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Posts posted by FrenchTeacher

  1. I'm really surprised that the "random walk" theory still has any believers at all. I always laugh when I read people quoting Warren Buffett (out of context, of course) saying that index funds are the best solution for most people. I've done a lot of reading of Buffett's work over the past year, and his body of work (both written and actual examples of his investment) completely contradict the notion that all current information is factored into the market. Indeed, anyone wishing to trouble themselves to read Buffett's annual letter to his investors in Berkshire Hathaway will find an accessible, comprehensible theory of investing that doesn't once say how useful index funds (or any other kind of mutual funds, for that matter) are.


    In the limited world of 403(b) investing, I can see where index funds can and should play an important role. But for any investments outside of 403(b) or 401(k) accounts, I can't for the life of me understand why an educated investor would turn to mutual funds.

  2. Of course John Bogle isn't objective about ETFs, Mr. Bogle is on the individual investors side. Always has been. He is simply taking credit for what he rightfully created 30 years ago and the investment world has changed forever, thanks to this great man, Mr. Bogle.




    I'm not trying to demonize Bogle. He has indeed changed investing, and for the better. I just think he's off on the subject of ETF's. For certain kinds of investors, ETF's represent all the benefits of index funds, and at a lower cost. I'm surprised anyone (including Bogle) doesn't see that.

  3. Hi,

    Exchanged Traded Funds are index funds that can be traded like stocks. The pros had to mix a great idea with a horrible idea. Read on: John Bogles Blog.





    Thought you might be interested in some feedback that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal's "letters to the editor" section this weekend. No link, unfortunately, because you need to be a subscriber to access them online (and I'm not). But here are a few excerpts.


    From Mark Armbruster, CFA, Chief Investment Officer of Alesco Advisors, LLC:


    "Mr. Bogle accuses the ETF industry of producing gimmicky funds with narrow sector focus, high intermediation costs, and excessive turnover. But the very transgressions Mr. Bogle accuses the ETF industry of are also present in the index mutual fund world. One need look no further than the Cancer Innovations & Healthcare index fund offered by one sponsor to find an example of narrow sector focus. Also, index funds that short popular market benchmarks exemplify a gimmicky strategy that was born in the index mutual fund world. When comparing all-in costs, ETF's have the advantage from my perspective. Their lower expense ratios (especially Vanguard's ETF's) tend to outweigh trading commissions and other costs, which can be quite low at discount brokerages."


    From Lee Kranefuss, CEO of iShares at Barclays Global Investors:


    "ETF's have attracted significant assets because the appeal to many different types of investors. The vast majority of ETF owners are buy-and-hold investors. On the other hand, about 90% of the ETF trading volume is done by institutional investors such as mutual funds and hedge funds for short-term exposure or to hedge risks. Importantly, this trading happens outside the fund at the stock exchanges; thus long-term ETF investors don't subsidize the costs of active traders in ETF's."


    I've bolded what I thought were the most salient points from what was written. Now obviously, these two guys (especially the CEO of iShares!) have skin in the game, so they can hardly be seen as objective. But then again, John Bogle is hardly objective in discussing the matter, either.


    Looking at the S&P 500 as an example, Vanguard's 500 index fund has an expense ratio of 0.18%. The SPDR 500, an ETF that tracks the same index, carries an expense ratio of only 0.11%. (And Vanguard's multiple ETF's routinely carry expense ratios of only 0.07%!) It seems to me that a long-term investor making a lump-sum investment would be far better served purchasing the ETF through a discount brokerage than the Vanguard mutual fund. Of course, if someone is dollar-cost averaging over multiple transactions, then the slim advantage enjoyed by the ETF's would most likely be wiped out by multiple transaction costs, even if using the cheapest discount brokerage available.


  4. Steve: Your entire post is indeed a waste of time inasmuch as no one on this thread has advocated an all stock position during retirement. On more than one occasion a split of 80/20 in favor of bonds has been posted on this thread. You know this to be the truth but you are so dead set against "educators" making up their own minds that you are now resorting to scare tactics.


    Peace and hope,




    If the goal of running the money yourself (by taking a lump sum) is to beat the guaranteed annuitized return of 8%, how is anyone going to make an annual return of better than 8% using an 80/20 bonds/stocks allocation? It seems to me to make a lot more sense to annuitize if you're going to split 80/20 in favor of bonds, as you mention here.

  5. ...Here's something else, unrelated: someone (French Teacher?) suggested there would be no need to split money between fund families; rather, find different funds "under the same umbrella" within the same fund family, in the effort to keep things simple.


    A-hem: maybe this is one of those "intangibles," but these fund families generally do operate according to internal cultures. Fund managers are in charge of different funds, yes. But the modus operandi "under the umbrella" might not vary much. To the extent that is true, diversification will be short-circuited.



    Depends entirely on how you achieve this diversification. If you separate your funds this way:


    20% large-cap domestic

    20% small-cap domestic

    20% real estate

    20% foreign large-cap

    10% emerging markets

    10% real estate


    ...then you should be able to achieve diversification within one (good) fund family without much overlap at all.

  6. Hi, I have a limited amount of money each month I would like to invest. I was wondering if it would be wise to choose two companies to invest in and split my money. Maybe one more agressive than the other (ie TIAA cref and Fidelity) Or just different packages within the same company?



    Why would you need to choose two different companies? Why not pick one company you like, and divide the investments within that company between conservative and aggressive?


    I think you have to be clear about what you're trying to accomplish. Good asset allocation doesn't have to involve different companies.

  7. Steve, thanks for your apology. I appreciate it.


    For what it's worth, I don't necessarily disagree with you about ING. Indeed, the reason I stopped posting here for quite a while was that I came to the realization that I was expending far too much energy in defense of an entire company, especially given that I have no idea what the hell they're up to in the other 49 states. I can honestly state that a.) my experience with them has been overwhelmingly positive, at least part of which is due to the advisor that I have, and b.) in New York State, there are no other full-service financial providers that offer what ING does for the price that it does. But those observations apply to ING in New York only, and perhaps to me specifically. I have clearly personalized the debate that has taken place here, and been far too quick to take the bait when it has been dangled, and I have no interest in doing so any further. I'll continue to read the site, and post where applicable, but I suppose commenting further on NYSUT and ING serves no real purpose. Everyone here knows where I stand by now.



  8. Steve, perhaps I am misunderstanding. This is the problem as Vince cited it:




    Based on that information, you are eligible to receive maximum PLS of $176922.


    SO, you can either take the:


    - base $7960




    - $176922 and reduced $6766.


    That would be a difference of $1194 per month.




    The choice isn't between nearly $8000 a month or a lump sum of $176,922...that would indeed be foolish. The choice is between letting the ENTIRE amount remain in the pension system (hence collecting $7960 a month for life) OR taking a partial lump sum of $176,922 which would reduce the pension payment by $1194 a month, to $6766. So the question really is, can you get a better return on that smaller amount of money than the 8.1% that Joel demonstrated would be necessary to "outperform" the pension?


    It seems to me to be a potentially worthwhile move to let the lion's share of the pension remain in place, thus retaining a guaranteed earnings ###### of $6766 a month for life, while investing the lump sum in such a way that it gets better than 8.1% over the remaining years of your life. Whether you espouse active management or indexing, is there anyone who thinks a long-term 8.1% return using a variety of equities investments is unrealistic?

  9. Vince, another question based on your calculations: Would you want $176,922 lump sum or have almost $8000 per month for the rest of your life.


