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Cypen & Cypen
MARCH 24, 2011

Stephen H. Cypen, Esq., Editor

1.      SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ABOUT PUBLIC PENSIONS: In an article from Government Finance Review entitled “Setting the Record Straight About Public Pensions,” the author recognizes that state and local governments have recently come under substantial criticism about the condition of their pension plans. Critics maintain that the vast majority of public pension plans are significantly underfunded and seem to see this situation as the main cause for the current financial crisis in which state and local governments find themselves, along with the nation's difficulties in achieving a robust economic recovery.  Indeed, some academics, as well as federal and state politicians, are claiming that state pension funds are running out of money.  They are raising the specter of a large-scale federal bailout, and calling for pension reform. Is there really a public pension crisis of this magnitude?  And what can -- and should -- be done to address legitimate concerns about sustainability of pension benefits of public workers?  Before any productive discussion can occur, it is necessary to agree on some basic facts, distinguish reality from hyperbole and set the record straight: 

  • Are State and Local Government Pension Plans About to Run Out of Money?  No, in fact, according to the Federal Reserve Flow of Funds, the combined value of public pensions was $2.73 Trillion as of 3rd quarter of 2010, the highest level in two years.  This figure represents an increase of more than half a Trillion dollars since a low of $2.17 Trillion at the end of 1st quarter of 2009, and marks the fourth consecutive year-over-year quarterly increase. 
  • But Aren't Public Pension Funding Levels Dropping? Despite the significant dollar gains in value of their assets, it is true that the funding levels of many, but not all, state and local government pension plans are nevertheless still declining.  This situation is due in part because the value of global equities decreased significantly in 2008-2009.  Since most well-diversified pension portfolios place a significant portion of their holdings in such investments, there was a corresponding decline in their asset values. However, the aggregate public pension funding level still at approximately 80 percent for fiscal 2009, a level that is believed by many experts and government officials to be acceptable for public plans, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Overall, this funding level may continue to drop by as much as another 10 percentage points before bottoming out in fiscal 2013, as the smoothed market gains of 2009-2010 begin to offset the smoothed market losses of 2008-2009.  
  • If Most Pension Plans are Becoming Increasingly Underfunded, Aren't They Bound Eventually to Run Out of Money?  Asset values are increasing substantially, but funding levels are declining, a seeming contradiction that can make it sound like government pension plans are inevitably going to run out of money.  But judging adequacy of funding requires more than a snapshot of the ratio of assets to liabilities; that is, a funding level is simply the actuarial value of a plan's assets divided by value of its liabilities at a specific moment in time.  In effect, this actuarial funding ratio represents a single day's view of a funding amortization process that averages approximately 25 years for most public pension plans, during which unfunded liabilities are paid off -- one out of approximately 9,125 days. 
  • But Aren't Pension Funds “Cooking the Books” to Make their Funding Situations Look Better than They Really Are? The facts do not support allegations that public pension funds are assuming unrealistically high returns on investments to make liabilities look smaller.  Currently, the median investment return assumption for the nation's largest public pension funds -- with membership and assets making up approximately 85 percent of the entire state and local government retirement system community -- is 8 percent.  The highest is 8.5 percent and the lowest is 7 percent. The median annual public pension fund investment returns for the five-year period ended December 31, 2009 was just 3.5 percent, but if one looks at the 25 years since 1985 -- a period that has included three economic recessions and four years when median public fund investment returns were negative -- public pension fund investment returns have exceeded 8 percent.  In fact, the median investment return for the 25-year period ended December 31, 2009 was 9.25 percent. 
