Today, Morning Edition on NPR featured an interview with former Wall Street Journal reporter Ellen Schultz about her new book, Retirement Heist. We have already sung the praises of this important work, which details how corporations have exploited loopholes in the law to boost corporate profits at the expense of workers’ pensions, but I am glad to see that it’s getting the national attention it deserves. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that Schultz thanks the Pension Rights Center prominently in the acknowledgements.)
If you haven’t bought the book already, this interview gives you a taste of what Retirement Heist is all about. Schultz disputes the idea that traditional defined benefit pension plans are a drain on corporate profits or that companies must close their pension plans because retirees are living longer. She notes that prominent companies, such as Verizon and GE, had fully funded — and, in some cases, overfunded — pension plans, but froze those plans to boost their bottom line. Schultz makes the important point that, very often, pension plans end up being scapegoated (and then looted) by companies for poor corporate performance in a stagnant economy. Even more outrageous are instances when rank-and-file pensions are weakened or manipulated in order to boost executive retirement benefits.