, police, and school unions including dealing with the higher pending costs for medical benefits. That 3.5 millions dollar, so-called surplus from last year will be soon evaporate only to find us back in the bare-bones budget struggles to keep ourselves afloat.
The first union to disband should be the school union- followed closely by fire and police - enough is enough. Why should public servants be treated any different than the greatest majority of our citizens - with mostly unfunded, guaranteed pensions?
If what you've written is true (without proof other than conversations with public employees your veracity is suspect) it's still a case of too little too late:
The Commonwealth's pension liabilities are all of 29% funded.
Hey - isn't it about time these unions began supporting themselves like the rest of the dreaded private sector. You act as if - o.k. they now are finally beginning to pay into a system that they have taken advantage of for many, many decades, and now - building up all this unfunded pubic debt over past years - we are suppose to say - you guys are great for doing this! Be real! How about the other parts of their benefit packages - great health plans and vacation packages, and on and on! You still have pubic employees retiring in the 40's and 50's with great packages!
Time to get rid of ALL unions - they are a significant drag on public policies and improvements - then facts are clear about this.
OK I'll bite. Let me play devils advocate for a minute. In your erase the pension fund scenario, do the officers and firefighters who have paid in get their money back? Or do you just completely start over and act like they never paid in? Again this is pure Devils Advocate I'm curious as to what you think. It's easy to say oh let's turn the public sector into the private sector but you can't just do it without a plan. This is not a small feat this is statewide. I think sooner than later something will happen but I think the guys that currently are in the pension fund will be grandfathered in. The new kids coming on afterwards will be on a 401(k) or something similar like the rest of us in the private sector.
I'm not sure that you can renege on the promises made to those who have been in the system prior to these new changes. I'm not totally heartless. But moving forward - move to 401K or similar systems - perhaps offering options.
The school unions are ones that are really killing us because of their numbers and complexity of their contracts. Administrators can't move left or right unless they get union approval and if you don't believe me - just ask any administrator- and threatened laws suits prevent getting rid of poor performing teachers and admonistrators- because the paperwork required is so voluminous and time consuming - it is easier to keep them - move them to the side or another position - in many instances - because of frustration - buy out their contract as has been done in Melrose for years.
I became a teacher 24 years ago. Just out of college, I got a job in a public school system, and immediately had to join the teachers' union, even though the union can do nothing to protect a teacher who has not yet earned professional status (three years of teaching in the same district). This is still true. I have been paying 11% of my salary to the retirement board for as long as I can remember (it is possible that I started at 9%, but that did not last long). Most of my friends went into private sector professions, and at the time, they made loads more money than I did. They had the option of doing anything they wanted with their money. They could invest in retirement however they saw fit. They got stock options in their companies. They loved telling me about it, and I hated hearing it. I wanted control over my money- all of it, not just what was left after union dues and retirement contributions. I wanted to negotiate my own contract. But that was the deal. I got to do what I love, and in return, I had to join the union. When the economy went south, so many of my friends started complaining about my "sweet deal" with the pension fund. Their "control" of their money didn't look so good anymore. They wanted the "sure thing".
Years later, I still hate that I have to be in the union, but seeing the recent Supreme Court ruling for CA, it looks like I won't have a choice to opt out any time soon. I would still like to control my retirement money. Governor after governor has talked about pension reform, and I hope it comes someday. But secretly, I am hoping it takes long enough that I will have enough years to be grandfathered in.
People forget that the pension crisis was created by government officials purposely and quietly underfunding the government's share of pension contributions. The employees paid their fair share but the politicians quietly underfunded governments' share of payments knowing that they would be long gone when a crisis hit leaving the bag with future leaders. Pension reform has everything to do with government agencies appropriately meeting their obligations to properly fund these pension. The workers met their commitment and paid their share over many years.
White and blue collar workers have stupidly done themselves in listening to the republican rhetoric about unions destroying productivity, etc. They have no one to blame but themselves. It is a God given right for workers to come together and complain about working conditions, wages, or benefits. Given this country's broad constitutional rights, how or why would anyone (other than a communist)think that a group of people collectively bringing issues to the attention of an employer could possibly be illegal in the private sector??
Wow..talk about uninformed citizens! Some of you say that there is no unfunded pension issues? Go drink more of that Democratic crap they hand out at your union meetings!Talk to the financial people at Massport or the MBTA! How about Boston - Detroit and most of the major metropolitan areas of this country?
First of all, we're really talking about the issue as specific to Melrose. The issues at the MBTA and Massport are due to abuse, not unfunded liability, and 90% of the abuse is perpetrated by politicians and their pals, not everyday employees who have to work at least 32 years and be at least 65 (55 for police and fire) to get the maximum of 80% of base, which is actually less than 50% of what they make while working. They are also barred from either working another government job and getting a second pension. Elected officials are not. Consider this guy spotlighted by Howie Carr this morning:
"Meet Richard Theroux, candidate for state rep in Agawam. But that’s not why the 63-year-old Democrat is worthy of immediate induction into the Massachusetts Hack Hall of Fame.
The fact is, Theroux is already on three — count ’em, three — public payrolls or pensions, totaling $113,000 a year. That makes him a triple-dipper, a rare enough creature even in the hackerama. But now he’s trying to go where no coat-holder has ever gone before, not even a Bulger. He’s trying to become … a quadruple-dipper.
He used to be a councilor back when he was in his 20s (he was also on the payroll of the city of Springfield, as a teacher). In 1983, he became the town clerk of Agawam.
By the time he retired at the end of last year, he was up to $96,000 a year. So he began collecting a pension of $76,000 a year.
Hampden County no longer exists as a governing body, but its retirement board continues to function. Guess who the treasurer and chairman of the county retirement system is. C’mon down, Richard Theroux! That’s worth another $27,000 a year.Then there’s the councilor’s job and its $10,000."
And if he gets elected to the legislature, he'll be eligible for a fourth - in addition to the $65.00 a day he'll get for "travel" time to Boston.
If you want to legislate corrections that prevent this abuse, I'd be all for it, but of course your elected officials (politicians) will never do that. I believe our own Mayor now qualifies for two, although I'm not sure about that. Not any cop or fireman I know though, unless he got elected to something after he/she retired. One cop I know of worked details after he retired, but because he was only allowed to make the difference between his pension and his previous salary, when he made more than that, he was forced to give it all back to the City. That money he made cost the pension system exactly nothing, and yet he had to give $20000 back to the Retirement Board. Think he's milking the system?
Even with all this, The Mass pension fund as administered by PRIT is actually very sound financially, and has nothing to do with systems in Detroit or anywhere else for that matter. I didn't say there weren't issues, only that in Mass unfunded liability at this point is not one of them. Actuarially it takes 11 years and three months of retirement checks before a retiree begins to affect anything else but his/her own contributions.
Go read this article and get the truth about Mass Public pensions.
I would like to join Boss Hog Dolan's Union and get me a 26% raise, free G.I.C. insurance like his aldermanic minions, and who knows, perhaps an E.B.T. card. Is being a thief, moonbat, lier, and rumpswab required for membership?