  • Isn't the Pressure to Pay Down Pension Underfunding Causing the Financial Crisis Faced by State and Local Governments?  Pension funding requirements are not the reason why governmental plan sponsors are struggling with their current financial situations.  The primary cause of the deficit in state and local governments is an economic downturn of crisis proportions, the consequences of which have been enormous and far-reaching.  Millions of individuals have lost jobs, and households have seen Trillions of dollars in wealth disappear, largely due to stock losses and drops in home prices.  This economic collapse has in turn created a sharp decline in state and local tax revenue that is affecting every level of government. For example, during the two-year period from fiscal 2008-10, state revenues decreased nearly 12 percent, or by $78.5 Billion.  Local governments have also experienced significant decreases in tax value, with estimated declines in city revenues of about 3.2 percent in 2010. Pension plans did not create this crisis, and they are not exacerbating it now.  Another important point:  public pensions are pre-funded; that is, a significant portion of the assets needed to fund pension liabilities is accumulated during an employee's working life and then paid during the participant's years in retirement. Therefore, benefits are not being paid on a pay-as-you-go basis out of state and local governments' general revenues, but rather from pension trust funds.  Furthermore, most of this trust fund money is made up of employee contributions and investment earnings.  For instance, from 1982 to 2008, 72 percent of pension fund receipts came from employee contributions and investment earnings. 
  • Isn't That Like Saying I Purchased an Expensive Luxury I Cannot Afford, but Somehow I Save Money by Paying a Reduced Price for It? Governmental pension benefits are not an expensive, unaffordable luxury. Governments must be able to compete with the private sector for talented employees. However, state and local employers are not able to offer stock options, profit-sharing plans or higher salaries to attract well-qualified workers. Defined benefit pension plans, which are the most common form of retirement vehicle in the public sector, are particularly well-suited for governments in this regard. Pension plans have been shown significantly to increase employee commitment to their employers, as compared with other forms of retirement benefits, also helping with worker retention.  Finally, pensions paid by governmental plans to their retirees have also provided an overall economic benefit that has helped lessen the impact of recession on state and local governments. Dollars paid out in pension benefits have a multiplier effect: each dollar in pension benefits paid to a retiree supported $2.36 in economic activity, helping to generate $21.2 Billion in annual state and local tax revenue. 
  • But Why Should Public Employees Have the Most Expensive Type of Retirement Plan?  They shouldn't, and they don't.  In fact, when one considers the cost of achieving a specific retirement benefit goal under both a defined benefit plan -- which is made available to about 84 percent of all state and local government employees -- and the other common form of retirement plan, a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k), recent analysis has found that a DB plan costs about half as much as the DC plan. Specifically, it was determined that delivering the same retirement income to a group of workers is 46 percent cheaper using a DB plan than a DC plan.
  • Nevertheless, Aren't Public Employee Retirement Benefits Just Too Expensive for Taxpayers?  If one believed only what one read in the newspapers and online, and heard on radio and television, one would think that all public employees are paid too much, and pension benefits based on these salaries are extravagant and inappropriate.  However, once again, the facts paint a different picture. Two recent studies agree that employees of state and local government earn significantly less than what comparable private-sector employees earn, and one study found that this pay gap has widened over the last 15 years.  Particularly, wages and salaries of state and local employees are lower -- 11 percent less for state workers and 12 percent less for local workers -- than those for private-sector employees with comparable education and work experience.  Furthermore, although retirement, health care and other benefits make up a slightly larger share of compensation for the state and local sector, average total compensation is 6.8 percent lower for state employees and 7.4 percent lower for local employees than for their private-sector counterparts.  
  • If Everything Is in Such Good Shape, Why Don't Pension Plans Want to Disclose Additional Information About Their Accounting Practices?  Public pension plans and their sponsors are not trying to hide anything.  On the contrary, virtually every plan posts a copy of its most recent comprehensive annual financial report on its Web site.  The CAFR conforms to GASB principles and reporting requirements, and presents the plan's audited assets and liabilities.  The disclosures it contains provide all information needed to assess the funding status of a public pension plan, the progress made in accumulating sufficient assets to pay benefits when due and whether employers are making actuarially determined contributions as required.  In Florida, and in many states, strong public documents laws make virtually all pension plan records available to the public upon request. 

