Pesky Pension Problems

There are some pesky pension problems that are likely to grow wherever you live.

Multi currency investing can be especially important now.

Many people rely or are planning to rely on pensions, Social Security or fixed income to maintain their finances.  This, as the Aon Hewitt Pension Risk Tracker chart below shows, may be a mistake.  The US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation deficit grew from 29 billion to over 40 billion in a year.

aon hewit pension risk tracker

Pension guaranty is especially sensitive to stock market downturns as this “Overall Pension Deficits” shown by Aon Hewitt Pension Risk Tracker.   See a link to the tracker below.

Click on image to enlarge.

Pensions at Risk

Many American pensions are underfunded and at risk.   The only  fall back is the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation a quasi government agency… that like the US Post Office is purportedly a self-financing organization.

Also like the Post Office it is financially unstable.  According to the PBGC’s latest financial report it has grown from $26 billion to over $40 billion in the last year and at one time dipped to 80 billion of shortage.

The PBGC says in their latest report:  Recognize That Retirement Will Cost More, Not Less

As more Americans age and live longer, healthier lives, both private and public retirement programs will necessarily cost more in the future. We must recognize this, and determine the steps that will be necessary to pay for them.  That doesn’t mean that employers will write blank checks to pay for everything. They won’t. People will have to save more, too, both inside and outside their 401(k)s.

PBGC’s Own Finances Must be Sound, Too

PBGC Report

Click on image to enlarge.

PBGC is funded through insurance premiums paid by plan sponsors, assets from failed plans, investment earnings on our assets, and recoveries in bankruptcy. We don’t receive any taxpayer dollars.  But that means that our own finances need to be in order.  In 2003, the Government Accountability Office added PBGC to its “High Risk” list of agencies, because we control neither the benefits we pay nor the premiums we charge.  Congress has repeatedly raised PBGC’s premiums, but they remain too low to fund our obligations. 

That’s why, nine years later, we remain on GAO’s High Risk List.

PBGC Report

Click on Photos to Enlarge.

The Aon Hewitt Pension Risk tracker graphs above and below show how pensions ran into trouble during the last recession and have not recovered.

Even if the PBGC could meet all its obligations, most pensioners lose under the guarantee.   The maximum PBGC benefit for retirees aged 65  is $55,840.92.   The formula is complicated and the younger a person the greater the loss.

Take American Airline workers as an example.  PBGC benefits can be affected by three different caps: the maximum-benefit cap, based on the plan’s termination date; an age-at-retirement cap; and, for those who retired years before the plan terminated, an age-at-termination cap.

That means American Airlines workers would have been affected by the limits in effect in November 2011 so they do not receive the 2012 maximum but the 2011 maximum benefit of $54,000 annually ($4,500 per month).

These benefits work on a sliding scale dropping with age at retirement.  A worker retired at 59 receives far less than one at age 65… about  $2,800.

A retired 55 year old would receive even less about $25,128 annually, or $2,094 per month.

In addition to these losses, coverage is only for pensions that cover all employees. Extra  plans for highly paid employees are not insured.

Pilots would take the worst loss because they normally have to retire at an early age.  American Airline pilots may see benefits reduced from $75,000 a year to about $25,000, partly because the mandatory retirement age was 60.

Pilots from other airlines have suffered similar fates. For example some United Airline pilots who retired at age 60 had $7,000 a month pension benefits, reduced to $2,300.

Canadian Pensions Have Risk as Well.

Towers Watson conducted its ninth annual Survey of Pension Risk in December 2011, interviewing senior executives from 115 Canadian retirement plan sponsors.

The conclusion of the survey was : “Pessimism persists on the Canadian DB pension landscape. As funded status continues to decline and corporate balance sheets reflect the impact, pension costs remain at the forefront of employer concerns.   While sponsors of CAPs have not traditionally been concerned about investment strategy, they are becoming increasingly concerned about their plan’s ability to provide adequate income for plan members. In fact, over 70% of survey respondents believe that CAP-related litigation will increase in the coming years and many have cited inadequate retiree income as a key factor. Whether DB or CAP.  The 2012 pension risk survey has highlighted the fact that another year of volatile market performance has left many plan sponsors struggling to meet obligations and manage risk.

Is American Social Security Safe?

