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Tags post office , privatization , usps

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Old 14th April 2020, 09:48 AM   #41
blutoski
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Originally Posted by Donal View Post
Ya, that always fascinated about folks like Ron Paul.

Its like the Christians who claim to follow a strictly literal interpretation of the Bible, except for things like that "eye of the needle/help the poor" stuff. Suddenly, we have to understand the nuances of the translations as well as the local culture.
My personal favourite is the guy with a tattoo of Leviticus 18 verse 22:
Quote:
Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable
because it's obviously ABSOLUTELY LITERALLY LAW, while saying that on the other hand, you need to, y'know, interpret Leviticus 19 verse 28, who takes this stuff literally anyway?:
Quote:
"You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord."
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Old 14th April 2020, 10:52 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by johnny karate View Post
Well, I wish them luck with that.

I doubt most city dwellers and people under 40 (read: not Republicans) care about the postal service.
I do! How on earth would I get all those valuable travel, clothing, etc catalogues, offers for credit cards, and requests for donations to charities and campaign funds without the USPS? Without them, I'd get virtually no mail at all.
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Old 14th April 2020, 11:19 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
A properly managed pension plan functions like an annuity, and insurance companies don't have any trouble selling annuities, maintaining them and making money from them. Problems with pension plans have come when companies mismanaged them, borrowed against them, failed to make required contributions, or just wanted to keep more money for stockholders. But they are part of an employee's compensation instead of cash, and there's nothing inherently wrong with the concept.
My understanding is that when a pension fund is tied to market investments, the benefits paid out to pensioners would normally have to fluctuate with the market. Pensions then run into trouble when the contract with the employees promises a constant payout requiring consistent better-than-market performance. Which can only be done by increasing contributions to the fund, which in turn can end up being unsustainable.

One solution is to change the terms of the contract, but naturally employees tend to be against this.
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Old 14th April 2020, 12:39 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Corporations don't have the sort of stability that they had 50 years ago. And 401K contributions don't have to be meager. It's not intrinsic to the system. But the instability that pension obligations can create IS intrinsic.
Why? What has changed, during the time that wages haven't kept up with inflation so that companies are spending less on employees than ever before, to harm companies? Could it be that employees ARE the company, in a way that boardroom investors and managers are not?
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Old 14th April 2020, 01:04 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Silly Green Monkey View Post
Why? What has changed, during the time that wages haven't kept up with inflation so that companies are spending less on employees than ever before, to harm companies? Could it be that employees ARE the company, in a way that boardroom investors and managers are not?
Several things have changed. Two big ones that impact this are the pace of technological advance has increased, and the global economy has become far more competitive.
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Old 14th April 2020, 01:54 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by Busta Capp View Post
I'd hate to see the USPS get closed down, but perhaps they should rethink the whole pension thing ?

I work in petrochemical and while my company matches up to 4% on 401k, there's no pension to speak of coming at retirement.

I've always been confused why postal workers, sanitation workers, dmv employees and hell even congress persons and presidents expect, demand, and more importantly deserve a pension.
The better question is "why isn't everyone deserving of a pension?".
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Old 15th April 2020, 08:07 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by Busta Capp View Post
I'd hate to see the USPS get closed down, but perhaps they should rethink the whole pension thing ?

I work in petrochemical and while my company matches up to 4% on 401k, there's no pension to speak of coming at retirement.

I've always been confused why postal workers, sanitation workers, dmv employees and hell even congress persons and presidents expect, demand, and more importantly deserve a pension.
Governments have classically used the promise of solid benefits to recruit and retain employees.

Deserve really doesn't enter into it.
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Old 15th April 2020, 08:25 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by Suddenly View Post
Governments have classically used the promise of solid benefits to recruit and retain employees.

Deserve really doesn't enter into it.
For decades now "there's a pension" has been the excuse for why government work pays less than equivalent work in the private sector.
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Old 15th April 2020, 08:29 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by Suddenly View Post
Governments have classically used the promise of solid benefits to recruit and retain employees.

