Hack journalism.

Faux journalist Scott Reeder.

Sometimes I will get a phone call or an email from somebody who disagrees with me and asks, “What kind of journalist ARE you?”

And I reply, “I’m NOT a journalist. I’m a teacher who happens to blog.”

But unlike Scott Reeder, who claims to be a journalist, I don’t tell lies.

Scott Reeder calls himself “a veteran statehouse reporter and the journalist in residence at the Illinois Policy Institute, (and who) writes a weekly column for the Rockford Register Star and rrstar.com.”

The IPI is a corporate think tank and lobbying outfit that hates unions and is pushing for the destruction of public employee pensions. Reeder, the reporter, is a resident there. He definitely has found a home.

Friday he posted a column for the Rockford paper.

“Many things have contributed to the pension mess: politicians skipping payments, underperforming investments, an economy on the skids. But the biggest reason for the shortfall is political: politicians pandering to unions,” says Reeder

No. Actually only one thing has contributed to the pension mess: The failure of the state legislature to fund the system for the past 50 years.

“I know few people able to retire in their 50s at three-fourths of their final salary — other than government workers. And that pension grows, compounding on itself each year. For example, a worker who retired in 1993 earning $53,333 today can expect to collect $72,244 today in pension benefits. And that number continues to grow,” says Reeder

No. Reeder’s example is fiction. The median pension for a teacher retiree in Illinois is $24,000 a year. The average is roughly $46 thousand a year after paying in to the system for 35 years 9.4% of salary. The average is higher due to the inclusion in TRS of highly paid administrators like the former superintendent of my old district who retired after years of making nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year.*

“Less than one-fifth of private sector workers receive pensions. Most people rely on 401ks, IRAs or similar plans. No one guarantees us a certain level of retirement income. We are on our own,” says Reeder.

No. Private sector workers are NOT on their own. They receive Social Security as a guaranteed level of retirement income. A career teacher has only their state pension as a guaranteed retirement income. In fact Ty Fahner,  former Attorney General and now President of the Civic Committee, has said that if a company in the private sector had failed to make their payments to Social Security as the state has failed to make payments to TRS, they would be indicted.

I’m not a journalist. But I make no claims that I am one.

Reeder makes the claim. But he’s no journalist either.

*An old colleague of mine who ended up his career as an administrator asked me to lay off the Type 75s. And he’s right. Most administrators in the state don’t make the huge salaries that too many superintendents make. And the promise to them was the same as the promise to me. And a contract is a contract. My main complaint is that when we get on the bus to Springfield to push for our pension rights, I don’t see any administrators joining teachers. Get on the bus!

5 thoughts on “Hack journalism.

  1. The “we don’t get social security” argument is very stale. Social security is subsistence funding. It’s surviving, not living in today’s economic environment, and you need to be at least 62 to collect it, and are penalized if you earn other income, and you cannot double dip.
    Public pensions on the other hand……………………

    1. “Stale,” because you don’t like hearing it. You don’t pay 9.4% into it. Your employer is required by law to pay into it. I’m fully vested in it and, you are right, I’m penalized and cannot collect but a tiny amount of it. Nor can I receive death benefits from my spouse if she should die before me, as you can. And Reeder compared TRS to a private sector pension. Which it is not. All stale but true.

  2. Please forward the clarifications to the editor of the Rockford paper. Better yet, your readers living in the Rockford area do so as well.

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