    Steve this is the wrong question to ask. If Ralph takes the lump sum he still gets $6766.00 per month. The question to ask is: Do I want to accept an additional $1194.00 per month in fixed annuity income for the rest of my life by annuitizing an additional $176,922 or do I want to accept $1194.00 per month less in fixed annuity income in return for a lump-sum of $176,922? The annuity income rate is 0.081 ($1194 times 12 divided by $176,922) which includes not only the fixed interest guarantee but a return of your own principle of $176,922.


    I am totally suprised that, recognizing your investment savvy, you would not grab the $176,922 and manage it in the same way you will be managing your 403(b) during retirement. Again, I see a BIG TIME disconnect.


    Peace and Hope,




    Joel has done the right math here. It seems to me that the only people who would pass on the lump sum option of $176,922 in this case would be those who feel themselves incapable of producing a return of 8.1% over the long haul. Given that most people who post here are such staunch proponents of indexing, and that a handful of different index funds is easily capable of returning in excess of 8.1% over many years, what could be the argument for the flatline return of the pension? I can understand not being willing to annuitize the ENTIRE pension, but this small portion of it? It seems to be a no-brainer.

  10. Question for Dan our webmaster....


    Is there a feature that we could use to ignore this childish behavior of these two posters that has literally gone on for years now. If this stupidity over ING continues, I think both FT and Joel should be warned to stop this trivialality or be banned from this website. This has gone on far too long.


    Joel, I am asking you to stop feeding this troll. You are one of the good guys but to continue to respond to FT's posts when he or she makes no legitimate contribution to any discussion, you are getting into the gutter with him/her/it. You are better than that. Please let this die, so we can continue the fight to 403b reform.





    Wow. Thanks for being the guardian of what constitutes trollish behavior, Steve. I guess in this case (since I literally said NOTHING that can be constitutes as trolling), you consider trolling to be "posting opinions that run contrary to my own investing philosophies."


    I mean, seriously...all I did just now was state facts. Can you deign to "get into the gutter" with me long enough to point out what offended you?



    These deals in which teacher unions receive kickbacks in return for endorsing lousy investment plans just stink. One does not have to be a union basher -- in my case, I have served my local association in various capacities -- to be disgusted by these deals. Teacher unions should get out of the business of endorsing investment plans and get into the business of educating members. For a start, how about shutting down NEA Member Benefits Corporation?



    Given what you've said in the past about NEA's flagship account (Valuebuilder), I can understand why you might want to see their doors shuttered forever. It seems like a pretty miserable product.

  11. For those of you that do not recognize French Teacher he/she was the enthusiastic supporter of his/her union's endorsement of a 403b variable annuity called Opportunity Plus underwritten by ING. He enthusiastically invests in Opportunity Plus. Thanks to the former AG of the State of New York this endorsement agreement is no more.


    The endorsement is no more, true enough. But Opportunity Plus still has no annual fee, no sales charges, and lower M&E and other fees than any other full-service provider available to me (and, I think, to anyone else in New York). And of course, my financial advisor hasn't changed either. So yes, I'm still with ING, to answer your question below.



    FT, What made you come back? I really felt you were gone for good. Ya just can't trust anyone! Well, now that you're back may I remind you of your proclamation that if the AG found wrongdong on the part of the ING/NYSUT endorsement deal you would cash in your chips and go somewhere else like maybe Vanguard. Are you still with Opportunity Plus? Do you feel, as many NYSUT members do, that your NYSUT should payback some of that $12,000,000 it received in fees from ING or is the $100,000 fine payable to the AG office ok with you?



    Who are these "many NYSUT members" of which you speak? I often hear of them when the NYSUT critics start sharpening their knives, but none of them actually ever speak up for themselves...and I work with several dozen of them, none of which share your apparent outrage! Curious. Anyway, NYSUT did in fact acknowledge their wrongdoing. Our new president said flat out that mistakes were made, and vowed that they wouldn't be repeated. I understand they're in the process of seeking out a new provider now, and I suppose I'll withhold judgment until that process is concluded.

