Rebecca Swanson Doran makes several assertions regarding her pension from the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and pensions in general. She criticizes another reader for proposing a defined contribution system, akin to a 403(b). I do not want to wade into this discussion, which probably is a good one to have.

I would like to point this out: Swanson Doran says she brought a “healthy” pension from California. She might want to reconsider the adjective “healthy.” Truth is that CalSTRS is among the sickest of pension systems in California and the nation. I urge Swanson Doran to read a Los Angeles Times article from about a year ago (Feb. 20, 2014) with the title “No easy fix for California’s teacher pension crisis.” There are other articles in the L.A. Times addressing the issue.

Swanson Doran also claims that “A pension … lasts as long as the member lives.” A better statement would be, “a pension lasts as long as the political system keeps its promises and does not break them.” See Detroit as an example. And by the way — a defined contribution system (like a 403(b)) can also last as long as the member lives — it depends on how it is annuitized.

Manfred Dix