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June 02, 2011 08:24 PM UTC

Rosen argues for gov't pension privatization, despite his personal investment losses

  • by: Jason Salzman

(Thank you Wall Street, may I have another! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

A reader of my blog recently suggested that I ask KOA’s talk-radio host Mike Rosen if his personal investment losses, which made a big splash in the local media a few years back, gave him any qualms about his argument for the privatization of PERA, Colorado’s pension plan for government workers.

In 2009, Rosen told the Rocky Mountain News that he had invested a “seven-figure” sum, roughly 80 percent of his net worth, with the  Boulder-based Agile Group, which invested indirectly with Bernie Madoff. The Agile Group, which Rosen had promoted on his radio station, suspended redemption requests, and Rosen told the Rocky he lost a lot of money.

“I might have to work for more years than I had planned and I might not be able to retire as comfortably as I had planned,” he told the Rocky.

But his own experience doesn’t seem to have affected his view that the government cannot afford to guarantee the pension plans of its workers. Here’s what Rosen emailed me:

The “retirement money” of government employees under PERA isn’t protected by PERA, it’s protected by the taxpayers who are forced to cover any PERA shortfalls; the very same private sector taxpayers who are relying on their own “unprotected” 401(k)s for retirement income.  PERA’s investment portfolio includes mostly private sector stocks, bonds and investment funds.  If PERA switched to a defined contribution plan for future retirees, those government workers would be on equal footing with private sector workers.

Government workers who want more investment security could direct their 401(k) defined contribution plan investments to Treasury bills or FDIC insured accounts which offer lower returns in exchange for more security.  That’s the kind of choice private sector employees on defined contribution plans have to make, including me.  “Guaranteed” defined benefit pension plans are no longer viable.  Future taxpayers shouldn’t be held liable for the irresponsible promises made by past, current or future politicians of guaranteed retirement benefits to government workers.  In Flemming v. Nestor (1960), the US Supreme Court ruled that not even Social Security benefits are guaranteed and can be changed by Congress at any time.    

My personal investment experience hasn’t changed my options.  And no one is guaranteeing me defined retirement benefits.

Maybe the government should guarantee everyone’s investments in anything.  We’ll just add those future liabilities to the national debt.  That’s absurd, of course, but I wouldn’t put it past some budding socialist to demand it.              


19 thoughts on “Rosen argues for gov’t pension privatization, despite his personal investment losses

  1. He still has a great job with a high income.  He won’t be shopping in the cat food aisle regardless. Unless he has a cat but I’m betting he isn’t a cat person.

  2. on the state’s pension fund so they could run it into the ground too.  But not before squeezing out all the commissions and fees first.

    Aren’t Republicans grand?

    1. Rosen and thousands of others were taken advantage of by a thief.  Not capitalism.

      It’s no different than someone breaking into your house and stealing your tv, and then you blaming it on the company that built the tv.

      1. were taken advantage of thieves, not unfettered capitalism in an environment of deregulation and lax oversight.

        And all those Baby Boomers who have had to postpone retirement because they lost their savings in the downturn — would someone call the police, please!

        Thieves, everywhere, thieves! And not one of them part of the system.  

      2. The SEC enforcement efforts were gutted by the Bush Administration, beginning with the appointment of Harvey Pitt as SEC Chief.  He was as much a disaster as Brownie at FEMA.

        Government regulation and enforcement are important — something today’s GOP (and you) have no understanding.  I’d have no problem with that if the consequences only affected people like you and Rosen.  Unfortunately, we are all potential victims.

  3. Rosen does not  make goods or provide services.  Rosen is a shrill for money interests, IMHO.  He can not afford not to promote the corporate agenda.  That is the only way he can get money.

    Now, Jason, as long as you are spinning the dial…you might want to catch your favorite talk show host, Silverman.  Today, the boys are doing what they do best…talking about sex by not talking about sex….the topic is the Congressman from New  York.

    I can just hear the little tots in the car, asking Mom “What are bulging jockey shorts?” and why are those men talking about them???

    I thought that there was going to be a mayoral debate, hence I was listening.  Now, I am not.  Caplis makes my skin crawl….

  4. Mine does not.

    I have a defined benefit pension from HP which will be $500/month.

    That number does not change.

    And, it does not kick in until I am 65.

    Why should public employees get to retire at 50?, 55?

    Let’s move them all to defined contribution pensions. For example, 401ks.

    1. And that you want public employees to move to something different than what you have–a defined contribution plan.

      Are you sure?  Why should they have something different from you?

      Please justify.  Show your work.

      1. 1. Defined, fixed benefit from working at DEC from 1976-1987.

        2. Defined contribution (now IRA, converted from 401k) from other corporate employers and from being self-employed.

        So, yes, I think I can ask that public employees be shifted to a defined contribution plan.

    2. perhaps you would have a defined benefit pension with a COLA. Loser.

      Why should someone who has sold out to a big corporation have a defined benefit pension? I’m self employed and I don’t have any kind of pension to count on. Let’s move all of your kind to a completely uncertain retirement.


      Quit yer whining, db.

    3. You are completely unprotected from inflation.  That $500/month might buy you a loaf of bread if inflation kicks in, which is quite probable if only because of normal business/economic cycles.  As someone else said, you let HP screw you.  As today’s GOP would tell you, “Good luck with that, sucker”.

    4. I didn’t. And I’m not whining. But if workers bargain for a COLA, they should get it when the time comes. You know, things like contracts and all.

      You don’t like your retirement? Change jobs. Or start investing on the side. Nothing stopping you from having more than one nest egg. Or quit your bellyaching. Envy is not an attractive attribute.

      And: What gives you the right to change working conditions or retirement conditions for somebody else? You want to make out their grocery list for them too? Like I say, envy is not an attractive attribute.

  5. so they have to up the ante….they do this two ways..

    1) Talk about sex

    2) Stir the anger pot…..right now, public employees are the target….

  6. “Guaranteed” defined benefit pension plans are no longer viable.

    Got any proof of that? It’s not as self-evident as he might think. There are lots of annuities still being marketed by insurance companies.

    And no one is guaranteeing me defined retirement benefits.

    Well, except for that Social Security thing.

    Maybe the government should guarantee everyone’s investments in anything…That’s absurd, of course, but I wouldn’t put it past some budding socialist to demand it.


    Classic strawman, used to buttress otherwise weak arguments.

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