Pension reform, Russian style

Federal workers who are sick of living with year-after-year threats to their retirement program might want to consider seeking employment in Russia. True, there is a language problem, and the weather. After all, D.C. shuts down after 2 inches of snow.

And there are other problems to making such a career move. But there is an upside too, possibly.

In Russia, the government recently backed away from its plan to raise the retirement age for women from 55 to 60. The previous plan was to make it 63 for women, but that sparked widespread protests across the country, causing the government to modify its proposals.

For Russian men, the news is not so good. Under the new compromise, the retirement age for men will gradually increase from 60 to 65. But what does this have to do with the U.S. of A?

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Plenty, maybe.

Consider that Russian President Vladimir Putin won his most recent reelection bid for a new six-year term by a much wider margin than our president did just two years ago. Putin is now into his fourth term, whereas our rules since Franklin Delano Roosevelt have said two is enough for anybody.

So given that some experts say there is as much as a 70 percent chance Democrats could take control of the House this November, Trump administration officials might want to reconsider proposals to drastically overhaul the Federal Employees Retirement System. One plan would force employees to contribute an additional 6 percent of salary to their retirement fund. At the other end, cost-of-living adjustments would be eliminated for FERS retirees.

Federal workers, retirees and family members are scattered all over the U.S. But there are heavy concentrations in blue, red and purple states. In many places Uncle Sam — in the form of the Postal Service, the IRS, Veterans Affairs Department, the Justice Department, Department of the Interior or the military branches — is where the jobs are. In certain Rust Belt communities, the south and the west, the government is the biggest and best-paying employer.

The upside to the Russia pension system is that it is indexed to inflation and there are no plans to eliminate COLAs. The downside is that the average life expectancy for Russian men is reportedly 59.

The average monthly pension is $195, so there is that too. So maybe it is better for folks to stick around, tough and uncertain as things are. For more detail, click here.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

A woodpecker’s tongue wraps around its skull when not in use.

Source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology