What’s left of the American pension system is a pit of unexplored corruption. Corporate management has used the pension fund as a piggy bank to make speculative investments, and cover its ass in any number of ways. The pensions themselves are supposed to be guaranteed by a government insurance fund, but during the Bush administration there was much speculation it was being used by its leaders to speculate in stocks and bonds.
As for the happy-go-lucky “seniors” enjoying their so-called “golden years”–well, a lot of them are scrounging around trying to make ends meet due to their companies having dumped them into loser 401k plans. Those that were left with old fashioned pensions are getting screwed by their CEOs who rip off the company for millions, leaving the pension in arrears, then bundle everything up and sling it to the government backed pension insurance fund.
USA Today provides some particularly grotesque examples:
Top executives at four companies that jettisoned their employee pension plans received $49.5 million in retirement and severance benefits in the years before the companies filed for bankruptcy, while retirees saw their benefits cut by as much as two thirds, congressional investigators conclude in a report released Thursday….
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that pensions at the companies, United Airlines, US Airways, Polaroid and Reliance Insurance, were underfunded by more than $11 billion when the companies turned them over to a government-backed insurance fund. The report says executives at those four companies and six others that abandoned their pension plans took in a total of $350 million in pay and perks in the years leading up to the bankruptcies.
“If the pension is getting deeper into trouble and the executives are getting richer, there’s something wrong with that picture,” said House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif.