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robertogreco : pensions   9

California promised public employees generous retirements. Will the courts give government a way out? - Los Angeles Times
"A case before the state Supreme Court could clear the way for reductions in public retiree benefits, which have become hugely expensive. But the outcome is “hard to predict.”"
california  pensions  government  policy  economics  2016  retirees  politics 
october 2016 by robertogreco
The American Way over the Nordic Model? Are we crazy? - LA Times
"In my long nomadic life, I've been to both poles and most countries in between. I still remember when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world.

Today, as one of 1.6 million Americans living in Europe, I instead face hard questions about our nation. Wherever I travel, Europeans, Asians and Africans ask expatriates like me to explain everything odd or troubling about the conduct of the United States. Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, ask pointedly about America's trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and "exceptionality."

Their questions share a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy?

At the absolute top of the list: "Why would anyone oppose national healthcare?" Many countries have had some form of national healthcare since the 1930s, Germany since 1880. Some versions, as in France and Britain, have devolved into two-tier public and private systems. Yet even the privileged would not begrudge their fellow citizens government-funded comprehensive healthcare. That so many Americans do strikes Europeans as baffling, if not brutal.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

This is the Nordic Model: a balance of regulated capitalism, universal social welfare, political democracy and the highest levels of gender and economic equality on the planet. It's their system, begun in Sweden in the 1930s and developed across Scandinavia in the postwar period. Yes, they pay for it through high taxation. (Though compared with the U.S. tax code, Norway's progressive income tax is remarkably streamlined.) And despite the efforts of an occasional conservative government to muck it up, they maintain it. Why?

They like it. International rankings cite Norway as the best place to grow old, to be a woman and to raise a child. The title of "best" or "happiest" place to live on Earth comes down to a neighborly contest among Norway and the neighboring Nordic social democracies, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

All the Nordic countries broadly agree that only when people's basic needs are met — when they cease to worry about jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, etc. — can they truly be free to do as they like. While the U.S. settles for the fantasy that every kid has an equal shot at the American dream, Nordic social welfare systems lay the foundations for a more authentic equality and individualism.

These ideas are not novel. They are implied in the preamble to our own Constitution. You know, the part about "We the People" forming "a more perfect Union" to "promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

Knowing this, a Norwegian is appalled at what America is doing to its posterity today. That top chief executives are paid 300 to 400 times as much as an average employee. Or that Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, having run up their state's debts by cutting taxes for the rich, now plan to cover the loss with money snatched from public pension funds. That two-thirds of American college students finish in the red, some owing $100,000 or more. That in the U.S., still the world's richest country, 1 in 3 children lives in poverty. Or that the multitrillion-dollar wars of Presidents George W. Bush and Obama were fought on a credit card, to be paid off by the kids.

Implications of America's uncivilized inhumanity lurk in the questions foreign observers ask me: Why can't you shut down that concentration camp in Cuba? Why can't you stop interfering with women's healthcare? What is it about science and climate change you can't understand?

And the most pressing question of all: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up trouble for all of us?

Europeans often connect America's reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order. They've watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace decaying infrastructure, weaken organized labor, bring its national legislature to a standstill and create the greatest degree of economic inequality in almost a century. As they see it, with ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, Americans are bound to be anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a national government that for three decades has done so little for them (save Obama's endlessly embattled modest healthcare effort).

In Norway's capital, where a statue of a contemplative President Franklin D. Roosevelt overlooks the harbor, many America-watchers think he may have been the last U.S. president who understood and could explain to the citizenry what government might do for all of them.

It's hard to pin down why America is as it is today, and — believe me — even harder to explain it to others. Some Europeans who interrogate me say that the U.S. is "crazy" — or "paranoid," "self-absorbed," or simply "behind the times." Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely "misguided" or "asleep" and may still recover sanity. But wherever I travel, the questions follow, each suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others."
2015  annejones  us  healthcare  healthinsurance  socialsafetynet  scandinavia  norway  germany  uk  europe  inequality  equality  americandream  progressivism  socialism  capitalism  politics  policy  parentalleave  pensions  universality  nordiccountries  sweden  denmark  finland  iceland  individualism  equity  education  obamacare  affordablecareact  fdr 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Tim Carmody spells it out. (with tweets) · maxfenton · Storify
"…after WW2, a professional managerial class figured out they could trade benefits tomorrow for real money today across the workforce.

Early on, this didn't cost them much, because the workforce was young, health care was cheap, & most of it was just paper promises.

Then when the economy got a little tougher, these industries laid off workers & stopped kicking in funds for pensions. Profits still high.

Now, every single one of those industries are laying off even more workers, reducing benefits & weaseling out of those old promises.

What we're seeing is much less global industrial disruption than it is a bad check, a ponzi scheme, a bald-faced transfer of wealth.