  12. ING is a financial conglomerate and its impact is felt in all areas of financial services. ING did no wrong in NY. It was simply selling product. In fact it recommended to the union that the fee sharing arrangement be fully disclosed to the members. The union refused the recommendation!!


    THE devil was the NY State United Teachers.........it simply refused to do the right thing and partner with a no-load firm.





    I see the diatribes haven't changed much in the months since I last posted.


    What an utterly ridiculous assertion. ING did no wrong, and NYSUT was "the devil." I guess that's why NYSUT paid $100,000 to settle this affair, and ING paid $30 million. No, that's not a typo: ING's payment to settle with the AG's office was three hundred times greater than was NYSUT's. But yeah, NYSUT is the boogeyman here, Joel. Whatever you say.


    No doubt people will wave their fists and scream "politics!", their other favorite boogeyman. Which is an equally ridiculous assertion. Spitzer was ahead in the polls by a factor of 50, and his election to the governorship of New York was never in doubt. He hardly needed (or needs) the ongoing support of the teachers' union to get elected.



  13. FT: On a per capita basis they contribute more than twice as much as 403b contributors from other school districts. In other words participant A from outside the City contributes $1.00 while his colleague in the City contributes more than $2.00. Compound this fact with a participation rate, as reported by the TRS Board of Trustees of 64 percent.



    That makes it a widely used program. It does NOT necessarily make it, as you asserted, the highest participation rate in the country. And you remain unable to substantiate your earlier claim that the UFT has called it "the highest participation rate in the country." From your earlier post, in case you've forgotten:


    Thank you for correcting me. I inadvertently said 67 percent when I meant to say 64 percent. The teachers union in NYC, the United Federation of Teachers, has frequently asserted that this rate is the highest participation rate in the nation. I do not know their source.

    If the UFT has "frequently" made this assertion, why can I not find it anywhere on their website? Moreover, why can YOU not produce a single link to the UFT's "frequent" claims? Are you making up the UFT quote?


    Why can't you just say it's a good program that is popular among UFT members, and leave it at that?

  14. Nice to read this thread, as I have thought about this a good deal. Every once in a while I consider switching to a career in financial services / advice, so your comments are interesting to follow.


    One comment re: agents / brokers/ salespeople who work with insurance companies delivering "advice" re: 403 (b)s. The basic problem, it seems to me, is the inherent conflict of interest they have (recommend what's "best" for the client vs. what brings in a good commission) means that no matter what, a client cannot be ASSURRED that the advice they receive is truely unbiased. The trust simply cannot be there, and anyone with any degree of a "critical eye" will be uneasy.


    Another related issue is that the advisors can only tell the client what they know, and these folks are generally ONLY trained and informed by the company for which they work. They simply don't know any more than that most of the time.


    To your first point: isn't something similar true of an advisor who draws no commission, but charges an hourly rate? If someone is getting paid $125 an hour to study your circumstances and offer advice, is there much of an incentive to complete the task in four hours, when you might spend six, or eight? Or twenty? For that matter, short of some sort of monitoring system, how do we know that such advisors actually spend the hours that they are charging for exclusively studying the charged client's circumstances? Scotty, perhaps you can answer this: is there any kind of independent verification of hours done by some third-party monitor for advisors who charge in this fashion? Or is it a different variation of "Trust me, I'm working in your best interests," much like lawyers who find some mystical way to bill various clients for 100+ hours per week?


    To your second point: I agree that there may be an inherent lack of training when dealing with an agent that has only ever worked for one company, was educated by that company, and is therefore drinking that company's Kool-Aid. I think that's why people should seek out one of the independent designations from the people they are considering hiring as their advisor. CFP (certified financial planner) is probably the most common one. Someone inside the industry could speak to some of the others that are out there. Such a designation has independent criteria that have nothing to do with how well you know XYZ Company's product line, and everything to do with how well you understand the precepts of financial planning.



