Why 401(k)s should replace pensions for public workers

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A sign from a 2013 union rally at the Illinois state capitol. | Associated Press file photo

Your editorial on 401(k)s as a solution for pension woes gives a bunch of flimsy reasons why you believe there is not a solution (“401(k)s aren’t the solution to Illinois governments’ pension woes” — March 6).

You overlook the compelling reasons 401(k)s should replace pensions in the public sector.

First and foremost is the substantial cost savings to taxpayers. The 401(k)s would be funded annually. There would be no future payments for that year. There would be no concern about the correctness of the actuarial input used to calculate how much the pension contributions must earn to support the pensions.

The outrageously high pensions that some public employees receive (e.g. more than $300,000 annually in some cases) would be a thing of the past. Scams used to “boost” pension payments unfairly would also go away. In short, the substantial benefit to taxpayers more than offsets any speculation as to why 401(k)s should not replace pensions. There are many more taxpayers who would benefit by the cost savings to them than public pensioners who benefit from their pensions.

Champ Davis, Oak Brook

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The truth is, immigrants are ‘saving our butts’ 

While Donald Trump likes to energize his base by heaping scorn on immigrants, they are quietly saving our butts.

Social Security depends on worker contributions to remain solvent. Fortunately for us, immigrants have greatly expanded our working population, increasing it by over 20 percent. Without this expansion, we would be sunk.

The United States will face a shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 physicians by 2030, according to a new study commissioned by the Association of American Medical Colleges. We could be in worse shape, but our immigrants have increased the number of physicians and surgeons by over 33 percent, a great help. Further, Trump’s now-silenced Muslim ban would have deprived us of 260 medical residents, which we greatly need.

Lee Knoll, Evanston 

How Trump actually helps the media

Say what you will about Donald J. Trump, but he has almost single-handedly revived the news industry, particularly the New York Times and Washington Post.

What’s more, he’s made stars out of Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper and Morning Joe, while reviving the career of Brian Williams. (Whether being a Trump apologist is a winning strategy for Fox broadcasters is yet to be determined.)

Even more significantly, our leader has ignited a heightened interest in politics and history in young adults, and even in school-age children. How ironic that a man who has shown such little interest in reading would ever be the focal point of any kind of intellectual pursuit.

But if it can lead to a better understanding of our democracy and stress the critical importance of historical awareness, then living through the era of Trump may yet prove to be a worthwhile endurance test for the majority of Americans.

Bob Ory, Elgin

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