A transfer of wealth across classes and generations, coupled with a villainization of the very employees who've been defrauded.

This is no accident of history. This is a fully planned and executed heist. This makes Ocean's Eleven look like a botched stickup…

[one more here]

This is how you murder the future."
industry  labor  inequity  wealthdistribution  wealth  ponzischemes  pensions  2012  finance  economics  history  timcarmody 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Rahm Emanuel's Task: The Reinvention of the Great American City - James Warren - Politics - The Atlantic
"Now, however, cities and states are troubled, with some on the verge of insolvency. There are predictions of defaults and bankruptcies amid staggering financial woes, with anger spreading vividly in Madison and Indianapolis, and more surely to come.<br />
Chicago, too, has a huge budget deficit, an awful pension situation, a woefully inconsistent school system, high crime, persistent segregation and a declining mass transit system in need of capital investments. It thus offers a laboratory for dealing with all the great issues facing the country: education, housing, transit, infrastructure, jobs and health care."
rahmemanuel  2011  chicago  cities  laboratories  urban  urbanism  schools  crisis  transit  masstransit  crime  segregation  education  housing  infrastructure  health  healthcare  pensions 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Is America drowning in debt? | Dylan Ratigan [crappy transcript]
"…isn’t a question of public unions in any way abusing system. this is a question of a governor who wants to giveaway tax cuts, & a movement in this country by corporations & [plutocrats] talking about we need shared sacrifice but they get tax cut after tax cut. we’re paying the lowest amount of taxes …as we have in 50, 60 years…"<br />
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"wisconsin is #2 in country of SAT/ACT scores…5 of the lowest rated…states…have no collective bargaining w/ teachers."<br />
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"we are subsidizing by the trillion a banking system that’s gouging our country. we pay 2X what we should be paying for health care because of employer based health insurance monopolies & fee for service health care. those health care costs are passed on to all of us. would we not be having a much more beneficial conversation if we were willing to deal with systemic corruption that is the health care system that costs us double what it should & a banking system that …not only does it not invest in our country but seeks to poach…"
crisis  wisconsin  education  collectivebargaining  unions  taxes  republicans  pensions  healthcare  taxcuts  banking  finance  corruption  specialinterests  politics  policy 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Japan not alone in demographic conundrum | The Japan Times Online
"Takashi Kadokura says China's working age population will begin to peak at around 2015…

Japan & South Korea both have national pension & health care systems, but I doubt whether China will be able to create a stable system that can protect its enormous population," he said…

"It took France 150 years for its elderly ranks to increase from 7% to 14% (of the overall population)," Shin said.

"It took Japan only took 36 years, but for South Korea, this took place in 26 years, an astoundingly fast pace," he said, noting the South was using Japan as a case study to set up countermeasures.

Shin explained that in South Korea, private-sector corporations, instead of the government, were traditionally responsible for employees' well-being, taking care of their insurance and other social security-related concerns.

And while the nation's social security system was generally similar to that of Japan, Shin said the government only recently introduced a national pension scheme."
japan  china  korea  southkorea  pensions  economics  aging  future  population 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Thanksgiving for Bankers and “Bad” Teachers « Fremont Watch
"Wow. Mission Accomplished by the neo-liberal privatizers and David Guggenheim. I am now sucking at the tit of government, as my brother put it. He’s not, I am. Because I am going to get a pension when I retire. He said we should all have 401 K’s. What happens to teachers who have been teaching for 30 years when the market goes bad? Nebraska found out and put all of their workers back into pensions. At least they are intellectually honest. My brother was lucky to be a winner in the economic collapse that decimated Main Street. I wonder if he was a loser in the scenario, like the poor Lehman brother workers that everyone gawked at as the walked out their workplace with cardboard boxes for the last time- if his point of view would be different, but somehow I doubt it."
banking  publiceducation  neoliberalism  waitingforsuperman  unions  pensions  government  misconceptions  education  policy  2010  us  publicschools  teaching  wealth 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Pension funds chasing highest returns on investment force behind recession | Business | The Guardian
"These savers have racked up trillions of dollars over the last 30 years and own much of the wealth created during that period. Their power is vast. They own the homes, the stock markets and they lent their cash to the banks, governments and companies and as we know to our cost, there were plenty of them.
rcession  greed  2010  greatrecession  investments  pensions  risk  europe  us  uk  california  retirement  savings  alangreenspan 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Half an Hour: Your Pension Awaits...
"Don't plan on retiring, even if it is only a few years away. Take these last few years you have of something like secure employment and develop some marketable skills. Learn programming. Learn carpentry. Auto repair. Something."
retirement  work  socialsecurity  pensions  stephendownes  economics  finance  collapse 
august 2009 by robertogreco

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