Mar 21, 2013

Good retirement if you can get it!

Recently it has been reported that SEC head Mary Jo White will be receiving lifetime retirement payments of $42,000 a month or $500,000 a year from her most immediate private sector employer Debevoise & Plimpton LLP a law firm that defends some the biggest Wall Street banks from SEC prosecutions. Though I am disgusted by the obvious conflict of interest, I actually want to bring attention to how very generous this retirement is structured compared to vital public servants pensions.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP retirement fund is entirely unfunded, which means if the law firm has a fiscal quarter in the red Mary Jo White won't get 3 payments or $128,000 (don't cry for Ms. White since in a bizarre attempt to avoid an appearance of conflict of interest, she requested that she get paid upfront for the 4 years that she would be the top prosecutor of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP's clients). The retirement payments are pending on the continuation of the profitability of the firm due to the retirement plan is not pre-funded and is not a participant of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) a Federal program that is the pension equivalent to the FDIC and deposit accounts within retail banks. Well Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a private company and is free to structure their compensation however they want, I would prefer that they didn't compensate exactly the person in charge of enforcement of laws that affect their clients, but c'est la vie.

Now compare and contrast with the retirement fund for your local mail carrier: with passage of HR 6407 December 20th, 2006 that restructured the USPS's pension fund and retiree healthcare so that it would be future funded for 75 years. Unlike every other department of the federal government; unlike every private company with a future funded pension regulated by PBGC; unlike the retirement plan of the SEC head-- USPS has to plan and pay for the retirement of their current and future employees some of whom have yet to be born, not to mention worked a day for the entirely postage dependent Postal Service. What is the benefit to extending out the self sufficient service's liabilities a couple of generations into the future? What happens when the USPS permanently closes up shop (an unfathomable circumstance for our founder fathers whom assumed the postal service was essential service for our government)?

The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 was the legislation that broke asunder the fiscal relationship between Federal Government and the United States Postal Service, no longer would the USPS be reliant on the tax payer to provide a government service. Self sufficiency was adequate enough for 36 years, other than a destruction of a public good, what possible rationale could be given for the 2006 reform that passed in a lame duck congress (a month and a half after Democrats took back both House & Senate)? If it was so necessary to reform the pension of the US Postal Service then why wasn't the same reform implemented in the Pension Protection Act Of 2006 that was signed August 17th 2006 a mere four months and three days prior to signing of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act?

It is a continual push for free market austerity for the masses, and free market coddling for the economic elite; defined cost retirement benefits or 401ks is the norm for masses, and defined benefits or golden parachutes is the expected for the corporate titans; individuals who have little or no control over their golden years are told by the dynastic wealthy that should take investing in their own hands while at the same time cashing guaranteed retirement checks. Retirement policies should be standard and fair across the socioeconomic strata, with the goal to avoid what Thomas Paine described:

"It is painful to see old age working itself to death, in what are called civilised countries, for daily bread"
Rights of Man by Thomas Paine

H.R. 6407 (109th): Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act

Mary Jo White’s Latest Conflict of Interest

The Pension Protection Act Of 2006

http://www.ushistory.org/Paine/rights/c2-01.htm