Deserve really doesn't enter into it.
+1.

It is part of the employees compensation. Such arguments about pensions are usually stemmed in jealousy. "Why do they get good benefits when I don't?!" poutrage that the conservatives sell the public.
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Old 15th April 2020, 08:34 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by thaiboxerken View Post
+1.

It is part of the employees compensation. Such arguments about pensions are usually stemmed in jealousy. "Why do they get good benefits when I don't?!" poutrage that the conservatives sell the public.
It's the Republican version of communism. "Why should they get something you don't? Don't worry, though. If you vote for us, nobody will get anything!"
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Old 15th April 2020, 08:35 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
For decades now "there's a pension" has been the excuse for why government work pays less than equivalent work in the private sector.
That was certainly the thing that got thrown back in my face in the military all the time.
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Old 15th April 2020, 10:27 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by Suddenly View Post
Governments have classically used the promise of solid benefits to recruit and retain employees.
The problem is that politicians often use this to not only retain employees but also earn votes, while deferring costs to future decades when paying for it will be some other politician's problem. That's one of the reasons that public employees in particular should be under defined contribution plans and NOT defined benefit plans.
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Old 15th April 2020, 10:28 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
For decades now "there's a pension" has been the excuse for why government work pays less than equivalent work in the private sector.
Except it frequently doesn't pay less.
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Old 15th April 2020, 10:51 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Except it frequently doesn't pay less.
Except for all the times it does. Did I say "government work always pays less"? Not every remark needs to be challenged as if we were lawyers or evil genies trying to slip something wicked past the inattentive.
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Old 15th April 2020, 10:58 AM   #55
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Trump tweeted his thanks to UPS for their work delivering through the crisis.
No thanks for USPS though

"Thanks For Delivering @UPS!"
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Old 15th April 2020, 11:03 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Trump tweeted his thanks to UPS for their work delivering through the crisis.
No thanks for USPS though

"Thanks For Delivering @UPS!"
Jesus Christ! More and more, and this shouldn't surprise me by now, Trump reminds me of what happens when I'm playing through a story game and deliberately choose all the worst choices to see what happens.
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Old 15th April 2020, 11:06 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
The problem is that politicians often use this to not only retain employees but also earn votes, while deferring costs to future decades when paying for it will be some other politician's problem. That's one of the reasons that public employees in particular should be under defined contribution plans and NOT defined benefit plans.
That's a management/policy issue. If a plan's benefits are too generous or fund contributions too small, or the fund isn't invested responsibly, those are flaws in that particular contract. There's nothing inherently wrong with the concept of earning a pension after a lifetime of work.
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Old 15th April 2020, 11:13 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
That's a management/policy issue. If a plan's benefits are too generous or fund contributions too small, or the fund isn't invested responsibly, those are flaws in that particular contract. There's nothing inherently wrong with the concept of earning a pension after a lifetime of work.
Indeed. There are significant advantages to having a guaranteed pension: it would eliminate a great deal of economic anxiety about the future. Free from having to save so much for the future we'd be able to spend much more today, thereby growing the economy. I'm in my forties and save as much as I can because I worry about my retirement; if I knew for certain I'd be able to live well on a pension I could go ahead and spend much more money in the present.
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Old 15th April 2020, 11:15 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Except it frequently doesn't pay less.
The nation has several million federal, state and local government employees. That kind of broad generalization is hard to prove. I think you might find that government professionals -- doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. -- probably earn less pay than they would in the private sector, but they trade that for stronger job security and the opportunity to serve their community. Some government jobs don't have direct private sector equivalents: police officer, firefighter, intelligence analyst, etc. Many government professionals are able to find higher-paying jobs after they leave government, like military officers going to work for defense contractors. And a lot of lower-level "government" work is actually outsourced to private contractors, whose employees work for them, not the government. So once again, cite your source.
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Old 15th April 2020, 11:21 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Indeed. There are significant advantages to having a guaranteed pension: it would eliminate a great deal of economic anxiety about the future. Free from having to save so much for the future we'd be able to spend much more today, thereby growing the economy. I'm in my forties and save as much as I can because I worry about my retirement; if I knew for certain I'd be able to live well on a pension I could go ahead and spend much more money in the present.