The fact that one can even ask this question must give us reason for pause… but for the time being… yes, even with the government shutdown Social Security checks are still flowing.

During the last major month long shutdown in 1995,  new Social Security claims were not processed because the agency furloughed 61,415 employees but Social Security payments were mailed.  There is a strong legal precedent that the Social Security Administration has the authority to do so again because benefits are paid out of the trust fund.

However this may not happen if Congress fails to increase the government’s borrowing authority by the Oct. 17 deadline, according to President Obama.

He has stated: “In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time; in an economic shutdown — if we don’t raise the debt ceiling — they don’t go out on time,” Obama said during a speech at a construction company in Rockville, Md. “In a government shutdown, disability benefits still arrive on time; in an economic shutdown, they don’t.

I think that everyone thinks this is brinksmanship. Let’s hope so.

These are the pesky pension and Social Security problems that could hurt many Americans (and to a lesser degree Canadians).   I hope I am wrong about this but there are too many facts that suggest we should not stick our heads in the sand. If you do not have savings and or a personal pension beyond a corporate pension or Social Security, then perhaps start other businesses for instance learn how to write to sell and create other ways to generate income.

One way to earn extra income is by writing to sell.  See a 2 minute 42 second segment of the Author Scott Nicholson Self Publishing Interview by Gary Scott on the middle class successes at

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To view a minute video of Author Scott Nicholson on the “Middle Class Benefits of Self Publishing at” click here.

If you have savings and/or a personal pension beyond a corporate pension or Social Security…  diversify beyond the US dollar… right now.  See an upcoming message on how to create a diversified multi currency portfolio.


Writer’s Camps – Recorded on MP3

Learn how to learn how to wrote and self publish from our recorded Writer’s Camp…

Seven P Secrets of Self Publishing

When you write, you can work anywhere. 


Here I am working poolside in the winter, at our Florida farm.

gary scott

Here I am with our hound Ma, working during the summer at our North Carolina farm.

Learn how to earn everywhere, while living anywhere you choose.  I have been able to earn by writing in Hong Kong, England, the Isle of Man, Dominican Republic and Ecuador to name a few of the place I have lived.  Everywhere I have been… too numerous to share here, I have been able to work.

All I need is my laptop.

That’s all you need too… a laptop to be free!

Before computers, a pencil and pad did the job.

Freedom is just one benefit you can gain from writing.

Another benefit is income.   Writing has brought me both our farms, free and clear… plus a lot more.

Another good example of earning potential is my friend Hugh Howey.   He was working for $10 an hour in a book store when he self published his novel Wool, typing in a storage room during his lunch breaks.

Soon he was earning over $100,000 a month on  This helped secure a six-figure book deal from Simon & Schuster, and an option for film by Ridley Scott, director of Blade Runner and Alien.

That’s what he’s doing now.

Hugh Howey

Hugh and I playing chess (he beats me badly).

Writers like High are great inspirations.

A couple of years ago Hugh  left Florida, and moved to South Africa.  He had a sailing catamaran built for him and now can sail the world while he continues to write.

Hugh explained it like this: And that’s the miracle of working as a writer: I can do it from anywhere and everywhere. The past few years, I’ve done a lot of writing from airplanes and airports while on business trips abroad.  SAND was entirely written overseas while traveling through seven different countries; I think it’s a better story because of those inspirations.  In upcoming years, I may be writing near your home port.

Hugh’s a super star writer and his success could not happen to a more deserving and talented person.  He pours enormous energy into being worthy of his readership.  But you do not have to be a million dollar a year earner or a traveler to benefit from writing.

The good news is… you do not need a huge success to have a rich and fulfilled lifestyle.  Self Publishing can bring you a life that most people only dream of, as a journeyman writer, instead of a super star.

May I hastily add that the path to stardom begins as a journeyman… so the journeyman’s path brings success without stardom… but can also lead to stardom.

What most success stories like Hugh’s rarely explain is the many hours of writing that was devoted before their self published book sales soared.   Hugh, like most writers were journeymen first.  Stardom came later.

Here are sevens secrets that can help you become a journeyman writer. 

The secrets are a writer’s armory of tools that allows almost anyone to create successful publications for income, freedom and fulfillment.

Take Merri’s and my publishing business as an example.  

Merri and I are not writing stars.  We are journeymen who have for more than 40 years, year in and year out, earned solid income writing and self publishing dozens of publications about multiple subjects.