Public pension plans are not in crisis and they are not seeking any federal financial assistance in connection with their funding needs. On the contrary, throughout 2009, organizations representing public pension plans, plan sponsors and plan participants have been advising Congress that state and local governments are moving aggressively to address sustainability challenges confronting their pension plans, that federal involvement is neither sought nor needed and would be counterproductive; and that public pensions are not in need of a federal bailout. State or local governments are not in danger of filing for bankruptcy as a result of their pension obligations. Municipal bankruptcies are extremely rare, and are not result of unfunded pension liabilities.  Cities and counties that have filed have experienced a confluence of extreme and unique circumstances, including a series of poor investment decisions resulting in significant financial losses or excessive and inappropriate spending. The public pension system is not in crisis.   

2.      ADDRESSING MEDIA MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PUBLIC SECTOR PENSIONS: Government Finance Review says that everyone who pays attention to the news has noticed the drumbeat of reports urgently warning that the public pension system is perched on the brink of disaster and that it will soon collapse, bringing a number of state and local governments down with it. These stories are based on questionable research from self-proclaimed experts in public finance and their predictions have created misconceptions about the health and future of the public sector pension system. Further context and balance are essential to clearing up these media misconceptions.  Media outlets have been starting with a thesis -- that a public pension crisis is upon us.  They cite opinions and research studies that support their position, without offering a counterpoint from professionals who understand public finance.  Before rushing to publication, reporters should test their assumptions by vetting all their information and conclusions, otherwise the picture presented is not fair and balanced. Providing perspective is a critical role for the finance officer, who should be able to respond to media inaccuracies and misunderstandings, as well as providing rapid but measured responses to media inquiries or published articles.  Finance officers can give the public information it needs to preempt or correct inaccuracies that are being reported.  And of course, where real problems exist, it is essential to address them through formal action plans for solving problems that involve all constituencies and stakeholders. Several common themes have evolved in media reports of pension valuations, bond defaults and budgetary deficits. “The sky is falling” school of coverage features multi-trillion dollar amounts of supposedly unreported pension liabilities and so-called experts who predict state bankruptcies, bond defaults and pension fund collapses.  Recent examples include a New YorkTimes article indicating that some states might not be able to make their bond payments. The reports was based on questionable assumptions and did not mention pension reforms many states -- including Illinois, which was featured -- have enacted. In addition, today's reporters are reporting yesterday's results, and they do not acknowledge the difference or the significant impact the Great Recession had on funded ratios for virtually all pension systems in 2009, along with most other public and private entities. They also omit the significant recoveries the equity market has experienced since then.  By December 31, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial average was up 59 percent from its March low, and by December 31, 2010, the rebound was 77 percent. The piece is so chock full of good information that it should be read in its entirety at

Nevertheless, the following sidebar provides responses to key media misconceptions: 

  • Understated Pension Liabilities and Appropriate Discount Rate.  The assumption that public pension plan liabilities should be discounted at a risk-free rate such as 4.5 percent is not supported by Governmental Accounting Standards Board, is not consistent with historical public plan investment performance and does not make sense from an actuarial perspective.  In its preliminary views document published in June 2010, GASB considered but rejected the risk-free bond rate method for valuing future liabilities, stating instead that the interest rate used should be a reasonable estimate of the rate at which plan assets are expected to grow as a result of investment earnings.  Historical public plan investment experience does not support using a risk-free rate, and it also does not make sense from an actuarial perspective. 
  • Bankrupt Pension Plans.  The assumption that state and local governments will contribute nothing to amortize past pension liabilities is not supported by the facts. According to the Public Fund Survey, pension plan sponsors made, on average, 91 percent of their required contributions from 2001 through 2009. 
  • Defined Contribution Plans. The suggestion that replacing defined benefit plans with defined contribution plans will fix the problem is probably practical only for jurisdictions that have reasonably well-funded retirement plans; these jurisdictions might be able to tolerate higher short-term costs in exchange for minimizing future costs. Jurisdictions with large underfunded pension liabilities might find the cost of paying off defined benefit plans while creating new defined contribution plans for new, younger workers much too expensive. 

Worth its weight in gold. 

3.      SOME STATISTICS FROM FLORIDA RETIREMENT SYSTEM: In a Miami Herald article on the current pension battle in Florida, the writer has provided some  interesting statistics about the Florida Retirement System: 

  • More than half of workers in FRS earn less than $40,000. 
  • The average annual benefit for retirees is under $17,500. 
  • At least 297 executive branch workers earn salaries low enough to qualify them for Medicaid. 
  • Only two in 1,000 -- .17 percent -- draw more than $100,000 a year.   
  • Of those drawing more than $100,000 a year, almost 200 have retired from the state court system.  (State law allows judges to earn twice as much in retirement benefits for every year of service as regular class employees.) 
  • Another 56 in the $100,000-club retired from the university system, which also has its own pension system that allows for some members to draw more lucrative benefits.  
  • Forty-six FRS members in this elite club are from Miami-Dade County; 11 from Miami-Dade School Board; 10 are from Broward County Sheriff’s Department and seven are from the Hillsborough County School Board.  (Elected officials and those in senior management class are also rewarded with higher benefits than those in the regular class, allowing them to accrue retirement benefits faster.) 

In other words, “I got mine, but you ain’t gonna get yours.” 