  15. "The TDA program is the part of retirement security that has been compared to the cherry on the cake. It began in February 1970 and has been one of the most popular benefit programs the UFT has ever obtained for its members. It is so popular that UFTers, percentage wise, contribute at over twice the rate as do educators in other school districts. It is a low cost vehicle that has never had any of the negative features that recent articles in the financial press have reported about other TDA programs. The reason that our TDA gets such a great reception is that members know that the UFT watches it very carefully and that the investment is under the auspices of the Teachers' Retirement system instead of a profit-making organization such as an insurance company or a mutual fund."


    FT: Are you now going to accept the NYC teachers' union assertion that NYC teachers have the highest 403b participation rate in the nation, as fact, or are you going to ask the union for their source?





    The NYC teachers' union is too smart to even make that assertion, Joel...or am I missing something? What they DO say is that their members, on a percentage basis, contribute at over twice the rate as do educators in other school districts. They do not claim that they are the best, or the highest rate, in the nation. You remain the only party making that claim.


  16. TR1982,


    There are a few firms that charge less than I do and I disclose that to my clients and fully disclose my fees in writing in both expenses and dollars. They are fully informed of the total cost of my services. So, no they wouldn't be irate. That is a much different situation than the 403(b) industry where high fees are the norm. Many people are paying 3% annually and don't know it, they are shocked to find this out and are irate.







    You really disclose not only the names of your competitors, but their lower cost structure, to your clients? Before they commit to you? That's genuinely impressive. Would you say that's the norm among people that do what you do, or would you say you're more the exception than the rule?


    Either way, I agree that as nearly as I can tell, the 403(b) industry is quite different. I would applaud any measure that ultimately led to greater transparency of costs.



  17. Are you saying that NYC teachers have the highest participation rate in the nation? What's the source of your information? What independent entity has researched this topic? Was it published somewhere?


    Contributors to the 403b program as of June 30, 2004: 67,534 (64 percent)

    Non contributors ..................................................... 37,587 (36 percent)

    Eligible to contribute 105,121 (100 percent)


    Source: Annual Report of the TRS Board of Trustees for the fiscal year ended on June 30, 2004



    So 64 percent of NYC teachers participate. That's good, I guess. But your original claim was: "NYC teachers have the highest rate in the nation when it comes to participating in their no-load, completely voluntary, no match 403(b)/457(b)/401(k) Plans. What say you?" I say (again), how do you know that this is the highest rate in the nation? Did the Annual Report of the TRS Board of Trustees acclaim this as the highest rate of participation in the nation? If not, who did?


    Besides you, I mean?




    67 percent of NYC teachers participate in the no-load 403b plan of the TRS. The rate is much higher than the national average (with commissioned salespeople) because the employer and union "talk it up". This proves it is a myth that in order to get high participation rates you must resort to loaded funds.


    Peace and Hope,




    Impressive! Two days later, the participation rate has s up to 67 percent!


    Are there any other numbers you'd like to pull out of thin air and claim to be the highest in the nation? Might as well shoot for 100, if you're just going to make them up as you go.


    I'll check back in a couple of days. I bet NYC teachers will be up to a 70-75% rate of participation by then!


    Herb and Chuck: Your positions are self-serving to say the least and highly suspect. NYC teachers have the highest rate in the nation when it comes to participating in their no-load, completely voluntary, no match 403(b)/457(b)/401(k) Plans. What say you?





    Are you saying that NYC teachers have the highest participation rate in the nation? What's the source of your information? What independent entity has researched this topic? Was it published somewhere?



    I am waiting for the day when I hear a no-load investor complain that their school district just offers these no-load funds and should make available a higher priced product that comes with a sales agent.



    I doubt that you'd hear it phrased quite that way. Here's what it might sound like:


    "We have these 403(b) options that everyone says is so great: Vanguard, Fidelity, TIAA-CREF. But I have no idea how much I should be investing out of every paycheck. And each plan has something like 25 or 30 investment options! Which ones are right for me? Every time I call the 800 number for one of these plans and ask them how I should invest, I'm told that the plans are "self-directed" and that it's up to me to decide, and they just refer me to one website after another. Why can't I talk to a human being that knows what they're talking about?"


