Friday, January 17, 2014

Just Because You’re Rich Doesn’t Mean You’re Immune to Scrutiny

We’ve previously offered our opinion about billionaire John Arnold’s efforts to insert his foundation’s opinions about public employee pensions into the public debate.

Our point has been simple – Arnold secured his retirement by the age of 39 with single-minded focus on investment trading while hard working men and women taught children, fought fires and busted bad guys for the general benefit of society. Their retirement may be later in their life than his, but they deserve the opportunity to have good investment management for their retirement nest egg, just as Arnold created for himself. Defined benefit plans offer that opportunity for people more concerned about the public good than their own trading account.

Over time we’ve also noticed that David and Charles Koch have become active participants in policy debates about public employees’ pensions. The Koch brothers’ financial support of the Cato Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council are all documented fact by other sources, here and here as examples. (Other billionaires, like George Soros and Michael Bloomberg, are known to swing their money around as well for their pet causes, so we don’t want to seem lopsided in our concern about billionaire influence on U.S. politics.)

But we wanted to spend just a minute congratulating MSNBC TV host Rachel Maddow for her recent stand in support of general journalistic prerogative in investigating and recounting the activities of the Koch brothers and their billionaire power plays. You can see here her brave stand against the Koch brothers’ attempt to dissuade her investigation of their activities.

Just as TEXPERS has had to spend time and effort defending public employees’ pension benefits from billionaires’ schemes, we support all journalists in their attempts to expose the influence of wealthy people on public policy through various front groups. The structure for local public employee pension systems in Texas has contributed to their success, just as the structure for a free media has been effective for informing the general public of the activities of the billionaire club. We salute Maddow and all those journalists who endeavor to report on these influencers, just as we salute those who cover events on Wall Street, Main Street and everywhere else in America and the world. – Max Patterson

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Good Reminder from Our Friends at the San Antonio Pension

No matter your profession, each of us have a motivating reason for participating in the line of work that we do.

Police officers do their job to put bad people behind bars. Fire fighters do their job to help protect lives in the case of fire.

Pension administrators make sure that police officers, fire fighters and their families are adequately cared for after putting their lives on the line for others.

In this light, please read an op-ed that was published recently in the San Antonio Express News by Warren Schott, the executive director of the San Antonio Fire and Police Pension.

It’s a great reminder of the motivations behind the establishment of police and firemen’s pensions.