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Lord, won’t you buy me a new pension plan
My 401(k) savings fit in a tin can
I need me some money so I can survive
Or I’ll be living in my old Porsche when I’m 65
The foregoing is excerpted from a speech given by Karen Friedman, Executive Vice President and Policy Director of the Pension Rights Center on November 19, 2013, the keynote speech at the Texas Municipal Retirement System's annual meeting in Austin, Texas.  

Friedman goes on to compare the differences between the retirement benefits of government workers vs. public section workers:

While the majority of government workers get a good pension, that isn’t true of most private-sector workers.

Fifty percent of the private workforce is not covered by any kind of pension or retirement savings plan. That figure has been pretty consistent for the past 50 years.

Companies in the private sector are freezing, terminating, and otherwise cutting back their defined benefit plans, replacing these secure, guaranteed plans with 401(k)-type plans. Back in 1980, one out of two workers participated in defined benefit plans.  Now that figure is closer to one in five.

And 401(k) plans – viewed a decade ago as the Holy Grail of retirement – have failed millions of workers. Even before the stock market crash, half of all households with 401(k) plans and other retirement savings plans had less than $45,000 in their accounts. For those approaching retirement, the median account balance was just about $100,000 – not much to retire on.

And the truth is, those with good old-fashioned pension plans – defined benefit plans and cash balance variations – are both good for the economy and good for people. Those who have pensions have twice the income of retirees only receiving Social Security.

Friedman states that there is a deficit of $6.6 trillion in what she calls the Retirement Income Deficit. She warns of ongoing assaults -- although she does not explicitly name the villains behind these assaults -- against Social Security, Medicare, and state pensions, as well as attacks on private plans
threatened by
legislation in coming months that would, for the first time, allow pension plan trustees to slash the already-earned benefits of retirees. This proposal is being billed as “shared sacrifice,” but it is a radical departure from current private pension law, which holds that pensioners deserve the strongest protections.
Friedman has a lot of raw meat in her speech and I've only stolen a few of the juiciest hunks, check it out.

And, I do have a list of villains which I'll happily lay out:

Peter G. Peterson, founder of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to plunder Social Security
Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the Catfood Commission
Allen Simpson, co-chair of the Catfood Commission
David Cote, VP of Business Roundtable, member of Catfood Commission, retirement assets of $134.5 million, meaning a monthly draw of nearly $800,000
John Arnold, Enron billionaire, worker pension looter

 

Originally posted to Karen Hedwig Backman on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 01:01 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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