4.      TIME FOR REALITY CHECK IN CALIFORNIA’S PENSION TALKS: Writing in California Progress Report, Dave Low, Chairman of Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security, writes that one should consider how to ensure that California's public pension systems remain on a sound footing and able to provide a secure retirement for public workers. But issues about the cost/benefit of public employee pensions have become a major point of contention in the heated debate on how to fix California's state budget problems. Pension-spiking poster children, manufactured data supposedly showing huge unfunded liabilities and false charges of labor intransigence have cast a dark cloud over public pensions.  For instance, a common claim is that pension costs will bankrupt state government.  In fact, the entire costs of pensions for state workers in 2011 will be $3.5 Billion, barely 4% out of an $85 Billion budget.  Add the teachers’ plan, and the total is not even 6% of budget.  If Californians paid zero into public employee pensions and eliminated them altogether, the state would not come close to solving the budget deficit.   In fact, the state of California pays less as a percentage of payroll for pensions today than it did in 1980!  Meanwhile CalPERS has earned back more than $70 Billion since the financial crisis, and the system's funding status is estimated near 70 percent. As for spiking, California's public worker unions and its pension system have supported curbs, backing strong legislation last year -- inexplicably vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger -- that would have ended the practice. Note that only some 2% of CalPERS retirees and 2.2% of CalSTRS retirees have pensions above the poster child level of $100,000.  The average CalPERS pension is about $25,000 a year. Half of CalPERS retirees receive pensions of $18,000 per year or less.  Unlike the private sector, many public employees do not receive Social Security, making pensions their sole source of retirement income other than savings.  (Meanwhile, state employee unions went to the bargaining table and negotiated agreements that significantly tightened the state's pension formula and doubled, to 10%, what workers pay toward their own retirement.) Low’s recommendation?  Continue working in good faith at the bargaining table for needed changes, focusing on true issues and not those manufactured to make a political point.  The larger pension concern should be for the vast and growing majority of American workers with savings hardly a quarter of what is needed to retire in dignity. 

5.      IN PENSION DEBATE, DON’T FORGET PRIVATE SECTOR: Reporter Eric Ernst of the (Sarasota) Herald-Tribune just received good news from the New York Times about his pension. Although the Times, which owns the Herald-Tribune, has frozen all pensions, this year it is contributing an amount of 3 percent of 2010 pensionable earnings to Ernst’s 410(k) -- in addition to the match the company already provides to the 401(k). When Ernst came to work for the newspaper in 1985, he was amazed to learn that his employer was setting aside money in what he now knows is a defined benefit plan. Over the years, he did not chip in a single dime, yet the account grew until now it promises to pay almost $1,900.00 a month when Ernst retires. He thought about the situation as the uproar intensified over public employee pension plans.  Around the newsroom, people seem particularly riled over Florida's plan, to which government employees have contributed nothing.  You would never see that in the private sector, critics say. Wrong. Private companies, especially the big ones, have had similar pension plans for years, since American Express Co. started the first in 1875.  As recently as 2005, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation reported that 75 percent of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 offered defined benefit pensions. That approach helped corporations recruit employees and keep them.  In offering a paternalistic savings account, the companies also deferred the cost of higher wages. Granted, the trend has shifted to plans in which employees contribute, but the point is that government pensions are neither alien concoctions nor anything new. Public employee pensions originated during the Roman empire for military officers on a case-by-case basis.  The federal government handled pensions for civilian employees the same way until 1920, when it adopted a universal plan.  The year before, Congress had passed 1,497 acts establishing or amending retirement plans for 1,497 individuals, which was long before unions had much power. Ernst is not and never has been a union member; but he is willing to bet a union somewhere made it possible for him to get his $1,900.00 a month. When it comes to pensions, unions have helped those who needed it the most: regular working people who will not or cannot save enough to get them through their retirement years. Collectively, alteration of pension plans will shift billions of dollars from one set of recipients to another. Who will benefit? In the public arena, we would like to think the money will go toward education or better roads or maybe back into our pockets as taxpayers. The world does not work that way, though. For a peek at how it does work, consider how Florida judges and elected office holders accrue retirement benefits nearly twice as quickly as rank-and-file public workers.  A recent move to equalize those benefits could not get past a Florida Senate committee. The more things change… .

