STUMP » Articles » All I Want for Christmas is for the 80% Myth to DIE » 23 December 2015, 06:27

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

All I Want for Christmas is for the 80% Myth to DIE  


23 December 2015, 06:27

In a fire, of obscurity, whatever it takes….

Have you heard that people use only 10% of their brains?

Swimming being the best exercise is a little more iffy….

While most lists of top myths make no mention of pensions of any sort (even the biggest one that public pensions will always be paid, something pretty thoroughly busted), I swear I want this 80% fundedness myth buried once and for all.


I have only a few more entries since the last time…and they’re all repeat offenders.

Karen Pierog:

Those percentages are well below the 80 percent level that is considered healthy.

Since October 2014, Pierog has appeared in my list four times. Hey Karen, you’re number one!

Steve Wilson:

Mississippi’s defined-benefit pension system — which serves most state, county and municipal employees — has $16 billion in unfunded liabilities and is far below an 80 percent funding level, considered the benchmark for a healthy pension fund.

Second time for Steve.

Arek Sarkissian:

The state pension fund is 86.6 percent funded, which is above the 80 percent level state economists have defined as healthy.

Do those state economists have names?

Second time for Arek as well.


Since I started in October 28, 2014, there have been 75 entries to the 80% funding myth hall of shame, and 8 heroes entered.

Yes, I have repeat entries on some people. Karen Pierog is just the most frequent thus far.


If any of the reporters were googling their own names and found themselves here, let me explain the issue simply.

No, I’m not going to explain about funding ratios. Go check out the American Academy of Actuaries for that. Why not contact their press person? Maybe you can get a quote WITH A NAME. Craig Hanna is the current public policy person there — maybe he can get you started.

I’m not expecting reporters to be public pension experts. I’m expecting reporters not to do “they say” sloppy sourcing.

Quit repeating what “they say”. Find a person WITH A NAME who will go on the record saying that having a funding ratio over 80% is healthy.

Then I’ll ding that person for saying so.

I’m sure Dean Baker would be happy to say even 70% is okay.

Yes, I’d prefer you go to the American Academy of Actuaries as a source to explain why the 80% “benchmark” is just so much twaddle in terms of pension health.

But if you just quit parroting a line you’re going to have trouble getting somebody with a reputation at stake to confirm…. I will be happy indeed.

For reference, here is the hall of shame (and heroes).

A girl can dream.

Bah humbug.

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