    Herb's allegedly "self-serving" comments are, indeed, right on the money, and bear repeating here:

    people that want one option (just high cost or just low cost) are not looking out for the best interests of the teachers. It is important to admit something that some people here resist; that there is more than one type of participant. there are at least two-people that can go-it-alone and those that want to work with a rep. Educators know that there are different types of intelligences, and different learning styles. The same goes for saving for retirement; there are different types. To be critical of one style is to fail to appreciate the the situation another person comes from and the goals they may set for themselves.



    FT, I wonder how did you learn of this action, when none of us knew? It appears that you may be in the "in circle?


    Also, Why didn't you share this information during our discussions?


    It seems to me that you are taking a position of defending these immoral and hopefully illegal activities no matter what.


    I have my suspections of the "real" reason of why you have not posted for about 6 to 8 months, and are now posting on this subject.



    Thank you, Ira, for this gentle reminder of why I stopped posting here in the first place. Heaven forbid a dissenting opinion should appear: the attacks get personal, and the tinfoil hats come out as the conspiracy theories unfold and the "suspections" are raised. When the facts don't support your argument, I guess, it's a lot easier to discredit the messenger.


    Have I been defending these "immoral and hopefully illegal activities"? On the contrary. I have said (and I repeat here) that I have no problem with Spitzer investigating ING and NYSUT. If, as I suspect, he concludes that nothing criminal is occurring here, then I will feel vindicated for my choice of financial company and for my support for the union. If, on the other hand, he comes back and files charges, then I will do what I can to change what needs changing within NYSUT, switch carriers for my 403(b) account, and pocket some part of a nice financial settlement besides.


    Is such an investigation ongoing now? Depends who you ask, I guess. Spitzer himself says it's a broad investigation, not one specific to ING and NYSUT, but why should we believe him? He's only the guy running the investigation.


    So did I hide my "knowledge" of an investigation that probably isn't taking place? Er, no. Hope that one answers itself.


    The fact that you describe these activities as "hopefully illegal" reveal, plain as day, that YOU are the one with the agenda, sir, not I. You and others here are actively hoping that Spitzer can find some legal reasoning to prosecute activities that were fully disclosed, or perhaps find some other under-the-table activity going on so he can prosecute that (THAT, at least, would be a genuine crime!). I, on the other hand, don't have a dog in this fight. I like ING, but I'm surely not married to them, and if they are revealed to be involved in something wrong, they will be my FORMER financial provider in the blink of an eye. Hell, I might even call Vanguard.


    At any rate, I'm not sure I see the point of my coming here any further. This is clearly supposed to be set up as "Vanguard Diehards Lite," a self-congratulatory circle-jerk where everyone can applaud their own financial savvy and berate the silly stupid people who are currently under a dastardly agent's spell. I enjoy a good discussion/debate as much as anybody, but it is becoming obvious to me (again!) that this is neither.



  20. Also, Why didn't you share this information during our discussions?


    FT: Would you care to defend your intentional deception of the fact that you knew long before the latimes article that ES began his probe 7 months ago?





    Mr. Spitzer's investigation was not regarding ING specifically, but the industry in general, a fact he confirmed in the NY Times on Monday:

    “It’s not something we believe that is particular to NYSUT, but it happens to be one of the many, many things we’re looking at and it’s an investigation that was begun a while back and it will continue apace,” Mr. Spitzer said on Monday.


    That's as much as I knew. Unless you work in Mr. Spitzer's office, that's as much as ANYONE knew. Feel free to treat this as my "intentional deception" if it makes you feel better. I knew nothing then of an investigation specific to ING, and for that matter, I know nothing now of that. I do know that earlier this week (or late last week?), some of the Post spin doctors attempted to depict what appears to be a broad investigation of the 403(b) industry as an investigation into ING & NYSUT specifically. Whether that is true or not is up to Mr. Spitzer's office to answer, but his quote above suggests that it is not.