Some years that income has been more than solid… over a million dollars.  Yet in terms of stardom, we are hardly known.

In a moment you’ll see why that’s fine for us and probably will be for you too.

First some history.

Merri became involved in self publishing over 40 years ago… first helping a veterinarian publish a book on a very specific market… animal acupuncture. Then she showed a needle point artist how to sell more books to an even more specific audience… “needle point enthusiasts”  about her needle point work to an audience larger than the population of the city she lived in.  This led Merri to eventually become Executive Editor of an award winning magazine in Florida.

My story allowed Merri and me to work and live from Hong Kong to London to Europe to Eastern Europe, then the Caribbean and then Ecuador… making millions in the process of following our adventures… having fun… while helping a large readership adapt to a rapidly changing world.

That’s what self publishing can bring, profit, adventure and fulfillment, a great feeling of worth and wonder.

Self Publishing has created exactly the lifestyle we desire allowing us to span the world and work with meaning and purpose.

Self Publishing has become a new business art form. 

The seven secrets can help you start your own self publishing business now.

Everything in publishing is new and exciting and changing.  Publishing is being recreated by the wonderful power of destructive technology.

Everything is new… except the seven secrets. 

Change in the publishing industry is disturbing many.   We love this evolution due to these seven secrets we call the 7Ps.  The 7 Ps are so fundamental to writing and publishing that new technology enhances rather than reduces their power.

The First P is Passion.

Whatever your passion, you can immerse yourself in it AND create income with self publishing.  This can be your direct ticket to the kind of fulfillment you’ve always wanted.

Whether you want to travel the world or live as a recluse, work 12 hours a day or not work much at all,  you can set your schedule to succeed, if you’re willing to learn these seven secrets.

You can start part-time with any dream, passion, and budget.  Once you’ve created a product, you’ll enjoy the “multiple effect” of producing profits over and over again.

So the question is… What do you love to do?

What’s Your Passion:  An example is that thirty years ago, a client of Merri’s had a passion to help people who were in pain?  He published a series of pamphlets explaining various chiropractic disorders in very simple terms.  For example: “What Is Whiplash?”

The pamphlets contained solid information, but were simple 5″ x 7″ brochures with drawings and explanations. He sold them with a rack to chiropractors, who put them in their offices for patients to read.  These little self-published items sold year in and year out for decades.

There are thousands of ideas of this sort that can lead to big business.  It’s just a matter of defining and then acting on your passion.

Although I can work when I please and go where I wish, for me the most important reason for being a publisher is the satisfaction it brings. 

I love the projects I take on, so work doesn’t feel like, well… work.

What do you love?  If you love golf, then you can write and sell publications about golf.  Love travel, fishing, dogs, dolls, or art?  Write and sell publications in these fields.

Are you concerned about crime, war, poverty or environmental issues?  You can publish information products that help reduce these concerns.

Would you like to help the world be a more spiritual place?  Publish a newsletter, write a book (or hire someone to write it for you), record a tape… publish something that enlightens people.

Whatever your passion, you can immerse yourself in it and earn income by publishing for ereaders, print on demand, CDs, lists, bound books, or any format you choose.

Be immersed in your passion and get paid well for it. 

This is why stardom is not the main goal for most writers and self publishers.  Extra income, more freedom and fulfillment are usually more than enough enough.

The seven Ps are:

#1: Passion

#2: Problem

#3: Person

#4: Profitably Priced Product

#5: Prospecting Pathway

#6: Promise

#7: Presentation

The first time I exposed others to the secrets in Self Publishing was in a weekend “Writer’s Camp” seminar.  We offered the camp for $1,500. 80 delegates enrolled.  People from all walks of life attended—chiropractors, businessmen, investors, doctors, realtors, inventors, airline pilots, engineers, and housewives.

Merri and I were so overwhelmed by the response, we decided to make it available to a larger audience.  We created a written course based on our current self publishing activity called “Self Fulfilled – How to be a Self Publisher.”  Then we recorded the weekend “Writer’s Camp” seminar.

Thousands have used the course as it has evolved over the decades.