6.      FLORIDA GOVERNOR WILL LEAVE PENSION FUND MANAGEMENT IN TACT:While Florida Governor Rick Scott is pushing for changes to who pays for the retirement plan for state workers, he has kept people in charge of the pension fund - and the fund's investment strategy - unchanged since taking office inJanuary. The (Sarasota) Herald-Tribune says Scott's approach is a sharp turnaround from his campaign last fall, when he criticized his Democratic opponent, saying she had been "a failed fiscal watchdog" for her role in overseeing the pension fund. Florida Retirement System is now worth more than $127 Billion, up 19 percent sinceJuly, despite lack of management or investment changes. The plan reached a peak value of $136 Billion in June of 2007, but dropped to $100 Billion two years later, as financial markets fell during the Great Recession. The pension agency controls money to pay for pensions for the state's roughly 900,000 active and retired workers. Scott now says he is very happy with the fund, although he offered no apologies for his scathing critique of the fund's management just a few months ago. Scott is one of the three trustees in charge of State Board of Administration (see C&C Newsletter for September 24, 2009, Item 3 and C&C Newsletter for October 1 2009, Item 14), the obscure state agency that manages more than $150 Billion, including FRS, as well as the state's reinsurance fund and an investment portfolio used by local governments and school districts. Latest numbers show the pension plan is funded at about 88 percent - very near the top in the country.

7.      CITIES SOMEHOW FIND CASH FOR MANAGERS’ RAISES: Handing out raises to civic officials rarely plays well with the public, especially during austere times.  But, according to, dozens of counties, school districts and other entities are doing just that, citing a need to retain experienced people. The mayor of Miami-Dade County, Florida, lost his job in a recent recall election fueled in part by voter anger over raises he approved for top aides in midst of a budget crisis. In Sacramento, California, municipal union leaders are up in arms about raises granted to a handful of department heads at a time when rank-and-file city workers have been asked to take unpaid furlough days. But managers and elected officials handing out pay increases say they are tired of waiting for the economy to improve or the budget picture to brighten.  After several years of frozen salaries and other belt-tightening measures, they fear they will lose top talent to better-paying jobs elsewhere if they cannot grant a few targeted raises. One measure of the trend:  last June, 67% of counties nationwide had imposed a blanket pay freeze.  In a survey just released by National Association of Counties, that number was down to 45%, suggesting that some counties are loosening up a bit on salary. Voters and public workers critical of raises argue that giving more money to top managers sends the wrong message.  A fiscal crisis demands shared sacrifice.  Critics point out, too, that especially in this economy, a manager may only be bluffing if he threatens to quit in search of a fatter paycheck.  Those who do jump ship, moreover, are often fairly easily replaced. The rich really are different. 

8.      OUTGOING COUNTY MANAGER GETS PAY AND BENEFITS PACKAGE:   Apropos the above item, the County Manager of Miami-Dade County, Florida, resigned within  hours of  the Mayor’s defeat in a recall election. The 52-year-old career bureaucrat served County government for more than 28 years. He will be paid severance of one year base salary, $326,000 (up from $185,000 in 2003), plus deferred compensation of $22,000. He and his family will get medical and dental coverage until he is 65 years old.   Unused sick time of about $80,000 and accumulated vacation pay of about $79,000 will be included in his next paycheck. During the one-year severance period he will also receive an expense allowance of $3,000 a month and a car allowance of $600 a month, although he previously returned the car leased on his behalf.  Further,  he will be paid an annual sum of $10,000 in executive benefits over the coming year and one final $8,000 payment to cover premiums on life and disability insurance policies. According to the Miami Herald, however, the Manager missed out on one other benefit: he fell just short of the 30 years of employment needed to receive full retirement benefits from the Florida Retirement System prior to reaching age 62.

