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Vernon Burns: “The RSA is a defined benefit,” subsidized by Alabama taxpayers

When the retirement systems of Alabama Executive Director Dr. David Bronner, wrote the first sentence of his presentation of the systems 2010 annual report he inadvertently described the systems fatal flaw. Dr. Bronner wrote, “The RSA is a defined benefit (DH) plan, where the investment risk is on the state.” 

When Dr. Bronner uses the term “state” is he thinking of some all-knowing and all-powerful monarch with the unlimited wisdom and unlimited resources needed to provide the “correct” life for the people? No. Is he referring to an organization, of citizens, controlled by an elite group of educationally superior persons who supply the unlimited wisdom, while the taxpayers furnish the unlimited resources? Yes, unconsciously maybe, but deliberately yes. 

As a 67-year-old progressive statist, David Bronner can not avoid thinking in these terms. Mr. Bronner was born in Iowa and grew up in Minnesota, where he received his education through a master of art degree. From Minnesota State University, Mankato, he then was employed as a teacher at his alma mater from 1967 to 1969 before moving to Tuscaloosa. At the University of Alabama Dr. Bronner earned a law degree in 1971 and a PH.D. in 1972. At this time he resumed his teaching, was appointed an assistant dean of the law school at the university, and in short order (1973) was appointed to the job he had held for the last 39 years as Executive Director of the Retirement Systems of Alabama. Looking into Dr. Bronner’s background and career we can understand how he is comfortable with the “risk being on the state.” If the state government is all you have ever known, this assumption is reasonable from your point of view. 

To take the real world point of view, the risk Dr. Bronner refers to is the short falls in the funding required to meet present and future pension commitments. These obligations fall directly on the hardworking taxpayers of Alabama. Everyone who pays tax to the state or local government is effected. But the hardest hit will be the state employees and state retirees. Already huge sums of money have been transferred from the education trust fund to shore up the retirement system. There is no super entity known as the state to handle our problems. This is a do it yourself project. 

The tragedy of putting our faith and trust in governments is at the center of the world’s social and economic upheavals today. Look at Europe and beyond to see the results of socialist utopian promises that cannot be honored. This financial purgatory, now known as the great recession, is the product of interference by and faith in governments. The socialist countries of the world are suffocating from the debt caused by government promises and our state government must not go down that dead end road. 

We can’t blame David Bronner. He is only acting as he has been trained to act. The idea of governments having wisdom and resources to guarantee the individual citizens wants and needs has been around much longer than any of our lifetimes. During the vast majority of Dr. Bronners 39 years as the leader of the retirement system, he has acted precisely in conjunction with the state employee unions and a liberal progressive legislature to promote government dependency in what is the most self-reliant people in our nation and possibly the world.  

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But now the good people of Alabama have awakened and are using their power, the ultimate power of the vote, to replace one of the three legs of the stool of dependency. We now have a governor and legislature that know socialism and dependency is a path to destruction. 

Now is the time for hard choices and strong leadership. Alabama will not follow Europe. We are not California, Minnesota, or Vermont. We are the toughest people in the nation. Our history has made us strong, independent, and willing to work. We can show the world that free enterprise and self reliance is the way back to prosperity for all. We support our leaders in this struggle and pray they always keep in mind, the people of Alabama believe in God and themselves before any form of government.

Vernon Burnes
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DIG DEEPER