You can receive both the written course and the recorded weekend seminar, in an MP3 file, in a special “Live Well and Free Anywhere” program I am making available to you.  The normal fee is $299 for the written course and $299 for the recorded workshop.   I’ll send you both the course and the recorded workshop and my course on how to expand the profits of what you write called “Eventful Business” (also $299) all for $299.  You save $598.

We are so confident that you’ll gain from this offer that if you are not fully satisfied, simply email us within 60 days for a full refund .

These courses are not theoretical.  They describe, step-by-step, how Merri and I built a million-dollar international business and how we are running this self publishing business right now.   We use the 7Ps today just as we did four decades ago to create a strong annual income.

This correspondence course is for those who would like their own international self publishing micro business for fun and profit. If you want fun, freedom, extra income and fulfillment with your own full or part time writing or want to build your existing business, by writing to sell you can profit from this course.  The course can help who want their own business or who want to have a business together or a family business.  This is the perfect course for those who can no longer find employment, who are looking for ways to earn abroad and who wish to retire and supplement their income.

Whether you are retired, an investor, chiropractor, doctor, dentist, professional or already own your own business, this offers another way to make money, to turn your passion into profit. We guarantee that we have shared all we know to help you start and run your own international business.  Enjoy and live a life of following your Passion to Profit… through writing.

Here is a special offer. 

Whatever your passion, however you do business, chances are you’ll be writing either to create a product or to sell a product. 

You save more than $598 because you also receive a recorded webinar conducted by our webmaster David Cross (at no extra cost).

David-cross-images tags:"2012-4-20"

David Cross

David has been our webmaster since our website began in the 1990s.  He is Merri’s and my business partner. We could not run our business as we do without him.

Learn the tactics we use in our web business that condenses 27 years of practical experience about search engine optimization, and writing for search engines.

For the last 27 years David has worked with companies large and small – IBM, Agora Publishing, AstraZeneca and many small business owners.  He has worked in 22 countries, and lived in six of them.

David’s clients span the globe and represent companies and charities both large and small.  From corporate giants to small, one-woman businesses and everything from finance, healthcare, publishing, technology, real estate, veterinarians, alternative health centers and everything in between.

David is an essential part of our web based business.

Myles Norin, CEO of Agora, Inc.  wrote:  “I have found David’s knowledge and experience unmatched in the industry.  Without David’s expertise and guidance for the past 7 years, we would not be nearly as successful as we are.”

As Senior Internet Consultant to Agora Inc. in Baltimore, MD, he worked closely with Agora’s publishers and marketers and – over a 7-year period – helped to propel Agora’s online revenues from around $20 million to well over $300 million.

David’s webinar will help you gain benefits in your micro business that large internet marketing companies use.  In this practical recorded workshop you will learn valuable skills to help your micro business.

There has never been a time when the opportunity for small businesses abroad has been so outstanding.  Expand your borders now!  Increase your economic security freedom, independence and success.

If you are not fully satisfied that this offers you enormous value simply email us for a full refund within 60 days.  You can keep all three courses as our thanks for giving our courses a try.

You also receive a report  “How to use Relaxed Concentration to Brainstorm Business Ideas” and a recorded workshop “How to Become and Remain Rich With Relaxed Concentration” at no additional cost.

Plus you get more in the program.

You receive regular writing and self publishing updates for a year.  Businesses usually need to evolve.  Merri and I continue to publish and have our independent businesses.  Some basics have remained for decades, but new strategies occur all the time throughout the year.  We’ll be sending along updates that share our most recent experiences as we learn and continue to grow our international micro business from Smalltown USA.

My special offer to you in this “Live Well and Free Anywhere Program”, is that you receive:

  • “Self Fulfilled – How to Write to Sell” course
  • Video Workshop by our webmaster David Cross,
  • The entire weekend “Writer’s Camp” in MP3,
  • MP3 Workshop “How to Gain Added Success With Relaxed Concentration”
  • The business course “Eventful Business”
  • Any updates to any of the courses, workshops, reports or recordings for a year

We are so confident that you’ll gain from this offer that if you are not fully satisfied, simply email us within the first three months for a full refund. 

Order “Self Fulfilled – How to Publish to Sell” and a full year of update lessons $299.  Click Here.      

See success stories from Self Publishers and a few who have attended the “Writer’s Camp” that you will receive on MP3.


PBGC Report Recognize That Retirement Will Cost More, Not Less

Aon Hewitt Pension Risk Tracker