Author Jason Richwine

Teacher pension costs and official education spending

I’ve written a lot about properly measuring the cost of public pensions. One of the most common errors is equating the government’s annual contribution to the pension fund with the actual cost of operating the pension. (This is public pension fallacy #2, for those keeping …

Public pension fallacy #5 will not go away

One of the most common fallacies confronting pension reformers is the accusation that we are “projecting” low rates of return on public pension investments. This is public pension fallacy #5 in my recent paper, ”Nine Fallacies Used to Defend Public-Sector Pensions.”
The cliffs-notes response is that we are not …

Two excellent public pay analyses from state think tanks

At the State Policy Network conference last fall, I came across this report from the Montana Policy Institute, which compares public- and private-sector compensation in the state. I meant to write about it at the time, but I got sidetracked. My memory was jogged when I saw that the …

PolitiFact is wrong about Wisconsin public pensions

I’ve never been enthusiastic about the rise of media “fact checkers” in our political discourse, for a variety of reasons. Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard has skewered the movement more eloquently than I can, so I won’t try to repeat all of his points here.
But one type …

Public pension fallacies

Anyone working in the pension reform movement is soon confronted with arguments from defenders of the current pension system that are–to put it nicely–inconsistent with standard financial economics. I call these “public pension fallacies,” and I address a long list of them in a recent paper for the …

Another year, another dubious federal pay comparison

The Federal Salary Council recently released the result of the government’s annual pay comparison, which now shows federal workers allegedly underpaid by 35 percent compared to nonfederal workers in comparable jobs. Every year the federal government says its workers are underpaid, but that claim is …

Milliman pension study doesn’t address key discount rate issue

When the Pew Center on the States recently described the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) as a “solid performer,” public-sector advocates interpreted this as a repudiation of Gov. Scott Walker and his attempts to rein in public employee pensions.

But Pew did not independently audit the WRS or any other pension plan it reported on. To survey the health of state pension plans, Pew simply used the data and assumptions published by each pension system. In other words, since the WRS assumes it will earn 7.2 percent on its investment returns going forward, Pew assumed that, too. And since that assumption allows WRS to say it’s in great shape, Pew drew that conclusion, too. 

Now a recent study by the actuarial firm Milliman is also being cast as proof that things aren’t really so bad with public pensions.

Government employees work less than private-sector employees

Critics of the public sector have long suspected that government employees work less than private-sector employees, but adequately testing that theory has been impossible without good data.
In a recent paper for the Heritage Foundation, I used the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to compare work …

Does anyone support the Chicago teacher strike?

They are striking against a Democratic mayor. They do not have the backing of President Obama or Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The New York Times editorialized against them. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones understands why people oppose them. Even Harold Meyerson, The Washington Post‘s self-described democratic socialist, chose to lament disunity in the Democratic party rather than endorse the strike.

A serious attempt to defend the Chicago teachers union is pretty hard to find–and for good reason.

The GAO tackles federal employee compensation

Over the last few years, several organizations have published studies comparing federal and private-sector compensation. The GAO recently summarized six of the studies–not to draw its own conclusions, but to give lawmakers a sense of how the methodologies differ.