9.      WISCONSIN IS BROKE … UNLESS YOU COUNT THE $67 BILLION: Writing in Business Insider, prolific author Ellen Brown says as states struggle to meet their budgets, public pensions are on the chopping block, but they need not be.  States can keep their pension funds intact while leveraging them into many times their worth in loans, just as Wall Street banks do:  a state can form its own public bank. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has justified the move to gut benefits, wages and bargaining rights for unionized public workers as necessary for balancing the state’s budget.  But is it? Bemoaning a budget deficit of $3.6 Billion, Governor Walker says the state is too broke to afford agreed-upon benefits. But according to Wisconsin’s 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the state has $67 Billion in pension and other employee benefit trust funds, invested mainly in stocks and debt securities, drawing a modest return. A recent study by the PEW Center for the States showed that Wisconsin’s pension fund is almost fully funded, meaning it can meet its commitments for years to come without drawing on outside sources.  It requires a contribution of only $645 Million annually to meet pension payouts.  The pension program can save another $200 Million annually just by cutting out its Wall Street investment managers, and managing the funds in-house. The governor is eying the state’s lucrative pension fund, not because the state cannot afford the pension program, but as a source of revenue for programs that are not fully funded.  This tactic, however, is not going down well with state employees. Fortunately, there is another alternative:  Wisconsin could draw down the fund by the small amount needed to meet pension obligations, put the bulk of the money to work creating jobs, help local businesses and increase tax revenue for the state.  Wisconsin could form its own bank, following the lead of North Dakota, the only state to have its own bank and the only state to escape the credit crisis. This feat could be accomplished without spending the pension fund money or lending it.  Funds would just be shifted from one form of investment to another (equity in a bank). When a bank makes a loan, neither the bank’s own capital nor its customers’ demand deposits are actually loaned to borrowers.  A bank simply extends accounting-entry bank credit, which is extinguished when the loan is repaid.  Creating this sort of credit-money is a privilege available only to banks, but states can tap into that privilege by owning a bank. (For the record, ironically, the only state to have one of these credit machines is a conservative Republican state. Established in 1919 in response to a wave of farm foreclosures at the hands of out-of-state Wall Street banks, the state-owned Bank of North Dakota has allowed the state to maintain its economic sovereignty. Today, the state not only has no debt, but boasts its largest-ever budget surplus.) Seven states (Hawaii, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington) are now considering setting up public banks. Budget woes of Wisconsin and other states were caused, not by overspending on employee benefits, but by a credit crisis on Wall Street.  The cure is to get credit flowing again in the local economy, which can be done by using state assets to capitalize state-owned banks. Against the modest cost of establishing a publicly-owned bank, state legislators need to weigh the much greater costs of the alternatives -- slashing essential public services, laying off workers, raising taxes on constituents who are already over-taxed and selling off public assets.  Given the cost of continuing business as usual, states can hardly afford not to consider the public bank option.  When state and local governments invest their capital in out-of-state money center banks and deposit their revenues there, they are giving their enormous credit-gathering power away to Wall Street.  

10.    ORAL COMPLAINT SUFFICIENT UNDER FLSA: Kasten brought an antiretaliation suit against his former employer, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation, under Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which provides minimum wage, maximum hour and overtime pay rules. FLSA also forbids employers to discharge any employee because such employee has filed any complaint alleging violation of the Act. In a related suit, the District Court had found that Saint-Gobain violated the Act by placing timeclocks in a location that prevented workers from receiving credit for time they spent donning and doffing work-related protective gear.  In the instant suit, Kasten claimed that he was discharged because he orally complained to company officials about the timeclocks.  The District Court granted Saint-Gobain summary judgment, concluding that the Act's antiretaliation provision did not cover oral complaints.  The Seventh Circuit affirmed, but the United States Supreme Court reversed, holding that the scope of the statutory term “filed any complaint” includes oral, as well as written, complaints. A narrow interpretation would undermine the Act’s basic objective, which is to prohibit labor conditions detrimental to maintenance of the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being of workers. Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation, Case No. 09-834 (U.S. March 22, 2011). 

11.    REMARKABLE QUOTES FROM REMARKABLE JEWS: I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. Woody Allen

12.    BLESSED ARE THE CRACKED, FOR THEY LET IN THE LIGHT:  Ham and eggs...A day's work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig. 

13.    PARAPROSDOKIAN: (A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect.):   Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says “If an emergency, notify:” I put “DOCTOR.” 

14.    QUOTE OF THE WEEK:    “Experience means nothing – you can bungle something for thirty-five years.” Kurt Tucholsky

15.    KEEP THOSE CARDS AND LETTERS COMING: Several readers regularly supply us with suggestions or tips for newsletter items? Please feel free to send us or point us to matters you think would be of interest to our readers. Subject to editorial discretion, we may print them. Rest assured that we will not publish any names as referring sources. 

16.    PLEASE SHARE OUR NEWSLETTER: Our newsletter readership is not limited to the number of people who choose to enter a free subscription. Many pension board administrators provide hard copies in their meeting agenda. Other administrators forward the newsletter electronically to trustees. In any event, please tell those you feel may be interested that they can subscribe to their own free copy of the newsletter at Thank you.

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Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.

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