Letters to the Editor

When it comes to NC pension’s unfunded liability, ‘the sky isn’t falling’

Don’t blame state employees for our pension crisis

Robert Broome, executive director of the state employees' association, argues North Carolina legislators enabled the pension crisis.
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Robert Broome, executive director of the state employees' association, argues North Carolina legislators enabled the pension crisis.

Pension health



Regarding “Reform needed to defuse NC’s fiscal time bomb” (Aug. 12): Despite the recent hype about the state’s unfunded liability, the sky isn’t falling. Where defined benefit plans were once the golden carrot of employee recruitment and retainment, today, unfunded liability – an actuarial byproduct of defined benefits plans – is now the villain of the public benefits narrative.

Intimidating numbers are circulating that falsely negate the strength of North Carolina’s public pensions. Those numbers combine the unfunded liabilities of the pension system with the State Health Plan, a misleading equation when discussing the strength of our public pension system.

North Carolina’s pension system remains the fifth-largest in the United States, with roughly $88 billion in assets and $18 billion in unfunded liabilities. But for this $18 billion in unfunded liabilities to become a financial reality, a highly unlikely scenario would have to unfold: all state employees would have to retire, and all at the same time.

A pension is not a gift for our state and local government employees. While employer contribution rates may change year to year, state employees must invest a mandatory 6 percent of their income into the retirement system.

Long-term planning and incremental solutions is the only way to insure the health and sustainability of our public pension systems.

Richard Rogers

Executive Director

North Carolina Retired Governmental Employees Association

Health care choices

The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 277, a Naturopathic Study Bill to establish a working committee to make recommendations for regulation of the practice of naturopathic doctors (NDs.) This expands health care provider choice for consumers.

NDs apply scientific rigor to the evaluation of empirically based nutritional, botanical and other natural treatments. Licensed NDs complete four-year doctoral-level medical education at an accredited school of the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education recognized by the USDOE. NDs spend two years studying the same biomedical sciences as medical colleagues. In addition, naturopathic doctors have advanced training in clinical nutrition and behavioral medicine.

Naturopathic medicine is safe, effective and evidence-based. NDs offer first-line, non-opioid approaches to the treatment of pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Studies show efficacy when nutritional, botanical, and lifestyle medicine are employed for these complaints.

Licensure sets standards for training, education, practice and continuing education. As we move to a system of more integrated health care, state licensure of naturopathic doctors is a good idea.

Amy Rothenberg, ND

2017 Physician of the Year

American Association of Naturopathic Doctors

‘Honor’

Regarding the letter to the editor “Disrespectful” (Aug. 15): Kneeling is not being disrespectful to the flag in my opinion. It is protected by the First Amendment, so being disrespectful is not a crime.

As far as being disrespectful to those of us who have served our country, I am a veteran (22 years with one tour in Vietnam). Burning the flag is also protected by the First Amendment and I am not offended. I would be more offended if I served my country to only see that those rights were denied to our citizens.

The ACLU and other organizations like them have done more to protect our rights and liberties than the military since World War II. A notable exception would be the use of the National Guard during desegregation.

We honor America by paying our taxes, learning about the issues and voting accordingly, obeying the laws, and serving our neighbors no matter what they look like or where they are from.

Daryl T. Bowman

Raleigh

Go private

Regarding “State ABC Commission wasted millions, audit finds” (Aug. 10): With all the incompetence/waste and taking care of “friends” that we find on so many levels of government, this seems to be a no brainer – go private.

Why should the government be involved in this? The waste of taxpayer money is obvious. Not sure the downside of going private.

I bet if you did an audit on many other government agencies you would find the same and no one ever is held accountable.

Tom Austin

Raleigh

Problem solved?

Regarding “State ABC Commission wasted millions, audit finds” (Aug. 10): Eureka! We can solve two issues at the same time: Close all the ABC stores and reassign the workers to the DMV.

Gertrude Kappel

Raleigh

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