Sunday, January 15, 2006

Prepare for the Pension Wars

Prepare for the Pension Wars

There are many creative ways to use My New Mlm.
One way would be as a standby in case pensions disappear.

Below you can read an article about the state of play with pensions.

America's pension time bomb

By Geoffrey Colvin, FORTUNE senior editor-at-large

January 13, 2006

Commentary: Workers, employers, taxpayers, governments.

Meet the key players in the coming battle.


Some of the nastiest conflicts in America’s future have recently begun to reveal themselves. Let's call them, broadly, the pension wars.

They will be fought on a wide range of battlefields, involving not just workers and their employers but also governments at all levels, regulators, accountants and taxpayers. And these wars will be bitter -- because the combatants will be desperate.

A hint of what's to come could be seen in the New York City transit strike. Most of America didn't notice exactly what sparked the first such strike in 25 years, costing businesses, individuals and the city hundreds of millions of dollars. The answer is pensions. The transit authority and the workers were agreed on virtually everything except how much new employees would contribute toward their pensions – 6 percent of wages vs. 2 percent -- and neither side felt it could give an inch on that.

The reasons illustrate the larger problem. The transit authority, like many private and public employers, is watching its pension costs rocket as longer-living retirees increase in number. That burden will become unbearable. On the other side, union members are watching employers nationwide dumping or cutting their pensions just as Social Security starts to look shaky. They figure retirement security is the one thing they cannot sacrifice. Result: war.

New York’s transit strike also illustrates an important reason that
the pension wars weren't headed off long ago. The truth about pensions
has been systematically hidden, with all parties collaborating in the
deceit. Public-employee pensions have never been accounted for like those run by private employers. No government is required to tell you its pension liability the way, say, General Motors is, on the theory that governments can always just extract more money from the taxpayers to pay retirees.

But this year the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, which sets
the rules for the public sector, is changing its regulations. State and
local governments will now have to reveal their pension liabilities,
which may be under funded by $1 trillion or more.

Private employers, while required to account for their pensions, have
played sophisticated games with the numbers -- all within the rules. For example, they can assume the pension fund increased in value when it actually declined. They can assume it will continue increasing in value at a rate that is almost certainly way too high. They can even jack up their reported profits based on that assumed, though nonexistent, increase in pension-fund value.

But eventually actual dollars must be paid out, a prospect that has
seriously spooked private employers. Just this month IBM (Research)
announced that it would join the long list of companies (Verizon,
Hewlett-Packard, Motorola) that have frozen their pension plans, instead increasing 401(k) contributions for employees. And the 18-month negotiation between UPS and its pilots has come down to just two points: whether outsourced pilots overseas must be union members, and (you guessed it) pensions.

The pension wars will inevitably include Congress, which is working out
a way to increase funding for the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty
Corp., now deeply in the red as huge companies like UAL, parent of United Air Lines, dump their pension plans on it. Since the PBGC is an insurer, the logical move is to raise the premiums companies pay, especially for the riskiest plans.

But if Congress mandates a premium hike, as it probably will, then more
companies will just dump their plans on the PBGC, redoubling the need
for more funds, leading to more premium hikes, and so on. If you can see any way taxpayers will not get billed for a giant bailout, please
e-mail Congress immediately.

And then there’s the greatest pension crisis of all: Social Security.
We’ve stayed in denial thanks to the so-called trust fund, that
magical place where the plan’s annual surpluses are sent to be invested until we need them. But since those surpluses must by law be invested in government bonds, they have simply been handed over to the U.S. Treasury and spent by Congress.

The trust fund is in fact meaningless, a bit of marketing hooey cooked
up in the ‘30s. When Social Security’s annual surpluses end in just
six or seven years, the battle over whose ox to gore in order to cover
the plan’s obligations will be truly epic.

The hard reality is that for decades we haven’t told ourselves the
truth about pensions. Now, as the first baby-boomers turn 60, we must
finally confront reality -- and absolutely no one will like it. In New York last month, transit workers and management compromised; employees will make small contributions toward health insurance premiums but will keep one of the richest retirement deals around.

Soon those compromises simply won’t be affordable. And that’s when
the pension wars will explode.


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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Attention is …

Attention is …
Attention is the substance of focus.
It registers your interests by indicating a choice for certain things and against other things. Any time you pay attention to something (and any time you ignore something), data is created. That data has value, but only if it is gathered, measured, and analyzed.
Right now, you generally lack the ability to capture that data for yourself, so you can't benefit from it. But what if you could? And what if you could share your data with other people, who were also capturing their own data -- or if you could exchange your data for something of value with companies and other institutions that were interested in learning more about the things that interested you? You'd be in control-- you would decide who has access to what data, as well as what you'd accept in exchange for access to your data.
Our attention data is ours, each of us individually. In the wake of the behavior of credit card companies, credit unions and data brokers, it is vital that we recognize our right, and our responsibility, to govern ourselves relative to the use of this private information.
There are careful distinctions between data, meta data and attention, that are food for thought. In any case, by virtue of recognizing the above-listed rights, members of the AttentionTrust (both individual and corporate) express their participation in a free, open market for exchanging their attention.
Our attention establishes intention; and our intention establishes economic value.
We realize that attention is imperfectly defined and that difficult questions are being asked. This subject is new to the internet but well established in personal development and in business.
Recommended by Glen Brink
To use or study this internet topic start with AttentionTrust.
To develop your personal focus start with Self Esteem Confidence Success.
To develop your personal attention abilities start with Eckankar.
To develop your personal intention abilities start with Avatar.
To develop your personal economic value start with a mentor like GlenBrink.
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