I don't know if I would go too far down that road. A pension never (or very rarely, anyway) fully replaces your work income. We still need to save, and most of us don't save enough.

Another problem with pensions is that they reward people who spend most of their careers at one employer. In the modern economy, that will become increasingly rare. And there are all kinds of stories about pension plans going bankrupt before employees can collect, or people getting fired months before they qualify. Pensions aren't perfect, but again, there's nothing wrong with the concept.
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Old 15th April 2020, 11:50 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Pensions aren't perfect, but again, there's nothing wrong with the concept.
Agreed.

My in-laws were both public employees and both have pensions.

One is large and run by a state organization. It performs OK and has never been on the brink of disaster, but the rules have changed about every five to ten years for new employees, such that anyone taking the job now is not even considering the pension. It is near on unobtainable.

The other is small and run by a board of the employees and retirees covered by the pension. It is so well run that politicians constantly try to take it over and fold it into a larger pension plan to keep that plan afloat. Through conservative management they have grown quite large and it has worked out quite well for that in-law. New employees are largely signing up for that job with their eyes firmly on the pension.
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Old 15th April 2020, 12:02 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
That's a management/policy issue. If a plan's benefits are too generous or fund contributions too small, or the fund isn't invested responsibly, those are flaws in that particular contract. There's nothing inherently wrong with the concept of earning a pension after a lifetime of work.
Nobody is saying pensions are wrong.

Some people are saying that promising pensions that the employer cannot afford or sustain is wrong. And at least one person (me) is saying that employees holding employers to pension agreements that they can't afford or sustain is probably counter-productive.

Summary:
- Pensions = awesome
- Defined contribution pensions = awesome
- Defined benefit pensions = not awesome
- Insisting that the USPS bankrupt itself on a defined benefit pension plan it can't sustain = super not awesome

It would be interesting to see what the postal workers' unions have to say about this. Switching from a defined benefit to a defined contribution would probably require a contract renegotiation. Are the unions up for that? It would also mean a substantial reduction in benefits for (at least future) pensioners. Are the unions up for that?
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Old 15th April 2020, 12:11 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
.....
- Insisting that the USPS bankrupt itself on a defined benefit pension plan it can't sustain = super not awesome
.....

You don't understand the issue. Congress, as part of its continuing efforts to kill the USPS, required it to fund its pension and benefits in advance in a way that isn't required of any other government department or private corporation. Treating those plans according to normal accounting standards would, by itself, put the USPS in the black.
Quote:
Back in 2006, a lame-duck Republican Congress turned up the pressure on privatization by forcing the Postal Service to prefund decades of pension and retiree health costs through investments in low-yield government bonds.
https://www.vox.com/2020/4/12/212181...n-amazon-trump

Quote:
In 2006, Congress passed a law that imposed extraordinary costs on the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) required the USPS to create a $72 billion fund to pay for the cost of its post-retirement health care costs, 75 years into the future. This burden applies to no other federal agency or private corporation.
https://ips-dc.org/how-congress-manu...how-to-fix-it/
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Old 15th April 2020, 12:26 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
For decades now "there's a pension" has been the excuse for why government work pays less than equivalent work in the private sector.
My sister is a retired RN who worked at a Veterans' Hospital for 30 years. She said they used to be paid more than the local non-Veteran hospitals but that changed years ago. They are now paid the average salary of comparable nurses (experience, years on job, etc) of non-Veteran hospitals in the area. They cannot be the highest paid or the lowest paid.