  21. FT: So if you knew long before the Latimes article and the FERA letter to Eliot Spitzer requesting an investigation that an investigation was already underway why did you describe the FERA letter to Spitzer as "laughable"?


    On May 4, 2006 our French Teacher, a ING/NYSUT investor said: "Here's one guess: "Hey, guys! Don't like paying more for union benefits? Choose one of the many cheaper options available to you! Problem solved. Also, please stop bothering me...there are REAL criminals to go after in New York."


    FT: You posted these lies knowing all along that Eliot Spitzer decided to launch an official investigation a number of months ago!





    Joel, I applaud your ability to take my words out of their context and puff yourself up with the usual amount of self-righteous indignation. I stand by what I said: FERA's charge that NYSUT fails to disclose their arrangement with ING is demonstrably false. The presence of an investigation does NOT equate to anybody's guilt, unless vast portions of the U.S. Constitution have been revoked (not entirely unlikely, given the current administration in office).


    Spitzer is to be applauded for investigating at the behest of his constituents, even placing himself at some political risk in so doing. But it just sounds ignorant for people to equate the presence of an investigation with the obvious guilt of the investigation's target.



    I'm glad that this letter was written. I hope that Mr. Spitzer will take action .



    What action do you want him to take? The primary charge of the letter--that NYSUT takes money from ING without full disclosure--is demonstrably false! How is Spitzer supposed to take the letter seriously?


    Let me put it another way. Eliot Spitzer is the attorney general. His job is to investigate/prosecute criminal activity. Can ANYONE name a single law that has been broken here?


    You guys are all barking up the wrong tree. If you want to effectuate change, have a law passed barring such arrangements. Or at least cite the law that has been broken.





    FT: You knew that Eliot Spitzer started his official investigation months before yet you went ahead and asked the following: "How is Spitzer supposed to take the letter seriously"?





    Yeah, that whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing must have clouded my judgment. I guess you've decided to go with "where there's smoke, there's fire" as your legal guide. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.


    My skepticism about the letter from FERA was based on the demonstrable falsehood of its assertions. I will say again as I said before: show me the law that was broken, and I'll retract what I said about the letter's inherent silliness (as well as its author's obvious transparency).


  23. French Teacher:


    The investigation of this alleged wrongdoing started long before the LATimes article or the FERA letter to Mr. Spitzer. As an investor in the NYSUT/ING variable annuity called "Opportunity Plus" when were you notified either by your ING agent (who happens to be a Certified Financial Planner) or your union that the Attorney General of the State of New York is investigating the endorsement agreement?





    Joel, I learned about this either late last year or early this year. I didn't circle the date on my calendar, so I can't be more specific. But there was snow on the ground.


  24. In LA Times:

    "It's awful what the union's doing," B. Jason Brooks, a foundation senior research associate, said in an interview Tuesday. "To be making money off the backs of hardworking teachers in the state is appalling."



    The "foundation" in question in this out-of-context quote, of course, is the "Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability," described in the article as a "conservative think tank." Their raison d'etre is to oppose the teachers' union at every turn, all in the name of lower taxes (and lower teacher salaries, of course, but gee, who cares about THAT?). It's fairly transparent that they are opportunistically piling on to the 403(b) issue here in an attempt to show the union in a bad light. What a surprise.


    The remainder of the Post piece contains few surprises, too: mostly antiunion drivel, featuring reminders that a.) NYSUT members pay dues b.) NYSUT officials are actually (gasp!) COMPENSATED for their services c.) New York State property owners pay some of the highest taxes in the country (which, of course, is entirely the fault of the teachers' union) and gee, if all that is going on, then it must smack of graft and corruption, right? Cue the music from "On the Waterfront"...



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