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As they say lies,lies, statistics and pension scheme forecasts :-)

I had an off the record briefing about Hermes (the uk's largest pension fund) for some reason the government makes pension funds appear to have major short falls by assuming that magically all the members will suddenly start drawing their benefits all at once.

On more reasonable forecasts the scheme was sightly under on more positive estimation it was actually in surplus.

Cynics might think that FS pensions are being made artificially expensive to allow employers to kill of the schemes.

Actually, at least in the US, it's the opposite. The US government requires private organizations to abide by strict funding standards to ensure their retirees get their promised benefits, via laws like ERISA and PPA of 2006.

On the other hand, government entities don't have to abide by ANY laws regarding funding for future benefits, so the politicians and union leaders/elders promise higher and better benefits to get the votes, while taxpayers get shafted when the bill comes due. It's ridiculous to promise full retiree healthcare (even the US government doesn't offer it to its citizens). That is why when Congress required USPS to prefund the benefits, it became an issue for their budget. Because when benefits actually get accounted for, and you start setting money aside, you realize how stupid it is to offer someone full retiree medical benefits.

What's the alternative to offering low paid workers full retiree medical benefits? A bunch of bankrupt and sick and dying pensioners?

Alternative for who? For USPS, the alternative is to have a chance at a sustainable business without being subject to wildly volatile and exponentially increasing healthcare costs that could quite literally bring the whole business down. For America, the alternative is to decide, as a country, that everyone is entitled to a certain amount of healthcare. Otherwise, the alternative is whatever happens to Taco Bell and Wal Mart workers.

Ah yes but are the strict funding requirements fiddled or not?

Pay as you go can work for core civil service jobs - its just that it makes it hard to privatize the jobs.

I trust congress and the house also required pre funding of their benefits :-)

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