She retired with a very nice pension. That, coupled with her Social Security, gives her a retirement income only slightly less than she earned working full time as an RN.

Last edited by Stacyhs; 15th April 2020 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 15th April 2020, 12:28 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
You don't understand the issue. Congress, as part of its continuing efforts to kill the USPS, required it to fund its pension and benefits in advance in a way that isn't required of any other government department or private corporation. Treating those plans according to normal accounting standards would, by itself, put the USPS in the black.
Like I said: "Super not awesome."
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Old 15th April 2020, 02:05 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
You don't understand the issue. Congress, as part of its continuing efforts to kill the USPS, required it to fund its pension and benefits in advance in a way that isn't required of any other government department or private corporation. Treating those plans according to normal accounting standards would, by itself, put the USPS in the black.

https://www.vox.com/2020/4/12/212181...n-amazon-trump


https://ips-dc.org/how-congress-manu...how-to-fix-it/
All US companies are required to fund their pensions in advance.

Quote:
FACT: ALL companies are required to fund any pension promises they make to their employees. (The only exceptions are for top executives, who can lose their pensions if a company goes bankrupt, and for entities that arenít actually ďcompaniesĒ - state and local governments and churches.) NONE of them are permitted to take a ďpay as you goĒ approach but must contribute to a pension fund an amount equivalent to what a worker has accrued that year in benefit promises, regardless of how far into the future that worker will be retiring, and must make up for any shortfalls due to asset losses or other reasons. The USPS and private sector companies use the same general actuarial principles to do so, though there are differences in assumptions, particulars of the calculations, etc.
The difference is that not all companies are required to fund their medical benefit plans in advance. But there's a good reason for that:

Quote:
However, what is also distinctive is that any private-sector company may simply cancel its retiree medical benefits at any time; the funding requirement for the USPS exists because only an act of Congress would enable them to cut these benefits.

However, even here, again, all companies which promise retiree medical benefits must account for them in their financial reporting even if they donít prefund.
Keep in mind, too that we're being told that the problem with the USPS is funding these benefits, and has nothing to do with the decline in demand for their service (from the Vox article):

