Monday, August 17, 2015

4091 Rambles

Monday, August 17, 2015

If women are expected to do the same work as men,
we must teach them the same things.”
-- Plato --


I mentioned that I have been unable to go north to the country house for various reasons.  I realized the other day that there's another reason I have resisted getting in the car and just going.  My last two trips were both emotionally, physically, and financially draining.  I just can't face doing that again.

I'm actually afraid to go north again.


I find Bernie Sanders very interesting.  I like all his positions and observations.  But I doubt that he's electable.  He's a socialist, and to the average idiot 'Mericun voter socialism is a dirty word, even though they have no idea what it means and they aren't interested in finding out.  These are the same people, by the way, who seem to think that corporate fascism (the end game of capitalism) is just fine.

And even if by some miracle he was actually elected, he'd have even more opposition from Congress than Obama did on anything seen as even remotely "socialist"  even if it happened to be a "friendly" Congress, so he couldn't make any difference anyway.  

An exercise in futility.


People sure do love fireworks around here.  Every local fair, several a year, ends with an hour of house-rocking booms and huge colorful chrysanthemums, often six or eight in the sky at once for the whole damn hour, even long before the finale.  I see them through the trees, and every time I find myself wondering how many people could have been housed or fed on what it cost to burn all that material.  And I see my $8K in real estate taxes going up in smoke, even as my car falls into axle-breaking potholes.


I haven't had a retirement raise in 15 years.  I don't understand.  I understood at the time I retired that I would be getting periodic COLAs.

I have this idealized version of how it should work.  In very simplified terms, let's say that at the time I retired there was $100 in the total employees retirement fund (you can think of that like 100 million or whatever, I'm just using $100 as an example), and let's say that I had contributed $5 to the fund before my retirement.  So my principle in the fund was $5, or 5% of the fund.  It seems like I should be entitled to 5% of the profits earned by the investment of that fund.

As more employees contribute and retire, the total fund balance goes up and my percentage share in the principle and profits in the fund goes down, but the total profit in the fund goes up, so the actual dollar value of my share of the profits should go up - especially when over time other contributors die off and their principle stays in but their profit share no longer goes out.

Carefully invested, the retirement fund should be earning at LEAST an average of 7% per year, even with the 2008 panic averaged in.  Properly invested, it should be earning more.  A lot more!  My IRAs and 401K without active management on my part earned 30%+ last year.

So, even though my idealization isn't the way it works, why haven't I seen a raise in 15 years?  Can you imagine the inflation in my costs over 15 years?   I've probably dropped in retirement income buying power by a huge amount.  A table I found online says that $100 in 2000 is $140 in 2015, at about 2.5% per year inflation.  It seems like there's something very wrong here.

The Company puts out an annual report on various employee funds.  It's both very high level and very complicated, so I don't pay much attention to it, don't attempt to figure out what's going on with it, but I think I might delve a little deeper next time.  I want to know what The Company is doing with the money they aren't giving to me.


the queen said...

I would hope a retirement fund for a person who is actually retired isn't invested in anything that would get eight percent. Half in risky equities and half in safe bonds usually balances out to four percent. Is your retirement fund a pension? If it's a pension then the company assumes allll the risk so this would get any reward.

~~Silk said...

I really don't know if it's a pension, but the annual report shows totals in the fund (which tend to run in the billions). I don't usually pay much attention to that, because it looks complicated, although I have noticed that the total grows, but the number of retirees taking benefits falls. I tend to look deeper at the medical funds, because that one fluctuates a LOT, and if it goes too low, we don't get some benefits.

Some years ago they changed it to like a "privatized" retirement account, and anyone who didn't like it was invited to simply withdraw their funds and manage it themselves. Most people I knew who were at my same pay grade and time in were handed $100K to $150K, which was shockingly low. Like it was just what had been put in for them, without any interest or dividends over the 25 years. They'd have done better to buy savings bonds.

Piper handles a few union pension funds, and he prides himself on beating the market.