Quote:
But the volume of first-class mail ó the source of the lionís share of USPS revenue and the cornerstone of both its monopoly and its universal service obligations ó peaked in 2001 at 104 billion pieces of mail. Decline has been fairly steady since then, falling to just 55 billion pieces in 2019. The cost of meeting USPSís basic service obligations, by contrast, has essentially remained steady, creating an obvious financial problem.
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Old 15th April 2020, 02:48 PM   #67
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The USPS really can't help but fail, when every profitable aspect is stripped away and given to for-profit establishments. People used to move money around by buying money orders, so we have banks. Packages are big business, so UPS and DPS and Fed-Ex exist and USPS isn't allowed to compete. Government-is-bad types tar the USPS with government-is-bad and try to destroy it, but it's desperately needed by the very people who vote for government-is-bad types because those for-profit businesses don't go where they lose money---but the USPS goes everywhere.
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Old 15th April 2020, 03:22 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by Silly Green Monkey View Post
The USPS really can't help but fail, when every profitable aspect is stripped away and given to for-profit establishments. People used to move money around by buying money orders, so we have banks. Packages are big business, so UPS and DPS and Fed-Ex exist and USPS isn't allowed to compete. Government-is-bad types tar the USPS with government-is-bad and try to destroy it, but it's desperately needed by the very people who vote for government-is-bad types because those for-profit businesses don't go where they lose money---but the USPS goes everywhere.
After reading an article that indicated paper stimulus checks may not reach some people until September, I couldn't help but wonder: Who will be delivering those checks?
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Old 15th April 2020, 04:49 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
That's a management/policy issue. If a plan's benefits are too generous or fund contributions too small, or the fund isn't invested responsibly, those are flaws in that particular contract. There's nothing inherently wrong with the concept of earning a pension after a lifetime of work.
Except again, because costs can be pushed to the future, there is a structural incentive built into the system to mismanage it. And thatís what typically happens, to no oneís surprise.
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Old 16th April 2020, 04:09 AM   #70
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Will this impending Financial collapse last as long as Passing Peak Trump? If so, then we have many years to work on this.
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Old 16th April 2020, 12:54 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Except again, because costs can be pushed to the future, there is a structural incentive built into the system to mismanage it. And thatís what typically happens, to no oneís surprise.
What makes you think that's what "typically" happens? Sometimes pension plans have been mismanaged. Sometimes they have failed. But it's not the norm, and it's certainly not essential to the concept.
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Old 16th April 2020, 01:03 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by Silly Green Monkey View Post
The USPS really can't help but fail, when every profitable aspect is stripped away and given to for-profit establishments. People used to move money around by buying money orders, so we have banks. Packages are big business, so UPS and DPS and Fed-Ex exist and USPS isn't allowed to compete. Government-is-bad types tar the USPS with government-is-bad and try to destroy it, but it's desperately needed by the very people who vote for government-is-bad types because those for-profit businesses don't go where they lose money---but the USPS goes everywhere.
Even worse: Fex Ex, UPS, etc farm off most of their packages to the UPS for "last mile delivery". That's the only reason they make a profit.
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Old 16th April 2020, 01:08 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
What makes you think that's what "typically" happens? Sometimes pension plans have been mismanaged. Sometimes they have failed. But it's not the norm, and it's certainly not essential to the concept.
Essential? No. Intrinsically susceptible to it? Yes. And they donít have to outright fail in order to cause serious problems, and that IS extremely common. Defined contribution plans donít have the same vulnerability.
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Old 16th April 2020, 01:33 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
What makes you think that's what "typically" happens? Sometimes pension plans have been mismanaged. Sometimes they have failed. But it's not the norm, and it's certainly not essential to the concept.
You're the only person in this thread saying failure is essential to pension plans.
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Old 18th April 2020, 02:53 AM   #75
Roger Ramjets
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Originally Posted by applecorped View Post
Will this impending Financial collapse last as long as Passing Peak Trump? If so, then we have many years to work on this.
How long has passing peak Trump taken so far?

I'm thinking less than 3 months isn't that many years.
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Old 19th April 2020, 06:42 AM   #76
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
How long has passing peak Trump taken so far?

I'm thinking less than 3 months isn't that many years.
Just because he hasn't had an approval rating over 50% in over 3 years doesn't mean he's not the most popular president ever............
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Old 19th April 2020, 11:35 AM   #77
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
My personal favourite is the guy with a tattoo of Leviticus 18 verse 22:

because it's obviously ABSOLUTELY LITERALLY LAW, while saying that on the other hand, you need to, y'know, interpret Leviticus 19 verse 28, who takes this stuff literally anyway?:
Many of the religious are like people at a buffet who pick the beef out of the beef and broccoli dish, or the shrimp out of the shrimp and lobster sauce. They take what they want and ignore what doesn't suit them.
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Old 19th April 2020, 11:50 AM   #78
thaiboxerken
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Originally Posted by shemp View Post
Many of the religious are like people at a buffet who pick the beef out of the beef and broccoli dish, or the shrimp out of the shrimp and lobster sauce. They take what they want and ignore what doesn't suit them.
With the christian bible, they kind of have to because it's a very flawed collection of nonsense that has many internal inconsistencies and contradictions.
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Old 8th May 2020, 01:42 PM   #79
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A detailed account of how the USPS went off the rails. (Hint: Congress helped.)
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/...y-trouble.html
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Old 11th May 2020, 07:58 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
A detailed account of how the USPS went off the rails. (Hint: Congress helped.)
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/...y-trouble.html
Last Week Tonight just posted a new episode covering this.

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